View Full Version : Self reflects on Illinois

04-01-2008, 09:19 AM

By Gary Bedore (http://www2.kusports.com/staff/gary_bedore/) (Contact (http://www2.kusports.com/staff/gary_bedore/contact/))
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008

http://media.lawrence.com/img/photos/2008/04/01/ku_bkc_ttu_nk_05_col_t180.jpg?370a03faaa4bde2115f371a02430eb3e6a451be5 (http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2008/apr/01/144020/) Photo by Nick Krug (http://www2.kusports.com/staff/nick_krug/)Journal-World File Photo
Journal-World File Photo
KU coach Bill Self talks with an official. The fifth-year KU coach left a nice situation in Illinois in 2003.

People talk — and talk a lot — about Roy Williams leaving Kansas University for the University of North Carolina.
The fact of the matter is, Bill Self also left a pretty sweet situation at the University of Illinois to become KU basketball coach back in the spring of 2003.
“I certainly know, although Roy leaving here has garnered more national attention, me leaving Illinois was a big deal there,” Self, the Jayhawks’ fifth-year coach, said on Monday’s national Final Four teleconference previewing Saturday’s semifinal between Self’s Jayhawks and Williams’ Tar Heels.
That game is set for a 7:47 p.m. tipoff in San Antonio.
“It’s an emotional time (in changing jobs). The thing about it is, you want the timing to be right on those sorts of things, but the timing’s never right. And it was tough,” Self added. “And watching that team perform at the level they performed at was not something that was unexpected.
“I expected that to happen,” he said of the Illini players he recruited reaching the Sweet 16 his first year removed from the program and the national title game the following year.
“I really thought that that team had a chance to be special. It turned out five of those guys all played in the NBA. It was tough watching them play because I know I could have been a part of that. But it was also rewarding knowing you brought those guys in and that they’ve thrived in a new system and performed very well.”
Of course, Self had a good run with some of the players Williams recruited, reaching the Elite Eight in 2004 at KU.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘Hey we did it (move) for the long run and this is the long run,’’’ Self said. “We knew the first couple of years, following a guy that had as much success as Roy, they were going to be years that there would be comparisons. It’d be tough to live up to a guy that goes to back-to-back Final Fours and wins 80 percent of his games. But, certainly, I think we’ve gotten past that and are certainly enjoying our time here.”
Self said he never had a problem coaching the players Williams signed.
“I felt like from Day One it was our team. I really did,” Self said. “And I loved coaching the players who were here before. The challenge (was) getting everyone to buy into that this (system) was best for us. And although the kids, they tried, they did a good job with it and everything. But still they’ve heard two voices. And one voice was very, very successful.
“Subconsciously they could still hear those two voices. Whereas, when you recruit your own players and you get them in there and get a chance to coach them they’ve only heard one voice, so this is the way they think it should be done. I do think for any coach taking over, unless you’re going to a situation that has really good players and they haven’t been as good is a difficult transition.”

Self enthused: Self, who expressed relief after a narrow two-point Elite Eight win over Davidson on Sunday, had a different emotion on Monday.
“I’m really getting excited,” Self said. “And I know our players (who had day off) will be, too. We need to rest today. But I’m really fired up to have the opportunity.”

Frederick’s take: Former KU athletic director Bob Frederick, who hired Williams to replace Larry Brown at KU, won’t be attending the Final Four.
Frederick, who as former NCAA Selection Committee chair has a prime seat reserved for him at all Final Fours, has responsibilities teaching sports marketing, sport law, sport facilities and sport administration classes at KU.
“I’ve got a lot of papers I have to grade,” Frederick said.
Frederick, who remains a close friend of Williams, said he’s rooting for KU to win the game.
“Clearly I care about him,” Frederick said of Williams. “I figured today I have spent 38 of the last 50 years of my life either as student-athlete, grad assistant (basketball program), assistant (basketball coach), assistant athletic director, athletic director or faculty member at the University of Kansas. I’m for Kansas.”
He said that, like everybody who lives in Lawrence, he knows individuals who have never forgiven Williams for leaving KU.
“I just don’t understand that. I thought Bill (Self) had a good comment about that today (saying it was a backhanded compliment that people are upset at Williams because they didn’t want him to leave).
“I told somebody that the guy (Williams) was so likeable and so a part of everything, that, for the people who were fans, he was like part of the family even though they might not know him personally. That’s the way it was. He was such a likeable person, when he left, some people felt betrayed.
“There are a lot of similarities between them (Self and Williams) particularly on a likeability standpoint. They also both try to guard people and try to move the ball up and down the court and play a lot of people.”
Frederick said he hasn’t spoken with Williams this week.
He left the coach a message Saturday congratulating him on defeating Louisville and reaching the Final Four.
“It will be tough for him. It was tough for him in 1991 and ‘93 when we played Carolina in the Final Four in Indianapolis and New Orleans. The first time, we beat them and (UNC) coach (Dean) Smith got ejected from the game. I know he (Williams) didn’t look forward to that game, but he was going to compete as hard as he could to win it. Given a choice, he’d rather not play the game.”

Self on the health of the team: “We worry about Sherron (Collins) day to day, because of his (bruised) knee situation,” Self said. “But health-wise, knock on wood, we got past a little flu bug this past week and weekend. So I think that we'll be as close to whole as you can be this time of year. Everybody is nicked up, but I think we'll be fine.”

Praise for Davidson: Self left Detroit with a batch of respect for Davidson.
“I think Davidson is good. They played Carolina very, very well the first game (72-68 loss in Charlotte, N.C.). They had UCLA down, 32-14, in the first half out there before UCLA put it together and ended up winning by 10 or 12 (75-63 in Anaheim, Calif). They played Duke to a six-point game in Charlotte (79-73 loss),” Self said.
Of course, Davidson beat Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin in the NCAAs.
“So we knew they were good. But I think they’ve got even better as the season has gone on,” Self said. “I’ll be the first to tell you I don't think we played our best. I think offensively we were pretty stale. But that was because they did a really good job of taking us out of what we want to do and got us to standing as opposed to attacking. And that's a credit to them and of course a credit to their staff. Of course we played pretty good defense the last possession (on errant three-pointer by Jason Richards). We didn’t like seeing it come down to the last possession but certainly liked the result.”