DES MOINES, Iowa – Bill Self's status for Kansas' opener in the NCAA Tournament was uncertain Wednesday, though assistant coach Norm Roberts said the Jayhawks remain hopeful he'll be on the bench when they play Howard on Thursday.
Kansas' Hall of Fame coach was discharged from a Kansas City-area hospital Sunday, where he’d been recovering after a procedure to treat blocked arteries in his heart.
Self attended practice Wednesday but did not participate in his team's media availability. Roberts said Self also was at practice Tuesday and has been at all of the team's meetings.
“He’s doing well, he’s getting better all the time,” Roberts said. “We’re hopeful, and everything is day-to-day with him, but if you ask our guys, he got after them pretty good today so he was doing really well.”
Roberts said Self missed the news conference so he could get some rest before the top-seeded and defending national champion Jayhawks begin play in the West Region.
All-American Jalen Wilson said Self appeared to have good energy at practice.
“He's looking great, feeling great,” Wilson said. "We’re all excited. It’s great to have him back on the court with us, for him to be able to coach us and start off tomorrow with a bang."
Self went to the emergency room the night of March 8, shortly after watching the Jayhawks in a final shootaround ahead of their Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal. He was complaining of chest tightness and concerns with his balance.
Dr. Mark Wiley, the chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Kansas Health System, said the 60-year-old Self underwent a standard heart catheterization and had two stents placed to help treat the blocked arteries.
Roberts, coached the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament. Roberts also served as acting coach earlier in the season, while Self was serving a school-imposed four-game suspension.
Kansas beat West Virginia and Iowa State in the Big 12 tourney with Roberts again on the bench before getting blown out 76-56 by seventh-ranked Texas in Saturday night’s championship game.
Self is 581-130 during two decades at Kansas, and 788-235 in 30 seasons as a head coach, which includes stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois. He led the Jayhawks to national titles in 2008 and last April.
Not having Self on the bench for the Big 12 Tournament just didn't feel right to freshman and Kansas-born Gradey Dick. He's counting on Self coaching.
“He’s our leader. For him to be back in the position that he’s always in is just huge for us,” Dick said. "We go to him, and of course I go to him with anything that I need. Just seeing him in my corner just motivates me to be the best I can be.”
Illinois coach Brad Underwood said he's not surprised Self is with the Jayhawks in Des Moines. Underwood has known Self more than 40 years. Self was his host on a recruiting trip to Oklahoma State; Underwood picked Kansas State. They coached against each other in the Big 12 when Underwood was an assistant at K-State and head coach at OSU.
Their teams would meet in the second round Saturday if the Illini beat Arkansas and the Jayhawks advance.
“I know how tough he is. I know what a competitor he is," Underwood said. “I also know how important it is for him to be here for his players and his coaches.
“I don’t want to speak for Bill, you know, he may not be his 100% spry self. ... When Bill is on that sideline, he’s helping his team.”
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