This was a season of heartbreak, adversity and triumph.
In the preseason, there were high expectations for the Jayhawks.
Basketball Times picked KU #1, the Sporting News had them second, and the
APO picked us #7 in the first poll.
All American Danning Manning was back for his last year,
along with returning starters Chris Piper, a 6í8 forward, and sophomore guard
Kevin Pritchard. Back after a year
layoff with a broken leg was 6í6 swing forward Archie Marshall, who was a
starter on the powerful 1986 team. Three
highly touted Juco transfers, 6í10 Marvin Branch, 6í0 Otis Livingston, and
6í3 guard Lincoln Minor were also on board.
Other returnees with promise were 6í4 forward Milt Newton, 6í4 guard
Scooter Barry and 6í5 F/G Jeff Gueldner.
The team was so loaded they redshirted two centers, 6í10 senior Sean
Alvarado and 6í9 soph Mark Randall.
The Jayhawks got off to a rocky start, losing two of their
first three games in the Maui Classic. They
then started building steam, winning the next seven.
In the second game of the Holiday Classic, they faced St. Johnís, a
team they had beaten three weeks earlier. With
a 21-20 lead, Archie Marshall got hit and went down with torn ligaments, ending
his collegiate career. KU
couldnít get on track and lost the game, sending their record to 8-3 and down
to 18th in the polls. They
adjusted and won their next three, including the conference opener against
missouri. On January 13th, the first day of the second
semester, Marvin Branch was declared academically ineligible. With two starters
now gone, the Jayhawks lost to Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum and four of their
next five games, putting their record at 12-8 (1-4 in the Big 8) and out of the
Then things started to jell as the Hawks son their next
five conference games before losing to #6 Duke after storming to a 23-8 lead on
national TV, and then to #4 Oklahoma in Norman. They then won their next four games before losing to Kansas
State in the second round of the conference tournament, to finish the regular
season 21-11, and third place in the Big 8 at 9-5.
Pritchard strained a knee in the tournament, and Livingston and freshman
Mike Masucci were both suspended from the team, leaving the Jayhawks with only 9
scholarship players going into the NCAAís.
Now unranked, KU got a #6 seed, paired against #18 Xavier
with a 26-3 record. Pritchard
played with his gimpy knee taped and led the team to a 85-72 victory.
In a nail biter, KU then squeaked by 15th seed Murray State
61-58, and by 7th seeded Vanderbilt 77-64 to reach the final eight.
They were joined by Big 8 foes, K-State and Oklahoma, both of which had
beaten KU twice earlier in the season. Early
in the second half KSU went up by seven, before KUís defense started taking
control. In the last ten minutes,
KU turned the game into a runaway 71-58 victory and a trip to the Final Four in
Just before the Final Four, the Los Angeles Times reported
that Larry Brown was the leading candidate for the UCLA head coaching job.
Brown said ďI canít talk about anything like that now.
Iím busy coaching KU and trying to win the national championship.
But I love UCLA, and Iím concerned about whatever happens there.Ē
These reports naturally led to team distraction.
Revenge, however, was foremost on the Jayhawks mind, as
they were scheduled to play the No. 5 ranked Duke Blue Devils, who had beaten
the Jayhawks in the í86 NCAA semifinal and the current team 74-70 in overtime
a month earlier in Lawrence. As had
happened in the earlier game, KU rushed out to a 24-6 lead, and finished the
half 38-27. Yet Duke staged a
monumental comeback, and with 4:17 to go KUís lead had dwindled to 57-54.
Then Manning stuffed in a missed layup, rebounded, blocked shots and led
the avenged Jayhawks to a 66-59 win, to set up the first all-Big Eight
championship game in NCAA history.
Every scouting report said ďdonít run with Oklahoma.Ē
But the Jayhawks did run, and made 17 of their first 20 field goal shots,
ending the half with 71% from the field. The
half ended in a 50-50 tie against the 4th ranked Sooners.
They had played OUís game and had survived.
Coach Brown had substituted freely, while Tubbs had rested only one
starter for three minutes. In the
second half, it was time for OU to play Kansasí game, and the Jayhawks defense
was strong. The game see-sawed with
KU finally going ahead 77-71 with three minutes to go.
However, KU missed four of its next five free throws while Oklahoma came
back to within one 78-77. Then
Scooter Barry put in a free throw and Manning drew a foul at :14.
He made both, and another two after being fouled with five seconds to
salt away the national championship.
No team had ever won the national championship with more
than ten losses. How did KU end up
winning it all? In spite of their
regular season record, they werenít that bad.
Five of their 11 losses were to teams that would up in the final eight,
and five others were to teams that made the NCAA field.
In the end, the Jayhawks won because of the earlier heartbreaks and
adversity that brought them together as a team at the right time.
Ken Johnsonís KU Basketball Newsletter, Vol. 92/93, No, 5
Kansas took the NCAA National Championship,
besting OU in the final game of the year, 83-79.
During the NCAA tourney, KU got revenge on
Duke, which had beat the Jayhawks earlier in the season, as well
as K-State and Oklahoma, both of which had two wins over the
Hawks that year.
Danny Manning was named NCAA Player of the
Year. He finished his career as KU's all-time leading
scorer with 2,951 points, and ll-time rebounder with 1,187
1988 CHAMPIONSHIP STORY,
By Dave Toplikar,
Journal-World Staff Writer
ARTICLE ON 1988 SEASON, From
"Nothin But Net"
1988 TITLE RUN, From "A Century of
SPORTING NEWS ARTICLE, by Paul
FINAL FOUR STORY, Pete Goering
CHAMPIONSHIP PRECEDE, Pete Goering
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME STORY, Pete Goering
SEASON RECAP, Pete Goering
DANNY AND THE MIRACLES, Mark
20 YEARS OLDER,
YOU TUBE VIDEOS OF 1988 SEASON
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj3zgxld9tw One Shining
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH81R6zro2Y Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw64QuT5jiE Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoJJrm-AG2s Part 4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t-Nx8w7Sbw Part 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUJ8_qeYj2g Part 6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wvu-l7pzMBY Part 7