Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quote, unquote: A look at some of the top quotes of the Bill Self era

Some of the best quotes during the 10-year Bill Self era were uttered by the likes of, top row from left: Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson, Self, Jeff Graves, Darrell Arthur, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Self, Julian Wright and Quintrell Thomas; and, bottom row, from left, Self, Anrio Adams, Barry Hinson, Naadir Tharpe, Self, Self, Rush, Keith Langford, and two more from Self himself.

Some of the best quotes during the 10-year Bill Self era were uttered by the likes of, top row from left: Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson, Self, Jeff Graves, Darrell Arthur, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Self, Julian Wright and Quintrell Thomas; and, bottom row, from left, Self, Anrio Adams, Barry Hinson, Naadir Tharpe, Self, Self, Rush, Keith Langford, and two more from Self himself.



J-W File Photos

Some of the best quotes during the 10-year Bill Self era were uttered by the likes of, top row from left: Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson, Self, Jeff Graves, Darrell Arthur, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Self, Julian Wright and Quintrell Thomas; and, bottom row, from left, Self, Anrio Adams, Barry Hinson, Naadir Tharpe, Self, Self, Rush, Keith Langford, and two more from Self himself.

Quotes, by their very nature, are the cornerstones of our jobs as reporters.

Sure, we can analyze statistics and talk about trends or observe behaviors and write about rookies, but the very reason many of you read what we put out is to hear from the athletes and coaches for whom you cheer.

You want to know what the star player thought about his big shot. You want to know why the coach made a move or called a play, and you demand to know what went wrong when that coach winds up on the losing side of the scoreboard.

We can give you our best guesses on most of those things, but it never sounds better than when it comes from the horse’s mouth.

For our final installment in this year’s summer series that looked back the best players and most memorable moments of the first decade of the Bill Self era in Kansas basketball, we dug through scores of stories and racked our brains to come up with a few of our favorite quotes from the past 10 years.

Obviously, condensing 10 years of incredible basketball into five quotes is a tough task and barely scratches the surface of some of the best moments. But whether the quotes were the most heartfelt, told the best stories or simply made us laugh, here’s a look at a few that stuck out in our minds.

Gary Bedore

“My mom said I woke up from a dead sleep one time and said, ‘I need some hot dogs from Steak and Shake.’ I didn’t even remember saying that. I was pretty messed up.”

— Jeff Graves commenting to me about his recovery from a car wreck at KU. (He actually uttered that quote when Roy Williams was his coach, but he did play for Bill Self, too, so I’m gonna break the rules and list that quote as No. 1.)

“When I first heard I did it, I was upset, and I didn’t talk to nobody all day, went in my little corner and balled up and that was about it.”

— Brandon Rush after he tore his ACL necessitating a return to KU instead of a spot in the NBA Draft

“I prayed on it hard last night. It came to me in a dream. It was me playing in a game with a lot of the current players, Mario (Chalmers), Julian (Wright), everyone.”

— Darrell Arthur, upon choosing KU over Baylor and others in recruiting.

“I lay down, smelled her sheets, moved the pillows back, and the only thing I saw was a couple words she left on a sheet of paper: ‘Please watch over my kids.’’’

— Darnell Jackson on the tragic death of his mom.

“I could probably change my mind (about playing MU in future) but trust me, we would have no trouble finding another non-league game to play. I love the rivalry. Playing home and home in the league is great and all those things ... (but) I can’t imagine, why would we continue playing? If they choose to be somewhere other than with us and with the other schools that they’ve been a part of and could jeopardize the future of the other schools ... I’m not going to make a commitment now that we’d ever play again. I’m not saying we won’t. I’m certainly not going to pretend that we would.”

— Bill Self right before Missouri decided to leave the Big 12.

Tom Keegan

“I don’t remember anything he said, but it was a very memorable speech.”

— Julian Wright, when I asked him what Michael Jordan’s message was when he spoke to Wright and the other players at the high school all-star game that bears Jordan’s name.

“We talked about it and I told him I would just concentrate on boxing out and let him get the rebounds.”

— Marcus Morris explaining why he had just two rebounds, compared to 15 for his brother, Markieff, in a blowout victory against Longwood in Nov., 2010.

“I just thought about how good we would be once I started playing. It’s one of the primary entertainment places in the country. We start winning, we could turn Vegas upside down.”

