New Orleans — Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown, who tutored Danny Manning for four years at Kansas University, beamed with pride Thursday when his prize pupil accepted the head-coaching position at Tulsa University.
“I’m thrilled to death,” said Brown, who as part of KU’s traveling party at the Final Four watched the Jayhawks practice Thursday at the Superdome. “When they told me he got the job, it’s like being a proud father. I wish Ed were here.”
Danny’s dad, the late Ed Manning, served as an assistant coach under Brown at KU during the Brown/Manning era, which culminated in a national title in 1988.
“I never realized (Danny Manning) was going to be a coach until his last year in Detroit (in 2003, final year of a 15-year NBA playing career),” Brown said. “I remember all the people telling me how much he helped the young players and how involved he was. He was a smart player before I got him, but working for Bill (Self), seeing the progress of all these young kids and the way Danny conducts himself ... Tulsa hit a home run.”
Manning, 45, has hired Baker University head coach/former KU player and director of basketball operations Brett Ballard as an assistant. A source indicated Manning may also be targeting Justin Bauman, former KU manager now an assistant at University of San Francisco.
“I’m excited and looking forward to being the head basketball coach at the University of Tulsa,” Manning said. “I want to thank President (Steadman) Upham, Ross (Parmley, AD) and the search committee for allowing me this tremendous opportunity to coach at a university with a fine basketball tradition. I’d also like to thank coach Self for giving me the chance to be a part of his staff for the past nine years. I have learned a tremendous amount about the game and the profession from him and all of the members of his staff.
“I look forward to meeting with our TU players, the ardent Golden Hurricane fans, the campus and Tulsa community and the media,” added Manning, who will be introduced next week. “Right now my focus is on Kansas and its participation in the Final Four. We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point and we want to keep it going for another few days.”
KU coach Self said he’s thrilled for Manning.
“Danny Manning is one of the most accomplished, humble people you’ll ever meet. He’s done more in his life through the athletic world than just about anybody, but you would never know it in visiting with him, as he never, ever talks about himself,” Self said. “His focus on deciding to be a basketball coach was to try to share some of his knowledge and make others better. He’s certainly done that at a very high level with us here at Kansas.
“He’s been around basketball his whole life, played for so many coaches, been able to steal from everybody and has developed a vast knowledge that will certainly play a huge role in his success as a head coach. Although 46 years old, he’s well beyond those in basketball years as far as experience. Tulsa has not only hired a great person and a great ambassador, but also a man that will lead Tulsa to great heights athletically and be competing for championships in a very short amount of time,” added Self, Tulsa’s head coach from 1997-2000.
Self said the imminent departures of Manning and director of basketball operations Barry Hinson — who took the Southern Illinois head coaching job Wednesday — would not serve as a distraction heading into Saturday’s Final Four semifinal versus Ohio State (7:49 p.m., Superdome).
“When a team is successful,” Self said, “you hope your assistants have an opportunity to benefit. We were fortunate to have two guys get jobs yesterday. I don’t know how often that happens. A big deal for me was, I told those respective schools, ‘I’m fine with this, but let’s do it now. I don’t want the rumors and everybody being interviewed and have to lie and say you haven’t taken a job. Let’s get it out of the way now and handle questions tomorrow.’
“I told our players last night Barry got the job, and Danny told them he more than likely was going to get the job. Our players are fine. They are happy for our guys. This isn’t a distraction for our guys at all. Trust me, Danny and Barry are not working on Tulsa or Southern Illinois now.”
Junior center Jeff Withey said: “It’s not a distraction by any means. We’re happy for both of them. Danny’s been an awesome coach and great mentor. It’s sad to see him go, but I’m happy for him. He deserves it. I still have a couple more days to milk as much knowledge as I can from him.”
Junior guard Elijah Johnson added: “I’m happy they’ve been able to take care of their families and have a better situation. Jayhawk Nation will always love them. It shows how winning benefits everybody. I never thought I’d be able to help somebody get a job. For us (players) to be part of the reason makes me feel good and want to win even more.”
The Tulsa World reported that Manning agreed to a four-year, $2.5 million deal.
Brett Ballard on leaving Baker for Tulsa after two years: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching the Baker University men’s basketball team. I was fortunate to work with a group of dedicated players, committed to the classroom and basketball court. I will always be grateful for President Pat Long and athletic director Theresa Yetmar having the confidence to give me my first head coaching opportunity in college basketball. The support I received from the administration, alumni and the community was amazing. Seeing all the orange at the national tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City is something I will never forget. Baker University is an amazing place and I am very humbled to have been their head coach.”
Noted BU President Long ong: “Brett did exactly what we asked of him — to bring a new level of play and excitement to our basketball program. He did just that and more. He became a leader on campus and within the community. He was Baker through and through. I will miss him as a coach and as a person.”
Hug it out: Hinson said right after KU’s victory over North Carolina on Sunday, he gave Self a hug to celebrate KU’s advancing to the Final Four. During the embrace, Self leaned over.
“The only thing that could make this better,” Self told him, “is if you get the job.
“That’s the kind of guy I’ve worked for the last four years,” Hinson said. “There are a lot of stories out there about coaches, but for a guy to turn around and say that right after he knows he’s going to the Final Four, I think that speaks volumes of what type of guy Bill Self is.”
Hinson said the thing he’d miss most is ... “walking out of that tunnel onto the court in the mecca of college basketball.”