It happens at every game at Allen Fieldhouse. You just have to be there to see it.
With 16 minutes showing on the clock above the basket, Kansas partakes in the tradition of sliding face first onto the James Naismith court. As the team rises after the final dive, senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk walks over to a short figure, reaching out a hand and touching the figure's plush beak.
The figure? One of Kansas’ mascots — Baby Jay.
"My buddy Svi hit my beak for the first time three years ago," Baby Jay told the Kansan. "At first it scared me, but then I realized it was kind of like a high five."
This is only one of the many pregame superstitions Mykhailiuk takes part in on game days.
Flashback to earlier in the day, Mykhailiuk walks around with five strawberries in hand, snacking on them as he goes about.
“I just love fruit,” Mykhailiuk said. “My freshman year before the games, there were just fruits on the table. I just always used to go there and come down with strawberries.”
Mykhailiuk says he used to pick up a handful of them on game days, but like any routine — it needed refining.
“Last year, I started just picking five and now its like ‘All right, I’m going to stick with five every time,’” Mykhailiuk said.
Flash forward to about an hour before tipoff. Kansas enters the Allen Fieldhouse floor to the roar of Jayhawk fans, goes directly into layup lines to warm up.
Enter the Ukraine native’s second superstition.
“I always do the same routine on the layup lines,” Mykhailiuk said.
As Mykhailiuk catches a pass from a teammate, he jogs toward the basket, laying the ball up off his right foot with his left hand. The next time, he does a step back at the elbow. The third and final time, he sprints toward the hoop, elevating and flushing the ball home with his left hand.
After that, he improvises.
Senior guard Clay Young has been a teammate of Mykhailiuk for three years, yet he didn’t even know of the 20 year-old's superstitions.
“I don’t think he is that superstitious,” Young replied, when asked the very thing.
After being made aware of Mykhailiuk’s routine, Young chuckled.
“Never mind, he is pretty superstitious,” Young said with a grin.
Young even admitted he has his own routine and superstitions. He also pinpointed the person who has influenced not only his own habits, but those of his teammates, too.
“I think it stems from Coach Self,” Young said. “He is a pretty superstitious guy.”
Self has made it no secret that he is superstitious. From not wearing red jerseys until senior guard Devonte’ Graham requested them ahead of this year's senior night, to cupping his hands and blowing in them before entering the James Naismith court. Self is all about keeping things consistent — especially if the team is performing well.
Mykhailiuk says touching Baby Jay’s beak stems from the mascot always being around.
After three years, Baby Jay and Mykhailiuk have a playful relationship.
"Svi is a little bit shy. He doesn't usually say anything, except if I run away before he gets to me," Baby Jay said. "He will yell, 'Hey, Baby! come back!'"
The reason why? It's pretty simple — good luck.