Kansas' Norm Roberts: Bill Self 'getting better all the time'

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Coach Bill Self was not with the Kansas Jayhawks for Wednesday's public practice and assistant Norm Roberts said Self's availability to work Thursday's NCAA tournament opener was in question.

"We're hopeful,'' said Roberts, who filled in for Self during the Jayhawks' three Big 12 tournament games last week. "Everything is day-to-day with him.''

The Jayhawks, the No. 1 seed in the West Region, play No. 16 Howard to begin their NCAA tournament run.

Roberts said Self was at an earlier closed practice on Wednesday, as well as a Tuesday workout and all of the team's recent meetings. He said Self skipped the NCAA's usual day-before media obligations and public practice to catch up on his rest.

"He's doing well today,'' Roberts said. "He's getting better all the time.

"If you ask our guys, he got after them pretty good today so he was doing really well.''

Self missed the Big 12 tournament after going to the hospital complaining of chest tightness and balance concerns. He underwent a heart catheterization and had two stents placed for the treatment of blocked arteries and was discharged from the University of Kansas Health System on Sunday.

"He's looking great, feeling great,'' said Jalen Wilson, Kansas' leading scorer. "We were able to talk to him at practice today and he's excited. We're all excited. It's great to have him back on the court with us, for him to be able to coach us and start off tomorrow with a bang.

"We know Coach's role. He will be coaching. He's doing everything he's been doing. He was down for awhile for the Big 12 but he's back, he's energized and excited and ready to get this going again.''

Illinois coach Brad Underwood, a longtime friend of Self's, said it wouldn't surprise him to see Self coaching on Thursday.

"I know what a competitor he is,'' said Underwood, who will lead the No. 9 seeded Illini against No. 8 Arkansas on Thursday in Des Moines. "I also know how important it is for him to be here for his players and his coaches.

"He may not be 100 percent, but I also know that there's a lot of things out there that in terms of family, his team, staff that are really important, that he goes out there and performs the best he can to try to help them. When Bill is on that sideline, he's helping his team.''