Kansas coach Self careful what he says to team

Kansas coach Self careful what he says to team

Published Feb. 25, 2010 10:53 p.m. ET

As if they didn't have enough to get excited about already, a brand new buzz is racing through many Kansas fans - will they beat North Carolina - and coach Roy Williams - to 2,000 wins?

Since the late 19th century, when basketball inventor James Naismith accepted the princely sum of $1,300 to become Kansas' first coach, the Jayhawks have amassed 1,997 wins.

At the beginning of the year, Kansas fans who delved that deeply into such things wouldn't have given themselves much chance of going across the line ahead of North Carolina and joining Kentucky, which earlier this season rang up its 2,000th victory.

But the Tar Heels have fallen upon hard times and stand 14-14 overall heading into the weekend, stranding them 1,998 all-time.


Both teams have three regular-season games remaining before their conference tournaments. Kansas (27-1) is at Oklahoma State on Saturday, which has always been a tough place for the Jayhawks.

Then they host No. 6 Kansas State the following Wednesday. If the Jayhawks win both of those, stretching their winning streak to 15 in a row, they could notch No. 2,000 with a victory March 6 at archrival Missouri, which twice stopped unbeaten Kansas teams during the Williams era.

The struggling Tar Heels are at Wake Forest on Saturday, then they host Miami and finish the regular season at Duke.

The prospect of beating North Carolina to 2,000 might be sending a thrill through many Kansas followers. But coach Bill Self figures he and his players all have much more pressing matters at hand.

``I would say that's something for fans to talk about,'' Self said Thursday. ``I mean, who really cares about that, getting there first? Does that mean you've got a better program? It doesn't mean anything.''

Self said he would not even bring up the 2,000-victory plateau while preparing for Saturday's game at Stillwater, where his teams have absorbed some of their worst defeats. Neither will he mention the fact the Jayhawks could become the first team since Williams' 2002 Jayhawks to go unbeaten through the Big 12.

``It's not motivation daily, that we try to play with their minds to come up with some gimmick to keep them fired up,'' he said. ``They should be fired up anyway. How many teams have put themselves in a position to have really great years? It doesn't happen every year. The best year anybody's going to have is to be the team that wins on a Monday night in April. All this is preparation to have a chance to play for high stakes later.''

Most of the Kansas players have not given No. 2,000 much thought.

``It's not something we're talking about,'' said guard Tyrel Reed. ``I know fans are talking about it.''

But no matter when or where it happens, just being a member of the team that notches win No. 2,000 will be something Cole Aldrich holds dear.

``It's really cool,'' said the 6-11 center.

He turned around and pointed toward the big basketball mural on the wall just a few steps from the Allen Fieldhouse court where the Jayhawks have won 57 in a row.

``There were so many people before us who put their heart and soul into playing here,'' he said. ``To be the team that gets to that milestone is really special.''

Would it be more special to get there ahead of North Carolina and Williams, who won 418 games as Kansas coach?

``He's a part of what makes Kansas basketball so special. Anybody who's played here, or coached here, is a special part of it,'' Aldrich said.

Self does admit it would be more special to most fans to beat the Tar Heels to 2,000.

``From our fans' perspective, it would probably mean something just based on the history with Carolina, and Kansas,'' he said. ``But to me, that doesn't mean much at all.''