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Is Bill Self Following Calipari’s Lead?

“Butter-side up!”  “You’re crazy! Butter-side down! We’ll never get along!”

I apologized the other day for taking Sofia Vergara off the top spot; now that I’m doing the same to Vin Diesel, I’ll say “You’re welcome.”  His only good movies were The Iron Giant and Saving Private Ryan, and that’s only because you didn’t see him in one, and he didn’t spend a lot of time on screen in the other.

But as we focus more on the impending basketball season, and less on one-dimensional actors, we turn to the Nike Global Challenge, where the top coaches in the country head to watch recruits and chit-chat.  As fate would have it, Bill Self and Coach Cal, opponents in last year’s title game, got a chance to rub shoulders and talk about whatever it is college coaches talk about when they’re not wearing ties and yelling.

But as conversation between championship Coaches is wont to be, Self and Cal’s recent exchange at the Challenge turned into something of a competition, with Self, uh, “winning,” if you want to call it that.  No, it wasn’t about who’s hung the most title banners; that’d be a short conversation, since they’re tied at one apiece.  It wasn’t about who’s got the better program tradition, either.  That’d be a short conversation, too, but for different reasons.

The talk this time focused on the incoming classes.  The two coaches discussed their new players like a couple of kids counting the gold stars they got at school that day, with Self asking Cal how just how many freshmen he’d have this next year.  According to CBSSports.com:

“I’ve got four,” Calipari said.

“I’ve got eight,” Self countered.

“You have eight!?!” Calipari asked, and I think this is probably a fact that’s been lost on those outside of the state of Kansas — that the Jayhawks will have eight freshmen this season.

“Eight freshmen,” Self said. “And [four] seniors.”

That number includes six true freshmen, highlighted by five-star PF Perry Ellis out of Wichita, and two red-shirt freshmen, Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor.  McLemore is one of the more talented guards around, and should be more than capable, and Ellis is expected to be a force inside as Kansas goes after its 827th consecutive Big 12 championship.  So even with the turnover, Self is looking at a top ten, possibly a top five preseason ranking.

But still, eight freshmen is a little ridiculous.  It’s hard to say whether this intentional on the part of the Jayhawk coaching staff, or a necessary hassle to combat the massive roster turnover from last year.  One thing’s for sure, though: Self is going younger.  Much younger.  Is that a result of last year’s tournament, where he saw a team of first- and second-year players win a championship?  Probably not, because there wouldn’t be enough time between then and now to arrange a roster like this.  But it will be interesting to see how his team does this coming year, and whether they’re able to make some noise.  If they do, and Self joins Calipari as an uber-successful “freshman” coach, look out.  Other coaches will jump on the bandwagon faster than you can say “one-and-done.”

So congratulations Coach Self: you’ve matched Cal’s proclivity for hauling in a bunch of freshmen.  Now let’s see if you can match his ability to get them to play as a team, and win with them.  Self’s a very smart guy, and a great coach, so the safe bet is to assume he’ll be able to win sooner rather than later.  It’s interesting though to think that maybe, just maybe, Cal’s mindset has begun pervading the collective college basketball consciousness.  Is it a coincidence that the two national title contenders from last year are two of the youngest teams in the nation this year?  No one knows better than Self that a team of talented freshmen can beat a team of experienced upperclassmen.  He saw it first hand, and it’s possible he’s already started to adapt.  How long before the rest of the country start to catch on?

Article written by Corey Nichols

30 Comments for Is Bill Self Following Calipari’s Lead?



  1. Rxwildcat
    9:03 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    We don’t care about Kansas Corey.



  2. tammy's husband
    9:07 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    what about chronicles of riddick or whatever the prequel to that was called?



  3. Vin Diesel
    9:12 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    “It’s hard to say whether this intentional on the part of the Jayhawk coaching staff, or a necessary hassle to combat the massive roster turnover from last year.”

    What? Why is that hard to say? Of course they’ve gone this route because of the huge turnover from last yr’s roster. Come on, man.

    And Boiler Room is my best movie, thank you very much!



  4. MTCAT
    9:14 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    I think three of his “freshmen” were actually freshmen last year but were declared ineligible for one reason or another. They weren’t all recruited for this year.



  5. PeterPiper
    9:14 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    What a terrifying prospect– coaches trying to get freshmen to play for their schools. Why have the coaches not thought of this before? Is it possible that a good team has good players in its line up, prompting the team to lose the players to the NBA after the season is over and replenish their rosters? Is it plausible to replace departing players with nothing but transfers?



  6. ThankfulCat
    9:16 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    If Cal ever left, Self is one on a list of very few coaches who could come in here and keep things going, although not at Cal’s level, but close.

    Seriously, think about that list?

    Also consider who would really come here. Self might never leave Kansas.

    VERY SHORT LIST



  7. But
    9:20 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    what’s going on with UofL today, Corey?



  8. Tommy_John
    9:22 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    “But it will be interesting to see how his team does this coming year, and whether they’re able to make some noise. If they do, and Self joins Calipari as an uber-successful ‘freshman’ coach, look out. Other coaches will jump on the bandwagon faster than you can say ‘one-and-done.'” People already think Self has a good team coming back next year with Johnson and WIthey. In fact, I think espn put them right behind UK in next year’s too early rankings. If
    Self is successful, factors will certainly come into play beyond having six freshmen and two redshirts.



