Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stress test: Bill Self says freshmen ‘have a lot to learn’

Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Charlie Weis get together for a radio talk show Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Oread Hotel.

Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Charlie Weis get together for a radio talk show Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Oread Hotel.



Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Charlie Weis get together for a radio talk show Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Oread Hotel.

There’s never a dull moment for Bill Self when he’s working with Kansas University’s 10 freshmen basketball players.

“This year will be stressful in a lot of ways, because as Al McGuire said, ‘The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores,’” Self, KU’s 10th-year coach, said Monday night after leading his squad through its seventh of 10 pre-European tour practice sessions.

“These guys have a lot to learn,” Self added. “I told them all multiple times that the freshmen that usually have the best freshman years for us are the ones that know they don’t know. That is hard for a guy coming in here and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to quit everything I’ve been taught — not that it’s wrong — but I am going to try it your way.’ The guys who do that are the ones who usually perform the best. These guys so far have been sponges. They’ve been good.”

Self, who spoke with the media in the lobby of the Oread Hotel after joining KU football coach Charlie Weis as guest on the “Rock Chalk Sports Talk” statewide radio show, has an incoming class of red-shirt freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, true scholarship freshmen Anrio Adams, Milt Doyle, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Zach Peters and Andrew White and walk-ons Evan Manning and Tyler Self.

Self has gushed about McLemore’s potential in various interviews this summer. On Monday, he was asked about McDonald’s All-American Ellis, a 6-foot-8, 225-pounder out of Wichita Heights.

“Perry’s been impressive,” Self said. “We’ve had other guys be impressive for short stints. I’d say Perry has been as impressive as anybody in the gym over the entire seven practices. He has a knack to score. Of course, we need that (after) losing Thomas (Robinson).”

Ellis, who is ranked 24th nationally by, is KU’s highest-rated incoming recruit, followed by No. 51 Andrew White, 6-6, 210, out of Chester, Va.

“Andrew can shoot. We need that (after) losing Conner (Teahan),” Self said. “Andrew is going to be a good player. He’s still figuring things out. He’s a tall guard … 6-foot-6 guys who can shoot it … they are fun to have.”

As far as the big man group that includes Ellis, 6-9 Peters and 6-10 Lucas, Self said: “Stop and think about our bodies inside. Jeff (Withey), Justin (Wesley), Kevin (Young), Jamari, Landen, Perry, Zach ... even though we are not big girth-wise, still that’s seven bodies we can throw at you. It means we can foul a lot and not be penalized as much. Last year, if Thomas got two fouls in the first half, it was, ‘Oh, geez, what are we going to do?’ Hopefully this year we’ll have a little more depth.”

Speaking of the freshman group as a whole, Self noted: “Nobody’s been great, but as a group they are trying hard. This is going to be a fun team to coach.”

Self said senior point guard Elijah Johnson, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in April, is 100 percent healed.

“Elijah is practicing full speed,” Self said. “He is out of shape, obviously. He took three months off from the surgery. He’s out of shape, doesn’t have his rhythm, yet we are so much better when he’s out there.”

The Jayhawks will leave for Switzerland on Sunday and play four games (a week from today, Wednesday, Saturday and Aug. 12) in Switzerland and Paris.

“I don’t know how we’ll do things once practice starts. We are three months from that,” Self said. “In Europe? I’m going to play everybody about the same. I am going to have them all out there trying and playing together. I don’t care that much about combinations. I don’t know what we can really find out about ourselves in August as far as combinations. Some guys pick things up better than others, but I will give everybody an opportunity to play. We may have five freshmen out there playing at once, and we may not look very good, but still it’ll be a good experience for them.”

This, that: KU’s exhibition games will not be televised and not be broadcast on the radio. ... KU football coach Weis declined to speak to the media after his stint on “Rock Chalk Sports Talk.” ... KU is now recruiting Frank Mason, an unranked 5-11 senior point guard from Petersburg (Va.) High, reports.


Steve Brown 1 year, 8 months ago

VeVey & Montreaux way cool on Lake Geneva. When in Bern you can skip the bear cage, go to the banking square, impressive. Stroll old town.

When attending the games, to get a crimson and blue jersey, it is easier to find a Barcelona 'football' (soccer) fan shirt most anywhere, usually close to our colors.


Mike Hart 1 year, 8 months ago

Oh yeah...uh huh... We ALL sure do "love" to read Jaybate's diarrhea-of-the mouth, never-ending stories.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 8 months ago

Regarding EJ's knee... I bet he starts the first game, our last game, and almost every game in between.

