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Sunday, March 19, 2006

A year to yearn

After heartbreaking defeat, Self, KU must look forward

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— There was nary a cloud in the sky in this Detroit suburb early Saturday morning as Kansas University's basketball players filed onto the team bus for the 15-minute drive to the Oakland, Mich., airport.

"Nah, I didn't get much sleep last night," said KU coach Bill Self, his eyes wide open when the sun came up in the East.

Self didn't spend the wee hours watching tape of No. 4-seeded KU's 77-73 first-round NCAA Tournament loss to No. 13 seed Bradley.

That can wait. KU's coach doesn't need the eye in the sky to tell him how his team played.

"Obviously, we played somewhat out of character," said Self, whose Jayhawks had looked extremely sharp in entering the NCAAs with 15 victories in their last 16 tries, including a 12-point victory over Texas in last week's Big 12 tournament finals.

"We did not do a good job of being disciplined on either end. We gave up easy baskets and got hurried up too much offensively.

"We have not played that poorly defensively all year," Self said after Bradley's players hit 11 of 21 three-pointers. "Even at Texas (in a 25-point loss Feb. 25), we were a lot better than we were last night. A lot is we got sped up. We didn't execute on either end, didn't play nearly as well as we had been."

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Kansas University head basketball coach Bill Self is backed against the wall as media members ask him questions following the Jayhawks first-round loss.

He said the most pivotal stretch was the end of the first half, when Bradley went on an 11-0 run and took a 10-point halftime lead.

"We know how to guard a ball screen and a lot of other things," Self said. "We didn't pressure as much because of foul problems, and depth becomes a factor with foul problems."

Though bitterly disappointed at the abrupt end to the season for a second straight year, Self was able to find a bright spot, mainly in the fact everybody but seniors Jeff Hawkins, Christian Moody and Stephen Vinson will be back next season.

"We return everybody," Self said. "I guess we had 11 points in the game last night (of graduating players). 'Hawk' had 11 and played very well. We'll miss 'Hawk,' Christian, Stephen and Mou (Moulaye Niang, student assistant), but will have everybody else back.

"We'll still be very young next year, still be much more a veteran team than this year. Brandon (Rush, Big 12 frosh of the year) said last night he's coming back. That'd be great, that'll be great."

Freshmen starters Rush, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright will return as well as sophomore starters Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun, plus key reserves C.J. Giles and Darnell Jackson. Also back will be sophs Jeremy Case, Rodrick Stewart and Matt Kleinmann.

"The good thing is, these guys have a chance to come back next year and try to make amends as much as we can," Self said.

Two newcomers join the program in Sherron Collins, a McDonald's All-America point guard out of Chicago, plus former Free State High standout combo guard Brady Morningstar. Self envisions both players being able to contribute immediately.

There's the possibility of adding others in recruiting.

"It'd be nice to get a big guy, that would be nice, and maybe a perimeter player. I don't know if we would do both," Self said. "We'll probably do one of two. I don't know (for sure)."

KU is in the mix for Darrell Arthur, a 6-9 McDonald's All-American out of Dallas' South Oak Cliff High who is considering KU, Baylor, SMU and Texas.

The returning players and incoming recruits are talented enough that KU should land a top-five national ranking to begin next season, sure to excite KU's legions of fans.

As far as those fans, Self was asked Saturday if there would be fallout with the team losing in the first round for a second straight year.

"Fans are fans," Self said. "I have said this many times, if I didn't expect there to be fallout when we don't perform well, I shouldn't have taken the job. One thing they should be, they should be proud of this team. They can be upset at the coach or whatever, but should be proud of this team. If they are not, they are not fans. If they are not proud of the team, they are not Kansas fans."

KU athletic director Lew Perkins said he was proud of the team's season.

"People will be very disappointed, as all of us are," he said. "One thing I've learned since we've been here, the people love the Jayhawks and will support their team."

Perkins gave support to Self on Saturday morning. "I think he's one of the best coaches in America, and I told him so this morning," Perkins said.

