Kansas Players, Coach React to Bill Self’s Hospitalization
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas players like Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson didn’t know that anything had happened with coach Bill Self until Thursday morning.
That’s when interim coach Norm Roberts told reporters that the players were told about Self’s health event on Wednesday night.
The Jayhawks won their Big 12 Tournament opener, 78-61, over West Virginia, just hours after learning that Self was in the hospital.
There was a lot of compartmentalizing for the Jayhawks. And a lot of leaning on one another.
“With him not being here it brought us together even more through the adversity we’ve been through the entire season,” Wilson said. “That made us come together more and play as a team.”
Now, the Jayhawks will be without Self for the rest of the Big 12 Tournament. Kansas announced that shortly after Thursday’s game. Kansas made it clear in a press release that Self did not suffer a heart attack.
“He arrived at the emergency department last night and underwent a standard procedure that went well. He is expected to make a full recovery,” the statement read in part.
Roberts was at T-Mobile Center on Wednesday scouting the West Virginia-Texas Tech game in preparation for Thursday’s game. He didn’t make it clear if he found out at the arena or at the team hotel. But he said he did talk to Self on Wednesday night, and the decision was made not to tell the players until the morning. They did so because, at the time, Self’s status for the game wasn’t clear.
“We talked to the guys earlier this morning, and as I said before, we always talk about next man up,” Roberts said. “You know, faces change, expectations don’t. That’s our motto. That’s what we live by.”
The players said the same thing, though Gradey Dick added one adjustment.
“(Self’s) always preaching next man up, and in this case it was coach (Roberts),” Dick said.
Roberts served as the team’s interim head coach for the first four games of the season when Self was suspended, a Kansas-imposed punishment as part of the NCAA’s probe of the program. Kansas went 4-0.
Roberts’ experience on the bench earlier this season made the transition a little less jarring.
He said he didn’t speak to Self before the game, and admitted because the scouting report was locked in on West Virginia that there was little need to do so. But Roberts did speak to Self after the game.
Roberts joked that Self is already itching to get back.
“He’s doing well,” Roberts said. “He already wants to start watching film and all that, so he’s doing great.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard