Kansas Jayhawks: Five Reasons Bill Self is Big 12 COY


Bill Self is the best coach in the Big 12 Conference.

He is in his 12th season at the helm of the Kansas Jayhawks, and Monday the AP named him Big 12 Coach of the Year for the fourth time.

It came one day after the conference’s coaches selected West Virginia’s Bob Huggins as the best among his peers.

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Self, who has won more than 82 percent of his games at Kansas, was in a joking mood after hearing the news.

"“It’s a nice honor,” he told the Kansas City Star, “and for the first time, I actually think the media knows what they’re talking about.”"

Jayhawk fans would agree.

They have seen him dominate a conference for more than a decade after Kansas wrapped up an 11th straight Big 12 regular season title last week.

Here are five reasons (in no particular order) why he deserved the honor this year.

5. Self and his assistants schedule like mad men

As the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Jesse Newell reported, Kansas finished the regular season 24-7 against a schedule that hasn’t been seen in college basketball for more than a decade.

Outside of the debacle at RPI No. 84 Kansas State, the Jayhawks’ losses were to teams ranked between 1 and 45 in the RPI.

The worst team the Jayhawks played was Texas Tech, coming in at 159, and they had no choice when it came to having them on the schedule.

Undefeated Kentucky, the only team ranked higher in the RPI than Kansas, in contrast, played 10 teams ranked 153rd or worse.

Do you think the Wildcats would be 31-0 with the Jayhawks’ schedule?

4. He lost a couple of decent players from last year

By decent I mean two of the top three players taken in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Self lost Andrew Wiggins, who will most likely be the NBA Rookie of the Year, and Joel Embiid who was one of, if not the best, rim protector in the nation a year ago.

It wasn’t realistic to think Wiggins would be in Lawrence for more than one season, but the fact remained he still needed to be replaced.

On the other hand, at the start of last year’s season, there was no real thought of Embiid going to the NBA after one year. Once he did make the decision however, it left a huge hole in the middle of Self’s defense.

Despite Embiid’s decision creating a team this year without a true center or rim protector, Self won the most physical league in the nation outright — which is no easy task despite the fact he had done it the previous 10 years.

3. Karma, maybe?

During a home conference game against TCU Feb. 21, Self made good on a promise to let senior student manager Chris Huey suit up for the game.

Then he took it one step further.

Self hinted he may let Huey, whose college playing career ended after three collapsed lungs, actually get in to the game.

When TCU made a late run and trimmed a double-digit deficit to six with less than four minutes to play, it seemed the highlight of Huey’s day would be putting on a game jersey.

But, with the game finally in hand in the final minute, Self motioned for Huey to take the court.

The senior etched his name in the box score, with a missed shot, as well as Kansas Jayhawk basketball history.

This certainly wasn’t going to hurt Self’s chance any on winning the award.

2. He doesn’t care what draft projections or message boards say

Kelly Oubre, Jr. will play in the NBA next season.

At the start of this one, he was honing his bench-sitting skills.

The projected lottery pick played eight minutes or less in five of his first seven games, averaging just 3.4 points per game.

Once Self finally decided it was time Oubre had learned the ropes, playing him 16 minutes in the eighth game of the season at Georgetown, he has flourished.

Since then, the slashing guard is averaging 11 points per game, but more importantly is now a guy Self can count on to be a leader.

It’s great for the Jayhawks, but not for that small sliver of fans who thought his early-season struggles may keep him in Lawrence for one more season — because that’s not happening.

1. He’s better than everyone else 

Self is already 42nd on the all-time coaching wins list with 556.

If he averages 29 wins per season (which he has done during his time at KU) over the next 10, he will be 7th all-time after just 32 years of coaching.

The six coaches who would still be ahead of him have all coached at least 36 years, and four of them for 40-plus.

In other words, Self is pretty good.

While past or future wins don’t mean anything in regard to this season’s award, they support the fact that no one is better in the conference right now.

There have been times when one coach has had a better season (his mentor Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma St. in 2004), but it doesn’t happen often.

So, when Self wins the league with a team that is supposed to be rebuilding while playing against the nation’s toughest schedule, giving the award to him is a no-brainer.

That is, unless you are another coach in the Big 12.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Four Unbelievable Facts from the Bill Self Era

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