Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017, has coached against 2015 Hall inductee John Calipari six times in Self’s 15 years at KU.
The scoreboard reads Self 3, Calipari 3 heading into the Jayhawks’ Tuesday night Champions Classic contest against Kentucky at Chicago’s United Center.
Self’s KU teams are 2-3 versus Calipari’s Kentucky teams and 1-0 versus Calipari’s 2007-08 Memphis team.
“There is something very competitive when you get Kentucky and Kansas together. I don’t think that’s unusual. If that’s the case you’d probably think the coaches are pretty competitive, too, because we do recruit against each other quite often,” KU’s Self said in discussing the relationship between the two, who both hail from the Larry Brown coaching tree.
It should be noted that counting meetings at all schools, Calipari is 4-3 head-to-head against Self-coached teams. Calipari’s Memphis Tigers tripped Self’s Illinois Fighting Illini, 77-74, on Dec. 28, 2002, in Memphis.
“Cal and I serve on the same NABC board and we are around each other at least two or three times a year in that setting,” Self said. “Certainly there’s absolutely zero ill feelings. I certainly respect the amazing job that he and his staff have done not only when he was at Kentucky but also Memphis and UMass as well. He’s done an unbelievable job, fabulous.
“Even though we are somewhat connected because we both got our start at KU, our paths never crossed there. I certainly have a lot of respect for everything they’ve done and accomplished. How could you not? I can’t speak for him but I’d say the feeling is mutual.”
Calipari was an assistant coach at Kansas under both Ted Owens and Larry Brown from 1982-85; Self was graduate assistant at KU under Brown in 1985-86.
Calipari said this about Self before a 2011 KU-UK game, according to NationOfBlue.com: “He followed me at Kansas. We have the same mentor in Larry Brown. When I left, he came into Kansas and he’s had a great career. Everywhere he’s gone he’s won.
“I have fond memories of Kansas. We lost a national title game where we had the chance to win, missed some free throws, and if it was going to happen to any program who would beat us, I said, ‘Let it be Kansas,’” said Calipari, whose Memphis Tigers lost to Self’s Jayhawks in the 2008 NCAA title game. “I had my start at coaching there. I met my wife at Kansas. I had some wonderful times there. It’s a great campus, great tradition, great coaches that were there. Bill has followed in that line. I’ve got fond memories of Kansas.”
Here’s a look at the six meetings Self has coached against Calipari in his 15 years at KU:
Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT), April 7, 2008, San Antonio
Ninety-nine percent of KU hoops fans most certainly know what happened in the 2008 national title game. KU, which trailed 60-51 with 2:12 left in regulation, chipped away at the deficit and caught the Tigers, 63-63, on a three-pointer by Mario Chalmers with 2.1 seconds left. The Jayhawks rolled 12-5 in overtime. “I had a good look at it. When it left my hands it felt like it was good, and it just went in,” Chalmers said of the shot. Noted Calipari: “Ten seconds to go, we’re thinking we’re national champs, all of a sudden a kid makes a shot, and we’re not.”
Kentucky 75, Kansas 65, Nov. 15, 2011, New York
Doron Lamb scored 17 points and Terrence Jones 15 in the No. 2-ranked Wildcats’ win over No. 12 KU at the Champions Classic.
Anthony Davis contributed 14 points and blocked seven shots, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 12 points and nine boards for UK. Kentucky blocked 13 shots and held the Jayhawks to 33.9 percent shooting. Tyshawn Taylor, who grew up in Hoboken, N.J., scored 22 points, while Thomas Robinson added 11 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 3:31 remaining. “Their best offense for a long period of time was our offense. Our bad shots and turnovers led to run-outs and dunks and easy baskets that you’re going to have a hard time defending,” Self said. “So I really think that we helped them.”
Kentucky 67, Kansas 59, April 2, 2012, New Orleans
Davis scored just six points on 1-of-10 shooting in the NCAA title game, but more importantly blocked six shots and grabbed 16 rebounds. Lamb, who had 22 points, hit back-to-back three-pointers that put Kentucky up by 16 points with 10 minutes left. KU, which was led by Taylor’s 19 points and Thomas Robinson’s 18 points and 17 rebounds, trailed by five with 1:37 left. But Kentucky made five free throws down the stretch. Kidd-Gilchrist scored 11 points the first half, giving UK a 41-27 lead. “Well, it’s not me, it’s these guys behind me,” Davis said of his teammates. “They led us this whole NCAA Tournament. This whole game, I was struggling offensively, and I told my team, ‘Every time down, you all score the ball, I’m just gonna defend and rebound.’”
Kentucky 72, Kansas 40, Nov. 18, 2014, Indianapolis
Top-ranked Kentucky clobbered the No. 5 Jayhawks in the Champions Classic despite having just two players score in double figures. Dakari Johnson scored 11 points and Andrew Harrison 10 while Willie Cauley-Stein added seven points and 10 rebounds. Wayne Selden led the Jayhawks with nine points. Cliff Alexander finished with eight. The Jayhawks made only 11 baskets — eight in the first half, three in the second. They shot just 19.6 percent from the field and were 3 of 15 on three-pointers. Kentucky led, 38-28, at halftime and rolled, 34-12, the final half.
“That was a beatdown right from the beginning,” Self said on Sunday. “That was one of the best college basketball teams that we’ve seen in recent memory play and played against a team that wasn’t very good at all that night. We weren’t the only team they did that to that year. There was not anything positive I remember out of that at all.”
Kansas 90, Kentucky 84, OT, Jan. 30, 2016, Allen Fieldhouse
Selden scored 33 points, including seven in OT and the No. 4-ranked Jayhawks held off the No. 20 Wildcats in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Kentucky led by eight midway through the second half before Self went to a zone defense. Perry Ellis made the second of two free throws, tying the score at 76-76 with 9 seconds left in regulation and Tyler Ulis fumbled the ball at the other end before Kentucky could attempt a shot. Frank Mason scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Devonté Graham added 11 points for the Jayhawks, who snapped a three-game losing streak to the Wildcats. Ulis finished with a career-high 26 points and eight assists for Kentucky. Jamal Murray added 15 points, Alex Poythress had 13 and Isaiah Briscoe scored 12. “We’re still learning how to win,” Calipari said after the game. “In the guts of the game, we’re just learning now what it means to win, and the plays you make — and the plays just as importantly you don’t make. Not at winning time.”
Kansas 79, Kentucky 73, Jan. 28, 2017, Rupp Arena
Mason scored 21 points (13 the second half) while Josh Jackson had 20 points and 10rebounds for No. 2 KU against No. 4 UK in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. KU went 0 for 8 from three and trailed by 12 points late in the first half, then heated up, shooting 5 for 11 after the break. Landen Lucas scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds while Devonté Graham had 12 points and seven boards. Malik Monk and Derek Willis had 18 points apiece, while Isaiah Briscoe had 12 and De’Aaron Fox 10 for UK. Kentucky which trailed by 10 with 4:41 left, cut it to four points before Svi Mykhailiuk’s two free throws with 16 seconds left sealed the victory. “Kansas’ experience showed,” said Briscoe, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. “They were down and kept fighting. I give them credit, but a lot of that is on us.”