The Jayhawk Legacy

Long live Danny and The Miracles: Remembering the stories of the 1988 title

Hail to the victors in this team photo. Back row, from left: Mark Randall, Sean Alvarado, Mike Masucci, Marvin Branch, Danny Manning, Chris Piper, Archie Marshall, student manager Bill Pope. Front row: Lincoln Minor, Jeff Gueldner, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, Otis Livingston, Scooter Barry, Keith Harris, Mike Maddox.
Hail to the victors in this team photo. Back row, from left: Mark Randall, Sean Alvarado, Mike Masucci, Marvin Branch, Danny Manning, Chris Piper, Archie Marshall, student manager Bill Pope. Front row: Lincoln Minor, Jeff Gueldner, Milt Newton, Kevin Pritchard, Otis Livingston, Scooter Barry, Keith Harris, Mike Maddox.

Here are the main pieces of coverage from the Jayhawks’ national championship in 1988.

Headline: KU’s dream comes true in 83-79 victory

Unbelievable.

Kansas won the NCAA basketball championship. The national championship.

Really, do you believe it? Kansas, a team that once was 12-8 this season, at the top of the heap?

You bet. In a sweaty-palm, stop-your-heart, gritty performance, the Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma 83-79 Monday night at Kemper Arena.

It was everything an NCAA championship game should be. More. Even more than that.

The Jayhawks didn’t bother to try to trick Oklahoma or slow the ball down or any of that stuff. They took it right at the Sooners. And Oklahoma didn’t budge. The two teams went at each other as only two teams from the same conference could.

They slugged it put to a 50-50 halftime tie, the most points ever scored in the first half of an NCAA title game. The effort didn’t drop in the second half, but the pace did as the teams gradually wore down.

It came down to .the last minute and a half. With Kansas ahead 77-73 and 1:28 to play, the Jayhawks’ Clint Normore missed the first of a one-and-one free throw chance. No matter. Oklahoma’s Mookie Blaylock missed at the other end.

Then Milt Newton, who wasn’t even a starter when the season opened, gave Kansas a five-point lead with a free throw. He missed the second, and Ricky Grace pulled the Sooners to 78-75 with a driving shot.

Danny Manning, who had carried Kansas through an improbable five-game tournament winning streak, then missed the first of a one-and-one with 50 seconds left; Blaylock pulled Oklahoma within a point, 78-77, with a tough shot just inside the three-point arc.

Kansas spread its offense, running the clock down pass by pass. Foul. Scooter Barry at the freethrow line with 16 seconds left.

First one up. Good.

Second one up. No good.

But Manning rebounded. His 17th of the night. Now the game — the culmination of Manning’s career — came down to two free throws.

He made them both.

Honest to gosh, HE MADE THEM BOTH.

“Everything we planned, everything we dreamed about, was right there,” said Manning’s father, Ed. “And Danny got it done for us.’”

Kansas was ahead by four points with 14 seconds left, but if ever there was a team that could make a rally work in that situation, it was Oklahoma.

Ricky Grace took the ball the length of the floor and stuck it in the basket. Now, it was 81-79. Seven seconds left.

KU inbounded the ball to Manning. Foul. Five seconds left. Manning back to the free-throw line.

And he did it again. Both of them.

Now, for sure, the dream was real.

Oklahoma finished its season with a 35-4 record — and heartbreak.

Kansas finished 27-11 — and euphoric.

“I’m not on Cloud Nine,” guard Clint Normore said. “I’m way beyond that.”

The Jayhawks last won a national basketball championship in 1952 behind a player of the year named Clyde Lovellette. This time it was Manning, who finished with 31 points and 18 rebounds in his last collegiate game.

“We have the greatest player in the game,” Kansas Coach Larry Brown said. “With a great player like him, you’ve always got a chance.”

Kansas already had lost twice this season to Oklahoma and had lost all three of its previous NCAA champipnship games in Kansas City. But as it turned out the Jayhawks finished with more than a chance. They took the title.

Unbelievable.

Headline: Kansas faithful find pot of gold

So this is the end of the rainbow.

Somebody tell Larry Brown he finally made it here. Pinch him. Tell him he can change ties now. Tell him his search for perfection can be over — for now.

And Danny Manning. Tell him he can rest. He’s earned it, having pushed, cajoled and otherwise inspired 10 other players for the last three months. Regardless of whether Manning’s career has peaked, or whether he does or does not succeed after walking out of Kemper Arena on Monday night, he can say he has been to the promised land.

The national championship.

Brown and Manning found it together Monday night, as the Jayhawks upset Oklahoma 83-79 in the NCAA championship game. Their last game together. All they could do was hug, and they might not ever let go. This one’s a keeper.

From Liberal to Hutchinson, from Great Bend to Topeka and Emporia, they are scratching their heads and checking their heart rates. Where did this team come from? What force exactly carried a KU team with 11 losses to a six-game winning streak when it needed it most?

Why does Jeff Gueldner have NCAA championship ring and not Wilt Chamberlain?

Yet, you know Wilt, that old sentimental lug, was smiling Monday night. So, too, was Roy Edwards, the proud KU alum whose death earlier this season is recognized with a black patch on each Jayhawk jersey. This one was for Wilt and Roy, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith and Ralph Miller. Even James Naismith, the father of hoops and a former Kansas coach.

All the coaching greats of college basketball who never won a national title while they attended Kansas. Jeff, you’re one up on ol’ Adolph.

And move over, guys, for Larry. The little professor — with the big mouth — from New York is now a solid chapter in Kansas basketball lore. Side by side with Phog Allen, who until Monday night was the only Kansas coach to win a national championship — 1952 in Seattle.

The Jayhawks beat St. John’s 80-63 on that night March 26, 1952. The star then was Clyde Lovellette, who was in Kemper Arena on Monday night to watch Manning. It’s not often one big piece of history gets to watch another one take place.

But then, this night of nights wasn’t planned. Or was it? Five years ago Kansas Athletic Director Monte Johnson surprised perhaps even himself when he was able to lure Brown from the NBA. The goal then was to bring the Kansas name back to national prominence. It had faded under Ted Owens.

Nobody in the wheat fields knew what this city slicker was all about, except that they might not have him around very long. Would Brown stay around long enough to get Kansas a national title?

The answer came Monday night. Or did it come four months after Brown arrived — August 1983, when Brown announced the hiring of Ed Manning as an assistant?

Later that year the son, Danny, signed with Kansas. A star was born, and so were expectations.

Though Brown and Manning went to the Final Four two years ago in Dallas, this was the year they pointed to. Manning passed up the NBA to stay. Brown backed up his promise by recruiting some protectioin. The Final Four in Kemper Arena? Perfect.

Then the best-laid plans unraveled, beginning Oct. 5 when Joe Young was ruled academically ineligible. Sophomore forward Mark Randall decided to seek a medical redshirt. Senior forward Archie Marshall was through for the season because of a knee injury in December. Two weeks latter junior center Marvin Branch was ruled academically ineligible. The top two junior college guards — Otis Livingston and Lincoln Minor — never made major contributions.

But here they are at the end of the rainbow, this team that had Brown mumbling about an NIT bid in February. The two constants through it all have been Brown and Manning. And if they both have seen their last game at Kansas, then they leave in style.

They had plenty of help, too. Junior Milt Newton and sophomore Kevin Pritchard both grew up. Senior Chris Piper played despite a bum knee all year and a pulled muscle in his groin. Junior Scooter Barry and Keith Harris proved they belong.

It was a different team; a special one. If Clint Normore can walk on from a 1-10 football team and earn his championship ring, then Athletic Director Bob Frederick needs to build a new trophy case in Allen Field House as its legacy. Here’s what you put in:

▪ One of Brown’s Italian suits, preferably with the matching handkerchief in the pocket.

▪ Danny Manning’s wristband with Marshall’s No. 23 written on it, representing the inspiration of a guy who couldn’t play but stayed to watch anyway.

▪ Scooter Barry’s certificate from CBS for being player of the game after his career-high 15 points helped beat Kansas State in the Midwest Regional final.

▪ Two snapshots: one of the reluctant Pritchard burying the three-pointer that beat Kansas State on Feb. 20 in Manhattan and started this crazy ride. Another of Newton juking and then leaving Duke’s Billy King in his tracks in the NCAA semifinal victory.

▪ Finally, Manning’s jersey. Retire the No. 25 and lock it up in a glass case. Don’t wash it. Leave every ounce of blood, sweat and tears soiled in from his most grueling and gratifying season. Don’t forget all of Manning’s national player of the year awards.

The ones he said he’d trade for a national championship.

Tom Shatel

Headline: Danny and the Miracles hit No. 1

Move over, Phog. You, too, Clyde, B.H., Wilt and all of those other legends that have heard the “Rock Chalk” chant over the years.

Make room for the 1988 version of the Kansas Jayhawks: NCAA basketball champions after their stunning 83-79 victory Monday night over the Oklahoma Sooners at Kemper Arena.

It was an improbable outcome to what will go down as one of the most unusual tournament runs in the 50 that the NCAA has played.

