Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kansas coach Self: ‘We’ve got a long ways to go’


Here are some questions for Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self and his candid answers as Friday's start of the 2006-07 season draws near.

Q - Are expectations too high for this team, ranked in everybody's top five?

A - "I don't know. I would say we've got good players, and expectations should be high. We will not shy away (from them). We are a team that won six less games than Florida in the NCAA Tournament, and that team returns everybody.

"We've got a long ways to go. It (hype) makes for good recruiting, but other than that really doesn't mean anything. It's just something for fans to talk about more than anything else. It should be the best team we've had since we got here, but that's on paper."

Q - Should we assume the freshmen McDonald's All-Americans (Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins) will start this season?

A - "You should assume there are no freshmen starters, unless, over time, they outplay the other guys. If we were to play tomorrow based on what I've seen, there would be no freshmen starters.

"I really don't know who I'd start. I'd say those returning perimeter guys (Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson) and Julian (Wright) would be favorites. The five position ... Sasha (Kaun), C.J. (Giles), Darnell (Jackson), Shady (Arthur's nickname), any of those guys could start. We don't have anything etched in stone."

"It will be tough to beat out the guys who played the majority of the minutes last year. We've got some new guys who are pretty good. They will make those other guys (returnees) work."

Q - Do you have one too many big guys for available minutes?

A - "Not one too many. We really don't have five big guys. We've got 4 1/2 because we plan on playing Julian on the perimeter some. It's hard to play more than four. That's why there will be some competition there (for players) to really be in the rotation, excluding foul trouble and injuries."

Q - Will you cut your rotation to a core group of seven or eight players this season?

A - "The perfect world is eight. At the end of the season we only played eight. You have a core seven play the majority of the minutes. You've got two more play 12 minutes a game or something. If you had seven people play 25 minutes, you are still 25 minutes short. You could still play two more guys 13 and 12 (minutes).

"It's not really (going to be) different, but early in the season it'll be a lot different. Last year we were playing 11 (early). I hope we will not (this year). I know what seven of them can do. Right now we are trying to implement a couple more guys. We know what we've got this year. Last year we were all new. We have a little better idea. It will take us a while to get everything hammered out."

Q - The season begins Friday and will end in March or April. Is the season too long?

A - No. No. We started Nov. 1 my first year at Oral Roberts. I think it's been Oct. 15 every other year. The season is long. That's why you have to watch how you handle your preseason so you just don't totally wear your guys out. That's why we condition two hard weeks (Boot Camp) as opposed to four to six hard weeks.

Q - Is junior Russell Robinson the standard for players in the country (to look up to) considering how far he's come since he arrived as a freshman?

A - "I don't know about the country. He has been pretty rock solid with us. He has come a long way since his freshman year. He certainly is that (standard) for us."


jayhawksnumber1 11 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, JayCeph, but I don't understand your statement "any more or less off the pale than other players"? And regarding how far Robinson has come, I certainly respect the kid because he decided to stay and work his tail off to become better. While he went from bench warmer to starter by hard work and mental toughness, others decided to transfer instead. Yes, I think he has come a long way and to use him as an example is a good thing and appropriate. We should all be proud and thankful he is a Jayhawk. Rock Chaulk KU!!

pitthawker 11 years, 7 months ago

"..., but games are more fun when our scoring is unstoppable."...that was Roy's philosophy and look where it took us. You WILL have off shooting nights (which KU ran into every game in the tourney when they were beat.) By playing defense, KU can create a team that is almost impossible to beat. It much harder ot have an off-defense night. Grant it, its at the sacrifice of your enjoyment of the games.

Jeremy LeMaster 11 years, 7 months ago

Hey Jayhawksnumber1: Just for clarification, it is Rock Chalk (not Chaulk) Jayhawk, go KU!

I applaud Robinson and all of the other Jayhawks on the team. Especially those that practice and don't get to play as much. Those are the players that push the Robinson's, Chalmers', Rush's, and Wright's of the world.

bangaranggerg 11 years, 7 months ago

my high expectation: more games with 100 plus points, I like our athletic ability to defend, but games are more fun when our scoring is unstoppable.

Jeremy Bolinger 11 years, 7 months ago

Robinson contemplated transferring, but stuck through the tough times that most freshmen have.

JayCeph 11 years, 7 months ago

How far has Robinson come? I didn't think he was any more or less off the pale than other players. Is this in reference to his conditioning, work ethic, math homework, what?

I hope they aren't talking about that game his freshman year where he opted not to go back into the fray deep in the second half of a Jayhawk blowout (over Baylor?). Every fresman has growing pains. Why is Robinson's so unique?

