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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Self wins AP Big 12 coach of year

KU's Aldrich, Collins make conference's first team

All-Big 12 first-team guard Sherron Collins, left, talks with Big 12 coach of the year Bill Self in this file photo from Nov. 28, 2008.

All-Big 12 first-team guard Sherron Collins, left, talks with Big 12 coach of the year Bill Self in this file photo from Nov. 28, 2008.

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Kansas fights back, defeats Texas to win title

Trailing by 14 in the opening half, the opportunity for five straight Big 12 titles was slowly fading for the Kansas men's basketball team.

Kansas University guard Sherron Collins won’t go so far as to say coach Bill Self has done a better job this season than a year ago.

“He led us to the national championship last year. It’s hard to do any better than that,” Collins said.

Yet Self on Sunday was accorded a pair of honors that escaped him during KU’s 37-3 national title campaign.

Both the Associated Press and Big 12 coaches named Self their 2008-09 Big 12 Coach of the Year for leading KU to a fifth-straight regular-season league title despite losing all five starters — and six of the team’s top seven scorers — from a year ago.

“Coach definitely did a great job. He got the young fellas to buy in, and we were able to win the league again,” Collins added.

The Jayhawks, who tied 2008 Big 12 Coach of the Year Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns for the regular-season title in 2007-08, on Saturday wrapped up the undisputed league title by beating Texas, 83-73.

KU improved to 14-2 in league play — a game better than last year’s 13-3 mark. Oklahoma placed second and Missouri third in the standings at 13-3 and 12-4 respectively.

“Any award — be it coach, player, rookie or whatever — is a reflection of your team and what it has accomplished,” said Self, who received 12 votes from the AP’s media panel to Missouri coach Mike Anderson’s six votes.

“Those things (coach honors) are nice, but I’m never hung up on them. They can’t happen unless you have good players. I care a lot more about winning a championship as a group than any individual award,” Self added.

Self, who has amassed a 167-38 record in six seasons at KU and is 374-143 in his 16th season overall as a head coach, also was the AP and coaches’ Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2005-06.

“I think coach Self is a great coach. He really knows a lot of aspects of the game, whether it’s the very end of the game when it comes down to two possessions with 45 seconds left or the very beginning of the game — who to play and what to play,” KU sophomore center Cole Aldrich said.

He and Collins on Sunday were named first-team all-Big 12 by both the AP and coaches groups.

“Not too many coaches can recruit like he does. He gets great guys to come here,” Aldrich said. “I can’t think of a better coach.”

Self has led KU to five league titles and one runner-up finish in six seasons.

Before that, his University of Illinois teams placed first in the Big Ten twice and second once. And before that, he led Tulsa to two straight Missouri Valley crowns, meaning he has won nine league crowns with two seconds in the past 11 years.

“It is crazy,” Self said of the run of success. “We’ve been really fortunate. We’ve had good players everywhere we’ve been. I think playing at Kansas breeds that type of winning as much as anything because in players’ minds, there’s a standard or pressure for them to play to a championship-type level that’s good for any team.

“This is what our guys thought they could do. They bought into that. Coaches bought into that. It came true, but after getting hammered at Michigan State (75-62 on Jan. 10) and being 11-4 in nonconference, I never thought this team could experience this type of success.”

Now the Jayhawks, who Self said are guaranteed a “good” season, enter the postseason. KU (25-6) will meet either Baylor or Nebraska in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal contest at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Oklahoma City’s Ford Center.

“We were taught a valuable lesson in Lubbock,” Self said of Wednesday’s 19-point loss at Texas Tech. “We didn’t have our edge. If we don’t have our edge, we’re not that good. Our team is fun to play and coach when we have that edge. I told the guys, ‘In order to make it a great year and special year, you have to play well from this point forward.’”

Comments

kranny 5 years, 8 months ago

3 undisputed and well deserved choices.

missKU 5 years, 8 months ago

Congrats Coach!!! Great day to be a Jayhawk! Rock Chalk!

Dirk Medema 5 years, 8 months ago

It's fitting that Sherron (the only PG or SG) is unanimous with Blake. He really is hands down the best guard in the league, and the difference between winning the conference and being middle of the pack. Well, him and the coaches. Rock Chalk!

mandomax 5 years, 8 months ago

I understand that the all league team is the five best players in the league, but shouldn't they keep position in mind? For example, Carroll, Brackins and Griffin are all forwards. Having only one guard on the All Big-12 team makes little sense. Aldrich deserves his slot as a true 5. I suppose the Big 12 just doesn't have the dynamic guards as the ACC or Big East, and almost NO big time point guards. By next year, Tyshawn will turn some heads as a guard to be reckoned with, and maybe E Johnson will have something to say about the Big 12 having no exceptional point guards...

LAJayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps the biggest [non]shock in sports this year. Clearly all three deserve the honors. I waited to say this until we won conference, but Coach Self obviously has earned National Coach of the Year. There are some other very good coaching efforts this season (Trent Johnson has done a remarkable job), but Self truly has gone far beyond anyone else. Probably the best coaching job of his career so far.

Oh, and as to DeMarre Carroll, I still can't believe he quit playing violin for the Dave Matthews Band just to play ball for the tiggers.....................

Matt Bowers 5 years, 8 months ago

Bill Self Coach of the Year...

Sherron Collins Point Guard of the Year...

Cole Aldrich Center of the Year...

...Naturally!

Rock Chalk

Newfie 5 years, 8 months ago

How blessed are we to have signed Bill Self after losing Roy to Carolina? It's amazing the top quality coaches (and players as well) that KU has had representing the state over the years. I came from St. Louis, but was a Jayhawk fan my entire life, it's half the reason I moved to Kansas 15 years ago. Just how can you measure the impact of the basketball program? I've listened or watched every game for so long, I can't remember the last one I missed. I suffered with the football program for years, and now the stadium is packed on game day!

Thanks to everyone at KU for making sports so much fun.

Rick Arnoldy 5 years, 8 months ago

mandomax, they quit that approach years ago and rightfully so. You're not actually trying to build a team here, just recognized the five best players. What if the league's three best players are all point guards. It doesn't make sense to have one of them 3rd team and some stiff center making 1st.

Joel Hood 5 years, 8 months ago

I remember in 2003 when the irrational optimists said "good riddance" to uncle Roy and that Bill Self would be a better coach for KU. I thought they were crazy. My God, I was never so glad to be so wrong. KU history will look back at the Bill Self years as a Golden Age - I don't think we truly appreciate what we have.

Timmay97 5 years, 8 months ago

Roy who?

Here's a question.......what was the score in KU's Final Four game last year? Which coach would you rather have on your side?

And I don't want to rag on good ole' Roy, but didn't he win his National Championship at UNC with Daugherty's players? That means something.

I originally thought at the beginning that Bill Self was a great recruiter, but couldn't coach. Two first round loses in the NCAA tourney to teams that begin with "B" will do that to you. However, I have now stuck my foot in my mouth and will never, EVER doubt him again. He's the best coach in the country and I wouldn't trade him for anyone else.

Oh, and for the record.....I've probably been the biggest critic of the Morris twins this year. I will cease and desist all the negative talk. Those two kids have played really well the past 5 games, and I'm really pleased with their progress. There is nowhere to go but up for them.

It is Kansas.....easy to get impatient when you have so much success each year. :-)

WilburNether 5 years, 8 months ago

So Self received twelve votes and Anderson six. I wonder who the other five news media idiots are who did not vote for Self? From his writings, I'm reasonably that Twitlock did not.

Anderson did a good job, but he (a) had far more of his team returning than Self did, and (b) did not win the league. No question that Self deserves the reward, and that six news media people need to have their heads examined.

craigers 5 years, 8 months ago

Congrats Self!! You definitely are deserving of such honors.

jayhawkcat 5 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to all and that includes Oklahoma, Kansas St., Iowa St. & Missouri.

Greg Lux 5 years, 8 months ago

Congrats Coach Self, Sherron and Cole for the well deserved honor. And congrats to all this years Jayhawk players for a great start to what we all hope will be a fabulous year.

Rock Chalk

straight 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm amazed that no one has posted anything about the morons at the CBS station in Wichita.

Someone needs to introduce them to the modern marvel called the split screen.

Yes, by all means they should alert their viewers to threatening weather, but that does not require blocking out almost the entire second half of the Kansas-Texas game with weather drivel, redundant maps and the absolutely insane photo from a viewer's cell phone that showed a boring fence with what appeared to be -- maybe, just maybe -- some hail stones on the ground and, for artistic relief, a sprig of forsythia on the right. And they showed this photo to us not once but twice. The director just couldn't get enough of it.

