- 2011 Big 12 Coach of the Year
- 2009 ESPN.com National Coach of the Year
- 2009 CBS/Chevrolet Coach of the Year
- 2009 Associated Press Coach of the Year
- 2009 Henry P. Iba Award Coach of the Year (USBWA)
- 2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year
- 2009 Naismith Coach of the Year Finalist (Atlanta Tipoff Club)
- 2009 CBSSports.com National Coach of the Year
- 2009 Athlon Sports National Coach of the Year
- 2009 Sporting News National Coach of the Year
- 2009 Yahoo! Sports National Coach of the Year
- 2008 Winged Foot Award for national champion coach
- 2006 Big 12 Coach of the Year
- 2003 Naismith Coach of the Year Finalist (Atlanta Tipoff Club)
- 2002 Naismith Coach of the Year Finalist (Atlanta Tipoff Club)
- 2001 Naismith Coach of the Year Finalist (Atlanta Tipoff Club)
- 2000 Naismith Coach of the Year Finalist (Atlanta Tipoff Club)
- 2000 John and Nellie Wooden Coach of the Year (Utah Tipoff Club)
- 2000 Don Haskins WAC Coach of the Year
- 2000 Sporting News National Coach of the Year
For the second time in four seasons, Kansas University’s Bill Self has been named the Sporting News College Basketball Coach of the Year.
Self, who is in his ninth season at KU, also won the award in 2009, when the Jayhawks went 27-8, won the Big 12 and reached the NCAA Tourney Sweet 16, and in 2000, when he directed Tulsa to a 32-5 record and a spot in the Elite Eight.
…Self likes the mental make-up of a KU team that opens Big 12 tournament play against either Oklahoma or Texas A&M at 2 p.m., Thursday, in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
“It’s a good thing when you believe that every time you step on the court you will find a way to figure it out,” Self said.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor said his coach was mighty deserving of the national honor.
“He didn’t give up on us. He was hard on us. He made us come to work every day,” Taylor told Sporting News. “Without saying, but in the back of our heads, we were unsure of what we could do,” he added.
Self and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg on Sunday were named co-Big 12 Coaches of the Year. On Monday, Missouri’s Frank Haith won the AP Coach of the Year award.
“I voted for Bill. To win the league by two games after all they lost (off last year’s Elite Eight team) .... hands down he’s coach of the year,” Kansas State’s Frank Martin said Monday on 610 radio.
Sporting News got it right in naming Bill Self its National Coach of the Year.
Before crying “homer,” consider the facts of the team Self has directed to a 26-5 record and a No. 3 national ranking against what statistician Jeff Sagarin ranks the third-strongest schedule in America (behind Michigan and Oklahoma State).
Compare Self’s roster, in terms of game experience within the program and hype coming out of high school, to the rosters of the other three leading contenders for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament: Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina.
Kansas ranks last in both areas.
…But what separates Self from the others is that the Kansas success is a stunner. Even a preseason ranking of No. 13 seemed a bit too optimistic given that Tyshawn Taylor was the only returning starter and had played more minutes for Self than the rest of the roster combined. Plus, the ineligibility rulings for the two top freshmen, Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, meant Self had to head into the season with former walk-ons Conner Teahan and Justin Wesley as his sixth and seventh men.
Career minutes played in the program heading into the season for the four schools: 1. Syracuse 9,467; 2. North Carolina 7,814; 3. Kentucky 5,343; 4. Kansas 5,130.
McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster: 1. North Carolina 7; 2. Kentucky 4; 3. Syracuse 3; 4. Kansas 0.
The other day, at the end of a game, a Big 12 referee leaned into Self and said he didn't even recognize his team. This particular ref worked a preseason scrimmage at Kansas, and said on that day that former KU player Brady Morningstar - who happened to be taking part in the scrimmage - was "by far" the best player on the floor.
People have asked Self whether this is his best coaching job, and he always brings up his 2006 and 2009 teams. But ask him whether he is proudest of this team, and you get a different answer.
"Up until this point in the season, yes," he says. "This is the one, they probably surpassed what I really thought was a realistic goal for them. They've surpassed that in a big way."
There's an argument against Self, of course. No job in the Big 12 comes with as many perks as head coach at Kansas. He makes the most money, gets to spend the most moneyand coaches with the best home-court advantage.
Self wins at KU? Big deal. Anybody can drive fast in a Ferrari.
It's just that Robinson's transformation to an NBA lottery pick obscures that he played 14 minutes per game last year and was the seventh-highest rated recruit in the conference. Nobody has ever had a lower scoring average as a freshman and eventually won national player of the year.
Taylor will make many second- or third-team All-America lists, and he was the ninth-highest rated recruit in the conference. Has anyone gone from cussed as badly to cheered as loudly as Taylor?
You might hear people point out that KU was the co-favorite to win the Big 12 before the season, so that in a way, Self's team only did what was expected.
But think about this. A team returning one starter, and without three of its top four freshmen, played a round-robin schedule in a league that will place five or six teams in the NCAA Tournament - and went 16-2.
The only way to be unimpressed by this is by assuming that Self will do this every year, regardless of circumstance.
And doing that is more than a compliment to the man - it's the lasting symbol of his evolution after nine years on the job.
KC Star Mellinger
The first time I saw Bill Self I booed. So did Garth Brooks. Even Bill’s future wife, Cindy, was not a fan. It was March 10, 1979, at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City. Yukon High School played Edmond for the Class 4A state basketball title. Garth and I were juniors at Yukon, and Cindy was a freshman. Self was a sophomore guard for Edmond, which lost, 75-69.
Brooks did not actually meet Self until three years later when both were living in Iba Hall, Oklahoma State’s athletic dormitory. Self played basketball, while Brooks threw the javelin for the track team.
“What I remember about Bill back then, everyone loved him,” said Brooks, the singer-songwriter, who remains friendly with Self.
“He was sweet to all the cooks. He was the dude on the basketball court, the leader, but he was always sweet to the little guy. When you get in a room full of athletes, you figure out who to stay away from and who to gravitate to.
“Bill was the one everyone gravitated to.”
Thirty-two years after that state championship game, Self, one of the most successful coaches in college basketball, is defined by the connections he has made throughout his life and career.
Whether at high school basketball games, summer camps or Subway restaurants, Self has a knack for forging lasting relationships based on fleeting instances.
The first time Earl McClellan saw Self was in a Subway restaurant. Prompted by his friends, McClellan approached Self and the assistant Barry Hinson about playing for Oral Roberts.
“You could cheat and you still couldn’t get anyone to come to Oral Roberts,” Hinson said. “No one wanted to come here. We literally had to pray to get kids to come here. Earl said ‘Yes, sir’ 30 times in the span of 20 minutes and Coach thought he was such a nice kid so what the heck, we’ll let him walk on.”
McClellan started four seasons for Self. The team went 6-23 the first season, including a 15-game losing streak to end the year. When McClellan was a senior, Oral Roberts went 21-7 and received a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.
“He was the person in my opinion that had the greatest transformation in my four years there,” said McClellan, now an executive pastor in Austin, Tex.
“Back then,” he added, “I could tell he knew what he was doing — the leadership, the compassion, the passion and the skill. Obviously he’s an outstanding coach that was destined for some significant things.”
...The junior forward Marcus Morris said: “He can be your best friend, he has that attitude that’s crazy and he’s like my mean uncle — that he wants you to do so well, but everything I do wrong, he’s always on you.”
