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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 1

Kansas coach Bill Self raises his fists to the KU fans in the Alamodome.

Kansas coach Bill Self raises his fists to the KU fans in the Alamodome. by Nick Krug

1. 2007-08: The only Final Four with four No. 1 seeds featured coaches John Calipari, Roy Williams and Ben Howland, who was coaching in his third consecutive Final Four, and Bill Self, the only Final Four first-timer. Self had established such an unselfish culture and such superior ball movement with this group that Brandon Rush led the team in scoring in three consecutive seasons and never averaged more than 13.8 points per game in any season. Yet, even though Rush was the leading scorer, it was fellow junior Mario Chalmers who had developed into the man teammates looked to get the ball to in the biggest moments. In the semifinal, freshman Cole Aldrich’s coming out party, Kansas took a 40-12 lead vs. North Carolina, which stormed back to within 54-50, only to lose to Kansas, 84-66. In the title game, Chalmers’ three-pointer sent it into overtime, where Kansas won, 75-68. Chalmers had 18 points and four steals, but was he the player of the game? Or was it Darrell Arthur (20 points, 10 rebounds), Brandon Rush (12 points, six boards, superior defense) or Sherron Collins (11 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals, clutch play at the end). The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t matter. Wearing his general manager’s cap, Self had put together a talented team in which all the parts fit and made sense. Wearing his coach’s whistle, he brought them to a place where each individual put the team first. It remains his best of many great coaching jobs.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 13-3
Texas 13-3
Kansas State 10-6
Oklahoma 9-7
Baylor 9-7
Texas A&M 8-8
Nebraska 7-9
Texas Tech 7-9
Oklahoma State 7-9
Missouri 6-10
Iowa State 4-12
Colorado 3-13

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

No. 7 — 2014-15

No. 6 — 2013-14

No. 5 — 2010--11

No. 4 — 2008--09

No. 3 — 2005--06

No. 2 — 2011--12

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 2

Kansas teammates Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Thomas Robinson try to calm each other during a Kansas State run in the second half on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas teammates Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Thomas Robinson try to calm each other during a Kansas State run in the second half on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

2. 2011-2012: Most view the steps in Allen Fieldhouse as a means of getting to their seats. For center Jeff Withey, they have much deeper significance. Coming off a scoreless game in a loss at Missouri, Withey didn’t hustle after a loose ball in practice. Coach Bill Self made him run nearly every step in the historic basketball building. All those steps added up to the biggest step forward in Withey’s basketball career. It was as if Self went into his basement, performed a surgery and Withey walked into the world with bolts sticking out his neck and a scar coloring his forehead. Withey’s totals in the next three games: 25 points, five rebounds, three blocked shots; 18 points, 20 rebounds, seven blocked shots; 18 points, 11 rebounds, nine blocked shots. Think Self knows which buttons to push, which brain cells to wash? This team that lacked offensive firepower heading into the season made it all the way to the NCAA title game, where Anthony Davis swatted away their chances of pulling off an upset. Self convinced his team that it couldn’t outscore teams and got the most out of everyone defensively. And then there was the last game of the Border War series. Tyshawn Taylor, so hyper for much of his career, so steadily led the Jayhawks back from a 19-point deficit to an 87-86 overtime victory. Thomas Robinson (28 points, 12 rebounds) blocked a shot in the final seconds of regulation. Allen Fielhouse was one wild party that day.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 16-2
Missouri 14-4
Baylor 12-6
Iowa State 12-6
Kansas State 10-8
Texas 9-9
Oklahoma State 5-13
Oklahoma 5-13
Texas A&M 4-14
Texas Tech 1-17

Check back at 4:45 for No. 1

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

No. 7 — 2014-15

No. 6 — 2013-14

No. 5 — 2010--11

No. 4 — 2008--09

No. 3 — 2005--06

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 3

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers leaves Texas defender Daniel Gibson in the dust as he heads for the baseline in the second half.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers leaves Texas defender Daniel Gibson in the dust as he heads for the baseline in the second half. by Nick Krug

3. 2005-06: Texas brought a ton of talent to the Big 12 race with guard Daniel Gibson, forward P.J. Tucker and center LaMarcus Aldridge. And they had experience. Kansas, on the other hand, was breaking in five new starters, once Christian Moody was moved out of the starting lineup. Three freshmen and two sophomores responded so well to Bill Self’s coaching that Kansas was able to tie Texas for the regular-season title with a 13-3 record. Not only that, the Jayhawks avenged a 25-point, regular-season loss in Austin with a 12-point victory against the Longhorns in Dallas in the Big 12 title game. The freshmen turned back into the freshmen in the NCAA tournament, but that didn’t diminish that Self had done a truly amazing job of bringing such a young team up to speed.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 13-3
Texas 13-3
Oklahoma 11-5
Texas A&M 10-6
Colorado 9-7
Nebraska 7-9
Oklahoma State 6-10
Texas Tech 6-10
Kansas State 6-10
Iowa State 6-10
Missouri 5-11
Baylor 4-12

