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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bill Self on Big 12 race: ‘13-5 will get it free and clear’

Kansas head coach Bill Self pulls the Jayhawks in during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kansas head coach Bill Self pulls the Jayhawks in during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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With Big 12 Conference play opening Friday night for the 11th-ranked Kansas men's basketball team in Austin, Texas, the time has come to consider the Jayhawks' chances of extending their record-tying streak of 13 consecutive regular season conference titles to 14 and standing all alone, ahead of the UCLA dynasty of yesteryear, by season's end.

Kansas coach Bill Self thinks he has a pretty good idea of what it will take to get there.

“I think 13-5 will get it free and clear,” said Self of what record he believed would win the Big 12 title this season.

During their current and unprecedented streak, the Jayhawks, just once before in 2014-15, have finished conference play with five losses.

So the fact that Self believes his team could lose that many and still win it outright this season demonstrates clearly the kind of respect he has for this season's challengers, starting with the Longhorns at 8 p.m. Friday night.

“Is this a hard opening game? Hell yes it is,” Self said. “But anybody we play would be a hard opening road game. Think about if you're playing at West Virginia or TCU or (Texas) Tech or Oklahoma. It doesn't make any difference. They'd all be hard games. This is tough, but every home game will be hard, too, and there's four other teams in our league that are playing unbelievably hard road games to start (conference play), as well.”

Self's Kansas teams have put together this unbelievable streak of 13 in a row because they always have placed high value on the importance of winning the league. But instead of looking at things in terms of big picture and thinking about the finish line while standing in the starting blocks, Self always has done a masterful job of getting his players to focus on the current game and what's immediately in front of them, believing that that kind of acute focus will produce good results in the end.

That mindset will be even more important than ever this year, according to Self, who, somewhat surprisingly, admitted on Wednesday that he briefly addressed the streak with his team this week.

“When we lost the two in a row (to Washington and Arizona State earlier this month) it was like the sky is falling,” Self said. “But everybody in the league is going to lose two in a row. That's going to happen. The league's too good. How you respond to those negative performances will probably be very important. And we've been kind of spoiled here. We haven't had to do that a ton. So there's going to be some disappointments and you just have to move on to the next one and not dwell on the last one.”

As always, the easiest formula for Kansas finishing on top is to take care of business nine times at Allen Fieldhouse — where Self has lost just 11 times in 15 seasons — and to steal a handful of those nine road games.

But Self said he thought that finding a way to finish 5-4 or even 4-5 away from home would be a serious challenge during the next nine weeks.

“Us winning on the road will be unbelievably hard because we're going to be a really big game for everybody,” Self said. “And we've shown that we have a chink in the armor, so to speak, so far. It's not like people are saying, 'Hey, we have to play perfect to beat 'em.' You don't have to play perfect to beat us, just like we don't have to play perfect to beat the other teams in the league. It's a well-balanced league.”

Comments

Gerry Butler 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Great Article. - - -It's gonna be a war, -- let the games begin. - - So let it be written - - So let it be done. - - -ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

David McNickle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

6-3 after the first 9 conference games would be big. Playing Texas, OU, WVU and TCU on the road while Silvio and hopefully Preston, get acclimated with the system, might pay off in February when we have these teams at AFH.

DiscGolfer Jason 3 months, 3 weeks ago

At this point I've all but written Preston off the roster/team until I read an article stating he has been cleared.

David McNickle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Probably just wishful thinking on my part. IMO, the ceiling is Sweet 16 without 10 to 15 minutes from Silvio and Preston.

Shannon Gustafson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Can we get someone to put together a list of Self's predictions like this from each year he's made one and see how accurate he's been?

So any time he made a comment about how many wins, losses, or overall record it will take to win the league prior to league play starting, I'd like to see where it actually ended up compared to his prediction. I suspect he's pretty accurate with his predictions.

