Bob Frederick, the athletic director at Kansas University, is as surprised as anyone that the Jayhawks basketball team is in the national finals tonight, just three years after winning the '88 title and then going on NCAA probation for two seasons.
"I was expecting a few down years for Kansas basketball, relatively speaking," says Frederick, who was an assistant basketball coach at BYU in the early 1970s. "I warned our fans that they'd have to be patient, that we might be in for a few rough years."No sooner had the 1988 team won its title than All-American Danny Manning graduated, head coach Larry Brown took a job offer from the NBA, and the NCAA imposed a two-year probation on the basketball program for recruiting violation's under Brown's tenure.
Frederick decided to take a chance and hire Roy Williams, then 38, as his new coach, although Williams, an assistant at North Carolina, had never before been a head coach.
"I thought he'd bring us stability, and I painted as accurate a picture as I could when I hired him," says Frederick. "I didn't want him to be surprised by our situation."
"Roy's done an amazing job blending all these new players together," says Frederick. "Considering all the problems, it's phenomenal what's been done."According to Williams, six prime recruits called within 24 hours of the NCAA announcement of Kansas's probation in the spring of '88, cancelling their visits. As it was, the Jayhawks signed just one player that year, guard Adonis Jordan, now a starter.
"He was the only freshman we signed," said Williams. "If I coach 30 more years, the one recruit I'll remember is him. I remember calling him on the phone and him saying he was still coming. He stuck by us. I won't forget that."Tonight's championship game finalists, Kansas and Duke, have been regulars at the Final Four the past six years - Kansas three times and Duke five times. They met in the semifinals in both 1986 and 1988. Duke won in '86, 71-67 and Kansas in '88, 66-59.
Just one player remains from the '88 game - Kansas forward Mike Maddox. Maddox, now a starter, played just one minute and didn't score in the game against Duke.One recruit Kansas didn't get because of its probation problems went to - you guessed it - Duke. Thomas Hill, a 6-foot-4 guard from Lancaster, Texas, was heavily recruited by Williams when he took the Kansas job.
"I'd been involved in recruiting him a little bit when I was at North Carolina (as an assistant)," said Williams. "I checked it out with Coach (Dean) Smith to make sure there wasn't a conflict, and he said it was all right to talk to him. Thomas committed to come to Kansas, but I told him if, when the probation hit, it bothered him, he was under no obligation.
"When the probation did hit, he decided to transfer to Duke."
After playing sparingly as a freshman a year ago, Hill became a starter this year for Duke. He is the team's second leading scorer at 11.8 points per game.Duke point guard Bobby Hurley stopped a habit of screaming at officials and his teammates after he saw a sampling of his behavior on a video tape in January.
The Duke coaches and players spliced together film clips from several December games, a kind of lowlight film of Hurley's emotional outbursts.
"It was good for me to see," said Hurley. "I looked at it in an immature way at first. I thought everyone was pointing fingers at me, everyone was trying to gang up on me. But when I look back on it, it made me realize the importance of my job to the team, and that if I lost my perspective, it hurt everybody."QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Former UCLA star-turned-TV-announcer Bill Walton, approached by a fan in the Hoosier Dome and asked if his 1975 UCLA team could beat UNLV: "Not now. None of us can walk anymore."