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Originally published March 19, 2014 at 07:14p.m., updated March 20, 2014 at 12:18a.m.

As Jayhawks arrive in St. Louis, injured Embiid still sidelined for practices, games

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins, center, and Jamari Traylor exit the team bus after arriving outside the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Arch, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in St. Louis. The Jayhawks play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins, center, and Jamari Traylor exit the team bus after arriving outside the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Arch, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in St. Louis. The Jayhawks play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

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Bill Self: 'This should be a fun weekend for everybody'

Minutes after the Kansas University men's basketball team arrived in St. Louis, Mo., Wednesday evening, coach Bill Self answered questions from reporters in the lobby of the team's downtown hotel. Self said freshman center Joel Embiid won't play this weekend. "I'm not saying there couldn't be some miraculous act occur," the coach said, "but we're certainly not planning on that nor expecting it."

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Kansas head coach Bill Self laughs with media members as he stops for questions following the Jayhawks' arrival at the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Arch, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in St. Louis. The Jayhawks play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

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Kansas head coach Bill Self stops to autograph a piece of floor for Don Lienemann, St. Louis, after talking with media members following the team's arrival at the Hyatt Regency hotel at the Arch, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in St. Louis. The Jayhawks play their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

— Wearing a crimson and blue Kansas Jayhawk cap, T-shirt and sweats, Joel Embiid hopped off a big, black bus in back of the Hyatt Regency at the Arch hotel just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The 7-foot freshman from Cameroon, who carried a duffel bag in his left hand and wore a set of headphones muting the sounds of a handful of autograph seekers, looked just like the rest of KU’s basketball players, who arrived well in advance of today’s NCAA Tournament shootaround and Friday’s second-round game at Scottrade Center.

There’s one major difference between Embiid and his KU pals, however.

Embiid, the Jayhawks’ only injured scholarship player entering the postseason, is expected to miss this weekend’s action, which begins with a 3:10 p.m. game against Eastern Kentucky on Friday. Winner of the KU-EKU game will meet either Stanford or New Mexico at a yet-to-be-determined time Sunday in Scottrade Center, with the winner of that game advancing to the Sweet 16 the following Thursday in Memphis.

“He’s not going to play this weekend. (It’s the) same as we’ve said all along. He’s not going to play,” KU coach Bill Self said of Embiid, who has a stress fracture in his lower back. “I’m not saying there couldn’t be some miraculous act occur, but we’re certainly not planning on that, nor expecting it.

“Nothing’s changed,” Self added. “He’s doing really well, but we’ve told him we were not going to put him on the practice floor until he does really well with the rehab. That’s what the doctors have told us, and that’s been the game plan all along. So he’s not far away from being out there in some form or fashion, but probably not contact (drills), at least for a while.”

Excellent practices: The Jayhawks practiced in Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday before driving to St. Louis.

“We had a pretty good week. I would say not our best week of practice for the year, (but) certainly we got better,” Self said. “I think we’ve got a lot of energy. We were able to keep guys off their feet for the most part.

“I think we’re OK,” he added of the squad’s frame of mind. “It hasn’t been one of those weeks where Monday was so intense and Tuesday was so intense. We’ve talked some. We’ve practiced short, for the most part. I’ve wanted guys to be fresh and off their feet as much as possible. We’ll get into the meetings and serious discussion tonight.

“I think they (players) are pretty amped, and they’ll be ready to go. Young teams ... sometimes when you talk about it too much, I think it can be a little overboard. But with these guys, you never know how they are going to react. I couldn’t tell you how we are going to play five minutes before tip ever because it’s a hard group to read.”

Self said practices have been short compared to early in the season.

“When guys are ready and guys are focused and guys are concentrating, you can get through everything in an hour, 15 minutes; an hour, 10 minutes. If they are not, it takes an hour-and-a-half, hour, 40 minutes. Certainly the game plans are short every day. Tomorrow we’ll shoot at Scottrade Center. Before that, we may practice 45 minutes. We won’t go much longer than that,” Self noted Wednesday.

The Jayhawks’ shootaround is scheduled for 2:15 to 2:55 p.m. today at Scottrade Center.

In Missouri: Self was asked if he likes playing so close to Lawrence.

“To me, St. Louis isn’t exactly close to home. If it was in Kansas City or Wichita or something like that, it’d be a little bit different,” he said. “Somebody has to make an effort to get here, being 41⁄2 hours. I like the fact the kids (Jayhawks) can get away. I like the fact their college friends can’t get here near as easy. Still yet, if they want to make a serious effort to get here, they can. This is about perfect for us from a distance from home.”

