Thursday, December 14, 2017

KU coach Bill Self: ‘We could become deep’ in a hurry

Kansas head coach Bill Self casts a look at his players during the second half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self casts a look at his players during the second half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self on Thursday offered updates on three Jayhawks who have yet to play a minute for the team this season.

He followed them up with an explanation for why constant questions about Sam Cunliffe, Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa were worth addressing week after week, as all three continue to strive to get back on the court.

“We could become a very, very deep team in a short amount of time,” Self said. “Right now, we just don't know what our team is or what it will be.”

What is known is that Cunliffe will be eligible on Saturday when the 13th-ranked Jayhawks take on Nebraska at 7 p.m., at Pinnacle Bank Arena, in Lincoln, Neb.

While KU fans and Cunliffe's teammates have been eagerly anticipating his KU debut, Self cautioned against expecting too much too soon from the Arizona State transfer.

“It's going to be beneficial, there's no question,” Self said of adding Cunliffe to the rotation. “But it's not going to change a ton how we play or our talent level right off the bat. I love Sam and I want him to contribute, but anybody that believes that he could step right in and be more productive than the five guards we have, I think that would be a little bit tough for him. In large part because he's going to go through some stuff to get comfortable.”

Freshman forward Billy Preston has been the poster boy for that last line, although none of Preston's work has come on the floor.

Held out of all nine KU games thus far while the university continues to sort out a compliance issue involving a car Preston was driving during a single-vehicle, non-injury accident in mid-November, Self said Thursday he remained “optimistic,” that Preston still could help the team this season, perhaps sooner rather than later.

Self praised the work KU has done to get Preston back on the court, but added that at least some of the former McDonald's All-American's future was out of KU's hands, because the NCAA still had to see eye to eye with what KU's investigation concluded.

Self said KU had not yet turned the case over to the NCAA, which will ultimately have the final say.

“Hopefully, whatever information is given to the deciding parties, it will be a quick turnaround,” Self said.

And then there's De Sousa, the Class of 2018 forward who signed with KU earlier this year and has been on a mission to graduate early from IMG Academy and report to KU in time for the second semester.

De Sousa said earlier this week he expected to get his SAT test score back on Friday. The results of that test will loom large in the 6-foot-9 Angola native's quest to come to Kansas this season.

But even if the score is good enough to make him academically eligible, Self said there were still other hurdles that had to be cleared before De Sousa could suit up for the Jayhawks.

“Everybody (has to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse),” Self said. “And that process has already started. The thing with Silvio that's unique is we're dealing with Angola. And our ability to either speak French or Portuguese in a way (to get) additional information to help him has been somewhat limited. So we think he's in pretty good shape, depending on the test score, but there still have to be some things that are done through his home country that are still incomplete.

“We've been working on this for a while and we've gotten down to the 11th hour, obviously. If a youngster could be eligible, we want him here sooner than later. He could be eligible but not be cleared until Jan. 10. He could be eligible and maybe be cleared before Christmas. So that's what we're working on. He could also not make it (and) he would either not be eligible for competition or he could stay at IMG. So there's questions, but the answers will probably take place, I would say, in the next week to 10 days.”

What those answers could mean for the 2017-18 Jayhawks is the biggest reason the effort and waiting in all three instances has been worth it.

And if in the next couple of weeks, KU's paper-thin roster can add Cunliffe, who is essentially the team's sixth guard, and two physically imposing, athletically gifted forwards in Preston and De Sousa, the outlook for the rest of the season becomes much different than it stands today, with the 13th-ranked Jayhawks (7-2) battling through a two-game losing skid.

“I've always thought the bench is a heck of a motivator, not from a negative standpoint,” said Self, calling the current roster “a hard team to coach” because of the way the roster currently is constructed. “Guys want to be out there and sometimes right now we're in situations where we don't have the answers to put other guys out there because we're so thin.”

In the past, when Landen Lucas was struggling or Cliff Alexander was dogging it, Self could turn to Hunter Mickelson sitting on the bench. Same thing with Kelly Oubre Jr. and Wayne Selden Jr., or Brannen Greene or Frank Mason III, or Devonte' Graham.

“Whoever it would be,” Self explained, singing the praises of bench depth. ““If a guy's not doing it right right now, I hate to say this, but what you do is you yell at him from the sideline to say, 'Hey, do it better.' And I don't think that's the best way to coach.”


Craig Carson 10 months, 1 week ago

hopefully KU can add Preston and DeSousa..they will certainly give this team an element that they have been lacking

Allan Olson 10 months, 1 week ago

Three out of sync, not ready for prime time players. Just how much of the very, very deep roster should we expect to see?

John Strayer 10 months, 1 week ago

What the heck? It's an honest question. Same question I've had. We've all been told, especially with "bigs" how long the adjustment to the college game takes. So yes, Preston and De Sousa would add bodies. What else they add is unknown at this point. At the very least about 10 more fouls.

Craig Carson 10 months, 1 week ago

John..Preston played all preseason and he's been practicing this whole time..he could play of Saturday and fit right in with the team and make an immediate impact..DeSousa would be a different story, he'd probably be way behind and would be looked at more for 5 extra fouls and defense/rebounding than he would for scoring

Steve Quatrocky 10 months, 1 week ago

Simple, they will be told to rebound and play defense, replacing the minutes that Clay Young has had to play in the two losses, past that on a game by game basis, they provide insurance against fatigue and foul trouble, and give us the size to compete with other tall teams that play zone. Lagerald is growing in that role but he isnt big enough to be the zone buster against big teams. We wont need a walk on from the football team to practice on the road anymore either.

