Bill Self cringed when asked if it actually might be a good thing his Kansas University basketball team failed to squeak out a victory over Oral Roberts on Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse.
"No, no, no," Self said.
He realizes players of KU's caliber don't need to lose, 78-71, to learn a valuable lesson. Just as much could have been gained from watching film of say, a close victory over the Mid-Continent Conference school.
"I never thought we were going to lose," Self said. "I knew it was a game that didn't feel right from the beginning just because our team was not together the way their team was. That was a hungry team we played. They played great. They played awesome."
The 1-1 Jayhawks didn't click offensively, totaling 15 assists against 19 turnovers.
Starters Julian Wright and Brandon Rush were not on top of their games, to say the least.
Wright scored six points off 3-of-10 shooting with six turnovers. He did grab 12 rebounds and block five shots with two steals. Rush scored 14 points off 5-of-14 shooting, missing four of seven free throws. He had two assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes.
"He never got into the game. He had opportunities to get into the game," Self said of Rush. "He had some easy shots, some ballhandling opportunities.
"Julian never got into the game," Self added. "He got rebounds, but never got into the game. It's not their fault. We were all a step behind, those two more than anybody."
Of course, KU didn't just lose the game. The Eagles won it thanks in large part to 6-foot-8, 255-pound power forward Caleb Green, who cashed 20 points off 7-of-16 shooting with 11 rebounds and eight assists.
"We did edit tapes of Caleb and Tutt (Ken, who made three of 15 shots)," Self said. "Our guys saw every good play he (Green) made in the last four games, going back to last year. They were aware how he did it."
Green's secret to success?
"It's just like NBA games. He has an old-school game," Self said. "When a guy posts 13 feet or 10 feet from the basket (like he does), that nullifies defensive pressure. You can't front a guy at 10 feet. He has such good vision. It's like guarding a Danny (Manning) after he catches the ball in practice. He can find guys, and he did that. They exposed us in a lot of ways with low-post defense tonight."
The Jayhawks did clamp down on Tutt.
"We actually did a good job on him. Of course, Vealy goes nuts," Self reflected on guard Marchello Vealy, who hit his first seven threes after making 1 of 13 all last season.
"We said he was a good face-up shooter," Self said. "We didn't anticipate him making seven of eight. After you make two, it seems you should maybe guard him. We didn't do it."
Things didn't flow smoothly offensively to say the least.
"We didn't finish any of them," Self said of fast-break opportunities. "Instead of making easy plays or focusing on defending or rebounding, doing things we are supposed to do, we were intent on making a great play.
"Making a great play is not what basketball is about. It's about making a bunch of good plays. We didn't make basketball plays."
As far as the intangibles, KU also failed to take the Golden Eagles seriously.
"Pretty much everybody. We can just start naming names," junior Russell Robinson said, indicating all players suffered from a lack of focus. "Coach always says it, always says, 'These guys are good,' tells us we better be ready to play.
"It's hard to accept just because coach has been stressing it over and over and over again. We got to the point we think we can turn it on and off. We've got to play hard every possession for 40 minutes."
The Jayhawks had an off day Thursday to reflect and possibly make sure lack of focus isn't a problem again.
"This is just one game early in season," Robinson said. "This loss definitely will help us, more than anything will help the freshmen realize how serious this is and help them get ready every game."
There will be plenty of games coming up. The Jayhawks will play host to Towson on Sunday and Tennessee State on Tuesday in 7 p.m. games then meet Ball State and Florida next Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas, returning home to play Dartmouth on Nov. 28 and USC on Dec. 4 with a game at DePaul on Dec. 2.