Archive for Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Self: ‘I think our players did great’

March 30, 2004

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Bill Self showed for work a couple of hours later than usual Tuesday morning, the first day of his first offseason as head basketball coach at Kansas University.

Catching his breath after a marathon six-month season, he had plenty of time to reflect on a 24-9 campaign that ended with Sunday's 79-71 overtime loss to Georgia Tech in the Elite Eight.

Self played a game of catch with his son, Tyler, and later took Tyler to the dentist. Once at KU, in his office, Self also had a lengthy chat with junior power forward Wayne Simien.

"Certainly there's disappointment we lost," Self said. "No matter when you finish, you are always disappointed when you don't win it (all). I'm disappointed we're still not playing. By no means am I disappointed in our players or how we performed.

"I think our players did great. They showed toughness. They sacrificed themselves for the good of others. I'm really encouraged about next year. I really am."

The Jayhawks lose just senior scholarship players Jeff Graves and Bryant Nash and walk-on Brett Olson, while bringing in high schoolers Alexander Kaun and Darnell Jackson (forwards) and Russell Robinson (guard).

Self will return a senior class of Simien, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Michael Lee. Simien, 6-foot-9, 250 pounds from Leavenworth, reiterated Sunday he did not plan to leave early for the NBA. Self believes Simien's stance won't change.

"I will look into it and give him the information (on where he might be drafted). I'd do that for him regardless," Self said. "I think in Wayne's mind he knows what he's going to do."

Self lauded Simien for playing in pain all season because of a groin strain. He'll take five to six weeks off to let the strain heal.

"Wayne told me this morning he text-messaged Bill Cowgill (trainer) because it was 11 a.m. and he hadn't spent an hour on him, already, for the first time in a month," Self said.

Langford and Graves will have knee surgeries to repair torn cartilage in the near future. Langford says he'll be out three months; Graves a couple of weeks. J.R. Giddens might need surgery on the foot that has been in a boot for several weeks. Either way, Giddens says he'll be inactive at least six weeks.

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Walk-on to join team: KU is expected to add a walk-on to the program in Matt Kleinmann, a 6-foot-10 senior from Blue Valley West High.

Kleinmann, a first-team Eastern Kansas League pick, averaged about 14 points and seven rebounds a game last season.

He had received recruiting interest from Valparaiso, Pacific, South Florida and Purdue, plus several Ivy League schools. Kleinmann, who boasts a near-perfect 3.9 grade-point average, has been accepted to KU's School of Architecture.

"In my mind, it's where I want to go," Kleinmann said of KU. "The only thing I want to do is sit down with the coaches and talk with them. I've heard from some schools and turned away a couple of schools that wanted to get in touch with me. The last couple of months I've kind of realized I wanted to go to KU."

He attended several games as a fan and says he's been told there would be a spot for him on the team.

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Awards ceremony: KU's men's basketball awards ceremony, sponsored by the Williams Fund, will be held at 7 p.m. April 8 at Horejsi Center.

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Self on new women's coach Bonnie Henrickson: "Her record is terrific," Self said of the former Virginia Tech coach who had a 158-62 record at Virginia Tech with seven postseason appearances the past seven years.

"I'm very impressed with her. I had a chance to meet her in St. Louis and had a chance to meet her staff today, and I am very impressed with them as well. I think she'll bring a level of enthusiasm and excitement that will certainly benefit the program greatly."

Self was asked if there was room for successful men's and women's hoops at KU.

"Absolutely," he said. "Connecticut and Duke have no problem both being good. North Carolina has no problem with both being good. Texas has no problem both being good ... Oklahoma. I certainly hope they are successful."

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Langford's foul: Self was asked about an offensive foul call on Keith Langford early in overtime of Sunday's loss. It appeared questionable at best. Langford fouled out on the pushing off call with 3:44 left in OT and expressed anger at the call after the game.

"I've not watched the tape. It's better served I watch the tape before I make any comments," Self said.

"Now matter how I feel, officials are human just like players are human. Players don't make every shot. Officials get the majority of them right. Certainly the call on Keith was a tough call. I will say this ... the way you feel immediately after a game, you say things out of frustration that maybe shouldn't be said. Even though at the time I thought they may have not been good calls, we had plenty of opportunities to make our free throws, plenty of opportunities to get defensive rebounds and plenty of opportunities to get stops. That one thing did not cost us whether it was good or bad. We just didn't make enough plays to win the game."

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San Antonio-bound: Self will attend the Final Four. "I have several meetings to attend," said Self, who will head Thursday to San Antonio. "I'm not looking forward to it, though."

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