The final snip of the net at the Alamodome in San Antonio was still echoing Monday night when Bill Self’s coaching future became the hot topic of conversation.
Self led Kansas to its first national title since 1988 in his first Final Four appearance, as the Jayhawks rallied to beat Memphis in overtime in the NCAA Tournament championship game. However, Self could follow in the footsteps of the last two coaches who took Kansas to the title game and leave Lawrence.
Larry Brown bolted for the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs after leading Kansas to the championship in ’88. After the Jayhawks lost to Syracuse in the 2003 title game, Roy Williams exited for North Carolina, his alma mater.
Now, Self is being wooed by his alma mater, Oklahoma State, Kansas’ fellow Big 12 Conference rival. Billionaire Cowboys booster T. Boone Pickens is reportedly ready to pull out all the stops to lure Self back to Stillwater.
The buzz going around college basketball is that Pickens is offering Self a $6 million signing bonus and a 10-year contract that could be worth up to $40 million. That would be quite a bump in pay for Self, who has three years and $4.125 million left on his contract with Kansas.
While Self won’t rule out leaving for Oklahoma State, he insists his biggest wish is to remain at Kansas with a long-term extension. He had preliminary discussions with Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins on Wednesday.
“I’d like to have what anybody would like to have--some security,” Self told the Lawrence World-Journal. “When I say security, I say years.
“I’m not looking for anything more than Kansas provides on a daily basis. I’ve got the best job. Tradition. History. I love the people I work with. It’s a great place to recruit. My family is happy.”
Whether it’s Self or somebody else, the coach of the 2008-09 Jayhawks will have a potentially major rebuilding project on his hands as six seniors will leave a team that went 37-3.
Furthermore, junior guard Brandon Rush and sophomore forward Darrell Arthur are expected to declare for the NBA draft by the April 27 deadline. Junior guard Mario Chalmers could join them as his stock rose during the NCAAs and reached its height when he drained a three-point field goal to send the championship game into overtime.
That would leave sophomore guard Sharron Collins as the only returning player who averaged double figures in minutes played this past season. Collins averaged 9.3 points in 23.8 minutes a game.
Ohio State took its snub from the NCAA Tournament committee personally as the Buckeyes were excluded from the field of 65 one year after losing to Florida in the national championship game. They then took out their frustrations on five teams by winning the NIT.
“That’s what happens when you put an NCAA Tournament team in the NIT,” senior guard Jamar Butler said after Ohio State beat Massachusetts in the championship game. “Write that down and send it to the committee.”
Ohio State returned only one starter and four players from the national runner-up team. A young Buckeyes squad used the NIT as a learning experience.
“It feels good to go out with a win,” freshman guard Evan Turner told the Columbus Dispatch. “I don't know if this is what a Big Ten championship feels like or a national championship feels like. Hopefully my teammates and I are fortunate enough to experience that some day. But right now, this is good enough.”
Ohio State (24-13) should challenge for an NCAA berth next season, especially if center Kosta Koufos continues to make the strides he did during his freshman season. Koufos averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds a game, and was chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the NIT.
Koufos also showed he is capable of handling plenty of responsibility as his 31.5 percentage of shots ranked 56th in the nation.
When the Gazelle Group, organizer of many early-season tournaments, first announced plans for the College Basketball Invitational, some observers scoffed at the idea of holding an event to crown the 98th-best team in the nation. However, the CBI was enough of a success that the 16-team tournament played exclusively on campus sites will return next year.
It was particularly a big hit in Tulsa as the Golden Hurricane beat Bradley in the best-of-three championship series that went the distance. A sellout crowd of 8,455 was on at hand at Reynolds Center for Game 3.
Schools had to invest $60,000 for each game they hosted in the tournament. Tulsa President Steadham Upham had no regrets about the money spent.,/p>
“We made the decision to go into postseason in the CBI because we thought it would help develop the younger players on the team,” Upham told the Tulsa World. “It's done that, but more than that it's created the kind of atmosphere that we really want here. Hopefully it will carry over into next year.”
Tulsa (25-14) will have its two leading scorers and rebounders back next season as guard Ben Uzoh averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds and center Jerome Jordan averaged 10.5 points and 7.9 rebounds during their sophomore seasons. Uzoh was 198th in the nation in offensive rating with a 115.2 mark while Jordan was 63rd in offensive rebounding percentage (12.9) and 98th in defensive rebounding percentage (21.5).
Gordon to Go Pro
Eric Gordon has another distinction to go with his Big Ten Conference scoring title this past season. The Indiana freshman guard was the first of what figures to be many underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft.
Among the others following Gordon were Southern California guard O.J. Mayo, Syracuse forward Donte Greene, Texas A&M center DeAndre Jordan, West Virginia forward Joe Alexander, Arizona guard Chase Budinger and Florida center Marresse Speights.
Gordon set a Big Ten freshmen record with 669 points, leading him to believe he is ready to make the jump to the NBA even though he won’t turn 20 until Christmas.
"I know it's going to be tough with the amount of games and everything," Gordon said during his news conference announcing his decision. “Basically, I have to take it as a challenge. It's almost every man for himself. I'm just glad to go on to the next level. I am doing this to compete at the highest level, not for fame.”
From Stanford to Cal
Mike Montgomery is the new coach at California, replacing Ben Braun, and that is going to take some getting used to in the Bay Area. Montgomery spent 18 seasons as the head coach at Stanford, the Golden Bears’ blood rival, and also had a two-year stint as coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors from 2004-06, going 34-48 in both seasons.
Even though the 61-year-old Montgomery is calling Berkley home now instead of Palo Alto, he said he feels more at home on any college campus.
“I think I belong in college basketball,” Montgomery said in his introductory news conference. “There’s a lot of really good things about the NBA, but for me, this is where I belong.”
Montgomery took Stanford to 12 NCAA Tournaments in his 18 seasons, including a Final Four berth, and four Pacific 10 Conference titles. He believes he can have the same type of success at another institution that puts a premium on academics.
California went 17-16 this past season and last made the NCAAs in 2006, losing to North Carolina State in the first round. The last time the Bears won an NCAA Tournament game was in 2003.
“Was there a ceiling at Stanford when we took that job? I think a lot of people would have said, ‘Oh, absolutely. You can’t win there,’” Montgomery said. “So I don’t think there has to be a ceiling here.”
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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