— Quintrell Thomas, explaining why he chose to transfer to UNLV.

“I was too worried about being tired to dunk the ball. A dunk, then running back on defense, can take a lot of energy out of you.”

— Sophomore Markieff Morris explaining why he avoided dunking as a freshman.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m a Jayhawk for life.”

— Anrio Adams on Twitter a couple of days after he said he was transferring and several days before he actually did transfer.

Matt Tait

“He can make plays you can’t coach, then he can make plays you wonder if he’s ever been coached. But that’s him. I’m glad we got him.”

— Bill Self in January 2012 explaining the Jekyll and Hyde nature of four-year point guard Tyshawn Taylor

“They just keep asking, ‘What is it about him?’ And it’s hard to answer that because there’s not hundreds but thousands of variables. Whether it be fire and brimstone or high fives and hugs, it’s all part of what he does. But I think it comes down to this; he’s one of the greatest communicators I’ve ever been around. If he had been in the military, he would’ve been a general. If he had been at IBM, he would’ve been a CEO. If he had been in the movies, he would’ve been a lead actor. That’s just what his calling is.”

— Former KU director of basketball operations Barry Hinson explaining what makes Bill Self successful during the Jayhawks’ run to the national title game in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

“I mean, I love playing Missouri. I loved playing them when I was at Illinois. I’ve loved playing them here. But that’s not anything I’m going to lay around, sit around, think about, ‘Oh, I wish.’ I just don’t think that strongly about it.”

— Bill Self, who took the loudest stance on KU not caving in to outside pressure, when Missouri left the Big 12 to bring an end to the KU-MU Border War rivalry, which had been the longest uninterrupted rivalry in college sports west of the Mississippi River.

“When I first met him, he asked me, ‘If you play a bad game, what would be the most important thing coming out of that game,’ and I said, ‘Getting a W,’ and he said, ‘That’d be right.’”

— Current KU point guard Naadir Tharpe shedding some light on the most important element of Bill Self basketball.

“Whenever you consider going to another league ... why can’t we fix the way we have it in this league? I think that’s what people are working on. At the end of the day, I believe this could turn out to be the best thing for the Big 12 because it forced our hand to do some things to catch us up.”

— Bill Self, KU’s unofficial lead spokesman during the conference realignment craze that dominated the summers of 2010 and 2011, speaking prophetic words about the future of the Big 12. Self’s confidence and staunch belief that KU would be fine when all of the dust settled helped keep calm KU fans and many within the athletic department during uncertain times.

Jesse Newell

“Most every day — if not every day — for the rest of your life, you will be reminded or think of this night. And I want to thank you in advance right now for the great memories it’s going to be.”

— Bill Self, before the 2008 national championship game. One of Self’s finest moments was caught by the CBS television crew, which showed his pregame speech to his players before the 2008 national championship game against Memphis. Without a script, Self delivered one of the best pregame talks I’ve seen, and it ended with the memorable quote above.

“Because the club was crackin’!”

— Brandon Rush. I’ve heard this story told a few times, and it’s documented well by Mario Chalmers in the book, “Beyond the Phog.” After KU coach Bill Self asked the team at practice who had broken curfew the night before (almost everyone had), Rush raised his hand and told on himself. “Why did you break curfew?” Self asked. “Because the club was crackin’!” Rush said. Everyone laughed ... and that included Self.

“I think it was a horrible call. I didn’t foul him. If anything, he fouled me. It’s very unfortunate that the referee 80 feet from the play called the foul rather than the ref that was right there on top of things. Big games down the stretch ... I always thought you let the players decide. If that referee is reffing one of our games again next year ... I don’t know, I’ll be sure to let him know how I feel.”

— Keith Langford said of an offensive foul called by referee Jim Burr that fouled Langford out of KU’s 79-71 Elite Eight overtime loss to Georgia Tech in 2004. Langford always was outspoken, and this outburst earned him an NCAA reprimand a few months later. In his defense ... this was the second straight year that a phantom call fouled him out of an NCAA Tournament game, and the year before, that might have cost KU a national championship against Syracuse.

“I just touched that chair and it already feels very hot.”

— Bill Self, after being presented the coach’s chair from chancellor Robert Hemenway on April 21, 2003. The perfect quip at the perfect moment, Self drew lots of laughter with this one-liner after he was officially introduced as KU’s coach. It also showed the former Illinois coach fully understood the magnitude of the job he was accepting.

