Jim Les is well known for coaching Bradley to a 77-73 first-round NCAA Tournament victory over Kansas on March 17, 2006 in Auburn Hills, Mich.
“It’s funny. Someone gave me the stat last night that it’s 11 years to the day, something like that. So fortunately the 10-year statute of limitations is up where you can’t talk about it. So we’re past that point,” said Les on Thursday at BOK Center.
Les is no longer at Bradley but is in his sixth year as head coach of the University California Davis Aggies.
He was previewing Friday’s 5:50 p.m., first-round NCAA Tournament game between the Big West Conference tournament champion Aggies and Big 12 regular-season champ Jayhawks.
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“I’m really not interested in prodding that bear, Bill Self, and adding motivation to the game,” Les added. “But I was reminded last night. My wife and I were sitting on the plane as we were getting ready to take off and a number of players from that (Bradley) team were texting me about our win (over North Carolina Central in NCAA play-in game) and had watched the game, and then our matchup with Kansas.
“And my wife just leaned over and reminded me those were the guys that won the game back then against Kansas. And I’ve been married 27 years by saying, ‘Yes dear.’ So we’ll just go with that,” Les added.
The Aggie players, of course, had nothing to do with Bradley’s shocking win during Self’s third season at Kansas.
“We all know (about) that, but to us, it’s just another game,” UC Davis senior guard Lawrence White said.
“This whole success with Kansas back then, that was back then. This is now, so just got to move forward and stay locked in,” UC Davis senior guard Brynton Lemar stated.
Graham is OK
KU junior guard Devonté Graham said his left ankle feels fine. He hurt it in Kansas’ Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals loss to TCU last week at the Sprint Center.
“I feel great,” Graham said. “It took me like two or three days. The first couple of days it was real sore. But I got treatment and yeah, I feel fine.”
Self a finalist
KU’s Bill Self on Thursday was named one of four finalists for the Naismith men’s college basketball coach of the year award. The other finalists are: Chris Collins, Northwestern; Mark Few, Gonzaga; Jay Wright, Villanova.
Kansas has not played a game in eight days, since last Thursday’s loss to TCU in Kansas City.
“I think this is the longest break that we’ve had in between games since the start of the season, at least that I can remember,” said KU big man Landen Lucas.
“It is weird. It almost feels like preseason again where you’re getting tired of battling against your teammates and ready to play against someone else. It could be helpful. I think we’re using this as motivation and using this as some momentum off the practices going into this next game.”
Self on the Aggies
Bill Self on playing against UC Davis: “We had the opportunity to play coach Les’ team when he was at Bradley, when they had Patrick O’Brien, Marcellus Sommerville. And we had a bunch of young kids and we were a 4 seed and they were a 13, and they beat us. I think that game, was it in Detroit? You’ve tried to forget (laughs).
“So I'm familiar with Jim. I know Jim. And I think he’s a terrific coach. What he’s done in that program — and even here their players talk postgame about how much they’ve improved defensively and the pride they’re taking. I mean, they guard. They don’t just help. They help the helper. They help the helper’s helper. I mean, they are pretty much one unit playing together defensively. And they make it hard to score.
“Certainly offensively they’ve got enough weapons that they can stretch it from behind the arc and then they can throw it inside. And they’ve got a four man (Chima Moneke) obviously that’s a hard matchup because he’s explosive enough to score over one guy and if he draws a lot of attention. He’s a pretty good passer, at least he’s showed that here late to get guys easy baskets. So I like their team. I really do. I think they’ve obviously had a great year, but they’ve had a tremendous last month.”
Kansas vs. UC Davis
Where: Tulsa, Okla.
Time/TV: 5:50 p.m. Friday on TNT