Sunday, December 22, 2013

‘Break’ means gym time for KU men’s basketball

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with center Joel Embiid as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self slaps hands with center Joel Embiid as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 86-64 win over Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas University’s basketball players, who have headed home for four days worth of holiday cheer, will gather again Thursday for the first of many practices the next four weeks.

“We’ll practice a lot more. We’ll spend more time in the gym. We’ll have shooting practices, certainly do more film work,” KU coach Bill Self said.

He will be allowed to schedule unlimited hours of practice time, in accordance with NCAA rules, from Thursday until the start of second semester classes on Jan. 21.

“I think you get better because of the time and all you’re doing is just focusing on basketball,” said Self, whose Jayhawks (8-3) will play two nonconference games (Toledo a week from today and San Diego State on Jan. 5) as well as four conference games (at Oklahoma on Jan. 8; Kansas State on Jan. 11; at Iowa State on Jan 13; Oklahoma State on Jan. 18; and Baylor on Jan. 20) before the start of the spring semester.

“I think it (semester break) is the toughest time to be a student-athlete if you’re here because nobody else is, so all your friends or your girlfriend or family, they’re all back doing their deal, and you’re basically spending two weeks here,” Self added. “Last year was a long time. We started back to school the 21st, something like that, so we were here almost four weeks with no classes, and that was not good. That was too long. A couple of weeks is plenty of time.”

The Jayhawks normally make a lot of progress in between semesters.

“Oh, yes, we’ve always gotten better over Christmas. Last year was the one year we didn’t,” Self said. “If you go back and study our team last year, we were great in December. Great. You look at Belmont, Richmond, Ohio State, Colorado … those were big-time performances (victories) throughout the entire month of December.

“You get into January, we were fortunate to beat Iowa State. We puttered around then we started that little three-game — not little, monstrous — three-game losing streak there for a stretch,” he added of losses to Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma. “I really think that last year was the one year where we did not get better over break. I don’t know if it’s because of any one thing. We just didn’t. But most other years we’ve been a team that basically kicked it in when we had a chance to spend some time together.”

Self said on days he will hold two-a-days, the first practice “won’t be too early. I don’t like practicing early. We’ll practice at 10 (a.m.) and practice at 5 (p.m.), something like that.”

This week’s holiday break comes at a good time for several Jayhawks.

Sophomore Andrew White III has been bothered by a bruised hip and junior Naadir Tharpe a shoulder bruise.

Sophomore Perry Ellis took a shot to the back of the head and suffered disorientation early in the second half of Saturday’s victory over Georgetown. Self said Sunday that Ellis told him he was “feeling good, just a little stiff.” He’s not expected to miss any practice time.

Also, Self pointed out that freshman Wayne Selden has had some aches and pains in his first semester of college.

“I thought Wayne was the best newcomer we had for a period of time when we first started practicing, and I thought he hit a little bit of a wall, and then against Duke he was just fabulous,” Self said.

The 6-foot-5 guard from Roxbury, Mass., had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 94-83 win over Duke on Nov. 12 in Chicago.

“Since the Duke game, I think he’s been up and down. His health hasn’t been great, but it’s not anything structurally that’s bothering him. He just hasn’t been able to ... whether it’s a hip pointer here or this or that, he just probably hasn’t felt 100 percent much in the last month or so.

“I would say he’s been up and down. But just like all freshmen are, the difference is with our freshmen that play a lot — the past freshmen that played a lot, when they were up, they played, when they were down, they sat. And whether you’re up or down, you play.

“So that’s one reason why I think the opinion is that maybe he has gone under the radar a little bit because that’s honestly been the case,” Self added of Selden, who has averaged 8.7 points off 49.3 percent shooting and 3.0 rebounds while playing 25.7 minutes per contest.

“He’s a good player, and he’s getting better all the time in practice, getting comfortable. I think he will be a guy that will benefit from a few days off and then benefit from a lot of time in the gym, because these kids, it’s a different deal when kids come in and they’re used to playing 25 minutes a game and practicing 80 minutes a day, and that’s about the extent of it.

“Now everything is so magnified, bodies aren’t quite used to taking that pounding. I think he could use a few days off.”

Staying in town: Cameroon native Joel Embiid, who is the only Jayhawk to not head for his hometown for the holiday, might be worth following on Twitter the next few days. On Saturday, he tweeted: “Watching the volleyball national championship but I’m officially bored..... Everyone left me alone.” ... “Finally got my PS4,” he tweeted on Sunday.


Asad Zoberi 7 years, 11 months ago

Hope that the Jayhawks get much needed rest and get to spend some quality time with the family. This is always the time when Self teams take a big step forward and I am looking forward to their progress over the holidays.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 11 months ago


1] What the heck is a PS4??

