Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bill Self fondly recalls Rick Majerus

In this Jan. 14, 2009, photo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus stands on the sidelines during a game against Massachusetts in St. Louis. Majerus died Saturday at the age of 64.

In this Jan. 14, 2009, photo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus stands on the sidelines during a game against Massachusetts in St. Louis. Majerus died Saturday at the age of 64.



Associated Press

In this Jan. 14, 2009, photo, Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus stands on the sidelines during a game against Massachusetts in St. Louis. Majerus died Saturday at the age of 64.

College basketball coaches around the country have been celebrating the life of Rick Majerus, the former Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis coach who died Saturday at the age of 64.

“He was one of the best coaches our sport has ever seen from an X’s and O’s standpoint without question,” Kansas University coach Bill Self said Monday on his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show. “He was a detailed guy. He was a very bright guy.

“He was a tough guy, but a good guy,” added Self, who indicated he’d “been around Rick quite a bit” the past several years.

Self first met Majerus in March of 1999 when Self’s Tulsa team fell to Majerus’ Utah squad, 64-61, in overtime in a Western Athletic Conference postseason tournament game in Las Vegas.

“The league had 16 teams so we didn’t play them in the regular season. We gave them all they wanted in the tournament,” Self said. “After the game, he shook my hand, and he said, ‘I’ll never play you again, ever.’ It was a compliment in his own way. He said, ‘If you ever leave this place, I’ll never play you again.’

“So I got here (KU), and ... he calls out of the blue during finals week at Utah. He comes out and spends four days with us. He left his assistants to run practice (at Utah) because he wanted to watch us practice. We ate a lot of food in those four days,” Self added. The rotund Majerus was known for his appetite.

“He was a pro (at eating),” Self added with a laugh. “There was a wing place on Clinton Parkway that had 12 different sauces. He wanted to go there every meal. I learned a lot from him. I watched him do a clinic one time. I took six or seven things from the clinic that made sense that I had never thought of before. It’s the way he teaches.”

A funeral Mass in honor of Majerus will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Gesu Catholic Church on Marquette’s campus.

Johnson update: Self, on senior guard Elijah Johnson, who bruised his knee against Saint Louis in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic title game on Nov. 20 in Sprint Center:

“His knee will be fine,” Self said of Johnson, who had nine assists against four turnovers and scored six points with four rebounds while playing 28 minutes in Friday’s 84-78 victory over Oregon State in Sprint Center.

“He is nicked up a bit. He had some fluid in it. I don’t think it’ll be anything that’s structurally wrong at all. We looked at it. There’s nothing there. He got it hit, bruised. It takes awhile to come back from that.

“He has to respond in a way where he does feel a little better. He is not playing any different than he played last year. He’s just not playing like Tyshawn (Taylor) played last year from an explosion standpoint. We’ve got to help him do some things where he can drive the ball more downhill, so to speak, as opposed to side-to-side. I think those are correctable things.”

Withey honored: KU senior center Jeff Withey on Monday was named Big 12 player of the week for the second time in his Jayhawk career. The 7-footer from San Diego recorded the second triple-double in KU history and 13th in Big 12 history eight days ago against San Jose State. Withey had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots.

The 12 rejections were a Big 12 and school single-game record. Withey also had 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks against Oregon State on Friday in Sprint Center.

Withey’s honor gives KU back-to-back Big 12 Player of the Week honors. Last week, KU senior guard Travis Releford won the award.

KU, which moved up a spot to No. 9 in the AP poll, which was released Monday, will meet Colorado at 1 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Jeff has done a nice job. Jeff has more blocked shots (40) than all but 13 schools in America,” Self said. “Jeff’s forte is blocking shots, but he is scoring the ball better.”

Iowa State guard Will Clyburn was named rookie of the week.

He said it: ESPN’s Andy Katz commented on the Jayhawks in his Monday blog. “I watched Kansas beat Oregon State, and all I could think of was if the Jayhawks ever reach their ceiling, this is a team that could win the national title.”