Check back at 4:30 p.m. for No. 2

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

No. 7 — 2014-15

No. 6 — 2013-14

No. 5 — 2010--11

No. 4 — 2008--09

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 4

Kansas teammates Sherron Collins, front, and Cole Aldrich are all smiles leaving the court following the Jayhawks' win over Missouri Sunday, March 1, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Sherron Collins, front, and Cole Aldrich are all smiles leaving the court following the Jayhawks' win over Missouri Sunday, March 1, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

4. 2008-09: Five players from the NCAA title team were drafted and starter Russell Robinson graduated, leaving coach Bill Self with a gigantic rebuilding project. More like reloading. Sherron Collins took charge, led the team in scoring (18.9) and relied heavily on center Cole Aldrich (14.9). But it wasn’t going to work unless two freshmen could prove themselves ready for prime time. Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris answered the call. Somewhat remarkably, Kansas turned an entirely new starting lineup into a 14-2 Big 12 record and came close to avenging an early season loss to Michigan State in the Sweet 16. The Spartans took charge late and won, 67-62, but nobody could say anything but that Kansas overachieved.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 14-2
Oklahoma 13-3
Missouri 12-4
Kansas State 9-7
Texas 9-7
Texas A&M 9-7
Oklahoma State 9-7
Nebraska 8-8
Baylor 5-11
Iowa State 4-12
Texas Tech 3-13
Colorado 1-15

Check back at 4:15 p.m. for No. 3

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

No. 7 — 2014-15

No. 6 — 2013-14

No. 5 — 2010--11

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 5

Kansas forwards Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris get the crowd to its feet after a bucket during the second half of KU's 72-59 win against Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas forwards Marcus (22) and Markieff Morris get the crowd to its feet after a bucket during the second half of KU's 72-59 win against Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. by Mike Yoder

5. 2010-11: This wasn’t a basketball season as much as a drama-packed mini-series, packed with personal tragedy and team triumphs. Thomas Robinson returned to the Kansas lineup three days after his mother’s memorial service and burial. and led the Jayhawks to a 90-66 blowout victory against Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse. Teammates and coaches rallied around Robinson all year. The Jayhawks clinched the title outright by ending Missouri’s 17-game home winning streak. In an Elite Eight game played two nights after KU routed Richmond, 77-57, in San Antonio, Kansas lost, 71-61, as a rough game from Josh Selby ended a rough season for the freshman.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 14-2
Texas 13-3
Texas A&M 10-6
Kansas State 10-6
Missouri 8-8
Colorado 8-8
Nebraska 7-9
Baylor 7-9
Oklahoma State 6-10
Oklahoma 5-11
Texas Tech 5-11
Iowa State 3-13

Check back at 4 p.m. for No. 4

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

No. 7 — 2014-15

No. 6 — 2013-14

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 6

Kansas player Joel Embiid, right, and Andrew Wiggins try to tie up Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas player Joel Embiid, right, and Andrew Wiggins try to tie up Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

6. 2013-14: Bill Self had to replace all five starters because Ben McLemore declared for the NBA draft and the other four starters were seniors. Sure, Andrew Wiggins was the No. 1-ranked high school recruit and 7-footer Joel Embiid from Cameroon had promise, but could Embiid, with so little history with the game of basketball, develop into a player who could make significant contributions as a freshman? The answer, of course, to that question was a resounding yes. He not only contributed, he played so well at times that he dominated. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg called Embiid the “best player in the country,” after watching him do things that 7-footers simply don’t do, especially basketball novices. Self and assistant coach Norm Roberts brought Embiid along masterfully, knowing when to lean on him and when to stroke his confidence. The back stress fracture that kept the 7-footer out of the NCAA tournament limited KU to two poorly played tourney games. Stanford eliminated the Jayhawks and made Wiggins turn invisible for a game.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 14-4
Oklahoma 12-6
Texas 11-7
Iowa State 11-7
Kansas State 10-8
Baylor 9-9
West Virginia 9-9
Oklahoma State 8-10
Texas Tech 6-12
TCU 0-18

Check back at 3:45 p.m. for No. 5.

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

No. 7 — 2014-15

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 7

Kansas players, from left, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Frank Mason and Jamari Traylor watch a pair of free throws from Kelly Oubre with head coach Bill Self after a flagrant foul by Baylor during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas players, from left, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Frank Mason and Jamari Traylor watch a pair of free throws from Kelly Oubre with head coach Bill Self after a flagrant foul by Baylor during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

7. 2014-2015: Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and Joel Embiid, the No. 3 pick, both stayed at Kansas for just one year. The Jayhawks, unlike in most seasons, have no shot-blocking force in the middle. The Big 12 is loaded with point guards adept at getting to the paint, so the lack of a shot-blocker shows even more than it might in some conferences. And it took Perry Ellis a while to embrace the idea of being the team’s go-to guy. Now that Ellis is comfortable with that role and in fact even seems to love it, he was able to put Kansas in position to clinch a share of the 11th Big 12 title in a row after Iowa State stormed back from a 21-point deficit Monday night to defeat Oklahoma. Frank Mason’s steady hand all season has upgraded the point-guard position, but Wayne Selden’s unanticipated problems finishing drives has made it difficult for Kansas to avoid scoring droughts at times. Kelly Oubre has come on of late. Cliff Alexander, even before getting sidelined while the NCAA looks into a compliance issue, never emerged as the force KU had hoped.

