Sunday, March 25, 2012


KU players know it pays to listen to Bill Self

Kansas players crowd around head coach as they are presented with the Midwest Regional trophy as they celebrate the Jayhawks' 80-67 win over North Carolina to advance to the Final Four on Sunday,  March 25, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas players crowd around head coach as they are presented with the Midwest Regional trophy as they celebrate the Jayhawks' 80-67 win over North Carolina to advance to the Final Four on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.


— Not a single McDonald’s all-American on the roster, a first for Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self since he left Tulsa. Just one returning starter on a team that lost two lottery picks and another NBA draft choice. The two top recruits declared academically ineligible for the season.

The only chance this team had of getting to the Final Four was to bum a ride to St. Louis and from there catch a boat down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

That’s what most of us thought back when football season overlapped with basketball. That’s not what the players who banded together Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome to defeat North Carolina, 80-67, earning an all-expenses-paid trip to New Orleans, ever believed.

“The beginning,” Travis Releford said when asked when he first thought this could be a Final Four team. “Coach probably didn’t agree with it, but we all came together outside of the gym and just were talking and told ourselves that we’re coming together this year. And listen to coach and listen to the things he wants us to do and play the way he wants us to play, then we can get there. And we buckled down and we just listened.”

Not all the time, but far more often than most college-age young men listen to authority figures.

“I don’t know if overachieved is ever a true expression because it means you had it in you the whole time,” Self said. “I’d say that this team’s probably played as close to a ceiling as any team that I’ve had.”

Self started the year with modest goals and they grew when his team did.

“I felt like we had to beat Ohio State back in December to put us in a position to have a quality win to get in the NCAA Tournament,” Self said. “That was my mindset. We have gotten so much better. We’re like 8-3, lose to Davidson, and you know, no chemistry whatsoever. I mean, just bad.”

No coach as demanding as Self could attain as much success as he is if he cared what players said about him behind his back. How was he supposed to know that what they were saying behind his back was to listen to him and to do what he says. That could be why he never saw this coming. He underestimated how unified they were determined to be, how trusting of their coach.

“The guys kind of woke up once conference play started,” Self said of a 16-2 regular-season championship. “But this team has played as close to a ceiling as it possibly could. I don’t think you can give 110 percent. I think all you can give is a hundred. And then I think this team has given as close to a hundred as any team that I’ve probably coached.”

Successful teams are a reflection of their coach. Self is a confident, intense, thick-skinned, combative, relentless competitor. His players were the same in outlasting an injury-torn-but-still potent North Carolina team.

The Tar Heels (32-6) were the leading rebounding team in the nation, and Kansas (31-6) beat them on the boards, 41-35. Carolina’s two top ball handlers, injured McDonald’s All-Americans Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland, didn’t play, but five other McDonald’s All-Americans did.

The Heels outscored KU’s bench, 23-4, but Kevin Young by himself outrebounded the UNC bench, 8-7.

All five Kansas starters scored in double figures and all made big plays in the decisive moments, when North Carolina made one of its final 14 shots and missed its last seven.

Withey knew he had to establish himself as a game-changing force and he did with two huge blocks at the end. Nobody played better in St. Louis than Withey. Releford knew he had to be a defensive pest, and he was with two steals and multiple deflections. Elijah Johnson knew he was the most equipped to hit the big shot, and he did, nailing a three that ended a scoring drought that lasted longer than five minutes. Tyshawn Taylor knew he had to figure out a way to turn being the fastest player on the court into buckets and he did, running out ahead of the defense in transition. Robinson carried the team to a 47-47 stalemate with 14 first-half points.

“These guys, nothing fazes them,” Self said. “No matter what the situation is, they just think that they’re going to figure it out. And certainly they figured it out tonight.”

What they seem to have figured out a long time ago is that combined will means more than individual skill.

“I don’t know if I ever enjoyed coaching a team more than this one,” Self said. “I love them. We fight. It’s combative sometimes. All those things. But I love coaching these guys. They have done so much as far as their work habits and representing our school in a way that has given us a chance.”

The combination of ladders and scissors on nylon always puts a coach in a good mood, but this time it had a little extra meaning to the coach who doesn’t need a ladder to stand eye-to-eye with college basketball coaching giants, past and present.

“It is just remarkable to me to see them cutting down the nets out here,” Self said. “Because this would not be the year that anybody would have thought we would do it. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”


Lash 9 years, 1 month ago

If only the basketball writers would too.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 1 month ago

Who in his or her right mind would listen to you, after you picked MU and not KU to make it to the Final Four?

aerohawk 9 years, 1 month ago

I fill out brackets every year. I always put KU winning the championship. I refuse to be the guy didn't pick them in the bracket when they win. Always pick KU or don't fill out the form.

actorman 9 years ago

I'm with you, aero. Picking KU has cost me countless times over the years - although it certainly paid off in '88. (Not so much in 2008, since loads of people had them then.)

But I do have to crow a little, as this year I have it rolling: 7 of the Elite 8, and all 4 of the Final 4. Yep, that's me sitting 2nd in the bracket pool out of 3,461! Now all I need is KU to beat Kentucky for the title and I win it all. Piece of cake.

yates33333 9 years ago

Talk about not knowing your limitations!!!!!

Hank Cross 9 years, 1 month ago

To me, this is Self's signature win at KU. He made decisive in-game adjustments that I wondered if he was capable of making during the tourney. To his credit, Jaybate has often said that Self didn't know how close to being great coach he was. This was the game that made me believe that Jaybate was on to something.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 1 month ago

1) KU beating Memphis in National Championship Game. 2) KU beating UNC in the semi-finals same year (where we just crushed them). 3) KU beating UNC to get to the FF with an overmatched team.

Sorry, but I would still rank this game as the third in his "signature" wins at KU.