Hey jaybate, it's good down here with my head in the sand. How's it up there with your head in the clouds? I know you'll never stop posting your novels but could you at least break up your ginormous paragraphs into a few long paragraphs? They're easier to read and you know we all love to read them. :)


CrimsonAndBlueForLife 1 year, 8 months ago

WHAT?????? How can you not televise the exhibitions or even give them radio airtime? They've been doing it for years! Why are they being pulled off the air this year? >:(


mikehawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Great video. Where did that come from? I think Coach is excited about this team because like last year, he gets to mold guys who want to listen and learn. We'll take some hits early in year, but look out late. Once again, I wouldn't want to play us late. Elijah spoke of being humble. This has all the makings of a very humble team. Very little big time swagger we've had for awhile. No big personalities, at least none I see, yet.


litlmikeyb 1 year, 8 months ago

Not sure if everyone has seen this already, but pretty cool video about the upcoming Europe trip, season and other stuff:


Mike Bratisax 1 year, 8 months ago

The only good thing to come out of Petersburg High was Moses Malone. With so much talent still unsigned, why are we recruiting Frank Mason?


jaybate 1 year, 8 months ago

Charlie leads with his nose and lower face. This is bar room fighting style that plans on intimidating the opponent and closing in for a quick KO. All his weight is forward and coming at the opponent and he risks one shot to his own nose, or jaw, that would coal-cock himself. This approach is the approach of the person that thinks he's got one chance to win and he has to go for it.

Self coaches and his teams play a bit the way I have described him in this analysis. I know he is a handsome man and has a boyish smile, but he likes to hunker down with the best of them, when that's what they give him. And already he is talking about having tons of fouls to give in the paint. This is a coach that likes his team to get in and mix it up with an opponent. Self and his team struggled with the mauling Purdue game them last year, but they didn't even consider backing off. They took the punishment, even stuck their foreheads into it. When Self describes a grind it out game, with say Michigan State's Ratso Izzo, he is in Joe Frazier mode. When someone does not take him into a grind it out game, when they run on him, he still has his team stick its forehead into the transition game. Self's great guards like Chalmers, RR, Sherron, and Tyshawn, have all not just taken it to the hole, they have lead with their forheads as they go into the paint. Even in transition they will lead with the forehead if confronted. This is why Self's basketball teams are so very tough to play and beat. Kentucky had a team full of draft choices. It was long and athletic. Initially it was too fast for Self's team with one first rounder, a very tough point guard, two walking injureds at 2 and 3, and long skinny swatter at 5. But over time, KU started getting in closer, started leading with its foreheads. And in time, they started taking UK's punches from closer and closer in and kept delivering blows to Kentucky, which was running to escape the contact, running to bounce and dunk. And KU, way outmatched in talent and health, came back into the game and even had a slim chance to win it. It was like Frazier going after Ali. Ali was too good for Frazier, but the pure prize fighter style, over the length of a match, can sometimes overcome greater talent, if the greater talent makes enough mistakes, if the greater talent tires, etc. And even when it cannot, it makes a close, ugly fight of it.

It will be interesting to see if Charlie coaches the way he approaches Self in this picture. Will his players play the game like barroom fighters looking to go for the knock out punch?

Time and games will soon tell.


jaybate 1 year, 8 months ago

"One Picture, Two Coaches, And Maybe Two Different Styles"

Richard Gwin's photo of Bill and Charlie above suggests a whole lot about the natures of these two strong men; this makes it quite a good picture, but good pictures that suggest things are not always correct in what they suggest.

At the same time, Dan Rather once wrote a book with a ghost writer called "The Camera Never Blinks."

So: let's concede for a moment that maybe Gwin's photo did catch something about these men, and let's give psychological photo analysis a go.

Both men approach each other confidently.

But Bill's head tips down a bit and Charlie's tips up a bit.

Bill looks up from under his brow a bit at Charlie. Its a somewhat shifty look.

Charlie looks down a bit over his cheeks at Bill. Its a somewhat dominant look.

Bill smiles like he's got the world by the tail and can afford to take a very neutral position with Charlie.

Charlie smiles like he's got to prove a lot to the world and has to compensate by exuding some extra confidence.

Interestingly, Bill leads with his forehead, like a prize fighter that takes punches to get in position to give back more than he gets. Some prize fighters, like Ali, and Larry Holmes, liked to dance and pull their heads back from punches. It certainly looked good, but while it saves a fighter from some punches connecting, those that do take a much bigger toll because the full force of the punch lands against a head, neck and shoulders that are not flexed to the max to resist the punch. Joe Frazier fought the classic prize fighter style. He crowded into reduce the distance the opponent had to accelerate the punch, thus taking a shorter, lower velocity punch. At the same time he leaned into the punch with his forehead, while covering his nose and jaw with gloves as much as possible. His neck, shoulders and head were flexed and extending into the punch. He was using his forehead as a parrying counter punch. Prize fighters that lead with their foreheads understand the forehead is the hardest part of the face and, with neck and shoulders flexed, able to to take the strongest blows with the least rocking of the brain in its neuro hammock in the brain case without slowing down the prize fighter in his quest to cut off the ring and down an opponent. Prize fighters lead counterintuitively with the head and actually lean into in-coming punches to prevent the punch from landing on the nose or jaw. They try to deflect every punch with their fists and their anticipation. The bob side to side to make the punches that do hit their foreheads slide off. They are prize fighters that are prepared to go the distance no matter what. They can take punishment to avoid being knocked out. This approach is that of someone that thinks if they just keep looking for a weakness, keeps taking a few punches, eventually they will frustrate their opponent, find an opening and win on points, or a TKO, or a KO.


jaybate 1 year, 8 months ago

JayDogger, perhaps unintentionally, raises a significant question in his otherwise amusingly head-in-sand post above. :-)

What is the status right now with the KU players reputedly referred to by someone reputedly now indicted and approaching a reputed pot trial reputedly being held in a Federal court in Wichita?

