Monday, March 26, 2012

Bill Self sets the standard in College Hoops

As Kansas players danced around the locker room with pieces of the Edward Jones Dome net pinned behind their ears, one of the greatest coaches in basketball history was stuck in traffic.

Hall of Famer Larry Brown -- the only man to win an NCAA title and an NBA championship -- hustled up the steps and out of the arena after the Jayhawks advanced to the Final Four by defeating North Carolina 80-67 Sunday.

As the cars backed up on Interstate 70, Brown had time to reflect on what he'd just seen from his former team -- and his former pupil.

When talking about Bill Self, Brown almost seemed in awe.

"I can't imagine how he's done it," said Brown, who hired Self as a graduate assistant at KU back in 1985. "The eight straight Big 12 titles, getting this team to the Final Four, I just can't imagine ..."

Brown paused.

"Our game has a lot of great coaches," he said. "But right now I can't think of many who are better than Bill."

That's because there aren't any.

All throughout Sunday's 13-point victory over the top-seeded Tar Heels, and even for a few hours after it, I kept asking myself the same question: Who in college basketball, right now, is better than Bill Self?

Not "Who has the best resume?" Self is more than 10 years younger than legends such as Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. So comparing his Final Four count to theirs is unfair.

Instead, I tried to think of the No. 1 candidate I would target if I was an athletic director who had been given millions of dollars to start a basketball program from scratch. If I could have my pick of any coach in America, who would I choose?

To me, the answer is obvious.


"There's no one I'd rather play for," Kansas guard Elijah Johnson said. "He's the best coach in the country."

Or at least he has been since replacing Roy Williams at Kansas in 2003-04.

Since that time, no one has been more on top of their profession than Self, who has gone 268-52 in his nine seasons at Kansas. No coach in America has won more games during that span except for Kentucky's John Calipari (281-52). But 38 of those wins were vacated because of NCAA rules violations, so officially, Self is the leader.

Even more impressive is that Self's KU teams have won eight straight Big 12 titles, the longest streak of consecutive league crowns by a major-conference team since UCLA won 13 in a row from 1967-79.

"Year after year, we lose guys and people wonder if we're going to be down," fifth-year senior Conner Teahan said. "Yet, year after year, he finds a way to get it done. He just instills so much confidence in us. He makes us believe we're capable of doing anything."

No comments:

Post a Comment