Joe Satterwhite 10 years ago

Andy Katz is just trying to butter us up that's all lol

jaybate 10 years ago

The scary good part of this team is: what if EJ heals?

Self wavers now between a sorcerer conjuring Eumenides to guard the Legacy and Dr. Frankenstein stitching body parts into a Frankenteam incapable of staving off the Armageddon of past recruiting shortfalls.

The team vision Self has struggled toward, like Michelangelo trying to free hot magnificence from cold travertine tantalizes each time Ben Mac soars impossibly long to a hard finish at the orange hoop that is like the eye of the needle to rich men and sinners, but wide as heaven itself to those with virtuous swagger.

The vision dazzles like a chimera on the colored curvature of one's irises each time Jeff swats away another shot, comes down and impossibly re-extends to block a second desperate attempt into the hands of Travis accelerating like an angel pin-dancing through a crimson and blue transition.

jaybate 10 years ago

What if EJ, the Prophet, were the channel through which Self's vision were constantly unfolding and that through it all we see EJ were suddenly able to add transition from vision questing to his own assisting in burning and throwing down his own lightening etched tablets through the orange iron rim nailed cross high on his own private basketball Golgotha. That is: what if EJ could ascend his own hell with his own heaven sent gifts? Would not the vision of basketball heaven manifest as the staggering beauty of sport on earth? In the here and now of this shoe compromised world of clay footed hegemonists and titmouse hustlers of spread hype, would not the kingdom of basketball rule and all god's children have hops off the virtuous bounce?

But then the sorcerer's vision spanning the manifest ecstacies of impact and glue wavers...

And we are high in the dark field house ascending toward a lightening-spidered hole in the roof with Dr. William Frankenstein and his hooded, hunchbacked Eyegore Dooley stitching frantically on a giant grotesque of a team comprised of the body parts of pieces of players lacking the life-forced animation of full skill sets...cripples of players cobbled together by a desperate mad man and his wretched assistant spouting inside-out platitudes and defensive cackles and waiting for the voodoo of lightening strikes that will make Dr. Frankenstein shriek "its alive!"

This is the plight of coach and team in fiscal cliff December.

Considerations of unthinkable zones.

Optimism etched with acid.

Exhortations of unique players to act like clones players past.

Doubt dipped in the frustration of unfairness.

Combinations never considered tried in jaws of gone leads.

Quests for one true perimeter backup scorned by the gods.

Genius dead from too much food.

Three 3/4ths players at the 4 adding too often to 5/8ths.

But through the shadow casting light of the sorcerer and the dark folly of the body part stitcher, Frankenstein, emerges the coach and his staff that believe, and the young men encumbered only with want-to, that get better, go harder, work longer, and keep finding pathways through the now. Skying to orange rings. End to end again and again. In the joy of the moment that can only be lost to too much thinking.

Play the game.

The path to come is the one among many that is inevitable.

Lies multiply kalaidescopically.

The truth is the truth.

EJ is the point guard.

Its up to us to see it as the Prophet sees it.

Not as Tyshawn saw it last season.

Truth emerges between illusion.


RIP Maj.

jaybate 10 years ago

What? Are we about to invade Syria? "shroom" smears always seem to coincide with regime changes. :-)

Repeat after me: I, hawkdiek, can read fresh, agile, surprising uses of language without suggesting the writer takes hallucinogens.

Rock Chalk!

Benjamin Clay Jones 10 years ago

jaybate, have you been reading the Beats again?

KansasComet 10 years ago

This team has all the pieces. Once they figure out how to get in the lane better, and score from the outside, which will help open up the inside, then the sky is the limit. I also wish we were better on 50/50 balls.

Withey's shot blocking could help us make a deep title run.

Been wanting to ask this question for a while, and I am interested in everyone's opinion. Which KU Men's Basketball team was the best never to win the National Championship?

