Kansas basketball coach Bill Self will not coach vs. Howard in NCAA Tournament opener
Des Moines, Iowa — Kansas basketball coach Bill Self will not be on the sideline for today’s NCAA Tournament opener for the top-seeded Jayhawks, who will take on No. 16 seed Howard at 1 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
Instead, Self is expected to watch the game at the team hotel while assistant coach Norm Roberts continues to handle head coaching duties for the Jayhawks in his absence.
Self, who was released from the hospital last Sunday after a five-day stay following a stent procedure that kept him away from last week’s Big 12 tournament, made the trip to Des Moines with his family and traveled separately from the rest of the team.
Upon the team’s arrival at their downtown Des Moines hotel on Tuesday, Roberts classified Self’s status for the tournament as “day to day” and added that Self was doing well. The day-to-day tag has stuck with Self throughout the week and Kansas officials have not wavered in their stance that Self is being continually monitored and evaluated while hoping to return to action as soon as possible.
Thursday’s official announcement from KU about Self’s absence noted that Self “continues to progress well from a recent health issue.”
In seven games without him this season — four for a university-imposed suspension to open the season and three more at the Big 12 tournament last week — the Jayhawks went 6-1, averaging 75.3 points per game and giving up 65.4 points in the process.
Roberts carries more than a decade’s worth of head coaching chops from his time at St. John’s and Queens College, and the KU bench also includes former Division I head coach Joe Dooley, who led Florida Gulf Coast and East Carolina after leaving his post as an assistant at KU before returning this season.
In addition, assistants Kurtis Townsend and Fred Quartlebaum, as well as Jeremy Case as both a coach and player, have combined to be around the KU program for several decades combined.
Shortly before Thursday’s tipoff, Self join radio play-by-play broadcaster Brian Hanni for his normal pregame breakdown. Hanni’s first question, of course, was to ask Self how he was doing.
“I’m doing better,” the KU coach said. “I’m feeling stronger and everything. I don’t think I’m at the point where I could be very good for our team if I was out there.”
Self said he had enjoyed being back with the team after last week’s absence, but that he had been doing a lot more “sitting and watching practice more so than being on the court,” during his time in Des Moines.
Self said his recovery was “taking longer than I hoped it would to get me back to the point where I can be out there every day,” and that, if KU can win on Thursday he hoped his availability for Saturday’s second-round game would be “a different story.”
Self also joined color analyst Greg Gurley for a pregame television breakdown and Gurley said on the radio broadcast that he thought Self was “doing so much better and he’s close. It’s just a matter of listening to his body.”
As for Self’s thoughts on how Roberts and the staff have operated without him and how he has worked his way back into the mix with them in a slightly different role, he said: “It hasn’t been any different than it is every day. I’m watching as much tape as I ever have. Norm and the staff, they’re doing their normal great job.”
Also on the pregame radio show, KU junior Jalen Wilson noted that he has tried to step up in recent days with Self not able to be as active in his leadership of the team.
“My voice is very important,” Wilson said. “Just trying to preach out everything that he does, and understanding that if he can’t say something it’s up to me to step up and say it for him.”