Around the year 500 B.C., Greek mathematician Pythagoras created the Pythagorean Theorem. In the mid-17th century, physicists Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz created calculus.
In 2003, Kansas coach Bill Self created what he calls "Kansas math."
When Self signed on the dotted line to become Kansas' coach in 2003, he was taking the helm of a team that had just been to back-to-back Final Fours under former coach Roy Williams. He also faced the prospect of having to develop and find replacements for senior guard Kirk Hinrich and senior forward Nick Collison, who had both left for the NBA.
And according to Self, Kansas math is when you lose more talent than you bring in, but you’re somehow expected to be better.
“I remember going and speaking around the state and numerous fans would tell me, ‘Hey, this is going to be our year. This is going to be our year.’ And I'm like going, what about these last years?” Self said at Big 12 Media Day on Oct. 24.
In his first season in charge, Self managed to get the best out of returning forward Wayne Simien and guard Keith Langford, as well as adding freshman guard J.R. Giddens to the team, who averaged 11.3 points per game.
Building on that team, Self returned a relatively unchanged team for his second season, but also added future stars Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun. That 2004-05 squad would prove to give Self not only his first Big 12 championship, but a springboard for his Kansas math to really take off.
Self continued to build himself a foundation in his third season, adding Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright to the mix. This core of players, along with Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins, who joined Kansas a year later, would help bring Kansas its first national title since 1988.
Since then, Self has always found a way to keep the points coming and the Big 12 championships flowing. Either through long-term players, such as the Morris twins in the late 2000s, or one-and-done’s like Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Josh Jackson, Self has continued to produce success.
During Tuesday's Big 12 Media Day, Devonte' Graham discussed the close bond he has with former Kansas basketball player Frank Mason III and his hopes for the duo in the future.
Last season, Self found great success in a pair of players who proved to be perfect team leaders — guards Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham.
“We are not close now, but you lose the national player of the year, and you lose, you know, a guy that's arguably as good as anybody in the draft last year,” Self said of Mason and Jackson. “That's a lot to replace, but somehow people are so optimistic always that we should always be better.”
That man to replace the national player of the year is Graham.
“Devonte' is the face of our program,” Self said. “There is no question about it, probably as much right now as anybody we've had.”
While Mason was the main man last year, averaging over 20 points and five assists per game, Graham was always right next to him, happy to dish off the ball to Mason for a shot from beyond the arc.
But with Mason now in the NBA, and Graham the face of the team, there is nothing stopping Graham from reaching the heights that Mason achieved.
Although transfer redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman has shown promise in the preseason so far, there is no doubt this is Graham’s team.
After three years of acting deputy to other four-year tributes to Kansas math, such as Mason, center Landen Lucas and forward Perry Ellis, Graham is ready to add another piece of history to Self’s fabled Kansas math.
— Edited by Danya Issawi