Jo-Jo joins the Jayhawk mob on Snob Hill

Kansas handled its traditional rival with ease last week, and now it has a skillfull backcourt recruit in the quest for national honors
January 31, 1966

"The largest basketball crowd on campus this year was on hand Saturday night when Snob Hill beat Silo Tech 69-61. Those in Kansas who could not get in watched on a statewide TV network or heard it on radio or just plain talked about it. Kansans have never liked anything better than to talk about Snob Hill or Silo Tech, but they are especially loquacious nowadays with strangers from the East who come asking questions and do not display notebooks—you never know when Truman Capote might be through again.

Silo Tech and Snob Hill are, in the more polite vernacular, respectively Kansas State and Kansas University, and they have an intrastate basketball rivalry as stern as any in the nation. Though both schools are located in the eastern section of Kansas, K-State, the agricultural school in Manhattan, is favored by the farmers of the west, KU by the—relatively, now—east-state sophisticates. Only one out of 11 K-State undergraduates is majoring in agriculture in these soil-bank days, but the brethren at KU, in Lawrence, will not let the cow-college image die. Similarly, the Manhattanites rail at KU as a hotbed of chichi cosmopolitanism—although a visitor to Lawrence has difficulty discovering anything more fashionable in the way of attire than high school letter jackets with cream-colored sleeves.

But never yet have stereotypes failed to enhance a Kansas-Kansas State basketball game. Interest was higher than usual this year, what with Kansas striving for national honors, and both teams battling Nebraska for the Big Eight title. Besides, basketball was welcomed gratefully this season in the Sunflower State, Kansas having gone 2-8 in football and Kansas State 0-10. The game last Saturday produced the first sellout at Allen Field House since February 3, 1958, when the Jayhawks had Wilt Chamberlain and the Wildcats were running up a 22-5 record. Those were the glory days for K-State—it was ranked No. 1 in the nation the next year. But the school is set way out in the broken grazing land where the Flint Hills peter out, and it has never really had much success in recruiting winning talent in other sports. Coach Tex Winter's charm still draws some top players, and his patience with the development of late bloomers—particularly big ones like 7-foot-1 sophomore Nick Pino—has kept the Wildcats challengers. But under Ted Owens, KU has clearly regained its traditional position as best in the state.

Underdog K-State now finds even simple recognition difficult. It leads KU in nabbing the state's high school valedictorians, but KU puts that down by leading all U.S. state universities in recent years in producing Rhodes Scholars. The Wildcats must dress in uniforms of a color known in the trade as "Northwestern Purple," and even when they get lucky something goes wrong. Overbrook High in Philadelphia has sent Kansas Wilt Chamberlain (7 feet 1) and Wayne Hightower (6 feet 8). K-State got an Overbrook boy this year, finally. He is 5 feet 6. The little fellow's name is George Waters, and he is playmaker for the Wildcat frosh, who were shattered by KU's powerful assortment of high school all-this-and-thats, 80-55, two nights before the varsity game. The freshman Jayhawks were led by a 6-foot-3 guard, Jo-Jo White, who entered college for the spring semester last year, and who thus will be eligible for varsity competition on February 12. Besides everything else, KU positively leads the world in keeping a little something for rainy days. Here is a potential star popping up at midseason, and next fall Miss America will be back in school.

The Jayhawks did not really need White against K-State, but he will certainly make a difference against more formidable, pressing teams. The Jayhawks lack speed, and were beaten by Nebraska at Lincoln by Joe Cipriano's pressing Cornhuskers earlier in the week. In his final freshman games White showed speed, a truly rare eye for passing and good ball-handling ability. Perhaps even more important, he has excellent poise under pressure. He should move right into the varsity backcourt, probably in place of talkative Al Lopes, who can then shift to the front line. Lopes is a more natural forward, and will bring some needed quickness up front. (Lopes is so determined a talker that when the team visited the Bonanza set on its Los Angeles road trip he was officially clocked yakking four minutes straight with Michael Landon, before Landon could so much as say "Hoss.")

The varsity Snob Hill-Silo Tech match Saturday night was somewhat dull. Gambling with a tight half-court zone early in the game, Kansas did not let the Wildcats get a basket for almost six minutes, and by the time All-America Center Walt Wesley went to the bench with three fouls, six rebounds and 14 points, with 7:31 left in the half, it was 30-11 for Kansas. From there on neither team played particularly well, though K-State did manage three times to cut the margin to seven points. Wesley's battle within a battle against Pino was a sad mismatch. Senior Wesley made 26 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore Pino got only a simple lay-in and three rebounds. The Wildcats cut into the lead only when Pino was benched. Wesley, on the other hand, is agile enough, though he appears to lack aggressiveness, particularly on the offensive boards.

K-State's only victory was a negative kind of thing. Provocative pranks between the two schools pretty much disappeared after a "peace pact" was signed several years ago. This stopped such practices as the one in which a KU man would paint a chicken red and blue, the school colors, smuggle it into the Manhattan field house and release it on the court at a crucial moment. But last year a K-State student who shall forever be celebrated as The Wildcatman pulled off the pi√®ce de résistance. He already had been renowned for such feats as "the last great K-State panty raid," but his identity is known only to the deans, who could not pin a rap on him, and various newspapers whom he would call up to explain how he managed a particular caper. Has any master criminal ever had it better?

Anyway, last year The Wildcatman cased Allen Field House at Lawrence for months, secreted himself in a closet the night before the big game there and contrived a complicated electrical device that triggered two huge signs into falling over the scoreboard in the very midst of the game. The signs read, GO STATE: KILL SNOB HILL AGAIN. Since usually reliable sources have reported that The Wildcatman is—honest, J. Edgar Hoover—now masquerading as a law student at KU, fear about his possible activitities reached panic proportions last week. Not only were special guards assigned to Allen Field House the night before the game, but they were joined on patrol by two ferocious Doberman pinschers. Security was so tight that the chief of operations proudly reported: "If there is a bomb threat we won't even have to clear the place. We're that sure."

The effort was wasted. Wisely, The Wildcatman lay low, probably plotting somewhere out in the cold darkness of the Kansas plains for the day, March 5, when the great rivalry is resumed. Who knows? The Wildcatman does.


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