Last month, Self pointed out a photo in his office from the 2008 national semifinal game against North Carolina, featuring Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson of Kansas and the Tar Heels’ Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough. “That’s my favorite picture: all four players — future N.B.A. players — diving to the floor going after a ball,” Self said. The difference is that Arthur and Jackson are diving with no regard for their bodies, while Lawson and Hansbrough each have a hand on the court to brace themselves. Kansas won, 84-66.
...A few days before Self’s last home game at Oklahoma State, I was hanging out with Self and a few friends at my fraternity house. Besides beating Kansas, Self was asked what he hoped to accomplish in his final game in Gallagher Hall. “Oh, I don’t know,” Self said. “I guess reaching double figures in assists.” As a student assistant in the sports information office, I was on the stats crew and recorded the blocks, steals, turnovers and assists for each home game. What’s that worth, I asked. Self just smiled.
On March 2, 1985, No. 11 Kansas defeated Oklahoma State, 88-79. After the game, I met some friends at the Gray Fox Inn, a local bar. Self was there. I placed a copy of the official box score on the bar. Self’s stat line: 3 for 8 on field goals, 1 of 2 free throws made, 7 points, 3 fouls, 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers and 2 steals in 24 minutes. I circled in red the number listed in the assists column — 10.
Self looked away from the box score, then motioned to the bartender. “Skip,” he said, “whatever Murph is drinking tonight, put it on my tab.”
Just another moment in the life of Bill Self.
3/27/11 New York Times
I credit Blair Kerkhoff for looking this up, but assuming KU doesn't lose its last two games, these are Bill Self's finishes in the conference race since 1998: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1.
As Charlie Sheen might say: "Winning."
Kansas State's win at Texas on Monday night meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Obviously it was incredibly relevant to Kansas State's season, to Frank Martin, to Jacob Pullen. All that. But we have a K-State beat writer for that.
From a Kansas perspective, though, I keep wrestling with this question: Does this show that winning the Big 12 is really difficult or the opposite of that? Or does it show something else entirely?
On the one hand, Texas now has to hope KU loses a game to get a share of the championship. The Longhorns, good as they have been in Rick Barnes' 13 seasons, have one outright Big 12 title, which they won in Barnes' first season.
A great big point to be made is that Texas is not some inspiring underdog. That is a beast of a program that recruits as well or better than Kansas does.
UT has plenty of real, tangible advantages over KU. Money for one. For another, its regional recruiting base is as rich as any in the nation, certainly richer than KU's, which basically doesn't exist. KU recruits nationally, but doesn't own any one area. Texas is pretty close to owning Texas, and recruits nationally too.
The Kansas basketball brand is a pretty powerful thing, of course, and KU has maybe the best home arena in the country. By no means am I saying Kansas should be pitied. What I'm saying is, there is no reason Texas can't go toe-to-toe with Kansas in recruiting.
And, in fact, it does just that. In the last seven years, Rivals.com has ranked Texas' recruiting class ahead of KU's four times. The Longhorns have had two Big 12 players of the year in that time to KU's one.
Yet the Longhorns can't ever choke out the Jayhawks. Even when they beat Kansas on its home floor, here they are with two games left, praying for a KU loss so they can get a trophy.
My first thought is that this means it is difficult to win the Big 12. On average, the Big 12 champion has gone 13.9-2.1. It should be very difficult to play an entire Big 12 season and lose just twice.
So why does Kansas keep doing it?
The unbalanced schedule -- wherein KU plays Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa State six times to Texas' three -- presumably has had plenty to do with it over the years. There is some subjectivity to this, but most people would agree that for the majority of KU's seven-year run, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa State have been the weakest Big 12 teams.
This schedule quirk (this is the last year of it, obviously) appears to be a legitimate complaint, considering that during this run, Kansas has gone 41-1 (97.6 winning percentage) against those three teams, while Texas has had to deal with stronger programs at the bottom of South, like Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech.
Makes sense, right?
But look at Texas' record against Nebraska, Iowa State and Colorado. It is 16-5 (since 2004-05), making it rather difficult to argue Kansas has had an unfair advantage.
Now, there may be something to the idea that it is simply more difficult to beat teams, especially on the road, when you only play them once per season and only visit their arena once every two years. Heck, Self just this year won in Lubbock, Texas for the first time in his career.
So let's look at Kansas' record against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor since 2004-05.
Well, lo and behold, it's 16-5, the exact same record Texas has against the North's bottom teams. Against those same teams in that same span, Texas is 34-8 (80 percent).
So what we can see is that KU has been much better against the North's bottom teams and Texas has been only slightly better against the South's bottom teams*.
*A potential flaw in this analyisis is that the South's bottom teams are much more difficult to determine than the North's. Oklahoma State and Baylor have both had excellent seasons in that span. But I don't think this really argues against the point.
I don't think you can rationally argue Texas has been disadvantaged by the Big 12 schedule.
I think it's pretty plain to see that over the last seven seasons, Texas has been significantly more likely to lose a game to an inferior team than Kansas has. The Longhorns also have gone 3-4 against the Jayhawks in regular-season games.
So why would this be? Given what we've demonstrated in this post about talent and scheduling, why would one school be so much less likely to blow it than the other?
What are the common denominators in this seven-year span?
Well, denominators are numbers, right? So here's your answer: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1.
Bill Self never denies any of these Kansas virtues. He rarely falls into the poor mouth trap. Last year, when his Kansas team was absolutely loaded, he was pretty blunt about it, both publicly and privately. "We're really good," he would say, and he did not hide from the pressure that came with it. They were really good. In the Final Four, his Jayhawks obliterated a spectacularly talented North Carolina team, and then pulled off the greatest comeback in NCAA finals history against Memphis.
All of which takes us to this season. Kansas lost all five starters from last year. And in November, Self was blunt again. "We're terrible," he told me. "I mean it now. We're awful. I mean, we have some talent. We have a chance to be a good basketball team, maybe. But man, we're really bad."
Yes, it sounded like some old-fashioned coach talk*, but Self insisted that he was just being honest. And, it turned out, he was right. In the first half of the season, the University of Missouri-Kansas City played the Jayhawks to a draw. In short order, Kansas blew a big lead against Syracuse, got edged by Massachusetts, got pounded at Arizona and outclassed at Michigan State.
…The Jayhawks reached the Elite Eight in Self's first year, but it was a stormy season. And they won the Big 12 in 2005 and 2006, but lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament both years. Nobody was especially happy. Then, Self got his own players in place, got his team to buy in, and they won 33 games in '07 and a national title in '08.
Self's speech to the players after the '08 championship game spoke to his beliefs about playing tough. He told his players that the best thing about winning the title was that they knew how hard they had to work to get there.
The third thing that makes Bill Self successful is that his teams really play crisp half-court offense. It is something that even a basketball novice can pick out. His teams really move the basketball quickly, in and out. And for that reason, though they do not run the floor the way Williams' teams did, they still shoot a high percentage, from the field and three-point range.
All these things have helped Self win at every stop, every year.
…This year's Kansas team came together too. Guard Sherron Collins averages 18.3 points a game and, when he's on, he's one of those players who can carry a team. Sophomore center Cole Aldrich has a good feel around the basket and he can be a defensive presence. Freshman Tyshawn Taylor is raw -- he is the guy Self seems to push harder than anyone else -- but when unleashed he might be the best pure scorer at Kansas since the young Paul Pierce.