Whew, that was a lot of reputing, but I had to do that not to mislead others into thinking I knew/know more about a perhaps sensitive situation than I actually did/do.

All I know about this issue is what I recall from reading here and at ESPN some time ago now.

Anyone--pros or board rats--have some new scoop to share?

Or has this story passed into some kind of coverage limbo to avoid generating any information that might prejudice a jury pool?

So: what's up? Should we be "bothered" by this situation the same way Coach Self said he was "bothered" by it in his second no comment story on this site? or is "bother" no longer fitting?

P.S.: Sometimes when JayDogger has raised an issue in the past and said it was nothing to worry about, that has seemed to me almost like a kind of early warning signal to start worrying. :-)


Tony Bandle 1 year, 8 months ago

Hi everyone...just got back from a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was my sixth trip so I highly recommend it if you like Nature's beauty, history, Southwestern cuisine and spiritual cleansing.

Upon review of the last eight days of posting, it looks like the highlight was the record number of times Jaybate was "bleeped."

Is there a new censor sheriff in town??!!

Regarding freshmen....I hardly would consider BMac and Semi in that category. A year of school, a semester of training and practice, experiencing an NCAA trip up to the title game.....I'd say they may be just a tad further along than the "other kids."


Ron Franklin 1 year, 8 months ago

"6-foot-6 guys who can shoot it … they are fun to have.”=MUA. I'm looking forward to this.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 8 months ago

See jaybate: EJ's knee is 100%. I told you everything would be okay. Now you can freak out about just the huge pot scandal and maybe even something altogether new. :)


milehighhawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Devastating news that the games won't be televised or broadcast! What is this, the 20th century??


REHawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Comfortingly good news re EJ's knee. He should have his conditioning and rhythm back, well before November games. Too bad about lack of video coverage of the European tour. KU Sports could bank some dollars, selling a video of the 4-game series for $25.00. Something exciting to pull us through these toasty dog days.


clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 8 months ago

What station and When is this Rock Chalk Sports Talk show?

Watching Highlights of Lucas and White Im exctied to watch them. My biggest concern is guys leaving after this year due to a lack of playing time, I think we will need at least one or two guys to redshirt. Self talks about having 7 bigs...that scares me because I worry about a freshemn getting frustrated due to little playing time and wanting to transfer. Especially when Withey is a lock for 25-35 mins a game. On the flip side, man do we have some fun lineups we can throw out there!


TenaciousD 1 year, 8 months ago

Gary - Are there any plans for covering these games? How about some streaming video? Or at least some video parked on the website? Are there NCAA rules or other considerations regarding video of these type of games?



Danny Hernandez 1 year, 8 months ago

I wish I was going to be in Zurich again as I'd love to see the team especially in such an informal setting. We have friends in Zug we see annually but this year, they're coming to Miami. Have a great time cheering for the team.


hucking_fawks_rock 1 year, 8 months ago

Well I'm jealous of you out the in Switzerland. Hopefully our guys look like they're progressing, and don't provide many facepalms for HCBS. Have fun at the game!


MN_KU_gohawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Hello everyone, I only write once a year and I actually had to change my username because I forgot my previous password. Anyhow, I used to live in Lawrence as a kid and have been a KU fan for all of my life. I lived in Minnesota for an extensive period of mine and now work and live in Zurich, Switzerland. I've been here for about 8 months now and I'm quite ecstatic about watching the game at Fribourg next week. A couple of questions to Jayhawks nation: are there any KU fans in the Zurich area (long shot I know)? anyone meeting up before the games at a pub? I would love to meet some die-hard fans... Anyhow, I will write a summary of the game and especially, about our new players.


Robert Lofthouse 1 year, 8 months ago

“...This is going to be a fun team to coach.”

Always love it when the coach makes this statement. It says so much about how he feels about his team.


Bangkok_Jayhawk 1 year, 8 months ago

We just lost Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. A stud guard and a monster in the post. They will be replaced with role players and unproven freshman but Self is still the coach.

Translation: BIG 12 CHAMPS AGAIN!!!


wrwlumpy 1 year, 8 months ago

Thank you Gary for the much needed red meat. I hope that somewhere in the LJW budget there is enough money to allow someone to travel with the team that has some kind of film crew. Give us some vids of walking along the Seine or Jeff Withy dancing at a bar across the street from the Moulon Rouge... But, in this hot dry summer, please supply the Jayhawk Nation with honest evaluations of the Fresmen class, Isn't there some way to stream the games from a phone?


Fortesque Beagleton 1 year, 8 months ago

I know, right? All the other college teams on inconsequential offseason international tours are getting airtime!


mariosmiracle 1 year, 8 months ago

Why will the games not be televised?


chriz 1 year, 8 months ago

Good to hear about Perry Ellis. Seems like such a fundamentally sound player.


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