Of St. Louis, Self recalled: “We’ve had some fun over here. We got beat in the Elite Eight game in the (Edward Jones) dome about 10 years ago, 11 years ago.”

Georgia Tech stopped KU, 79-71, in the Elite Eight of the 2004 NCAAs.

“A couple years ago, we had a lot of fun over here,” he added of KU beating North Carolina State, 60-57, and North Carolina, 80-67, en route to a berth in the 2012 Final Four. “This will be interesting with all three state schools represented over here,” he added of Kansas State and Wichita State also playing in Scottrade Center.

“I would think the media attention and the bragging rights on the streets will probably be at an all-time high.”

Demand for tickets will be fierce.

“We travel well. K-State will travel. Wichita State will travel. Kentucky travels as well as anybody,” Self said of Wildcat fans also to congregate in St. Louis for the K-State game. “That’s not counting the other four teams that are here. I would think this will probably be as hot a ticket (demand) as we’ve had for any first-round site, with maybe the exception last year since we were playing in our home city (Kansas City’s Sprint Center) for the most part. K-State was there as well. This should be a fun weekend for everybody. I guess the weather is going to somewhat cooperate. It should make it interesting and a good time,” Self said.

No late game this time: Self likes the fact KU plays an afternoon game Friday.

“That’s one thing I thought about as soon as it (NCAA pairings) came out. I said, ‘We’re going to play in the afternoon because they are going to have Kentucky play at night.’ That’s just the way the fan base and that kind of stuff would be,” Self said. “K-State and Wichita State will obviously be games of serious interest that have national implication, so I thought we’d play in the afternoon. Nothing could make me happier if we are able to advance. It seems to me you play that 8:30 (p.m.) game Friday night, you turn around and play Sunday early morning. Sometimes to me that’s a struggle getting guys rested.”

Lyle to Oregon: JaQuan Lyle, a 6-5 senior shooting guard from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, who was recruited by KU and Oklahoma State for a time, on Wednesday committed to Oregon. He chose the Ducks over Memphis.

Tough foe: Self has watched a lot of tape on No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky this week.

“Eastern Kentucky can do a lot of things well. They turn you over. They play primarily man, but they’ll sprinkle in some zone and 1-3-1, and we’ve had issues with that at times,” Self said. “They shoot the three as well as anybody. They’ve got eight guys that can shoot it. We’ll have to really defend the line. To do that you need to keep the ball out of the paint. Your ball-screen defense has to be a lot better than it was against Iowa State (last Friday).”

Longevity: Self was asked on the John Feinstein CBS radio show this week if he will stick around long enough to vie for some college coaching records.

“I think I’d walk away when I don’t have the fire in the belly or the energy it takes to keep your team at the highest competitive level,” Self said. “I always thought it’d be nice to walk away whenever that is. It could be 10 years, whatever it is, walk away when you are on top. Not too many people get an opportunity to do so.

“I do feel this, guys can extend it (career) longer ... whether Jim (Boeheim, Syracuse) or Mike (Krzyzewski, Duke) ... they have as much fire now as they’ve ever had. I hope I’m still that way,” added Self, 51. “When I start to lose that and can tell the energy is not there to keep the program at the same level, I think that’s when it’s time to probably walk away and try to get my 18 (golf handicap) down to a 14, which will not be very easy to do.”

Comments

Brandon Mahon 4 months, 1 week ago

Coach would be smart to continue to play this close to the chest. I would love to see Embiid as soon as possible. I think we have a good chance without him even against NM. We have talent and we are a different team now than we were back at the beginning of the season. Wiggins wants the ball and will take over. Selden has gotten better along with Black and Traylor. Ellis step up the D and continue to be aggressive.

We beat a OSU team that alot of people think will make a big run.. guess who we didn't have and that Joel.

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Scott Smetana 4 months, 1 week ago

Self says there's a chance.. I'm thinking he steps on the court against New Mexico!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCFB2akLh4s

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Kevin Jenkins 4 months, 1 week ago

I am really optimistic Embiid will play at all. Like some have said, he might just be waiting for the NBA draft. The players should just get the idea,he's not going to play. And if he does, it's a great bonus.

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Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

I hope that bus was a Magic Bus... We are going to need better perimeter defense against EK and better post play against NM. I think we can pull it off but I do not expect Joel to play.

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Benz Junque 4 months, 1 week ago

I am not remotely worried about Eastern Kentucky and their three point shooting. They made about the same number of threes as Iona, a team Kansas destroyed with ease. I don't see them dropping 20 threes on us, so they will eventually have to shoot a few two pointers as well. I Look for KU to hold them well under 40% for the game and cruise to a comfy 20+ point win.

