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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Self: ‘It’s been a fun year’ with young Jayhawk team

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles and gives a pat to Andrew Wiggins after pulling him from the game late in the second half on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles and gives a pat to Andrew Wiggins after pulling him from the game late in the second half on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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There are plenty of statistics available for those who wish to proclaim Kansas University’s basketball program the most dominant in the country during the entire 11-year Bill Self era.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact the Jayhawks have won 10 consecutive regular-season Big 12 titles and 10 of 11 overall. Self’s first KU team placed second in the conference.

Regarding postseason domination ... KU, which has been awarded a No. 2 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, has been a No. 1 seed five of the last eight seasons, with a pair of No. 2 seeds and one 3.

In 11 years, the Jayhawks have never been lower than a 4 seed — in Self’s initial season, as well as 2006.

“I think we won 30 games five of the last six years or something like that,” Self said Tuesday on John Feinstein’s show on CBS Sports Radio. Actually KU, which is 24-9 this season, won 30 games in six of the past seven seasons heading into 2013-14.

“This year I knew it’d be harder to win league because league was so good. You think about 14-4 (in league), that’s good, but you don’t consider it great. But if you look at our league, it is great,” Self added. “We’ve got four nonconference losses: at Florida, Colorado full strength (before Spencer Dinwiddie was hurt), Villanova, San Diego State ... three of those teams were ranked in the top five at one time this year. Colorado made a 30-footer at the buzzer to beat us out there. It’s been a hard year because our record is not as good as I think our talent level is. I think the schedule is obviously the reason for that.”

Self has started three freshmen a majority of the season with a sophomore and junior.

“It’s been a fun year, too,” Self said. “When we play well, we’re really good. When we play poorly, we can drop more than the really good teams drop. Maybe it’s youth or leadership or whatever. That’s the thing that has been different with this team. Our consistency hasn’t been near as good as what it has in the past.”

Self was asked if there’s any anxiety over the fact his team’s leading scorer is a freshman. Andrew Wiggins takes a 17.4 points per game average into Friday’s 3:10 p.m. NCAA Tournament opener against Eastern Kentucky in St. Louis.

“No, not really,” Self said on CBS radio. “These freshmen, whether it be Andrew, Ennis (Tyler, Syracuse), Randle (Julius, Kentucky), Parker (Jabari, Duke), whomever ... these guys have been through so much more by the time they get to school from an exposure and pressure standpoint than what kids were 15, 20 years ago. They’ve all been the leader of their respective teams from day one to now. I would say you’d like to have more experience in a lot of ways, but I do think he (Wiggins) is prepared because of all the things he went through this year.”

Embiid update: Freshman center Joel Embiid did not practice on Tuesday and is still listed as doubtful for this weekend. The Jayhawks will practice today then leave via bus about 1 p.m. for the five-hour ride to St. Louis. KU will hold a shootaround open to the public from 2:15 to 2:55 p.m. on Thursday in Scottrade Center.

“We’re preparing like we won’t have him (at all), and then when he comes back, it’ll just be a bonus,” Self said on CBS Sports Radio. “But it is a little different. It kind of leaves your kids in limbo a little bit obviously. Even though you turn on ESPN the talk is, ‘Joel Embiid this and that and Kansas, their hopes depend on this,’ we’ve kind of used that as a rallying cry with our guys.

“(Self tells players) ‘Hey, we’re good enough,’ which we are. We’re good enough to have success without Joel. Of course, we’d love to have him, but if we don’t, we shouldn’t alter our expectations or our goals,” Self noted.

“It’s not the easiest thing. It’s not like football where you probably have to have two different game plans (depending) on which quarterback plays. It’s not that at all, but it does change up some things. For this first weekend, it shouldn’t be that. We’re not optimistic he’ll play this first weekend at all.”

Forcing turnovers: Eastern Kentucky, 24-9, enters the NCAAs ranked second nationally in turnover margin at +6.3 per game.

“Teams aren’t going to have a problem with our length because we’re not as long as other teams,” guard Glenn Cosey told the Associated Press. He is EKU’s top scorer at 18.8 points a game.

“But our pressure and our style of play is different. We play fast. We have good guards. The main thing for us will be our pressure. We’ve just been working on our defense,” Cosey added. “We knew we were going to face bigger teams, so we need to pressure the ball and just defend. We know we’ve got to play harder.”

Noted coach Jeff Neubauer to the AP: “Even with Embiid out, these guys are attacking the rim. What’s scary about them is how they rebound. I mean, they’re like the 10th best (in margin, +7.3), and we’re (tied for) 10th worst (-6.1). One thing I’ve always stressed is stealing the ball, so that has to be our approach.”

Comments

Len Shaffer 6 months ago

"Actually KU, which is 24-9 this season, won 30 games in six of the past seven seasons heading into 2013-14."

Well there's only one way to keep that streak going, so we might as well do it.

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Jonny Swift 6 months ago

30-9 would be a mighty fine record for this squad

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Beau Woolsey 6 months ago

I believe in Andrew Wiggins.

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Robert Brock 6 months ago

KU will defeat Eastern Kentucky if the Hawks turn the ball over less than 20 times. I will guess that KU finishes with 17...

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Tony Bandle 6 months ago

OAKVILLE ODDITIES:

1] "Eastern Kentucky, please meet Mr. Wiggins..oops, sorry..that was just him flying by you." I doubt if EK has played anyone close to his ability this year.

