Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas and Missouri might be meeting again in men’s basketball sooner than anybody expected.
“The NCAA Selection committee has a strange sense of humor,” KU coach Bill Self said at Tuesday’s Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser at the College Basketball Experience next to Sprint Center.
He was referring to the possibility of the longtime rivals being placed in the same bracket in the NCAA Tournament.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it does happen because they are going to be really good in basketball and hopefully we’ll continue to be OK,” Self added.
The powers-that-be at KU, who are adamant about not scheduling former Big 12 partner/current SEC member Missouri, obviously could not prevent such a meeting during March Madness.
As far as regular-season contests ... they won’t be happening anytime soon.
“My feelings haven’t changed at all. I’ll miss playing them. I love the game. It’s my favorite game,” Self said of KU-MU.
“This is above my head, too. I’ve got a chancellor and athletic director and I actually feel strongly about it myself. We are not part of their future and they are not part of ours. ... I don’t see our stance changing. I don’t think Texas is going to play Texas A&M (which also left Big 12 for SEC this season). If they are not going to play A&M, why should we play Missouri or vice versa? Nobody from Missouri has contacted me about playing, not one person. I would think they would want to (play). They know it’s nothing personal. It’s just business. They make business decisions and certainly we can make business decisions.”
Missouri has made it clear the Tigers do want to schedule KU in hoops and football, too.
“This year I experienced people talking that it was the last time Kansas and Missouri would play,” second-year MU coach Frank Haith said of last year’s Feb. 25 meeting in Allen Fieldhouse. “That was an eerie feeling because we had such great games. I’m hopeful that in time, that won’t be the case. Usually all you need is just some time.”
Self and Haith had a funny exchange about the cancellation of the KU-MU series Tuesday on the dais before 1,000 or so fundraiser attendees. Self and Haith sat on the same stage with UMKC’s Matt Brown, K-State’s Bruce Weber and former MU coach Norm Stewart.
“I do think we can have rivalries and not be in the same league. We played Illinois when you were there, didn’t we?” Haith said, addressing KSU’s Weber, who indeed coached against Missouri the past nine seasons as the Illini coach.
“Memphis needs an opponent,” KU coach Self said, breaking up the conversation between the two and eliciting a roar of laughter from the fans.
There is another way KU and MU might be forced to play in the future. There are reports that the SEC and Big 12 are in preliminary discussions about a possible preseason challenge between league members.
“I know there has been some talk of that,” said KSU’s Weber. “I’m not sure exactly what will happen.”
“I don’t know how soon it’ll happen, if it’ll happen. I think our league would be very open to it,” Self said of an SEC-Big 12 challenge.
Juenemann on UMKC staff: UMKC coach Brown reported Tuesday that former KU walk-on guard Jordan Juenemann has joined his staff as a graduate assistant. “He’s a great person, very impressive,” Brown said of Juenemann, who is taking classes in business at UMKC toward an advanced degree.
Big man impresses: Self praised the preseason work of senior center Jeff Withey: “I really think he’s pretty good. I watched him today,” Self said. “He can block and alter about as well as anybody but he has to be a presence offensively. Last year he played off of Thomas (Robinson). This year, defenses will be designed to stop him.”