Big 12 standings (so far):

Kansas 12-4
Iowa State 11-6
Oklahoma 11-6
West Virginia 10-6
Baylor 10-7
Kansas State 8-9
Oklahoma State 7-9
Texas 7-10
TCU 4-12
Texas Tech 3-14

Check back at 3:30 for No. 6

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

No. 8 — 2012-13

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 8

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson pulls up from the top of the key for a three-pointer against Iowa State during overtime on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson pulls up from the top of the key for a three-pointer against Iowa State during overtime on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

8. 2012-2013: Three starters returned from a team that had shocked the world by advancing to the NCAA title game, where it lost to Kentucky. Freshman sensation Ben McLemore, so athletic and such a good shooter, softened the blow of losing Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Kansas shared the title with Kansas State with a 14-4 record and defeated K-State for the third time to win the Big 12 tournament title. Hopes ran high after a 70-58 victory against North Carolina in Kansas City to advance to the Sweet 16. Then, against Michigan in Arlington, Texas, Elijah Johnson made so many strange decisions and Kansas blew a double-digit lead to Michigan and lost in overtime, 87-85. Johnson delivered a groin shot in the opening minute that could have resulted in an ejection but did not. He was called for a 10-second violation, badly overthrew a pass intended for Jeff Withey on the perimeter that led to a fast-break bucket the other way, and at the end of the overtime period, he bypassed a layup that would have forced a second overtime and threw a pass out to Naadir Tharpe for a desperation-heave-of-a-three-point attempt that missed. Johnson also stopped feeding McLemore when, for the first time in the NCAA tournament caught fire. If Johnson’s 39-point game in Ames was the high point of KU’s season, his Michigan performance was the low point.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 14-4
Kansas State 14-4
Oklahoma State 13-5
Oklahoma 11-7
Iowa State 11-7
Baylor 9-9
Texas 7-11
West Virginia 6-12
Texas Tech 3-15
TCU 2-16

Check back at 3:15 p.m. for No. 7

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

No. 9 — 2006-07

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 9

Confetti flies over Kansas' Julian Wright and Russell Robinson are surrounded by their teammates after defeating Texas in overtime to become the Big XII Tournament champions for the second year in a row.

Confetti flies over Kansas' Julian Wright and Russell Robinson are surrounded by their teammates after defeating Texas in overtime to become the Big XII Tournament champions for the second year in a row. by Nick Krug

9. 2006-07: All five starters returned and ultra-talented freshmen Darrell Arther and Sherron Collins provided killer depth. Self quickly infused the new talent, scored an early season upset against defending national champion Florida, won the regular-season title with a 14-2 record and the Big 12 tournament championship. In the NCAA tournament, KU breezed through Chicago with victories against Niagara and Kentucky, only to come up flatter than a Coke sitting in the sun for an entire weekend. In San Jose, Kansas snuck past Southern Illinois, 61-58, in a blood-bath of a defensive game and lost to UCLA 68-55, looking a bit jittery in both games.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 14-2
Texas A&M 13-3
Texas 12-4
Kansas State 10-6
Texas Tech 9-7
Missouri 7-9
Oklahoma State 6-10
Iowa State 6-10
Oklahoma 6-10
Nebraska 6-10
Baylor 4-12
Colorado 3-13

Check back at 3 p.m. for No. 8

No. 11 — 2004-05

No. 10 — 2009-10

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Ranking Bill Self’s best coaching jobs during 11-year Big 12 title run: No. 10

Kansas guard Sherron Collins kisses the Big 12 championship trophy after the Jayhawks' win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. In back is Kansas forward Marcus Morris.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins kisses the Big 12 championship trophy after the Jayhawks' win over Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. In back is Kansas forward Marcus Morris. by Nick Krug

  1. 2009-10: Freshman Xavier Henry joined a team already returning Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris and big things were expected. The Jayhawks delivered, going 15-1 in Big 12 play, losing only at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27. They also knocked off Kansas State in the Big 12 title game, but were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the second round by Northern Iowa, 69-67. The Panthers had survived UNLV, but not without struggling mightily against the Running Rebels’ full-court pressure. UNLV was a pressing time and Kansas was not. Still, given the quickness advantage, I predicted a blowout based on my belief Kansas would step out of character and apply full-court pressure after seeing how poorly Northern Iowa handled it. By the time Kansas went to the press in the second half, it was too late. It worked, but was too little too late.

Big 12 standings:

Kansas 15-1
Kansas State 11-5
Baylor 11-5
Texas A&M 11-5
Missouri 10-6
Texas 9-7
Oklahoma State 9-7
Colorado 6-10
Texas Tech 4-12
Oklahoma 4-12
Iowa State 4-12
Nebraska 2-14

Check back at 2:45 for No. 9.

No. 11 — 2004-05

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