NEW ORLEANS — Here is what Kansas coach Bill Self had to say about Kentucky coach John Calipari after Kentucky beat Kansas 67-59 Monday to give Calipari his first national championship (Self’s Kansas team beat Calipari’s Memphis team in the title game in 2008):
Question: As a coach, do you have an appreciation for what the Kentucky staff has done in order to get such a young group of players to be so patient on offense and buy in defensively?
Self: “They've done a great job. They've done a fabulous job coaching their team. They share. They like each other, the appearance is. And they certainly defend. They're playing with pros. That didn't hurt either. But, you know, they've done a great job, great job coaching their team. I don't think their staff gets the credit sometimes that they deserve on how well they coach because they're so talented.”
Question: When Calipari went to Kentucky three years ago, do you remember thinking at all that he's going to win a title there, only a matter of time? Did you think it might happen this quickly for him?
Self: “Well, the way that they've done it, I don't think you could really say anything is 'quickly.' Because they've been playing with really talented kids every year. It's not like they recruited freshmen and by the time they're juniors and seniors they're ready. They're turning them over every year.
“But absolutely I thought he'd win a national championship at Kentucky. You know, you have resources. You have facilities. You have so many things going for you there when you recruit the level of players they've recruited, and they coach 'em the way they coach 'em. I think it was obvious that he was going to win a championship.”
Question: Calipari said he doesn't need this to validate his career, but what does it mean to win a national championship?
Self: “I can't speak for him, but for me, Kentucky's an historic program. It's unbelievable. But so is our program. And for me personally to be only the third guy to lead his team or coach his team to the winner's circle, so to speak, was an unbelievable, humbling feeling to me, to be a part of something that is so much bigger than me, but still yet be a serious part of the fabric of what the existence of the program has been. I'm sure Cal feels the same way.”