Just how full of self-importance (and completely lacking in any sense of what their viewers want) does a TV director have to be to do this sort of thing?

Eliott Reeder 5 years, 8 months ago

Hey Straight. I'm amazed that no one has introduced you to the message boards on this site where the topic has already been discussed ad nauseam...

Robert Murphy 5 years, 8 months ago

A quick famous quote for Cole Aldrich going forward. "He who hesitates is lost".

jaybate 5 years, 8 months ago

Self conceals much going into games, but Self's candor after the fact is part of his great appeal. He didn't say so at the time, but he wondered what we wondered at the time of the Michigan State debacle. How can this green team possibly face up to the physicality of Division 1 basketball, after being manhandled by Michigan State? How can it achieve excellence in conference, if it can only go 11-4 with few wins against good D1 teams?

Self admitting to these questions about his own team implies two things:

  1. He's a realist with an amazing work ethic, huge amount of teaching skill, and a deep sense of obligation to his players, no matter what his inner doubts may be about their capabilities; and

  2. Sherron, Cole, Brady, Tyrell, and the other players left from last year's champion absorbed an enormous amount from that championship season that caused them "to believe," as Coach Self exhorted all to do late in the Memphis game.

The players kept believing this year.

No matter how poorly they played at times, no matter how physically and mentally outmatched they seemed at times, no matter how violently they were worked over by opponents, they just kept working, kept coming, kept believing.

Each team has its own set of obstacles to overcome.

The championship team had to overcome Rush's injury, the early exit monkey, and the question whether they were truly of championship character, despite their talent, experience and years of impressive performance.

This team, which seemed young and talented from the beginning, had to prove something entirely different, and perhaps something much easier for ordinary persons to identify. It had to ovecome Little's injury, of course, but its defining obstacle was really this: It had to prove that it was man enough to stay on the floor in D1 without being physically kicked off from it by older, stronger, more experienced and basically more violent teams.

jaybate 5 years, 8 months ago

It turned out this team had an array of physical attributes and basketball skills that fit well together in a down the middle game and could produce a tough team to beat, when, as Coach Self said, they had their edge. And everyone understood that young players slowly mature over the course of any season. But it was not clear for a very long time whether this band of brothers was strong enough to take the physical abuse and mental intimidation of D1. The Michigan State game crystallized a question that was there from the beginning.

KU was so young and boyish looking. Though physically gifted in terms of skills, they were not physically intimidating. They were short at the three. They disliked contact at the 2. Their power forward was more of an overgrown 3 with a finesse game, who was often very confused about how to play D1 basketball. Their second toughest player--Mario Little was injured over half the season. Their back court subs seemed short and tentative. Even Cole Aldrich has a bit of choir boy face and a seemingly very slender upper body.

I for one feared for their safety much of the time, as I would the safety of green recruits in a Marine rifle platoon entering combat against seasoned troops with no one standing between them and a bullet but their Gunny--Sargeant Collins.

And these guys did take terrible, terrible physical beatings, despite struggling to an ever growing number of wins.

And it was grueling to see them try to learn how to beat good teams, when these teams would have NFL body centers who seemed to manhandle Cole Aldrich early on, despite him still somehow eeking out pretty good statistics.

This was a regular season that continually begged the question of whether this talented bunch of young men would be decapitated by the next opponent.

It was an odd experience. I have never actually feared for a team's physical well-being before this season.

But some kind of threshold of violence was reached in that first Nebraska game. Cole was transformed in the basketball game from a young athlete in to battered club fighter. Every player on our team was assaulted or punked. Cole appeared literally dazed, even stunned, as if from repeated concussion grenades had gone off around him. I wanted to call the police. I wanted call some strong arms. I wanted to send the Nebraska players and coach to jail, or the morgue, for what they had done to these young men.

jaybate 5 years, 8 months ago

And in the period between Nebraska and the next game, I felt doubt about whether Cole could recover his swagger after that; doubt that he could ever believe basketball was a game worth playing anymore.