“It’s the worst team Kansas has ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was here. I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA in his first couple years.”

— Bill Self after his team’s 62-55 loss to TCU on Feb. 6, 2013. Self was obviously frustrated and exaggerating a bit, but getting “James Naismith” and “Topeka YMCA” into soundbite pretty much guarantees it’s going to make it to ESPN’s SportsCenter.


Adam Miller 8 years, 2 months ago

Darnell Jackson's quote is still brutal... absolutely painful to read.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 2 months ago

Who can ever forget these gems by Tyshawn Taylor

“(racial slur)s be muggin me .. you know I’m mugging back.”


“real brothas do real things .. point plankn.”

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

I'm surprised that none of Tyshawn, Sherron, or Elijah's quotes made the cut. They all had some good moments in the media. But I definitely like the quotes that did make it in.

Before I saw the photo, I thought that these were going to be Bill Self's best quotes. I'm glad that it included player quotes as well. The players quotes can provide such a fresh perspective on the team, the coaches, and everything. Bill Self's quotes, while oftentimes very candid, are also generally very calculated, and I often sense that he's either not telling all (usually for good reason), or that he's using his platform to send a direct and personal message disguised as an answer to the reporter's question.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 2 months ago

My favorites from the quotes that were quoted above are:

Langford's, Marcus', Shady's, Tharpe's, and Jackson's

Mick Allen 8 years, 2 months ago

The call by Jim Burr on Langford in the G. Tech game was criminal. Was at the game in St. Louis. J.R. Giddens hit the only big shot he ever hit for us, a 3 to send it into overtime. Burr fouled Langford out in overtime.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 2 months ago

I loved Self's quote about Taylor when he said it, and still do. “He can make plays you can’t coach, then he can make plays you wonder if he’s ever been coached. But that’s him. I’m glad we got him.”

Other favorite sports quotes of mine:

Babe Ruth asked to justify making more money than the president, "I had a better year than he did."

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs pitcher, "We stinks"

Arnold Palmer on throwing golf clubs, "Always throw the club in the direction you're walking so you can pick it up as you go"

Al Martin 8 years, 2 months ago

Well if we can go outside of KU, it's hard to pass up the Phil Collins' quote when asked what play he ran for Michael Jordan to hit the shot over Craig Ehlo that defeated the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the buzzer: "I ran the play called 'Get the ball to Michael and get the f*** out of his way."

farnamjayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Then he jumped into a rendition of "In the air tonight" followed by Su Su sudio

DeMarcus Addison 8 years, 2 months ago

that brandon rush quote is legendary.....Shows coach self has a sense of humor

Thought I would share this funny clip of Jamari Traylor scaring the hell out of freshman wayne selden lol.....

Michael Luby 8 years, 2 months ago

Holy Crap!!!! That is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. I am literally LMAO right now! HAHAHAHAHA.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 2 months ago

From Self's post-Oklahoma St. meltdown this past season:

“We didn’t have an answer for Brown", Self said, "and Marcus Smart beasted our little guards in the second half.”


"We don't have a point guard"


“It’s sad,” Self said. “We were definitely a better team with (Johnson) sitting down next to us and putting somebody else in the game.”


“I should’ve been playing (White) before,” Self added. “He gave us a chance to be in the game.”


“It wasn’t the freakin’ offense, God almighty,” Self said. “It was terrible ball handling.”


“I’m not putting it all on Elijah,” Self said. “but that was a really poor game.”


“I wish we could play without guards to be honest with you, but that would be kind of an ugly game if you have five big guys playing out there at all times.”


“It’s a joke what we did today.”


“We are mentally tough in some ways, but physically this is our softest group of all time. We have never had a team like this.”

Like it or not (and I didn't), this was some of the most quotable stuff from Self .. ever.

ParisHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

So what didn't you like? The quotes, or the truth in them?

Bryce Landon 8 years, 2 months ago

And whose fault was it that Elijah was better prepared to be a point guard, or why Naadir wasn't ready to be a starter when it was clear EJ wasn't cut out for it? I say Self should have taken more blame on himself for not having his PGs ready or for not recruiting better PGs instead of trashing his team.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 2 months ago

Paris -- my opinion at the time, and my opinion now, was that the outburst was a result of frustration, not thought. It was not a calculated motivator (as Self does many times). Rather, it was simply our coach "losing it." And it went way over board, throwing a senior under the bus unnecessarily. It served no purpose.