I am stck between the 1986 squad and either the 1997 or 1998 squads. I don't know much about the 1957 squad other than Wilt.

Coach Majerus will be missed.

jaybate 10 years ago

  1. 98
  2. Tie--'86 and '64

Caveat--Had last year's team been as healthy as the 98, 86 and 64 teams, and with a starting five of Tyshawn, Thomas, Jeff, Travis and EJ, it could probably have beaten all of them on a good night, even without depth. As I said after last season, last year's team was the greatest "team" I ever saw. But this I mean it was more able to find ways to win and it got greater synergy out of its starting 5 than any other KU team, except the ring teams.

P.S.: I suspect another one of Roy's final four teams belong on this list, but my memory fails me on those right now.

KansasComet 10 years ago

Thanks, I thought the 98 team was great as well. The 1986 team contributed greatly to my dislike of Duke. If anyone could have beaten Louisville in the final it was our 1986 team.

Jim Roth 10 years ago

We had already beaten Louisville once that season!

Displayhawk 10 years ago

I still say if the 3-point line had been in place in 1986, we would have gone undefeated! We had it all that year!

jgkojak 10 years ago

Remember --

Reading Hass' book - its clear he was way hurt - his wrist was basically done by the time the final four came - had we had Jarod at full strength I doubt AZ would have won.

addlime 10 years ago

Jaybate, you must mean 97. 97 without question. Fluke double ot loss at MU. I still believe that team beats AZ 9 out of 10 times and would be considered one of the greatest teams of all time had they finished the deal. 4 of the 5 starters had long nba careers and Haase was hurt. Still hurts to remember...

Jack Wilson 10 years ago

Last 30 years -- a dirty dozen:













KansasComet 10 years ago

Thanks, that is a very impressive list! Which is your best team not to win the title.

jhox 10 years ago

All the pieces but a true point. Elijah is more of a two forced into duty at the point. If it ever clicks for him, we could be very good. If not we could be in for an early exit.

On another subject, I see Cheat U. dropped out of the top 20 with a record of 4 and 3. How great would it be to see them have a lackluster year and no longer be able to hand pick the top 10 recruits they want to land?

Alex Peekeaton 10 years ago

Don't forget about Karl Towns (#1 player in 2015 class) committing to Kentucky this morning and has reclassified into the 2014 class.

David Brown 10 years ago

The 1997 team that lost to a hot Arizona team that would eventually win the title. We were #1, 34-1 record (only loss was to the team east of here). Names like Jacque Vaughn, Jerod Hasse, Scot Pollard, Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, Billy Thomas, BJ Williams, TJ Pugh, Ryan Robertson--wow! Didn't Arizona beat three #1 seeds to win it all?? They just got hot during the month of March. I'll always feel we were the better team over the course of the season, but history remembers only who wins the NCAA's.

dylans 10 years ago

I'd like to see the 1997 team play the 2008 team. That would be a game. I believe the '97 team would win unless it was billed as the championship game.

KansasComet 10 years ago

The 1997 team was truly one of the best ever. I remember the furious comeback at the end of the game. It was a fantastic effort, even if we came up a little bit short.

Ron Prichard 10 years ago

Definitely the 97 team that was beaten by Arizona. That team was scary good. I also think 2003 deserves some mention. No, it probably wasn't the best team not to win a championship, but the way they destroyed Dwayne Wade and Marquette in the semi-final game was unbelievable. KU led 59-30 at half and just cruised. Some of the statistics were mind-boggling. Here is a good recap if anyone is interested:

I just wish Roy could have won one title while he was here. So close so many times.

Joseph Kuebel 10 years ago

I agree, incredible game. That game reminds me of baseball when a team puts 19 runs up and loses the next day...

RJ King 10 years ago

The '96-'97 team that lost in the Sweet Sixteen to an Arizona team that caught lightening in a bottle. Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson went off on us, with Miles Simon contributing as well.

