Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:18 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
There comes a point in every successful, title-winning college coach's career when he finds his name tossed around for NBA jobs. Most times, even if the coach isn't strongly considering the jump, this is welcomed gossip on behalf of the man in question.
Some coaches inevitably follow that path -- many are unsuccessful and find their way back to campus. (See: Pitino, Rick; Calipari, John as recent, easy examples.)
Kansas' Bill Self is such a coach in this era. He's had incredible dominance over the Big 12 since arriving at Kansas eight years ago. He won a national title with the Jayhawks in 2008, thanks to arguably the biggest/greatest shot in program history. From afar, it may seem like Self is on cruise-control, and some wonder if he'll ever want that next challenge. There's not much else for him to accomplish or go to in college, after all -- Kansas is one of the six best jobs in the game, of course.
So, when's the NBA flirtation and/or transition going to happen, Bill?
“I think I’ve got a better job than two-thirds of the NBA jobs right where I’m at, at Kansas. I don’t see myself being a pro guy,” Self said Tuesday afternoon on 610 KSCP. “I don’t want to say never, but right now, I feel I’m a college guy. I’ve got such a great gig. The last two years, we’ve been good. We’ve been real good, but we haven’t done it (won NCAA title). There’s something inside, ‘We’ve got to do it again.’ That’s my total motivation right now.”
If Self does get that second title soon, then I think it's reasonable to debate he'll consider trying on some NBA slippers. You should know: Self is considered to be on the short list of men who will be looked at to replace Gregg Popovich when the Spurs coach decides to retire. The Oklahoma City job is also an obvious dot to draw a line to, as it's within shouting distance of Self's Kansas residence right now.
But Kansas fans, who have gotten frustrated with Self's bundle of upsets in March (but can't really get too mad because, you know, 2008 happened), can live with the comfort of knowing that, as long as their team is chasing a second title under Self, the head coach isn't likely to go anywhere.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: May 12, 2011 12:39 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander and Eric Angevine
Bill Self has a near-immaculate sense of how to win, be charismatic and choose the right certain something to give his appearance a confident look.
Dancing is another thing altogether. But the Kansas coach has figured out how to fund-raise through the form of boogie, which has been successful for a number of years. Bill's Basketball Boogie is a fundraising event that the Kansas coach puts on for the benefit of his Assists Foundation. So Self is preparing and promoting another Boogie to help raise money. Last year's promotion was all good and fun, but this year he got members of Kansas' team (not featured: Josh Selby) to don costumes and channel their inner BeeGee to help promote the event. Doing charity work is always nice, but getting Thomas Robinson to dress up like a refugee from Soul Train is a gift beyond measure.
The result was this. The look Self flashes at the 35-second mark is a keeper, one recycled from footage of last year's promotional video. This year's event takes place June 4 in Kansas City, and also in the late 1970's.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 11:51 am
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Posted on: March 27, 2011 7:50 pm
Posted by Jeff Borzello
SAN ANTONIO – Maybe there’s something to the idea that Kansas overlooks opponents and disappears in big games.
The Jayhawks looked loose heading into Sunday’s regional final against VCU, and came out of the gate on a tear.
Then VCU punched back – and Kansas was befuddled. The Jayhawks simply did not handle the pressure well, and couldn’t recover until it was too late.
“I think we understood this year, you couldn’t look ahead,” Kansas guard Brady Morningstar said.
Sure, that’s what he told the media, but it certainly didn’t look like that on the court. Kansas did not seem ready for VCU’s response.
They were looking around at each other for answers. Bill Self was shuffling players in and out of the game. Nothing worked.
As a result, Bill Self is now 1-5 in Elite Eight games. For the second consecutive year, Kansas has been bounced earlier than expected by a lower-seeded mid-major team.
The Jayhawks’ players said all week that they were treating every opponent from here on out as a No. 1 seed.
VCU played like a No. 1 seed; Kansas didn’t.
“If we played shirts and skins today, you wouldn’t have much of a difference on players or how they look,” Self said. “They got what they deserved today. They certainly outplayed us.”
VCU was knocking down 3-pointers, attacking the rim, playing aggressive half-court defense.
That’s what Kansas usually does, but the Jayhawks were lost at both ends of the court on Sunday. Their shots weren’t falling and they could not adjust to VCU’s perimeter shooting.
Like last season, Kansas won the Big 12 title, finished with a gaudy record and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Like last season, the Jayhawks fell short when it mattered.
“It’s hard for me to say this was a special season,” Self said. “We did a lot of good things, but we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish.”
It wasn’t Self’s fault that the Jayhawks shot 2-for-21 from 3-point range or only received three points from their usually reliable bench.
However, it’s tough to ignore the 1-5 record in regional final games, or the current reputation his teams have. As my colleague Matt Norlander pointed out earlier, Kansas’ modern-day legacy is this: Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa, VCU.
Four NCAA tournament games in which Kansas entered as a heavy favorite.
Four NCAA tournament games in which Kansas didn’t rise to the occasion and lost.
“It was just one of those days,” guard Tyrel Reed said.
Under Self, though, “one of those days” seems to happen far too often.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
Kansas is the latest school to indefinitely suspend a player. About 30 minutes ago, the school put out a brief press release stating it was shelving junior guard Tyshawn Taylor for an indefinite amount of time.
(These indefinite suspensions have been all the rage this year, often lasting no more than a week, so let's sit tight and see just how badly Taylor's behavior has been.)
We don't know the specific reason why Taylor is being getting put in the corner. More and more, teams are protecting their student-athletes and being as vague as possible in this scenarios. Understandable.
"Although we are disappointed in Tyshawn, he will remain a member of our team and practice with our team until he is reinstated for competition," head coach Bill Self said in a statement.
Taylor's vastly improved from the player he was a freshman. In fact, in my opinion, Taylor's play was as critical as the Morris' in the early part of the season, helping 25-2 Kansas get off to that 18-0 start. Taylor's the man at the point, averaging 4.7 dimes per game, third best in the Big 12. Now ... who takes over for him in the short-term? Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed are two seniors that should be competent enough to not let KU slip up too much.
Morningstar averages 3.1 assists per game; Reed 1.8. A guy by the name of Elijah Johnson could be factored in here, too, though I'm not sure he's who Self will turn to all that much. Same goes for Josh Selby, a freshman who's struggled despite flashes of flashy play, is not the right replacement guy for Taylor for any elongated duration this season. Fortunately, the Jayhawks are pretty equipped in the backcourt. This suspension comes with some attention on Kansas tonight, as the Jayhawks host 16-10 and dying-of-thirst-for-a-good-win Oklahoma State on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET. We'll have an immediate idea of what Self's team looks like without Taylor's services.
Who knows if that will play into Self's decision on when to bring him back. Without Taylor, it's certain Kansas doesn't deserve to be the No. 1-ranked team in the country now, though, right?
Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 11:45 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
Announcers have trouble telling the Morris brothers apart in the heat of game action. The brothers have similar abilities, similar jersey numbers, and only the small designation Mk. or Mc. on the back of the jersey for clarification. Kansas fans long ago gave up on using first names, and refer to the twins from Philadelphia as simply "the Morii" in casual conversation.
Some twins bristle at the notion that outsiders can't tell them apart, but not the Morrii. The more the legend of Marcus grows -- as it did following his 33-point show in keeping Kansas undefeated last night -- the more he wants to drag his brother into the limelight with him. "I personally think there will be games Kieff can get 30 and Selby can get 30 ,” Marcus told Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World. “I had an on-night tonight. There’s other players on my team who can do it, too.”
It's not that Marcus lacks confidence. More that he seems to understand, perhaps better than a non-twin can, how much his own success is intertwined with that of the man standing next to him. Marcus and Markieff have always had that preternatural ability to bring out the best in one another, but it's becoming more and more obvious that the 'family' tag applies to the entire Kansas team these days. When Bill Self benched the brothers and started sophomore Thomas Robinson for a handful of games, the motivational ploy worked. There seems to be no bitterness between the three men who ply the frontcourt for the Jayhawks, regardless of who's starting. The backcourt situation is even more crowded, but nobody has complained publicly (way to go, Tyshawn !) about playing time. It's almost as if the entire team has adopted the Motto of the Morii: F.O.E.
The acronym is etched on the twins' biceps in indelible ink. It stands for Family Over Everything. "It means family first," Markieff told Joe Davis of Jayhawk Tip-Off. "With my family, we've been through thick and thin. That's who's by my side all the time, so that's what I preach."
The definition of family includes Sean Evans of St. John's and Lamar Trice of Mount St. Mary's, as well as a few other non-DI hoopsters who grew up in Philly with the Morrii, each of whom has the same tat. The Jayhawks are a relatively ink-free group, but it's easy to imagine that the family label is metaphorically stamped on everyone from superstar-in-waiting Josh Selby to benchwarming walk-on Jordan Juenemann. With Bill Self as patriarch and Danny Manning as the cool uncle, this KU team has forged a bond that has allowed for smooth sailing despite some big bumps in the road.
Think about how tough it must be to integrate a new scoring point guard after a third of the season has already been played. Imagine the jittery feelings that must surround something like Mario Little's suspension and reinstatement. Picture, if you can, what it takes to go undefeated through all that, while your school is hiring a new AD in the midst of scandal. Doubt any part of the Kansas gameplan you wish -- Self loves to keep his guys humble -- but don't question their team concept. It's rock solid.
Those of us who get paid to punditize will try to break down a team's prospects six ways from Sunday. We can examine personnel, coaching, strategy and tactics, etcetera. That ineffable thing called chemistry is the toughest to root out, however, and it plays such a huge role. It's not just 'does everyone get along'; there's also 'who's on the floor in crunch time?', 'how do they respond to adversity?' and 'how do they act when coach isn't around?' The best beat reporters can sometimes ferret out those types of details by virtue of proximity and persistence, but the rest of us must fill in the blanks based on on-court performance, for the most part.
From a distance, this KU team looks like a band of brothers, led by a pair of actual brothers. It's the sort of invisible bond that can be seen briefly when Michigan forces overtime, or when Hilton Coliseum is roaring and jumping for The Mayor the way it did when the great Johnny Orr patrolled the sidelines over a decade ago.
If Kansas is on a Final Four path, as it seems to be at this early date, credit the extra mojo to those three letters: F.O.E.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: January 3, 2011 11:29 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
"I was just trying to get (assistant coach) Tony Jones some reps."
"Josh had 23 points and 14 rebounds? Oh my gosh."
Hot Seat: Trent Johnson, LSU
If anyone made his seat hotter this week, it's LSU's Trent Johnson. The man who won 80 games in a difficult recruiting environment at Stanford probably thought winning in Baton Rouge would be a piece of cake, but things have gone downhill since his first season with the purple and gold, which ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Last year there was no postseason bid at all, and this season looks much the same. The Tigers are 8-7, and this week's road trip, with a short turnaround between playing Rice in Houston on December 29th and then Virginia in Charlottesville on January 2nd, didn't do him any favors, as both ended in losses to very beatable teams.
Louisiana State fired John Brady two years after he reached a Final Four. How much patience will they have with Johnson? The road trip continues on Saturday with a trip to the terrible, horrible, no-good Auburn Tigers. If that game ends in a loss, Tiger fans will be howling for Johnson's head on a platter.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:26 am
Edited on: December 29, 2010 10:32 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
Bill Self is going with a different lineup tonight, as the Jayhawks continue their quest to go undefeated in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The team will take the floor tonight against the Texas-Arlington Mavericks with Josh Selby, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson in the starting lineup. Marcus Morris (right) will come off the bench.
There are various reasons for the change in lineup. Morris will sit out of the starting lineup for the first time this season due to the flagrant foul that got him tossed from the Cal game last week. The hard-charging Thomas Robinson will take his spot alongside the other Morris twin, Markieff. Selby will start as a combo guard to maximize his scoring opportunities, while sophomore Elijah Johnson will gain a golden opportunity to start at point guard. Senior sharpshooter (and calming presence) Tyrel Reed will be the third guard in for the opening tip.
Self did stress that Morris, his star junior, would get in the game tonight, but that the switch today was as much about punishment and teaching as it was about merit.
This is pretty classic Bill Self, though the discipline issues he's had to face this season are unusual for his program. Lineups are extremely malleable in the non-con season under Self, the better to nail down a rotation for conference play. With Taylor's tough sojurn back from snowed-in New Jersey as a spinnable excuse, he now has a chance to see what Selby can do in the starting lineup. Don't be surprised if the freshman stays there. When KU had its first flirtation with a one-and-done talent last season, Xavier Henry was in and out of the starting lineup because he failed to show aggression and decision-making skills. Selby has already shown that neither will be a problem when he's in the game.