Bill Self's better half - his wife, Cindy - offered some strong observations after Kansas University's lethargic loss to unheralded Oral Roberts on Wednesday night.
"My wife knows nothing about basketball, OK? Nothing," Self, KU's fourth-year coach, said with a grin on Friday at his weekly news conference.
"One thing she said that is unbelievably accurate: 'If you love to play, if you really love to play, why does it matter so much who you are playing? If you love to play, why is it you have unbelievable practices some days and pitiful practices the next day? Wouldn't you think it would be really good to average as opposed to great and pitiful? If you love to play ... every time you lace 'em up you should enjoy being out there.'"
Cindy Self basically was saying ... if the Jayhawks love the game, why in the heck were they not as fired up to play Oral Roberts as they would be, say, Florida, South Carolina, DePaul or some of the other name schools on the slate, and why aren't they ready to go at practice each and every day?
"That's what's frustrating to me," Bill Self said. "The season is long. Everybody has good games and bad games. Two games into the season, if you really love to play, your batteries should still be charged. We didn't come out like our batteries were charged.
"Maybe she knows more than I give her credit for."
Self - starting with a hastily called 6 a.m. practice on Friday to go with a 5:30 p.m. practice - has challenged his Jayhawks to prove they really "love" the game of basketball as they prepare not only for Sunday's 7 p.m. home game against Towson but each and every contest the rest of the season.
"He talked about loving the game, coming in on your own, working on your game when nobody is here, when there are no lights. We've got to do it on our own," freshman Sherron Collins said. "If you love the game, you are committed to basketball. You shouldn't be thinking about anything else."
Like some proud Kansas players of the past.
"The culture in the locker room has changed a little bit since the times of Wayne and Aaron and those guys," junior Russell Robinson said of dedicated former players Wayne Simien and Aaron Miles. "We've got to get that back. It's going to start day by day. Waking up early today woke everybody up to that.
"Aaron came and shot every night," noted Robinson, who Self said had the potential to be the one upperclassman who could single-handedly make a difference. "Aaron was a terrible shooter. He had to get in the gym to shoot every night. Wayne spent any spare time he had in here shooting free throws.
"With this team, we have so much talent, guys don't do the extra. They do what they have to do and are satisfied with that. Losing to Oral Roberts and losses we had in the past are waking up guys to work a little harder."
Self said he and his assistants would have to try to help develop leaders and maybe seek some in recruiting and encourage Robinson to completely embrace the role.
"One guy can change the whole personality of the team from a toughness, intangible, responsibility standpoint, saying, 'Hey, we will all do things together tonight, and don't be late or I'll kick your butt,'" Self said. "We don't have that yet.
"We don't have one guy yet who can make things right just by taking matters in his own hands. It's what great teams have. We have not had that guy since I've been at Kansas in terms of one guy."
Robinson said he was trying.
"I was definitely trying to step up (against ORU) and get my teammates motivated. We were just a little bit off," Robinson said. "We never really got that one big play we needed. We needed somebody to step up offensively and make plays. Everybody had chances late. We just couldn't get it done. It will emerge eventually, hopefully the next game."
¢ Jackson bruises shoulder: KU junior forward Darnell Jackson re-injured a bruised right shoulder at practice Friday morning. He first injured it Wednesday when taking a charge from ORU's Caleb Green.
"It's a bruised shoulder, nothing else. He tweaked it pretty good today," Self said. "I'm sure his status will be OK for Sunday."
Jackson said: "I hurt it again today walking when I tripped at practice. I've been working it off a little bit. It's no big deal. I'll be fine."
¢ Case may be back: KU junior guard Jeremy Case, who has yet to play in a game this season because of a groin injury, is 80 percent, Self said. Case should be able to play Sunday barring a relapse before tipoff.
¢ Kaun doing well: Junior forward Sasha Kaun (knee injury) may begin practicing next week and could be ready for the Dartmouth game on Nov. 28.
"We will not put him out there until the doctors say he's ready," Self said, noting Kaun had been "progressing very nicely, but I don't know if we'll have him back in the next week or so. If we didn't have four games in six days he could play in more games, but I'm confident he'll play the week after that (next)."
¢ Defense resting: Self said there was a good reason the Jayhawks were behind defensively.
"We lost more than you think (from last year)," Self said. "Hawk (Jeff Hawkins) was the best on-the-ball defender in our league last year. Sherron (Collins) isn't where Hawk was yet. We lost a big guy who could talk and cover for everyone (Christian Moody). Shady (Darrell Arthur) certainly is not where Christian was yet. We lost a walk-on player who was on scholarship last year who, when he was in the game, did not let his man get a shot off. We've lost two big guys (Kaun and C.J. Giles). We are as good this year as we started the season last year. It's frustrating. With the carryover we have, we should be farther along."
¢ Back to Boot Camp: Self was asked why the squad assembled at 6 a.m. Friday.
"I'd say I just like getting up early. It was probably added (because of ORU loss)," he cracked.
"It was good," Robinson said. "We got a lot of stuff done. Everybody came in with a good attitude. Coach was in a bad mood. I think he left in a happy mood, left satisfied."