Paul Pierce had another career game - 27 pts., 11 boards, 3-3 treys. Sophomore Ryan Robertson and Billy Thomas filled in valiantly for an injured Jerod Haase, who played only 14 minutes with 2 pts.

Most painful loss ever in my book. Such a sad way for Vaughan, LaFrentz, Pierce, Pollard and Haase to go out.

Best Kansas team to never win a title for sure. Also right up there with last year's team as one of the Most Likeable ever!

Curtis Stutz 10 years ago

I agree with most of what you say Bay, except I don't see how that loss can be more painful than the '03 title game considering it was for the championship and the way Langford was fouled out. Plus few guys played so hard for KU as Kirk and Nick finishing off their senior season, also having fell short the year before in a rough loss to MD.

I'm like you, last year's team was an absolute inspiration, even if they weren't as talented as '97. Maybe the memory of the Zona game in '97 has just faded enough to not hurt as much.

RJ King 10 years ago

"Disappointment is when expectations don't meet with reality."

For me, the 1997 squad was going to win it all. A 34-1 record said so. We were a (the?) #1 seed going up against a #4. The loss was a blow from nowhere. Who had even heard of Miles Simon? Duke also lost that round, and looking ahead, we would've faced Providence instead. We were sucker punched. All of the sudden the next two weekends were Empty. It was still March, and it was cold - both literally and figuratively.

On the other hand, in 2003 we were a #2 seed. We picked off #3 Duke. Then we knocked off Arizona - they were the #1 in our bracket. So we avenged our previous loss and advanced to the Final Four. As a #2 seed, I always feel like making the Final Four is gravy. A blowout over Marquette sweetened the gravy.

Syracuse was a #3 seed. Then Gerry f-ing McNamara went into the zone and a mighty Colison and wounded warrior Hinrich could not answer (or make free throws). But it helped that I'd just returned from a trip to Hawaii, and that my (then 16-yr-old son) had won a large MM pool going away - having picked Kansas, Syracuse, Texas and Marquette in the Final Four. It's all about where you stand.

Like you, Colison and Hinrich are definitely among my all time favorites. For me though, the news of Roy's imminent departure was much more painful and agonizing than the loss. We all have our triggers!

Bville Hawk 10 years ago

I always felt the 1966(?) squad that lost to Texas Western in the regional final in double(?) overtime was a great team and, had they gotten past Texas Western, probably would have won it all easily. As I recall Texas Western won their 2 Final Four games fairly easily.

That 1966 squad was a great one: Walt Wesley at the post, Jo Jo White and Delvey Lewis at guard, Al Lopes and Riney Lockman(?) or Ron Franz at forwards.

Walt and Jo Jo, of course, had NBA careers. Seems like Franz played in the ABA.

Haven't fact checked any of this, just typing from memory. I'm sure I will be promptly corrected if I have erred in my recollections.

Michael Luby 10 years ago

Im only taking from 1988 to the present. So with that in mind, I really loved the 02 squad. I wanted them to win it very badly. I also liked 97. With Pollard and The Truth, Paul Pierce, and all them.

REHawk 10 years ago

Of Majerus, Self claims, "I watched him do a clinic one time. I took six or seven things from the clinic that made sense that I had never thought of before." Mighty high praise, coming from a guy whose system and playbook has developed to rank among the best in Division 1 Basketball.

FTC_Jayhawk 10 years ago

Based on the context in the article, it looks like Self learned six or seven things from Majerus' wing-eating clinic that Self had never thought of before. Probably something like buffalo sauce, ranch, then into a mixture of bbq/buffalo sauce. Weird that he would do a clinic on something like that, but if anyone could pull it off it would have been Majerus. I probably would have gone to check it out if I had known about it.

jaybate 10 years ago

"Thanks, Doug, for Doing Right by Rick Majerus"

Part 1

Doug Gottlieb, whom I have held in low esteem, for his recurring asymmetric reporting on KU, has won me over, because of what he wrote about Rick Majerus recently. It is without doubt one of the best basketball stories I have ever read and if there were such a thing as merit involved in handing out journalistic awards, Doug would win one for this story. So: of course he won't win one, so I have to call attention to it now, or all our board rats will likely miss it forever.

