Saturday, March 23, 2019

Notebook: KU coach Bill Self on season: ‘I’m really proud of our guys’

Kansas head coach Bill Self and the bench watch in silence during the first half on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Vivint Smart Homes Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and the bench watch in silence during the first half on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Vivint Smart Homes Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Salt Lake City — Saturday night, during the Jayhawks’ 89-75 loss to Auburn, Kansas coach Bill Self elected to start four freshmen — and five first-time NCAA Tournament participants — for the 13th consecutive game, which, Self believed, put a little perspective on what the Jayhawks accomplished and endured during the 2018-19 season.

“I’m not going to say I haven’t purchased Just For Men at some point over the last several months,” joked Self of the popular hair coloring product. “But I do think that our place is a little different. We don’t use youth as an excuse. So regardless of what’s happened to us this year, if you’re out there, you still have to deliver and perform and our guys have accepted that pretty well. We haven’t played to the level that past teams have, but I also believe there’s some reasons why we haven’t and I’m not going to say youth is one of them.”

In light of the heavy minutes handed out to four freshmen, who performed and have grown at varying levels throughout the season, Self this week tipped his cap not only to how those players produced but also to their mental toughness.

“I’m really proud of our guys and how they’ve handled me all year long,” Self said. “I haven’t been easy this year to deal with, in large part because frustration sets in when you think about things (that), to a coach seem so simple, but to a player may be the first or second time they have ever heard something. So that’s (been) a challenge and they’ve handled it great.”

Tourney importance

Year after year, whether they’ve won the Big 12 regular season title, the Big 12 tournament title or both, Self has emphasized the value of winning tournaments to the Kansas program and the experience of playing basketball at KU.

This year, despite failing to win the regular season or conference tournament titles, that stance has remained strong.

“I’ve always thought you can win your league, win your conference, you can do whatever, but if you don’t play well in tournaments, it’s just a good year,” Self said. “You have to do well in the tournaments to take it from good to great. And even though the year didn’t go exactly as we had scripted it, I do think, in our fans’ minds, and certainly in my mind, it takes the sting off of that totally if you perform very well in the tournament.”

Big 12 love

Moments before Kansas and Auburn took the floor on Saturday night, the ninth-seeded Baylor Bears dropped a hard-fought game to top-seeded Gonzaga in the West region and saw their season come to an end.

As the Baylor coaches and players walked back to their locker room, many with tears in their eyes, several Bears, including head coach Scott Drew, took time out to wish the Jayhawks luck, handing out hugs and handshakes to KU’s players, KU assistants Fred Quartlebaum, Kurtis Townsend and others.

Even the BU cheerleaders got in on the act, wishing the KU spirit squad good luck as they headed back to their locker room.

Baylor became the third Big 12 team — of six — to be sent home from this year’s NCAA Tournament.

This and that...

Auburn now leads the all-time series with Kansas, 2-0, with both victories coming in the NCAA Tournament, the first back in 1985... KU’s final record of 26-10 marks just the second time in Bill Self’s 16 years at Kansas that the Jayhawks have lost 10 games in a single season. The other came during the 2013-14 season, which ended with a loss to Stanford in the second round. All the rest have featured single-digit losses... Saturday’s loss snapped KU’s streak of three straight Sweet 16 appearances and dropped KU to 24-11 in Round 2 games at the NCAA Tournament. KU finished 1-2 against SEC teams, losing to Auburn and Kentucky... KU is now 8-5 all-time as a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance. Kansas finished the season 6-2 in neutral site games, 16-0 at Allen Fieldhouse, 3-1 at Sprint Center and 3-8 in true road games... KU falls to 108-47 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 38-15 mark under Bill Self, who is 48-20 all-time at the event.


Brad Watson 3 years, 8 months ago

I really liked this group....unfortunately the chemistry never was quite right...The Vick thing...Garrett a good player.... but never knew what he was going to do...Coach knows what we need for next year...we were exposed in many ways...we need speed...we need sharp shooters..we need high energy guys..guys with a motor...and guys that can get up under people on the guess is..we will lose a lot of our guys to professional basketball on all continents from this Coach will again need to reload and next years team will have limited leadership returning....then there is the Question about the recruiting and that whole mess and how that translates to future prospects' living room...etc...we are going to receive some kind of what we have seen on the court this year may last for a couple more years.....lets look at the positives...we made the NCAA Tournament...we played in the Big 12 Championship game and we at times played well...on the negative...we were run out of buildings on a few over by faster quicker teams.....its the first time in the Self era that has ever happened in my memory...embarrassing to perfectly honest about it.......the guys that are staying..... need to become SERIOUS gym rats.......all day every day..unsupervised ...1000 free throws a day...learn how to play smothering perimeter defense and practice shooting off the dribble...all the fundamentals..etc...learn from the lessons this season illuminated.....Enjoyed watching this group and look forward to next year!

