Advertisement

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Notebook: Bill Self likes Jayhawks’ mindset entering Sweet 16

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with media members shortly after the Jayhawks' arrival at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with media members shortly after the Jayhawks' arrival at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Advertisement

— At this time of year, a team’s mentality can mean everything. And Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self said Tuesday that he was pleased with where his Jayhawks sit in that department heading into preparations for Thursday’s Sweet 16 showdown with Purdue.

“I like our mindset,” Self said. “Regardless of situations, you don’t get to the Sweet 16 unless your guys care a lot. And all 16 teams have a team full of guys that it means a lot to them And it’s gonna mean even more as you move forward and you can see the finish line.

“Last year, we had an unbelievable mindset. We were focused, we were loose and we didn’t make shots our last game against Villanova and lost by a possession. This year, who knows if we’ll make shots, but I sense the same type of attitude.”

While talking to reporters at the team hotel in downtown Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, shortly after arrival, Self said his roster was in good health and seemed ready.

“Teams sometimes have a tendency to get tired late in the season,” he said. “Like, last year, it was Frank (Mason) wearing down at the end. I haven’t heard anybody say things like that this year. So I think our team may be a little stronger and fresher.... A little tired, to be honest, because we (didn’t) get back (from Tulsa) until late Sunday night and then (had) just one day off and then we had a pretty good practice, a hard practice (Tuesday), but we’ll be ready.”

While reaching the tournament has been a given for the Jayhawks during the past 28 seasons, Self said advancing to the second weekend always carries with it a sense of accomplishment and elevated excitement.

“So much is made (of) the road to the Final Four, it seems like every ad on TV is something promoting the NCAA Tournament so I think it’s engrained in the guys’ minds that this is the reward of hard work,” Self said. “But the real reward of hard work would be winning two more this weekend. One of these four teams (KU, Purdue, Oregon or Michigan) will be fortunate to do so and then you get an experience that is off the charts good. This is great, but there’s still better out there.”

Team balance

Asked for his early thoughts on KU’s match-up with Purdue, Self said there was one thing about the Boilermakers that jumped out above all else.

“I would say balance,” Self said. “Everybody talks about those (big men Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas), and rightfully so, they combine for about 30 points in 50 minutes and close to 20 rebounds. That’s a lot. But the reality of it is, they’re balanced at every spot. They may be as good a offensive team as we’ve played all year.”

In addition to being one of the biggest teams in the conference, Purdue led the Big Ten in 3-point shooting (40 percent) and also features some of the same versatility that Kansas has.

“You’ve gotta worry about their bigs,” Self stressed. “But you can’t rest on those other guys because any of ’em are capable of making four or five threes in a game because they have such good balance.... They don’t always play big. They play small just as much as they play big and they have a 4-man like Josh that can play the 3 or the 4 and (Vincent) Edwards is terrific. It’s just a well-balanced team. They’ve put together a nice team.”

Familiar face

Asked if he had seen much of Haas, Purdue’s 7-foot-2, 290-pound center, before this week’s preparations began, Self fired a joke at the horde of media members there to greet the team.

“Yeah, I have,” he said. “He was in Rocky IV. Ivan Drago, ‘I must break you.’ We recruited Isaac some out of high school and he’s a monster. He’s a great looking athlete and he’s improved so much. (Purdue coach) Matt (Painter) and his staff know what they’re doing because they run a lot of clever things to be able to get the ball and isolate him and Caleb on the post and they can both play together, too.”

Jayhawks favored

Top-seeded Kansas opened as a 4.5-point favorite in Las Vegas and has jumped up slightly in the past couple of days.

The Jayhawks, who lead the all-time series with Purdue, 3-2, including a 2-1 mark in the NCAA Tournament, closed Tuesday as a 5-point favorite in Thursday’s Sweet 16 clash, set to tip off at approximately 8:39 p.m. at Sprint Center.

Comments

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

While reaching the tournament has been a given for the Jayhawks during the past 28 seasons, Self said advancing to the second weekend always carries with it a sense of accomplishment and elevated excitement.

No, it doesn't; or at least it shouldn't. At Kansas, getting to the Sweet 16 should be just as much a given as being in the Tournament in the first place. It's only when you advance to the third weekend of the Tournament that you should feel that sense of accomplishment and elevated excitement.

Leon Trotter 4 years, 8 months ago

This is supposed to be fun. If you aren't getting a bit more excited for this weekend than you were last weekend, then that is your problem. Let the rest of us (and the people who have been working hard for most of their life) enjoy it a bit.

Of course the big goal is 4 more wins, but the journey should be part of the fun. Dial back the angst a bit.

Leon Trotter 4 years, 8 months ago

BTW: The full quote can be found in the KC Star

“The real reward of hard work would be winning two more this weekend (and advancing to the Final Four in Phoenix). One of these four teams would be fortunate enough to do so. Then you can experience something that’s off-the-charts good. This is great. There’s still better out there.”

(From Gary Bedore's article)

Matt Tait 4 years, 8 months ago

The full quote was also in this story, Leon.

Here's what I had (and still have) after the paragraph that Bryce put in italics. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Always appreciate the feedback and interaction!

“So much is made (of) the road to the Final Four, it seems like every ad on TV is something promoting the NCAA Tournament so I think it’s engrained in the guys’ minds that this is the reward of hard work,” Self said. “But the real reward of hard work would be winning two more this weekend. One of these four teams (KU, Purdue, Oregon or Michigan) will be fortunate to do so and then you get an experience that is off the charts good. This is great, but there’s still better out there.”

Leon Trotter 4 years, 8 months ago

Can't believe I missed that. My apologies (In my defense...I am a dum-dum)

Matt Tait 4 years, 8 months ago

No sweat. Just making sure you didn't think I was cheating you! Enjoy the game.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't say spoiled, would you be satisfied Tom if the season ended Thursday? I think we expect more. I don't think they are the same thing.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm just curious Bryce, did you play basketball when you were younger? I played basketball from 1st grade through HS. Pretty much every year the season ends with a tournament where one team will win the championship. Playing in a tournament is fun and exciting and nerve-wracking no matter whether it's the first game or the last game. I understand what Bill Self is saying. And there is a sense of accomplishment that Duke, Villanova, and Louisville don't get to experience this week. They along with the other 49 teams who lost in the tourney last week are done for the season. The 16 teams which advanced can be happy, proud, relieved or whatever they want to be, as long as they are prepared for the next game.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

No, I didn't play basketball when I was younger.

When I speak of excitement, I speak from the perspective of the fans. We should not be excited about a Sweet 16 appearance because that's not what we live for as KU fans. Getting to the Sweet 16 is the bare minimum for Kansas. But a Final Four apperance, now THAT'S something the fans can get excited about.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 8 months ago

Fair enough. I was reading Bill Self's quotes in the context of him talking about his players. I will definitely be mighty disappointed if Kansas loses to Purdue, Oregon or Michigan this weekend. Obviously, any and all of us will at least be temporarily disappointed if Kansas doesn't win it all. I don't like to draw a line at what makes a season good and what makes a season great (or special, to use Bill Self's favorite term). But definitely getting to the Final Four is a big milestone, especially for a team that is consistently ranked in the top 4 or 5 teams in America. We definitely need another National Championship. However, if we fail to reach the Final Four, I will probably still look back and remember this team fondly because of the way that they bonded and played despite adversity and won 30 games and counting. It's hard to not appreciate this team because of what Frank Mason has done here for 4 years and Devonte Graham. I can't think about Frank Mason and not remember the high hopes that I had to Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe, and Conner Frankamp. The player that emerged to be the next great Kansas PG was Mason.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

For Kansas, probably excitement mixed in with relief. For South Carolina, pure excitement.

I didn't play basketball but I played baseball and although I admit you get to see things from a different perspective, I don't remember ever being happy when coming in 2nd. Did you ever have a coach who didn't have high expectations? Was being average ever good enough?

I don't think it's that much different from being a fan. I'm sure the Gamecock fans all went out and celebrated making it to the Sweet 16, I came back here and celebrated a little bit with you guys and then went to bed.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

Expectations at South Carolina are different than those at Kansas. The Gamecocks beating Duke and reaching the Sweet 16 is like the KU football team beating Oklahoma and going to a bowl game in the same season.

Mike Greer 4 years, 8 months ago

After the team won the 13th consecutive conference title, Coach made a comment, and although I believe it was tongue in cheek, I believe there was a reason for that comment. Loosely quoted . . . when we won a conference championship in Illinois we were greeted by thousands of screaming fans, at KU we win the 13th in a row and we get a T-shirt and a hat . . .

We as fans really need to get a better perspective on what this team has accomplished and show the requisite appreciation. Making the Sweet 16 is an accomplishment. Just look at the 52 teams that didn't, not all of those were cupcakes, there are really good teams that will be sitting in their dorm room Thursday night watching Kansas play.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 8 months ago

You said it, Mike.