CasperCorps 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree....Defense can bail you out of alot of games especially on the road... If the freshmen from last year improve as much as Robinson did from his freshmen year this team will be unstopable...

Jeremy LeMaster 11 years, 7 months ago

It seems like it is one or the other, High Scoring Offense or Stout Defense?

Coach Self prides himself on having a mentally tough defense. With the athleticism that we have on this team, I don't see any reason why we can't have a stout defense that creates turnovers leading to the fast break. Coach Williams' fast break into his offense was the reason for their high scoring.

What did you mean by 'where did Roy take us with his offense?' He just happened to be one of the winningest active coaches over his career at KU with over an .800 winning percentage. He may not have won the championship here but we were always in contention. He has proven that his formula is capable of bringing home a championship. Don't forget, Coach Williams gave us alot while he was here.... and I look forward to the same from Coach Self.

jayhawksnumber1 11 years, 7 months ago

Jayhawksnumber1 says thanks to TaCityHawkFan for the correction. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Go KU!!!

jayhawksnumber1 11 years, 7 months ago

Now in response to Roy being one of the winningest active coaches, he is also one of the luckiest because his first head coaching job was KU. Other coaches typically get their start at a compass school or a never ran. Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the time Roy was here and I think he is a good coach, but he never had to pay his dues at a school that is not a top 5 program and to date he has not won the big one with players he recruited.

Martin Shupert 11 years, 7 months ago

If you do not enjoy well played defense, you do not understand or appreciate half the game of basketball. In the first place, most 100 plus point games get that way because of steals, forcing teams into poor decisions, bad shots, turn overs, and then running the court for quick scores. I have to admit, though, the most enjoyable moment I can remember was when Boche scored 3 seconds after an Oklahoma Cowboys team had scored. Fast break baskets after an opposing team's bucket was the signature of the Sixtie's Celtics dynasty. Nothing can deflate a team more than to work hard for a bucket and give up an equalizer just nano seconds later. I suspect that this year's Hawks will have the capability to do just that, over and over again. That's what I'm looking forward to the most.

lee3022 11 years, 7 months ago

Sorry TaCityHawkFan - Mike Stoops was hired at Oklahoma as a co-defensive coordinator because his brother was Bob Stoops, head coach at Oklahoma. Bob Stoops came to Oklahoma from National Champion Florida where he was defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrie. Prior to his 3 years at Florida Bob Stoops was assistant head coach at K-State. Football coaching trees are different than basketball because the small schools are a dead-end for a coach who aspires to D-1 head coach. Some come that way but the best seem to start as assistants and work their way to coordinators before their first head coach job at D-1.

Looking at Coach Self's resume there does not seem to be but two years that his winning percentage suffered (1st two at Oral Roberts). He has otherwise been a winner right away wherever he has gone. He is currently lifetime 279-129 (.683) in 13 seasons. Coach Self also served as an assistant at Oklahoma State (8 years I believe) before getting a head coach job at Oral Roberts. He did also serve as a graduate assistant under Larry Brown here one year. Eddie Sutton and Larry Brown are not bad mentors. Coach Williams served a similar apprenticeship at a much higher profile school (UNC) and thus started higher (D-1).

I do agree that it takes very hard work, massive talent and really great luck to win the NCAA Men's Basketball championship.

In reference to the discussion above, the great defense Kansas played last year was not enough against an extremely high shooting display. We needed more offense and could not find it. So both defense and offense need to be superior plus luck to win the title.

Jeremy LeMaster 11 years, 7 months ago

Jayhawksnumber1: You have a valid point.... Coach Williams didn't have to coach at a small school and earn his way up. Unless you count coaching in high school and being an assistant for (10 years I think) to Coach Smith. Now, Coach Williams was lucky enough to play for Coach Smith and then get on his staff as an assistant after proving himself as a coach in High School. And we were lucky enough for Coach Smith to be a KU Alumni (both student and basketball player). Being an assistant to a legendary coach is often better than coaching at Podunk University. Coach Smith was the one who recommended Coach Williams to KU. Not many coaches get to take over a National Champion, so again... still a valid point. But, where was Mike Stoops coaching football before OU? Answer: an assistant at K-State. Sometimes, the coaches that get those breaks are those that deserve them.

Coach Williams brought a lot of talent in to KU. However, you are right, the team he won the national championship with were not his players. But, they were recruited by his former assistant.

In my opinion, it takes a lot of talent and also considerable luck to win the championship. Lest we forget that only one team is able to do that per year. He happened to have both that year. Remember the luck and talent it took for shiver Syracuse and Melo to beat KU in the Championship.

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