As for New Mexico, we just need Wiggins to lock down Kendall Willimas as best as possible and for Black to avoid fouling foe the first few minutes. then we need Wiggins to drive on their bigs and get one to the bench. After that, the other big can go to town. He isn't going to score 40+ on us, so we should be fine. Outside of their big three, New Mexico isn't very good at all. Lock down one, send another to the benc with fouls and KU wins this game comfortably.

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Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

Benz I know it looks good on paper but upsets happen all the time in this tournament so some caution is ok. Our PG was benched 2 out of the last 3 games, and all year long small teams have given us fits. I think we can handle EK if we do not Turn the Ball over. My worry is that they do what ISU did drive on us cause we overplay the 3 point shooters. NM you list a lot of IF's...I trust Wiggins, but Black is foul prone and again our guards like to give away possessions like they are Easter Eggs. We are going to have play smart, execute, and take care of the ball. Not something you would say this team does. I think we can pull it off. I have has us losing the first game of the Sweet 16 so I see two wins but no further.

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Max Ledom 4 months, 1 week ago

Dude do you ever say anything remotely positive? Hahaha. I mean come on you even made a comment about the bus.

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Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

We have lost 3 out of the last 5 and one of our best players is sitting this weekend. Are you going to say that you are not the least bit worried about how we are going to play either game? As Self said anyone can be had and we certainly have a sour taste in our mouth. As said I think we can pull it off.

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Brianna Zaleski 4 months, 1 week ago

Were they excellent practices or just really good? The LJW described them as 'excellent', while Coach Self described them as 'pretty god, but not the best'. Huh?

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Mark Lindrud 4 months, 1 week ago

It keeps the players on their toes. They need to stayed focused and believe they can always be practicing better, playing better and just getting better. Your basic coach speak. You'll hardly ever hear a coach use words like excellent or perfect etc.

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Gerry Butler 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm tellin you just like it was stated above by another post, I sense something, I feel it. it WOULD NOT surprise me in the least if jo jo played in the New Mexico game, but 1st we have to get to the next round, just sayin if we get to Sunday, do not be surprised to see jo jo on the floor, just a gut instinct GO HAWKS

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Benz Junque 4 months, 1 week ago

I think if KU is looking like they are in serious trouble at halftime against New Mexico then we MIGHT see Embiid come out and give a solid post-halftime warm up and play a few minutes to solidify the interior. Maybe pull a Cole Aldrich vs/ Carolina in '08 where you get an awesome 8 minutes or so that turns the game.

Hopefully we don't need it.

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Jonathan Allison 4 months, 1 week ago

EKU frightens me.

Gives me memories of WKU from last year, only with an excellent 3 ball.

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Asad Zoberi 4 months, 1 week ago

I am not worried about them. If we avoid stupid TOs, KU will wion this game easily, 15+ points. KU has significant size/talent advantage that can't be overcome unless KU gives the game away by stupid mistakes.

Tharpe has to play good, not great but good to win this one easily.

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Benz Junque 4 months, 1 week ago

EKU is no different than the Iona team we played earlier this year and destroyed.

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Jonathan Allison 4 months, 1 week ago

I guess maybe many posters knew that either Lyle had eliminated KU or that KU stopped recruiting Lyle, but I had no idea.

However, I'm not surprised that he didn't wind up at KU, I hope that this is a foreshadowing of that Selden's closing in on a decision to stay for a sophomore year. Of course, even if that's the case if KU makes a FF run and Selden's a key factor he could be a hot commodity after the dust clears and I wouldn't blame him for going.

And, however likely or not that Selden does bolt, then that opens the door for White to play next season, should Self choose to "re-recruit" him.

It's been fairly evident though with White's play in the limited action that he's seen and even more so with his body language on the bench that he's feeling very disconnected. More and more he seems unhappy. I'm sure that his relationship here could be restored (the cure-all for him would be to play well), but for him to stay would be a huge risk. Logic says that he'd be best served to transfer and sit a year and play out his elegibility elsewhere, but look at Releford's path, and tell me that he couldn't sit a year here and improve individually and improve the team as a practice player, and then step in and be a key in his final 2 seasons. Brannen Greene could be an early draftee after a junior season if the cards fall right. The x-factor is recruiting. Right now, it seems to be at a peak, and there's no telling if we stay on the mountaintop or if there's another valley coming. But he could be a coaches dream as a 5th year senior to complement another uber-talented freshman class.

