Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Bill Self’

Self to stay at KU – Hooray!

Posted by Fred on April 11, 2008

Good news – Bill Self has turned down Oklahoma State to sign a “lucrative” contract extension with the Jayhawks:

Three days after winning the NCAA championship, Kansas coach Bill Self said no thanks to Oklahoma State, his alma mater, and agreed to a lucrative contract extension that could keep him at Kansas for the rest of his career.

“Home called,” Self said. “And we love home. But this is home now.”

Apparently, OSU never put an actual offer on the table, so the only ones talking about money were the media.  Better news – he plans to stick around for a while:

Self said he now has no thoughts of ever leaving Kansas.

“The way I feel today and the way my family feels today, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know how long my career’s going to last. I don’t see the finish line at all, but I see the finishing line being here.”

He said the fact that Kansas will probably lose many key players off this championship team to graduation and the NBA draft did not factor into his decision one way or another….

“I couldn’t see leaving this place,” Self said. “This is where we want to be.”

The best news is that Self seems determined to put his political capital to use in improving the basketball facilities, similar to the $31 million the university is putting into facilities for Mangino’s football squad:

Self’s new deal is likely to make him one of college basketball’s highest-paid coaches. Florida coach Billy Donovan is believed to be the highest among coaches at public universities, after he signed a six-year contract worth $3.5 million per year in 2007. Texas’ Rick Barnes is the highest-paid coach in the Big 12 at $2 million a year.

But Self had made it clear all along that he wanted to upgrade the facilities to keep up with what he called “the arms race” in big-time collegiate athletics. The Jayhawks are completing a $31 million project renovating and modernizing their football facilities.

“We need a practice facility, improved locker rooms, videos and cardio rooms,” Self said. “We need a place to eat meals. We need a place for [the media] to do your job, a work room. We need extra locker rooms. We need the Hall of Fame to extend. That’s just all part of it. We’re working on housing.”

If there is one area in which KU faces a sizable deficit, it is in facilities.  KU certainly has tradition, with James Naismith, Phog Allen, Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp.  It has success, with 1,943 wins over 110 seasons.  Only Kentucky (1,966) and North Carolina (1,950) have more wins.  Since 1990, KU has the best overall record at 541-121.  KU has “only” three championships, but only UCLA (11), Kentucky (7), North Carolina (5) and Indiana (5) have more.  In the last 20 years, KU has two titles – only Duke (3) has more.  So if you’re going to list the top five programs in all of college basketball, you probably end up with Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA and Duke.  What KU doesn’t have is first-class facilities, other than Allen Fieldhouse itself.  If Self can improve that situation, he’ll have done more for the legacy of KU basketball than a handful of new banners in the Fieldhouse would do.

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KU Blasts UNC, Anti-Roy Closure Follows

Posted by Fred on April 7, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit it.  As satisfying as it was to watch the Jayhawks run out to a 42-10 lead over UNC, as relieving as it was to watch them withstand the inevitable UNC comeback, as thrilling as it was to watch the late-game run to turn the national semifinal back into a blowout, at least a part of me was happy to see Roy Williams on the other sideline, looking dejected (does any coach look more dejected when losing than Williams?):

This KU fan has more-or-less gotten over Roy’s abrupt departure following the 2003 title game loss.  I don’t hate him for leaving; that’s what big-time college coaches do.  I don’t even hate him for being disingenuous about his intentions. That’s also what big-time college coaches do.  I do wish he had learned to coach in big games before leaving town – that’s what burned about the 2005 UNC title.  So it was particularly satisfying for the road to KU’s first title in twenty years ran right through Ol’ Roy.  Not only that, but Bill Self totally schooled Roy Williams.  KU was better prepared and better coached. When UNC was mounting its comeback, Self used timeouts in a way Williams always refused to.  UNC never had an answer for Cole Aldrich, of all people, who scored on Tyler Hansborough and kept him off the glass when it counted.

I said Friday that the KU family needed some closure so it could move on.  Saturday’s beat-down provided it.  Maybe KU will beat Memphis tonight, maybe not.  I suspect Memphis has a distinct advantage, given the speed of their backcourt and the presence of Dorsey inside. But even if KU doesn’t win, Bill Self got a monkey off his back in making it this far (he clearly was tight in the Davidson game and loose in the Final Four game), and KU fans can now move on from hating Roy Williams and get back to hating Mizzou and K-State and UT, the way things were meant to be.

For what it’s worth, here’s a prediction: Memphis 84, Kansas 76. I certainly hope I’m wrong.

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Jayhawk Nation, like a (dysfunctional) family

Posted by Fred on April 4, 2008

In a previous post, I referred to Roy Williams as Benedict Williams, mostly in jest. many non-Jayhawks, however, wonder why the KU faithful won’t Let It Go. One of the Mikes (the short, skinny one, I think) made that point on ESPN Radio this morning.  ESPN’s Pat Forde is bemused by the whole thing:

But not this time. And there are plenty of Kansas fans who stopped cheering for Ol’ Roy five years ago.

In 2003, when he left the job he said three years earlier he’d never leave, the flak flew. Kansas fans have a rather lofty image of themselves — except where Carolina is involved. Dean Smith was a Kansas native and graduate who went to Carolina, became a legend and never went back. Roy was supposed to be their Dean, in reverse.

And then he dumped them.

The Times-Dispatch’s Bob Lipper manages to both chastise Kansans for not Letting It Go and condescendingly call the whole state a bunch of clueless hicks, all in the course of a single paragraph:

Got all that? Think it’s the stuff of recrimination and melodrama? Because there are folks in the land of Dorothy and Toto who somehow feel forever jilted because their guy became another school’s guy. Said folks choose to make a dust storm out of a prairie wind. And there’s usually someone with a note pad or minicam to keep fanning it.