Craig Carson 10 months, 1 week ago

Allan..DeSousa might not make an immediate impact but thats not the case with Preston...he played all preseason, including he has been practicing all this time...Self could plug Preston in on Saturday and expect at least 12 points and 5-7 rebounds..Cunliffe has been with the program for a year now, he knows the offense and the style of play Self expects

Tony Bandle 10 months, 1 week ago

Random Thoughts:

1) I don't expect Sam's contribution to be a ton of scoring or take aways. I expect Sam's presence to be his contribution by giving the five other guys extra rest, give the back line five extra fouls and give the current players a shot of motivation and, frankly, fear for their playing time lives!!!

2] The term "clearing house" when referring to the NCAA is one of the great aximorons of present. day sports.

3] Billy plays but Silvio doesn't. Silvio plays but Billy doesn't. Neither plays. 33%, 33%, 33%......Conliffe becomes Oscar Robertson...1%.

Dirk Medema 10 months, 1 week ago

Cunliffe isn't a PG, so 0% chance he becomes OR.

Gerry Butler 10 months, 1 week ago

I am just having a hard time wondering why the paper work has NOT YET been turned over to the NCAA - -crazy. - as we know how these idiots like to drag their feet -I think this could be not good. I don't know , will just be glad when we get the answers to all - -Hopefully before the end of the year. - -

Dirk Medema 10 months, 1 week ago

Maybe the paperwork isn't complete, because Momma is making some corrections after meeting with the compliance staff or some other reason.

The good news is that at least we aren't at the beginning of the year when the NCAA is trying to clear every first year player.

Steve Quatrocky 10 months, 1 week ago

I agree, the compliance staff couldn't submit anything until the player and his family correct the potential violation, including repayment of any improper benefits received already and the entire repayment process is examined under a microscope in terms of where the money came from. I dont know if submitting it during the holiday season is any better than the beginning of the year when it comes to the NCAA. You have to figure once submitted, they are going to penalize him at least 6 games, or maybe 10 or a "full semester", so hopefully they get it resolved, submitted and decided soon so it just ends up being timed served. I love Clay, but hate seeing him on the court in the first half!

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 10 months, 1 week ago

we really aren't all that bad as we sit. sure we aren't where our ranking is but dang if we aren't good.

Steve Quatrocky 10 months, 1 week ago

It took some games and videotape to solve the puzzle, but the opposing coaches get paid a lot for a reason. As we sit, we are good, lethal when the ball is going in, but the margin is small due to the thin roster, so Top 20 is about right as we sit. With the addition of Cunliffe this weekend, both to replace Clay on the floor and practice depth on the road, being ranked 13 is probably perfect and continuing the Big 12 Championship streak will be a challenge. Add Preston, to replace Lagerald as the zone buster when playing tall teams, provide insurance for foul trouble against Doke, and allow Lightfoot to play the four, we are back in the top 10 with a much better chance to take the Big 12 again, a 1 or 2 seed with a chance to go deep. Add both bigs and successfully integrate them into limited roles, the sky is the limit.

Allin Herring 10 months, 1 week ago

The paper work has not been turned in yet! I am not sure who is the bigger idiot Preston cheating with the car or the group handling the paper work! We all know how long it takes in NCAA to make a decision and we have not turned in the paper WORK? Give us a break!!

Allan Olson 10 months, 1 week ago

Bingo! The Pony Express in 1866 moved a letter from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA twice as fast as KU Compliance has so far moved this paperwork to the NCAA, 150 years later.

Shannon Gustafson 10 months, 1 week ago

Glad you guys know all about what information has to be collected, what has to be accomplished to "fix" the problem, and what other steps have to be taken before KU can consider the issue "resolved" and forward it to the NCAA for review. Since you two know so much about what went down and how it's being resolved, care to fill all of us in?

Do you REALLY think KU's compliance office would be dragging their feet when the Men's BB team is the face of the university and Preston's eligibility has a big role in our success or lack of success this year? I can assure you if they WERE dragging their feet they would be replaced with someone who understood the importance of the matter.

Marius Rowlanski 10 months, 1 week ago

I'm not happy with Preston's decision but calling him an idiot doesn't help. It's hard to believe that college freshman make mistakes.

Clarence Haynes 10 months, 1 week ago

I find it hard to believe that there isn’t anyone on campus from Portugal, Brazil, or otherwise, who speaks Portuguese or at minimum Spanish with is similar.

Robert Brock 10 months, 1 week ago

Wait...the problem has to do with a USED Dodge Charger? Not a Mercedes or a Beemer? A Dodge? HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Jim Stauffer 10 months, 1 week ago

Wow! Just Wow! I can't believe the facts could not be established sooner and the NCAA have had the report long ago. What a fumbled mess this has been from the beginning. Apparently KU is low man on the totem pole. All we seem to get are the really good players who have baggage and are not wanted by UK or Duke. Same thing every year. No blame to Coach. He does what he can, but we just don't rank high enough in the eyes of these kids somehow. I am already wondering what is wrong with the four kids we have signed for next year.

Joe Black 10 months, 1 week ago

That is not even close to being true (i.e. Josh Jackson, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre, Wayne Selden, etc, etc)

Steve Quatrocky 10 months, 1 week ago

Totally agree with you Joe, we've had more top recruits with no issues, than issues. Great example is the Championship team, the last really major rebuild in 2005-06, you had 3 top of the crop recruits in Brandon, Mario, and Julian with no issues, minor issues with Shady's grades that were resolved without missing games, and Darnell was suspended for 6 games for a BS improper benefits violation.

Bill Pitcher 10 months, 1 week ago

"Perhaps sooner than later"? This one has been complicated by KU's Athletic Department and its Keystone Cops compliance department. How complicated can you make it, Mr. Zenger?

David Robinett 10 months, 1 week ago

Right Clarence there are definitely professors of French and Portuguese on campus who I’m sure would be willing to help.

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