Omaha, Neb. Pinned against a Qwest Center wall with two dozen print, TV, radio and Internet reporters in his face, Bill Self did not feel like a man facing a firing squad.
On the contrary. Kansas University's fifth-year basketball coach Saturday night resembled somebody with no cares in the world, insisting he and his Jayhawks are having "a lot of fun" trying to play to their No. 1 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
"Do you feel like a weight is on your back trying to get a tradition rich school like KU to the Final Four?" he was asked after the Jayhawks' 75-56 second-round victory over UNLV, which followed Thursday's 85-61 rout of Portland State.
"No, no," Self said.
"Our fans may not agree with this, but we're 33-3. We won the league and won the league tournament. We're in the Sweet 16. We've had a good year. In order to make it a special year, we need to go play well this weekend.
"We've had a great year," he continued. "People will say that (season will not be complete without a Final Four), but coaches know there's an element of intangibles out there that some people catch a break and some people don't.
"All we want to do," a passionate Self added, "is prepare our guys to be the best they can be, and I hope that's good enough. A lot of factors go into playing well and not playing well at this time of year, unknown to everybody else.
"I do not feel pressure because of that. If we have to go to the Final Four to be accepted by our fans ... then to be honest with you, the job is probably not as good as I think it is. Because I think it's a great job. I think our fans are knowledgeable, just want our kids to try hard and compete, follow the scouting report and play to their ability. We do that, and it will all take care of itself."
Next test for KU will be in the Sweet 16 on Friday against the winner of today's Siena-Villanova game. Villanova is a No. 12 seed, Siena a 13, meaning KU will be favored.
Self said: "I have not studied them, but Siena is quick and play small and their 4-man can shoot. Those teams are hard to play. I know Villanova a little more because we see them on ESPN all the time. Their guards are as good as anyone. I don't think our guys will be hung up on the seed. We'll be hung up on who we're playing.
"We're looking forward to getting back to Lawrence, go to church tomorrow and take the day off," Self said. "It's a little unusual not playing again until Friday. We'll watch some games tomorrow and get to work on the next two-game tournament."