Saturday, July 28, 2007
For the first time in the Bill Self era, Kansas University's men's basketball team will play more ESPN Big Monday games at home than on the road.
The Jayhawks on Friday were awarded Big Monday home games against Oklahoma (Jan. 14), Missouri (Feb. 4) and Texas Tech (March 3) and a road contest versus Texas (Feb. 11).
The tally in Self's five years at KU now: Seven Big Monday games at home and 11 on the road.
"ESPN is great exposure. It's awesome we got four of them," Self said Friday. "Having three at home is great for our fans. It's fabulous having 12 games nationally televised in Big 12 Conference play."
ESPN will televise home league games against Iowa State (Jan. 23) and Kansas State (March 1) as well as battles at Nebraska (Jan. 12), Missouri (Jan. 19, ESPNU) and Iowa State (Feb. 27).
ABC will air KU's game at Colorado on Feb. 2. CBS will show the Jayhawks at Oklahoma State on Feb. 23 and at Texas A&M on March 8. It's believed the home game against Kansas State will be part of ESPN's all-day Game Day showcase, though no official announcement has been made.
"We have a tough league schedule. We go to three teams in the South who will picked to finish very high in the league," Self said.
Indeed ... this season the Jayhawks must visit Texas, A&M and Oklahoma State.
KU will open league play with two of its first three on the road. Games at Nebraska (Jan. 12) and Missouri (Jan. 19) will be sandwiched by a contest versus OU (Jan. 14).
"That's pretty tough out of the chute," Self said. "Obviously it makes it tougher to start out in the league, but it's an opportunity to get a leg up on everybody as well."
Prosser remembered as great man: The college basketball coaching fraternity is mourning the death of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, who was felled by a heart attack Thursday in Winston-Salem, N.C., just hours after returning from the road recruiting.
"He is one of the best guys in the profession, good to everybody he came in contact with," said Self, who had visited with Prosser at 9:30 p.m., Wednesday at the Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla. "It is so tragic. Our profession lost a great man. He was a special guy."
Self said devastated coaches at the tournament all wanted to head home to their loved ones after hearing the news about Prosser.
"We were all thinking, 'What are we doing?''' Self said. "We saw him at 9:30 Wednesday night in Orlando. Obviously he caught an early flight Thursday morning or a red-eye with this happening Thursday afternoon in Winston-Salem.
"Catching red-eyes and not sleeping and eating right ... all these things put a grind on your body. I'm not saying this is the reason for anything bad happening (to Prosser). I'm not trying to imply it did.
"(But) health is the most important thing. We get so hung up on, 'Can we text message kids?' There are a lot of things more important than recruiting. You've got to take care of yourself. Not just basketball coaches. It's hard to catch red-eyes and miss sleep. Hopefully we can put in perspective what's really important."
KU senior associate AD Larry Keating was also floored by the news of Prosser's passing. Prosser was to replace Keating as chair of the men's basketball rules committee this year.
"He's a good guy, one who would do anything for you," Keating said. "He's one of those guys nobody ever says anything bad about. Very intelligent, always very positive, never had a bad word to say about anybody. In every group of people, there's somebody who stands out. Skip stood out.
"We talked a little bit this summer about both having sons in coaching (Keating's at Santa Clara; Prosser's at Bucknell). It's really a shame. He'll be missed," Keating added.
Keating said it's difficult on coaches being out on the road most of the month of July recruiting.
"It's a tough time of the year. Sitting in a gym 16 hours a day weeks on end is no bargain. Obviously it's more difficult to take care of yourself with that kind of schedule," he said.
Lee likely on board: Expect KU guard Michael Lee to be added to the staff as a graduate assistant for the 2007-08 school year.
Lee, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters two years ago and in France last season, is planning on returning to school to earn his Master's in sports management with a desire to get into coaching.
"I ran it by coach Self and he said it sounded like a good idea," Lee said recently.
Self confirmed Friday Lee is a likely choice to replace Nate Mast, who is headed to University of Fort Smith in Arkansas as an assistant coach after three years as a grad assistant at KU.
"I've visited with Mike about helping us out. There's been nothing finalized yet," Self said, noting he hadn't seen Lee of late since he's been out recruiting.