At the time, I pointed out Bill Snyder's reaction to his team's meltdown (and Collin Klein's poor game) vs. Baylor in a game that was far, far bigger to KSU football than the OSU game was to KU hoops. Snyder took great pains to take the blame. To focus the criticism toward him, and his preparation. It was magnificent, actually. All coaches should have taken notes.

My biggest criticism of Self is that he rarely takes blame .. see UNI, VCU. It's always the players, or execution. The best he ever says at the end of his analysis is "and we need to coach it better", or something like that. He said something like that after the OSU game too about "teaching" things better. But it rings hollow after you burn Atlanta General Sherman style, so to speak.

I firmly believe that that the TCU game was created in part by Self trashing the team and its point guard leader after the OSU game. We see the biggest upset of the season. A result that shocked everyone. A result that never should have occurred? Why? Has Self ever trashed his team like that? Coincidence? I don't think so. At least it had a lot to do with it. The mental/psychological element is a large part of the game, as anyone involved with sports can attest. The team was beat up mentally for TCU and was not ready to play.

Truth? Sure. The truth is appreciated. But to a degree. It is a team. A team of which coach Self was a part of. The public nature of the tantrum and the obvious loss of control were the problem -- not the factual nature of what he said.

KGphoto 8 years, 2 months ago

I always felt he was including himself in those quotes. He doesn’t specifically name himself, but it seems obvious the he understands his ultimate responsibility as the head coach.

Most of those quotes do, in fact, include “we”. I know he called out EJ a few times, but EJ knows what time it is.

Every time I hear him say something like “we stunk”, I think he’s including himself. Other times when he gets more specific, it feels like he’s challenging the players. “We’re physically soft”, “...terrible ball handling” etc.

Yeah, he’s calling them out publicly. You think it’s demoralizing, you might be right but, IMHO, it’s also a great motivator. There is only so much you can do in the confines of a gym. It’s not like he hasn’t tested the limits. Boot camp with trash cans is a testament to that. But when you have a million eyes on you...

Hawk8086 8 years, 2 months ago


I too, always felt like Bill was including the coaching staff, in, at least, most of his critical comments. As I think about your comments, though, you bring up points that I frankly hadn't considered.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 2 months ago

Lost a lot of respect for Snyder? I'm lost. The guy did exactly the right thing, knowing his team had to play the next week. We can agree to disagree there. Snyder is king when it comes to managing players and emotions.

No one says to say "all my fault" all the time. You're looking at it black and white. It is to take most of the burden. The players and their failures are obvious. Collin Klein's was a major flop. EJ's was obvious. Self fails at this over and over. The VCU and UNI games were not player losses. Neither of them. They were primarily coaching failures (in game plan, adjustments, and getting players ready to play). Always, players need to execute. But the coach has to first prepare, and then adjust. Both losses are primarily Self losses (just as I would say that the 2012 tourney run was masterpiece in coaching by Self). I contrast the UNI/VCU losses, too, to the Michigan game. I have a hard time second guessing him on really any move there, or on strategy.

Maybe this -- "EJ had a rough game, no doubt. But the guy is a leader. I'll take him on my side any day of the week. Lots of things to improve on. But that burden is on me. I'm the head coach. I obviously didn't have these guys ready to play today, and so I'll have to reflect a bit here. As a team, we can do much better. This was one loss. It's a long season. But my guess is that this loss will make us all better."

Now, I give Self a pass. Completely. He has never really blown up like he did after OSU. But as far as taking the blame more, it's how he does things. It's not what he does.

And I think you're wrong. You can deal with a player privately. And that's the point. Privately. Don't publically embarrass and castigate the guy unless it's based on a preconceived strategy to inspire a player .. see the Tharpe comments last season. Publically take the arrows, privately address the shortfalls.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 2 months ago

Honestly I have to say that I think HEM, KG, 8086 and konkey all make really good points (except for konkey's comments on Snyder. I can't agree with you on that one).

I remember when Self made the OSU comments and I thought it was way out of his normal character. He did seem to be calling out the players more than normal. However, I think more than any other team I can remember, this last year's team lacked that mental toughness we always see in Self's teams. The last several years we have had Chalmers and the rest of the 08 team (all mentally tough), Collins (the toughest), the Morris twins and then TRobb/Tyshon.