Just three weeks ago, the Jayhawks were unranked and battling through a season filled with disappointment, injuries and player suspensions.

Today, they are the national champions, giving Kansas its second NCAA title in its storied history.

“This is something that two months ago was totally unexpected,” Kansas Coach Larry Brown said. “We didn’t panic tonight when we got down. We hoped to just get the game to the last 5 minutes and take our chances. “I don’t think we’ve ever played a better game. All the kids played great.”

But none played better than senior Danny Manning. Kansas has relied on Manning for the better part of the last four years and turned to him once again Monday night. Manning came through again, scoring 31 points, including four key free throws in the game’s final 14 seconds that sealed the victory.

Manning added 18 rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots and was chosen the tournament’s most valuable player.

“It’s a great feeling and something we deserved,” Manning said. “This wasn’t a gift. A lot of people said we were lucky, but what’s luck? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Kansas shocked its Big Eight Conference mates by refusing to crack under the Sooners’ relentless defensive pressure. The Jayhawks finished with 23 turnovers but overcame that by making 63.6 percent of their shots (35 of 55). They played at a pace that matched Oklahoma’s and forced Coach Billy Tubbs to call off the Sooners’ press in the second half.

“They did a good job against our press, they got good shots and they were knocking them down,” Tubbs said. “They did an outstanding job. This is a bitter defeat for our team, because we thought we could win it all.”

But so did the Jayhawks, who grabbed at every opportunity provided them. And Brown’s team did something that few opponents have been able to do against the Sooners: They controlled the tempo of the game. In the first half, it was fast and furious, one of the most intense 20 minutes of basketball played this season. While that was to Oklahoma’s advantage, Kansas was able to keep up.

Then in the second half, Kansas .slowed the pace down by working the shot clock, eating up 25 to 30 seconds before starting their offense.

“When we were 50-50 at halftime, we were shooting close to 70 percent and we were all concerned,” Brown said. “We couldn’t slow ourselves down.

“We thought if we could get into the last 5 minutes, we could defense them, and we had the best player I’ve ever been associated with. It was wishful thinking, but it turned out right.”

Actually it was over the last 10 minutes that Kansas won the game. They outscored the Sooners 18-11 in that span, battling back from a three-point deficit with 11 minutes left.

Before the game, Brown said it was imperative for his team to get off to quick start, and there’s no question the Jayhawks came out flying. Both teams were throwing knockout punches at each other from the opening jump ball. It was such a fast-paced half that several times, the officials stalled the inbounds pass just so they could catch their breath.

“They just wouldn’t listen to me,” said Brown, who did not want to see his team play at that pace. “But we had opportunities, and the kids felt comfortable.”

Kansas made 71 percent of its shots in the first half, but the three-point, shooting of Dave Sieger (six of eight for 18 points) and a late basket by Oklahoma’s Ricky Grace had the score tied 50-50 at halftime.

The teams traded the lead and the momentum early in the second half. And the outcome was in doubt down to the final seconds, as the Jayhawks tried to nurse their largest lead of the game, after Chris Piper hit a fallaway jump shot with 1 second left on the shot clock that made the score 77-71 with 3 minutes, 5 seconds to play.

Grace made two free throws, cutting the Kansas lead to four points, but a free throw by Milt Newton gave Kansas a five-point lead with 1:13 left.

Grace hit a basket, making the score 78-75, and then Mookie Blaylock stole the inbounds pass and fed Grace, who missed the three-point shot. The Sooners’ Harvey Grant was called for fouling Manning on the rebound.

But Manning missed the free throw, and Oklahoma came down and Blaylock scored on a twisting jump shot, cutting Kansas’ lead to one point with 40 seconds to play.

Kansas killed the clock until 16 seconds were left, when Blaylock fouled Scooter Barry, who made the first free throw and then missed the second. But Stacey King was called for a pushing foul on Manning, who made both of his free throws and gave Kansas an 81-77 lead with 14 seconds to play.

Grace then drove down the court, made a layup, and Oklahoma called its last timeout, trailing by two points with 7 seconds to play.

After calling a timeout when he couldn’t get the ball inbounds, Piper finally got the ball inbounds to Manning, who was fouled by Grant with 5 seconds left.

He went to the line and thought to himself: “Ifs over. That’s what I was thinking. Before I shot. It was over.”

And it was, as Manning made both free throws and the wild ride of the Jayhawks ended on the victory stand.

Bob Gretz

Headline: In the end, it was all Manning

Danny Manning had everything he wanted: the ball, the free throws, the game — all in his hands.

