Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bill Self fondly recalls Rick Majerus

In this Jan. 14, 2009, photo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus stands on the sidelines during a game against Massachusetts in St. Louis. Majerus died Saturday at the age of 64.

In this Jan. 14, 2009, photo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus stands on the sidelines during a game against Massachusetts in St. Louis. Majerus died Saturday at the age of 64.



Associated Press

In this Jan. 14, 2009, photo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus stands on the sidelines during a game against Massachusetts in St. Louis. Majerus died Saturday at the age of 64.

College basketball coaches around the country have been celebrating the life of Rick Majerus, the former Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis coach who died Saturday at the age of 64.

“He was one of the best coaches our sport has ever seen from an X’s and O’s standpoint without question,” Kansas University coach Bill Self said Monday on his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show. “He was a detailed guy. He was a very bright guy.

“He was a tough guy, but a good guy,” added Self, who indicated he’d “been around Rick quite a bit” the past several years.

Self first met Majerus in March of 1999 when Self’s Tulsa team fell to Majerus’ Utah squad, 64-61, in overtime in a Western Athletic Conference postseason tournament game in Las Vegas.

“The league had 16 teams so we didn’t play them in the regular season. We gave them all they wanted in the tournament,” Self said. “After the game, he shook my hand, and he said, ‘I’ll never play you again, ever.’ It was a compliment in his own way. He said, ‘If you ever leave this place, I’ll never play you again.’

“So I got here (KU), and ... he calls out of the blue during finals week at Utah. He comes out and spends four days with us. He left his assistants to run practice (at Utah) because he wanted to watch us practice. We ate a lot of food in those four days,” Self added. The rotund Majerus was known for his appetite.

“He was a pro (at eating),” Self added with a laugh. “There was a wing place on Clinton Parkway that had 12 different sauces. He wanted to go there every meal. I learned a lot from him. I watched him do a clinic one time. I took six or seven things from the clinic that made sense that I had never thought of before. It’s the way he teaches.”

A funeral Mass in honor of Majerus will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Gesu Catholic Church on Marquette’s campus.

Johnson update: Self, on senior guard Elijah Johnson, who bruised his knee against Saint Louis in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic title game on Nov. 20 in Sprint Center:

“His knee will be fine,” Self said of Johnson, who had nine assists against four turnovers and scored six points with four rebounds while playing 28 minutes in Friday’s 84-78 victory over Oregon State in Sprint Center.

“He is nicked up a bit. He had some fluid in it. I don’t think it’ll be anything that’s structurally wrong at all. We looked at it. There’s nothing there. He got it hit, bruised. It takes awhile to come back from that.

“He has to respond in a way where he does feel a little better. He is not playing any different than he played last year. He’s just not playing like Tyshawn (Taylor) played last year from an explosion standpoint. We’ve got to help him do some things where he can drive the ball more downhill, so to speak, as opposed to side-to-side. I think those are correctable things.”

Withey honored: KU senior center Jeff Withey on Monday was named Big 12 player of the week for the second time in his Jayhawk career. The 7-footer from San Diego recorded the second triple-double in KU history and 13th in Big 12 history eight days ago against San Jose State. Withey had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots.

The 12 rejections were a Big 12 and school single-game record. Withey also had 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks against Oregon State on Friday in Sprint Center.

Withey’s honor gives KU back-to-back Big 12 Player of the Week honors. Last week, KU senior guard Travis Releford won the award.

KU, which moved up a spot to No. 9 in the AP poll, which was released Monday, will meet Colorado at 1 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Jeff has done a nice job. Jeff has more blocked shots (40) than all but 13 schools in America,” Self said. “Jeff’s forte is blocking shots, but he is scoring the ball better.”

Iowa State guard Will Clyburn was named rookie of the week.

He said it: ESPN’s Andy Katz commented on the Jayhawks in his Monday blog. “I watched Kansas beat Oregon State, and all I could think of was if the Jayhawks ever reach their ceiling, this is a team that could win the national title.”


Michael Luby 1 year, 4 months ago

So sad to see someone depart so early. RIP Majerus.

My fav KU teams not to win it were '97 and '02 previously, Ive got to add '12 to it. Those guys were amazing, all 6 of them. Kidding.


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Favorite KU team=2008 ChampHawks. 2nd favorite team='97guys. AllHeartHawks=2011-12TyshawnHawks (& if they made all 3 missed dunks and the 2 clanked FTs, they would actually edge out the '08Champs in my mind. Simply unbelievable run.)


