Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, who has coached two teams to Final Four berths, was willing to tackle a tough, hypothetical question on Tuesday:
Which squad — 2008 or 2012 — would win a head-to-head match-up?
“The ‘08 team would be favored, but I’m not sure the ‘12 team would buy into that at all,” Self said of his No. 2-seeded Jayhawks, who take a 31-6 record into Saturday’s Final Four semifinal against Ohio State. The top-seeded ‘08 team, which has been called the best in school history, went 37-3 en route to winning the NCAA title.
“It’s unbelievable to me how much these guys enjoy competing,” Self added of this year’s squad, which like the ‘08 team won the Big 12 title. “The longer they compete with each other, the more they like each other. We’ve had some close teams in the past, but I don’t think we’ve had a team this close. That ‘08 team was so unselfish to have so many good players and still sacrificed and guarded.
“But there is something about this team and how they get on each other and hold each other accountable. Only teams that really care about each other do those things. It sounds easy in theory, but unless you really love your brother next to you, you’re not going to jump his butt when he does wrong. These guys hold each other pretty accountable.”
Team chemistry has helped the team survive its last three games — over Purdue (63-60), North Carolina State (60-57) and North Carolina (80-67), Self indicated.
“These guys, I don’t know if ‘cocky’ is the right word, but they’ve got something about them right now that they just think they can rely on someone to make a play,” Self said, providing an example.
“A huge play ... at the end of the first half when Carolina is playing for one (shot) and Elijah (Johnson) rips (Harrison) Barnes and gets a layup. Little things like that, that give you momentum going into half because we had totally screwed up the first half being up seven.
“Guys just have a timing to make plays like that. Jeff’s (Withey) block and tap (late vs. UNC leading to a pair of run-outs), I mean I don’t know if that’s because of competitive juice or liking the moment, but timing has just been right for these guys to have an opportunity to make those type of plays in the most opportune times.”
Hinson headed to SIU: KU director of basketball operations Barry Hinson has agreed to become head coach at Southern Illinois University and is working on a contract with the university, the Southern newspaper of Carbondale, Ill., (thesouthern.com) reports.
Hinson, 50, could be announced as the Salukis’ coach as early as 3:30 p.m., today if contract terms are finalized, the paper reports. A source said a players’ meeting has been scheduled and, if Hinson is at that meeting, he would likely meet with the media afterward. The paper earlier said Hinson’s hire could be announced after the Final Four.
Hinson went 169-117 at Missouri State and 36-23 at Oral Roberts as a head coach, reaching the NIT three times with the Bears. Hinson’s hiring was also reported by CBSsports.com, ESPN.com and Carbondale’s KFVS-TV.
Meanwhile, KU assistant Danny Manning is a serious candidate at Tulsa and has talked to Hurricane officials about the position, the Tulsa World reports. The paper said Tulsa was impressed with Manning’s recruiting ability and name recognition. Several KU big men, including Cole Aldrich, Jeff Withey and the Morris twins, have credited Manning for their development. Tulsa TV station 2 (KJRH) says Manning could be named coach next week.
Sullinger v. Robinson: Self on whether Thomas Robinson would guard fellow All-American Jared Sullinger Saturday: “If we did that, that would put Withey on Thomas (Deshaun, 6-foot-7 to Withey’s 7-foot), so that’s probably not going to happen. We will wait and see how things play out, but they’re going to be matched up against each other some. Deshaun is more inside-outside-slash-post. He can stretch it.”
Senior guard Conner Teahan on the drive back from St. Louis late Sunday night: “It was kind of long. We were waiting to get back, and then we got in some standstill traffic. Some car pulling a truck caught on fire. We were just sitting there. The bus was completely stopped for about 45 minutes. Everybody was extremely happy. It was cool to be with everybody, and we just couldn’t wait to get back to the fieldhouse (to meet fans).”
Self on Frank Martin leaving Kansas State for South Carolina: “I’m really happy for him. I spoke to him last week after the tournament (loss to Syracuse) telling him congratulations on another great year. He told me this could be a possibility. I don’t know what the situation is down there, but I think he left a good situation so he must feel this is a really good situation for him personally. We played down there (at SC) and it was a great facility and a great location. There are a lot of positives there, but our league will miss him.”
Last time: Junior forward Kevin Young spoke about his memories from KU’s first game against Ohio State. KU won, 78-67, on Dec. 10 in Allen.
“That was the last time I hit a three. I haven’t taken too many since then,” said Young, who had 14 points off 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-3 threes. “They’re good memories. The fans were amazing that game, and it was just a fun game to play in.”
This, that: KU’s game against Ohio State will be shown on the videoboard on Saturday night in Allen Fieldhouse. Doors to the fieldhouse will open at 6 p.m. Admission is free. “It’s just like in ‘08,” said KU associate AD Jim Marchiony. “We had such a great reaction then.” ... KU’s bus is slated to leave Allen for Forbes Field in Topeka about 3:30 p.m., today, KU officials said.
Tyshawn Taylor was asked if this was a rebuilding year at KU: “Maybe in some people’s eyes. The guys that have been a big part of the team are the guys we had to rebuild with, been part of the program two, three, four years, in Teahan’s case five years. We’ve been around coach, the program, each other. We like each other. We never looked at it as a rebuilding year. We looked it as regrouping maybe. We had the same guys who were competing against the guys that left. We kept that attitude all year. If this is a rebuilding year, I hate to see what the next few years is going to be,” he added, laughing