Like It Is

Self knows heart of the matter

Kansas head coach Bill Self applauds his team's play against Texas Tech during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Bill Self should not be coaching Kansas today when it plays Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament.

He’s here and part of the planning, but he doesn’t need to be on the sideline getting excited or angry or doing anything that makes his heart speed up.

It would be the fifth game that he’s missed since going to the hospital with tightness in his chest.

This statement was released later: Clinical Service Chief for Cardiovascular Medicine and Interventional cardiologist Dr. Mark Wiley said Coach Self underwent a standard heart catheterization and had two stents placed for the treatment of blocked arteries. “Coach Self responded well to the procedure and is expected to make a full recovery.”

As someone very familiar with stents, having gotten two late last April, it seems it was more than just a couple of routine blockages.

For me and my four blockages, one was 99% in the widow maker. The procedure took an hour and five minutes. They did it through my wrist, and six hours later it was homeward bound.

More because of the increase in blood thinning medication and adjusting to normal blood flow, a week off was necessary.

Self was in the hospital five days and four nights, and the decision to return to the sidelines, according to interim coach Norm Roberts, is day-to-day, and that Self is doing everything he always does except the actual coaching.

There will be no drop off. Roberts worked for Self at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois before landing the head coaching job at St. John’s where he spent six seasons. He left there to be an assistant at Florida for a year and then joined Self at Kansas in 2012.

Earlier this season, Roberts filled in for Self when he sat out a four-game suspension for recruiting violations.

As Kansas interim head coach, Roberts is 7-1 with the only loss coming to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament championship, the team Roberts compared Arkansas to as far as having athleticism.

He beamed about the Razorbacks’ length, speed and exceptional athleticism, and the man who said he and Self are so familiar with each other that they could finish each other’s sentences, said the game would come down to which team gets defensive stops.

Kansas, like Arkansas, favors an up-tempo game.

The Jayhawks also like to shoot the three, averaging more than 20 a game. While the team makes almost 35%, the Hogs definitely can’t let Gradey Dick or Dajuan Harris get open looks. They both make more than 40% of their shots from behind the arc.

One advantage the Razorbacks should have is depth. Eric Musselman has a multitude of different starting line-ups and eight different players have started. Kansas has had six different starters, but one of those was for just three games.

The Jayhawks shoot and rebound well, and they play a tough man-to-man defense that likes to pressure the ball. Arkansas, too.

Self has been a head coach in every NCAA Tournament since 1989, except for the year it was canceled, and has won two national championships.

In his 20 seasons at Kansas, he has won or tied for 17 Big 12 championships.

In 2002, he almost became head coach at Arkansas, but the decision-makers were worried about Nolan Richardson suing the school, so it was decided to hire Stan Heath.

Today, Self should be anywhere but Wells Fargo Arena as his No. 1 seeded Jayhawks take on spoiler Arkansas in what could be the best game of the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

No doubt he’ll want to be there, but there will be plenty more games to coach, and he’s only got one heart.