As far as the squad's other coaches, with a plethora of head-coaching jobs available throughout the country, there's always the chance full-time aides Joe Dooley, Tim Jankovich and/or Kurtis Townsend could move on.

"They are all good," Self said, "If one (job) becomes available they are interested in and feel they are a fit, I hope they have a chance to run their own program. As of now, there's not anything going on."

¢ Late-game blahs: Self refuses to make excuses, but admits he's not a fan of playing the late game on Friday during first-round action. KU lost to Bucknell last season in the late game on Friday and again fizzled at the late hour versus Bradley this season.

"We got 'em out of the hotel twice," Self said of finding things to do to make Friday pass as quickly as possible. "Bradley dealt with the same thing. They probably just handled it better than we did."

¢ Time off: Self said the players could return home if they wished for spring break.

"We'll get back, and they will go their own ways," Self said. "I imagine a lot will stay in town. They hadn't made plans yet to get home (hoping to advance in NCAAs). We won't practice. We could do individual improvement if we wanted."

Self didn't know what he'd do in coming days. "I have no idea," he said. He also said he "had no idea," when asked which of the surviving teams would emerge as 2006 national champion.

Comments

mojayhawk 16 years, 6 months ago

Anybody that criticizes Coach Self or this team is a fair weather fan! These young men were awesome this year and grew up as a team right before our eyes. Coach Self proved to all of us that he is a Great Coach and unafraid to use constructive discipline to players who are All American calibre. Let the naysayers whine. You are a Star Coach. Coach of the year in my book! What a season to watch! Remember, we came into this season with low expectations because of youth, and what did we get? A Big 12 Championship! Hang your hat, young Jayhawks. I'm already excited about next year! And to Brandon Rush. You're showing you've got a good head on your shoulders. You've been a great teammate and at least another year will prepare you for the next level.
I'm proud of you all!

edno69 16 years, 6 months ago

I agree with mojayhawk wholeheartedly; although, I do not understand the dynamics of athletic mediocrity on this stage. Never having been this quality athelete, perhaps I will never understand. However, I have one friend who led the 1969 Buffs to the Big 8 Championship and he cannot decide about BS, whose teams perform so erratically. On the one hand, he seems to place responsibility on the Coach's shoulders squarely...on the other hand we have childlike 18 yr. olds, barely complemented by those worldly, mature 21 yr. olds! LOL Can't wait until October 2006. Go Wheatshockers...ugh!!

AsadZoberi 16 years, 6 months ago

Gret job by Bill Self. I cant wait for the next season.

jayhawk393 16 years, 6 months ago

I enjoyed the season. My biggest regret of the Jayhawks losing is that I do not get to watch them play again for months. Wow, Big 12 champs! Big 12 tournament champs! That is still a great season. One game does not make a season!!!! All but one team will finish with a loss.

cobweb 16 years, 6 months ago

Great job Coach! You became a father figure to Brandon Rush and had a tremendous impact on him in things other than basketball. You got these kids playing as a team which was fun to watch. A team can have an off night and miss shots. Bradley got hot and played a great game. In their conference tournament they shot 9 of 56 on threes yet couldn't miss against the Jayhawks. They said Roy couldn't win the big one. Boeheim and Alford got eliminated and Pittino and Knight didn't make the tournament. The program is in great shape for the future. Keep up the good work.

Daniel Speicher 16 years, 6 months ago

Coach Self, thanks for the great year. Without a doubt every Kansas fan should be proud of the Jayhawks and look forward with great excitement for next year. They will be one of the premier squads in the nation. I'm looking forward to seeing what Self can really do with this team next year now that they have experience under their belt.

I imagine practice will be a lot different now that they know what to expect in a game (it will be less preparation on what to expect, more preparation on how to handle individual defenses and offenses.) And, as much as I'd like to see Jank, Dooley or Townsend get a dreamboat job somewhere, selfishly I hope they stick around... Leadership is a HUGE part of any team and if one or more go, there will be a void no matter who we bring in (at least for one year.)

Regardless... Coach Self, thank you for the great season. I don't know how often you may read this board (hopefully not much due to some other "fans" on here.) But, I am one Jayhawk who is behind you 100% and behind your boys 100%. Keep up the good work, Coach... Next year will be our year!

