Sunday, April 1, 2012
Self sold Jayhawks on winning it all
By Dana O'Neil
NEW ORLEANS -- Of all the players scattered throughout the Kansas locker room, perhaps none is more qualified to offer insight to Bill Self than Niko Roberts.
The deep reserve has known the coach practically his whole life, dating back to 1996 when his father, Norm, began an eight-year run as Self's assistant and a lifelong friendship.
Midway through the season, Niko picked up the phone and practically gushed to his dad.
"He said, 'Dad, Coach is back,'" Norm Roberts remembered. "'He's having so much fun. He's still getting after us but he's having a blast.' This is how I remember him."
This national championship pits the two winningest programs in college basketball against one another, a battle royale of the game's finest.
Kentucky trots to the Superdome fitting the bill, carrying the burden of expectation of not being the favorite but also, as John Calipari constantly reminds everyone, "The Commonwealth of Kentucky's Team."
Kansas saunters to Monday's title game like a poser, wearing the uniform of a blueblood and the pressure of a mid-major.
No one expected the Jayhawks to be here.
No one expects the Jayhawks to win.
And that is exactly why Self is having so much fun.