And I felt these same feelings many times for the Morris Twins--these two young men who had come so far to Kansas from that tough, hard city of Philadelphia, and who had experienced so much harshness already, and who had swaddled themselves in so much intimidating advantage through their childhoods for they were so big and tall and there were always two of them. For in KU uniforms, being expected to play the violent game of Division 1 basketball, though they were still together, they were revealed to be playful, emotional, even sensitive, essentially gentle young men, despite their facial hair and tatoos suggesting the contrary. And they, too, found themselves in a combat zone with no time to learn how to survive from more experienced bigs, while watching. I have never seen 6'8" and 6'9" players of their abilities tossed around like rag dolls the way they were for three quarters of the season. They were not just roughed up but cheap shotted and pushed to the floor and tripped and slapped. And all these two young men, whose mother had come west with them, wanted to do was play a game called basketball. I was afraid for them. Afraid their spirits, or their arms, or both, might be broken.

And yet they kept coming, improving by inches, some times tenths of inches, rather than by yards. I really wondered if they would quit after awhile.

But like Cole Aldrich, something in them did not scare. Something in them did not quit. Something in them kept coming to work, trying to find a way through the abuse and intimidation.

All teams that achieve much, especially those that achieve more that was expected of them, are teams full of young men with great character and courage in the face of adversity that leaves fans hooting at them, or wringing their hands in protective concern for them.

But fortunately, the young men, year after year, keep coming to the school on Mt. Oread and keep not quitting, not letting the outrageous violence and relentless cheap shotting get to them. Each year they live out a myth that is central to all stories: a sympathetic character struggling against seemingly impossible odds to achieve a worthwhile goal.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk, 2008-2009 Jayhawk team. You have knocked the callouses off my heart the way every great story is supposed to do. Thank you.

Lance Hobson 5 years, 8 months ago

Straight,

I had to laugh at your post. Only in Kansas in March could such weather be described during a KU game. Classic!

mdfraz 5 years, 8 months ago

Timmay, you and I might have almost the same brain, b/c your comments rmirror many of my thoughts.

First, about two or three years ago, I was questioning Self's game coaching. I never doubted his ability as a recruiter and I loved him as the face for our program (still do). But I wasn't sure he made adjustments and managed a game like I had hoped. Of course, I also ate my words last season, not just in the Final Four, but the whole year really. I think he has "his" guys in place now; they play great, hard, team defense, they hustle, they seem to listen and learn as they should. I was VERY impressed at how we handled Curry in the Davidson game last year, and even though we lost, I was happy to see Self switch to a zone against TTU last week. He adjusted on the fly, b/c we don't see a lot of zone from KU.

My foot is firmly in my mouth after this season. Taking talented, but very young and inexperienced, players to 14-2 and an outright conference championship is nothing short of incredible. The Big 12 was probably down a little this year, but it was still a gauntlet, like it always is. I think the Tennessee game was the turning point where guys started to understand what Kansas basketball really is. Yes, we looked overmatched against MSU, but that's a very experienced team playing at home, and our shots didn't fall at the beginning. We started heading in the right direction right at the beginning of 2009.

The Morris twins........are there more frustrating players that have come through KU lately (Chenowith doesn't count.....)? They have the ability, clearly, and both have had their shining moments. However, they still look whiny, lazy, and un-ready for college ball. I hope Danny keeps on them, and I'm sure he will. If he does, and if they have the right attitudes, they could be spectacular before they are done here.

barchawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Sidenote - Does anyone know where I can get a DVD of the full KU v UNC game from last year?

LAJayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

barchawk,

I don't believe it exists. The CBS disk, of course, has the truncated version, and anyone who tries to sell a bootleg copy of the full game on ebay or whatever would get sued by the NCAA and CBS. So it's going to be pretty hard to find.

Your best bet is to find someone who recorded it and can burn you a copy. Good luck.

Tony Bandle 5 years, 8 months ago

Living in St.Louis, I am exposed to Illinois basketball quite a bit and when I had heard that Bill Self had signed on as the KU coach, I called, emailed and mailed every Jayhawk fan I knew to rejoice in the Second Coming. I told every one of my friends,"You are going to love this guy and he will bring KU a National Championship before this decade was over!!!"

What the heck...maybe he can bring us two. Also, as a testament to his value, the Illini students burnt in effigy the AD for letting him get away!! AWESOME!!!!!

The KU Victory Haiku [sorry I'm late, I was at the game and didn't get home till late]

Burnt orange and white steers

Stampeded back to Austin

Kansas Tornado

jsatt93 5 years, 8 months ago

come on Self should of got national coach of the year last year and should definitely get it this year

LAJayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

barchawk,

I'm completely wrong. I just found this online at Jayhawk Spirit:

http://www.jayhawkgear.com/20fifosekuvs.html

Enjoy!

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