Some forget how magnificent that comeback win was against Memphis. Some forget how every analyst, sportswriter, AP voter, fan, had anointed UNC as the champion that year, and we absolutely manhandled them...that was coaching at its best.

Mel Clare 9 years ago

My FAVORITE memory from that game was the shocked and unbeleiving look that Hansborough had when they were down 40 to 12 in the first half!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve Gantz 9 years ago

I still can't believe we were beating UNC 40-12.

REHawk 9 years ago

Thomas and Co. made it very clear, in pre-game news conferences, that this squad learned something from that VCU loss. They entered this Tournament determined to take one game at a time, treating every opponent as a possible disruptive VCU.

Jack Rivers 9 years, 1 month ago

Right, cuz Jaybate is the expert, not Bill Self.

yates33333 9 years ago

Jaybate in analyzing basketball is on a par with Self coaching basketball. Not only that, he's funnier.

jaybate 9 years ago

"On Yahoos"

Come on kujack21, that's not what he was saying.

Cut him some slack.

And don't insult everyone's intelligence here by wasting our time pointing out that I don't know diddledy squat compared to Bill Self, or any of the assistants, or the players.

Let me say this: I don't know diddledy squat compared to Bill Self, or any of the assistants, or the players, or even in comparison to a number of our board rats.

Now, having written that plainly enough for anyone without a reading disability to grasp, and now generalizing that assertion to everyone that posts here, let us dispense with such sarcastic discourse as "Board rat X is an expert, and not Coach Self."

Next, I have a number of times written that I learn more here from others than they I am able to share; that coming here is always a net benefit to me; and that I hope it is a net benefit to others, as it is for me.

I just work out here in the logonasium, like everyone else.

Bill Self is a flipping basketball genius.

The Lawrence Airmen are the awesome spectacle.

I am just another board rat that loves KU basketball. Nothing more.

Everyone here knows the difference without the sarcastic pointer.

And to everyone else that likes to bash on me, or on others, listen up.

jaybate 9 years ago

I never bash preemptively. I only counter bash, and only then some times, and when done, only in the perhaps Quixotic hope of waking up an alias to the impoliteness and discourse stymying potential of their smears and ad homming. I am not hoping to educate the entire community, because I see no evidence that most of the community needs such education. And this is a good thing, because none of us, certainly not me, are wise enough to educate the entire community about anything.

All any of us can do it seems to me is to share our thoughts and reasoning, as well as some of our joys and disappointments.

But it is fair to speak to the bashers that don't seem to get it. You folks are just betraying that you think aliases in the community are not smart enough to know the obvious; that I am just another board rat that happens to write fast and so writes more.

No sane person writing behind an alias here could possibly mistake my level of basketball knowledge with Coach Bill Self's; that just could not occur.

And it is fantastical, magical thinking, probably rooted in some kind of deep insecurity, to think that others here might think that my basketball knowledge equalled, or exceeded a paid professional coach at the peak of his profession some two decades into his career.

Do you see how absurd it is to think that someone else might think that I know more than Bill Self about coaching basketball?

Frankly, it makes you seem out of touch with reality, not the alias you are admonishing for agreeing with me, or someone else, on something.

Quit insulting our community by thinking you need to point out to a poster that another frequent poster is on drugs, or is a moron.

Every KU basketball fan knows their stuff, and anyone that comes here regularly has enough on the ball to evaluate when I am right and wrong, without a pointer from some fake judge, who thinks aliases will be swayed by drug smears and ad homs about lack of intelligence.

After some word searching, I have come to call these kinds of posters Yahoos, because it seems a usage consistent with the spirit of Jonathan Swift's contempt-soaked use of the word.

jaybate 9 years ago

The way I recognize yahoos here is when their posts say, "Board Rat X is on drugs, he doesn't know what he is talking about, don't listen to him, this is more nonsense, etc., etc., etc."

Now, note, sometimes everyone slips in a moment of weakness, but you know what I am talking about here. There just are these aliases out there that do this sort of thing consistently with anyone that disagrees with them.

Or there he goes again, more of his nonsense, followed by zip reasoning, or lunatic logic; this is quintessential yahoo-ism. :-)

HEM and I could not agree less on many, many, many things, but we have to our lasting credit (IMHO), focused hard on allowing the other's posts to stand without judging the other, when we have nothing constructive, either in agreement, or disagreement, to add. We are an old married couple that went to the therapy and we are electing not to tear each other down, but rather try to encourage the other to find some wheat, regardless of how often we may disagree with premises, means or ends, or even just concepts. HEM is rather less than enthusiastic about my notion of amping and he does not leave that in doubt, but on the other hand he does not shout "he's a moron" each time I post about it. Rather he knows what he thinks, he knows he's made it known, and that's that with an occasional civil booster shot, so to speak. :-)

HEM trusts other board rats to see through my foolishness, and I trust them to see through his. There is, afterall, a degree of disagreement on things that prevents one from being able to say much other than that is just stupid. But here's the thing: why say its just stupid? Saying someone is just stupid is not enlarging the knowledge pie, nor is it credibly winnowing out the chaff. Saying you disagree and why is cool. Or thinking its pointless to revisit this, and moving on is cool too. If something is so patently stupid that one needs to blurt out "that's stupid!", then have enough faith in your fellow board rats to think they will know its patently stupid without a prompt. Or wade in with your brain power and set about revealing what is correct. I like it when HEM does a redirect onto what he thinks might be a more plausible explanation, whether I agree or not.

jaybate 9 years ago

There are times when I write things that I am absolutely convinced are correct, or will eventually be proven to be correct, that other board rats I have come to respect (agree or disagree) for making valuable tries at enlarging the intellectual pie, just respond with deafening silence. :-)

I get it. :-)

Either it was too long. Or it was unfathomable. Or a hottie said, "Hey, let's to bed right now!" and my take had to be triaged in pursuit of pleasure. :-)

And its okay.

