Sunday, November 16, 2014

Self: Jayhawks can finally turn attention to Kentucky

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


With a 10-point opening-night victory over a veteran UC Santa Barbara basketball team in the books ...

“Now we can talk about the Wildcats of Kentucky,” Kansas University coach Bill Self said after the Jayhawks’ 69-59 victory on Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

The No. 1-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, who meet No. 5 KU approximately 8:50 p.m. Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, pounded Grand Canyon, 85-45, in Friday’s opener in Lexington, Kentucky.

UK has another home tune-up tonight versus Buffalo.

“I don’t want to say it will be just a toughness game, because it’s not, but when you’re as big as them (7-foot Willie Cauley-Stein, 6-11 Karl Towns, 6-8 Alex Poythress in starting lineup; 6-9 Marcus Lee, 6-10 Trey Lyles, 7-0 Dakari Johnson off bench) and a lot of times looking at their rebounding stats, their best offense is just getting on the glass, and go run get it,” Self said.

“We’re going to have to do a much better job of being tougher in rotation rebounding and really paying attention to that, because they’re really good. They’re long, and they’re going to be hard to score against. Cal (John Calipari, UK head coach) is a good defensive coach, and they’ve got so much length. So we need to be sure we’re really good rebounding on the defensive end ourselves.”

Self wasn’t overly impressed with the Jayhawks’ opening win.

“It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it. I’m not embarrassed beating Santa Barbara by 10 because I knew they were capable of giving us some problems,” Self said.

“We didn’t have the killer instinct, didn’t put them away, didn’t finish the game great. We did beat a good team. I’m pleased with the defense, pretty pleased with our rebounding,” he added after winning the board battle 42-31 and holding the Gauchos to 41.1 percent marksmanship (4-for-19 from three).

KU hit 41.5 percent of its shots, 20 percent (2-for-10) from three.

“We didn’t throw the ball inside enough. Our ball movement on the perimeter is so bad. We don’t get it side to side enough. The ball is sticking. Even with big guys, the ball is sticking,” Self said.

Perry Ellis led the frontcourt players with 13 points (off 4-of-7 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Jamari Traylor had two points (1-for-4 shooting) and 10 boards. Cliff Alexander had nine points (3-of-5 shooting) and four boards, Landen Lucas two points and two boards and Hunter Mickelson one block in two minutes.

“Cliff played well — four minutes the first half (one point, two boards), five or six in a row until he was totally gassed. He was great (in the second half, with eight points, two boards in eight minutes). We put him in late, he backed off the guy (Alan Williams, 22 points, 13 boards) who scored four straight.

“It is nice to see two hands over the rim when we go rebound the ball.”

The 6-8 Alexander showed a nice touch on a 15-footer the second half.

“No no no, it was a good shot, Cliff,” Self said, smiling, asked his reaction to the shot. “Cliff acted like he knew what he was doing when he took them. Cliff played well. He got two quick fouls early, but I thought Cliff did some good things. One thing Cliff can do is that he can go after the ball.”

An easy-going guy off the court with a deep voice and a big smile, Alexander laughed when asked by a reporter if he “felt OK” coming off the bench at this stage of his career.

“I mean, whatever works for the team. Whatever works for the team,” he said.

Asked when he last was asked to come off the bench, he said, “Never.”

Nine Jayhawks played nine or more minutes in the opener. Ten Kentucky players went 14 or more minutes vs. Grand Canyon.

“It’s good to get that under our belt,” Self said. “I was nervous about this (opener). They (Gauchos) play zone. Our best players aren’t playing (as well as they can) yet ... we’ll be a much better team (as season progresses).”

Scouts galore: More than 60 NBA execs and scouts are expected to attend the Champions Classic, reports. The KU-Kentucky game follows a 6 p.m. contest between Michigan State and Duke.

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor is the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, according to, followed by UK’s Towns at No. 3 and KU’s Kelly Oubre Jr. and Alexander at 4 and 5. Duke’s Justise Winslow is listed No. 8, UK’s Cauley-Stein No. 10, Duke’s Tyus Jones No. 14, UK’s Dakari Johnson No. 19, KU’s Wayne Selden Jr. No. 25, UK’s Andrew Harrison No. 26 and UK’s Aaron Harrison No. 28.


Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

We will have to play our best, they will need an off night, we will need a few calls go our way, they will need half their team to come down with the flu, and maybe maybe we can win the game. I just hope we play well and give them a good game.

ps- was on some KY boards and they were very concerned about recruiting and their recent signings were considered great news. They too were seeing players flying off the board and only started to really recruit the two players that just signed in July when they started to see how the 2015 class was shaping up. Now they only need 1 or 2 players maybe 3 to have another great team next year. This class is different to them, more players are going to lower ranked schools due to new coaches hired, also more players than normal are staying close to home. Interesting that the best recruiting school in the country was getting nervous too.

We could be in for some disappointing news with the 2015 recruiting class.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 2 months ago

As for tomorrow's game, I think we can put five players on the court who can match up against any five players from Kentucky. The problem will be what happens after our top seven or eight against their second five player platoon. Not wanting to harp on this point but UConn beat Kentucky in the NC by controlling the tempo, not making silly fouls or putting up bad shots. I'll take our head coach over Kentucky's every time. I truly think we have a realistic shot of winning this game but even if the worst happens and we get blown out, it is only the second game of the season.

I have agreed with your outlook on recruiting with all but one point. I don't see us needing more than 2 – 3 players next year due to attrition or the NBA draft. There aren't many players left in the top 100 but the majority of those are in the top 30. Most are waiting to see where they will have the best chance to start as freshmen. I'm confident that Coach Self will be able to do just that. I just hope that we aren't continuingly replacing OADs with OADs. I'm optimistic about next year's recruits.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

This is a strange recruiting year, it just boggles my mind that we cannot get one recruit to commit before the spring signing period. Couple that with being late to Graham, and Svi last year and it makes you think.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree...but I've seen us sign late recruits on several occasions. There are still 12 unsigned recruits in the top 25. I think we'll get Tyler Dorsey maybe Ivan Rabb but it's a crapshoot for the rest. We've had some success with Juco players though I have no idea if Self has anyone in mind.

Or... we could strike out spectacularly..

Shannon Gustafson 7 years, 2 months ago

Lets not forget that two of the 4 guys in last years class were "unknowns" until late in the recruiting period and they are the guys playing the best on the team at their position this year (Graham, Svi) so lets not get too wrapped up in all of this just yet. Self will figure it out. Really all we need IMO is a 6'11-7' guy to solidify our interior play against taller teams next year and we'll be set. Save the rest for the 2016 class that's stacked with talent.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

You are agreeing with my point, why are we so late to get these guys lol? So actually yes let's get wrapped up in this. One 7 footer is all we need, comical Shannon. We have 2 open scholarships why not at least 2 players? We are the only ranked team without a single commit for next year. Why?

Save for 2016? What team does that? We have an open scholarship this year because we saved it for Turner, how did that work out?

Sorry but I am not sure you understand how strange this is.

Shannon Gustafson 7 years, 2 months ago

My point was that self recruited out of the "norm" and got two guys not many others wanted late in the year that are (so far) better than the highly touted Oubre. In other words, we don't HAVE to get top 30 guys for every position so worrying about how many top 30 guys are left doesn't really matter. We also have at least one guy who has said for months that he's not signing a letter of intent.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

Reread my posts about this subject on here, there are only 17 recruits out of the top 100, not top 30 left. We have only offered 11 of those and only 6 have made an official visit. You have no idea what you are talking about. Actually many top schools were interested in those two Svi and Graham, wrong again. You need too keep refreshing players every year. So you savings plan does not make sense either. Self did not recruit out of the "norm", it was desperation. KU should never have to recruit out of desperation. If you were paying attention I am talking about just a verbal commitment, at this point who cares when they actually sign. Those are two different things by the way, in case you did not know. It is concerning that we are last to the table. Trust in Self? He might not be in a position to effect much as the list of players keeps dwindling. Do you think we should be happy with taking what is left or picking who we want? Sounds like first thing, I think we should be getting who want.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 2 months ago

Unless they shoot 55-60% from the field, I don't see Kansas staying within single digits of this Kentucky team. It will be good medicine for this group they can use as fuel through April similar to 2012.

