Self, KU players ready to get back to work after time off

The Kansas University Rock Chalk Dancers get the crowd fired up during the annual football kickoff pep rally, held at Corinth Square in Prairie Village on Friday.

The Kansas University Rock Chalk Dancers get the crowd fired up during the annual football kickoff pep rally, held at Corinth Square in Prairie Village on Friday.

Friday, August 16, 2013

— A refreshed, relaxed and tanned Bill Self followed Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger, football coach Charlie Weis, track coach Stanley Redwine and women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson atop the big stage at Friday night’s KU Kickoff pep rally at Corinth Square.

Like his Jayhawk basketball players, Self has taken some time off following the conclusion of summer school on Aug. 1.

“I went to Northern Ireland in the Belfast area with a group of guys, had a blast, then Cindy (wife) and I took vacation this past week. We just got back from the Caribbean. It’s been a pretty tough two out of the last three weeks for me,” joked Self.

“The first one (trip) was for golf — the second one wasn’t. Cindy wasn’t that interested in playing golf. We had a lot of fun, though, both trips,” Self added.

He’ll be welcoming his players back to campus in days leading up to the start of fall semester, which is Aug. 26.

Believe it or not ... basketball season this year starts just a month and a day later, on Sept. 27. A new NCAA rule allows teams to have 30 days of practice in the six weeks prior to the first game. The old rule permitted practice four weeks before the first game.

“You’ve got to take at least two days off a week if you are going to do it that way,” Self said of starting practice the 27th with Late Night in the Phog Oct. 4.

“If you start that early, you don’t have to be quite as accelerated. It’ll probably be a situation we maybe go a little bit slower, get more stuff in, then by the time Oct. 15 or whatever rolls around we’ll be ready to roll.”

He will hold one week of Boot Camp conditioning this season, not two.

“We’ll probably do it the week of Sept. 16 because two weeks of Boot Camp with a young team, plus starting basically three weeks earlier ... that may be too much,” Self said.

Self reiterated he was pleased with summer practices with a team that includes six freshmen plus senior Tarik Black, who played at Memphis the last three years.

“I like ’em a lot. It’s a team I think has great potential,” Self said. “Of course, all potential means is they haven’t done anything yet. I had Elijah in the office today,” he added of recent grad Elijah Johnson, who later in the day boarded a flight for Poland where he’ll be playing pro ball. “(I said), it’ll be hard for next year’s team to win as many games as this year’s team. You stop and think what last year’s team did winning 31 of 37 ... we’ve got our work cut out but it’s a talented bunch.

“For a bunch of freshmen, they probably impressed me as much with their work ethic as anything else,” Self added. “We’ll make a lot of mistakes. I’ll be very nervous about the last four minutes of games because we don’t really have anybody that’s ever been a closer before, but as far as throwing the ball up and having guys go get it, this will be the best team we’ve had to do that.”

As far as individuals ... “Wayne and Perry have been our best two consistent performers all summer long,” Self said of Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis. “He’s hungry. He’s got a college body or a pro body or a man’s body already. He has a chance to be really good early on,” he added of 6-5, 230-pound Selden, who spent much of the allotted two hours of practice time a week (as well as unsupervised pick-up games) guarding frosh phenom Andrew Wiggins.

As far as what Wiggins has been doing of late, Self said he returned to his native Canada after attending the Gatorade Player of the Year ceremony in Los Angeles on July 16.

“He was able to finish his classwork and take care of that. Since he’s been home we’ve basically trusted him to work on his own,” Self said.