Bill Self Were Down But We Know The World Doesnt Stop Because Of A Lost Basketball Game

Bill Self: “We’re down, but we know the world doesn’t stop because of a lost basketball game.”
March 24, 2010 – 8:40 am by Bunk
It wasn’t meant to be this year for Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas entered this year’s Big Dance as the #1 overall seed in the tournament, but couldn’t get past the first weekend when they were tripped up by #9 seed Northern Iowa.  I don’t need to tell you what happened. Northern Iowa came up with the goods in the big moments, and Kansas waited just a bit too long to play with the sense of urgency that’s necessary to advance in the NCAA Tournament. Too bad for Kansas and its fan base. It was an otherwise outstanding year for Bil Self’s squad. The Jayhawks went 33-2 and won both the regular season and conference tournament in the Big 12. Those kinds of accomplishments mean very little in Lawrence though. It’s Final Fours and Championships that make for successful seasons. Maybe next year.
Self joined WHB in Kansas City with Soren Petro to talk about moving beyond the disappointing loss and focusing on what needs to be done for next year,  how Northern Iowa deserves all the credit in the world, what he was thinking when Ali Farokhmanesh buried the game clinching 3 pointer, his thoughts on why he didn’t press sooner, and his thoughts on what the team should look like next year.

On how long it takes to put a disappointing loss out of his mind:
“Well I don’t think you can take very long in our business. We’ve got some recruiting to do, we certainly need to start playing, or at least get an idea in our mind what players we’ll have on our roster next year – who’s coming back, who’s not. Of course, those things don’t happen overnight. We’re going to take some time to try to evaluate, get some stuff done for our guys, get them some information. We’re not wallowing around here in pity, nobody’s in mourning though we’re down, but we know the world doesn’t stop because of a lost basketball game. So you got to keep moving forward.”
On how difficult it is to recruit each year when he’s not sure who may be leaving early for the NBA:
“Well that’s a tough one, but in this particular year it’s not as tough because we’ve approached it from a recruiting standpoint that we’re not going to have guys return that were only projected to be here this year. So we’re going to approach it like Cole’s not going to be here, and we’ve approached recruiting like ‘X’ is not going to be here. And if something happens and they are, then we would adjust our recruiting that way. But I don’t think you go into recruiting, last second ‘oh we need to get on him because he might leave.’ You approach it from a worse case scenario, and then you can always go back the other way. But it’s tough to just pick it up in scratches, but we’ve been operating this way. And that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to get guys….But I am pretty confident we’ll sign at least one more.”
On what he was thinking when Ali Farokhmanesh shot the game clinching 3 pointer for Northern Iowa when conventional wisdom said he would have held the ball until being fouled:

“Well the talk was, in our timeout, we’re going to defend the possession, we’re going to scramble – which we call green – we’re going to green and trap the ball and try to shoot gaps and all that stuff. But they’re such a good free throw shooting team, 75% as a group, and everybody in the game was close to 80. They’re such a good free throw shooting team that I didn’t want to give them free points, especially when you’re in the double bonus. I did not want to give them free points, so our whole deal was we’re going to gamble, gamble, gamble, and then when it gets down to 15 on the clock we’re going to be solid, switch ball screens, we’re going to keep them out of the paint.  We’re going to get one stop with between 7 and 12 seconds left depending on when they shoot it. Then we’re going to come down and score and this is what we’re going to run. And so we gambled, with the players not even thinking – well the staff thinking – that they would take a first shot three. You know, we almost got the steal in the backcourt. I don’t know if people watched it, but we almost got the deflection and steal, but we gamble and miss, and then they throw it ahead and he lines it up and makes a huge shot. And this was a guy who was 0-6 in the second half. So it’s one of those shots as a coach you go ‘no, no, no, no, no. Great shot.’  And that was one of those and give him credit because he showed some guts. And I admired that in him because they were playing to win, not trying to just hang on, and it was a great win by them.”
On what he would say to Jayhawks fans that are wondering why Kansas didn’t press sooner:
“That doesn’t bother me. We tried to start to really heat them up the second half – the entire time. And you can’t press like that for 40 minutes. Not us. And the press is always more effective when the other team is not looking to score.  With 12 minutes left, just because you’re down 6 points doesn’t mean you’re out of it. We didn’t get to be 33-2 by panicking every time we got behind by 6 points. So looking back hindsight, certainly you could say that we could have done more things possibly in the first half. You know, the other thing Cole’s in the game in the first half; Marcus has two fouls, not the entire first half, but two fouls, so he wasn’t in the game. Of course when the press was effective, you didn’t have Cole in the game. You had ‘Kieff and Marcus where we played small the whole time. So there’s a lot of things you can look at. I’m not saying any of it’s right or any of it’s wrong, because what we did obviously wasn’t good enough. So you always look back at it to see how you can reevaluate it. But just because the press worked late doesn’t mean when they’re playing with a free mind in the first half and they’re shooting early in the clock when they have open 3s and that kind of stuff. There’s no guarantee the press would be effective because they would be making possibly those shots they were attempting because they were making them against guarded defense. Maybe they’d make ‘em if they were by the press and was able to play behind the traps. So neither here nor there. It didn’t happen. The other thing about pressing is you got to make a shot to set it up. And we didn’t make many shots in the first half.”
On what he thinks of the nucleus that will be returning next year compared years past:
“I think our nucleus is far better than ‘08. The nucleus coming back…I may have said that about Cole, Cole may have scored like 8 points that year. For the whole year! We had no idea he was going to blossom into the type of player that he became at that particular time.”
Self was then interrupted and asked if he really had no idea Cole Aldrich would become the player he did:
“No idea that Cole would be a lottery pick after 9 more months? No, no idea. I mean he would have been a lottery pick last year. So after his freshman year when he averaged 2.8 points per game and averaged 8 minutes and 4 of those were mop-up, I didn’t know he would be a lottery pick 9 months later, or 12 months. So the whole thing is guys have to develop, and guys in our program have to develop, and we need to add a piece or two. And I think we will add a  piece, but I like our nucleus. Our nucleus is good coming back. I mean, you’ve got the twins, you’ve got Tyshawn, you’ve got Tyrel, you’ve got Brady, Thomas and Elijah both have a chance to be good players, Whitey has a chance to be a nice player, but you need to go out and get somebody that’s a difference maker. Our expectations and goals for ourselves won’t change just because we lost some key players. It will be difficult, but guys have a tendency to rise to the occasion, and I think these guys will.”
Listen here to Self on 810 WHB in Kansas City
Tags: #1 seeds to lose in 2nd round, Bill Self, Bill Self’s record in NCAA tournament, Kansas Jayhawks lose to Northern Iowa, WHB

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