For the last 32 years, Late Night in the Phog has signaled that the Kansas basketball season is just around the corner. Late Night’s traditions — the skits, band and scrimmage — spark excitement among many Jayhawk fans. For the student athletes, it’s just as magical, albeit overwhelming.
For the Kansas women's basketball team, Late Night signals the excitement that comes with the start of the season.
“It was nice when we’re out on the floor, it’s kind of dark so you can’t see everybody,” sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich said.
While the players will be out of their comfort zone Saturday night, they will at least get to pick the songs.
“They ask us what songs we like, I’m pretty sure I’ve almost choreographed our whole dance,” senior guard Caelynn Manning-Allen said. “Coach Schneider is really open to us having fun and enjoying ourselves.”
As a senior, Manning-Allen is well versed in the traditions and pageantry of Late Night along with the emotions involved.
“It’s fun, it’s so much fun but my freshman year was scary honestly,” Manning-Allen said.
According to Kopatich, fans in attendance should be in for a treat, of sorts. “I’m not the best dancer, so when I try to dance it’s kind of funny to watch,” she said.
The first time Kopatich attended Late Night she was in high school, and almost didn’t make it inside.
“It was when Andrew Wiggins was here so that was the time when it was frantic and not everybody could go,” she said. “Luckily, I had that extra ticket.”
As a freshman last year, Kopatich couldn’t help but take in the magic that is Allen Fieldhouse from down on the hardwood.
“I was like oh my gosh, this is my time,” Kopatich said.
For Manning-Allen, Saturday’s Late Night will be a much different experience. It’ll be her last, which according to her is the perfect time to bust out some never-before-seen dance moves.
“Oh, you’re going to see a whole bunch of dance moves from me,” she said.
Late Night isn’t only about dancing and sketch comedy. It’s also the first time the public will see this year’s team moving the ball up and down the court after their trip to Europe in the summer.
“We got a lot closer and I feel like that trip really helped us build chemistry,” Manning-Allen said.
It’s yet to be seen how the chemistry from overseas will factor in stateside, but Saturday night will be the first small glimpse.
At last year’s Late Night, the men’s and women’s teams scrimmaged for roughly 10 minutes each.
“I’m sad to be leaving,” Manning Allen said. “I wish I could do it every year.”