All of those players were incredibly tough and cold blooded when they needed to be. I don't think Self had anyone on this team that was like that this past year, and he desparately wanted that person to be EJ. Not only that, but I think he saw the potential for that in EJ but it just wasn't coming to fruition. We saw it in the ISU game at Ames. Can you imagine if that EJ had come to play all year? Ice in his veins, wanting the big shot, and not just confident, but ultra-confident? He would have been a monster. I think Self knew that player was there but wasn't seeing it in the games.

I also think the OSU loss was a convergence of several things. I think it was the first time we had lost two in a row in AFH since Self arrived. It was also Self's alma mater, which I think means more than he lets on. Also, it looked like our chances for another Big XII title were on the ropes. Finally, I think the team had just played poorly and he just blew up.

I don't want this to seem like I am judging the comments one way or the other. I'm just trying to figure out what was behind them. Personally, I think the team needed some sort of wake up call and attitude adjustment. Unfortunately, the comments didn't seem to help and it showed in the TCU loss.

texashawk10 8 years, 2 months ago

The OSU game was KU's first home loss since the UT game the day after T-Rob's mom died in 2011. The TCU and OU games were both on the road and after the OSU loss.

ParisHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for answering my question. Your reply and the ensuing discussion were great reading.

I agree with you that much criticism, especially of individuals, should be private not public.

I am tempted to agree with you about Self rarely taking blame -- but I'll wait until the next time we're alone ;)

Titus Canby 8 years, 2 months ago

Yahweh, you're reading my mind. Funniest quote ever. It would have been my #1. When we played Tech for senior night last year, the LJW still referred to this as the "Meat Necklace game."

Tony Bandle 8 years, 2 months ago


1] Oooohhh Crrraapppp!!!!

2] I thought the only sport Canadiens played was hockey!!

3] Let's see..if we double team Wiggins, Ellis will score, if we double team Selden, Wiggins will score, if we double team Ellis, Black will score......DAMN!!!!!

4] Maybe we can play the old Iowa Girls Basketball Rules and only allow, three Jayhawks on defense and on offense!!

5] No wonder they look so good, they've got Perry Ellis in charge of fashions!

6] Let's play a tight zone then the only ones that can hurt us is Wiggins, Selden, White, Frankamp..........uh,...never mind!!

7] Our draw sucks..why couldn't we have gotten some wimp team like Kentucky or Michigan State!!

8] Gosh, Bill's toupee never looked better!!

9] What the heck is a fox like Olivia Wilde doing with Jason Sudekis!!??

10] Did all these big KU guys play volleyball when they were kids???!!!

kellerman411 8 years, 2 months ago

"Our staff, I tell ya. They're fabulous. We labored for a while on the recruiting trail. But but but we got the job done this year. Terrific."

"So so so guys ask me my thoughts on the one and done rule all the time. Hell, I don't know. But I will say this. Our guys. They're terrific."

"Terrific, just terrific."

"See, Spank? I told you Andrew would come to KU after we all shared that iguana dip together. Iguana dip is terrific. Just terrific."


"So so so how about Andrew Wiggins. He's terrific. Just fabulous. But but but uh uh uh, I wish he'd make a decision. No question about it."

"I'll tell ya. Our guys, they're excited. Buildin's gonna be juiced. Their guys will be juiced. It's gonna be great. Just terrific."

"I tell ya, Travis is gonna run out of fingers to put rings on pretty soon. BUT but but uh uh uh in all seriousness, our guys are terrific."

"So so so our guys, I'll tell ya. They're JUICED. I told 'em: "Fellas, I want you to share the basketball. Not the Big 12 Title." Terrific."

"Our guys are excited to go play. I am too. But I will say this... The refs owe us a few makeup calls in our favor after last game. Terrific."

Brianna Zaleski 8 years, 2 months ago

Wow. Bringing to light ones slight speech impediment in an attempt to draw a few laughs is pretty despicable. Especially someone as revered as Coach Self. I'm probably overreacting, but I find this disgusting and am sick to my stomach. Thanks for ruining a great article and ensuing thread:(

REHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Heck, Zig, those aren't speech impediments. Self is just revving up his motor. Often, he is the wily Prince of Doublespeak. When caught flatfooted, his mind is working 110% in front of a mic or reporter's the stammers are merely timefillers to fill the void while he gathers his thoughts. Those OHs and UHs are endearments. Puke if you must. But for many of us, those sputterings are a rare delight.

asilva94 8 years, 2 months ago

these aren't actual quotes. They're from a parody account on Twitter "Stutterin' Bill Self" (@ananandbillself). They're all in good fun and it's actually one of the best parody accounts out there.