…"I'd say from beginning to end, this team has improved more than any team we've had, no question," Self said. "I thought we could be good, but did I see this coming? There's no way. Not even close."
3/11/2009 SI Joe Posnanski
"Guys," Kansas coach Bill Self tells his players as they enter the most important basketball tournament of their lives. "There's gonna come a moment in time when we're going to have to make a play. So you have to ask yourself a question, and you're the only one who can answer it."
He glares at them: "Are you ready for that moment?"
…Self took Brown at his word. Self had not shown much interest in coaching -- he was going to go into business -- but he was no dummy; the opportunity to coach for Brown made him think that coaching might be a fine life. He went back to Oklahoma State for his senior year, and he wrote Brown a letter every month, telling him again and again how excited he was to be the next Kansas graduate assistant coach. He did not get one letter in return, not one. He called a Kansas assistant coach he knew, R.C. Buford, now the GM of the Spurs, and said: "R.C., does Coach Brown ever mention me?"
And Buford told him: "I've never heard him say your name one time."
So Self's senior season ended, he still had not heard one word from Brown. Stop here. What would you do? What would any of us do? We might adjust our plans, call around, see if there's a chance to coach elsewhere or a business opportunity for a recent college graduate...
Self packed up everything he owned, put it in his car, drove up to Lawrence, and walked into Brown's office and said, "OK, I'm here. What do you need me to do?" And Brown, beaten, said: "Go sit over at that desk and start working."
And that's how Bill Self became a basketball coach.
…"I'm gonna tell you something about Bill," longtime friend Barry Hinson says. "In his senior year in high school, he made seven buzzer-beaters to win games. Seven! You know how you do that? You have no doubts, that's how."
See, the thing that strikes you about Bill Self as coach is how he's good at all of it. He coaches. He recruits. He sells. He inspires. He tells jokes at Kiwanis' clubs. This is a guy who won at Oral Roberts when the school was coming off its worst basketball season ever. Then he won at Tulsa, following the coaching powers of Nolan Richardson and Tubby Smith and Steve Robinson. Then he won at Illinois, won the Big Ten title his first year by building the most physical team in the most physical league. And then he went to Kansas, replaced legendary coach Roy Williams, and in five years won a national championship -- beating Williams himself along the way.
Every one of those stops demanded something different. He had to coach up his talent at Oral Roberts, and create an us-against-the-world aura at Tulsa, and coach his players to overpower people at Illinois and create a place for himself in the crowded tradition room at Kansas. And he did all of that, did it all because, well, because ...
"Look, everybody here in the upper echelon of college basketball can coach," Self says. "Everybody. And everybody works hard. And everybody has good kids. I really don't like it when I hear people talk about all that stuff, how good a coach someone is or how hard they work or whatever. Everybody's doing that. That's not what it's about."
It is about ... well, wait, you should hear the Leonard Hamilton story. So, you know, Self coached for a year under Brown, and he loved it. He loved everything about Brown, even when Brown ripped him. Especially those times. Like once, Self helped himself to the training table food after the game and before the players arrived. Brown said: "Oh, I didn't know you had worked that hard during the game." Lesson 1: A coach NEVER eats before the players. Lesson 2: Withering irony can be a very effective teaching tool. Self learned both lessons well.
So, sure, he now wanted to coach. And he figured the best place to start would be to apply for an assistant job at his school, Oklahoma State, where Hamilton had just taken over. Self managed to get himself an interview, and he talked about how hard he would work, and how relentlessly he would recruit ... and he noticed Hamilton's eyes' glazing over.
Stop here. What would you do? What do any of us do when a job interview starts going bad, when it is clear that your talk is not getting through and your dream of getting the job is drowning. Maybe we panic. Maybe we try harder. Maybe we stand up and say, "I see I'm wasting your time here."
"I'll tell you why you should hire me," Self told Hamilton. "Because if you hire me, I'll get you your point guard for this season and you won't need to give up a scholarship."
That stopped Hamilton. "You'll get me a point guard?" he asked.
"Yep," Self said. "But he won't play unless you hire me as a coach."
And there it was. Hamilton said that if Self could really deliver a point guard, no strings attached, then he had the job. And when Self left the office he called an Oklahoma State senior named Jay Davis, a close friend who had played at his high school, and said: "Hey man, you've got to play basketball for Oklahoma State this year."
Davis had been a very good high school player, but he was happy with his college life -- happy as the best fraternity basketball player at the school. He had absolutely no interest at all in playing organized ball and getting yelled at and all that. He said: "No way."
And Self said: "Um, no, you don't understand. You have to play. I won't get the job unless you play. So, you're playing."
So, Jay Davis played basketball for the 1986-87 Oklahoma State Cowboys. The team was 8-20 and lousy ("Well, what do you expect, we had a walk-on as our starting point guard," Self says), but you can still look it up: Davis led the team in assists, steals and fouls. Self was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State for five more years and was there for the rebirth of Oklahoma State basketball.
Not long after that, Self and Davis were best men at each other's weddings.
…People who write about Self will almost always point out -- and rightfully so -- how nice a guy he is off the court, and how tough he is coaching on the court. People will point out how easily he moves in a crowd of big-money boosters, and how natural he looks surrounded by students, and how comfortable he will be speaking in front of big crowds, and how dogged he is on the recruiting trail. He's the natural chameleon. He is whatever he needs to be at the moment.
"I guess I've always been that way," Self says, though he looks uncomfortable answering the question. Then again: He can't help it. The question was asked.
"To me," he says, "to be successful you need to respond to whatever the situation calls for. I tell our players that all the time. You win games by making plays. I know that's a cliche, but it's true. You don't win games with the best offense, because sometimes your shots don't fall. You don't win games with the best defense, because sometimes the other team just keeps making shots. You win games by making plays in that moment, responding to that exact challenge."
…Self was hired to be coach at Oral Roberts when the basketball program was at a low point. Self took the job and believed he would turn it around because, well, that's just how he ticks.
So, the day came when he was going to be introduced ... only this being Oral Roberts, it is done a bit differently. Self was brought to the giant chapel, where every student in the school was present. And, understand, Oral Roberts is an evangelical school; it was built, Oral Roberts himself always said, because God told him to build it.
Self grew up in a quiet Methodist home.
Stop here. What would you do? What would any of us do, thrown into that chapel, 4,000 kids in the pews, all of them wanting to know a little something about the new coach?
Bill Self preached. He preached that he was going to bring a winner back to Oral Roberts. He preached that he and his staff was going to work night and day to make it happen. "It was unbelievable," says Hinson, Self's friend who was there as an assistant coach. "He transformed himself." In time, after a rough first two years, Self and Hinson and the team did become winners, did go to their first postseason tournament in a decade. But perhaps the most lasting memory happened that day in the chapel, when quiet Self preached and preached, and the students swayed with him, and he made everyone believe, and that when he finished everyone in the place, everyone, including Oral Roberts himself, said "Amen."
…It's telling to watch Self coach practice. Most college basketball practices look the same -- with players' energy levels drifting up and down and coaches trying to modulate things by screaming at the top of their lungs an so on. Self is no different. Take a typical practice in February, and Kansas' seven-foot freshman Jeff Withey apparently does not run hard enough to get back on defense.
"That," Self yells, "was the most pathetic thing I have ever seen in my entire life."