Everyone else figures out I'm a dope, or a genius, or both, or just wrong, or just right.

Our fellow board rats--the non-yahoo's anyway--really can think without some Pixel Policemen telling them who is dumb!

But Yahoos don't get that.

Yahoos don't discuss ball much either, or discuss the ideas of that were set out in the posted writing.

Yahoos view most everything, except perhaps routine bathroom function, as a culture war to try to keep others from listening to someone.

The way to keep others from listening to someone is to enlarge the knowledge pie with something more worth listening to.

Surely we can agree on this. Surely we can leave disinformation and counter-terrorism mind think to the spooks. We don't have to use smear and ad hom techniques the spooks and military lurkers have to use on enemies on a KU basketball web site, right?

The only thing these days that can really sadden me is to see this web site used sometimes by light weight misinformer types. Can't you folks go stink up some other web site with that sort of stuff?

Yahoos, I also notice, are rarely thinking about any of their own ideas, rather they are thinking about how to keep others from thinking about what some other poster is writing about. Now is that pitiful, or what?

Yahoos, it goes almost but not quite without saying, don't seem to trust their fellow board rats.

Yahoos think their fellow board rats are such sheep that they have to be told who is wrong with smears and ad homs and make sure the sheep know who is a threat to the community.

jaybate 9 years ago

Another amusing, but perhaps even more contemptible form of yahoo is the alias that pretends to impeach something another poster wrote authentically, by using obviously disingenuous logic. My favorite is the one where someone obviously re-angles what has been written, then in a very pious tone follows down a logic chain based on false premises, and then says, kind of like a disingenuous Jack Horner, see what a good boy am I? This sort of Yahoo thinks if he builds a daisy chain of logic based on a ridiculously re-angled summary of a post, that he then has fooled all of those in the community that he arrogantly assumes to be sheep incapable of seeing through the ruse. This kind of Yahoo is fun to yank around because he is often in a state of partial self deception about what he is doing. But yanking such Yahoo's is a vice of mine that I am working on trying to temper. :-)

Yahoos cannot, as nearly as I can tell, think about issues and come to conclusions through public discourse and public learning that differ consequentially from their original opinion. Perish the thought of them showing genuine excitement about embracing another point of view that contradicted theirs and was a better explanation. They just won't feel good about the learning

Yahoos often are more sure about what is wrong than what is right, but when they are sure about something being right they will almost never entertain reasoned arguments to the contrary.

Yahoos seem to have to reduce, premise, or cap the discourse with drug smears and ad homs about IQ.

Yahoos are reacting to what is said largely in terms of fearing someone else might be perceived as being right, rather than arguing the case to see who is right. Perception seems vastly more important to yahoos than it is to other aliases.

Yahoos become infuriated when other aliases civilly refuse to agree with their reasoning. Yahoos seem to think the only reason to appeal to reason is to gain submission, rather than informed agreement, or informed disagreement.

Yahoo's wrongly doubt that someone, like me for instance, can be persuaded by reason, so they resort to reactionary bashing in lieu of reasoning.

jaybate 9 years ago

Yahoos are always trying to sanitize a culture to be consistent with their point of view, rather than trying to learn something new, or understand anew why something old is still right.

Yahoos seem not to want to enrich a culture with either new knowledge, or the rediscovery and reassertion of old wisdom, but rather seek to purify to a point of view.

Yahoos seem to have the intellectual equivalents of inadequately sized sex organs, fear such, and don't realize that we all stand before the group urinal of public discourse, we all have feelings of theirs is bigger than ours, but that in fact "all" of ours are crushingly too small for the task of understanding everything well. :-)

Yahoos would rather be stupid than wrong.

Yahoos would rather wallow in disagreement than savor small, mutual discoveries.

Yahoos don't quite get that the reason to come here is to cross pollinate what we know with what others know and, while sifting out the chaff, end up with more knowledge than we started with. They prefer less chaff and less knowledge.

Yahoos like neither to do the work of sifting out the chaff, nor the work of adding to the new seed stock; rather, they like to stop others from doing this in the name of saving a community from an evil other.

Yahoos appear intellectually lazy by nature and small of loving spirit, and do not often act in the best interests of the KU basketball legacy.

Yahoos ought to get better, not at being Yahoos, but at being board rats enlarging the knowledge pie.

But they often cannot.

I may even be being a bit of a Yahoo by posting this about Yahoos. After all, my fellow board rats recognize Yahoos when they read them, too.

But I felt it couldn't hurt, and might even be amusing, and so help our sense of community to let other board rats know that someone else out there notices these Yahoos, too. :-)

Cmill1221 9 years ago

Seriously, who has the time to read all that?

FoCoCoHawk 8 years, 11 months ago

I do but it took me until today. I almost always agree with what Jaybate posts but hope for brevity over depth at times.

12 step group for posters who tend to over-expound in overzealous detail, belaboring viewpoints and potentially alienating audiences who might otherwise be receptive to their positions:

"On and On Anon."

Dirk Medema 9 years ago

There is a CBS Sportsline article that says this team is Butler v. '12, which to me is just wrong - no disrespect to Butler intended. This is a Self team, and the article does a good job of relating the perspective of the players buying into the system. The play is exactly what he has been trying to do all along - regardless of who is on the roster. Unfortunately, some NBA talent isn't willing to work as unglamorously.

1 & #2 above were both greater victories because of the abundance of talent they had, but I think it was RussRob that commented after the OSU loss that year that they knew they could coast and just turn it on when they wanted to get wins. They had that much talent, and could choose when they wanted to play Self's system. Not this team. They know they have to fully buy int Self's system.

eddiesuttonschoolofdriving 9 years, 1 month ago

Nice article Tom. Seriously. You nailed the storyline of the season, and put it together beautifully. You seem to be peaking just like the Jayhawks. I dont know if they are going to keep winning but Im convinced they will not be out toughed by anyone, and playing tight seems to be out of their system too. Gotta love this team!

Kyle Sybesma 9 years, 1 month ago

Self doesn't say it but I think he likes coaching a Big 10 style of a game. This years team is perfect example of that. Play great defense and it we'll grind out a win in the end.

On a side note. I can't believe that ESPN is asking what KU has to do to beat OSU? Not what does OSU have to do to beat KU? We won the first meeting. We won our conference. We are the higher seeded 2 seed. ESPN makes it sound like OSU can show up and KU needs to scheme to figure out a way to win. What disrespect.

SaltLakeHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Love the disrespect. More please.

Self teams generally play lights out when they're underdogs (rare occasions)

Alohahawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Before and even during the game, a number of the talking heads expressed their doubts that KU could beat N. Carolina. Even now, after whipping N.Carolina's 5 star studded, Mickey D lineup, they are still denying KU's abilities. Let them. It's bulletin board material. And I think this team loves proving the experts wrong.

During the post game commentaries, J. Bilas was complimentary towards KU, up to a point. But he added "We all wonder, what if..." referring to the missing Marshall. Well, "What if...?" is right! What about KU's own missing warriors, McClemore and Traylor? What if those two had been allowed to play all season? Could the Jayhawks have pulled off more wins? Would they have a better record if they had been allowed to play?

I'd say that would make for a fine motto for the Jayhawks in New Orleans. The "What if... kids to men team."

KansasComet 9 years ago

Excellent post! We are missing two very talented players as well, in McLemore and Traylor, but we are not complaining about it.

Joel Hood 9 years ago

What if you played 6 Big Macs against 0 Big Macs??? What if your coach was unable to recognize a Triangle & 2? What if your best bigs got out rebounded by 10?

Cmill1221 9 years ago

WHAT IF... The twins and Selby stayed. Why do they play that game?

Ross Hartley 9 years ago

We are a 2.5 point dog right now.

Craig Colgin 9 years, 1 month ago

What this Jayhawk team and Coach Self have accomplished this season is nothing short of spectacular. Im so proud of them. It's like the Little Jayhawk Engine that Could out there. Absolutely amazing group no matter what happens from here on!!!

actorman 9 years ago

The Little Jayhawk Engine that Could. I love it!!!

Craig Colgin 9 years, 1 month ago

Badly wish they could somehow live stream the scene from the Fieldhouse when the team bus arrives!!!

Tom Pritchard 9 years, 1 month ago

Keegan.. Excellent article and great perspective..

SaltLakeHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

“I don’t know if overachieved is ever a true expression because it means you had it in you the whole time,” Self said.

One of Bill's finest lines.

RJ King 9 years, 1 month ago

Priceless! Like a scene from Wizard of Oz 2012. Also-ran quote:

"I don’t think you can give 110 percent. I think all you can give is a hundred. And then I think this team has given as close to a hundred as any team that I’ve probably coached.”

Bill doesn't pull any of the usual "coach speak" or crap cliches.Yet he infuses his candor with so much class.

Alohahawk 9 years ago

When the Jayhawks went into attack mode after thefts and rebounds they made N.Carolina look like cougars chasing after cheetahs. Unbelievable how fast TT and EJ are when they put the pedal to the medal. What's amazing is that KU's players had played more minutes, and they were still able to out hustle - out race the Tarheels down the court. >There may be advantages in not blowing out teams most of the season. In tight games, all of a sudden, every set becomes more difficult and the shots won't fall. Perhaps N. Carolina felt a lot like KU has in some of those previous tournament losses. You gotta believe that this season's close games and late wins helped KU win this one. N. Carolina wasn't used to playing close fought games. When they couldn't gain the lead in the last five minutes, the Tarheels felt the vise tighten (as well as an unmentionable body part). And they choked. And they lost the game.

Tony Bandle 9 years ago

cougars and cheetahs??...middle aged ladies vs young hotties???

Hawkamania 9 years, 1 month ago

"The Tar Heels (32-6) were the leading rebounding team in the nation, and Kansas (31-6) beat them on the boards, 41-35. Carolina’s two top ball handlers, injured McDonald’s All-Americans Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland, didn’t play, but five other McDonald’s All-Americans did."

5 others?

Tells me all I need to know about our man Mr. Self.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 1 month ago

Is it just me or has this re-energized Coach Self.

Last year it seemed like Bill Self was going through the motions of being a coach. I sometimes wondered if he regretted not going to OSU or if he would head to the NBA.

This year, it just seemed like Coach Self just loved the game, loved being at KU, and absolutely loves coaching at KU. This year, seems like it has given me the belief that HCBS will be here for another 20+ years.

I guess to me this year just energized everyone, the team, the fans, HCBS, the assistant coaches, and even Alpher...

Thanks Coach Self and Team for all of your efforts. My wife and I are buying tickets to go see you in New Orleans!!

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 1 month ago

He has mentioned several times how much he likes coaching this bunch. Maybe he's just having more fun this year.

Alohahawk 9 years ago

+1 My thoughts, exactly. The proof is in the pudding. And this team has cooked a h*** of a lot of pudding this season. Would love to see the Jayhawks cook two more batches.

