Bill Self could be hooked on the horns of the same dilemma that periodically surfaced during the 19 seasons for Ted Owens as Kansas basketball boss - great recruiter but journeyman coach, visa versa, or periodically a little of both?
Owens' critics contended that Teddy could get the talent but wasn't a hall-of-fame tutor. Lots of us thought that, for most part, the opposite was the case, particularly after adjutant general Sam Miranda got unceremoniously sacked following the '77 season and Ted had to coach even better the next six years.
Some heralded kid would be brought in and not achieve stardom but would do pretty well because Teddy worked on him. The player might be nowhere as good as his high school credentials but would respond to tutoring. More on that later.
It's an incessant buzz about how many top-flight players Self signs, like the current roster with all the high school All-Americans. When things turn sour, as they did in that 11-missed-layup debacle at Texas Tech, talk grows that Bill can get 'em but that he and his staff don't get the most from 'em.
After the victory at Baylor and with people licking their chops at the prospect of a romp past Colorado here Saturday, the thinking may be more balanced. Self and his dandies are again on the front-burner with the fluctuators. Everybody has a theory.
Sam Miranda was easily one of the finest coaching aides KU ever had. Super-serious, he wasn't always a lot of laughs, but the one-time Indiana star could teach basketball from all angles. He was the main reason Owens got an early reputation as a boffo recruiter. Miranda factored in landing and refining people such as Dave Robisch, Jo Jo White, Roger Bohnenstiehl and Tom and Bob Kivisto from Illinois.
Well, Wichita Heights High was a state titlist, and Darnell Valentine and Antoine Carr were the two big reasons. Coaching Heights was Lafayette Norwood, and somewhere along the line, Owens got the notion Norwood could deliver both Valentine and Carr in Lawrence in a convoluted package deal.
Lafayette was hired as a KU assistant for 1978, Valentine's freshman year here; suddenly Sam Miranda, who had done so much so well for the program, was out. Wasn't right, but it was so.
Carr, meanwhile, had another season at Wichita Heights, then chose not to follow Norwood to Lawrence, as KU had gambled. He entered Wichita State where at one time the roster also included Greg Dreiling (for one year), Cliff Levingston and Xavier McDaniel. Dreiling transferred, sat out a year and played three years here for Larry Brown. Valentine and the other four all had pro careers, at times outstanding ones.
Darnell was here 1978-81, same for Norwood, who maintains a Lawrence residence and later coached basketball and golf at the junior-college level. Miranda had a fine career in the travel business with Maupintour and is still here. He's one aide the Jayhawks NEVER should have let go.
After Sam left, KU under Owens had a 107-68 record and won a Big Eight title in 1978. After 13-14 and 13-16 records in '82 and '83, athletic director Monte Johnson ousted Ted and brought in Larry Brown, who hated recruiting.
I still think Owens was a better coach than recruiter. So what combination can we apply to Bill Self by the end of this season?