And while Self may have waited 47 years to see something that pathetic, he only has to wait two more minutes before he catches another freshman, this time Thomas Robinson, loafing on his way back to defend. This strikes Self as even MORE pathetic, especially when Robinson insists he was not loafing ("Do you want me to show you the tape?" Self screams).
Self sends those two off to the treadmill to run off his anger. And while they run, Then he watches another freshman, Xavier Henry, go to the wrong place in the trap offense, and, sure, that becomes the most pathetic thing he has ever seen. And when junior All-America Cole Aldrich throws the ball away, and senior All-America Sherron Collins follows that up with a turnover of his own, well, Self's face goes from burgundy to maroon, and he just stands there speechless, his fingers digging into the sides of his forehead like he's trying to keep his head from detonating.
"NO!" he shouts, an all-encompassing "No," that stops everyone cold.
Yes, pretty typical stuff. But the odd part is that when the practice ends, Self seems pretty happy. "That was a good practice, wasn't it?" he asks, and when I tell him that it seemed pretty good except for the yelling and the various levels of pathetic, he smiles and shrugs.
"I've got to stay on these guys," he says. "That's what they need."
…In the final two minutes of that national championship game against Memphis, Self found himself furiously trying to pump confidence in his team. Memphis led by nine. You don't come back from nine points down, not with two minutes left, not against a great team, not in the national championship game. Self shouted, "You got to believe!" again and again, as trite as anything, but he could not think of anything else to say. Those were the words banging in his head. This, basically, was what he knew. You got to believe.
Darrell Arthur made a long jumper, just inside the three-point line. The deficit was seven. Self quickly called timeout. He sketched out a full-court press defense. You got to believe. Collins stole the inbounds pass, appeared to step out of bounds, there was no call, he got the ball back and nailed a three-pointer. The deficit was four. You got to believe. Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts made two free throws. Mario Chalmers made two free throws. The clock was ticking down. You got to believe.
Then, Douglas-Roberts missed two free throws. Arthur made a shot in the lane. The deficit was two. Self was going crazy on the sideline. Douglas-Roberts missed two more free throws. Kansas called its last timeout. You gotta believe. Derrick Rose made one of two free throws. And that led to Chalmers' three-point shot, Mario's Miracle, and Kansas won the game in overtime.
Self was dizzy from joy. People kept asking him if he really thought that his Jayhawks could come back from nine points down, and he admitted that he didn't know, but he wanted to believe, he needed to believe, you gotta believe.
Later, I saw a tape of the pregame speech that Self gave his team before the Memphis game. He told them: "The reason I feel so confident about us winning is because we don't have to change one bit who we are. ... All we got to do is be ourselves."
And then he told his players this: "Most every day -- if not every day -- for the rest of your life, you will be reminded, or think of, this night. And I want to thank you in advance, right now, for the great memories it's gonna be. Let's go have some fun."
Maybe it's isn't pithy. Maybe it isn't deep. Maybe it isn't Lombardi. Shoot, maybe it isn't even grammatically sound. But there is Bill Self in 15 words -- all of his Oklahoma charm, all of his certainty that things will work out, all of his ability to inspire confidence in people:
"I want to thank you in advance, right now, for the great memories it's gonna be."
There's Bill Self. Make it a sign. Put it up on the wall. Believe. And then, enjoy the memories it's gonna be.
3/11/2010 SI Joe Posnanski
Bill Self had a simple question: "How'd we do last night?"
We? Who's we?
" The Blackhawks," Self replied before asserting that his three seasons as Illinois' basketball coach afforded him partial custody of Chicago's hottest team.
"Hey, I'm sure there will be a lot of Illinois fans who want to hear my opinions," Self said with a chuckle.
Self's e-mail inbox got inundated by Illini fans who felt betrayed when he left for Kansas in 2003. Some nerve, right? What does Self think this is, the Land of Opportunity?
Self did his part to celebrate American ideals by volunteering to play in the inaugural Patriot Cup, which took place over Memorial Day weekend at the Patriot Golf Club in Tulsa, Okla. The club is the first of its kind — dedicated to raising scholarship money (through the nonprofit Folds of Honor Foundation) for the estimated 150,000 spouses and children of military personnel killed or disabled while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Asked if he misses anything about his previous gig, Self replied: "Yeah. The people were great. It's a terrific school. And I loved recruiting Chicago. When you look across America, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place where kids are that tough and have the intangibles."
Within five minutes of meeting Self, it's easy to see how he managed to sign stars such as Dee Brown, Luther Head and Sherron Collins from Chicago.
On the golf course, Self is affable, thoughtful (keeping everyone's score, peering into the bushes for their stray drives) and self-effacing.
"The great thing about me, if there is one," Self said, "is that I have no ego."
He said this after playing partner Sam Mitchell bombed a 349-yard drive on the 14th hole, which drops an outrageous 140 feet from the tee to a fairway seemingly carved out of the canyons.
Over 18 holes, Self and Mitchell traded riotous jabs as if they'd known each other since birth. "I don't want to put you in the poorhouse," Mitchell said after Self suggested they play a match for a mere $20.
As a chip from Mitchell ran past the cup, Self jokingly coaxed it along, saying: "Go!"
"What did you have for breakfast," Mitchell replied, "hatin' eggs?"
…Mitchell took a 1-up lead at the turn after Self's approach to the 18th green (we started on the back nine) landed just short of the green, on a cliff. Self played it anyway, risking his life with one false step.
"C'mon, you would never let your players do anything that dumb," Mitchell told him.
"Hey, don't you read the newspapers?" Self shot back.
Self tallied up the halftime totals and said: "Teddy, I have you for 39."
He later added: "You're not that good, right?"
Nope. A 48 on the front nine confirmed it.
Self knows the game and has played enough dream courses to report that "Cypress (Point) is prettier than Pebble (Beach)," and he takes an annual trip to Pine Valley, squeezing in 72 holes over three days.
He putts left-hand low and plumb-bobs, not that it helped him much on this day. Self trailed Mitchell by two holes going to No. 9, then announced a "double-press" to try to even the match.
Mitchell's 5-iron found the sand, while Self grooved a 6-iron to 18 feet on the downhill, 202-yard hole. Self two-putted for par, summarizing his final effort this way: "I did what I had to do."
The same could be said for Self's participation in the Patriot Cup. On this occasion, the cause trumped the result.
6/5/10 Chicago Tribune
Bill Self was in town Friday for the reunion
But he was the man of the hour here Friday night, arriving at Bielfeldt with jeans and several days growth of beard, and fitting seamlessly into the crowd like he always does.
"He gets personal with his people, and he takes over every room he enters," said UI recruiter Jerrance Howard, a squad member on Self's 2001 and 2002 Big Ten champions. Counting those two, Self has won conference championships in 11 of the last 13 years at Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas.
"He was able to manage different personalities," said Robert Archibald, who played little in two previous years under Kruger but came of age under Self.
8/6/11 Illinois Loyalty
"It is easier to push yourself when the coach points out that it makes a difference," Archibald said. "He might say that Cory (Bradford) got an open three because I got down the floor quick. Coach saw those things."
It was, in fact, almost as though Self had a photographic memory. He could watch five players up and down the court multiple times and recall exactly who did what and why it worked or didn't work. He was unique that way.
And his former assistant coach, Rob Judson, noted Friday:
"In that first summer he won the guys over with his personality. And his high-low system with Brian Cook fit those teams perfectly."
