St. Louis Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self publicly praised his predecessor, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, on Saturday at Edward Jones Dome.
“There’s some things that he’s done academically. Some things like that were so enforced, I think kind of a mind-set within the department, that we have been able to take it and run with it,” ninth-year KU coach Self said.
“We’re graduating all our guys. Our APR is (perfect) 1,000 the last six years. I mean, there’s a lot of good things going on, which I think means as much to having a program as winning games do. And when he was there, he built the program.”
Bitterness revisited: Self was asked about the bitterness of some KU fans toward Williams’ leaving KU for his alma mater, UNC.
“I’ll be real honest with you. I think that anybody that basically said that they had so much dislike or whatever for coach Williams because he left, I think all he should ever take in is it was a back-handed compliment. If they didn’t care for him so much, why would they care if he left?
“The other thing ... (it) kind of upset me because that made me feel like they must really want him here a lot more than they want me here, which they did. It took a few years to try to balance that out. Inside the walls (of program), there was never any animosity, nothing like that. He and his staff did a remarkable job there. Won a lot of games and conducted themselves in a very favorable way. And the foundation was set even though I think the foundation was set also before Roy got there, too. I think winning a national championship (with Larry Brown in 1988) helps set it also, but he just did a remarkable job, and we were the beneficiaries of taking over a healthy program.”
Moving up: KU’s Thomas Robinson is in second place on KU’s single-season rebounding list (429 to Wilt Chamberlain’s 510).
“I am? Wow,” Robinson said, informed of that feat. “It hasn’t hit me ... everything I did this year. I want to keep adding to it. I’m not ready for my career to be over with. (I want to) just keep playing,” added Robinson, who figures to declare for the NBA Draft at the conclusion of the season.
Will shooting improve?: KU hit 37.5 percent of its shots (one of 14 threes) in Friday’s 60-57 Sweet 16 win over North Carolina State, 33.9 percent (six of 24 threes) in a 63-60 second-round win over Purdue and 46 percent (five of 16 threes) in a 65-50 first-round win over Detroit.
“It’s hard to get assists if you never make a shot. I mean, we really pass it well,” Self said. KU had 13 assists, 14 turnovers vs. N.C. State; 10 assists, seven turnovers vs. Purdue; and 12 assists, 14 turnovers vs. Detroit.
“The last two games we played were Big 10 games when I was at Illinois. I’ve always thought at Kansas, my mind-set was the first one to 70 always wins. Always. Either road or home, if I’m at Kansas, if a team, if I’m the first one to 70, we should win. Now, (that) doesn’t mean we always do, but we should if you take enough pride defensively.
“Now it’s the first one to 60. Still, we were the second-leading scoring team I think in our league. I know we can score better than what we have. We just have got to find a way to manufacture some easy baskets so guys get confidence. One thing I think, and those that have played know this, guys think that they get confidence by making hard shots. It’s unbelievable to me, you’re oh-fer, and then you want to take guarded shots. Why don’t you make a layup and then all of a sudden you think you can’t be stopped, even though it’s an uncontested layup or get to the free-throw line or something?
“I don’t think our shot selection’s been that poor. I just think we haven’t shot the ball well. But I get great pride in that, because to me, to me when you make shots, you should win. And when you don’t, you’ve got to kind of find a way to grit it out. And I take pride in gritting those games out.”
This, that: KU assistant Joe Dooley is being listed as a possible candidate for the head-coaching position at Mississippi State. ... KU (2,068) and UNC (2,065) rank second and third in all-time victories. Kentucky (2,087) is all-time leader. ... Self is 2-1 in games coached against Williams. Self was 1-1 versus KU as Illinois coach and is 1-0 versus UNC. ... KU has been to 13 Final Fours. ... KU is 6-1 all-time in tourney games in St. Louis, including a 5-1 mark in Jones Dome. ... UNC leads the all-time series, 6-3, yet the series is tied 2-2 in the NCAAs. ... Self watched tape of the Jayhawks’ 2008 Final Four semifinal victory over North Carolina at brunch Saturday. He said some Jayhawks watched part of the tape, looking at tendencies.
Williams ill: Williams had a severe dizzy spell in Friday’s Sweet 16 win over Ohio.
