Archive for Saturday, September 2, 2006

Self primed for pigskin

KU hoops coach weaned on game in native Oklahoma

September 2, 2006

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Bill Self, who played quarterback in grade school through his freshman year of high school in the football-crazed state of Oklahoma, readily admits to being a pigskin fan.

"Football is great. Nothing does more for the enthusiasm or energy on campus than football," Self, Kansas University's fourth-year basketball coach, said Friday.

He will tailgate this afternoon outside Memorial Stadium, then watch the 6 p.m. KU-Northwestern State season opener with family members, assistant hoops coaches and friends from a scholarship suite high above the field.

"Last year, the home games were so exciting. I'm sure it'll be the same this year," Self added, noting he hoped for a huge crowd for the sake of the Jayhawk players, as well as the entire athletic department.

"Every time our fans attend an event, it helps everybody else. Football has the most potential to be the biggest financial provider for any athletic department," Self said.

"All our players go to the games all the time. Our players have a great relationship with members of the football team."

Self this week was happy to learn football coach Mark Mangino had his contract extended.

"You could say everybody in the athletic department is happy for coach. He and his staff have done a great job and this is something everybody wanted to happen," Self indicated.

¢ Great games revisited: Self was stumped Friday when asked to recall the best football game he's ever seen.

"It may have been last year's Texas-USC game," Self said of the contest for the national championship won by the Longhorns and Vince Young, 41-38. He watched that game on TV.

"I don't know what's the best game I've seen in person. Good question. I don't know."

It's easy for KU assistant Kurtis Townsend to identify the best game he's seen. Townsend attended the 1982 California-Stanford game - the one in which Cal won, 25-20, thanks in large part to the Stanford band being on the field and disrupting the game's final play - a kickoff return for a TD by the Bears.

¢ Kleinmann hobbled: KU sophomore walk-on center Matt Kleinmann has been wearing a protective boot since spraining an ankle during a pick-up game Wednesday. He should be able to resume pick-up action early next week.

¢ No title for U.S.A.: Self refuses to pile on the U.S. men's basketball team, which fell to Greece, 101-95, in the semifinals of the world championships Friday in Japan.

The U.S. which will play for the bronze medal today, has been on the decline, placing sixth at the 2002 world championships and third at the 2004 Olympics.

"I don't know if it is a step backward. It is not a big step forward," Self said.

The U.S. now must qualify for the Olympics at the FIBA Americas Tournament in Venezuela rather than gaining the automatic berth that goes to the winner in Japan.

"We still have the best players in the world, but maybe the best players cannot beat talented teams that have played together forever. It shows how important chemistry is," Self added.

The U.S. hit just 20 of 34 free throws.

"I would say not being able to guard the ball hurt," Self said. "Greece did a good job of dribble penetration and shooting the ball. The U.S. struggled shooting threes (nine of 28, with Kirk Hinrich making four of seven) and free throws. If we shoot the ball average, we probably win easily."

¢ Rose, Gordon in Bloomington: Derrick Rose, a 6-foot-4 high school senior from Chicago's Simeon High, made an unofficial visit to Indiana on Friday with Eric Gordon, a senior guard from Indianapolis, who has orally committed to Illinois.

The Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Times reported Friday night Rose and Gordon joined IU coach Kelvin Sampson and Hoosier players D.J. White and Rod Wilmont at Yogi's Grill and Bar on the IU campus.

The paper says at 7:40 p.m., "diners at the restaurant cheered as Sampson walked in followed by Rose and Gordon. They made no comment as they walked swiftly to a table in the back room at Yogi's, but the dinner meeting appeared to confirm the persistent rumors that Gordon is interested in playing at IU, despite his verbal commitment to Illinois."

Rose is considering KU, DePaul, Memphis, Indiana and UCLA.

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