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Self named at Kansas

April 21, 2003 at 4:59 PM   |   Comments

LAWRENCE, Kan., April 21 (UPI) -- Officials at Kansas Monday officially unveiled Bill Self as the school's new men's basketball coach, replacing Roy Williams.

Most recently, Self enjoyed a successful three-year runt at Illinois, and guided Illinois to the "Sweet 16" in 2002. He began his coaching career in 1985, and also has enjoyed successful head coaching stints at Oral Roberts and Tulsa.

Self, who called his hiring at Kansas "a whirlwind experience," signed a five-year contract after guiding the Fighting Illini to a 78-24 record over the past three seasons. That included two Big Ten regular-season championships, a Big Ten Tournament title, and three straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. In Self's first season in Champaign, the Illini advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time since 1989.

"I can't tell you enough that I am thrilled to be the basketball coach at the University of Kansas," Self said at a news conference.

He was asked about the rumors that he has been mentioned prominently as a possible successor to Eddie Sutton when he retires at Oklahoma State.

"This is a career-ending job," Self said. "I love Oklahoma State, (but) my future is not in Stillwater. My future is in Lawrence. It's a once-in-a lifetime job

at Kansas."

In 10 seasons as a head coach, Self has compiled an overall record of 207-105 (.663), including a 10-5 mark in NCAA Tournament play.

Self, 40, began his coaching career as an assistant under Larry Brown at Kansas in 1985-86, and succeeds Roy Williams, who resigned last week to return to North Carolina, his alma mater.

In 2002, Self became the first Big Ten coach since 1912, and just the second all-time, to lead his squad to conference championships in each of his first two seasons at a school. It also was the first time Illinois won back-to-back Big Ten titles in 50 years, and just the third time in school history.

"I stand before you with mixed emotions," Self told a throng of reporters. "Nobody picks the timing, and certainly, I didn't pick this. It was a difficult decision to leave (Illinois). It was difficult because I'm leaving behind an unbelievably good situation. I'm leaving behind a great fan base, a great administration, great young players that were basically committed to the cause, and did everything they possibly could do to prop me up and make me look good. It always pulls on your emotional strings to walk away from people who have been good to you."

"We knew his record," said Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway. "We knew his reputation for integrity. And we knew of his strong respect for KU and all that it stands for, both as an academic institution and as a basketball power. It soon became clear that the interest was mutual, and on that basis, we were able to act promptly and decisively to bring to KU the coach that we wanted."

The Lawrence (Ks.) Journal-World reported Monday that Self met with the KU players Sunday night, and apparently, he made a mixed impression.

"The first thing I thought was, 'This guy looks terrible,'" sophomore forward Wayne Simien told the paper. "He had bags under his eyes. It looks like he's not slept. It shows he's working hard. He's cool. The first impression was real good. He said his bit and gave us a chance to ask questions. He will work hard for us."

The 6-9 Simien missed most of this past season with a shoulder separation.

The paper said Self told the Jayhawks' returning players that he will continue to play an up-tempo style.

"He said he will never take away from a player's game. He wants to run," sophomore guard Michael Lee told the paper. "He is a down-to-earth guy, a player's coach. He said, 'Never look at the bench when you make a mistake.'"

According to a report in the Chicago Sun Times on Sunday, Self was seen removing items from his office at Illinois on Saturday night, and sources also told the newspaper that Illinois Athletic Director Ron Guenther is "resigned to the fact that Self had made up his mind to leave."

"Any good coach will adapt to the type of players he has," sophomore guard Keith Langford said. "He will not take guys who have been successful running and play halfcourt."

Self coached at Oral Roberts for four years and Tulsa for three seasons before replacing Lon Kruger at Illinois in 2000. He has a career record of 207-105, and guided Tulsa to the "Elite Eight" of the NCAA Tournament in 1999-2000.

The Kansas City Star reported Monday that New Jersey high school senior Charlie Villanueva, a McDonald's All-American who is regarded as one of the top 10 prospects in the country, said that he would consider signing with Kansas if Self makes the offer.

The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Villanueva had made an oral commitment to Illinois before Self left the Illini to take the KU job.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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