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 2 months ago

Coach Self's humility and friendliness even make me like the so-so-so's and uh-uh-uh's you quoted above! I wouldn't call them a speech impediment at all, but something that endears him to us fans. At least to me.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 2 months ago

Instead of comparing his team to the James Naismith teams that lost to the Topeka YMCA, Self should have accepted greater responsibility for not having his team ready for Texas Christian. Outside of NCAA Tournament losses to Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth, that loss to the Horned Frogs was the worst coaching job of his career.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 2 months ago

Don't worry, Pismo, I saw the article where Self was inducted into the OK Sports Hall of Fame and how he's won 300 games to 59 losses. That is an awesome winning percentage. But let's face it, some of those 59 losses are real eyebrow-raisers, and losing to the Frogs was definitely atop the list.

TommieSmithElbow 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, when we lost the heart breakers, it was always due to bad coaching. Given that, Roy Williams must be one of the worst coaches of all time.

And yes, during the TCU game, when Bill was constantly pulling guys and searching for an answer, I was thinking: "we're losing this game because we're being outcoached!" (HEM's theory aside.) Please.

You nailed it, Pismo!

Bryce Landon 8 years, 2 months ago

Don't get me wrong, amigo; there was a lot of blame to go around for that loss to the Frogs. I'm just saying Self needs to accept more of the blame than he does.

lawyermog 8 years, 2 months ago

"You came to Kansas to play in this game." - Bill Self, just moments before destroying UNC in our first appearance in the Final Four with him as our head coach. It is great to be a Jayhawk.

swavity 8 years, 2 months ago

"He gave me a little 'bow to show me he was there, and I gave him 27 to show him I was there."

-- Marcus Morris, referring to Quincy Acy(?)

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 2 months ago

Most entertaining article I've read on here in a long time. Great job, LJW staff!!

jakejayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

This one isn't the most humorous nor is it the most profound. But given the timing and emotions, what Coach said to our team his rookie season as KU coach still resonates. Our guys were coming off a runner-up season and angry with Roy leaving. We were the fastest team in the NCAA's the prior season. Our guys loved to take the ball out of the net when an opponent made a basket and fire the ball up the court. They chafed at Self trying to get them to be hard-nosed lock-down defenders. When they reminded Self of their success in turning opponents' made baskets into points for us, he replied (and I paraphrase because I don't have the exact quote) "Hey, what if we don't let them score in the first place?" The regime had truly changed and the message was sent!

KUbsee69 8 years, 2 months ago

My favorite player quote was from Sherron Collins on the possibility of leave early for the NBA.

"Why would anyone ever want to leave this place?" ... Sherron

mikehawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Great story on the night he goes into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Bill Self never just says something, it always has purpose and meaning behind each and every comment.

wrwlumpy 8 years, 2 months ago

Holly - "What did the ref tell you about the reason Ben got a technical?" Coach - "He said he looked at the bench, so, good call."

otaKU 8 years, 2 months ago

Favorite Morris twin quote..."He do what he do." (referring to Coach Self).

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

"Fun Quotes, Memorable Characters, and Post Modern Bill, or Getting Past the Midlife Crisis"

Part 1

Fun quotes that capture in brief the hardest thing to put into words about the Self era.

Self appears a nearly perfectly balanced tight rope walker constantly balanced between a multi-tasking genius of simultaneous vision on the one hand, and a person willing himself to enjoy and savor life to avoid being driven mad by his own relentless quest to get better.

Self's teams and players are characters recruited both for the talent they have and for the eccentricities and idiosyncracies that define them.

Many coaches shy away from exactly the kind of player that Self seems to covet.

Self has said many times that he recruits not just talent, but characters. He says he needs talented guys to win basketball games, to "make shots," to "lock down," to "impact," to "glue," to "put it on the deck," to "stay on spots," to "make big plays."

But he has also made clear that he needs characters around him that keep it "fun" for him to coach. He needs guys with enough idiosyncracies to keep him laughing and enough swagger to put up with Self's borderline OCD focus on getting better every day and all the time at something, anything.

