An upcoming book on Kansas basketball promises to be more than just fluff. And that’s not just the book jacket talking.
Two excerpts from “Beyond the Phog: Untold Stories from Kansas Basketball’s Most Dominant Decade,” provide insight to how the teams were built and some motivating factors for a program that won nine conference titles, 300 games and a national title since 2001. Writers Jason King and Jesse Newell spoke to nearly 40 players and both head coaches, Bill Self and Roy Williams.
The result? Stuff like this from former player Keith Langford:
“Kris Humphries came on a visit and tried to commit. He really wanted to come here. But no one on the team liked Kris Humphries. He was arrogant. He told everyone he was going to come in and be the leading scorer as a freshman and that we’d all have to take a backseat to him. We were trying to be respectful and not say anything. But he was an absolute jerk. It was tough, because Roy was really excited about him. Kris Humphries was a big deal. He was a one-and-done or a two-and-done kind of player. Roy wanted him to commit on his visit. But we told him, ‘Coach, you can’t bring this guy in. You can’t do it.’ You’d figure Roy would say something like, ‘Let’s work on him,’ or ‘Let’s give him another chance.’ Instead he told Humphries, ‘Sorry, but you can’t come.’ Bill Self did the same thing years later with Terrence Williams.”
Nobody liked Kris Humphries? Guess his sisters-in-law aren’t the only ones who think so. Given that he eventually committed to Duke, then backed out and spent one season at Minnesota before bolting for the NBA, that was hardly a tough call.
Terrence Williams, on the other hand, probably wasn’t an ideal fit given how stacked the Jayhawks were with talent between 2006 and 2009. But I’m not sure how close T-Will was to coming to Kansas anyway. According to this, KU wasn’t one of the four schools on his final list. (Because they didn’t want him? Anyway.)
Then there’s the Jayhawks’ run to the 2008 national title, which included a “revenge” game against Villanova. Well, at least for Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins.
See, both were cut by ‘Nova coach Jay Wright during tryouts for the 2007 Pan-Am Games. Collins had a bum knee, but Chalmers says he led the camp in steals and hardly had any turnovers.
Yet Wright picked his own guy, Wildcats guard Scottie Reynolds. So when a Sweet 16 game between Kansas and Villanova rolled around, Chalmers wasn’t about to forget. An excerpt:
Coach Self called Sherron and me into his office and said, “How do you feel about this Villanova game?” I said, “Coach, this is personal to me. I don’t like Jay Wright.” He was like, “I understand that, but keep it out of the media.” So when the media asked if it was a personal game, we’d say, “No, it’s not personal. It’s just another game.” But during the game we were talking all kinds of s–t to Jay Wright. We’d run by him and tell him, “Sit your ass down! We got this!” Another time we said to him, “This is what you get for cutting us. We’re about to dog you!” Anytime we were throwing the ball in from the sideline, when he was standing up trying to call a play, we’d tell him to shut his mouth and sit down. There was one play where I threw a lob to Shady on an inbounds pass and he dunked over Scottie Reynolds. Right before I threw it I looked at Jay Wright and said, “Watch this!” That game was definitely personal for Sherron and me.
You can see more about what’s included in the book here. My biggest hope? That Williams goes through a detailed recount of his Bonnie Bernstein interview. A guy can dream, right?
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