Self, who played at Oklahoma State from 1981-85 and was an assistant at OSU from 1986-93, put that speculation to rest at his Thursday press conference.
“People have requested to interview me about it, and I
haven’t done it (interviews),” Self said.
“I don’t get on any blogs. I don’t care
what anybody says and I really think it’s an injustice to the
present staff (at OSU) because they deserve every opportunity to do as
well as they can possibly do. ... It’s not something
that’s even worth talking about. It’s a dead issue.
It’s not going to happen.”
Self did have plenty to talk about, though, regarding playing Sean
Sutton’s Cowboys (13-12, 4-7), who have won three of their
last four games (two straight victories) after losing six straight. OSU
is coming off an impressive 59-54 win at No. 16 Texas A&M last
The Cowboys (11-2 at home) are led by freshman swingman James Anderson.
The former KU recruit averages a team-high 14.5 points per game and
leads OSU with 56 three-pointers. Junior guards Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris both average 10.6 points, while the 5-11 Eaton leads the team
with 79 assists and 55 steals. Sophomore guard Obi Muonelo is fourth in
scoring at 9.8 points per game, while senior forward Marcus Dove
averages 9.6 points and a team-high 5.6 rebounds and 31 blocks.
Six-foot-11 freshman center Ibrahima Thomas is also a factor up front,
averaging 5.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
“They seem to be on a serious uptick now,” Self
said about the Cowboys. “They’re playing very well.
They handled Baylor (93-83 on Feb. 13) in a way obviously that we
didn’t (KU beat Baylor, 100-90, on Feb. 9, but led by just
three points at halftime) and winning at A&M is one of the most
impressive wins that anyone has had in our league thus far.
I’m very impressed watching them on tape. They are hard to
score against, their defense has improved, at least from my vantage
point watching them on tape. They are just playing better
“They can really shoot the basketball,” Self added.
“All of them can stretch the defense and they’re
very athletic. They are one of the best teams I’ve seen in
recent memory that are great at altering or blocking shots in
transition defense. You don’t talk about that much, but they
have guys that run with you and jump up there and make game-changing
Self said the biggest difference in Oklahoma State’s
turnaround has been the play of Eaton, who was named the Big 12 Player
of the Week last week for the first time in his career. He averaged 21
points per game in OSU’s two victories over Texas A&M
“Byron is really playing well and under control and doing a a
great job of managing the game on both ends,” Self said.
“He’s a scoring point. Byron looks for his shot.
I’ve always thought he’s very talented. It appears
to me that he’s playing to his talent level as well as he
probably has since he’s been at Oklahoma State. He can score,
he makes you guard him, and he’s been really good off the
ball of late.”
The No. 4 Jayhawks (24-2, 9-2) must improve their defense to contain
Eaton, Anderson, and the Cowboys.
Self said three or four weeks ago, KU had the best DER (Defense
Efficiency Rating, which measures the points a team allows per
possession) in the nation. However, Self commented that the
Jayhawks’ DER has likely slipped since then to “the
top five or 10.”
“We have not guarded lately as well as we guarded
before,” Self said. “I thought our Colorado defense
was pretty good, but our Baylor defense and our Texas defense, when you
throw in rebounding and everything, I can’t say I feel as
good about those performances as what we were doing earlier.”
After beating Colorado, 72-59, last Saturday, Self was encouraged by
his team’s strong practices on Monday and Tuesday. The team
earned a day off on Wednesday.
“We’re not far off to getting back to where we were
before,” Self said. “Hopefully through these
practice sessions, we made some great strides with that.”
Although Self is returning to his alma mater and will have family and
friends at the game, he said KU’s journey to Stillwater is
“This trip will be no different than any other road
trip,” Self said. “We’ll go down and
shoot, watch tape, get up the next morning, watch tape, not see anybody
and then maybe visit (with family and friends) after the
Self has won just one of four games in Gallagher Iba Arena as head
coach after leaving Stillwater in 1993. He lost two games there as head
man at ORU, and lost at Oklahoma State, 80-60, his first year at Kansas
on Feb. 9, 2004. Self’s Jayhawks beat OSU, 64-49, at
Stillwater on Feb. 13, 2006.
“It’s a great place to play and the fans are right
on top of you,” Self said. “I’m sure it
will be a great home crowd.”
But Self knows there’s no place like Kansas. And that will
likely always be home.
Kansas to Face Cowboys on Saturday
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