To today's hypothesis then.

Self's maniacally driven practice demeanor, his ability to watch all 15 players on the team simultaneously and issue non stop bit torrent dumps of ways to get better and stinging notices of still more things that could be improved upon would drive any ordinary player insane after the first month or two.

It is my pet theory that Dave Padgett, Michah Downs, and Milton Doyle left simply because they were far too normal to be able to endure Self's wild oscillations between withering observations of ways to get better and his insistence on every one having fun after practice. The idea that players should simultaneously run and stationary bike until they are heaving every which way but inwards during boot camp, while Self laughs and making cracks about girl friends at training table just was more contradiction than they could take.

Playing basketball at KU appears to be an odyssey into unexpected paradox.

Players, even the greatest ones, play out of position.

Self, the coach with the voice of Norman Bate's mother wrestlessly prowling the practice court, urging all 15 of her little Norman's to get better, then pauses and remarks with complete candor to Thomas Robinson that he is the prettiest, handsomest young man he has ever seen, apparently in the middle of an exhausting and physical big man drill.

Self is, how shall I put this, post modern in the extreme.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 2

Self is a post modern coach. Post Modernism is skillful, ironic, juxtaposition of seriousness and hilarity, of now and history, of high brow and low brow, of brilliant incisiveness and dumb jock wisecracks. It is a constant, self-conscious orchestration of complexity and contradiction to the end of breaking beyond the pasteurizing constraints of the giants of history that defined the game too perfectly, too beautifully, too elegantly, too linearly.

John Wooden reduced the game of basketball to geometry and the molding of players into specifically, narrowly defined automatons of talent. Players played their natural positions, tried to become as consistent as humanly possible and became almost classical Greecian expressions of basketball perfection. Wooden was a modernist.

Bill Self's basketball is part fuzzy logic and part chaos theory and all post modern. It assumes that basketball modernism was taken as far as it could be taken with John Wooden, Iba and Allen; that great as Dean Smith and his closed Carolina system were, that in the end Dean could not push the game any farther than the great modernists had taken it. He could at most reduce it to the geometry of a four corner stall.

Bill Self assumes the game is an open system, that it is inescapable fact that humans perform great a third of the time, mediocre a third of the time and lousy a third of the time. This is a wildly post modern embrace of the complexity and contradiction in the reality of human experience. It is also a flight away from the belief in the near perfectability of human beings and teams properly conditioned, trained and drilled that the great moderns believed in.

Bill Self does not quest after offensive geometry, after perfect 45 degree angle cuts. What's the point of that, when persons cannot perfectly executes such things more than a third of the time?

At the same time, however, Self is not a run and shoot modernist, a Paul Westhead modernist. This brand of basketball modernism, like all brands of basketball modernism, views basketball always as a closed system with a small handful of dynamics, which if properly perfected and extrapolated to the Nth degree become theoretically unbeatable, i.e., near perfections.

The post modern Self cracks skeptically at such notions. Defense is the only given and even it doesn't always work. Nothing is unbeatable. Nothing is perfect. No system is perfect. No player is perfect. John Wooden could seriously conceive of the Greecian ideal of a player, when asked. It was Keith Wilkes.

To Self all players are compromises. Some players are athletic freaks of compromises, but they are still compromises. They are complicated creations, these human basketball players, and full of contradictions.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 3

Self hates turnovers with a passion but plays point guards that make 6 to 10 turnovers a game and says, "we have to embrace it with Tyshawn." Contradiction.

Self has glue players and impact players, but sometimes impact players glue and sometimes glue players impact. Complexity and contradiction. Embrace of opposites. Juxtaposition. Embrace of messiness by the fastidious.

Self physically and personality wise is a combination of stunning masculinity and nagging wife-like femininity. His shoulders are massive and broad, while his hands and legs are almost delicate.

Self is obsessed. Self could care less.

Every game is a must win in which everyone must have fun.

Defense is the start of offense.

His players are "just kids" he often says, each "with stuff going on," yet they have to "man up."

The quotes above reveal the ironic juxtaposition of high seriousness, and physical sacrifice, in life and in trying to play winning D1 basketball and the hilarious ridiculousness of life and of playing the game of basketball with highly talented characters.

For me the Morris Twins are some how most emblematic of the Self era.

