Allen Fieldhouse: The Mecca of College Basketball
I leave my last class, bundling up to prepare for the cold Lawrence night. Heading back to my residence hall, I pass by Allen Fieldhouse, whose lights inside shine brightly as nightfall approaches. At this late hour, Allen Fieldhouse sits quiet as the moonlight rains down on the Phog Allen statue who peacefully watches over the arena. This bronze statue has seen many wins through the years at the Fieldhouse, and now as the Kansas Jayhawks 2015-16 season approaches, it prepares for the thunderous dunks, the harmonious chants, and the many victories that will take place in the walls of the arena for the upcoming months.
Since the court was dedicated in 1955, many players have become KU legends in this building. Household names like Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, and Mario Chalmers started on the polished hardwood courts of Allen Fieldhouse. College coaching legends Ted Owens, Larry Brown, Roy Williams, and now Bill Self coached the historical teams that walked the hardwood. The number of great teams and history that has been amounted in the fieldhouse has left a strong tradition that is felt by anyone who enters the building.
Entering this season, the Jayhawks are 731-109 at Allen Fieldhouse, coming off an undefeated season at home. In his 13th year as head coach, Bill Self has led this team to five undefeated seasons at home. One of the most extraordinary statistics in sports is that Bill Self boasts more Big 12 championships (11) than Allen Fieldhouse losses (9). Even ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas called Allen Fieldhouse the “cathedral of college basketball.” But basketball here is more than just what goes on during the 40 minutes between tip off and the final buzzer.
Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of “The Phog”
Hanging over the National Championship banners and looming over the court, these words echo through the halls of Allen Fieldhouse. “The Phog” is more than just the players who protect their home court each and every night they go out there, it’s more than Bill Self’s undeniably spectacular coaching, and it’s more than the basketball game. “The Phog” is each and every fan that comes together and puts their arms over each other’s shoulders to sing the alma mater, “Crimson and the Blue”. “The Phog” is the sweet, slow chants of “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk” that resonates from the whole crowd towards the end of a game. “The Phog” is even the long nights that student groups camp out inside of Allen Fieldhouse waiting to get the best seats for the game. To quote Jay Bilas again, “This magnificent building cannot be captured in words. You have to feel it… This building,” he said, “has a soul.”