High risk, high reward... or high risk, no reward?

Rock Chalk AWIII, we fans still love you and want you here.

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Robert Brock 4 months, 1 week ago

Smaller, quicker guards rip Lyle's game apart. KU missed nothing.

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Walter Bridges 4 months, 1 week ago

We (KU coaching staff) chose not to pursue Lyle as we are fairly deep at this position plus our #1 goal is to sign Myles Turner if JoJo leaves at the end of the season. Lyle wanted to play with his teammate Cliff Alexander at Kansas but will do well at Oregon. Despite Brock's take on Lyle (can you back your statement up with any sources Brock?), he has proven himself to be a consistent player:

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/24491989/breakdown-top-25-prospect-jaquan-lyle-commits-to-oregon

This was definitely a case where Kansas stopped recruiting the player.

I think Andrew White transfers. As you pointed out Jonathan, there seems to be a disconnect and I don't see the relationship between him and Self being restored. I still think White is the real deal and will become a solid contributor or a star as he doesn't lack the talent or the work ethic.

I disagree with your comparison to Releford. Releford was not stuck behind OADs and Coach Self was better able to develop his play and after redshirting, he still had three years to develop his game. I remember last year when many were saying that he should look at RussellRobs first season and I think White bought into that.

Now after a second season of limited play he needs to go somewhere where he will be able to play immediately after sitting a season. VCU seems like it would be a good place that is close to home and has a coach who knows how to develop talent.

I've always enjoyed the way Coach Self has developed his players and not relied on more than one OAD in any given season. I've thought that Self developed players better than any other coach in college ball. I'm hoping the OAD is a short-lived trend. Both this year and next year will have three possible OADs on the team. Players such as White get caught in the mix waiting their turn. Let Calipari play that game. I would much rather see players like TRob, the Morris brothers, Jeff Withey Kuan and many others make huge strides from one season to the next. . Would like to know where Brock got his information. The only negative I saw was his decommitment from Louisville and that he doesn't always stay in shape.

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Benz Junque 4 months, 1 week ago

Very few people projected Joel Embiid to be a OAD player until he was actually out on the floor. Definitely not when he signed with Kansas.

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Brianna Zaleski 4 months, 1 week ago

Are we not supposed to try and get the best players? Look at what Andrew Wiggins and Joel have done this year? You'd rather pass them up to develop Andrew White?
This is such a catch 22 scenario for elite coaches. If you don't recruit them, then your fanbase will be up in arms about losing out on elite talent. If we do recruit them, then we lack some continuity and chemistry on the court. But there is always that possibility that they end up sticking around also ala Rush and Arthur. Until the rules change, I say we have to go after them because there are only a few schools that can land them and we are one of them. We've been so blessed this year to have had AW's God given talent grace our program. Unlike some of our other OAD's, I'll remember him fondly for years to come.

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Aaron Paisley 4 months, 1 week ago

Even if Selden was a for sure OAD like Wiggins, and Lyle did come to KU, there wouldn't be a guarantee that he starts next season anyway. He's ranked in the range (low 5 star - high 4 star) that has usually come off the bench as freshmen under Self. Honestly, I think this may be more of an indication that AW3 is going to stick around.

When Lyle announced when he was making his decision a few weeks ago, that was a pretty strong sign that he wasn't going to be coming to KU and his decision confirmed that speculation.

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Robert Brock 4 months, 1 week ago

I watched Lyle play several games in person last summer and a couple on TV. His style wouldn't work for Self or Ford; maybe he will fit in OK with the Ducks and the Pac-12.

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Max Ledom 4 months, 1 week ago

Who is JayBate nowadays? I'm so pissed about this Facebook implementation. Who ever asked for this? What was wrong with the old way? Now I can't tell who my favorite commenters are anymore. B. S.

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Jeff Kilgore 4 months, 1 week ago

Yeah, I used to ignore most of his stuff, but his short game was worth every word. Privacy? Nope. NSA? Yup.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

PLEASE LISTEN CAREFULLY.......Jo Jo is not playing this weekend. He still has some discomfort, the doctors have not released him and he hasn't even practiced in two weeks.

People, peolpe, people..if we get thru this weekend intact, Jo Jo will have five days of practice for rhe Sweet Sixteen. If we lose to any of these three teams, with or without Jo Jo, we do not deserve to advance anyway!!!

Talk about a bad memory, ESPN Classic replayed the 1997 Kansas vs Arizona NCAA game.......I forgot hwo many NBA players we had on that team and STILL LOST!!!!

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