--Danny Speicher

cklarock 16 years, 6 months ago

Thank you for the fantastic year, Coach! Your team completely exceeded our pre-season expectations, turning a projected 3rd or 4th place finish into a Big XII championship. That is huge.

If someone had told me last summer that this team would go out in the first round, I'd have thought, "sweet, we're going to make the NCAAs!"

It's a tribute to the fantastic job you and your coaching staff did this year that NCAA expectations were so high.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

WrightStuff 16 years, 6 months ago

Self can absolutely coach, you do not have the youngest team of all time for a historical school like KU leading the nation in defense, if he is not a teacher. Doubt starts to creep in when you lose in the 1st round but the last two years we have played the last game possible in our region...believe it or not it can really affect your focus and nerves (start looking ahead to Pitt b/c experts put you there). However its not like there is one play to point to or one matchup that killed us so I have a hard time blaming him. At some point the coaching ends and players have to decide the outcome, and I would say tournament time has to be that time. And you have to give Bradley their credit, they took us out of our game as bad as anyone all year, so from Self's stand what can he do, he can't pass the ball when tunrovers occur, or shoot when we're missing, or defend for them so he like the rest of us he has to rely on a little luck and the effort of each player involved. After all, for a while there it was his team that was changing how most of the Big XII played by imposing their will, same coach...

bethnbob 16 years, 6 months ago

Great season guys, and Coaches. I'm glad you are all coming back next year. You will be great next year and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I really enjoyed watching you play. Can't wait for next year!

amyleigh1221 16 years, 6 months ago

I am proud of the Jayhawk players. People in the beginning of the season didn't even think we would make it to the NCAA tourney...they thought we would be in the NIT. We proved many people wrong by making it to the tourney, beating Texas for the Big XII title and ending the season with a very nice record.

I give props to the seniors. You guys are amazing people and players and we all will miss you next year.

Now we all just need to put that game behind us and look forward to next year. Go for it all boys!! You can do it!

wendy71 16 years, 6 months ago

Like everyone else I was disappointed with KU's first round loss to Bradley but after the initial shock we have to realize this team still had a great seaon. I had more fun watching them this season than I have in a long time. There is so much talent and potential here. I think that talent and their success at the end of the season made a lot of us forget - most of these guys are FRESHMAN and SOPHMORES. They are still inexperienced and despite that, they played hard all year and kept fighting to improve. They did bring home the Big XII championship, something our last few teams couldn't do. They're human, they're still kids...and they're still getting better. Cut them some slack. They're still our Jayhawks and I can't wait to see them next year! By the way, I'm sitting here watching Bradley beat Pitt and I'm wondering how many people are rethinking their opinions of KU's loss to them. Bradley is no cupcake.

WrightStuff 16 years, 6 months ago

I'm with you wendy Bradley had something to do with how we played, RPI is 33 I'm not sure we played a team that good, and certainly not with those kind of stakes

AwesomeJayHawk 16 years, 6 months ago

What an incredible season. To watch these young men mature has been pure joy. Bill Self is an upstanding example of what a coach should be. I can hardly wait for the next season! Good luck to the Seniors who will be leaving and beginning their lives outside of school. I look for great things to come for all of these fine young men.

mitch 16 years, 6 months ago

Thank you Coach and players for a wonderful year! I am so proud of all of you...you taught all of us so many things during this season...patience to wait for the team to mature...ability to bounce back, beating each of the teams that beat you...survive and advance is tough and that's the rules...but I know if you had a second chance at Bradley or any of the 62 other teams in the NCAA tournament, you would have learned and prevailed...you are a team that learns from its errors...I just can't wait until next year...rock chalk, Jayhawk, Go KU!!!!

