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While the jubilant Jayhawks cut down the nets. Scooter turned to a fellow in a Kansas baseball cap who was going fairly bonkers and said, "I played lousy, Dad."
"So what?" said Rick Barry. "You won."
The Jayhawks' unlikely journey began only 40 miles from Kansas City. But while the players took a bus from their Lawrence campus to the Final Four, their bus driver had to fly in. The ever-superstitious Brown wanted his team chauffeured in K.C. by the same Greyhound employee who had driven them around the week before at the Midwest Regional in Pontiac, Mich.
"It's baffling to me," Jimmy Dunlap of Detroit—Driver Jimmy to the Jayhawks—told The Kansas City Star. Nevertheless, on Thursday night Driver Jimmy steered the Jayhawks downtown to venerable Municipal Auditorium so that they could catch some of the coaches' All-America game.
The outing was a nifty motivational trick by Brown. The Jayhawks got to soak up some history—nine NCAA title games had been played in the old building—and to enjoy some crowd adulation as the local favorite. They were accompanied by what may be sport's only team bodyguard, Fernando de San Miguel, a rather enormous fellow from Mexico City and Hollywood who was once the stuntman for TV's Tarzan. San Miguel says that he met Brown while "doing Larry's lawn."
On Friday, Driver Jimmy, Fernando the Landscaper, Brown, Manning and the other beloved Jayhawks attracted some 17,000 to Kemper Arena, believed to be the largest practice-day crowd in tournament history. The crush was such that the fire marshal closed the doors, thereby barring thousands of other people from the workouts, including Bobbi Olson, wife of Arizona coach Lute.
That sound heard in Kemper that afternoon was not the crowd calling for Luuuuuute to rescue Bobbi. Rather it was the locals boooooing the Duke players. The next day the Blue Devils earned additional razzing as they plunged to a two-touchdown deficit (14-0) in the first semifinal, which Kansas won 66-59. Six weeks earlier, Duke had fallen behind Kansas 23-8 at Lawrence, only to snap back with a smothering defense and win in overtime. But now, déjà P-U. On their first 10 possessions, the Dookies missed five shots and turned the ball over five times.
As his team self-immolated, the smoke began to rise from coach Mike Krzyzewski's ears—"Take care of the——ing ball," he shouted. Though Duke made a valiant recovery—after Piper drove through the team's embarrassed middle to give Kansas a 24-6 lead with 10:54 left to the half, the Blue Devils out-scored the Jayhawks 53-42—they were never able to get over the hump of that terrible start.
The famous defenders simply got out-defended. The scrambling Jayhawks narrowed the passing lanes, choked off the inside and harassed Duke's marksmen into 34.3% shooting. In addition, Manning avenged his four-point, five-foul performance in Kansas's 1986 NCAA semifinal loss to Duke—"I'll never forget that game," he said on Saturday—with 25 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and a Final Four-record six blocked shots. Still, this wasn't a one-Dan offensive operation.
Newton burned the Blue Devils' esteemed defenseman, Billy King, for eight baskets. "If I'm supposed to be a gunslinger, I guess I got shot down," said King afterward. And Pritchard made the key basket of the game.