SaltLakeHawk 9 years, 1 month ago

"T-Rob, Taylor, Withey, Elijah, Releford and the miracles"

Scott Smetana 9 years, 1 month ago

A little fun I saved from halftime posts of the Mizzou game at home:

presidentobama sarcastically, "what a great game for our recruits" tweek - "we just lost all of our recruits. This is all on Bill Self" HawkfromHays - "This is what called being exposed"
HawkfromHays - "no defense, no heart on this team"

Laura Hrabak 9 years, 1 month ago

I see you picked UNC too? Nice points though

FMTXJayhawk 9 years ago

I love those. thanks for sharing!

Cmill1221 9 years ago

I said in December we were a sweet16 team at best. I'll own up to it....

JS82 9 years, 1 month ago

Great coaching won this game. The Triangle and 2 from the 8 minute mark on caused North Carolina huge problems and they never recovered. Congrats to the team and coach Self! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

mispayku 9 years, 1 month ago

This article was great!! Kudos, Tom!

RJ King 9 years, 1 month ago


Never enjoyed a fireworks show as much as that of my bracket blowing up! Euphoria!

jaybate 9 years ago

I like it, ralster.

LJW, let this man writes some 'lines!

jgkojak 9 years, 1 month ago

Which Jerseys (blue or white) do we wear? Maybe we want the blue?

Alohahawk 9 years ago

Just not red, since KU plays Ohio State. I think KU is the higher ranked #2 seed, so the Jayhawks should be in white for game one in New Orleans..

actorman 9 years ago

You're right, Aloha. The committee chairman (I forget his name) said on Selection Sunday that KU was the highest ranked of the 2 seeds.

Jonathan Allison 9 years ago

I think that being the highest 2 seed we will probably draw the whites...

But I'm with you, if I'm Bill Self I request that we switch to the blues. Not for superstitious reasons per se. But just to light a little fire in the guys. Make them fee like the road team, the underdogs. Plus the 2008 Champs wore blue.

And I like the blue unis better than the whites.

2010jayhawk 9 years ago

Blue unis all the way! Funny how my friends and I talked about this after the game.

bbeckum 9 years ago

Great column, Tom.

Here' s my favorite line: The Heels outscored KU’s bench, 23-4, but Kevin Young by himself outrebounded the UNC bench, 8-7

KY's energy was huge. He could be a big contributer to a much younger team next yeat. Love his interior passing.

gorillahawker 9 years ago

Very well written article Keegan. This is the epitome of KU bball and HCBS in a nut shell. We thrive on hard play and finding a way to win. It really is amazing how far this team has come, especially if you compare them to some of the great KU teams in the past with loaded rosters. I think it's really a testament to how this team has come together over time. They play with their backs against the wall, everyone doubting them... They knew they were thin all year but they kept grinding. They are battled tested, blood thirsty and have the confidence to beat anyone right now. That's why I truly believe we are the most dangerous team in the Final 4. The one team I think is capable of beating Kentucky.

KansasComet 9 years ago

Kevin Young has established himself as the 6th Man. He brings energy and hustle. It has been a pleasure watching this team come together. Makes me forget about last year. We all need to appreciate these moments and not take them for granted. Go Jayhawks and thanks for brightening my week and putting a smile on my face!

jaybate 9 years ago

Correction: Kevin just became the seventh starter.

You've got to think more positively Comet.

More team.

We need you on board for this thing.

Danny Hernandez 9 years ago

And Self instills toughness, the ability to punch back which was missing from KU"s Roys teams.
Opponents may not say it but they know it, Kansas won't take a punch and back down...

Robert Moore 9 years ago

The World has righted itself. The Hawks are in the final four. Dick Vitale is already saying we can't beat OSU. and Tiger Woods won again.

RJ King 9 years ago

Yuk.Please don't put the hypocritical and despicable Woods in the same poem with this year's faithful and humble Hawks. The Tiger exists only in the heart of the Jayhawks. The former is a POS. The latter, a MASTERPIECE.

blooblzr 9 years ago

"What they seem to have figured out a long time ago is that combined will means more than individual skill."

This is exactly what will take them to the National Championship. By playing as a team. GO KU!

jaybate 9 years ago

The greatest quote in the history of Kansas basketball...

“Coach probably didn’t agree with it, but we all came together outside of the gym and just were talking and told ourselves that we’re coming together this year. And listen to coach and listen to the things he wants us to do and play the way he wants us to play, then we can get there. And we buckled down and we just listened.” --Travis Releford

This quote needs to be cast in bronze.

The bronze needs to be set in stone.

And the stone needs to be set above the front door of Allen Field House forever.

I might even reduce it to just the last sentence.

"And we buckled and we just listened."

All greatness starts with listening.

Every great person I have ever met was a great listener as well as being a great doer.

"And we buckled down and we just listened."

And anything great that was ever accomplished was accomplished because ordinary human beings came together and decided to do extraordinary things.

The living myth is still alive.

The Lawrence Airmen fly on.

Alohahawk 9 years ago

Making the Final Four (again) has to add luster to KU's recruiting. Recruits may have short memories when it comes to remembering some of the greats who have played at KU (or other schools), but when a program makes it to the final weekend, that has to impress the top ranked recruits. Any time a school makes the Final Four it adds so much to a school's basketball resume. It demonstrates the positive aspects of the current program as well as the coaching staff's abilities. Advertising like that can't be bought. It has to be earned.

Just another of the many reasons to love this year's team and what they've accomplished. Plus, they've now added their own identity to the AFH rafters: "Final Four in 2012" And who knows, the season isn't done yet, so they could exceed even that lofty award with a championship banner.

Rock Chalk Jayhawks. We are Kansas.

yates33333 9 years ago

I have finally figured out what Jaybate does or is, a motivational speaker and writer in Chicago.

9 years ago

Yet another reason to like Chicago :-)

HAWKTOPIA 9 years ago


Coach Self's talents are displayed not only by the performance of this team's starting 5, but how 2-3 players, from the bench, are used with no damage to court intensity and offensive performance.