wyansas 16 years, 6 months ago

People like mojayhawk will say "Anybody that criticizes Coach Self or this team is a fair weather fan!" Baloney. This is Kansas men's basketball, a premier program, and nobody should be settling for fizzling out in the first round of the tournament. These kids should have had the mindset going into the game that Kansas teams don't lose in the first round of the tournament. It doesn't happen. I don't have the real facts, but before Bucknell, we had won something like 14 consecutive first round games. Certain things come to be expected at Kansas because they ALWAYS happen: protecting home court first and foremost, beating K-State, making the NCAA tournament, and winning the first game of the NCAA tournament. Someone's to blame.

brooksmd 16 years, 6 months ago

LOL, well Bradley did beat Pitt, and all those who praised Roy Williams for what he was doing with his "young team", they didn't make it past George Mason. As for me, I'm with the majority. We are gonna do some serious buttkickin' next year! Thanks 'Hawks for a fun season. Congrats coach and your staff for a great job. Just one thing. How about scheduling some games down here in "da bayou country"? It's a long drive from Nawlin's to Lawrence.

roberado 16 years, 6 months ago

Blame all you want. Any given team can win any given game on any given night. We've had two particularly unfortunate nights that so happen to be the first round of the last two years (to teams that have proven to be better than their seed each time). Go ahead, get us another coach, let him overcome three years of loyalty problems and lofty expectations, and he'll still carry a great chance of losing to one of 64 great teams in the tournament. If you call losing choking, you should be glad you arent from Wichita - a city practically shut-down because their team finally got to the sweet 16 for the first time since the Reagan era. Give me a break.

sbplyr17 16 years, 6 months ago

It's so great to finally read so many positive post on this message board. With the exception of spipp33, I agree with what everyone else is saying. The saddest thing is to not be able to watch this great team play any more this season. October seems so far away and I can hardly wait until it gets here. Great season with great accomplishments!!! Go hawks!

phogfanatic75 16 years, 6 months ago

Great job Coach Self and Jayhawk team. You guys came a long way from the beginning of the year and will only improve. Keep your heads up and your continued hard work will pay off in the seasons ahead. Rock Chalk Jayhawk from your biggest fan from Cali.

Tamaralaug 16 years, 6 months ago

I am pleasantly surprised to find most of the posts on here to be positive and I am very relieved. I have avoided logging on here since the loss because I didn't want to see the "Fire Coach Self" crap that I expected. So thank you everyone (well, most of you) for seeing the Bradley loss for what it is - One Loss! I had expected this year to be a rebuilding year. I expected KU to not be ranked this year. I expected to finish in the middle of the Big 12 or maybe even close to the bottom this year. And I was afraid that we would be invited to play in the NIT this year, not the Big Dance. So this team has gone way beyond my expections for this year. Don't get me wrong, I hate to lose. HATE IT! I cried many tears last year at our loss to Bucknell and I shed a few this year as well. But it happens to even the best of teams. I am sad that our year has ended and that I have to wait until next season to watch my beloved Hawks but I am very proud of them. I think Coach Self is an awesome coach and I think our players are awesome young men. So if you see them on the street - smile at them, give them a high five and tell them great job! Can't wait until next season!

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

legolas1996 16 years, 6 months ago

Tamaralaug- there were those idiots in here yesterday and the day before. Us REAL KU fans shut up the fair-weather KU fans. We told them to cheer for K-State and Mizzou. I think they got the hint. The Phog overtook the negative attitudes in here and Rock Chalk spirits prevailed.

DCSven 16 years, 6 months ago

Simply put, most of us Jayhawks are unaccustomed to spending two-thirds of the season unranked, but we quietly watched as this outstanding young team learned something new each and every game and watched the joy on their faces as they put the winning combinations together. Once we were ranked, and won the championships, the flashes of greatness that this team and coaching staff showed us gave us preview of great things to come. So we all got a little caught up thinking it might just happen this year, who can blame us - we're Jayhawks. The loss in the first round hurts, no doubt. Oh, but we all know we ain't seen nothing yet ..... Thanks Team and Coach Self -- you have made the Jayhawk Nation very proud. Study hard this off season, you'll be much busier next March/April.

freebird 16 years, 6 months ago

This wasn't a great season but a good season as coach Self put it. Great seasons don't end in first round losses. Thanks Coach Self for speaking the truth and not making excuses for your guys.

ladyhawk15 16 years, 6 months ago

Even though this wasn't our game I still think our boys are AWESOME and i CAN'T WAIT for next season!!!!! Go KU!