FSJHAWK 1 year, 4 months ago

My top 4 teams that did not win an NCAA championship 1957 1966 1986 2003


FSJHAWK 1 year, 4 months ago

Perhaps if Coach Allen had not been forced into retirement; maybe his experience, wit and leadership could have inspired Wilt & Team to 3 more NCAA Championships. If shot blocking and triple-double records had been kept when he played (and had he played 3 years)--wow his records would have been untouchable. I like to think that Phog & Wilt together would have been better then John Wooden & Kareen. And after all did you know why Wilt came to KU--- well of course to play for the greatest coach jn KU history. Wilt was the most dominant BB player ever to play here and Phog the greatest coach----better look out however Bill might be gaining ground.


KansasComet 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks for all the comments. My top 4 in order are:

  1. 1997
  2. 1986 (Still my favorite KU Team)
  3. 1998
  4. 1966

midwest_muser 1 year, 4 months ago

The loss of Majerus is a sad reminder to us all. Our obese friends need our help. We tend to enable our friends who are eating themselves to death in a way we would never consider dealing with a drug addict or alcoholic. It's OK, he's just a jolly fat guy. He can't help his size. We can all do better.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

Funny... how no one mentioned the '64-'65 team that was one bad call on a Jo Jo White buzzer beater jump shot away from beating Texas Western and meeting Kentucky in the Finals.

KU would have toasted the Wildcats and Ted would have gotten that NC he pined for. Also. in those days only 16 teams got chosen.


dhinkansas 1 year, 4 months ago

I have to go with the 1985-1986 team as the best not to win a title. They had to get past a tough OU team twice in the regular season during Tubbs' hey-day, and Iowa St was also very good that year. I believe the lone conference loss was in Ames.

Many many outstanding teams over the years came close to a title, but the 85-86 team set the bar really for Kansas excellence down the road.


Luca Rossi 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh No! When referring to EJ's knee, Self says: "We looked at it. There’s nothing there." How is he going to play without a knee!?!


wildjayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Just lucky that there isn't any B. Moringstars out there on the floor.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 4 months ago

It sucks having to wait a whole week (actually eight days) for another game. Just wanted to say that.

CU will be one of the toughest games this year. Glad it's at AFH! I really think EJ and/or one of the PFs and/or one of the bench players is going to have to step up and have a big game. Someone other than Withey, Releford and BenMac needs to have a break-out game. I hope it happens.

RIP, Rick. I hope you're up in that Great Big Buffet in the sky.


clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 4 months ago

I for one am really glad to have coach Self, no matter how ugly the ealry part of the year is going you know we will be better come Feb and March. Every year we start out trying to find our way, the right lineups and how to play D; every year it starts out ugly. This team is young and is still finding its way, cant wait to see the finished product, but for now its only flashes of what it can be.


William Blake 1 year, 4 months ago

RIP, Rick Majerus. Tough loss for college basketball.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

Part 2

This made me feel better.

It made me think the TV pros probably know how great Bill Self is., They just can't let a little knowledge get in the way of the day to day business of attracting corneas. To put a slightly finer point on things, the television folks appear purposeful, exploitative and maybe even venal, but not stupid. And for anyone that has hung around television at all, and listened to an experienced director shout curses and vulgates into microphones piped to the ear of an anchor, or heard a veteran producer explain the facts of life to a green assistant, then you just know that on one level it was love at first sight between certain of the ESPN pros and Majerus. He was one of them briefly. He could be as rude and crude and cruel as they could be. They clearly respected it, even if they didn't want to work with it indefinitely. He was more than one of them. He was someone they wished they could be, someone who could walk through the looking glass, stand on both sides of the lens, and tell persons on both sides of the lens to go have sex with themselves, when they didn't want to talk ball and learn what he knew, the way he wanted to communicate it.

Doug Gottlieb, from now I on, I want you to know that whenever I bust you mercilessly for your eyeball whoring, its nothing personal. I know you know the game. I know you are smart enough to recognize "the fat man" for what he was--one of the great basketball minds of his time. And that you're underhyping Kansas apparently for eyeballs and perhaps even for structural spread setting asymmetries, and I'm writing about Kansas side of things for the good of The Legacy, which is the same as for the good of the game. :-)

Rock Chalk!!! Doogie! You communicated the fat man. I learned something from you about ball. At the end of the day, that's all there is to interconnectivity, real, or virtual.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

"Thanks, Doug, for Doing Right by Rick Majerus"

Part 1

Doug Gottlieb, whom I have held in low esteem, for his recurring asymmetric reporting on KU, has won me over, because of what he wrote about Rick Majerus recently. It is without doubt one of the best basketball stories I have ever read and if there were such a thing as merit involved in handing out journalistic awards, Doug would win one for this story. So: of course he won't win one, so I have to call attention to it now, or all our board rats will likely miss it forever.

Doug's story has a fresh angle. A player who almost, but didn't play for a complicated genius, and who was wised up about himself by this man, and who tries to understand and explain to himself and others what was so special about "the fat man." Doug's story is all it, and not about it. It cuts to the essence of Majerus without crossing the line into what cannot be known about him by anyone. It has good arc. Each sentence advances the story a step. It finishes strongly and leaves one not only sensing Rick's genius, but wishing to learn more about it. Not bad for a strokeless ex-guard at a keyboard.

