Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hall of Fame Material: Bill Self has ‘perfect DNA for the job,’ per Roger Morningstar

Kansas basketball players huddle around Roger Morningstar as he gives out the Christmas lists of local families in need so the players can shop for the families at Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa Street, on Wednesday evening.

Kansas basketball players huddle around Roger Morningstar as he gives out the Christmas lists of local families in need so the players can shop for the families at Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa Street, on Wednesday evening.


He played in the Final Four for Kansas, worked 20 years for Converse, coached AAU basketball and has a son who played at Kansas.

Roger Morningstar has known generations of college basketball coaches and he doesn’t stop at saying Bill Self is the best basketball coach he’s ever seen, although he does say that.

Morningstar took the conversation to a completely different field.

“If I owned an NFL team, I would consider hiring Bill Self as my head coach,” he said from a booth at Morningstar’s New York Pizza. “The head football coach is not responsible for every play. He’s responsible for feel. Bill’s the greatest manager of it I’ve ever seen. You put all the football guys around him and he can make the other stuff happen.”

Other stuff includes coaching players hard without losing them.

Morningstar, whose son Brady was in the program for five seasons (2006-11), shared a story that Brady told him. Roger asked how practice was one evening late in Brady’s career.

“Brady said, ‘Not good. Not good at all. Coach threw us out of practice: ‘I don’t want to see any of you. Blankety, blank, blank, blank.’ And then the players get together, the twins, Tyshawn, T-Rob, and told the coach they would get it together and needed to finish practice," Roger said. "And Bill said, ‘Absolutely not! Get off the floor! I don’t want to see any of your faces!’ So the players go off to the locker room and they're chipping at each other.”

Roger, continuing the story, said that 10 minutes later, “Bill comes bounding through the door of the locker room and all the players are in various states of showering, drying off, getting dressed. And he calls them all over and proceeds to tell old-time stories about coaches that he played for and worked for, Eddie Sutton stories, Larry Brown stories, just mesmerized them for two, two-and-a-half hours, jaws hanging. There are just not many guys who can do that, just flip that switch.”

Morningstar paused and thought about how to put it into words. Then knocked it out of the park.

“He’s got a human thermostat that goes right up to where it’s going to boil over and then it sends more coolant in and chills everything out,” he said. “That’s it. Bill Self is like the human thermostat.”

Sounds like a quality that could come in handy for an NFL coach.

The most powerful NFL coaches earn final say on personnel matters, from the hiring of assistant coaches to the drafting of players. College coaches must do it all.

“He can coach,” Morningstar said. “He can recruit. He can relate to kids better than anybody I’ve seen. And he doesn’t motivate through all the phony grabbing of sayings from Civil War and from Patton and all that stuff. He has a way of putting everything in the context of the present and letting it motivate the kids."

Self's ability to get players to trust his way of doing things starts with his secure trust in his own ability.

“Bill has the perfect DNA for the job,” Morningstar said. “You can go through all the great coaches and at some point enough is enough. They blow up. They have to take a leave. Bill Self is the same guy today for all intents and purposes as he was 14 years ago. He’ll walk in this restaurant, see two or three people in a booth, stop and talk to them for bit. That's the same thing he would have done 14 years ago.

“Other coaches, it’s just human nature. It builds up. You’ve got people looking at you. You can’t win the big one. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. Pretty soon you get these layers of protection around you, and he’s not that way, man. He can make it all work. It rolls off his back. He hears what he needs to hear. He does what he needs to do and he does it really damn well.”

Well enough that he'll be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in a September ceremony.

Our Series on Bill Self's Journey to the Hall of Fame

• Hall of Fame Material Part I: Larry Brown ‘in awe’ of Bill Self’s stellar run at Kansas

• Hall of Fame Material Part II: Daughter Lauren most impressed by Bill Self’s ability to mentor

• Hall of Fame Material Part III: Frank Mason III knew right away that Bill Self was the coach for him

• Hall of Fame Material Part IV: Doc Sadler says Bill Self same (sarcastic) guy as the day he met him

• Hall of Fame Material Part V: Bill Self’s style, passion make Danny Manning a proud alum

• Hall of Fame Material Part VI: Bob Davis cites Bill Self’s personal touch as key to success

• Hall of Fame Material Part VII: Tyshawn Taylor and Bill Self close through good times and bad


Don Everett 3 years, 11 months ago

Roger was one of the first bunch of players I remember watching as a kid. Played just like Brady, hard core, get in your face defense, with an attitude. Great ambassador for KU!!!

Brett McCabe 3 years, 11 months ago

My favorite story in this series. Comments from a guy who played at a high level, and the father of a kid who played at a very good level for Self.

I swore off sports radio during the tournament but caught a few minutes of Soren Petro on Monday. He said that Self's best years are actually in front of him. It makes a lot of sense. The Hall of Fame selection, Brady's graduation, a title secured - it's not hard to imagine Self being able to actually move this whole thing into Overdrive.

I don't believe that there is a better coach in the country for this program.

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 11 months ago

Thinking you must have meant Tyler's graduation.

Mike Kendall 3 years, 11 months ago

Like Don, I was a kid in high school when Roger was playing for the Hawks. I was a feverish fan since he hit the scene in Lawrence. Growing up in Lawrence at that time, it just seemed I was living in a dream. Very magical memories.

Chris Shaw 3 years, 11 months ago

Brett, i agree with most of what you said and also agree that Kansas has the right coach in Bill Self. I certainly wouldn't want any other coach representing Kansas.

With that said, how many fluff pieces is the LJW gonna write since the Elite 8 loss? I hope you're right and Mr Morningstar is right about Self's best year's ahead of him. You say he's about to kick it in overdrive. I think he's already there and that's the concerning part.

Bill Self, while deserving of every accolade he receives and has done a tremendous job, although imo he isn't open to ridicule, being criticized, and questioned with his decision making by the LJW when it's warranted.

We get the fluff pieces. Just make them stop. Roy Williams is getting all the fluff pieces right now and deservedly so by the national media.

Phil Leister 3 years, 11 months ago

They're "fluff" pieces citing Bill's Hall of Fame qualities. Cause, you know, he just got selected to the Hall of Fame. That's why they're being written.


Jonathan Allison 3 years, 11 months ago

so about this Hall of Fame thing... it must be kinda a big deal, huh?

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 11 months ago

Very nice, folks. Every article that is written just adds more to what we all have known for a long time. Bill Self is a class act through and through.

I understand where you are coming from Chris, and you state it well and gracefully. Nobody should be immune from critique, and I am comfortable predicting that Coach Self feels the same way. I am also pretty certain that he is his own worst critic.

All critique aside, however, I suspect we all hope that Bill Self will be at KU for the rest of his coaching career.

Chris Shaw 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't doubt anything you've said. I hope you're right that he's here for a long time. With that said, I'm of the stance that I never faulted Roy for leaving. I don't blame him for leaving. Much respect for what he's done at UNC during the same time Self has been at KU.

Having said all that, I loathe UNC and everything about the institution. Living here certainly makes it worse I'm sure and quite possibly distorts my opinion but it does sting from my perspective seeing Roy win his 3rd. Nice response though, Hobbs.

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