Bill Self, Kansas University Basketball Coach, is too legendary to list all of his exceptional national achievements, championships and awards. After interviewing him though, I would say that one of the reasons for his continued success is that it appears in no way to have gone to his head. He clearly understands the importance of those around him which must also set an example of selflessness on his team.
The Global Town is honored to welcome Coach Bill Self to discuss his philosophies and team this year.
Gabrielle Reilly: So what has attributed to your consistent success?
Coach Bill Self: I think the biggest contributing factor is that we’ve always been able to get better players, and I’m speaking from my heart. We’ve recruited well. I’ve got a great staff. And we work at a place that obviously the product is very easy to sell. So I would say those things probably have been the underlying factor of why we’ve been able to maintain a pretty high level of success.
Gabrielle Reilly: And what do you do to motivate your players, what’s sort of your main strategy with that?
Coach Bill Self: Well, I think every kid’s different. And I like to coach them as much as I can. But at the end of the day you have to still vary a little bit with each kid because certain things motivate different people differently. But the biggest, you know, we’re fortunate. There’s a lot of things that motivate people naturally, competition motivates people, playing time motivates people. The opportunity to be a part of something great yourself can be a motivating factor. But one of the big things is, is that they love being a part of what we’re doing. And so they know that if they’re not motivated they won’t have as good opportunity to be a part of that.
Everything that we focus on is about the team goals. For the most part we talk about what our expectations are, what you need to improve more, this is how I think you can expand your game, this is what you need to work harder on, but as far as really trying to drive it home and the opportunity for this or that, I don’t think we do that. I think we just talk about, this is what we’re going to do.
Gabrielle Reilly: And what’s your strategy on sleep and food for the athletes?
Coach Bill Self: Well, we do a decent job of monitoring diet. But still college kids are still going to eat what they want to eat, you know, late night or whatever. But the biggest thing we do is give them a plethora of information. We have apps they can go to on their phone. They can tell them exactly what they should be eating, this and that. Curfews at times, could at least put them in a position where they’re close to their bed, it doesn’t mean they’re actually in their bed. But I do think that’s something that’s very, very hard to moderate. But we have the things in place that if a kid is really responsible he can figure it out.
Gabrielle Reilly: Coach Self goes on to talk about the KU basketball team this year.
Coach Bill Self: I think we’ve got a decent team. I think that we’re ridiculously young; we haven’t got a senior on the roster on scholarship. And our veterans vary obviously, our second most experienced player is Wayne Selden and then the third most experienced player is Jamari Traylor and after that well, Frank Mason did play some last year, he got in a couple of games. Brannen Greene got a couple of games, that’s it. I mean we are very, very young. And so we make a lot of mistakes, you know game situation type mistakes but the guys are trying really hard. I’ve done a lot of athletic building. I don’t think we’re really, really, real fast. But I do think we’re a good. We’re still quick but we’re not very tall compared to how our past teams have been. We’ve not quite as big as what we’ve been in the past. But certainly we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.
But we’ve got … Cliff Alexander who actually has been really, really good, he’s aggressive. And Devonte’s Graham is going to be a really good guard, he’s got a chance to be our star, I think he’s going to be really good. And obviously, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Svi is, you know, to me, if you look at the guys in each play, he’d be the best player of our team and he’s going to get better and better, he’s going to be real good. And Kelly Oubre, he may be our best prospect. I think he could be our best prospect. But Devonté is a good shooter. Frank is a very good shooter. Brannen, he’s a terrific, Cliff’s got a nice touch, Cliff can shoot, yeah, Cliff can shoot. And you guys know we’re determined guys.
Perry Ellis could be the best player, I think it’s a realistic goal for Perry to be our player of the year, but he’s got to do some things, he’s got to be more rested, he’s really expanding his game. It’s going to be a pretty fun group.
Gabrielle Reilly: Thanks so much for your time Coach Self. I have a picture of you and my son with the 2008 Championship trophy in my basement. I’m wishing you another one of those!