Rival Kansas, hostile arena await Missouri men's basketball team

Sunday, January 24, 2010 | 6:17 p.m. CST; updated 10:04 p.m. CST, Sunday, January 24, 2010
Kansas guard Sherron Collins celebrates at the end of an Wednesday's game against Baylor. The Bears gave the Jayhawks a tough game, but Kansas extended its home winning streak to 53.

COLUMBIA – Before home games at historic Allen Fieldhouse, the Kansas basketball team shows a goosebump-raising video on the scoreboard of the arena, where the Jayhawks have won 53 straight games.

The montage that precedes the introduction of the Jayhawks’ lineup shows images and videos of the biggest moments and legendary figures in Kansas history.

As if seeing pictures of basketball immortals like James Naismith, basketball’s inventor who founded and coached Kansas’ team, aren’t enough to intimidate visiting teams, the video also flashes the numbers that justify every bit of glory and hype that the program produces – 5 national championships, 13 Final Fours, 52 conference titles.

At this point, opposing players can't help to wonder, How do you beat that? How do you win here?

“I always look at the visiting team to see what they’re doing during that video,” Jim Marchiony, Kansas’ associate athletics director, told the University Daily Kansan last year.

If Marchiony looked at the visiting sideline before No. 3 Kansas’ win Wednesday against Baylor, he would have seen an empty bench. Baylor coach Scott Drew and his team left the floor and huddled in a corridor for Drew’s final pregame instructions, a first at Allen Fieldhouse.

“It was simply because we knew we only had a minute and we wanted to go over what we wanted to do to start the game,” Drew told the Kansas City Star. “There are no rules against it or anything. We met in the hallway and discussed how we were going to handle the beginning of the game.

“Their intro is pretty good and pretty long. No disrespect or anything like that. One thing about Kansas fans is they’re passionate and they’re good, and they’re knowledgeable.”

But the Bears received boos when they came back onto the court.

“It was highly unusual,” Kansas coach Bill Self said to the Star about Drew's decision. “We would never do that.”

Missouri coach Mike Anderson gave no indication he would try a similar tactic to guard his players from Kansas’ intimidating video before the rivals square off Monday in Lawrence, Kansas.

Anderson is no stranger to the nearly impossible task that is winning at Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks have lost 12 times in the past 15 years. The Tigers have lost by an average of 19 points in Anderson’s three trips to Lawrence as Missouri’s coach, including a 25-point loss last year.

Still, Anderson said players should get excited about playing in one of the country’s best environments, even if it’s a nightmare for visiting teams.

“If you’re a basketball player, I think you look forward to playing in great venues, and it’s a great venue,” Anderson said.

Senior guard J.T. Tiller said Anderson simply tells his players the trip to Kansas is one of the games they can really get excited about. Tiller said it will be up to older players like himself to keep Missouri’s eight underclassmen calm.

“You’re going to have a lot of butterflies at first,” Tiller said, but added it’s just a basketball game after that.

Asked what he remembers about Missouri’s 90-65 loss at Kansas last year, sophomore guard Miguel Paul didn’t hesitate.

“The building shaking,” he said, laughing. “It’s real loud.”

Senior forward Keith Ramsey described what it feels like to play there.

“It just drains you,” he said. “As soon as you walk out, people just in you’re face, talking. I don’t know how many they seat, but it’s just a lot of people screaming at you.”

Allen Fieldhouse holds 16,300 fans and has been sold out for the past 141 games. This year, the Jayhawks have had a few close calls in the building in which they normally dominate. In January, they’ve won twice by single digits, a rare occurrence at Allen Fieldhouse, against Baylor and Cornell. Cornell led Kansas with less than five minutes to play, and Baylor was within two in the closing minutes.

Even when Kansas plays poorly, it almost always finds a way to win at home, as evidenced by the Baylor and Cornell wins. That’s why Anderson is approaching the game with a level-headed disposition.

“To me, we want to go and see if we can get better,” Anderson said. “I think that’s the key, you want to go get better, do the things that we do. We know it’s going to be a big challenge, I think that’s why they play the game.” 

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