Kansas basketball staff member Jeremy Case doesn’t need to see tape of Mario Chalmers’ overtime-inducing shot against Memphis to remind him of details of the 2008 NCAA championship game.
“I mean, it still kind of seems like it was yesterday,” KU title team member/second-year video coordinator Case said of the Jayhawks’ 75-68 victory on April 7, 2008, in San Antonio.
“It’s one of those memories that is still really strong and is probably going to stay strong in your mind for eternity.”
Case spoke with reporters Monday on the second day of the five-day Bill Self basketball camp for youths in Allen Fieldhouse, Horejsi Center and other venues around town.
Various celebrations figure to take place during the 10-year anniversary season of KU’s 2008 NCAA crown, the first at Thursday’s Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, set for a 7 p.m. tipoff at Free State High School.
Most of the members of the 2008 title squad have committed to play or coach in the ninth-annual Roundball Classic, which benefits area families battling cancer. Some of the ’08 title-team members also may be around for Wednesday’s Self campers scrimmage.
“I kind of thought about it before Brian (Hanni, radio play-by-play voice of Jayhawks and Roundball Classic event organizer) brought it to my attention,” Case, a reserve shooting guard on the 2008 team, said of the anniversary season approaching.
“When I first got here (before last season) we talked about Coach’s summer camp and guys coming back. I was like, ‘Man, it’s about to be 10 years since we won the championship,’ so I was like, ‘I’m going to try to get as many guys as I can to come back for the camp game.’ Then Brian just kind of piggybacked that with the Roundball Classic.”
Six of the eight Jayhawks who played in the KU-Memphis game are scheduled to be back Thursday — starters Chalmers, Darnell Jackson and Russell Robinson as well as key reserves Sasha Kaun, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich. Others on the ’08 team expected to return: KU director of basketball operations Brennan Bechard, plus Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Matt Kleinmann, Conner Teahan and Brad Witherspoon.
“The first thing that comes to mind is all the hard work, sweat and tears that it took to get there,” Case said of the ’08 title game. “Boot Camp, some bad losses early in the tournament that we had to go through, obviously the UCLA game in the Elite Eight (loss in 2007), those kind of games that really stick to you.
“To actually get to that (title) game and win it the way we did is just unbelievable,” Case added, referring to KU rallying from a seven-point deficit with 1:54 left in regulation.
Case said that 2008 team was motivated to win it all.
“We have that bond that most championship teams do have, one that you do need to win a championship,” Case said.
A lot has happened to Case since the final buzzer of the Memphis game. The McAlester, Okla., native is beginning his second season on Self’s staff after being an assistant coach for four years at Houston Baptist and three seasons at Southeast Missouri State. He also was a graduate student on Self’s KU staff in 2008-09.
“It’s actually going great,” Case said of his career. “I got some experience, got on the road (recruiting) at a couple of different schools as an assistant coach, got a lot of contacts. To come back here and get with these guys (KU coaches) and start learning from them more obviously is going to help me in the future.”
Graham speaks to campers
KU senior guard Devonté Graham served as guest speaker to several hundred youths Monday at Self’s camp.
He was asked in a campers’ Q and A session why he chose jersey No. 4. “That’s when I started playing basketball, 4 years old,” Graham said.
The Raleigh, N.C., native was asked if he always wanted to play for KU. “I grew up a UNC fan (North Carolina). That was my dream school before I came here. I definitely didn’t think I’d play at Kansas,” Graham said.
He said he thought former KU guard Josh Jackson would be a top three pick in the June 22 NBA draft, maybe even to Boston at No. 1. Of former KU guard Frank Mason, Graham said: “I think he will have a good career. He will be drafted. I think he’ll do well.”