Excitement run high at press conference

Before chancellor Hemmenway could finish his introduction of new head basketball coach Bill Self, the back of Hadl Auditorium was already packed in nearly as tight as a typical Allen Fieldhouse student section.

In fact, some members of the crowd were students, but not your generic group of beer-guzzling frat boys and young women who just want a chance to high-five Brett Olson. No, this group included our student body president, the director of ticket sales, and the entire women's basketball coaching staff. All of them were crammed into the entryway like 12 year-old girls at the finals of American Idol (Note: Reuben is soooo going to run away with it).

In terms of strategy, Self reassured the players and the media that they would not revert to the slower tempo of play that was so effective during his tenure at Illinois. He reserved the right to "tweak" the philosophy of former coach Roy Williams, but was certain that the current Jayhawks fit his style. "We may take a step sideways," Self said, "but we will not take a step backwards."

Self carried himself with the class that Kansas fans have been used to for the past 105 years, noting that "Kansas coaches always have a tough act to follow" as he shrugged of suggestions that the pressure would be overwhelming.

Self seemed unconcerned about the potential loss of the highly touted incoming class of David Padgett, Omar Wilkes, J.R. Giddens, and Jeremy Case. Talking with those four players, he said, would be his first order of business. He apologized in advance to the current players, whom he worried may feel neglected in the next week as the new coach visits with the incoming class.

Self further excited onlookers by declaring that his future is in Lawrence, not in Stillwater at Oklahoma State. Though he stopped short of making outrageous promises, like saying that he'd be here until he was fired or retired, one definitely got the impression that if Eddie Sutton were to retire from OSU today, Bill Self would still be a Jayhawk.

Outside Hadl auditorium, coaches, student athletes, and former players raved about the new head man. Head football coach Mark Mangino seemed the most upbeat. Mangino looks forward to building a relationship with Self, and hopes that, as rising stars in the coaching business, they can "learn together, grow together, and help each other."

In the corner of the lobby, a new Kansas t-shirt was being sold for the first time. "Self-Respect" is plastered across the front around the obligatory Jayhawk. These shirts, the first collegiate licensed Jayhawk shirt under the new regime, can be found online at KUStore.com.

As the man of the hour made his exit from the auditorium, it seemed as though he shook every hand in Lawrence. By now, a few straggling students had found their way to the lobby and were introducing themselves to him. Self acknowledge every one with a smile and a "good to meet ya."

Coach Self was tired. Who can blame him after what he's been through this past weekend? Yet, somehow, in that lobby, he was genuinely believable. He truly was glad to meet every fan that was there. And the fans, the university, and the Jayhawk family are most definitely ecstatic to meet him.


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