I've never covered Roy Williams, never had the chance to talk to the guy one on one or see him consistently enough to know whether or not he's a genuine guy. From what I've heard I'm guessing he is.
The guy I do cover on a pretty much weekly basis is Bill Self, and I love the guy. I point to moments like the Kansas vs Kansas State game this year in Manhattan. Crowded into that tiny media room (which I'm told is changing soon thankfully) we watch one little tube-television and try to entertain ourselves until the game starts. Well the visiting team locker room is right in that hallway (a hallway that's usually packed with a lengthy line of people waiting for the only two bathrooms available downstairs to the media) and they always walk by the room on their way to the court. Not Bill Self, he doesn't walk by. No, Self stops in. He's in his warm-ups and he walks right into the media room, greets up with a 'Hey y'all, how you doin'? Who's winning this game?' Usually the response is, 'Hey coach, so and so is winning.' And it's just this simple conversation, before and after the games usually, that endears Coach Self to the media's hearts.
It's the reason why the fans love him too. Bill will always just stop and chat to whomever wants to say hi. He'll gladly stop and sign an autograph and then say goodbye with that patented Bill Self smirk that's just so darn charming.
And then, there's this. http://tiny.cc/swwobw
This could possibly be one of the best Bill Self moments of all time. Well, it's definitely up there. He's just so candid, such an average dude, that it's easy to forget what a legend he's becoming. By the way, the reason he's telling his guys to go 'take a leak' is because they sometimes have to take random drug tests for the NCAA compliance stuff.
Everyone has that great sports moment they can point to in their lives. Well, most everyone does. The cool people do. Kansas fans most definitely have Chalmers' three or Danny and the Miracles, or even just beating Roy Williams and UNC in the tournament in 2008. For me? I have a few. Personally, hitting four three-pointers in my 8th grade Catholic Youth Sports League championship game is up there, so is watching Troy Tulowitzki turn the 13th-ever unassisted triple play (even though I was watching with a boyfriend that was soon to be an ex, but I digress).
Honestly though, and this may be kinda crazy, I can point to a specific day that was the highlight of my sports life: December 10th, 2004. A lot of things were happening that day for me. First of all, my high school was playing in the state championship game. They were facing Pahokee and lost badly; they were of course facing Mr. Football Antone Smith in that game, my school had no chance. But it was the first time in as long as I can remember that my high school made it to the state champioship game so I was pumped.
Next thing that happened on that day, Florida was playing Louisville in basketball. So cool with the storyline potential of Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan, teacher vs student, basically all the same storylines we've got for this Saturday. I was 20 years old and getting to interview Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan in the same day and I was giddy.
The best moment, however, came about an hour before the basketball game started. I was walking into the O'Connell center, affectionately known as the O-dome, and made my way downstairs to the media room. I looked up and there he was, standing at the door, peering through the windows with a confused look on his face: it was Urban Meyer.
It was just me and Urban. Three years of my college football life had already been usurped by one Ron Zook so I was all too familiar with the successes of Urban at Utah. I casually walked up to him (well, I think I was casual but to him I probably looked like a crazy, googly-eyed stalker) and he asked me, 'Is this the way to the media room?' Think, Jennifer, THINK. Ok stop thinking, Jennifer, SPEAK! 'Yes sir, it's right through here. Oh and congrats on coach of the year by the way,' I cooly spit out. He said thanks, held the door open for me and we parted ways. That is why December 10th, 2004 is a day that will always stick with me as one of the best sports moments of my life.
Kansas has a chance to make a pretty amazing sports moment this weekend. Think about it: the Jayhawks lose the Morris twins and Xavier Henry, then they have two highly-recruits relegated to the bench for the season because of NCAA violations, and they STILL are in the sweet 16. There is a good chance the Jayhawks will once again get to face their former coach, Roy Williams, and should they beat him they will be in yet another Final Four.
I'd almost contend that anyone in the stands in Omaha witnessed an amazing sports moment: when Elijah hit that three, Tyshawn finished the alley-oop, and after leading for just 45 seconds the 'Hawks advanced to St. Louis.
There are few things that really cement themselves into my memory like sporting events. My memory is pretty amazing but for some reason I can tell you what I was wearing, where I was sitting, who I was with etc. for my important sports moments. It's the times when you just kind of drink in every part of the experience because you don't want to let any of it end. Here's to hoping for that for Kansas this weekend.
Ok, disclaimer: I just heard The Black Keys are playing New Orleans as the free concert as part of the Final Four festivities so that may have something to do with the fact that I'm 'rooting' for the Jayhawks to play well.
I ate an antelope burger last night. Yeah, that's right, the 'game' they had available for their wild game burger at The Dubliner was antelope. I had it with gouda cheese and it was delicious. It was probably made better by the fact that sitting next to me was an old college friend, Mandy, who is now a sports reporter in Raleigh so she's here covering NC State and UNC. Mandy and I got into a discussion about how much we really liked Peyton Manning because he never beat Florida when he was at Tennessee (conversely we dislike Eli because he beat Florida twice when he was at Ole Miss). Low and behold, a guy at the table next to us turns around says says, 'Go Gators!' There is apparently an English teacher's convention in town and the entire table next to us was comprised of Gator professors. Told you it was a small world.
Oh and it only gets smaller. The Ohio University Athletic Director, Jim Schaus, at one time hired a man named Gregg Marshall to coach a little team called the Shockers. Bruce got an interview with him today and it's just funny how things like that happen.
By the way, in case you hadn't noticed, there's a guy by the name of Roy Williams in town. He kept talking about the Jayhawks for some reason, apparently he must have some sort of connection to the school if only I could figure out what that is......kidding of course.
Roy was extremely candid today about his tenure at Kansas. He said that this morning he went for a walk outside the hotel and a fan yelled to him, 'Rock Chalk Jayhawk!' He responded, 'Go KU!' He says he still loves Kansas basketball and he is a KU basketball fan, but he wants the focus, fairly, to be on his team and not his former team. Good luck with that, Roy.