Doug's story has a fresh angle. A player who almost, but didn't play for a complicated genius, and who was wised up about himself by this man, and who tries to understand and explain to himself and others what was so special about "the fat man." Doug's story is all it, and not about it. It cuts to the essence of Majerus without crossing the line into what cannot be known about him by anyone. It has good arc. Each sentence advances the story a step. It finishes strongly and leaves one not only sensing Rick's genius, but wishing to learn more about it. Not bad for a strokeless ex-guard at a keyboard.

Doug's story suggests the extent and detail of knowledge that is possible for a basketball professional to accrue about the game, without making the mistake of trying to communicate the too-sophisticated parts. Just the basics put this fan in some awe of the professional.

After reading the story, one understands how Bill Self could say he went to one of Maj's clinics and picked up 7 things that made sense that Self, who apparently thinks a lot about the game, had not then yet thought of.

Doug's story also makes clear that, while TV professionals appear to me to routinely bend and distort the coverage at the expense of certain coaches and players (perhaps in pursuit eye balls and perhaps in pursuit of misleading spreads that might be exploited by the gaming industry), behind the scenes they actually do recognize the real thing before, during and after they begin to over hype, underhype, scapegoat, marginalize or other wise exploit such geniuses for ratings.

jaybate 10 years ago

Part 2

This made me feel better.

It made me think the TV pros probably know how great Bill Self is., They just can't let a little knowledge get in the way of the day to day business of attracting corneas. To put a slightly finer point on things, the television folks appear purposeful, exploitative and maybe even venal, but not stupid. And for anyone that has hung around television at all, and listened to an experienced director shout curses and vulgates into microphones piped to the ear of an anchor, or heard a veteran producer explain the facts of life to a green assistant, then you just know that on one level it was love at first sight between certain of the ESPN pros and Majerus. He was one of them briefly. He could be as rude and crude and cruel as they could be. They clearly respected it, even if they didn't want to work with it indefinitely. He was more than one of them. He was someone they wished they could be, someone who could walk through the looking glass, stand on both sides of the lens, and tell persons on both sides of the lens to go have sex with themselves, when they didn't want to talk ball and learn what he knew, the way he wanted to communicate it.

Doug Gottlieb, from now I on, I want you to know that whenever I bust you mercilessly for your eyeball whoring, its nothing personal. I know you know the game. I know you are smart enough to recognize "the fat man" for what he was--one of the great basketball minds of his time. And that you're underhyping Kansas apparently for eyeballs and perhaps even for structural spread setting asymmetries, and I'm writing about Kansas side of things for the good of The Legacy, which is the same as for the good of the game. :-)

Rock Chalk!!! Doogie! You communicated the fat man. I learned something from you about ball. At the end of the day, that's all there is to interconnectivity, real, or virtual.

Stan Unruh 10 years ago

Thanks for posting the link. Great read on Majerus.

David Brown 10 years ago

Nice read. Good, personal-point-of-view writing by Gottlieb. It felt like sitting next to him while drinking a beer. Maybe his anti-KU stance comes from KU always being the 'target', the 'mission' of other teams within the Big 12. Once conditioned to that viewpoint, it's hard to become objective. Like many of us are about Mizzou..........

KansasComet 10 years ago

That was a real nice article to read, thanks!

RJ King 10 years ago

I always thought Gotlieb was intelligent and insightful about the game and its characters. HIs snarky attitude would've been embraced by Kansas fans if only he had jumped on our bandwagon each and every time. But he didn't. Many times he had to eat crow, and many times he was spot on.

