Since the loss to VCU we've had a few schools of thought emerge from the Kansas fan base. There are those who probably live in one extreme and now question a coach who has consistently delivered Big 12 titles to Lawrence and there are those who credit is to a bad game and have no intention of questioning anything.
I'm not here to be a "sunshine pumper", but there are a handful of quotes that struck me during these last few days and they serve as a pretty strong statement from Kansas coach Bill Self as to what he expects from himself and what he understands this job demands.
We won the league seven years in a row, we did a lot of good things this year. But we didn't accomplish what we set out to accomplish. So it's hard for me to say it's a special year, even though the kids did great. But this one will sting for quite some time. But it won't sting from lack of trying or lack of effort. It will sting because these opportunities -- I wish they came yearly, but they don't come yearly. And you've got to make the most of opportunities when you get them and we didn't do that.
"In our biased opinion, we should still be playing. Everyone's goal is to get to the Final Four and it hurts. This will sit with us for a long time, and it will sit with the coaches a real long time. I mean, I won't get over this one for a real long time, nor should I.
There's only one time in my coaching career where the wins have felt as good as the losses feel bad. And that's one time.
This isn't a coach trying to rest on overachieving this year or winning the league. Make no mistake I do believe winning the league is a very important accomplishment and something every Kansas fan wants, but Bill Self knows and owns the fact that tournament success is where the strongest statement for Kansas basketball can be made. Remember, we lost three starters from a year ago and the conventional wisdom was betting against Kansas, but I don't for a second believe that coach Self had any plan other than winning the Big 12 when practice started in October.
I guess one other way to think of this is when you look at the recent PASE argument, Bill Self will likely always come up a bit short. Why? Well he wants to win and he WANTS to be a top seed. That means the players that can help to achieve that will be the ones playing in the game. Growth and development do happen at Kansas but it happens because you compete as a player, you earn the trust of your coaches and you put yourself in a position to be a Jayhawk that wins basketball games. It's NOT handed to you because you had a certain amount of stars next to your name when you were recruited.
Coach Self wants that target, there just seems to be some disconnect at times in achieving to that targets level on a more regular basis but it's not an easy tournament. If it was there would be more than two correct Final Four brackets turned in across the country. I for one am fine with that. Kansas is a machine from November to March since Bill Self's arrival. Kansas has also been pretty damn good in March since Bill Self's arrival.
Give me a coach who doesn't shy away from expectations rather than one who tries to set the bar low any day of the week.
"Our program will be back in that same game again soon, and there will be a different result. Its just tough to swallow, because I thought it was setup so good for us. I really thought we'd play for a national championship this year."
With this quote It's simply a confidence thing and I like that. Certainly it will have to be proven on the court and as gun shy as many Kansas fans were headed into this year with a #12 and #11 standing between the Jayhawks and a Final Four bid, I can only imagine the Jayhawk nation will be even more cautious going forward until the results do change.
It's a situation where we need to have a great spring recruiting class; not a good one, a great one. We need to sign two, three, four kids depending on if we do have departures and hopefully we are in position to do so."
Again, accountability. Bill Self has taken some heat lately (unfairly in my mind) for not landing the big time recruit. What does he do? Raises the bar and says that HE and HIS Staff need a GREAT class.
Bill Self has done it at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and he's won a National Championship at Kansas. Bill Self owns every piece of that and puts the pressure right back on himself. What that means is that at Kansas it's not a story when we win, the story happens when Kansas loses.