REPORT: SELF TO TAKE SPURS JOB AFTER FINAL FOUR; COACH REFUTES STORY
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Atlanta - On the day before the biggest game for Kansas in nearly a decade, Bill Self was faced with a report that he is set to accept the San Antonio Spurs job after the Final Four. The distraction in reminiscent of the issues Self dealt with at the 2008 Final Four related to the open Oklahoma St. job and with what former KU coach Roy Williams faced at the 2003 Final Four.
Yahoo Sports basketball writer Pat Forde, citing two unnamed sources, reported that Self and the San Antonio Spurs have in place an “agreement in principle” for Self to replace Gregg Popovich following the current NBA season. Forde stated that the sources report that Self has grown tired of repeated issues with the NCAA, from initial player eligibility issues that have dogged many top recruits to the current issue surrounding the FBI investigation and prosecutions by the Department of Justice. KU is waiting on the NCAA’s penalty determination.
Forde reported that there was a “secret meeting” between Self and Spurs brass, including Popovich, in late February. Part the of the alleged agreement is that former Spur Tim Duncan will be Self’s lead assistant. It’s reported that Self would bring at least one of his current assistant’s with him to San Antonio.
Self reacted angrily, “This is total (baloney). Is this Groundhog day? I have no idea where this stuff comes from. As I’ve said, I’m the Kansas coach and plan to be the coach for many more seasons. Forde is a clown. He’s an Missouri alum, which speaks for itself … just trying to stir up issues before tomorrow night. I’d be interested in his sources if he has the courage to name them. Did you ask him? That’s right, no one ever asks those questions. I have not plans to leave.”
Yahoo Sports issued a statement standing by the story and the reporting. Forde followed up by saying that his sources were “reliable” and the “answer will come when there is a new KU coach on the sidelines for next season.” Forde added, “But of course, deals fall through or there are other negotiations. That doesn’t mean my story is wrong.”
Kansas City Star reporter Jesse Newell followed up on Forde’s report. Newell confirmed the February meeting but that there was no agreement or plan put in place. “My sources tell me Self left and there has been no further discussion.”
In other Final Four news, Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo put his team through a workout this afternoon in Atlanta, which was closed to the press and spectators. Izzo said that his squad is “healthy and ready to roll” Monday night. “I think our guys know the job ahead of them. We went over the game plan late last night and our practice today was laser-focused. We’ll give it our best tomorrow.”
Coach Self expressed confidence in his squad, “We’ve been playing with a target on our backs all season. Nothing has changed. We’ve got to avoid let downs during the game. We’ve escaped a few of those in the tourney. But no one has a cake walk. Michigan St. almost lost to San Diego (State). How we got here doesn’t matter. It’s that we are here. One game decides it.”
Self said that his star center, Udoka Azubuike, is still “doubtful.” Azubuike, as he did last night, will suit up and go through warm-ups. “I just need a two handed basketball player. He can’t control the ball at all with his left hand, at least last night. That’s our guide. Look, we’ve done pretty well with the guys that have subbed in.”
Sophomore David McCormack will be the starter, said Self, despite Silvio DeSousa’s monster game against Villanova. “David had one of those last week (vs. Kentucky in the Elite Eight). I think we’re covered.”
Izzo said that he’s noticed that some teams have had “good luck” against Kansas with zone looks. “We have a lot of options.” The Spartans defense has been an issue at times this season. The opposite is the case for Kansas. “Their defense has carried them at times,” said Izzo, “but we can defend a bit too.”
Three media members picked the title game correctly, Jason King, Eamonn Brennan, and Garry Parish. King and Brennan picked MSU to win the title while Parrish chose KU. Vegas pegged Kansas a favorite at (-3). The game tips at 8:22 CDT on CBS Monday night.
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I hope Doke has as successful an NBA career as Nick Collison.