When you think Bill Self and Kansas Jayhawks, the word that comes to mind is CONSISTENCY. Since Self was hired in 2003 to replace the legendary Roy Williams, he’s taken the program to even greater heights. During Self’s tenure, the Jayhawks have dominated the Big 12, winning 16 regular-season conference titles and nine conference tournament titles.
They won their lone national championship in 2008, while also playing in what will be their fourth Final Four appearance under him. But when you attend school in Lawrence, Kansas, where Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball, that’s not enough. Winning championships is what it’s all about.
Coach Self addressed that very thing in an interview following his team winning the Midwest Region on Sunday.
“You know I do think this, I started thinking about it today, and I don’t want to put our program down. But Villanova has won a couple here recently, and Duke’s won a couple in the last decade or whatever it’s been. And North Carolina’s won a couple in that amount of time. So I do think our program is without question, one of the top programs in the country. I mean nobody can debate that at all.”
HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS TEAM? pic.twitter.com/iUUbpnHpKh
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) March 27, 2022
Kansas Has Underachieved In NCAA Tournament
Since Bill Self arrived in 2003, the Jayhawks have been a No. 1 seed nine times and a No. 2 seed three times. In fact they’ve never been lower than fourth-seeded in any NCAA Tournament during Self’s tenure. So to have just one title is considered a tad bit underwhelming.
“But for (our program) to be thought of as the equal of anybody else’s we’ve got to cut the nets down on Monday night and do more of that,” Self added. “Because we can stack up against anybody in particular area, but when we talk about total number of championships, we’re behind obviously some of the other blue bloods that we can compete with. So I don’t know about my legacy but for the program and the historic nature of it. I think that would certainly add something very significant.”
Winning championships isn’t easy, but when you land some of the best talent year after year the expectancy is more nets being cut down on Final Four weekend. Resources and player facilities are top notch in Lawrence, and they scrap in arguably the best home venue in the country in Allen Fieldhouse.
They’ve been dominant at home since 2003, boasting a 277-15 record including 33-0 at home on Big Monday, which is ESPN’s featured 9 p.m. game on Monday nights, following the NFL season.
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) March 30, 2022
This Isn’t Self’s Most Talented Team: But It’s His Most Connected
Not to rain on Kansas’ March run, but this may be the least talented squad Bill Self has ever brought to this stage of the season. His 2008 championship team was loaded with future pros, from subsequent two-time NBA champion Mario Chalmers to Brandon Rush, who was a member of the 2015 Golden State Warriors title-winning team.
The 2012 Kansas team was led by future NBA journeyman Thomas Robinson and his sidekick Tyshawn Taylor, with a great complement of role players which went nine deep. In 2018, current New Orleans Pelicans sharpshooter Devonte Graham led the charge, and swingman Malik Newman caught lightning in a bottle.
While most players get along for the betterment of the team, this team is connected on and off the floor. A sign that Self, known as a bit of an old school disciplinarian, has loosened the reins and adapted to the new age player. Less tension, less rules, equal more enjoyable chemistry. This current team is led by Big 12 Player of the Year and All-American Ochai Agbaji. But he isn’t the only leader, as versatile forward Jalen Wilson mentioned in an interview.
“We all follow each other. No one’s afraid to lead. No one’s afraid to listen,” Wilson said.
Self hopes that his in-game wizardry and his team’s unique bond will have the Superdome chanting “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” come Monday night in the Big Easy.