A team player
Self wasn't afraid of your boos. He's heard them before. But as much as he enjoyed Friday's affair — with Cook and Bradford and Deron Williams and all the guys — he elected not to stay because he "wanted Saturday's spotlight to be on the players."
He is much like Tiger Woods. Even leaders on the course don't get much attention when Woods is out there, even if he's not breaking par. Self will return home today with his memories, and reminders of events that made his stay in Illinois so successful.
"For me, I think the rally at Minnesota (67-66) in my second year was No. 1," he recalled. "I still have a picture in my office of Frank Williams making that winning basket, and all those fans in shock. That was awesome.
"Then there were the three wins over Missouri in St. Louis (he loved "kicking their butt"), the 'Paint the Hall Orange' game, and our comeback from 12 down against Wisconsin (68-67) at home that first year."
8/6/11 Illini HQ
Kansas Jayhawks basketball coach Bill Self had a chance to talk hoops with Barack Obama during the president's trip through Kansas on Tuesday.
Self said he received an email from Obama's staff inviting him to a speech being delivered in Osawatomie, Kan., a small town about 60 miles from the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence.
Self initially declined the invitation because of the Jayhawks' game Tuesday night against Long Beach State, but he wound up meeting Obama before the president delivered a speech that touched on the economy and began to lay the groundwork for his re-election.
"You know, pretty cool. I don't suppose he emails everybody," Self said. "So I emailed back and said, 'Sorry, I have to respectfully decline. We have a game and we have to practice.' And they said, 'Well, you could come to the meet and greet.' "
Obama asked that Self go last so that they could spend a little extra time discussing hoops.
Obama is a big basketball fan who regularly plays in pickup games, and he's attended numerous games during his time in office, including a matchup last month between North Carolina and Michigan State that was played on an aircraft carrier in San Diego.
Self said he's met the past three presidents.
Bill Clinton visited Allen Fieldhouse once he left office, and Self had a chance to take his team to the White House to meet George W. Bush after it won the national championship in 2008.
"One of the coolest things I've ever experienced," Self recalled. "After he finished recognizing us in the Rose Garden, he said, 'Hey Bill, I want you, all your players, all the families, to go to the Oval Office now. I want to talk to you guys.' He spent 45 minutes taking pictures and talking to everybody. The one thing it showed me is the respect you should have for the office."
More than anything, that's why Self decided to take the drive to Osawatomie on Tuesday.
Self said he talked about a range of topics with Obama, including the president's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, who is the coach at Oregon State. Robinson has the Beavers off to a 6-1 start.
They also chatted about Obama's annual NCAA tournament bracket, which he fills out for ESPN during March Madness. The president has picked the Jayhawks to win the national championship the past two years, only for them to get knocked out by Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth.
"I asked him one favor: Don't ever pick us to win anything again," Self said. "He said, 'You cost me money.' I said, 'Not as much as you cost me.' "
BILL SELF'S quest for a second national championship will begin about eight miles from where his head coaching career started.
Self helms a top-seeded Kansas basketball team that will soon arrive in downtown Tulsa for the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
In 1993, Self was a 30-year-old bespectacled rookie head coach at Oral Roberts University whose glasses apparently were rose-colored.
A real estate agent could politely describe Self's first job as a fixer-upper.
ORU had moved from NCAA Division I to NAIA and back to Division I again.
ORU was 5-22 the season before Self arrived.
And he staked his career that he could turn the program around, which had to be simultaneously exciting and frightening.
"I wasn't really scared until after I had coached there for a year because I was ignorant enough to think that, hey, we will go there and we will outwork people and we will outcoach people and all that stuff," Self said.
"That type of attitude and production led to 18 losses in a row. I learned right then, first-hand, that you have got to get some guys (read: players). I think that has probably helped mold our philosophy on how we do things as much as anything else, because you can't win without guys."
You could say a subway put Self on a fast track to jobs - Tulsa, Illinois, KU - that followed, but that would be slightly incorrect.
Self found the most important player (so says ex-ORU assistant Barry Hinson) of his four-year ORU tour of duty at a Subway sandwich shop.
Subway customer and ORU student Earl McClellan introduced himself to Self and talked himself into a walk-on tryout.
McClellan, whose personality could be an alternative energy source, won the point guard job as a freshman. ORU was 6-21 that year. But in his senior year, ORU finished the regular season 21-6 and advanced to the NIT.
It was exactly the turnaround Self promised when speaking at a campus chapel service shortly after his hiring. Self has "it" and he unleashed "it" while firing up the masses that day, according to Hinson.
"Coach could have said we're going to head to Goldie's and eat a chili cheeseburger and people would have given him a standing ovation," Hinson, now KU's director of basketball operations, said. "No matter what came out of his mouth, it was unbelievable."
But what followed was a classic case of easier said than done.
...Hinson said four people interviewed for the ORU job before it was awarded to Self, a former Oklahoma State player and assistant coach.
Hinson knows this because he, along with Andy Stoglin and Tim Carter, were among those interviewed. Hinson was coaching at Bishop Kelley High School and, though chronically optimistic, he knew high school coaches don't get Division I jobs.
"I went in there on the interview and basically talked about Bill Self," Hinson said.
Hinson talked himself into a job. He was hired by Self as an assistant and the young coaches threw themselves into unglamorous work, licking envelopes for season-ticket sales, scribbling handwritten letters to recruits (Hinson wrote 73 in one day) and doing yard work to make dorm areas more attractive.
Initially, Hinson was a solo act. Why? Self remained on OSU's staff through the end of an NCAA Tournament trip. It was reasoned that visibility might boost recruiting.
Self reported for full-time duty after OSU's season ended. Interpret full-time to mean all the time.
Hinson said they got to the office at 9:30 or 10 a.m. every day. People who didn't know better perhaps thought ORU hired slackers. What they didn't know was Hinson and Self routinely were in the office until 2-4 a.m.
"For four years, without a shadow of a doubt, I saw Bill Self more than I saw my wife or any member of my family," Hinson said.
All that hard labor was rewarded with a 6-6 start in their first season. They exceeded the previous season's win total by one.
It was fool's gold. ORU closed the season with a 15-game losing streak.
Hinson said a low point came before the skid. ORU went to the Indiana Classic and hoped to impress hoops-savvy Hoosier fans and then-Indiana coach Bob Knight.
ORU suffered a 48-point loss to Washington State and, the following day, suffered a 26-point defeat to a Tennessee Tech team that Indiana had beaten by 44 points.
After the losing streak was launched, Hinson said Self told his assistant coaches "you guys can't help me. We aren't going to win games. Go find me players."
Said Hinson, "I don't even think I went to the last 10 games. I went recruiting."
...Problem No. 1 was ORU had players who were recruited during the NAIA-to-NCAA transition. The talent level had to be upgraded.
Problem No. 2 was holdover players from the previous regime didn't necessarily embrace change. Hinson said players butted heads with the new coaching staff not just every day, but every hour.
Problem No. 3 was there wasn't much to sell to recruits, other than facilities. ORU had no conference and hadn't produced a winning season at the NCAA Division I level since 1983-1984.
Plus, Self had to fight this when recruiting: ORU students were required to wear ties and go to chapel twice a week. Self spun that in his favor, telling parents something along the lines of "when did society determine that looking professional and having an opportunity to worship twice a week is a negative?"