TRob's talents are overwhelming, and Withey has become a man on the court. But when one of these two is on the bench, and KU can more than hold their own. Coach Self is on full display. When the 6th man, replaces your #1, and you can still perform as a team, playing with the same intensity, HCBS has worked his magic.

One of the real Gems of this game was the effort to let NC's fate rest on the accuracy of their shots. No fouls! Even when a man was picked, he was followed. When a player penetrated he was surrounded. BUT NOT FOULED! This team makes the other team have to make their shots, NO CHARITIES! Did T Zeller not take a FT?

There is little to compare to wildly rooting for these Hawks, and hearing the slow and steady ROOOOCK CHAAAAALK chant engulf the arena and undermine TV announcers talking about the other team, as KU pushes to victory.

Only one game we need to win, the next game! RCJH GO KU

High praise for Kevin Young and Conner T and Wesley

yates33333 9 years ago

I agree on Young. He plays with speed, enthusiasm, energy, skill that overcomes bad decisions, Wesley rarely plays. But Conner T. has lost his three point shot and almost any other. He trails his man defensively and is easily picked. I hope he reverses this in New Orleans but as is I don't think I would play him much. I'd try to get Young to learn the 3 spot and use Wesley a little more. Of course, I wouldn't want me as the coach, either.

Steve Brown 9 years ago

Tehan, Young, Wesley. Bring on the strategic reserves.

Our bench may not get a ton of time on many teams yet we need them and appreciate them.

Terry Sexton 9 years ago

The 8th in a row conference title cost me a c-note in t-shirts for all the nephews. More to buy for the FF. If we can take it all next monday, they'll have a great start on their summer wardrobe. Trying to keep the lads decked out proper, so they'll look good for Coach Self's camp. They live in Winston-Salem & in Knoxville. Always good to spread some Kansas cheer to our southern friends.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!

Vittorio1224 9 years ago

Looks like KU isn't the only one stepping up its game en route to the Final 4. Keegs finally coming through with a beauty! Nice work TK! Good article -- we expect more of this type of work all this week!

See you in the Big Easy! Rock Chalk!

jaybate 9 years ago

"Pain Barriers, the Hype and the Second American Revolution Continues"


I agree that Stilman White struggled at times and was soft and was not as good as KU's great Tyshawn Taylor, but that is hardly surprising, is it?

But did you see what happened to UNC, when Roy brought in the subs for Stilman? They defended better one trip, because they were so fresh compared to the Lawrence Airmen flying on fumes, but then Stilman's subs got completely confused and not a one of them could pull a trigger, or even fake running their offense without TOs.

I just looked at White's line score. Only 1-5 from the field, but then that shouldn't sink a team of Mickey D's at the other positions. White made zero TOs, was 2-2 at the line and had 7 assists and frankly held Tyshawn to 10-19, which again would be considered a solid defensive performance by their starting guard.

It turned out White produced a more than adequate line for a sub PG forced into a desperate situation in a regional final--a line to my surprise that might have brought them a W, if Harrison Barnes and John Henson had played remotely near their hype, which they did not. Tyler Zeller came in just about where you would expect him with Barnes and Henson taking so many shots. Zeller was his usual efficient self. Roy's biggest mistake was not to force the action through Zeller, when Barnes and Henson clearly too soft to take the fight to KU.

But it wasn't just the softness of Barnes and Henson that suck those two.

Harrison Barnes just had no balls at all in this game and the whole world saw it.

It isn't just that Barnes shot poorly in a big game, after shooting poorly in the previous game, also.

Tyshawn has shot poorly in both games. EJ shot poorly except for his fabulous money three yesterday. Conner and Kevin and Thomas shot poorly yesterday.

A game like yesterday, one where both teams are playing on dead legs, turned out not to be about shooting at all.

Yesterday's game was about who wanted it more once the pain barrier was reached.

jaybate 9 years ago

After watching Harrison Barnes wilt at the pain barrier long before anyone else did, I wondered if maybe it was a good thing he did not come to KU, after all. I would hate to have been relying on Barnes yesterday, as our third weapon, and have a great warrior like Travis Releford on the bench watching a pussy like Harrison Barnes.

Or maybe Harrison Barnes would have been tougher had he come to KU and had to play through what the Lawrence Airmen have had to play through; if he had daily seen the kind of courage this team had displayed, and if he had had to have Self and Dooley and Manning and Townsend and Hinson looking him in the eye and saying," here we play Self Defense, not Micky D offense. Here it is about men forming a team, men defending, men fighting through picks, men protecting, men feeding the post, men receiving the post feed, men taking a beating and dishing out more, men gluing, and men making great plays, all while going to class to a real business school, where they don't give the jocks a free pass."

I was in the KU business school for a couple years. My brother and nephews graduated from the KU business school. I went to the University of Wisconsin graduate school of commerce, which was in my department, once upon a time the best and toughest department in the world. I know something about business schools and I know something about academic toughness. And I know something about UNC's business school. Harrison Barnes made the soft choice on business school, as well as on basketball.

jaybate 9 years ago

Harrison Barnes bought into the hype. He bought into the hype about business schools. KU's business school is tough. It accounting department turns soft minds into thinking machines, or you don't pass. KU business school isn't ranked as highly perhaps, but the professors and the students are hardened at KU's business school. I knew a leading professor at UNC's business school and he always believed in massaging the system. He was soft, soft, soft.

And Harrison Barnes bought into the hype about basketball programs. He bought into the soft program. He bought into the soft imitation of father of all basketball programs, not the real thing.

And Harrison Barnes apparently bought into the hype about himself. He thought that all he had to be was gifted and hard working to succeed. He bought into the Micky D myth that its the most talented and not the most ferocious and hardened that prevail.

