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A look back -- 1988

  • HawkErrant
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5 years 1 month ago #1255 by HawkErrant
Many people who remember the 1987-88 Jayhawks will recall how the Jayhawks muddled through the first half of the season (12-8 after losing to OU in AFH in early Feb) before coming on strong to win the NCAA title that year. Many of those same people think of Larry Brown's moving Kevin Pritchard from SG to PG as the pivotal point in the Jayhawks getting their act together.

It was much more than just Pritchard being handed the reins to the team, though, as Chuck Woodling explains in his book “Against All Odds – How Kansas Won the 1988 NCAA Championship”.

There were actually several position and strategy changes that Brown made that led to the lineup finally gelling. Some position changes were by choice, some weren't.

BLUF:

POSITION CHANGES
Milt Newton to starting Forward after December due to Archie Marshall's career ending 2nd knee injury.
Chris Piper to starting Center in early January to replace academically ineligible Marvin Branch.
Kevin Pritchard to PG on 30 January 1988 after a carousel at the position since November 1987.
The emergence of Jeff Gueldner as the 5th starter, replacing Lincoln Minor at SG,.

MAJOR STRATEGY CHANGE
Starting with the KSU game on 30 January 1988, Brown encouraged Manning to roam away from the basket on offense so defenses would have a harder time collapsing on him.

Those moves, combined with the steady play of Scooter Barry (Jr G)and Clint Normore (Jr G) and the development of Keith Harris (SO F) and Mike Maddox (Fr F) off the bench were what made the difference.


DETAILS

The initial starting lineup for the first games for the 1987-88 Jayhawks was:
F - Danny Manning (Sr), Archie Marshall (Sr)
C - Marvin Branch (JUCO Jr)
G - Lincoln Minor (JUCO Jr PG), Kevin Pritchard (So SG)

On the bench:
C – Mike Masucci (Fr)
F - Chris Piper (Sr), Keith Harris (So), Mike Maddox (Fr), Marvin Mattox (Sr football and JV basketball player, joined the team in early February as Brown worried about having enough big bodies)
G/F - Milt Newton (Jr), Jeff Gueldner (So)
G – Otis Livingston (JUCO Jr), Scooter Barry (Jr), Clint Normore (Jr PG transfer from Wichita State, and starting safety on the KU football team; joined the team the third week of December)

PG was an issue from before the start of the season until the end of January.

November 1987.
Brown initially hoped JUCO Jr Otis Livingston would be the answer to replacing graduates Cedric Hunter and Mark Turgeon, but Livingston did not start the season at PG. Fellow JUCO Jr Lincoln Minor got the nod instead over the turnover prone Livingston.

December 12, 1987. KU 110, Rider 72
Unfortunately, Minor also proved to be turnover prone, leading to Brown making Scooter Barry starting PG for the game against Rider, with Livingston as his backup. Minor was switched to SG.


December 19, 1987. KU 74, NCSt 67 in Raleigh, NC
Scooter didn't last long as the starting PG, as Livingston got the next start against NC State. But when Livingston fouled out, Brown brought in Clint Normore, who had just joined the team, to finish the game at point.

December 28, 1987. KU 64, Memphis State 62 in NYC
Livingston started against Memphis State (today called simply Memphis), with Normore and Barry as backups.

December 30, 1987. St. John's 70, KU 56 in NYC
Archie Marshall tore two ligaments in his right knee, ending his playing days. Piper (despite nagging injuries that would bother him the rest of the season), Newton and Gueldner started getting more floor time with his loss. Livingston started at point, with Barry as his primary backup.

January 4, 1988 KU 67, Washington 57 in Seattle, WA
Lincoln Minor got the surprise start at PG (alternating with Livingston at point and Pritchard at SG) because he had several relatives at the game. He came through with his best performance of the season, with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 turnover in 34 minutes. Milt Newton made the starting rotation as Archie Marshall's replacement.

January 6, 1988 KU 90, American 69 in Lawrence
Barry (started) and Livingston shared the point. Piper's groin injury was still problematic, he only played 4 minutes.

January 9, 1988 KU 78, Missouri 75 in Lawrence
Livingston started, Barry was backup PG. This was the last game for C Marvin Branch, who had started 14 games, averaged 8.4 PPG and 6.1 RPG, twice led the team in scoring and led the team in rebounds 5 times. Branch was declared academically ineligible upon release of his fall semester grades.

January 13, 1988 ISU 88, KU 78 in Ames
Livingston (started), Normore and Barry share the point. Newton continues at F in Marshall's place. Piper started at C in place of Branch. Piper's ability to practice was limited due to his nagging groin injury. He resigned himself to having to deal with it for the year, and to go all out in games regardless of the injury. Mike Masucci (C) started seeing time as Piper's relief.

