Allen Fieldhouse one of college basketball’s must-see venues
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 08:03
Was it crazy?
Cramming five friends in a car, driving 2,000 miles and nearly 30 hours over the course of four days doesn’t exactly sound appealing.
But after opening the front doors of Allen Fieldhouse and taking a step inside, I knew it was worth every mile.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s some background information:
Thursday night, myself and four other media members decided to drive to Lawrence, Kan., to watch West Virginia take on No. 6 Kansas Saturday afternoon.
The Jayhawks are housed inside the most storied arena in college basketball, and it was a venue on all of our bucket lists.
We arrived in Lawrence Friday afternoon and made our first trek through the concourse of Allen Fieldhouse. We toured the arena home to Wilt Chamberlain’s jersey, the 2008 national championship trophy and a hall displaying information on the program’s 55 conference championships and 14 Final Four appearances.
Behind a glass display, there were the 13 original rules of basketball written by former Kansas head coach James Naismith – the inventor of the sport.
Only a couple hours had passed, and I was already blown away by the history and rich tradition of the 58-year-old arena.
When Saturday morning and gameday arrived, the experience became even more impressive.
After walking by the thousands of fans lined up outside more than two and a half hours before tipoff, I took a seat at midcourt and marveled at my surroundings.
I looked up at the banners decorating the rafters of the arena.
I walked out onto the court from the perspective of a visiting team, passing under the sign "Pay heed, all who enter: Beware of ‘The Phog’" (The Phog referencing former KU head coach Phog Allen, for whom the venue is named).
Then the students, who were let in two hours before the game, sprinted in an attempt to secure seats as close to the action as possible. The general public followed, though at a much slower pace, and Allen Fieldhouse was filled by 16,300 screaming Kansas fans for the 196th consecutive game.
Before the Jayhawks starting lineup was introduced, a pregame video was shown.
And not to take a poke a WVU, but it wasn’t exactly centered around the musical stylings of Sean Kingston.
Clips of Naismith, Danny Manning, Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce and many other storied alumni were shown.
As an avid consumer of college basketball, goosebumps covered my arms and neck for the duration of the video.
The game began shortly after, and the capacity crowd was the loudest of any basketball crowd I’ve ever heard.
The Jayhawks blew out the Mountaineers on the court, and all in attendance stayed until the end, while the echoes of the "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk ... KU" chant reverberated off the ceiling of the Phog.
It is more than just basketball in Lawrence, Kan.; it’s a way of life.
For Jayhawk fans, a Saturday is completely centered around Kansas basketball.
You go early, you stay late and you stand and cheer on your hometown team for an entire 40 minutes ... No matter the score.
Driving halfway across the country to see a basketball team run away with a 91-65 win may not sound like something you have to experience.
But if that drive takes you to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, it will be worth every second.
Add a Kansas home basketball game to your bucket list if you haven’t already.