Two players - twins from Bartlesville - in Self's first recruiting class didn't last long enough to make it through the first week of practice.
But the arsenal got better each year. Self's staff looked across the street to get star guard Tim Gill from Victory Christian and looked under rocks for sleeper prospects that bigger schools ignored.
ORU was the first school to check out Eduardo Najera, but he didn't stay a secret for very long and signed with Oklahoma after committing to ORU, according to Hinson.
A typo helped ORU land Rocky Walls, the Mr. Inside to Gill's Mr. Outside.
A Texas recruiting service had listed Walls as being 6-foot-2, so interest was nil. Walls was actually 6-8 and, after discovering the glitch, ORU began hot pursuit.
By Self's third season, ORU was 18-9. Early in his fourth season, the Golden Eagles upset 16th-ranked Arkansas.
"And everybody thought uh-oh, maybe these guys are getting better," Hinson said. "That was the foundation game, in my opinion, to get us back."
Self's ORU teams won 31 of their last 38 games. That got him an invitation to move to the job across town.
"ORU, from a move-on standpoint, was a graveyard," Self said. "I don't believe there was a coach who had ever left ORU of his own doing in taking another job.
"Fortunately we had some success and Tulsa popped and that was a great move for us and we had some success. (Missouri State) popped and (Hinson took that job) and Scott (Sutton) has had success and if he ever chooses to move, he will have an opportunity. But back when we were there, that wasn't the case. I think we started out 16-38 before we actually saw any positives going on."
Talk to Hinson now and he'll tell you there was never any reason to be worried.
"I knew who I was working for," Hinson said. "I watched him play in high school. His senior year he had seven buzzer-winners. I go back to the term of he just had 'it.' There are some guys that just have 'it' and you know you are going to hook your trailer up to them and go."
While we're sad to see this long and much-anticipated event end, we're delighted that Self put the cherry on the top of this celebration cake by coaching his top-seeded Kansas team to a Sweet Sixteen spot in the Southwest Regional this Friday against Richmond at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Self may be a native Oklahoman who lived several places during his upbringing, but Tulsa will forever consider him its own after he lived here seven years, during which he rebuilt an Oral Roberts University program that was in shambles and took the University of Tulsa to within a win of the Final Four.
Yeah, some TU and ORU fans reportedly are still ticked off he left their schools for bigger opportunities. But Self is simply the kind of guy you can't stay angry with very long, especially when you consider all the good he did here before leaving for Illinois and eventually landing his dream job at Kansas.
And now Self has Jayhawks fans dreaming of another national championship after KU rolled to a 73-59 win against No. 9 seed Illinois (20-14). The victory was especially sweet for KU players, who vowed they would have their coach's back after they learned Self endured some rough times when he left the Illini after three terrific seasons to replace Roy Williams at KU.
Against the Illini, Self's gameplan once again showcased why the Jayhawk Nation has forgotten about being upset over Williams leaving and has fallen hard for the coach who replaced him.
Self not only has continued feeding the KU hoops monster that was built decades ago and revived by Williams and Larry Brown, he has gorged it with remarkable success. In eight seasons, his record is 235-45.
The latest victory over the Illini moved KU to 34-2 overall and within four victories of winning its second national championship under Self. The Jayhawks have to hope there is some good karma in advancing to San Antonio, which is the place where Self won the 2008 title.
With Illinois, Self was going against a coach who had bragged that he "kicked Bill's butt" in their only two previous meetings. Bruce Weber was the coach at Southern Illinois when he beat Self and Tulsa and did it again when Self was coaching the Illini.
Weber, frustrated that fans and players didn't want to let go of the love affair they had with Self, held a mock funeral his first season to let Illini everywhere know the Self era was dead at the school.
When the media recalled Weber's goofy funeral stunt during Saturday's press conferences, Self attempted to downplay how he felt about it. But he mentioned in a book after that 2008 title win that he didn't appreciate Weber's weird behavior.
That grudge, at least on Self's part, certainly seemed to be alive and boiling when the two coaches had a brief, chilly pregame handshake without the smiles that normally occur in those greetings. The postgame meeting was even briefer and colder.
Now that Self has reached yet another Sweet Sixteen, only time will tell if he has put together a club capable of cutting down the next in Houston in two weeks, making him the first coach in KU's remarkable history to win two national crowns.
But no matter what happens, Self should have felt enough love from the 15,839 roaring spectators last night to know all the bitter feelings over him leaving are gone and he's back in the Tulsa family.
3/21/11 Tulsa World
When Bill Self became Tulsa men’s basketball coach in the summer of 1997, the school allowed him $145,000 for his assistant coaches’ combined salaries.
With that budget, Self assembled the staff of Norm Roberts, Billy Gillispie and John Phillips.
Their respective payrolls have jumped considerably in the last decade.
Today, it would take just shy of $5 million annually to employ that entire staff. Not including incentives.
The coaching careers of Self, Gillispie and Roberts took flight from Tulsa, and where they have since landed is somewhat unfathomable.
In terms of all-time victories, they now direct three of college basketball’s top seven programs.
Last week, Gillispie became coach at Kentucky, which ranks No. 1 with 1,948 victories in 104 seasons.
Self finished his fourth season at Kansas, which ranks No. 3 with 1,906 in 109 seasons.
Roberts finished his third season at St. John’s, which ranks No. 7 with 1,659 in 100 seasons.
With these high-profile jobs, their anonymity has been obliterated — particularly for Self and Gillispie.
No longer can the trio have family get-togethers at the local pizza parlor after a home win.
Long gone are the days of being able to casually gather for a burger and a beer at The Brook.
Self estimates he’s been out socially fewer than 10 times since moving to Lawrence four years ago.
“Coaching at ORU and TU was as much fun as I’ve ever had,” Self said. “There are better things about the jobs we all have now, and there are some things we wish we had in Tulsa. But the bottom line is you can’t have both.”
Self and Roberts spent nine seasons side-by-side — two at Oral Roberts, three at Tulsa, three at Illinois and one at Kansas.
Self and Gillispie spent five seasons side-by-side — three at Tulsa and two at Illinois.
(Phillips became the Golden Hurricane coach one year after Self left in 2000. In three-plus seasons, Phillips went 59-37 and twice fell just short of advancing to the Sweet 16. He is now assistant athletic director at the school.)
Though they originally hailed from Oklahoma, New York and Texas, the TU staff of 1997-2000 became inseparable.
They spent years together in the office and at play.
“No matter how bad I was, they’d still let me go play golf with them,” Roberts said with a chuckle.
They spent vacations together, hung out at each other’s houses, even babysat each other’s children.
“I bet in five years, I didn’t go two consecutive days when I didn’t talk to those guys,” Self said. “We became very close and we also had a great time. I was always under the impression working with that staff that we weren’t going to have bad days, and we didn’t.”
In the last nine years, Self has had seven former assistants become Division I coaches — Gillispie; Roberts; Phillips; former ORU assistant Barry Hinson at ORU and Missouri State; former ORU assistant Scott Sutton, who is still there; Illinois assistant Rob Judson, formerly at Northern Illinois; and former Illinois and KU assistant Tim Jankovich, who recently became coach at Illinois State.
Self said he expected success for Gillispie, but didn’t envision his liftoff from UTEP into the stratosphere.
“He and Norm have always been very, very bright. Excellent coaches and excellent recruiters,” Self said. “And John Phillips is an excellent coach and teacher.”
