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Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Self: Tonight’s game not emotional

November 15, 2006

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Bill Self won't be reminiscing about the good ol' days tonight when Kansas University's basketball team entertains Oral Roberts in Allen Fieldhouse.

Tip is 7 p.m. with a live telecast on channels 27 and 38.

"Trust me, it won't be emotional for me from that standpoint at all," said fourth-year KU coach Self. His first head coaching job came at the Tulsa, Okla., school where he compiled a 55-54 record from 1993-97.

"I loved my time there. Oral Roberts has great, great people who gave me my first chance. They jump-started my career. I'll be forever indebted to them. (But) the last time we played 'em, they beat us. They got us at the end."

Oral Roberts' Nathan Binum hit a 21-footer right before the buzzer, lifting the Golden Eagles to a stunning 60-59 victory over Self's third Tulsa team Dec. 11, 1999. That Tulsa squad went 32-5, falling three times to Fresno State, once to ORU and in the Elite Eight - on another last-second shot - versus North Carolina.

"Binum hit a tough shot. He came off a couple screens. The ball bounced around on the rim and fell through," recalled eighth-year ORU head coach Scott Sutton, son of former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton. "It's was exciting for us, not for coach (Self) or the Golden Hurricane," added Sutton, who played at Oklahoma State when Self was an assistant and moved on to join Self's ORU staff for the 1995-96 and '96-97 seasons. "Still, I've heard coach (Self) say that game helped his team. It opened some of their kids' eyes. From that point on, they were a fantastic team."

ORU coach Scott Sutton.

ORU coach Scott Sutton.

Sutton and his former boss remain close - "we probably talk four or five times a year on the phone and see each other on the recruiting trail," Sutton said - their relationship one of the main reason's tonight's game was scheduled.

"Scott told me one thing Caleb wanted to do before he left college was the opportunity to play at Allen Fieldhouse," Self said of Caleb Green, a 6-foot-8 Tulsa native who enters the season sixth leading scorer in school history. "I think it's a great opportunity for him and their entire team. Caleb is one of the favorites for the Naismith Award. If you pick the top 50 players in the country, he's not between 40 and 50, he's one of the best. It will be a challenge to guard him."

Sutton - his squad boasts the 1-2 scoring punch of Green and senior guard Ken Tutt - concedes Tulsa native Green, two-time Mid-Continent Conference player of the year, has dreamed of playing in KU's tradition-rich building.

"Being a senior and having the type of career he's had, I tried to do everything to make that possible. Coach agreed to play us," Sutton said.

The Golden Eagles, who are coming off a 21-12 season, dropped their season-opener, 68-65, Friday at Loyola Marymount despite 26 points from Tutt and 12 points and 12 boards from Green.

ORU led by seven points with 10 minutes left, then had trouble penetrating Loyola's zone defense.

Caleb Green is expected to provide the bulk of the Eagles' scoring punch this season.

Caleb Green is expected to provide the bulk of the Eagles' scoring punch this season.

"We didn't do a good job attacking. We missed some easy and wide-open shots," Sutton said. "I like our guys. I think we'll have a good team in time. We have two really good players in Green and Tutt and feel the players surrounding them are talented and athletic."

The supporting cast includes Wichita State transfer Adam Liberty, ORU's new point guard.

"Oral Roberts is much more athletic than Northern Arizona, and they've got the big load inside," Self said of Green. His Jayhawks waxed the Lumberjacks, 91-57, in last Saturday's season opener.

"We are playing a team in all honesty better than Northern Arizona. They can score and have guys who can get you in foul trouble. It'll be a tough matchup. They create different strategies and different principles we'll have to use. We need to guard well. They can score."

Sutton says the same thing about the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks.

"I think they are the most talented team I've seen in a long time. I thought Memphis was really talented last year. After we played them (94-78 loss in NCAA Tournament) I said I thought Memphis had the best team we played in 11 years at ORU. Kansas has a chance to be better than that this year.

"They have so many weapons, it's hard to take away any one or two players. I love their freshmen, who will be unbelievable players, and everybody knows (Julian) Wright, (Brandon) Rush, (Mario) Chalmers. It wouldn't shock me if they go on and win the whole thing. They are that talented. Of course, it's a long long season and anything can happen."

Yep anything can happen in college basketball ... to Self's chagrin back in '99.

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