So what did he do?

Why, he buried the suckers — four of them in the final 14 seconds — to personally hand-deliver Kansas an 83-79 victory over Oklaloma and the national championship.

End of game. End of college career.

Fitting? Of course. Manning, the player of the year who never seemingly satisfied the expectations he brought with him to Kansas, had carried his team to this NCAA championship game. Why shouldn’t he have the honors?

“What a fitting way to end his career,” Kansas Athletic Director Bob Frederick said, standing on the court after the celebration. “When we were missing free throws at the end, I turned to my wife and said, ‘Danny isn’t going to let us lose.’”

Fitting. Manning, the MVP of the championship game, earned it with 31 points, 18 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and five steals. What didn’t show in the box score was his defense on Oklahoma senior forward Harvey Grant — while Manning was playing the final 19 minutes with three fouls.

“I knew he wanted it bad, and he came out here and proved it tonight,” Oklahoma center Stacey King said.

All night long, Manning wouldn’t be denied, which is why he wound up on the free-throw line. Kansas junior Scooter Barry had made the first of a one-and-one with 16 seconds left but missed the second, short. The rebound went loose in the lane and Manning dived for it. King was called for a foul against Manning, and Manning wound up on the line.

Oklahoma’s Ricky Grace scored on a layup with 7 seconds left and the Sooners called timeout. Kansas got the ball in to Manning, who was fouled immediately. With 5 seconds left, he stepped up and made two free throws, clinching it for good.

And four years of sour images — fouling out in the Final Four two years ago, losing close friend Archie Marshall to a knee injury in December, criticism for not being a dutch player — were wrapped up in a happy ending.

“He wanted to be a champion,” said Ed Manning, Danny’s father and KU assistant coach. “There are so many things we asked him to do this year. I’m proud of him as a father and as a coach. This year we got him to understand that to be a great player, you have to work at it.”

Manning picked up his second foul with 10:44 left against King and didn’t return for 3 minutes. When he came back, he was promptly rejected by Grant. Later, with less than 3 minutes left in the half, Manning found himself in the open court alone with King, Oklahoma’s blocked-shot artist. Manning went up for a 15-foot jump shot and was stuffed by King.

Manning, of course, had the last word. With 44 seconds left, Manning and King were in the open court again. Manning drove to the hoop and, anticipating King would go for the block, held back on the dunk — hung in the air — and laid it in over a foul by King. The free throw made it 50-48, Kansas.

Manning picked up his third foul less than a minute into the second half but stayed in. Good thing, too, for Kansas. Oklahoma made an 8-0 run that gave it a 65-60 lead with 12:13 left. After Chris Piper scored and cut it to 65-62, Manning took off.

He took a pass at the baseline, faked — getting King to go up — and made a shot over King’s foul. The free throw tied the score. Manning now wanted the ball. He took shots on the Jayhawks’ next three possessions, making the last two, and gave Kansas the lead back — for good — 69-68 with 8:50 left.

How up was Manning? Up enough to block King with 5 minutes left.

How up? Up enough to show some serious emotion. After Piper hit an incredible baseline jump shot with 3:05 left on the game clock and :01 on the shot clock, Manning came down on the other end diving out of bounds for a loose ball. He came out of the Oklahoma bench shaking both fists.

But good emotion was bad for Kansas’ tempo. Manning was trying too hard. On the next two trips down, Manning forced off-balance jump shots toward the basket that missed. The only thing saving Manning was that Oklahoma couldn’t capitalize.

“I tried to shoot the ball ff the glass and missed both of them,” Manning said. “I looked over at the bench and Coach (Brown) was jumping up and down. My teammates were coming up to me telling me to calm down. I was excited, and maybe I tried to do too much at that point.”

Manning wouldn’t comment further after the mass news conference. But he left with one parting line that he requested the press write down.

“I’d like for you guys to put this in your articles,” Manning said. “If anyone has ever been involved in competition, just remember to keep your head up and work hard. People said we couldn’t do it, that we were finished. But we’re national chtunpions. We’re No. 1. What do you think of us now?”

When Oklahoma’s last shot went up and missed, the ball ended up in Manning’s hands as the buzzer went off. All he could do was run to center court to join his teammates in hugs — still holding on to the ball.

It was as if the ball was a magnet to Manning’s steel-like desire.

Coincidence? Fate? Or Manning? Maybe all of the above.

“He’s the guy that got us here,” Kansas assistant coach Alvin Gentry said. “Hes the guy we try to get the ball to. He was either going to win it or lose it tonight. We knew he wasn’t going to let us lose.”

Tom Shatel

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