Prior to joining Self at Tulsa, Gillispie had been a college graduate assistant, a high school and junior college assistant, a high school coach, and a college assistant and recruiting coordinator — all in the state of Texas.
“I’m the first to say I’ve been lucky and blessed. Totally, totally, totally lucky,” Gillispie said Monday from Lexington. “But this all happened because I got with coach (Self). The whole deal with everything is timing. We won a bunch of games together and were able to have some opportunities. One thing led to another, but it all goes back to coach (Self).”
Although he is three years older than Self, the 47-year-old Gillispie still refers to Self as “coach.”
“Yeah, that ‘coach’ stuff has got to stop,” Self said. “And make sure everybody knows he’s older than I am.”
They are now separated by thousands of miles and three conferences, but the trio’s fondness toward each other still resonates as they share stories of when they were living on Tulsa time.
“I think about our Tulsa days quite a bit,” Roberts said. “We talk to each other a bunch during the year. If I have a big win, Bill and Billy will be the first guys to call me, and I try to do the same thing with them. We just had good chemistry. Coach (Self) did a good job of making sure we built trust in one another and doing what was best for everybody. It never became an ego thing with anybody on our staff.”
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden has always said, “"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has always impressed me as being a guy of sound character. Family man. Community minded. Leader. Successful basketball coach. Today, one of my fraternity brothers, Steve Purdy, called to tell me a story that solidified my impressions of Coach Bill Self, and I thought it worth sharing.
A little background, as a young man, I grew up in a household that was crimson and blue,my parents went to KU, I had grandparents that went to KU, and so, yeah, it was pretty well engrained in my soul. I played basketball at Salina Central here in Kansas and had some success there---playing alongside some tremendous teammates---basketball was something I truly loved. In the summer, I would work odd jobs to earn enough money to go to Ted Owens Jayhawk Basketball Camp. And that was a great thrill, as well. I met guys like JoJo White there, and other NBA players who had attended Kansas who would work the Camp during the summer?as well as kids from all over the United States .
Completing my high school career, I decided to head to KU. I wasn’t good enough to get a full ride scholarship at Kansas , and didn’t really want to play small college ball, so I thought I’d join a fraternity (Phi Gamma Delta) and just go to school in Lawrence . It came to enrollment time, and fraternity brother Steve Purdy told me that they were having tryouts for the KU basketball squad, and that I should come along with him?to see if we could make the team as walk-ons. So I decided to give it a try.
45 guys showed up for three spots and when they posted names on the bulletin board outside the locker room, Steve and I had both made the squad. We were officially Jayhawks. Coach Owens called me up to the office to congratulate me, and welcomed me to the team, and politely mentioned it might be a good idea for Steve and me to get haircuts (hey it was the early 70’s). So Steve and I found the only barber in Lawrence open on a Monday, and we got crew cuts eliminating the hair locks that formerly touched our shoulders. We would have done anything to be part of the team, and we were pumped.
You have to know Steve Purdy to understand as a fraternity brother (or in that case--- a real brother) why you would want him on your team. He is one of a kind, loyal like the mutt you had as a kid, and one of the most fun guys you will ever meet. He’s built for fun and has a lot of energy. That was kind of a good and bad thing in college, but man, I love him just the way he is. Its guys like Steve that still keep our pledge class corresponding now some 30 years out of college.
The next day, we went to check in and that’s when I learned that Steve Purdy’s brother, Chuck Purdy, was the team manager.
Chuck was great as a manager, and checked us out our shoes, and issued us our reversible Jayhawk jerseys, one side crimson, one side blue. The words Kansas were across our chests, and walking into Allen Field House as a player for the first time, was like a dream. Chuck would always have an encouraging word for us as we made our way toward the court, where Assistant Coach Sam Miranda was waiting for us like a bulldog--- as he began to put us through our paces, and whip us into shape.
We young Jayhawks would be required to learn the plays of incoming teams, so that the varsity group could prepare for the next game. I was a scrub, and loved it. Tom Kivisto was the on-court leader of the team, and I played with every day with guys like Danny Knight, Randy Canfield, Rick Suttle, Dale Greenlee, Tommy Smith, and Brady Morningstar’s Dad, Roger Morningstar.
Chuck Purdy was always there. Helping us with equipment. Keeping our stuff clean for the next day. He was a great manager. He was, in point of fact, our only manager.
And this story is about Chuck.
Fast forward to today, as Chuck approaches his 58th birthday. Steve called to tell me this afternoon that Chuck has been fighting cancer for awhile. He’s had it for five or six years and he has fought the good fight, but even with lots of chemo, and radiation, the cancer has just migrated to his liver.
Chuck probably doesn’t have long to live.
But Steve and Chuck have made up a “bucket list” for Chuck, you know, important things to do before Chuck transitions from this life to the next.
On the list-- Chuck wanted to go back to visit KU and see some guys from the team…. so his old pals Tommy Smith and Roger Morningstar set up a time, and they brought Chuck down to Lawrence from South Dakota. They met and had lunch at “The Wheel”, one of our old stomping grounds at KU. They were about halfway through lunch, and who walks in? It was KU basketball Coach Bill Self. They had a great little visit and Coach Self invited Chuck to come sit in on practice. First came the tour of the new facilities, and then Chuck, Roger, and Tommy settled in to watch the team at work.
About midway through practice, a voice called up to the stands, “Hey Chuck! Chuck! Why don’t you come down here?” It was Coach Self, motioning him down. Chuck happily obliged as Coach Self introduced Chuck to each of the team members?telling them Chuck was the one manager of our team, back when one manager did it all. (Today, there are 14 managers at KU). Coach Self asked Chuck to say a few words about what he was going through, and to give the players some words to live by. Chuck spoke to “never giving up” and “rising to the challenge”, and spent about 30 minutes in the middle of practice with the team, as the squad listened on.
As Chuck finished speaking, he looked around, and noticed that the team had dropped to a knee, and with heads bowed, someone began to lift Chuck and his cancer up in prayer, and the entire Jayhawk team, the managers, and coaching staff prayed together for him. It had to be a very special moment for Chuck.
You see, Chuck is part of the legacy of Kansas basketball, but he’s a very real person. And this team was demonstrating its walk--- in the decision they made to be involved with collegiate athletics, in playing ball at Kansas , and in affiliating with Coach Bill Self. It’s clearly a relationship that goes well past being a basketball player. It’s very much about who you will be--- and how you will conduct yourself in life. It’s top down stuff, and it’s not done for the cameras, for the press, or for show, but it comes from the heart.
It’s also about developing character, and it’s something Bill Self demonstrates in his walk, as he leads by example. This will be a great Kansas team to watch, as they compete, and further as they grow into men, and then head out into the world. I’m guessing (I believe correctly) that regardless of the number of hoops they make, or line drills they run while players at Kansas, they’ll be better people for their experience under a coach like Self, a guy who cares about people first, a proven leader and a great person.
Kudos to Coach Self and the Jayhawk team for recognizing what’s really important in life, and good luck this season.
And to Chuck, from everyone you selflessly helped each day---and from everyone who is part of the KU family--- we send our thoughts and our prayers your way. God’s blessings to you. Hang in there, bud.
Posted on a Kansas message board
I've only met Coach Self one time, and I had a hard time explaining to people what he was like. After reading the JOE POS article of March 10, its finally come to me. He is the most confident person I've ever met, but still comfortable to be around. I think its because he is so real, nothing fake about him.
I was leaving the K-Club tent in the fall of 2010 and he was just standing outside by himself. As I walked by, he asked my name, and then what sport I played. I told him that I played for Coach Fam and he said what a great guy Fam was. About that time, the Zook boys were coming out of the tent and I said "Hey Coach, let me introduce you to a real Kansas football player-John Zook.
Coach Self stuck out his hand and said "John Zook, man I used to watch you play on Sunday all the time-you were something" His excitement was so real and genuine, and he didn't mind showing it. He was like a kid in line to get an autograph.
He's just made of the right stuff.
Posted on a Kansas message board
Ranking the Big 12 -- Proven Returning Talent
We've seen the recruiting class rankings, and the pre-season conference predictions are coming out. To complete the picture, I thought it might be useful to rank the teams in the conference based on the proven talent each has returning. This ranking is based on demonstrated ability. I'm not making wild assumptions about player improvement, like C.J. Giles going lotto or some unknown Baylor guard becoming an All American. That just an excercise in speculation. This is an objective assessment. With that in mind, here's how I see it:
1. Oklahoma. Gray and Bookout are the best frontcourt in the conference. Everett is vastly underrated and one of the best all around guards in the conference. Godbold is solid. Lavender and McKenzie are addition by subtraction.
2. Texas. Buckman, Tucker, Aldridge, Gibson. 1b to OU's 1a.
3. Texas A&M. Law is one of the four best point guards in the conference. Jones is one of the four best post players. In a weak conference after OU and UT, that's more than enough to get them to third.
4. Iowa State. Guards win in college and Blalock and Stinson are the best backcourt in the conference.
5. Texas Tech. Jackson, Zeno, Dora, and Giles are very good, plus they fit Knight's system perfectly.
6. Nebraska. McCray is a budding star, their two bigs are competant, Dorisseu showed signs of brillance in hanging 27 on KU last season.
7. Colorado. Very similar to Nebraska. Roby is the star with some solid role players.
8. Oklahoma State. In the game of basketball a single superstar is more valuable than several mediocre players. JamesOn Curry is a superstar.
9. Baylor. See, OSU. Aaron Bruce is a superstar.
10. Missouri. See, OSU. No superstar, lots of mediocre returning players.
11. Kansas. Moody and Hawkins and the sophomores who were not better than Moody and Hawkins.
12. Kansas State. Finishes last on the principle that good walk-ons are better than bad walk-ons.
10/11/05 posted on a Kansas message board by Earthdog Fred
(Kansas finished the season sharing the Big 12 title for the second straight year and Bill Self was selected Big 12 Coach of the Year)
It is a day to be thankful for what you are not.
Be glad you are not a Kansas basketball fan, unless you enjoy 7th-place games at the Maui Invitational.
Or you like letting a team that shot 28.3 percent beat you by 12, as Arizona did to Kansas on Monday in a game that should have Dr. James Naismith's descendants considering a lawsuit. The Jayhawks countered with 27 turnovers to go with their 19 hoops and scored 49.
Quick inventory of the Bill Self era: Played dumb when it was revealed that Roy Williams for years lavished his outgoing seniors with gifts, the epitome of the NCAA's dreaded extra benefit not available to nonplaying students; lost to Bucknell in the NCAAs; canned a player who was involved in a nightclub stabbing; hired a wholly unqualified high school coach from Alaska to be "director of basketball operations" because his son happened to be a McDonald's All American; revealed a booster gave a player upward of $5,000 worth of stuff during recruitment and time on the varsity; and found a way to get Brandon Rush in school and eligible despite not being on his list of possible places to go.
Oh, and they're out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since, like, before Wilt.
Rock underdog, Jayhawk.
Peoria Journal Star Bill Liesse SPORTS EDITOR November 24, 2005
(Kansas finished the season sharing the Big 12 title for the second straight year and Bill Self was selected Big 12 Coach of the Year)
Quiet little smear campaigns by the Illini staff ensued against local favorites Lewis Jackson (“He’ll never qualify”) and Verdell Jones (“too skinny”) before both filled roles for Indiana schools that Illinois could have used filled at home. But woe is the program that pines for LewJack or VJ3. Indeed, had Bill Self stayed, those two wouldn’t have received a sniff by the U of I, either.
The difference, of course, is Self practiced what he preached on the second day he was ever around Illini basketball. The occasion was a midsummer Flyin’ Illini reunion, and Self was there with assistants Billy Gillispie and Norm Roberts. Self said he liked to have two point guards on the floor if possible, or at least two guards who could at times play the 1.
He backed it by leading Illinois’ best recruiting class — ever? — with Deron Williams and Dee Brown. Those two would grow up to go 37-2. Self kept exhibiting the philosophy at Kansas, where a team with Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins won a title. Then Collins and Tyshawn Taylor overlapped, and so on.
Bill Liesse 2/16/12
“Bill was (the players’) buddy. He told them how good they were,” Weber said. “The first thing I said to Dee was, ‘Dee, you can’t make a left-handed layup and your pull-up jumper is awful. And you tell me you want to play in the NBA?’
“ ‘I’m trying to help you but somebody screwed up and didn’t make you do these things.’ Dee didn’t know how to deal with that."
1/11/2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
...Tired of the seemingly endless questions about Self, Weber donned a black suit and black tie for the post-game news conference in the sixth game of the season vs. Memphis, and declared it was in honor of “Bill Self’s funeral.”
Not everyone, including Self himself, saw the humor in the stunt.
“Basically, I did it for the kids, because they were getting so tired of the Bill Self questions after every game,” he said. “I told them before the game that we were burying the memory of Bill Self tonight. I meant it as an honor to Bill, but I guess it didn’t come across that way.
“I meant no disrespect to Bill at all. But I’m emotional and sometimes I get a little carried away.
“My mistake was telling it to the media. Bill heard about it and laughed and joked about it, but I’m not so sure he understood what I was trying to do, or appreciated it.”
1/11/2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Miffed by criticism for everything from his ability to coach to his ability to clothe himself --- as well as his inability to be previous coach Bill Self --- Weber decided prior to Thursday's win over Maryland-Eastern Shore that he would no longer tolerate it.
"I wore a black tie and black pants and black sportcoat and I told them before the (UMES) game, 'This is a funeral. I'm going to throw a funeral. It's the end of Bill Self,'" Weber said. "It's over. There's no more comparing. He's gone. No more talking about it. I'll be honest: I'm fed up with it.
"I had one guy say if (Self) was coaching here, you would have beat Providence by 10. Well, when I faced Bill (when Self was at Tulsa and Weber at SIU), with 13 minutes left in the game at SIU we were up 27 points.
"Then, when we faced (Illinois at Las Vegas) we had them down the stretch and he had three NBA guys and we had two guys in the (NBA) developmental league. I don't know. Unless he's a miracle worker, I kicked his butt in both games.
"Even after the Providence game, you know, 'They didn't lose any double-figure games (under Self). Well, horse(dip). They did! I told the guys I was going to coach my butt off and I hoped they were going to play their butts off."
....“I could have said, ‘Hey, Bill Self recruited a lot of bad players. . . . To heck with Luther.’
“But I backed them to the hilt and I caught a lot of grief for doing that. But if there is one thing I learned from Coach Keady, it’s always support your players.
“I got a ton of e-mails on that and the call-in shows were brutal, but we made it through and I think it brought us together.”