Forgrave: This Season Was A "Masterful Coaching Job From Bill Self"

Kansas is back in the Final Four after beating Duke in "the best game of this tournament"

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
March 26, 2018 - 9:35 am

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Kansas is back in the Final Four for the first time since 2012, this after surviving No. 2 Duke, 85-81, in overtime on Sunday in perhaps the most thrilling game of the tournament. 

“To me, this was absolutely the best game of this tournament,” CBS Sports college basketball analyst Reid Forgrave said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. Two bluebloods, the stakes so high, the storylines so great, and they’re playing for a shot at the Final Four.”

Malik Newman scored a career-high 32 points for the Jayhawks (31-7), including all 13 of Kansas’ points in overtime. Duke may have been the more balanced team – its five starters all scored between 10 and 20 points – but Kansas had the best player on the court. Lagerald Vick (14 points), Devonte’ Graham (11) and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (11) all scored in double figures as well.

This isn’t the most talented team that Bill Self has had at Kansas, but it has played to its potential in March.

“Back in January, I don’t think this season was ever headed to disaster territory, but I do think Kansas was up against it in the Big 12,” Forgrave said. “That record streak, which he brought to 14 years in a row of winning the Big 12, looked in jeopardy.”

The Jayhawks lost three home games this season; they had lost three home games in the past five seasons combined.

“They had a basic structural problem with their roster, which is they didn’t have enough big men, especially when Billy Preston had his eligibility deal,” Forgrave said. “That was a cloud that was hanging over this team for months. But once they got Silvio De Sousa – he’s a high school kid who reclassified and came to Kansas at the semester break  – once they added him and once Billy Preston was officially gone from the team, I think Bill Self was able to look at this team and (say), ‘This is what we have, and this is what we’re going to do.’ He constructed one of the most efficient offenses in the country primarily with a four-guard lineup.”

That means players like Mykhailiuk had to play defense – and good defense, at that.

“He’s a shooting guard,” Forgrave said. “He was playing on defense all year. He was guarding the 4. He was guarding Marvin Bagley today. Normally you would think that would be an absolute disaster, but he held Bagley in check.”

Bagley finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds – below his season averages of 21 points and 11 boards.

“Bagley is a guy who might be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and (Mykhailiuk) held him in check,” Forgrave said in disbelief. “This whole season was an absolute masterful coaching job from Bill Self. Not just the motivation, but just the fact that he was able to improvise so much with this team.”

Kansas will face No. 1 Villanova (34-4) this Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET.