Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, who worked late on Selection Sunday, arrived at his office at 5 a.m. Monday, eager to break down film of possible first weekend NCAA Midwest Region opponents.
“It’s the same thing we do as if we were playing in Maui (Invitational),” Self said in explaining his routine Monday on the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I wouldn’t go to Maui looking at the first opponent. I’d spend early in the week looking at the second-round opponent. Then as we get closer to the (first) game, focus on the first-round opponent. The NCAA Tournament allows you to do that because each weekend is a four-team tournament.”
What that means for Self, KU’s 14th-year head coach, is he examined tape Monday of possible second-round foes Michigan State and Miami. KU would meet one of those teams at a yet-to-be determined time Sunday at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., provided the Jayhawks at 5:50 p.m. Friday beat the winner of Wednesday night’s play-in game between UC Davis and North Carolina Central.
On Monday, KU assistant coach Norm Roberts learned as much as possible about those two potential first-round foes.
“We divide the scouts up equally,” Self said. “Norm has the first game regardless of who it is. Jerrance (Howard) and Kurtis (Townsend, assistants) have the second game if we are fortunate enough to advance. That (Michigan State-Miami) is what my focus is right now because I don’t know who we are playing yet.
“My focus beginning tomorrow night (Tuesday) is obviously both UC Davis and North Carolina Central. I want to have the best deal possible. I want to have my own scouting report done on the potential Sunday game before Wednesday, because Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I want my total focus on the first game.”
Nobody needs worry about Self taking KU’s first-round foe lightly. It’s common practice for the Jayhawks to talk about winning what Self calls a “four-team tournament” with the winner of this upcoming four-game Tulsa tourney advancing to the Sweet 16 the following Thursday in Kansas City.
Self said Monday morning on ESPN Radio that he’s already spoken with his players about what’s ahead this weekend and hopefully beyond.
“The first thing we did after we watched it (Selection Sunday show) as a group, when the cameras left we said, ‘OK guys, what do you think?’ ” Self related.
“Of course they said what they think. I said, ‘This is the way in my experiences we have to be thinking.’ We’re thinking about winning in our situation a five-team tournament — it’ll be four after the initial (play-in) game — a four-team tournament. We don’t think about or worry about what’s going on potentially down the road. As coaches, from a scouting standpoint you may do that a little bit, obviously, so you are prepared.
“But the whole thing is going and winning a ‘classic’ or a ‘festival’ or whatever you call a four-team tournament during a season. That’s our focus. We’re going to have three teams on our mind and that’s it.”
Self laughed and said, “not really,” when asked by ESPN’s Jay Bilas if the players had any memorable answers to his post-Selection Show question.
“I told our guys, ‘If you are fortunate enough to win a game, the competition gets stiffer,’ ” Self said. “If you are fortunate enough to advance through, then it gets a lot stiffer. In order to do what you want to do, you’ve got to beat good teams night-in and out. It’s not a situation where you have to wish things to happen. It’s a situation you have to embrace it and accept it and want to play through it. I think our guys will do that.”
As far as the possibility of playing Iowa State in the Sweet 16 a week from Thursday at the Sprint Center, Self said: “Iowa State has played better in that building than we have. Historically we have played well.
“I’d tell you this and I’m sure Steve (Prohm, Iowa State coach) would tell you this. If we get a chance to play Iowa State, that would be great. It means we won two games. If we get a chance to play anybody (at the Sprint Center) that would be great. It means we won a couple of games. When you advance in the tournament, it’s supposed to get harder. It will be for everybody in the field when they advance.”
Mason honored by writers group
Kansas senior guard Frank Mason on Monday was chosen first-team All-America by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
He’s also been selected first-team All-America by Sporting News. The Associated Press and NABC have yet to announce their All-America teams.
The NCAA uses those four organizations to determine consensus first-team All-America status and unanimous first-team All-America status. Three points are awarded for first-team honors, two for second team and one for third team. The top five point totals plus ties are consensus All-Americans. Mason is all but assured of consensus All-America status and could achieve unanimous first-team All-America status.
