LAWRENCE, Kan. — The last time Roy Williams set foot in Allen Fieldhouse, he was still the coach at Kansas. More than a decade later, he returned to celebrate the building’s 60th anniversary.
Now the coach at North Carolina, Williams joined Ted Owens, Larry Brown and Bill Self on Monday in a reunion of the four living Kansas coaches.
The idea emerged from Kansas basketball hosting big charity events every other year.
Proceeds from the event are being donated to different charities at the wishes of each respective coach.
“I think I called Ted,” said Self, the current coach at Kansas. “But the other two, I think it’s harder to say no in person. I waited until I saw them in person. I knew for the event to take, we had to get all three here.”
Self said none of the coaches expressed hesitation when he told them about the idea.
All four echoed the same message: Allen Fieldhouse is a unique and special place.
“It’s the greatest home-court advantage,” Williams said. “There’s something hanging around in there that’s really unique that no one else has. Going in the Fieldhouse always was a thrill. It was a thrill going in there today. To be honest, I wish nobody else would have been in there. I could have stood around in there for a little while and it would have been a neat experience for me.”
Allen Fieldhouse has changed since Brown was at the helm of the Kansas program, but he still feels the same way about the building as he did many years ago.
“If you look up ‘Fieldhouse’ in the dictionary, it’d probably say ‘Allen’ right next to it,” said Brown, now the coach at SMU. “It’s exactly what you imagine a college arena should be.”
The oldest coach of the bunch, Owens, remembers the building a little differently than the other Kansas coaches do.
Allen Fieldhouse didn’t have air conditioning back then. The pretty bells and whistles were nowhere to be found. Postgame press conferences were held in the training room, Owens said.
“The floor was dirt underneath and was elevated,” he said. “It was a big ol’ barn out there.”
The four Kansas coaches all had different memories that came to mind when they thought of Allen Fieldhouse and their respective tenures.
Owens’ most vivid memory of his coaching career is the Texas Western game. He still says that JoJo White’s foot was inbounds and the shot should have counted. He recounted every detail of the end of the game as though it happened yesterday, rather than 48 years ago.
Brown remembers coaching Danny Manning and felt he should have won three NCAA titles — if Manning had a better coach.
“He’s the best college basketball player ever in my mind,” Brown said.
Williams wished he could have won “one more game on a Monday night on a couple of occasions.”
Self joked about how he played against Kansas his freshman year and scored 12 points, but as a coach, he remembers the last Border War against rival Missouri that was played on the court.
Even though they all have different memories, they want their legacies to live on.
“I hope I’m remembered as a guy who could coach a little bit and who really cared about the players and the game,” Williams said.
Owens said he wants his relationships with his players to live on.
Brown looked at his legacy a little differently.
“I don’t know,” he said.
He took a pause to collect himself.
“That’s for other people to decide. It’s just an honor to have coached here.”