I’ve known Bill Self for a long time now, and so it was great to catch up with him for The Big Read this week. One of the things he said surprised me: He said that, in some ways, this has been his favorite ever team to coach. When I asked why, he smiled and said because in addition to the usual joys of coaching, this year’s team also includes his son, Tyler, who is a walk-on as a freshman.
This year’s Kansas team actually has several family connections. Assistant coach Norm Roberts’ son Niko is a walk-on. The son of Kansas legend and former assistant coach Danny Manning — Evan Manning — is also a walk-on. None of them play at the moment, except in blowouts, but it’s definitely given the team a different kind of vibe. And it’s made things it a lot of fun for Bill Self.
Then, that doesn’t mean it has gone smoothly. Bill Self, you might know, is a wise guy. You might remember how, after his team was beaten at TCU, he said the first-half performance was Kansas’ worst since they lost to the Topeka YMCA under the Jayhawks first coach (and basketball’s first coach) James Naismith. He’s made a lot of comments like that. Well at some point in December, Tyler Self was put into the game against American with Kansas up by a lot. He took a shot … and air-balled it.
After the game, a reporter asked Self what he thought about the shot. Self thought about it for a second sand said, “We are going to call an attorney and see about a name change.” He then added that his mother apparently still loved him.
The next day, Tyler came into practice and looked his father right in the eye.
“Dad,” he said, “that $&#&$* ain’t funny.”