Not that Kansas University’s basketball players or coaches are superstitious or anything, but today …
“We’ll definitely eat our black-eyed peas as a group,” KU coach Bill Self said Friday, referring to the food that, if sampled on New Year’s Day, is supposed to bring good luck.
In addition to the legend of the lucky legumes, Self revealed his new year’s resolution.
“I’d say for me, it would be, ‘Enjoy the ride,’ because this team is going to be an up-and-down group,” he said. “That’s OK. We just need to be up at the most important times.
“Sometimes personally I can get negative and see what we are not doing well as opposed to the other things we do well. I want to enjoy the ride, and I think our players should, too. Part of the ride is grinding through some tough times. I feel right now we need to crawl out of our doldrums, so to speak. Every good team we’ve had has gone through dull times, and this team is kind of going through that right now.”
Self — he has been concerned with his squad’s play, especially defensively — said his starting lineup remains uncertain entering Sunday’s 5 p.m. home clash between KU (12-0) and Miami of Ohio (5-8).
“I am going to wait and watch practice the next couple days,” Self said Friday, following the Jayhawks’ annual holiday clinic for youths. “You guys (media) will know (lineup) whenever they run out there. I told the guys starting spots at least temporarily are up for grabs, and we’ll play the guys that perform the best in practice.
“It’s been different guys (performing best) every time,” Self added. “Thomas (Robinson) and Travis (Releford) have been our best two performers the last couple games on the interior. Certainly, I thought Elijah (Johnson) played well the other day.
“One game doesn’t make it, but we need to have some separation. Our best players need to become a little bit more consistent, which I believe they will. Practice has gone OK. I told all our players that positions are up for grabs, but isn’t that the way it should be every day?”
Self said he hadn't decided if junior forward Marcus Morris, who lost his starting spot after getting ejected in the second half of the Dec. 22 Cal game, would return to the starting lineup.
Wednesday, in an 82-57 victory over UT Arlington, Self started Johnson, Robinson, Josh Selby, Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris.
“I think all five starting spots are open right now,” Selby said. “He (Self) has not really told us that, but you see every game it’s a different starting lineup. It doesn’t matter who starts, it matters who finishes the game. That’s all that matters to me.”
Noted power forward Robinson, who had 20 points and 10 boards vs. UT Arlington: “I am not worried about starting or coming off the bench. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not saying I don’t like it (starting). I just want to help our team win.”
Point guard Johnson, who had 11 points and five assists in his first start, shrugged.
“I (also) played well a couple times this year I didn’t start,” he said. “It’s all about how you approach the game.”
Eighth-year KU coach Self was asked if he ever has been at a school where people discuss starting lineups or seemingly care about them so much.
“No, I haven’t,” he said. “We had a player at Illinois named Frank Williams that was Big 10 player of the year. I didn’t start him like five times, and I don’t think I was ever asked once why. I just would say, ‘He didn’t want to,’ and it was never asked again. Here it’s a little bit different, and I understand that.”
Johnson’s new year’s resolution: “To get even closer as a team and as a family.”
Recruiting: DeAndre Daniels, a 6-9 senior forward from IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., is expected to choose a school either Monday or Tuesday. It’s believed either KU, Kentucky or Texas will land Rivals.com’s No. 9-rated player. Oregon also is on Daniels’ list.