Bill Self ‘frustrated’ in Battle’s aftermath

Monday, December 2, 2013

— Kansas University’s basketball players, coaches and family members, who endured a couple days of cloudy, rainy weather during their 41⁄2-day trip to the Bahamas, took advantage of a glorious, 80-degree, sunny Sunday morning before leaving the Atlantis resort at 1 p.m. for a return trip home.

“It’s beautiful. It’s been beautiful here the last two days,” KU coach Bill Self said in a Sunday chat with the Journal-World.

He elected to look at the bright side about 15 hours after an unimpressive 67-63 victory over UTEP (4-4) in the third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.

“I don’t think we made the most of the trip basketball-wise,” Self said of his Jayhawks (6-1), who fell to Villanova in the semifinals, 63-59, after downing Wake Forest in the opener, 87-78. “I’m not depressed. I would say frustrated, but not just me. I think the players are frustrated, too, knowing we didn’t play like we are capable of playing while we were down here.

“I do think there’s some great teaching moments. I’m certainly looking forward to getting back to Kansas and getting in practice time.”

He set his players loose during the morning hours to soar down the giant water slide, take a ride on water scooters or do whatever else they wanted to do.

Did Self try the slide?

“I did not,” Self said.

Instead he spent some time hanging out with family members in paradise after Saturday night’s game and on Sunday morning.

“It was a good tournament, yes,” Self said of the Battle 4 Atlantis, which is on the schedule again Thanksgiving week, 2017. The Jayhawks will head to the Old Spice tourney in Orlando, Fla., Thanksgiving week, 2014, and Maui in 2015, with no tourney yet on tap for 2016.

“Logistically, it is a little bit harder. Yesterday’s performance (vs. UTEP, in which KU saw a late 14-point lead dip to three) doesn’t really surprise me, because, hey, when you are down in the dumps (after loss to Nova) and eat your postgame meal at 2 a.m. and turn around and play the next day, and the schedule is set for you, it doesn’t make for an easy day. But I think that’s all good learning preparation.

“Tonight we’ll get a good night’s rest and be ready to get back to work tomorrow.”

Practices and film sessions should be spirited leading up to the next game — Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. contest at Colorado.

“We only played one good half of ball here — the first one,” Self said of the first half of the Wake Forest game, in which KU led, 40-26, at the break.

By far the most impressive stat regarding KU had to be the attendance figures. All three games were sold out, with KU fans occupying most all the seats in 3,900-seat Imperial Arena.

Here’s a look at some of the ugliest statistics from three days of hoops.

KU, which still averages 80.1 points a game on the season, averaged just 71 ppg off 41.9 percent shooting. The Jayhawks hit 10 of 45 threes for 22.2 percent.

Junior starting point guard Naadir Tharpe had a team-best four threes in 10 tries. Starters Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins had two threes in three games, while Frank Mason was leading three producer off the bench, with two makes. The opposition, incidentally, hit 22 threes in 57 tries, or 12 more than the Jayhawks.

“How many open looks did we miss?” Self lamented.

The Jayhawks missed 30 free throws in 89 tries, good for a 66.3 percent mark to the opponents’ 67.1. Sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who was KU’s leading scorer at 13.0 ppg, was also leading free-thrower with 15 makes in 19 tries for 78.9 percent.

KU had just one other double-digit scorer.

Freshman guard Wiggins averaged 11.0 ppg off 36.7 percent shooting (11 of 30). Wiggins made two of eight threes and was 9-of-18 from the line for 50 percent. Freshman starting off guard Selden averaged 8.0 ppg off 47.6 percent shooting. He had eight turnovers against three assists.

Tharpe averaged 7.0 ppg off 30 percent shooting (six of 20), with 10 assists versus six turnovers. Senior center Tarik Black averaged 4.3 points off 55.6 percent shooting (five of nine) and grabbed 3.0 boards a game. He banged his knee and played just two minutes the second half versus UTEP.

“He’s just sore. Structurally, it (knee) is fine,” Self said Sunday.

KU’s bench was led by the inside/outside duo of Frank Mason and Joel Embiid. Mason, who nearly was the hero of the Villanova game — he hit a spinning layup and foul shot that gave KU a late one-point advantage — averaged 9.7 ppg off 38.5 percent shooting. He had six assists, five turnovers and four steals.

Seven-footer Embiid, who had a KU-freshman-record seven blocks in the second half against UTEP, averaged 9.7 ppg off 63.2 percent shooting (12 of 19) and 5-of-7 free throwing. He averaged 5.7 boards and had 10 blocks in playing 15 minutes against Wake, 12 minutes versus Villanova and 21 against UTEP. Embiid had 13 fouls in the three games. Self said he needed to find Embiid more minutes without fouling.

Sophomore forward Jamari Traylor, who played 24 minutes vs. Wake, saw his role diminish to eight minutes apiece in the next two games. He hit six free throws in six tries and was 3-of-6 from the field, good for 4.0 ppg.

The three Jayhawk reserves known for outside shooting provided little in Bahamas.

Sophomore wing Andrew White III was 0-for-5 from three and scored six points total, all in the Wake game. He was 2-for-8 overall and saw his minutes dip from 17 to nine to four. Freshman guard Conner Frankamp, who played nine, two and five minutes, was 0-for-2 from the field and 4-for-6 from the line.

Freshman wing Brannen Greene played three minutes in the ’Nova game, hitting a two-pointer and missing a three. Freshman center Landen Lucas had one point and two rebounds while combining for 11 minutes in the final two games.

KU was effective on the defensive end, allowing 68 ppg off 40.7 percent shooting. The 22 threes allowed, however, had to be a concern. KU outrebounded its foes by one, 114 to 113. The Jayhawks had more turnovers (40) than assists (35), while forcing foes into 41 turnovers against 32 assists. KU had 20 steals to the opponents’ 22 and 18 blocks to foes’ 12.

“We’ll practice Monday through Friday and get ready for Colorado Saturday and turn around at play at Florida on Tuesday,” Self said, realizing tough road trips await before KU returns to its Sprint Center home-away-from-home for a Dec. 14 game against New Mexico.