Benz Junque 7 years, 2 months ago

Kentucky was down at halftime to BUFFALO. Anything can happen. I certainly wouldn't put any money on the game but I was encouraged by how aggressive KU was playing defense in their opening game. I assume that was 100% in preparation for trying to slow down Kentucky. Should be a good game to let the guys know where they are and what they need to work on.

Beate Williams 7 years, 2 months ago

Not sure if I understand this comment, Ron. If they shoot 55-60% we have a chance of winning, the implication being they will shoot much better than that? If they shoot 55-60% we will be blown out of the arena and if they shoot better than that we will become the laughing stock of the early season. We must keep them in the lower 40% for this game to be competitive and that can be done. RCJH

Ron Franklin 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry about the poor placement of my noun and pronoun. I didn't mean to be so confusing.

Robert Brock 7 years, 2 months ago

Perry Ellis is going to have to get much tougher than usual for the Hawks to keep the game close. He will get matched up with WCS and Dakari Johnson etc. who will work him over pretty hard. He needs to face the pressure and return fire. PE hauled down 10 boards against the Gauchos; let's see him do it against the Wildcats.

James Miller 7 years, 2 months ago

Perry will have an advantage on these guys out on the floor. He should be able to get by his defender, draw the second big and dish for a score. I really feel at least on the offensive end, Perry should have an advantage. Cliff should see big minutes tonight. He made his name in high school by playing well against 7'0 Jahlil Okhafor. He can stand the heat. If we can knock down a decent percentage of open 3s...we should win!!!!!! We also will have a quickness advantage against their twins. Our guards should live in the lane...thus, opening up dunks and open 3's.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 2 months ago

Okafor scored fairly easily on Alexander in head to head match ups. Can Alexander handle the group of big men Kentucky will throw at him?

James Miller 7 years, 2 months ago

Okafor got his points, but I thought Cliff played him well, and Cliff got more than his share of spectacular plays on both ends.

Can he handle the group of big men Kentucky has? I think so...Cliff is a grown man and he plays like it. U can't back down against these guys...I like Cliff to have big game.

Scott Yessen 7 years, 2 months ago

Beate....I think Ron was meaning KU when he said "unless they shoot 55%-60%". Meaning if we dont shoot a good percentage, we dont stand a chance.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

Who knows the outcome, of course Im betting on my Hawks...but consider another perspective, I will phrase as a question: Is the 2014-15 Hawks (Ellis, Traylor, Selden, Mason, Graham) equal-to or better than the 2012 Hawks (TRob, Withey, Releford, EJ, Tyshawn)? That team battled a great KY team that had returning experience also...but this year's KY team is likely better than their '12NC-winning team. Their length is unbelievable, and likely unprecedented in Div.1 history, as is their athleticism. The scariest factor is the 4 returnees with NCgame/Final4 experience.

Are the '14Hawks better than the '12Hawks?...because '14KY is better than '12NC KY.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

If you mean will we be down by 19 points sometime during the game, yes the 2014 team might be equal to the 2012 team. Will we have 11 of our 43 paint attempts blocked like in the NC game, yes that is possible since we had Jeff and TR in 2012, we are shorter than that team. Could KY outscore KU 20-9 in transition, including 18-0 in the first half, I hope not, but it is possible as well.

I do not think at this point in the season our 2014 team is better than the 2012 KU team. As I am sure you recall we lost early as well as in the NC to KY.

The only team that can beat KY is KY this season. Any team can be beat, so its possible we could win, but I just do not see it.

Michael Bennett 7 years, 2 months ago

I disagree that this year's UK squad is better than 2012. This year they have more depth (especially in the post), but they don't have anyone who could impact the game for 40 minutes the way Davis could. Their guard play is also not quite as strong, in my opinion. If they lose in March it'll be from an opposing team's 3-pointers. I could be wrong, but we'll see.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

Rodney, well put. Those are my exact fears...but, who knows if these "shooters" we have get hot (Svi, Greene, Selden, Ellis, Graham, Mason). Goodness knows teams like VCU and UNI got hot from 3 against us, so maybe karma comes back around...

