Late Night in the Phog returns for 28th year
- Oct. 10, 2012
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For the 28th time in the Kansas men’s basketball program’s illustrious history, Late Night in the Phog will mark the official start to the team’s season, and with the Jayhawks set to compete for its ninth straight Big 12 conference championship, here are five things to keep an eye on Friday night:
5. The New Video board
Allen Fieldhouse entered the 21st century with the installation of the new, high-definition video board. The HD screen replaces the standard definition screen in the same structure that hangs above center court, allowing the Fieldhouse to keep the charm that makes the best facility to watch a college basketball game while enhancing the viewing experience for the sixteen thousand strong who pack into the stadium.
4. The Freshmen
Five Freshman, Rio Adams, Perry Ellis, Lucas Landon, Zach Peters and Andrew White, take the Allen Fieldhouse floor for the first time in front of the passionate Jayhawk fan base. Together with redshirt freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, the Jayhawk team will have a different look than previous seasons. Unlike last year’s team, which only saw one freshman play regularly, this Jayhawk team will count on contributions from its youngsters if they want to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
3. The “Other” Contenders
The men’s basketball team isn’t the only Jayhawk basketball team coming off an impressive tournament run. The women’s team not only made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000 but then proceeded to knock off first Nebraska and then Delaware with national player of the year finalist Elena Delle Donne.
Expectations for the Jayhawks are higher than they’ve been in years, as they were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 this season and return seven of their top eight scorers from last season, including preseason All-Big 12 guard Angel Goodrich. Kansas gets an additional boost as senior forward Carolyn Davis returns to the court after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Kansas State last February.
This is the deepest team Henrickson’s had in her time at Kansas, and they have the tournament experience to make another deep tournament run if they can survive the grind that is the tough Big 12 regular season.
2. Life After Manning
The Kansas coaching staff saw a significant shake-up in the off-season, with the biggest move being the departure of former Jayhawk star Danny Manning taking the head coaching position at Tulsa. In his nine years on the Kansas staff, Manning became renowned for his ability to develop big men for the programs. This fall marks the first time since the 2002-2003 season that the hero of the 1988 NCAA tournament will not be on the Kansas bench.
In his place, Norm Roberts returns to Kansas after spending six seasons as the head coach at St. John’s and one season as an assistant coach at Florida. Roberts has a long history with Self, spending time under him at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and one year at Kansas. Roberts differs from Manning in the fact that he specializes more in developing perimeter players. The other new face on the sideline will be former Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler, who takes over as the director of basketball operations after Barry Hinson left to take the head coaching job at Southern Illinois.
1. New Players In Lead Roles
Seniors Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey each had games last season in which they stepped up to the plate and made their presence known. Johnson emerged as an elite scoring threat in the tournament, and Withey transferred the skills he honed on the volleyball court to become one of the top defenders in the nation. But last year, they each also faded to the background in some games. This season they won’t have Tyshawn Taylor or Thomas Robinson to fill that void, and they will have to step up every game. The players’ on-court skills won’t be completely on display, as the practice portion is mostly glorified for the fans, but it will present the first opportunity for them to demonstrate their leadership skills to the public.