Another day, another coach-of-the-year honor for Kansas University's Bill Self.
Self on Wednesday was named the Associated Press Big 12 Coach of the Year, receiving 20 of 24 votes from a media panel. Texas' Rick Barnes and A&M;'s Billy Gillispie each received two votes.
On Monday, KU's third-year coach was tapped Big 12 coach of the year by his peers. On Tuesday, he earned Region Six coach-of-the-year plaudits. It's all in recognition of 22-7 KU's comeback from a 3-4 start with a team that starts three freshmen and two sophomores.
"It wasn't fun the first of December, but it's been a fun run (since then)," said Self, whose team has won 19 of 22 games and earned a share of the regular-season league title.
"I told our team winning league is important, especially at a place where you are expected to challenge (for title). Now, everybody's patting us on the back, but our season has just started. It will not be a great season unless we play well this month. We can't let up at all, because we got a piece of the championship. It's great, one of our goals, not the only goal.
"It's an exciting time. The players are working hard. Our coaches are working hard. Those guys (assistants) do it unnoticed. Their work goes unnoticed, but what a staff," Self exclaimed of aides Joe Dooley, Tim Jankovich and Kurtis Townsend, plus support-staff members Danny Manning, Ronnie Chalmers and Brett Ballard.
Self said his Jayhawks needed to be ready for postseason rigors, which start with Friday's first-round Big 12 Tournament game against either Oklahoma State or Iowa State. Tipoff is 6 p.m. in American Airlines Center in Dallas. Semifinals are Saturday and finals Sunday, then comes the NCAA Tournament. Both tourneys are single-elimination.
"You've got to play well," Self said. "With the exception of last year, we had teams perform well late. We've got to get this team hungry, fresh, active, confident; play our best ball from this point forward."
¢ Danger, danger: Self was asked which teams in the Big 12 Tourney, besides the favorites, entered as "dangerous teams."
"I think K-State is a dangerous team," he said. "Oklahoma State played Oklahoma close (67-66 loss, Feb. 27) and beat Texas by 21. They are a dangerous team. Iowa State has got the best guard play in the league. They are a team, if they get hot, could make a run. Unfortunately, we are playing one of them," Self added of either OSU or ISU, teams that tangle at 6 tonight.
¢ Seed talk: Self said KU could be seeded between third and seventh in next week's NCAA Tournament, likely depending on the outcome of this weekend's tourney.
"I think winning the Big 12 Tournament is important, playing well is important, probably more important than it was in my first two years here, because it can affect the seeding more," Self said.
He said the thought four Big 12 teams would earn NCAA bids for sure, perhaps five, not naming names.
¢ Recruit update: Darrell Arthur, a 6-9 senior forward from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas, today leads his team into the state tournament in Austin.
Though there are rumors he already has picked KU, he insisted in an interview with the Dallas Morning News he still was considering KU, Baylor, SMU, Texas, Oklahoma, UNLV and Arizona.
His coach, James Mays, told rivals.com, "Once we are done for the year, Darrell will sit down and make a decision about a school. He is still looking at the same schools, and nothing new has changed as far as that goes. No new schools have been added, and everything is still the same. Kansas is still the slight leader at this time. They are the team to beat right now. I would say that he will be ready to decide a week or two after the season is over."
What's on his mind now is becoming the first McDonald's All-American from Dallas to lead his team to back-to-back state titles.
"We'd be writing history," he told the paper. "It'd be good to get two rings. Everybody would remember you."
¢ Coach-of-the-year Self on his philosophy: "I can tell you exactly what we expect. We expect 'em to play their butts off every possession. We expect 'em to represent Kansas in a way it deserves to be represented. We expect 'em to play with reckless abandon and do it in the parameters we set forth. We expect 'em to play with great energy and enthusiasm. Do those things, obviously, others will take care of itself.
¢ Thomas stays: The Washington Wizards signed former KU guard Billy Thomas to a second 10-day contract Monday, after which they must decide whether to keep him for the rest of the season.