Stephens: ’25 Days’ a cool watch for WKU fans

Brad Stephens

For 25 days this February and March, we all witnessed one of the most remarkable feats we’ll ever see.

Most everyone should know the story by now.

Ray Harper was named full-time men’s basketball coach on Feb. 19.

WKU lost to eventual national champion Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament on March 15.

In between those two dates was a whirlwind that included Harper’s “We’ve only just begun” speech, four comebacks in four days in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and a historic comeback win over Mississippi Valley State, played at the NCAA Tournament in front of president Barack Obama.

It’s that journey that’s captured and celebrated in “25 Days of Triumph: All-Access with 2011-12 Men’s Basketball from Transition to Tournament Success.”

The documentary hit the shelves Tuesday and is on sale locally at Minit Mart stores and WKU athletic events and online through and

It’s available on DVD for $19.95 and on Blu-Ray for $24.95.

The challenge for the producers and directors, the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, was to take a sequence of events that everyone already knew about and give it a fresh take.

One of my favorite moments from watching a DVD copy this weekend was the story of former WKU guard Wayne Chapman’s speech to the Tops.

Chapman, who went on to coach Harper at Kentucky Wesleyan during the 1980s, took off his championship ring and placed it on the ground.

He asked the players, ‘If someone put a championship on the ground, would you reach down for it, or would you dive on it?’

Chapman, who’s 67 years old, then dove out of his chair on top of the ring.

Several players mentioned that pep talk in the documentary as a real illustration of what they needed to go do.

Another cool story can be found in the DVD’s “extras” section, in which Harper, his wife Shannon, and guard Jamal Crook talk about the coach’s addiction to Diet Coke.

Harper’s love for Diet Coke became a running joke among those near the program, as Harper always had one in hand during press conferences and during games.

But after a while, his wife became concerned he was drinking too much Diet Coke and asked if he could switch to water, at least during games.

Harper said he was fine with making the beverage switch, but Crook wouldn’t let him.

“We’ve made it this far with Diet Coke — you can start drinking water after the season,” Crook told his coach.

Along the way, you also hear neat stories from forward George Fant and center Teeng Akol about their conversations the night before the Sun Belt title game, from ticket manager Matt Morrison about handling the logistics of two NCAA Tournament games in three days and from former coach Jim Richards about what he saw from Harper’s practices.

So often when you witness a historic event you don’t really appreciate the meaning of it until after it’s over, when you can step back and see it in perspective.

‘25 Days’ does a great job of allowing viewers to do just that.