Harrison Barnes could have been a Jayhawk, but he bought into the hype instead.

Some will say, but, 'bate, don't be so hard on Harrison. Harrison looked good the first half. That's right. Harrison "looked" good the first half, but only because Haase and McGrath had written the best book of the season on KU's defensive vulnerabilities and Roy and Joe and Steve created a fabulous offensive scheme that generated a seemingly endless number of easy shots for Harrison and UNC's other softie--John Henson, and their lone guy who looked like he might have had the toughness to play on the same side as the Lawrence Airmen--Tyler Zeller, no, on second thought, he was too soft, too, or he would have come to Kansas, too.

You see, when Self and KU figured out some adjustments that worked just well enough to keep our exhausted asses in the game, then it came down to who could play through the pain barrier and keep coming like a bunch of hungry barracuda for a dying Carolina Blue dolphin.

The Lawrence Airmen, basketball's equivalent of the fighting 332rd, every one of them, played through the pain, and the fear that showed in their eyes; that's the key--everyone gets scared sooner or later when exhaustion sets in barely five minutes into the second half. Thomas and Tyshawn and even tireless EJ and Jeff looked scared spitless briefly around 12 minutes to go, when they all realized they were going to have to operate on fumes the rest or the way. Self showed fear on his face even before the second half started, because he, more than any one, knew how tired his guys were. It was never could KU figure out adjustments. It was could they execute them? Could they keep from fouling out trying to make the changes and take the fight to the Bitumen Heels.

jaybate 9 years ago

For a minute there, I was scared as hell, and I wasn't even tired. I wasn't sure any of them could get a 15th wind, or however many winds this team has had to get, since the second Missouri game.

But to use a justifiable cliche in this instance, these Lawrence Airmen just don't have any quit in them.

Thomas looked scared, but then he fights through it and suddenly Superman comes out of the fear.

Tyshawn never looks scared exactly, because he's been at this shizz as a starter for four seasons, but he looks like an artist who doesn't know if he's got enough blue to finish the masterpiece, then suddenly he seems to decide that there are enough other colors on his palette left to finish the picture in a way he never imagined, then he's off again.

EJ is so very work man like this season in his approach. He is the craftsman to Tyshawn's artist. Its the first time the entire season that I have seen exhaustion in his eyes and the fear it brings. But its like the kid who grew up in Gary, or where ever, says, "Yeah, I feel like I can't lift a foot, but I know I can," and he straps it up and goes to work, like some steel worker doing his job, until the juices start flowing again.

And Withey? I saw him get a look that I have only seen in the eyes of surfers in trouble, eyes who suddenly lose sight of the face of the wave and start seeing only the mass of it and what it may do to them. But it was like Jeff finally just dived under, let the pain roll over him, came up and said, "keep swimming or the next will take me down for good." And he just kept swimming till he found some bottom he could stand on and started playing again.

Jesus, they're inspiring.

jaybate 9 years ago

But of the starters, Travis seemed the only one that never saw exhaustion, though I saw him stumble and struggle like I have never seen him. But Travis Releford does not exhaust truly, not like regular people, not even like his amazing teammates. It could happen in another game. But it did not bite him this game. He did not feel the fear this game. And I think Travis was actually the key to the entire win. He played efficiently. He kept playing within himself the entire way. As Self said what seems an eternity ago now, Mr. Vertical, Mr. Athletic off the meter, kept playing his old man's game, his horizontal dogged game, only occasionally exploding toward the heavens. Travis never wavered even when he had to sit. Not once. Travis staggered. Travis stumbled. Travis sat. But the fear never came to his eyes. And all a team needs sometimes is just one man to not succumb, to keep playing like its, "hey, guys, this ain't so tough, eight hours at the play ground in August is tougher than this. Follow me."

And they did.

But Carolina had no Travis Releford.

They had no team full of Lawrence Airmen.

They had seven Mickey Ds and hype.

And seven Mickey Ds and hype won't get you through the pain barrier.

Stilman White exposed and over his head? Yes.

Harrison Barnes exposed and soft? Yes and YES!

John Henson exposed and soft? Yes and YES!

The second American revolution continues.

Screw the Mickey Ds.

"We hold these truths to be self evident..."

The Lawrence Airmen are coming to the Final Four.

And the deeper they go the higher they fly.

And the higher they fly the bigger the chips on their shoulders grow about the hype they don't receive.

Fly the planes to the target.

Tony Bandle 9 years ago

If I was putting together an "All-Unattractive" Team [using the word ugly is politically incorrect], Tyler Zeller would be my starting center!!

I knew that he hadn't run into a couple of fellow big men like TRob and Jeff bullying around skinny 6'-8" guys!!!

HAWKTOPIA 9 years ago

Jaybate, you are my hero! Right behind the Lawrence Airmen! Game on!

Ben Padlin

jaybate 9 years ago

I have read a ton of conventional history about that war, southern academic apologists, northern academic apologists, corporate foundation and think tank funded apologists, a few honest historians (on this subject, they don't seem to be in abundance), plus a ton about the economic/financial/infrastructure roots, and the role of England and France using lending and equity investment to polarize divisions between North and South in pursuit of reasserting their imperial aims in North America, plus the railroads influence with Lincoln, plus the role of the crazy quilt of South Carolina politics of the time that lead to South Carolina being a fuse.

At the end of the reading (or maybe it never totally ends), regardless of complexity of origins, it was still about a group of states seceding from USA in order to preserve a slave based economy and institutionalized slavery as a political and economic foundation for seeking to build a transcontinental empire and corresponding railroad to hook up with Pacific trade, and using the Declaration of Independence to justify its right to do so.

That's not sufficient moral high ground--its a damned moral sink IMHO--necessary to justify breaking up the USA and getting millions killed.

