Kansas head coach Bill Self takes the court next to assistant Norm Roberts prior to tipoff against Pittsburg State on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self’s hospitalization and ensuing recovery in March caused him to miss five KU postseason games, three in the Big 12 Conference tournament and two in the NCAA Tournament. That flare-up, which required a heart catheterization and the installment of two stents, was actually the culmination of longer-term lingering discomfort, as Self explained Thursday on The Field of 68 podcast.
Calling into the podcast with Rob Dauster and Jeff Goodman, Self said that he had an aortic valve replaced in the fall, months before the March 8 “episode.” He said he was told he would feel better immediately but did not.
“I probably hadn’t felt well for a while,” Self said of his condition before the Big 12 tournament, “but probably didn’t know I didn’t feel well because I didn’t really ever feel good.”
Now, he said, “I can tell what feeling well actually feels like.”
The episode that prompted Self to check into the University of Kansas Health System consisted of disorientation and a lack of balance. He was released from the hospital four days later but was not able to coach the Jayhawks in their tournament matchups against Howard or Arkansas.
“I could tell I wasn’t quite right, and they told me I should lay off,” he said on the podcast. “But if we were fortunate enough to advance, I think I could have gone the next week in Vegas when we would have taken on Connecticut.”
Self also discussed how the transfer portal has produced significant roster turnover at KU this offseason, with eight players departing — “I actually have been very happy and pleased with where they’ve landed, because I think they’ve gone to good spots for them respectively” — and four coming in. While he expressed satisfaction with how the portal has treated KU this offseason, he criticized its long-term impact.
“The portal’s not good, and I’ll be the first to say this, in a way that’s good for our sport over time,” he said. “… The first time you hit a road bump, you should actually go over it sometimes as opposed to around it.”
Goodman asked Self if changes in the sport had made him consider stepping away. Self responded with remarks that mirrored those he made when he first spoke to media after the season on April 5.
“I took about a month or six weeks and reflected and thought a lot about it,” he said on the podcast, “and the one thing that I have found out in the time in which I had my episode was how much I missed it.”
In fact, he added, “As much as today’s game has changed, and as much uncertainty as there is with our sport and college basketball, and all the things that are going on, I think in some way it’s kind of reenergized me.”
KU men’s basketball assistant Norm Roberts was inducted into the A STEP UP Assistant Coaches Hall of Fame. The organization, which concentrates on professional development and networking opportunities for coaches, honored Roberts at its series of symposiums in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this week.
Roberts rejoined Self’s coaching staff in 2012 after spending nine previous years working with Self over the course of his career. Roberts has worked as a coach in one form or another since graduating from Queens College in New York in 1987, including a six-year stint as the head coach at St. John’s.
He came to the forefront last season when he filled in for Self as acting head coach during two separate stints. Roberts led the Jayhawks to four straight wins as Self served a season-opening suspension. Then, during Self’s hospitalization and recovery in March, Roberts filled in at the top spot to go 2-1 in the Big 12 tournament as KU lost in the final to Texas, then 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament as the Jayhawks were eliminated by Arkansas in the Round of 32.
Men’s golf championship begins
Will King, the KU freshman golfer from Olathe who won an eight-hole playoff round in regional competition to qualify for the NCAA men’s golf championships, teed off Friday for his first 18 holes of stroke play at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
King was in excellent shape through 12 holes at 2-under par, but double bogeys on the 13th and 16th offset a late birdie and brought him back up to 1-over, where he remained. He finished with 71 strokes on the par-70 course, which, as of Friday afternoon, put him in a tie for 55th place.
King had been inconsistent earlier in the season. Entering regionals, he had ranked fourth on the Jayhawks with a scoring average of 73.21 and had only paced the squad in two of 12 prior competitions, but even as KU missed out on qualifying as a team, King posted a pair of 4-under rounds in Norman, Okla., and emerged victorious over Hugo Townsend of Ole Miss in sudden death to make it to Grayhawk as an individual.
He will be back on the course in Scottsdale on Saturday.
Women’s track and field preliminaries continue
KU track and field sent three competitors to the first round of women’s preliminary competition in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday but none advanced, as Samantha Van Hoecke (3.82 meters, 41st) and Gabby Hoke (4.12, 18th) in the pole vault and Avryl Johnson in the 1,500 meters (finished in 4:23.09, 36th) were all unable to qualify for the next round.
The Jayhawks women’s team will still have several high-ranking athletes in competition Saturday, including Sofia Sluchaninova and Tori Thomas in the discus, conference champion Rylee Anderson in the high jump and Saudia Heard in the triple jump.
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