2] Christmas Break is truly Bill's "Happy Time"'s kind of like Boot Camp but it's in scrimmage form!!

3] Jay Bilas could not stop praising Jo Jo... said outright that even though Parker is the best frosh player, our Jo Jo was truly the best NBA prospect. Gee..all Jo Jo does is jump through the roof, move his feet like a small forward, hit his free throws, run the court like a gazelle and has moves of a Junior Hakkeem....damn, we're gonna lose him!!

4] Glad to hear that Perry will be OK. That had to be the worst Jayhawk foul shot that he missed since Morningstar double-pumped and sent the ball about 5'-0' on national television several years ago!!

5] Bill's Christmas List to Santa: A] Better defense, B] Wiggins to take charge and score like a #1, C] Someone...anyone ..come off the bench and prove they can hit a three pointer, D] Better defense [he always lists that one twice!! ], E] All Turnovers eliminated [well, he can at least ask, can't he??], F] Beat Bruce Weber by 30 points twice!!, G] A socket wrench set.

6] I wonder if Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger will show up at the Toledo game. And, by the way, where's Olivia Wilde been???

7] And if I don't get a chance, Merry Christmas to all and remember that the secret of a happy life is to take all things in moderation.....but most importantly, moderate the moderation !!! :)

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 11 months ago


1) 2) I know better but I keep checking Self's record for some kind of Marine Corp background. 3) Bilas also said Embiid with be the Number 1 WHENEVER he came out. That takes on more weight knowing he is a Duke man. 4) Major relief about Perry. Most of us come from athletic families (including football) and are always concerned about head injuries. 5) The D looked really good against GT!!! Look at the tapes from ULM vs GT, night and day! 6) Everybody who has ever been a Kansas fan will be showing up for games this year. The Big 12 is going to be brutal this year. Those road games going into Norman, Austin, Ames, Waco, and Stillwater are going to be like riding into the Little Big Horn with Custer if we don't bring our A game and be ready to rumble. 6) Merry Christmas to you and a blessed / happy holidays.

John Randall 7 years, 11 months ago

1) 7.62mm, 8x scope, optional 16 round clip ? 2) does film room count as part of unlimited practice time? 3) Big Jay on ESPN usually is a little too High on Hawks. 4) lost equilibrium means anything near backboard is good. 5) settle for clean slate in AFH w/ six road wins, a Crescent will do. 6) yeah, he will. no, she hasn't. 7) "moderation in all things" is a lot different than all things anyway. 8) same2ya

Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

Just to give everyone a sense of just how nasty our non-con schedule is, check out the latest standings at

1) Louisville SOS = 327 2) Ohio State SOS = 232 3) Oklahoma St SOS = 204 4) Arizona SOS = 170 5) Villanova SOS = 139 6) Kansas SOS = 8 7) Wisconsin SOS = 54 8) Syracuse SOS = 248 9) Pittsburgh SOS = 302 10) Florida SOS = 71 11) Michigan St. SOS = 147 12) Kentucky SOS = 119 13) Iowa SOS = 284 14) Wichita St.SOS = 107 15) Iowa St. SOS = 178 16) Creighton SOS = 208 17) Duke SOS = 105 18) Memphis SOS = 122 19) Carolina SOS = 52 20) UMass SOS = 34 21) Michigan SOS = 154 22) Oregon SOS = 196 23) Virginia SOS = 199 24) St. Louis SOS = 219 25) UConn SOS = 183

Kansas at #8 and the only 4 other teams even in the Top 100. That's crazy. The other teams in the Top 10 SOS are teams getting checks to fill home dates for good teams. Oh, and our two remaining non-con games are against the teams ranked #75 and #29 in kenpom, so I think our SOS will only be improving. NASTY.

For those of you sick of hearing about our schedule that think that the youngest Ku team in my memory should have it all figured out by now, think long and hard about the numbers listed above. It sure is a lot easier to look good when you are playing the #200+ rated schedule in the country. It gives you ample opportunity to play bench guys and to suceed against far inferior opposition. This isn't an excuse, just an observation.

KU already looks to be headed in the right direction. The last two opponents that KU destroyed were ranked #32 and #43 in kenpom. (Colorado #28 and Baylor is #36 for reference) They were no slouches. They're figuring it out slowly but surely.

Robert Robinson 7 years, 11 months ago

Tony Handle mentioned above Brady Morningstar's free throw double pump. I remember seeing. So funny. But, I never heard what happened. Why he did it. I know it was not on purpose obviously. It was just one of the weirdest things I've seen in basketball

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