Courtesy: Kansas Athletics
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas men’s and women’s basketball teams ceremoniously began their 2014-15 seasons Friday evening inside Allen Fieldhouse at the 30th annual Late Night in the Phog.
The event kicked off with a midcourt performance from the cheer squad, which was followed up by the recognition of all of the student athletes that comprise Kansas Athletics. As an athletic department, KU saw seven teams in postseason play a year ago. The teams in attendance that were recognized at center court were baseball, cross country, track & field, men’s golf, softball, swimming & diving and tennis.
As Late Night tradition would have it, the first round of skits and dancing was kicked off by members of the women’s basketball team who sported a gold chain look during their skit. Shortly following the dancing, women’s head coach Bonnie Henrickson was escorted onto the floor by the KU marching drum line to introduce this season’s edition of the Jayhawk women’s basketball team.
The women’s team will be made up of a four-member senior class, led by guard Natalie Knight and preseason all-conference forward Chelsea Gardner, who both look to etch their names onto KU’s 1,000-point club by season’s end.
During the Crimson and Blue scrimmage, Gardner, the preseason all-league selection, didn’t disappoint, scoring the first points in the 12-minute intrasquad affair and leading the Blue team to a 22-16 victory with a game-high 10 points and five rebounds. An Olathe, Kansas, native, Knight converted two of her four shots from the field totaling four points and a blocked shot in the Blue team’s victory.
Shortly after the women’s team exited the floor, men’s basketball head coach Bill Self took the court to preview the 10-time defending Big 12 Champions. The men’s skit was themed, ‘Evolution of Hip Hop,’ and members broke into groups and danced to multiple hip hop songs from different decades.
After a ‘through the years’ highlight video was shown, the ‘Big 12 Champions’ banner at the north end of Allen Fieldhouse was unveiled with 2014 inscribed on it commemorating last year’s 10th-straight regular-season conference championship.
Matched up on opposing teams for the Crimson and Blue scrimmage men’s portion of the scrimmage were the two players that are going to be looked upon to lead the team in many different facets of the game in junior forward Perry Ellis and sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr.
The scrimmage ended in a 37-37 tie with Selden throwing in a game-high 17 points and three rebounds for the Blue team. Ellis contributed four points and five rebounds, while it was freshman forward Cliff Alexander playing his first minutes in front of fans inside Allen Fieldhouse that scored a Crimson-high 12 points and grabbed four boards. Selden and Alexander were the only players to score in double figures on the night. Junior transfer forward Hunter Mickelson snagged six rebounds and scored eight points for the Blue squad.
Fans will get the chance to get their first look of game action on consecutive days, Nov. 2 and 3, when both teams host exhibition games. The women’s team will take the floor on Sunday, Nov. 2 when they play host to Fort Hays State at 2 p.m. The next evening, the men will welcome Washburn to Allen Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.