Doug's story suggests the extent and detail of knowledge that is possible for a basketball professional to accrue about the game, without making the mistake of trying to communicate the too-sophisticated parts. Just the basics put this fan in some awe of the professional.

After reading the story, one understands how Bill Self could say he went to one of Maj's clinics and picked up 7 things that made sense that Self, who apparently thinks a lot about the game, had not then yet thought of.

Doug's story also makes clear that, while TV professionals appear to me to routinely bend and distort the coverage at the expense of certain coaches and players (perhaps in pursuit eye balls and perhaps in pursuit of misleading spreads that might be exploited by the gaming industry), behind the scenes they actually do recognize the real thing before, during and after they begin to over hype, underhype, scapegoat, marginalize or other wise exploit such geniuses for ratings.


REHawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Of Majerus, Self claims, "I watched him do a clinic one time. I took six or seven things from the clinic that made sense that I had never thought of before." Mighty high praise, coming from a guy whose system and playbook has developed to rank among the best in Division 1 Basketball.


KansasComet 1 year, 4 months ago

This team has all the pieces. Once they figure out how to get in the lane better, and score from the outside, which will help open up the inside, then the sky is the limit. I also wish we were better on 50/50 balls.

Withey's shot blocking could help us make a deep title run.

Been wanting to ask this question for a while, and I am interested in everyone's opinion. Which KU Men's Basketball team was the best never to win the National Championship?

I am stck between the 1986 squad and either the 1997 or 1998 squads. I don't know much about the 1957 squad other than Wilt.

Coach Majerus will be missed.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

What if EJ, the Prophet, were the channel through which Self's vision were constantly unfolding and that through it all we see EJ were suddenly able to add transition from vision questing to his own assisting in burning and throwing down his own lightening etched tablets through the orange iron rim nailed cross high on his own private basketball Golgotha. That is: what if EJ could ascend his own hell with his own heaven sent gifts? Would not the vision of basketball heaven manifest as the staggering beauty of sport on earth? In the here and now of this shoe compromised world of clay footed hegemonists and titmouse hustlers of spread hype, would not the kingdom of basketball rule and all god's children have hops off the virtuous bounce?

But then the sorcerer's vision spanning the manifest ecstacies of impact and glue wavers...

And we are high in the dark field house ascending toward a lightening-spidered hole in the roof with Dr. William Frankenstein and his hooded, hunchbacked Eyegore Dooley stitching frantically on a giant grotesque of a team comprised of the body parts of pieces of players lacking the life-forced animation of full skill sets...cripples of players cobbled together by a desperate mad man and his wretched assistant spouting inside-out platitudes and defensive cackles and waiting for the voodoo of lightening strikes that will make Dr. Frankenstein shriek "its alive!"

This is the plight of coach and team in fiscal cliff December.

Considerations of unthinkable zones.

Optimism etched with acid.

Exhortations of unique players to act like clones players past.

Doubt dipped in the frustration of unfairness.

Combinations never considered tried in jaws of gone leads.

Quests for one true perimeter backup scorned by the gods.

Genius dead from too much food.

Three 3/4ths players at the 4 adding too often to 5/8ths.

But through the shadow casting light of the sorcerer and the dark folly of the body part stitcher, Frankenstein, emerges the coach and his staff that believe, and the young men encumbered only with want-to, that get better, go harder, work longer, and keep finding pathways through the now. Skying to orange rings. End to end again and again. In the joy of the moment that can only be lost to too much thinking.

Play the game.

The path to come is the one among many that is inevitable.

Lies multiply kalaidescopically.

The truth is the truth.

EJ is the point guard.

Its up to us to see it as the Prophet sees it.

Not as Tyshawn saw it last season.

Truth emerges between illusion.


RIP Maj.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

The scary good part of this team is: what if EJ heals?

Self wavers now between a sorcerer conjuring Eumenides to guard the Legacy and Dr. Frankenstein stitching body parts into a Frankenteam incapable of staving off the Armageddon of past recruiting shortfalls.

The team vision Self has struggled toward, like Michelangelo trying to free hot magnificence from cold travertine tantalizes each time Ben Mac soars impossibly long to a hard finish at the orange hoop that is like the eye of the needle to rich men and sinners, but wide as heaven itself to those with virtuous swagger.

The vision dazzles like a chimera on the colored curvature of one's irises each time Jeff swats away another shot, comes down and impossibly re-extends to block a second desperate attempt into the hands of Travis accelerating like an angel pin-dancing through a crimson and blue transition.


Joe Satterwhite 1 year, 4 months ago

Andy Katz is just trying to butter us up that's all lol


Commenting has been disabled for this item.