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

Buffalo had KY down 5 at the half in Rupp today, but they just turn to their bench found someone who could score, tightened their defense down too and won by 19. Just too many weapons...

It would be sweet to beat them though.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

Michael, I agree about the 3pt equalizer...but if you recall, KY's "guardplay" (HarrisonTwins), which was indeed pretty lackluster most of last season, really put together a sparkling Tournament run, although their whole team was a little flat in the NC game..I remember each Harrison going for 20pts vs WSU, which has A-rated guard play. So, maybe alot of this depends on "which" HarrisonTwins show up, the motivated preNBA'ers, or the lackadaisical disinterested ones. My guess is they came back to KY because their draft stock was sufferring from their laccadaisical impression on everyone. So I think they may be a bit more motivated this year. I watched Poythress less, so cant really comment on him...

Walter Bridges 7 years, 2 months ago

Tough question; which team is better, the 2012 Jayhawks or the 2014. If you look at it only from individual talent or a potential talent then the answer is the 2014. If somehow this team sticks around another year then I would take the 2014/15. I just think how good the 2013/14 team could have been this year if we hadn't lost Wiggins and Embiid to the draft and Frankamp and White to transfers.

But if you look at it from a team perspective that comes only through experience and having played together then I'll take the 2012. With the exception of MacLemore (who actually did have a year of practice before becoming eligible), this was a much more coherent team and it showed in the tournament. I believe Self's best talent comes from molding and developing players as opposed to replacing OADs with OADs.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree but keep in mind we got behind and had to come back against Purdue, NC state and Ohio State late in 2012, EJ played well at the end of those games in 2012 too. We came back in the NC game too but we were just far down. Even with all that experience we were lucky to get to the NC game.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't think we can make that assessment yet. We could say this time might have more talent than the 2012 team. I don't think we will ever see a team over achieve in the tournament like that 2012 team did.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

I see a 'platoon' of Self bigs, that hopefully can execute the we wont win too many 1on1 matchups against 7ft length (remember Stanford really bothered Ellis and Traylor), so it will have to be a team-win. Team-execution.

The operating theory is that KY bigs are better than Stanford bigs. Does anyone think that Calipari or his assistants wont study the Stanford-KU game tape to see what bothered WildBill's hi-lo? (Answer: packed-in length). KY may not have to pack in, as their athleticism will allow crazy help-side blocks...just like they did to WSU...and like a different KY team did to '12KU.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

If 6'8 Poythress + 6'6 Harrison Twins are the starting wing and guards, then consider the matchup with either A: Greene, Selden, Mason, or B: Selden, Mason, Graham. Small, quick & tough guards have a role, but they've got to have net-positive games.

Another matchup to analyze is the Tournament game between WSU's excellent Ron Baker, VanVleet, and Tekele Cotton vs. KY's Harrisons+Poythress. Each Harrison dropped 20pts, and VanVleet looked overmatched. Baker had a fast break 99% certain layup actually blocked from behind, as was someone else's baseline gimme layup blocked. WSU's interior game sufferred, and they didnt go inside to Carl as much as I thought they should have...

Guard-play + bigman play. It will be a very tough matchup. Our toughest, and also Kentucky's toughest I think, as the KU team will absolutely put up a fight--as it is coached by Bill Self...

Walter Bridges 7 years, 2 months ago

One of the things that has surprised me the most so far this year is how fast Svi seems to be picking up or buying into Self's system especially considering that he hasn't had nearly as much time as opposed to Greene or KO. I'm starting to think that this kid could be the biggest (and best) surprise from this year's recruiting class and I mean nationally not just our recruiting class.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 2 months ago

Agree, its his body langauge after a bad play that has me thinking this way. He plays all out on both sides of the ball regardless of if he is 0-4 or 4-4 from 3. He just resets for the next possesion and plays hard in all aspects of the game.

What a find!

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 2 months ago

Kentucky is not shooting well from 3 so far this year. If KU can play some good D, they may be able to pull off a win. Kentucky is killing it on the boards so far so the key will be KU blocking out and getting the boards.

Mike Riches 7 years, 2 months ago

I would love it if we beat Kentucky this Tuesday. However, I would much prefer if we beat them in late March/early April.

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