Mason on Monday also was announced as a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy as the USBWA’s player of the year. The other finalists are Josh Hart, Villanova; Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; and Lonzo Ball, UCLA.
The USBWA and Robertson will announce the Oscar Robertson Trophy winner on March 31 at the Final Four in Glendale, Ariz.
McLendon was coach at NC Central
Kansas could play a team with strong KU ties in the tourney’s first round.
North Carolina Central, which meets UC Davis on Wednesday at 5:40 p.m. in Dayton, Ohio, with the winner advancing to play KU on Friday in Tulsa, plays its home games in McDougald-McLendon Arena.
John McLendon, a KU grad who died in 1999 at the age of 84, compiled a 264-60 record as coach at North Carolina Central during 1940-52.
McLendon was the first college coach to lead a team to three straight national championships (NAIA at Tennessee A&I in 1957-59); the first black coach of an integrated professional team (ABL, 1961) and first black coach in the ABA (1969). He has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame both as a coach and a contributor. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
At North Carolina Central, he was credited with several innovations — the full-court press, zone press, rotating pivot and double pivot and four-corners offense. His team went 19-1 in 1943-44 despite having just seven players on the roster the second half of the season because of World War II.
Schneider played at Lansing High
UC Davis’ Siler Schneider is a former Lansing High player. The 6-3 sophomore has averaged 10.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He’s made 40.2 percent of his shots, and 35.4 percent of his threes.
Schneider, who was known as Joe Schneider in high school, and KU junior Clay Young both started on Lansing’s Class 5A state runner-up team in 2013 and the 2012 team that placed fourth at state. Young graduated in 2013.
Schneider was a senior in 2014 and played on Lansing’s 25-0 state title team. He was a finalist for the DiRenna Award, presented to the best player in the Kansas City area.
Self praises Manning
Self is mighty impressed with the job former KU All-American Danny Manning has done at Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons, who did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament in the four-year Jeff Bzdelik era, are a tourney team in Manning’s third season as head coach at the Winston-Salem, N.C. school. Wake Forest (19-13) will meet Kansas State (20-13) in a play-in game Tuesday night in Dayton.
“If you know Danny, Danny is very competitive. He’s always low-key and under control,” Self said of the 50-year-old Manning, who led Tulsa into the NCAAs in 2013-14, his second and final year at Tulsa.
“I think it’s great what they’ve done,” Self added of Manning and his staff, which includes former KU players Steve Woodberry and Brett Ballard and former KU manager Justin Bauman. “Ten (nine) out of 15 teams in that league (ACC) are in (the tournament).
“Taking the job, you’d think you could potentially do that. The daunting task is, ‘OK, before we got the job we finished dead last. We’ve got to go through them, them and them,’ ” Self added of moving up against league competition.
“At that time, Pittsburgh was on a roll when he got the job. Syracuse was on a roll. They went to the Final Four last year. That doesn’t even count North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Miami and all the other teams. I think he was definitely looking up at them. Now he’s looking eye-to-eye.
“To move the program forward, you’ve got to get in the NCAA Tournament. He’s done it. That’s the next step. Now the next step is cracking the upper echelon (of ACC),” Self noted.
Self comments on Dooley’s team
Former KU assistant Joe Dooley’s Florida Gulf Coast team will meet Florida State in a first-round game Thursday in Orlando, Fla. It’s Dooley’s second appearance in the NCAAs in four years at Florida Gulf Coast. North Carolina beat Florida Gulf Coast 83-67 last March in Raleigh, N.C.
“I thought he would probably get a 13 (seed). He got a 14,” Self said. With Joe, it’s, ‘Hey, they’ve got all those big guys, we’ve got all those little guys.’ ”
“FSU has one of the tallest teams in the country. I mean spread the floor, try to control tempo,” Self said with a smile, imagining possible Dooley strategy to win the game.