Bill Self full of respect, jokes for Syracuse counterpart Jim Boeheim
They've faced each other just once during their Hall of Fame careers, with Jim Boeheim topping Bill Self in overtime of the CBE Classic championship game in Kansas City, Mo., back in 2008.
But just because they rarely have been stalking opposing sidelines of the same venue during their careers does not mean that Self and Boeheim are unfamiliar with each other.
In fact, the relationship that exists between the two coaches set to square off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Miami, is based largely on their mutual respect of one another and their common desire to make college basketball as great as it can be.
“To me, Jim is one of the brightest guys that we have in our game,” Self said this week. “In basketball coaches' worlds, when he says things, we usually listen.”
While having that kind of respect and attention from their players is the goal of any head coach, Self said his experiences with Boeheim have come mostly off the court.
“He's been very good with the NABC board over time with ideas, beliefs,” said Self of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which he currently is serving as its president. “Of course, he's been unbelievably good with USA Basketball over time. He's one of the best talent evaluators I think that we've seen, as evidenced through that.”
Saturday's clash will be just the second meeting between these two coaching giants and Kansas trails the overall series with Syracuse, 3-2. The Orange have won the last two meetings, including a victory in the 2003 national championship game in New Orleans.
Self, of course, was only a part of one of those games, but that has not stopped him from finding ways to compete with Boeheim elsewhere.
While the two have crossed paths on the recruiting trail from time to time, they generally are not heated rivals for top prospects. So Self had to get creative and make a positive competition out of a painful experience for both shortly after arriving at KU.
He shared the details of that story during his regular weekly press conference on Thursday.
“ I don't go that far back (with Boeheim),” Self said before firing a playful jab. “But I know the year that we lost to Bucknell (in the 2005 NCAA Touranment), they lost to Vermont (in the tournament). And I've always told him I thought Bucknell was a lot better than Vermont that particular year.”