2] I would give my right testicle to have the Andrew, Jo Jo, Wayne, Perry, Jamari, Naadir, Brannen, Frank, Conner, Landon, come back next year with the additions of Hunter, Kelly and Cliff!!!

3] My good friend, Carl, my wife and I will be at Scott Trade this weekend cheering on the Hawks and doing our damnedset to represent you posters who can't be there.

4] No one seems to be talking about Stanford...that is always a red flag!!

5] All of a sudden, Michigan State is the hot pick to win it all by the "experts"!! I do have to admit though that Coach Tom Izzo would win the "ugly face' contest against any other Division One coach today.

6] The less chance that Jo Jo plays in the NCAA, the better chance he comes back to try again.....hmmmmm.

7] Not that I'm prejudiced or anything but my bracket ends up with KU beating Wichita State in the Championship!! Wiggins vs Wiggins would be awesome.[Obviuosly, I am not counting on a trip to Hawaii with my winnings].

8] The one year I won the NCAA pool, it was minutes before the first game so all I did was pick high seeds all the way through....the year??...2008 and we all know what happened then. So much for research, soul searching and stats.

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Tony Bandle 6 months ago

PS I made one exception..picked Kansas to win it all!!

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Suzi Marshall 6 months ago

3) Get us to Memphis and we can help, in person the rest of the way. We got great prices for Memphis and better than reasonable for the FF. However, StL was impossible for anything close to a reasonable price.

4) I picked Stanford. UNM will be looking ahead to the Hawks.

5) None of us should overlook ISU. Hoyberger is a great coach with great players that will cause major headaches for MSU. My bet is ISU takes it.

6) Could also be a warning to move on.

7) I can't see WSU running the death line they face. I like OSU out of the West resulting in a Kansas v OSU final.

8) My first year doing pools was 1966 when TX Western won...ugh. Since then, I've won my pool twice .... '88 and '08. The stars align for the Hawks this year.

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Aaron Paisley 6 months ago

Michigan State was on the short list of contenders in November when they were healthy. Then the injury bug bit them, but they are healthy again and playing their best basketball of the season right now. Them and Louisville may be playing the best basketball of anyone right now and I'm glad KU wouldn't face either one until the Final Four.

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Tony Bandle 6 months ago

Suz, I will be more than happy to hand off a two game NCAA victory streak into your safe keeping in Memphis and beyond. Tarik will tear it up in Memphis.....how ironic, he returns home..the stars are truly aligned.

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Ian Emerson 6 months ago

Sounds like Self gave inside info to Turner that he wont be getting playtime at the center position next season.

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Suzi Marshall 6 months ago

A couple of days ago when Self said he was talking with LB, I speculated they were probably discussing Embiid/Turner as well.

A lot of Jayhawkers are pulling for LB to sign Turner, if the Hawks can't get him....hopefully because Embiid returns.

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Sean Doherty 6 months ago

I posted this to ESPN regarding Lyles decision to go to Oregon. Enjoy the behind the scenes conversation between Bill Self and Larry Brown.... hypothetically speaking that is.

As for a KU fan wondering about where Lyle would go, I believe this is indicative of Wayne Seldon staying for his Sophomore year. Good get Oregon. I also believe this is a great indication that Joel Embiid will return to KU: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/03/16/myles-turner-closing-in-on-smu-basketball-decision/ . Bill Self has been in the lead for Miles Turner under one condition, that Joel Embiid were to go to the NBA after his Freshman season. Now, all of a sudden Self's huge recruit is seriously considering signing with Bill Self's good friend and business associate, Larry Brown. I can hear the closed door conversation right now:

"Hey Larry, guess what? LB: What's up BS? BS: Jojo says he's staying. LB: That's great buddy, good for you and your team. So what about Turner now? BS: You know I thought you might ask.... LB: Well I'm asking and telling, I'm head over heals for the guy. Any tips on getting the kid? BS: Yeah, just tell him this and promise him this *****. I'll let him know you're looking forward to speaking with him soon. LB: Thanks Bill. How's the wife and kids? BS: Great really. I live in paradise. What more could we ask for? LB: I don't know Bill, you've already given me more than I could ever desire on my own. Let me know if you need anything buddy. BS: Sure thing Larry. How about you and the fam go on holiday with my family after the tourney. Sometime in late May, early June? LB: You betcha Bill, just keep me posted. BS: I didn't want to bring this up, but you got a really raw deal with the tournament selection. LB: I know, but I can't say we don't deserve it either. BS: Well lets make sure this kind of crap doesn't happen for you next year. I think the tools are definitely in place now that you have Mudiay and soon to have Turner. Lets plan on a big celebration after the 2015 tourney. How does that sound? Details TBD. LB: You got it buddy. Have a great NCAA week. BS: Alrighty then Lar, go win that GD NIT trophy. You and yours deserve it."

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Dirk Medema 6 months ago

Myles playing for Larry is GREAT news!!!

Wasn't real excited when he left with sanctions in his wake, but it's all worked out and he's remained a 'Hawk along the way.

It also means that Jo is that much closer to staying, and that is good news.

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Scott MacWilliams 6 months ago

I thought Jojo has made it pretty clear that he wants to come back, but it seems like nobody wants to listen to him. Sure he could go now and be rich, but he will be a top 5 pick whenever he goes, and he said he wants to be one of the great ones when he's all done. Every Jayhawk wants him back, but we'd understand if he left.

Just get well, Jojo, and we will root for you any way you go. (Of course, you'll be able to hear us a lot better if you're playing at AFH next year...)

Rock Chalk! ! !

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