Tamaralaug 16 years, 6 months ago

I will admit that I did get caught up in "This might be the year". And your right DCSven - no one can blame us, we are Jayhawks and we expect to win. But that is what makes being a Jayhawk so great. And I never want to lose that! So we will suck it up and eagerly wait for next year. And Legolas1996 - thanks for running the fair-weather fans off! They CAN go cheer for Mizzou and K-State!

ameraidi 16 years, 6 months ago

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!

Heart Broken but hopefull all the way in Dubai, UAE

We'll be back next year, i promise you....watch out folks.

Dubai Jayhawk

Onecent 16 years, 6 months ago

LOL people here keep saying weather fans when fans criticize coach . It makes me feel Self is like Al Capone who was untouchable. Some here even say one game does not make a season . If we loose 1st game next year again then I dont know what they are going to say . Bill Self needs to learn to admit mistakes . People make mistakes so why he is so scare about that . 4 senoirs and lost to Bucknell is not embarrassed enough to him . He turned out and blame for injuries . With tons of talents and lost to Bradley is not embarassed enought to him again . He again turned out to blame for players play scare and pity . He even blamed for late game . All the players in Tulsa and Illinois whom he took to Elite Eight were not his players anyway. They were somebody's players . He might done a great job of recruiting but developing is not his strenght or at least he has not proven himself yet . I am pissed because he should apologize for his game preparations. With tons of talents and he cant even beat Bucknell and Bradley but people call him a great coach that is a travesty and insulting to THE REAL GREAT COACHES. He might be the one later I dont know but people now call him that is a joke.

Christopher Johnson 16 years, 6 months ago

Looks like this message board just turned sour with the cry babies. I knew the negative people would come out sometime as they have the right to. Ok Onecent . . . Self hasn't proven himself? HAHAHAHA. Seriously? Do you remember when we had a boatload of talent at the beginning of this year and nobody had any idea what the right combination was? And then we found it in the Kentucky game. I wouldn't have guessed that this is the starting five that would've come out of it. But this is certainly the best combination out there now (here's hoping that CJ Giles shows up and becomes a star next year). Also, I agree with whoever made the comment about Self having to put up with the loyalty crap with high expectations for 2 years previous. That was a losing battle all along. I think this was the first year we could really see Bill Self's work and it was amazing. This team was nowhere on the radar around New Years. They've come an awful long way in two months. Just think what the next 6 months til next season will bring. Exciting stuff! Until then we'll have monsnter Mangino and the KU football team to enjoy. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Onecent 16 years, 6 months ago

KU BB goes to game hoping opposing teams dont have dominant big men . If teams have force inside then KU hopes that force has an off night . Next year would be the same if we face the like of Lamarcus or UCONN's front line if they stay intact. You are right Hawkandtigerfan that Self 's work was amazing and we lost 2 consecutive 1st rounds to nobody.

Jeremy Bolinger 16 years, 6 months ago

if you think you know so much about basketball who is on unconn's front line? Jeez onecent, do a little homework about college basketball before you dog everyone

kubasketballnut 16 years, 6 months ago

I hear a lot of negatives out there. I can remember the beginning of the season when everyone thought we wouldn't do anything. Bill Self has brought this team a long way in a short time. Next year they will be bigger, stronger, faster, and have even more outstanding players coming in. If you are putting down this program check and see if you are really wearing a Tiger or a Wildcat on your shirt. I think many of us will be overjoyed with the way we play next year and if Bill continues to bring in this outstanding talent we got a new dynasty starting in KU. Rock Chalk

missKU 16 years, 6 months ago

Great year coach!!!! (despite what all the fair whether fans are saying) I can't wait till next year! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jayhawkliz 16 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the great season! Next year will be so much better. Thanks Coach Self. You have support and I just love our young hawks! They are just awesome!

Jeremy Bolinger 16 years, 6 months ago

um Ku already is or was a dynasty...........come on now, we are KU

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