They were terrible in the beginning and sublime in the end.

They were twins most coaches probably wished would separate and Self, instead, encouraged them to be twins.

One was almost childlike, when he arrived shooting bee bee guns out of dorm windows.

One was dutiful to the max.

One started from the beginning. One waited years to start.

One played out of position at the four. The other played out of position at the five.

One was better in college. The other was better in the pros.

But its not just the Morris Twins that have been memorable for the complexities and contradictions.

How much more odd can you get than Tyrel Reed with a 41 inch vertical playing like he was glued to the floor for fully three season, before Self finally said to him something like,"You know, Tyrel, you have a 41 inch vertical. Maybe you ought to jump a little more." I mean that has to be one of the classic qoutes of all time in sport! And then Tyrel suddenly starts jumping all over the basketball court!

And it goes on and on in the Self era.

I have said for a long time now that Self was a basketball genius.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 4

I frankly can't think of another coach in the history of the game that could have won 30 plus games with last year's team. Not one. Its not that they didn't have talent. They did. It was that they were too skinny to even think about winning 30 games staying on spots, so he devised an offense based on sliding off spots. It was the single most brilliant strategical/tactical reversal of scheme I have seen in all my years of watching the great coaches do amazing things when necessity becomes the mother of invention.

But Self now also seems increasingly a life genius.

Last season, there seems absolutely no doubt that Self was caught in the throes of a mid life crisis. I am not suggesting Self was having marital problems as some rumors suggested during last season; that sort of thing is none of our damned business. Rather I am mastering the obvious and noting that he is a human male that turned 50 last year. All men struggle with a mid life crisis sooner or later and those that are particularly full of the life force, as Self appears to be, often put it off until 50. Middle aged crazy is entirely about wild disorientation of self image that occurs in a man once he passes through the doorway into middle age. It is the sudden realization that one is no longer one of the young ones; that one is no longer on the uphill side of the mountain, but about to start the downhill run. It is scary and depressing at times. It is like waking up and not knowing the person in the mirror at times. It is the first phase of life that a man encounters that no one can really help him with. Most everything wives, friends and counselors tell one is all true. But it doesn't help get you through the sticky wicket the way the coach helped you through coming of age, and the mentor and the older woman helped you get through turning 32.

Nothing helps a man get through turning middle aged. It is as lonely of a passage as there is in life, only a little short of the aloneness of dying itself, or so it seems to me who is still young enough not to have come face to face with my old age quite yet.

Look at all the pictures of Self last season, all the feeds, and then look at the recent feed of him being interviewed by the ESPN putz, Andy Katz. Self was like a blind version of himself struggling through a snow storm last season. He was heavy. His cracks were more biting and less playful. He seemed down right depressed at times and almost independent of his team's ups and downs. But this season, Bill Self has gotten better. He hasn't gone back to his pre mid life crisis self, nor has he stayed stuck in the mid life crisis. He has muddled through and survived and found his mojo again. The guy really does look like he is having his version of post modern fun again.

Go Bill go!!!!

Michael Luby 8 years, 2 months ago

Jaybate, Thank you again for your indeterminable amount of insight and knowledge of college ball and more specifically and endearingly, KU Ball. If there were such a class available for what you do, it would be called something like College Basketball Literature/Prose/Poetry writing. I am old enough to have watched the '88 Hawks win that impossible miracle title yet I am still a paduan in terms of knowing the game and all of its intricacies. I firmly believe that you help me and hopefully other readers to grasp some of that.
On your bit about C.S. One random though, Coach Self,C.S. as we call him from time to time, we could equate him to C.S. Lewis. and Phog Allen and/or Dr Naismith to Tolkien. But I digress. I have also seen a change in Bill, in regards to his mid life crisis. I saw him on Katz' show just a few days ago whenever that was and he looked thinner, happier, more energetic than he had all through last season. He looks great and I think quite possibly that this extremely new team has helped him revive to some degree. I am sure they will be very challenging to him to coach and exceedingly fun to watch when they are firing on all cylinders.
One last thing, thank you for the insight regarding passing through the doorway into middle age. Im just over a decade away from that but any advance notice to that will be helpful. And, JB, could you help a learner out by explaining what you meant by "offense based on sliding off spots."?

simbahawk 8 years, 2 months ago

BTW, that thing about marital problems was made up by some KSU fans. Totally bogus

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