Gotlieb has his own perceptions, and seems like his own man who doesn't cater one way or the other to the party line. Thanks for the read.

alittlecurious 10 years ago

Doug will never forgive KU because of the "pants on backwards" chant...

Michael Luby 10 years ago

Thanks JB. Always love a good story about my favorite sport. Always like to learn anything I can about it one bit at a time.

clevelandjayhawker 10 years ago

I for one am really glad to have coach Self, no matter how ugly the ealry part of the year is going you know we will be better come Feb and March. Every year we start out trying to find our way, the right lineups and how to play D; every year it starts out ugly. This team is young and is still finding its way, cant wait to see the finished product, but for now its only flashes of what it can be.

Curtis Stutz 10 years ago

CU managed to win @Baylor and lose @WYO, so hard to say what they bring to AFH.

As far as EJ's pg play goes I just want to see him bring it up, get the offense going and not turn it over. Last year's team wasted a lot of possessions especially when they had a small lead that could have expanded. This year we need more aggressive guard/wing play 'cause there's no TRob, but if W and Ellis can turn into solid post scorers and BMac and TRele continue to attack and improve, no reason EJ needs to penetrate the way TT did last year. It'd be great to see EJ have a big game, take some pressure off of him. Could see a big game from Ellis, but I almost hope not 'cause I'm afraid if he does it won't be due to the fact he's attacking the basket so much stronger than he has been.

Curtis Stutz 10 years ago

I take that back, for KU to be a title contender Ellis has to earn that starting spot, so I hope he goes off. Young just isn't scoring it as well as I'd hoped.

wildjayhawk 10 years ago

Just lucky that there isn't any B. Moringstars out there on the floor.

Luca Rossi 10 years ago

Oh No! When referring to EJ's knee, Self says: "We looked at it. There’s nothing there." How is he going to play without a knee!?!

dhinkansas 10 years ago

I have to go with the 1985-1986 team as the best not to win a title. They had to get past a tough OU team twice in the regular season during Tubbs' hey-day, and Iowa St was also very good that year. I believe the lone conference loss was in Ames.

Many many outstanding teams over the years came close to a title, but the 85-86 team set the bar really for Kansas excellence down the road.

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

Funny... how no one mentioned the '64-'65 team that was one bad call on a Jo Jo White buzzer beater jump shot away from beating Texas Western and meeting Kentucky in the Finals.

KU would have toasted the Wildcats and Ted would have gotten that NC he pined for. Also. in those days only 16 teams got chosen.

jaybate 10 years ago

Oops, that's who I meant to refer to when I said '64,

KansasComet 10 years ago

Thanks for all the comments. My top 4 in order are:

  1. 1997
  2. 1986 (Still my favorite KU Team)
  3. 1998
  4. 1966

FSJHAWK 10 years ago

Perhaps if Coach Allen had not been forced into retirement; maybe his experience, wit and leadership could have inspired Wilt & Team to 3 more NCAA Championships. If shot blocking and triple-double records had been kept when he played (and had he played 3 years)--wow his records would have been untouchable. I like to think that Phog & Wilt together would have been better then John Wooden & Kareen. And after all did you know why Wilt came to KU--- well of course to play for the greatest coach jn KU history. Wilt was the most dominant BB player ever to play here and Phog the greatest coach----better look out however Bill might be gaining ground.

FSJHAWK 10 years ago

My top 4 teams that did not win an NCAA championship 1957 1966 1986 2003

KansasComet 10 years ago

Thanks! I think all 4 teams were great. That 1986 game against Duke, we were the better team and got robbed in my opinion. Jay Bilas admitted recently that Greg Dreiling never touched him. Bilas flopped, of course.

Michael Luby 10 years ago

So sad to see someone depart so early. RIP Majerus.

My fav KU teams not to win it were '97 and '02 previously, Ive got to add '12 to it. Those guys were amazing, all 6 of them. Kidding.

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