Matthew Coleman 3 years, 8 months ago

Self can devise great quick hitting plays, for example in-bounding plays, but he leaves much to his players to decide what to do in half court offense. Roy by contrast always seemed to have brilliant offensive plays - but everyone knew them by the end of the year. It seemed to me that this year, because of our youth, Self should have provided more designed plays and left less decision making up to the players - especially during the tourney. They just looked so lost at times.

Layne Pierce 3 years, 8 months ago

Good points Brad. For many schools this year would be fantastic. Our bar is much higher and it should be. Recruiting, and player development needs to be reviewed. Our 3pt shooting has to improve. If any recruits out there can really shoot 3, then big playing time is available.

Right now, except for Azubuike (I don't think Lawson comes back) we have no real offensive threat. Dotson is not a good enough 3pt shooter to really worry teams. He is good, make no mistake, but greatness means developing his game to really include the 3. If he does look out.

Grimes, improved greatly in terms to taking the ball to the hoop against size, but he needs to hone the mid and short range jump shot. His 3 has to be there consistently.

McCormack showed a lot at end of season. He is still a little rough on the edges, but he can definitely play. We need to figure out how to play 2 big men against 4 guard offenses. We struggled with that this year.

There is room for improvement and that is an understatement. Just getting a year older is not gonna cut it.


Dane Pratt 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm not that disappointed. It's disappointing when you don't live up to your expectations but the ceiling on this team was not very high to begin with.

Scott Oswalt 3 years, 8 months ago

Not high to begin with? We were ranked #1 in the preseason poll. The loss of the 3 players doomed us in the end.

Roger Ortega 3 years, 8 months ago

Imagine how good the Big 12 is gonna be next year. I think it will be loaded top to bottom. WVU will be good, OSU will be good, OU will be good and that's this years bottom feeders. ISU, TTU, BU all have a lot of talent returning as well. Even Texas will be better next year. KSU will be ok, not great but they'll compete and of course TCU as well. My point is I think we'll all make a statement next year. KU's kids will be bigger, stronger and more experienced and we have a shot at redeeming ourselves not only in the league next year but HOPEFULLY the tourney, depending on NCAA.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

PLEASE! Can we stop talking about how good the BIG12 is? Seemingly every year, we win (as a conference) and we certainly weren't ducking any proposed match.

BUT 1 National Championship in the history of BIG12 basketball? PAC12 has FIFTEEN! ACC 14, SEC 11, Big10 10, Big East 8. I didn't count Independents or mid-majors that have also won more.


Bj Cassady 3 years, 8 months ago

KU needs to recruit shooters, power forwards, athletics, winners because we have very few on this team. I dread next year with the talent on this team even if they all come back. Garrett, Moore, Lightfoot, Grimes cannot shoot. We desperately need a great point guard. We need the old KU toughness back as we were far too soft this year. Coach needs to get better also. The rest of the league has caught up and a few has passed him.

Joe Black 3 years, 8 months ago

One down year and you're trashing on Coach's ability. Classy!

Robert Brock 3 years, 8 months ago

Remember when the Jayhawks played great defense? Let’s get back to that.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

Is Self going to be the one who brings home another NCAA title or is his replacement learning the game?

Three Names for next Kansas Head Coach

Okay, just possibilities on something that will hopefully never happen.

  1. Nate Oats, Head Coach Buffalo. His name has been mentioned a lot so far this tournament although probably not anymore. He is one of the new 'younger coaches who relate to his players better. Crap.

  2. Eric Musselman, Head Coach Nevada. He has plenty of NBA experience and he has done a very solid job at Nevada. Losing in this year's first round didn't help.

  3. Tony Bennett. Head Coach University Of Virginia. The newest great coach in the ACC. I think he is the most skilled capable replacement. Bennet is a capable recruiter but what he does best is developed players. Self is a better recruiter and does as well as anybody when it comes to developing players.

And one more that's probably not so well-known:

  1. Nick McDevitt UNC Asheville. Not ready for Kansas but maybe in the future. In three seasons, he has completely turned around UNC Asheville despite losing his top recruit and another player who transferred.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.