Bill Self will spend a good portion of the six-month 2012-13 college basketball season stressing defense to his freshmen-laden Kansas University hoops squad.
For now, however, during the dog days of summer — and 10 bonus practices allowed by the NCAA in advance of next week’s European tour — it’s offense that’s getting all of the reps.
“I will say this ... we’re not going to work on defense one possession,” Self said. “We’re not going to talk about it because if our defense is good that means we’ll never score, and I have to somehow get these guys some confidence scoring the ball.
“I haven’t said one word about defense yet,” he added. “I am pretty confident we can teach them how to guard and that kind of stuff. That’s never been an issue, but scoring the ball with these young kids and getting them in the right place ... I think that is pretty important.”
Self has said his eight scholarship freshmen (Anrio Adams, Milt Doyle, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Ben McLemore, Zach Peters, Jamari Traylor, Andrew White) will play extensively during a pair of exhibition games against the Swiss National Team next Tuesday and Wednesday in Fribourg, Switzerland and versus two pro teams on Aug. 11-12 in Paris.
The newcomers and veterans alike will have to play by international rules.
“It’s doing to be different,” Self said. “Twenty-four seconds isn’t a lot of time (to get shot off). Only having five seconds to shoot a free throw is a little bit different. Advancing the ball late-game situation on a time out is like the NBA rule,” he added of inbounding past halfcourt instead of the end line.
“I have to study up on it myself. I don’t know all the differences, but to be honest with you, we are not going to worry about that. We are going to go over there and play. I guarantee you we’ll get called for some violations where I’m going to say (to refs), ‘What did we do wrong?’ I don’t want to screw our guys up too much. If our guys think they’ve got to shoot it in 24 seconds, I guarantee you we’ll have problems when we come back to the States.”
With no gold medals or trophies on the line, the four games in Europe figure to be somewhat low-key — maybe high-scoring — affairs.
“If Jeff wants to shoot threes, he can shoot them. This will be a good time for him to get them out of his system,” Self joked of 7-foot inside player Withey perhaps launching a shot or two past the three-point arc.
Self may actually be more interested in the sightseeing tours for his players than the exhibitions.
“More importantly, I think it’s going to be a great educational experience for our guys,” Self said. “Winning is always important, but having an opportunity to go to Switzerland and France and hang out in Paris will be memories that will last all our guys’ lifetimes. I’m certainly excited for them to experience that, while at the same time get our basketball team a little better.”
Senior guard Elijah Johnson said the players realize this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
“To get out of the country for the first time, be able to play some ball, I think that will be exciting,” Johnson said. “It will be the first time to see what our team really looks like against competition. It’s always good to be able to just leave the country, in my opinion.
“I want to go over and have a good time and get to know everybody. I think if there’s a chance for us to get closer, it’s sending us over the waters together. We are definitely going to find out some stuff about each other. I think that this trip is going to be beneficial regardless, whether we don’t play as well, we are going to learn something. Or if we play well, we’re still going to learn something.”