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Kansas mens basketball program to name former Illinois coach Williams successor

Jayhawks prepare to get Self actualized

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2003

LAWRENCE, Kan. Bill Self met with the Kansas players Sunday night to discuss his plans for the team, a day before he was to be introduced as the new coach of the Jayhawks.

It's his program now,'' forward Keith Langford said after leaving the meeting at Allen Fieldhouse, which lasted a little more than an hour.

Self, who spent the past three seasons at Illinois, arrived on campus earlier Sunday and had dinner with chancellor Robert Hemenway, interim athletic director Drue Jennings and several staff members and current players.

Self made a strong impression on point guard Aaron Miles.

He's cool. I like him,'' Miles said. He said he is a different coach than Roy Williams, but he is a good coach.''

Williams resigned last week to take the North Carolina job, seven days after the Jayhawks lost to Syracuse in the national title game.

Kansas scheduled a news conference for Monday at 10 a.m. ADT. A source within the athletic department, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Self didn't want a Sunday announcement because of Easter.

Forward Wayne Simien said Self appeared exhausted during the meeting with his new players.

He looks like he hasn't slept,'' Simien said. It just shows how hard he has worked. He came in the room nonchalantly. The first thing I said when I saw this guy was that he looked terrible. But he is a real fiery guy.

It is the beginning of a new chapter, and we have closed the one behind us.''

Simien was bitter about Williams' departure, and he said Self allowed the players to ask him candid questions.

The main question was, how did he tell his players at Illinois,'' Simien said. I feel for the Illinois players, because I know how they feel.''

The athletic department offices and basketball practice gym on Illinois' Champaign campus were locked Sunday. But freshman Deron Williams, speaking outside the practice gym, said his coach had a difficult choice.

I talked to him (Saturday) night, and he said the deal was in the making,'' Williams said. It was a hard decision for him to make. He had to make the decision that was best for his family.''

Self's first college coaching job was as an assistant at Kansas under then-coach Larry Brown in the 1985-86 season. During his three seasons at Illinois, Self went 78-24 and led the team to the NCAA tournament each year, reaching the final eight in 2001.

His teams shared the Big Ten regular-season title in 2001 and 2002, making him the second conference coach to accomplish the feat. This season, the Illini finished second in the league standings but won the tournament championship.

Kansas guard Michael Lee said Self told the players he wants to run on offense next season, giving them plenty of opportunities to experiment on the court.

He said he will never take away from a player's game, and never look at the bench when you make a mistake,'' Lee said.

Self's intensity on the bench and affable nature off the court made him a fan favorite at Illinois, which gave the coach a five-year contract extension in December worth $900,000 a season.

Kansas will have to spend $500,000 to buy out the contract.



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