“I didn’t feel very well. The blood rush getting up and down, and I’ve had a cold for three weeks. I’m a yeller, and trying to get information out to my guys, and I don’t think they can hear me. So I’m trying to yell louder,” he said. “And all of a sudden, I feel this pain in the temples and things start a little dizzy, and I go black for two or three seconds. And it happened more often last night than any game that I’ve ever coached.”
“I think it’s directly related to the frustration of not being able to get guys to hear me. And after the game I had a little headache, not bad. I got something to eat, feel great today. I just wish I would get over this dadgum sore throat is the bottom line.
“But when I was at Kansas, they got worried about it one time and sneaked me into the hospital one night and ran all these tests. And I don’t know that they really cared that much about me or just didn’t want me to die on their watch. So I come to North Carolina, and they have done the same thing. But I’ve been to the Mayo Clinic, and they said I have a benign positional vertigo, and I need to be careful with some of those things. But it’s something that started with me when I was 13 years old. And just any time I would jump up quickly and try to do something, I have that little two- or three-second deal. So I tell everybody not worry about it, just my assistants are good, because if they think I’m going all the way down, if we’re playing well, they catch me. And if we’re playing poorly, they’re afraid that I’m going to do something else, so then they try to push me away. Or I should say vice versa type of thing. But, no, I’m fine.”
Mizzou revisited: Self’s players said they were touched by his reaction after the 87-86 overtime home victory over Missouri, in which KU erased a 19-point deficit.
“I think they said, ‘No curfew, right, coach?’ That was about it,” Self said of the team reaction.
Of his fist-pumping and arms raised over his head at the buzzer, he said: “That was just an emotional game because there was so much pent-up frustration on a lot of different fronts for a lot of different reasons. To have a team come from 19 down midway through the second half against a team that was a top-five team in the country, I thought was pretty remarkable for our kids.
“And it’s probably the best basketball regular-season game that I’ll ever be a part of. And not just this year, but maybe the rest of my life. And those kids, too. So that was probably more the emotional thing of it. But I think our guys know me pretty well. I’m a fairly emotional guy. If I can say it, I can get it off my chest. I don’t carry around frustration or anything unless I can’t say it, and then I do. But if I can say it, I can get it off my chest, and our guys have kind of learned to take me for what I am.”
Harrison says: North Carolina sophomore small forward Harrison Barnes looked back on when he was being recruited by Kansas: “Coach Self was definitely one of my favorite coaches during the recruiting process,” Barnes said. “He was just always real laid-back, a real player’s coach. My mom loved him a lot. Just getting to know the Kansas program, I have nothing but respect for them.”
Why, then, did Barnes choose to go to North Carolina and not Kansas?
“It was a few things,” Barnes said. “Academics definitely factored in, in terms of the undergraduate business schools. And player relations. I felt like I got along better with the UNC players than the players at any of the other schools.”
KU senior guard Tyshawn Taylor was his host for the visit.
“Nice kid,” Taylor said of what he remembered. “Really wasn’t too talkative, just nice and kind of observant. He looked like he was having fun and he jelled with us, and he enjoyed himself.”
Taylor indicated he wasn’t as easy to read as some recruits.
“Sometimes, a lot of guys show a lot of emotion and are like, ‘Man, this is crazy.’ He wasn’t one of those guys,” Taylor said. “He really didn’t show too much emotion. He was kind of taking it all in. After he left, coach asked, ‘What did you think?’ I always say I don’t know how they can come on a visit and not want to commit. I never understand that.”
More Barnes: Barnes said it didn’t take him long after arriving in St. Louis to figure out how some extreme Kansas fans feel about North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who coached Kansas to four Final Fours in his 15 years: “I was in the hotel the other day and I saw a Kansas shirt that said, ‘Why play with Roy when I can play with myself?’ I was like, ‘Wow, this is the Sweet 16 right now, we’re not even playing you guys yet.’ It’s definitely extra motivation to try to get the win for him.”
Recruiting: Shabazz Muhammad, a 6-6 senior guard from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, will announce his college choice on April 10, and Tony Parker, a 6-9 forward from Miller Grove High in Lithonia, Ga., on April 11, Zagsblog.net reports. Parker is considering KU, UCLA, Duke, Ohio State, Memphis and Georgia. Muhammad is considering UCLA, KU, Kentucky, Duke and UNLV. UCLA is believed to be the leader.