I don’t bear Coach Williams any particular animus, but there is a bit of (perverted) logic to the way KU faithful feel toward the man.  Jayhawk Nation functions in a way like a really big, not particularly well-behaved, family.  There are a whole lot of reasons for this, some of which even make sense. Lawrence is a liberal island in a conservative sea, a place that steadfastly resists change in its own particularly uniform view of non-conformity.  That’s true of a lot of college towns, particularly ones in red states, and Kansas’ governor notwithstanding, it is a red state.

In addition, KU basketball fans feel a bit beleaguered. Despite having played basketball for over a century, despite having employed the inventor of basketball as its first coach, the team has but two NCAA titles to show for it, and one of those was the sixth-seeded Danny and the Miracles team of 1988.  This feeling is compounded by the historic pitifulness of the football team, although that may be changing under the current regime (or 2007 may just have been a quirk of Big 12 scheduling). For whatever reason, the team and its supporters have a family-like dynamic.

As everyone knows, being a part of a family can be good (warm hugs and turkey dinners) or bad (think the flying food scene in American Beauty). When Larry Brown hightailed it out of town just ahead of the NCAA sheriff, it was bad times.  Roy came in and acted like a good dad, making it good times.  Then he skipped town with the floozy in the Carolina Blue dress from the bar, and it was bad times again.

There are really two dysfunctional family dynamics going on here, depending on which of Roy’s sins offends you more:

1. The Jilted Lover

For some, it was Roy’s lying and skipping town that offend.  Williams and UNC flirted in 2000, but he expressed a commitment to the program and his players in telling Dean Smith no.  He said he wanted to stay at KU until he retired.  He said he felt an obligation to the kids.  Jayhawk Nation understood the draw UNC had for him, and respected his decision.  Had he left then, most would have been disappointed but supportive.  After all, he built a nice program and certainly stayed longer than Coach Brown did.

But only three years later, he ran out of town anyway.  He did so weeks after expressing his devotion to the program yet again. He did so days after cussing out a reporter for asking him about it, even though he had almost certainly accepted the offer at that point.  For some fans, this was his mortal sin — not that he went to UNC, but that he was dishonest about his plans.  This is what all coaches do, of course, but this is a family, not a basketball team, remember?  These fans are like lovers who had begun to think Roy was different, only do discover he was just like every other cheating cad.  And like jilted lovers, they won’t forgive him until they find another.  they’re working on their trust issues with Bill Self, but they’re not there yet.

2. The Bitter First Wife

For other fans, it’s not the lying or the leaving. It’s that in fifteen years, Williams built a great regular season basketball team that underachieved in March.  He could get the Jayhawks to the promised land, but couldn’t open the pearly gates. They were the first wives, supporting the husband while he went to college, waiting tables at night while he got his MBA, watching the kids while he ran a series of almost successful businesses.  Then the cheating cad dumped the first wife for his bottled blonde trophy wife from Chapel Hill and…

Almost immediately won a title at UNC in 2005.  Now he’s in prime position to win another one in 2008.  He underachieved in Lawrence for a decade and a half, dumped the first wife for an airhead with a boob job, then won two titles in five years.  The bitter ex-wife has two choices — revenge or acceptance.  Beating the Heels tomorrow night would take care of the former.  Moving on with Coach Self is harder, but would fit the latter.

Once a family starts down the spiral of dysfunction, most emerge one of three ways — counseling, closure or a material change in circumstances.  Family therapy seems unlikely.  Beating UNC or watching Roy fall on his face would provide closure. A successful program under Bill Self that doesn’t underachieve would provide a change in circumstances.  It makes KU fans sound crazy, but there it is – dysfunctional families very rarely just get over it.

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KU, Title Contender?

Posted by Fred on November 13, 2007

ku_jayhawk_800x600.jpgIn 1988, the KU football team went 1-10 in Coach Glen Mason’s first year. That campaign featured losses of 56-7 to Auburn, 63-10 to Nebraska, 63-14 to Oklahoma State and 55-17 to Missouri. Overall, the team was outscored 496-189. That year, of course, the basketball team finished 27-11 in Larry Brown’s final season, defeating Oklahoma 83-79 at Kemper Arena to win the national championship. The 1988 Jayhawks held both Nebraska and Oklahoma State to fewer points in basketball than in football.

In the intervening 19 years, the basketball Jayhawks won 25 games or more 13 times, and five times won at least 30 games. The football team enjoyed a 10-2 record and Aloha Bowl appearance in 1992, but were otherwise mediocre to abysmal (4 winning seasons over that span). So how is it that the football team is off to its best start since 1899 and appears in far better position to challenge for a title than the basketball team (#3 in the latest BCS rankings, with a potential date with #4 Oklahoma in the Big XII title game looming)? And as fans, dare we get our hopes up, only to see them dashed in Bell Selfian fashion?

As always, the numbers tell a story. Here is the delta between points scored and points allowed since 2000 (Mark Mangino replaced Terry Allen in 2002):

Year    PF    PA    Delta2000    261    359    -98

2001    182    398    -2162002    248    507    -259

2003    384    396    -122004    262    235    +27

2005    269    264    +52006    348    306    +42

2007 	459    149    +310

Mangino has steadily improved both the offense and the defense.  The offense gets all the headlines, but without an improved defense, this team loses the Colorado and Texas A&M games in which the offense scored a total of 38 points.  I’m not sure I believe in this team yet, which still has to face one-loss Missouri at Arrowhead on November 24 just to qualify to play one-loss Oklahoma on December 1. but it’s a relief to think about something other than another basketball collapse in March.

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