Barry Weiss 3 months, 3 weeks ago

from my memory, he has typically been very accurate.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Texas - Away [Loss] - Allen [Win]. West Virginia - Away [Loss] - Allen [Win]. Kansas State - Away [Win] - Allen [Win]. Iowa State - Away [Win] - Allen - [Win]. TCU - Away [Loss] - Allen [Win]. Oklahoma - Away [Loss] - Allen [Win]. Oklahoma State - Away [Loss] - Allen [Win]. Texas Tech - Away [Win] - Allen [Win]. Baylor - Away [Win] - Allen [Win]..

Yep....13 - 5.....that looks about right!!!!!

Austin Lopez 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't see Kansas losing to TCU, OKLAHOMA STATE and OKLAHOMA AWAY, I could see us losing to Baylor away from home though. Oklahoma state doesn't have the same talented team they have had in recent years, don't see us losing to them away after they lost Jawuan Evans to the NBA draft. TCU will be a solid team but if we play with our heads on a swivel we will beat them, Fisher is a really nice talented guard but I think Graham will lock him down if push came to shove. Oklahoma is a one trick pony and his name is Trae Young, Lock young down and you cut the head off the horse.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Austin, Oklahoma State at Iba Arena seems to be Coach Bill's Kryptonite and always seems to be a battle but I sincerely hope you are correct.

Austin Lopez 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't worry Bill Self just needs to learn to open up and give his alma mater a a$$ whooping.

Robert Brock 3 months, 3 weeks ago

This is Coach Self’s worst defense easily. Unless something amazing happens KU will suffer a LOT of Conference losses.

Austin Lopez 3 months, 3 weeks ago

How many losses did you predict the 2011-12 Kansas team to lose in conference play? Bill Self has made magic out of much less talent we will be fine.

Andy Godwin 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Agreed. Trying to outscoring the opponent game in and game out will not win many championships. Self hangs his hat on making the other team play ugly and that has not been the case with this team against good competition. The ASU game was a great example. You score 85 points at home and you should win. KU could never get a defensive stop to allow them a chance to get back into the game. First time in a long while that I expect KU will not hold home court, which is why the Big 12 normally has to go through Lawrence. Hoping to be surprised that the team improves substantially in all aspects during this focus on basketball break.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Austin - You apparently missed the fact that Lon replaced Juwan with an upgrade.

Austin Lopez 3 months, 3 weeks ago

What are you talking about ? Juwan Evans played for Oklahoma State NOT OKLAHOMA LMFAO...... I think you just disqualified yourself from any debate with that one.

Kent Richardson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

This year we probably cannot afford to lay the away egg at places like ISU, KSU and OSU. Also this is not the year to lose at the house of Phog. That's 12 wins. If we get one tonight there is number 13.

When DeVonte an Svi show a cold or even cool hand in the first part of games we have Lagerald's smooth stroke to back us up. He has been clutch at times but he is only one guy. We need someone else to step up. Will it be Malik? Except for the stretch at the end of the Sprint Center game and the start against ASU it looks like probably not. This makes us magnify his canted stroke as a deficiency when it is more a confidence issue I think. Svi is able to make a shooting comeback but not enough to overcome 0 for 7 starts with our lack of a fourth guard scorer. DeVonte scored 35, 35 and then 3. With our lack of a fourth guard scorer, so far, we need 20, 20, 20 vision from him.

I will be slightly critical of DeVonte and Lagerald now when it's still all in front of us so I don't seem disgruntled when I'm depressed after a few bad losses. Both show superior skills and desire but, this year, neither has shown me they will be the one who doesn't fade away when we need to have someone, at crunch time, take the game over and win it. See Josh and Frank as examples. Do we need that? I don't know but I am obviously thinking so.

This looks like a team that can't get down and have to make a successful charge in the second half. I could be wrong here among a team that can fill it up from three but I'm thinking not.

If a team goes off on us like ASU's whole guard tandem, Amen, we have seen it before and we move on.

Can Udoka get over on the fly swatter tonight? The slow move to the right and flip shot may not be there. According to Tom Keegan's article yesterday, Texas guards the three very well. That's two things in their favor tonight. It may come down to our defense and their poor outside shooting continuing to even the scale.

For those of you who can, join the live coverage on this site tonight and we can all break it down as we whine and shine together in a live setting.

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