Ali Farokhmanesh’s first-ever trip to Lawrence and Allen Fieldhouse went pretty much as he expected: a few people noticed him, but not many.
“I look like every other guy out there,” he said with a laugh, “so it’s not really like it stands out.”
Farokhmanesh was on Nebraska’s bench for Kansas’ 89-72 victory on Saturday, serving as the Huskers’ director of player relations and development.
For KU fans, his full name often is interrupted with a curse word. He was the Northern Iowa guard who hit the biggest shot in the Panthers’ 69-67 victory over the Jayhawks in the 2010 NCAA Tournament’s round of 32. KU was the No. 1 overall seed that season.
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While rewatching his shot on an iPhone just outside the Nebraska locker room, Farokhmanesh said he put up the attempt because of instincts — and also because of his team’s turnover issues.
“It was the first time we crossed halfcourt in about in 10 possessions,” Farokhmanesh said with a smile. “It was probably just the first time I saw the hoop in a while.”
Farokhmanesh had some fun with KU fans during the opening rounds of the 2015 NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb. Along with the Omaha World-Herald, he was part of a viral video during which he posed as a reporter and asked Jayhawk fans about their memories of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Most didn’t recognize it was him.
“Kansas fans are great. They were good sports about it,” Farokhmanesh said. “Nobody tried to hit me or anything.”
Most KU fans left him alone Saturday, and the 28-year-old said he only heard a few random “Farokhmanesh sucks!” yells from the crowd. Farokhmanesh also didn’t get any grief from KU’s coaches, saying he knew most of the team’s assistants from recruiting while calling them “great guys.”
He did agree to one photo that appeared on ESPN’s broadcast of Saturday’s game. Farokhmanesh posed alongside ESPN broadcaster Miles Simon, who was part of the Arizona team that upset top-seeded KU in the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
“He figured Kansas fans hate him a little bit,” Farokhmanesh said, “and they hate me a little bit. too.”
Though that might be true, Farokhmanesh remains proud of what Northern Iowa accomplished six years ago.
“We still talk about that run that we had to the Sweet 16,” Farokhmanesh said. “It always brings back good memories for me and will always keep me connected to each and every one of my teammates.”