I was unfortunate enough to be a student at KU during its last two losing seasons, and on top of that I had to witness Misuse win the conference EVERY DAMN YEAR! So believe me, I take nothing for granted and have fully appreciated EVERY ONE of these conference titles.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

Len, we must have gone to Kansas roughly over the same period. I graduated from Kansas in 1982. I think the 83 and maybe the 84 teams were even worse.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

Missouri won the Big 8 four years in a row from 1980-1983. During that period, KU had the following records:

1980: 15-14 (7-7 in Big 8 play, T-4th)

1981: 24-8 (9-5 in Big 8 play, T-2nd; won Big 8 Tournament, reached NCAA Sweet 16)

1982: 13-14 (4-10 in Big 8 play, 7th)

1983: 13-16 (4-10 in Big 8 play, T-6th; Ted Owens fired)

The 1984 season was much better, with Larry Brown helping KU win the Big 8 Tournament and reach the NCAA Round of 32.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 8 months ago

I was there from '80 to '85, so at least I got to experience the rebirth under Larry Brown. But those '82 and '83 seasons were tough.

Town Thomas 4 years, 8 months ago

Did you expect to hear Coach says what you wanted to hear instead of what the players should hear? Which one is better for the team?

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

I am more with Bryce on this. Looking back at our seeds since 2009:

2009 #3 2010 #1 2011 #1 2012 #2 2013 #1 2014 #2 2015 #2 2016 #1 2017 #1

Not making it to the final 4 more than once and not winning another title is what brings about frustration. We've had some great teams over this time period that have come up far short of expectations. Conference championships are great and finishing the regular-season in the top 5 or higher is fantastic. Maybe that's what makes 1988 so special. A team that nobody really thought stood a chance went all the way with a GREAT senior leading the way.

Ten Yeahs 4 years, 8 months ago

(purely semantics)

I, respectfully, disagree with your word choice Bryce. expected, yes. "given" no. I would have to agree with Coach. Making the 2nd weekend should give our players and coaches a sense of accomplishment. Of course our team, us fans and everyone else expected KU to get this far. Still, being one of the final 16 teams left playing in the Big Dance is something to feel good about. (And for most teams - GREAT about. But come on, this is KU! We want Final Fours and Championships!!!!!!)

Yes, we were a #1 seed. Yes, we were favored to win both our games by bunches. Yes, we expected to win. But still, winning 2 games against good competition in win-or-go-home/pressure games IS still a worthy accomplishment and no given. And something to get excited about. We are way too spoiled as KU fans. On paper we might have had the overall better season than almost every team in the country this season. BUT it's all about the NOW. Every team left is worthy of being the better team on any given night. Can we have the better 40 minutes than Purdue on Thursday? If not, disappointing Yes, but still it will have been a great great season. With our senior veterans and experience, crunch time poise, and freshman star, I like our chances Thursday and hopefully Saturday.

Lets cool off them Boilermakers, send them back east, and HEAD WEST TO ARIZONA! Rock chalk Jayhawks!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

No, it will not be a great season if we lose to Purdue. It will be a good season. A great season means going to the Final Four. Great seasons do not end in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

I remember a certain 34-2 team that left me with a very bad feeling.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

Oh, man, you had to bring THAT up...Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the Arizona Wildcats?

Mike Riches 4 years, 8 months ago

Personally I don't see much difference between losing in the Final Four or losing in the Sweet 16. I think too much emphasis is often put on making the Final Four. Is our 2003 loss any less painful than our 97 loss? The tournament has one winner and 67 losers, regardless of when they lose.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

I see a difference. In 2012, we exceeded expectations and came within a couple of plays of winning it all. I think this was Coach Self's finest job as a coach

In 2003, all we had to do was make free throws to win the game but we weren't able to hit even 50%. Expectations not met but far better than losing in the 3rd round.

And the 96/97 team that was 32-1 going into the tournament only to fall so far from everyone's expectations. I think the only way this team would have met expectations would have been winning it all.

Michael Uphaus 4 years, 8 months ago

I am of the mindset that any year that doesn't end in a title is a disappointing year. KU is good enough year in and year out to win a title, along with a handful of other teams. I watch every minute of every game and thoroughly enjoy them. There is no reason you cant enjoy the games and still set high expectations. In my lifetime the only time I haven't been disappointed with a season is 1988 and 2008. That doesnt mean I didnt enjoy the other seasons, it simply means my expectations for each year is the same, championship.

Rock Chalk!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

My expectations are slightly lower than yours, but higher than most KU fans (certainly the fans on these boards who are content with conference titles as the definition of a great season). Any season that doesn't result in a Final Four trip leaves me feeling disappointed.