The University of North Carolina ought to get a new mascot.

Anything related to defense of a slave based economy and the institution of chattel slavery is not something educated people should want to be associated with in the aftermath.

And I'm often pretty laissez faire about mascots, except when some ethnic group is offended by one and would not like to spend their tax dollars to be insulted by their state school's own mascot.

Cmill1221 9 years ago

There is a debate still about the tarheel mascot. The first is that the North Carolina soldiers were so brave that the officers from other states said: "They were so brave and stood their ground that they must have TAR on their HEELS". The other is that they turned and ran away so fast that the other states troops joked and said: "Maybe next time we should put TAR on their HEELS so they will stay and fight longer." I tend to believe the 2nd version. B/C if the first one was remotely accurate why would the 2nd version even exist?

Steve Gantz 9 years ago

Pat Forde yesterday on Yahoo said Self was not in the elite class of coaches because he hasn't broken through other than in 08. Pat Forde wrote today that Self has broken through and can be compared with all the other elite coaches. Interesting articles to read.

James McGuire 9 years ago

Is this the same Pat Forde that said Missouri was an "old money" program that belonged in the same discussion as the great programs of Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, UNC, etc.?

jaybate 9 years ago

Yesterday, Pat Forde lacked a pair.

Today, Pat Forde lacks a pair.

Tomorrow, Pat Forde will lack a pair.

He is not authentically admitting he was wrong.

He is trying to keep his writing in the fat part of the Final Four readership clicks.

When Pat Forde writes wisely about Bill Self, when he is not immediately being reinforced by clicks, then I will entrain the idea that Pat Forde has grown a pair.

jaybate 9 years ago

erratum: not entrain, but entertain.

zsn 9 years ago

This would be a good time to revisit Pat Forde's "Best case, Worst case" for both KU and Misery. He couldn't resist his homerism at the beginning of the tournament, but seeing as the tournament unfolded, he has gone back to his well of UNC-KU disdain (in that order)

HawkKlaw 9 years ago

Gee, I sure am glad that KU didn't get rid of Bill Self after the uncharacteristically sub-par recruiting this past off-season (like many on this board suggested). Clearly, there's no better coach in college basketball than HCBS.

jaybate 9 years ago

Tell me who exactly said we should get rid of Bill Self, because of an obviously sub-par recruiting season?

Did anyone, who was not a lurker, really say that?

I know I didn't and I don't recall anyone that did?

Who was it? I would like to know and ask them why they thought that?

HawkKlaw 9 years ago

I'm not going to put any specific person on the hot seat. That's not my M.O. Suffice it to say that there were several regulars on this board talking about how Bill Self has lost his touch and that a great recruiter should take his place. I always defended Bill Self when I encountered this nonsense (as did several other intelligent, rational folks).

Needless to say, the naysayers have since changed their tune to fall in line with the current Jayhawk success. That's fair-weather fandom at it's finest, if you ask me. If you're going to call yourself a KU fan, how can you not support Bill Self, even in times of adversity? (A rhetorical question not directed at you, jaybate.) The guy's resume speaks for itself.

I'm not saying that nobody should ever criticize Bill Self. We all have at one point or another. That's fine. But calling for him to lose his job after 8 amazing seasons (and one bad recruiting season) is just irrational.

zsn 9 years ago

To me, the best quote which sums up this season (of course, other than jaybate's Excellent Analysis -TM) is this: "“These guys, nothing fazes them,” Self said. “No matter what the situation is, they just think that they’re going to figure it out. And certainly they figured it out tonight.”"

The key phrase is "No matter what the situation is, they just think that they’re going to figure it out.” - think about this for a second. It's not like these guys can call Cole off the bench and you have an instant beast (a la 2008). It's not like last year, when one of the Morrii got in foul trouble you had TRob come off the bench. The cupboard is quite bare. They HAVE to figure something out.I would argue that the "lack of talent" (an observation, not a pejorative) is this year team's strength! They all have finally realized that if each one of them doesn't pick-it-up they will lose. That, and they have also bought into HCBS because the cupboard is bare, and they have pulled out some close wins.

Finally, I have said this when Roy was our coach and I am proved correct time and again: I am VERY nervous with Roy on the sideline and a 7-point lead with two minutes left; I am VERY confident with Bill on the sideline down-7 with two minutes left. Bill has always been really good at late game management than Roy (and Boeheim and Bo Ryan, for that matter)

bballluv2tlk 9 years ago

I believe there were 6 MD All Americans that played for the Heels- Hariston, McAdoo, Bares, Bullock, Henson, and Zeller.

bballluv2tlk 9 years ago

Just watched President Obama's bracket selection and to quote, "KU has broken my heart the last two years, I am going with UNC." Well Mr. President sorry they did it to you again, you selected the wrong Big 12 team to make the final four!

Lin Rahardja 9 years ago

These UNC players are really good. Luckily when it counted, we got the game we needed to move forward. HCBS mixed it up on defense in the second half, UNC was limited to jump shots, and they weren't dropping like in the first half. Late in the second half, a couple of defense stops turned to buckets on the other other end. But make no mistake, this doesn't mean we are that much better than any of these teams, it seems... all it took is a couple of lucky bounces and the outcome could go the other way, so we can't be too confident.

We need to get into the same mentality in the next two games. Play loose, buckle down on defense, execute our offense with precision, minimize our silly mistakes, and exploit their mistakes. Plenty of rest and focus to increase our shooting percentage.

May the ball bounces our way two more games. Go KU!

TulsaJayhawk 9 years ago

The first half of this game reminded me of the '88 championship with OU. Both teams performing at high levels. Very proud of this group of young men, and very grateful for our coaching staff.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk, go KU!

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