At the end of every Kansas basketball season, the team holds a banquet that’s part celebration, part roast and part remembrance of what’s typically a pretty successful season.
Having won the NCAA national championship less than two weeks ago, this year’s festivities certainly leaned into those themes. To kick things off on Thursday, the program showed an incredible video highlighting the biggest games and moments of the season leading up to the Final Four in New Orleans.
Once it got there, the school showed newly released footage of head coach Bill Self giving his team one final (and mildly expletive-laden) pep talk before taking the court against North Carolina for the title.
(h/t Kansas Athletics)
“You guys will be loved forever, but Danny [Manning is] right. Take care of business tonight and you’ll never be forgotten. Ok? Never be forgotten. You deserve to be here. You deserve to play in this game and I damn guarantee you we deserve to win. Ok? You’re not going to win by hoping it happens. You’re going to win it by going out playing one possession at a time and, as Nick Collison said, ‘hold the moment, play where your feet are’. Ok? Your mind is where your feet are. Always thinking next play, ok?
“I know you’re excited. You should be excited. Maybe a few nerves. Let’s take it out on defense and rebounding. You guys all understand that. Share the ball and the most aggressive team wins. Take it right at their a****. You guys got it? You ready to go? Let’s go have some fun.”
Whew. Yeah, that’ll get you going. For a program that prides itself on the history of the game, referencing Danny Manning and Nick Collison are sure to get the blood pumping a bit faster.
The speech has some shades of what Self told his team before winning the 2008 title with Manning serving as KU’s assistant coach. Self said the players can “ask Danny” about what playing on this stage means.
Whether or not the speech worked in 2022 is up for debate. Kansas came out and knocked down an Ochai Agbaji three to open the scoring, but quickly fell behind, facing a 15-point deficit at halftime.
Not long after, the Jayhawks completed the largest comeback in title game history to knock off the Tar Heels and hang a sixth championship banner at Allen Fieldhouse. No one may ever know for sure what Self told the team at the break—we’ll at least have to wait a few years before the full story comes out—but former KU great Paul Pierce had a pretty good idea what was happening in that locker room at the time.
What did Paul Pierce think Bill Self told KU down 15 at half?
“I don’t know, but I know he got in they ass.“ pic.twitter.com/G8eBE432u4
— Taylor Eldridge (@tayloreldridge) April 5, 2022
Hard to argue against The Truth there. Whatever was said, it clearly worked.