LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the second year in a row, Kansas men’s basketball director of basketball operations Brennan Bechard made a half-court shot to win a fan $10,000 from KU coach Bill Self at the 32nd annual Late Night in the Phog presented by Hy-vee Saturday.
One female and one male were randomly chosen to either shoot a half-court shot or select a designate to shoot it. At the 2015 Late Night in the Phog, Bechard made the shot for KU student Jerrod Castro. This year, KU sophomore Jordan Stiers from Independence, Missouri, received a check written out by Self on the spot after Bechard made the shot again.
KU’s award-winning Rock Chalk Video department provided the packed house of 16,300 with fun features throughout the evening as did the KU cheer and spirit squad. The Bucket Boys from Chicago and Kansas City’s own Tech N9ne provided entertainment during the three-hour show signaling the start of basketball season
“It’s obvious to me that tonight is about celebrating a lot of different things,” said second-year KU women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider, who took the Jayhawks on a foreign trip to France and Switzerland in August 2016 posting a 4-0 record and averaging 93 points per contest in the process. “First and foremost, this is about celebrating the greatest fans in the country. Second, it’s about celebrating players, past, present and future. We’re really excited about our October practices so we can build on the momentum and chemistry that we built on that trip.”
Schneider then introduced former KU great Tamecka Dixon, who received a standing ovation. A Kodak All-American, Dixon, whose jersey was retired from KU in 2005, was the 1997 Big 12 Player of the Year and played 12 seasons in the WNBA from 1997-2009.
“I haven’t been back on this floor since 2005,” Dixon told the crowd. “So immediately, coming on this floor, I got butterflies. It all started for me here and it is because the people in this gym, you guys (the fans) make this arena great.”
The KU women’s team was then introduced, followed by a 12-minute scrimmage against its male practice players in which redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington and senior guard Timeka O’Neal led all scorers with six points each in the women’s team’s 34-13 win.
The KU men’s basketball’s skit was a “Dancing with the Jayhawks” parody of the popular show “Dancing with the Stars”, with the men’s coaches serving as judges. The Jayhawk seniors won the three-team competition.
“There are a lot of great things going on here,” Self told the crowd. “There are a lot of reasons to come to school here. We tell every recruit that comes here, the greatest reason you want to play here is the 16,300 people that are sitting out there.”
“Last year was a great year, 33-5, but we ended up a little short,” Self added, referring to KU’s 12th-straight Big 12 regular-season title, the Big 12 postseason championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. “We’re going to miss Perry (Ellis), Wayne (Selden Jr.), Cheick (Diallo), Hunter (Mickelson) and Brannen (Greene). But as excited as you were about last year, I can’t think of a reason why we can’t be better this year.”
After Tech N9ne’s performance, the KU men’s team was introduced and the Jayhawks played a 20-minute intrasquad scrimmage. They were led by sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr., who scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
The day started at 10 a.m., with the Phog Festival on the lawn located on the east side of Allen Fieldhouse. Fans, young and old, who came early for Late Night enjoyed interactive games, inflatables, a DJ, food trucks and much more. Patrons also enjoyed an adidas display featuring dunk contests and one lucky fan won a pair of Crazy Explosive shoes, the style worn by current NBA star and former KU guard Andrew Wiggins.
The Late Night festivities began with the championships of the 3-on-3 Tournament. More than 50 teams entered the event to raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer. Preliminary rounds were played earlier in the week at the Ambler Student Recreation Center located just east of Allen Fieldhouse. Following semifinals play at the rec center, team NoDAPL beat TMT, 27-12, in the women’s title game in Allen Fieldhouse. The men’s title game ended in a 29-29 tie with Connor had a BarMitzvah winning the title over Jay Dreamin’ by virtue of scoring the final basket. Women’s titlists included Hollymarie Butler, Chloe Gunville, Landri James, Echo Keo and Lois Stevens. Men’s champions were Joel Gutovitz, Connor Hurst, Daniel Jexmir, Dylan McClain and Jake Novicoff. KU coaches Brandon Schneider and Bill Self later presented the championship trophies to the winning teams.
KU’s teams not competing over the weekend were introduced then KU’s track and field Olympic participants from the Rio 2016 Games were featured and introduced along with Jayhawk head coach Stanley Redwine.
Both KU women’s and men’s teams will begin practice this week for the upcoming 2016-17 season.