January 16, 1988 KU 95, Hampton 69 in Lawrence
Livingston started at point, Piper at C, Newton and Manning at F and Pritchard at SG. I don't remember the details, but I understand that Hampton (a Division II program back then) was added to the schedule by the Athletic Department that year as part of a package of three nationally televised games.

January 23, 1988 Notre Dame 80, KU 76 in South Bend
Starters were Livingston (PG), Pritchard (SG), Manning (F), Newton (F) and Piper (C).

January 27, 1988 Nebraska 70, KU 68 in Lincoln
Starters were Livingston (PG), Pritchard (SG), Manning (F), Newton (F) and Piper (C).

January 30, 1988 KSU 72, KU 61 in Lawrence (the end of the 55 game home court winning streak).
Starters were Pritchard (his first game at PG, as Brown continued looking for an answer at the point), Minor (SG), Piper (C), Manning (F) and Newton (F). Despite losing, and Pritchard's less than stellar shooting (3-12, 0-4 from 3, 7 total points, while dishing out 8 assists, making just 1 turnover and getting 4 steals in 31 minutes), Brown was encouraged with their prospects after this game.

February 3, 1988 OU 73, KU 65 in Lawrence
Starters were Pritchard (PG), Minor (SG), Manning (F), Newton (F) and Masucci (C). Piper was hurting, so Masucci got the start, but Masucci only played 14 minutes as he got hurt (concussion, out 10 days). Piper ended up playing 23 minutes, but turned in his 2nd straight poor performance. Lack of practice meant he was out of sync come game day, so after this he got Brown's okay to practice with the team despite his injury.

February 3, 1988 KU 73, CU 62 in Lawrence
Starters were Pritchard (PG), Minor (SG), Manning (F), Newton (F) and Piper (C).

February 10, 1988 KU 78, OSU 68 in Stillwater
Starters were Pritchard (PG), Manning (F), Newton (F), Piper (C) and, replacing Minor at SG, sophomore Jeff Gueldner. Adding Gueldner (for the younger generation, think Brady Morningstar with an outside shot) in the starting rotation was the final roster change that led to the turnaround and the NCAA title.

Starting with that OSU game, KU won 14 and only lost three more times that spring – to OU in Norman, Duke in Lawrence and, in what was then described as the “rubber” game in the competition, to KSU and future NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond (whom KU beat in Manhattan after losing to them in AFH in January) in the Big Eight Tournament. After that, we know what happened – 6 straight wins on the biggest college stage of all, including record balancing payback wins against KState (2-2 against KU in 1988) in the MidWest Regional Championship and Duke (1-1 against KU in 1988) in the National Semifinal, before finally beating the Sooners when it counted the most – for the National Championship!


ROCK CHALK, JAYHAWK, KU!

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it” ~Albert Einstein
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5 years 1 month ago #1258 by NotOstertag
Had we not won the whole deal in 1988, it would have been a very forgettable season, IMHO. They had a better chance with a better team in '87.

What I remember most was that despite a rather non-exciting regular season that we lost 3 home games to K-State, Oklahoma and Duke.

When the tournament rolled around, our final 3 games were K-State, Duke and Oklahoma. We all know how that turned out.

STILL more conference championships than home losses

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  • HawkErrant
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5 years 1 month ago #1260 by HawkErrant

NotOstertag wrote: Had we not won the whole deal in 1988, it would have been a very forgettable season, IMHO. They had a better chance with a better team in '87.

What I remember most was that despite a rather non-exciting regular season that we lost 3 home games to K-State, Oklahoma and Duke.

When the tournament rolled around, our final 3 games were K-State, Duke and Oklahoma. We all know how that turned out.


... and about the home losses (NB: our only home losses of that year).

And our last loss before the NCAAs began was in the B8T to KState, making the Midwest Regional Final win triply sweet.
The Jayhawks beat an excellent and favored KState team
(1) after losing to them in AFH that year, and
(2) after losing to them in the B8T, with
(3) the NCAA win advancing KU to the Final Four.

Mmm, mmm, sweet!

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it” ~Albert Einstein
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5 years 1 month ago #1261 by NotOstertag
...and I remember the slowly growing creshendo of celebration as we went deeper into the tournament. I have a specific memory of one game (maybe the KSU game?) and I was running late to get back to the dorm to watch it on TV. As I hustled up the hill between the back sides of Hashinger and Ellsworth halls, I could tell what was going on from the alternating cheers and groans emanating from the open windows of the dorm rooms. Pretty cool.

STILL more conference championships than home losses
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