Ten Yeahs 4 years, 8 months ago

Every loss is a disappointment. And the last loss is always a huge disappointment. But so much emphasis is put on the tourney. One game one loss does not define a whole season (to me). Again purely semantics. Good vs Great vs Unbelievable seasons. My Unbelievable season is your great season. Beating Duke/puke, beating UK @ Rupp, winning close game after close game, unbelievable comebacks, winning the Big 12 by 4 games! = my definition of a great season ;)

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

That depends on who you lose to. Losing to Bradley in the first round as a 3 seed is very disappointing. Wichita State in the 2nd round, Northwestern Iowa, Bucknell, Virginia Commonwealth and also losing early when being a one or 2 seed.

Losing to TCU in the big 12 tournament.

Anything short of a final 4 is disappointing. Expectations or spoiled? I'll let others decide

Ten Yeahs 4 years, 8 months ago

But then again, how do I keep track of every KU season that has passed...... by who we lost to at the end of the year. 97 - zona. 98 - rhode island. 10 ni. 11 vcu. One loss shouldn't define a season, but it ALWAYS does.

Ten Yeahs 4 years, 8 months ago

And then again, maybe "great" isn't the right word (yet) for this season. What's between "good" and "great" .......remarkable....? lol

I still think it has been a great season.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

Before labeling season as good or great, I'd like to at least see the finish first.

Mike Greer 4 years, 8 months ago

When I was a lad, my father told me, "Blessed is he who is without expectation, for he shall not be disappointed." Those are tough words to live by, because we all seem to have expectations, and as KU basketball fans our expectations are quite high, in some cases unreasonably high. And with unreasonably high expectations, comes frequent disappointment. Although KU has a long and storied history in college basketball, a great deal of the successes have come from the Larry Brown, Roy Williams, and Bill Self eras. With 28 consecutive NCAA appearances (not only the active record, but the all time record as well) we as fans just expect to be in the tournament, I can't tell you when, but at some point that will end, just like the 13 conference championship streak will someday end. All streaks end and it's important to appreciate what the team has accomplished.

I hope for a national championship every year, and honestly, I'm glad KU has a team where that's a legitimate hope. Think about all the fans of all the teams that just hope they make the tournament, we are indeed spoiled. Let us not get caught up in the idea that only a Final Four or National Championship is a great season, accomplishing what has already been accomplished is a great season for any team in the country, because no other team has accomplished what KU has (28 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, 13 consecutive conference championships). Of the 16 teams in the 2016 Sweet 16 only 5 are back in 2017, and 4 of those 16 didn't even make the tournament. Making it back to the Sweet 16 is an accomplishment and one that the team, coaches and fans should all take pride in. Of the 136 teams in the tournament in those two years only 5 made it to that point of the tournament both years. As anxiously as I await the Sweet 16 game, I also await the Elite Eight and Final Four, and yes, my expectations are we will be in the Championship game and it will be a spectacular season!

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

Just another perspective Mike. Certainly not trying to discredit sound advice from your father.

High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation... Charles Kettering

Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way... Paulo Coelho

Mike Greer 4 years, 8 months ago

In all of this I think we're splitting hairs between desires, hopes, dreams, expectations, etc. KU has had a heck of a streak and starting in 1988 that streak has been even more remarkable and the past 13 seasons more remarkable yet. Almost a third of KUs NCAA tournament wins are in the Bill Self era, that's amazing. When you have the kind of success KU has had, it's natural to have great expectations, and that's why players like Josh Jackson come to KU, they expect to win championships. As fans, I just don't want us to loose site of the accomplishments or diminish the reality that although we expect to go even further in the tournament, making it to the Sweet 16 is no light matter. And this year we ended the first weekend with an exclamation mark, with a 20 point victory over a very good Michigan State team, a team the beat Miami like a toy drum. I don't like to loose, I don't like it when my team looses, I don't even like to loose fantasy football, as much as I want the team to win every game every year, the reality, as we all know, that's not going to happen, so we need to celebrate our many accomplishments. What many fans would call a Great season have become the norm for KU fans, I think we are all expecting a spectacular season!

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 8 months ago

Looking back from 2009 to this tournament, we have been seeded:

2009 #3 2010 #1 2011 #1 2012 #2 2013 #1 2014 #2 2015 #2 2016 #1 2017 #1

How can you not be a little disappointed that we haven't won more over these years?

But yes Mike, we had a spectacular first weekend and hoping it bodes well for this weekend.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 8 months ago

Purdue scared me when the selections came out and they scare me even more now. From the way they're described, it's a wonder they ever lost a game. Where are their weaknesses? On defense? They certainly don't seem to have much in the way of offensive weakness.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.