  9. Catfan62
    9:25 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    8 championships >>>>> 8 freshmen



  10. #9
    9:33 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Deep and insightful.



  11. Yngvie Maumsteen.
    9:36 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Pitch Black and The Chroniclies of Riddick were killer you douche.



  12. Corey Nichols
    9:39 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    9 – You win.

    11 – Chronicles of RIddick? Really? I’d consider Pitch Black, but I have to draw the line with CoR.



  13. jacocat
    9:48 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Pinto does the same thing. Takes in freshmen and runsoff uperclassmen



  14. Laker Cat 18
    9:50 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    The moral of the story? 4 Michael Jordans are better than 8 Sheldons (from the Big Bang Theory).



  15. C-Bone
    9:53 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Love the Butter Battle Book reference. Most unheralded Seuss book ever written.



  16. Bradley
    9:57 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    No Corey, it’s not hard to say if it’s intentional or necessary…for Christ sake. He can either have 8 freshman on this team or have 4 players on the entire roster. Yikes, it’s just gets worse.



  17. what the what
    10:12 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    827th consecutive big 12 title?



  18. Corey Nichols
    10:17 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    16 – Most coaches recruit to where the classes are staggered, meaning maybe 3-4 recruits every year. The “intentional” part comes into play when you consider that Self has been the coach at Kansas for many years, and had to anticipate something like this happening long before his outgoing players graduated or declared. Either he planned poorly, or wanted it this way. Necessity v. Design. Please make reasonable inferences before bold statements.

    17 – Slight hyperbole.



  19. LeSigh
    10:52 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    827th consecutive Big 12 championship? Wow! Kansas is better than I thought.



  20. Geezz
    10:53 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Corey saying “inferences” and “hyperbole” makes me laugh more than anything. It’s like he put down his crayons today and is trying to write with a big boy G-2 Pilot.

    If players didn’t declare early after this season, and/or redshirts sitout last year… would he still have 8 freshmen? There’s your answer.

    This whole website is hyperbole. Accept it and move on, don’t pretend. Santa Clause is not real.



  21. ChicagoHater
    10:59 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Come on guys, let’s at least give Kansas some respect. They’ve earned it.



  22. Carl
    11:00 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    I’m not sure what you have against Vin Diesel. The man would crush you like an empty beer can.



  23. Corey Nichols
    11:02 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    20 – Please, I’m a colored pencil guy. Also, I think you mean “Santa Claus.” Unless you’re talking about the Tim Allen movie, in which case it’s very real, and also terrific.



  24. Corey Nichols
    11:03 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    22 – If he could catch me. I’m very nimble. And if we can’t talk about someone’s acting because they could beat us up, then how else are we supposed to give Expendables 2 horrible reviews?



  25. Ohhh Corey
    11:08 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    You took it grammar, not an answer. Nice. We all know what that means.



  26. Cat Fan in Gainesville
    11:16 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    It is amazing how college basketball has evolved. 20 years ago if you told me you had a senior laden team, I would say you are probably going to be pretty good. If you have a senior laden team today, I would say your guys are not ready for the NBA and thus your team probably will not be very good.



  27. Corey Nichols
    11:29 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    25 – Do you also know what “hyperbole” means? Your comment at #20 makes me suspect you don’t. What my comment really indicates is that I’ll use virtually any excuse to talk about Tim Allen movies. Like Jungle 2 Jungle. What a laugh riot.

    26 – It is an interesting shift. If you’d told me the same thing 20 years ago, I would have asked you why we weren’t talking about Ninja Turtles or peanut butter sandwiches. But yes, nowadays a team of seniors is sometimes viewed as a team full of players who just don’t have enough talent to make it, or they would have jumped already. Like the Notre Dame team a couple years ago with that Hansbrough and four other seniors. We thoroughly stomped that team with a bunch of freshmen. Who knows how the trend will continue; maybe seniors will be the new freshmen, as far as ability is concerned.



  28. JackB
    11:31 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    Pitch Black was a good movie and the Riddick character was a good character. After I saw that movie, I wanted to see another with that character. Then I saw Chronicles of Riddick. Not so good.

    KU has a great program. KU (along with Duke and UNC) will consistently be in UK’s way for championships for several years if Self stays there.



  29. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher
    11:47 am July 18, 2012 Permalink

    28 – You mean, kinda in our way like they were this year.

    26 & Corey Nichols – It’s neither “amazing” or “interesting” that players decided to start skipping college and/or leaving early in the 90s. And I’m guessing that you meant the age limit could change possibly in the future when you said this “maybe seniors will be the new freshmen, as far as ability is concerned”. Please tell me that’s what you meant.



  30. Coach Self
    1:15 pm July 18, 2012 Permalink

    18. So that’s what most coaches do. The rest of the world was under the impression coaches are trying to win basketball games and put their teams in the best situations to do so. If in the course of chasing this objective the team encounters some roster turnover, the coach brings in the players that are going to give him the best chance to continue the pursuit; even if it means bringing in six new guys and redshirting a few people every now and then.