Kansas basketball coach Bill Self is feeling grouchy, and fans should be happy about it.
Sports Illustrated writer and CBS Sports contributor Seth Davis put in a call to Self after watching the normally "aw-shucks hillbilly fellow" (Davis' words) turn into someone who looks like he's ready to go Sprewell on someone wearing a blue practice jersey. In addition to running the puke out of his players in practice, Self lashed out when his halftime challenge to beat UMKC by 48 points became public, telling reporters that "it pisses me off" that what happens in the locker room didn't stay in the locker room.
Davis asked Self if he's as mad as he seemed. "No, no, not really," the coach said before complaining that his players act as though "we have to get the last word on everything." The last wording resulted in bench time for junior Marcus Morris, who threw an ejection-worthy elbow in the game at Cal on December 22. Self told Davis that Morris committed "a selfish play, a premeditated act."
Davis sees a method to Self's transformation from easygoing Oklahoman to potential chair thrower.
Self isn't ticked because he doesn't think his team is good. He's ticked because he knows it's good. He wants his players to start acting like it.Davis goes on to say that KU has been "embarrassing" opponents with its superior play. UMKC coach and Race-to-20 victim Matt Brown would agree with this assessment. At the same time, KU beat UCLA and USC (both are unranked) by a combined total of three points. The game against Michigan (one NCAA appearance since 1998) required overtime. The Jayhawks have not been a dominant team.
But they can be. Which is why the rest of the Big 12 should be worried that Self is tormenting his players. He sees a talented bunch who can handle frequent insults and suicide drills. He sees guys who won't wilt under a frosty stare or the silent treatment.
Of course, it's also possible that Self is acting the way he is because he doesn't like his players all that much. (It happens.) But the point is, he's not indifferent, and indifference might be the only thing that can stop KU.
That, or a draw against a tough mid-major in the NCAA tournament.