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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Kansas coach Bill Self: ‘Our team got better’

Tough 3-game stretch leaves Jayhawks in good shape

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) hangs for a shot against Baylor guard Manu Lecomte (20) during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) hangs for a shot against Baylor guard Manu Lecomte (20) during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Eleven days ago, in a dimly lit, all-but-empty gymnasium in Morgantown, W.V., where only the custodial crew and a few family members remained, the Kansas men’s basketball team slowly filed out to the team bus still trying to digest exactly what went wrong in an 85-69 loss to the Mountaineers.

One day later, after information about a reported rape at their on-campus dormitory surfaced and set the stage for a stretch of the season dominated as much by off-the-court news as what the Jayhawks did on it, the Kansas basketball team was at a crossroads.

Up next were games at No. 4 Kentucky and home against No. 2 Baylor, and although only the Baylor game would have any direct impact on one of the team’s biggest goals — winning a 13th straight Big 12 title — the game the Jayhawks were pushing as the least important of the two was getting weeklong hype from ESPN and being viewed nationwide as the potential game of the year in college basketball.

Fast-forward 11 days, where off-the-court questions still linger and nine games remain in the regular season, and the third-ranked Jayhawks sit at 20-2, are poised to move up in the rankings and at least have answered one question during what will go down as their toughest three-game stretch of the 2016-17 season — these guys know how to win.

Asked after Wednesday’s solid and stout 73-68 home victory over No. 2 Baylor if his team would have taken a 2-1 record during KU’s recent stretch against three of the best teams in college basketball, KU junior Devonté Graham’s immediate answer gave away what was coming.

“Definitely,” Graham said. “You know, 3-0 would be nice, but you’re not gonna win every game, especially in this league. So we’ll take that 2-1 and keep rolling with it.”

It’s not as if things get easy from here. But calling the upcoming schedule easier seems like a fair word to describe what’s ahead — Iowa State at home on Saturday, at Kansas State on Monday and at Texas Tech on Feb. 11.

Regardless, Kansas coach Bill Self will continue to push the message that any single win, no matter how big or who it comes against, will not mean anything if the Jayhawks don’t take care of business in the next one.

He’ll be this way for the rest of the season, and it’s that line of thinking that makes the Jayhawks the favorite to snag Big 12 title No. 13 in a row. It's also helped them navigate a nightmare week.

“We’ve been trying to figure out how tough we are,” Graham said. “We’ve been having a lot going on and stuff like that, but those two wins, especially at Kentucky, I think it just showed how tough we are and how we can grind out games and get Ws.”

Self all but agreed. He’s always going to demand improvement and seek perfection. But sitting in the media room following Wednesday night’s thriller against Baylor, the Kansas coach admitted one thing about his team that he had not said much so far this season.

“Considering a lot of different things, I think our team got better,” Self said of the progress made in the last 11 days. “Not only did we win a couple games, I think we got better.”

Comments

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

The issues facing this team, (i.e. injurines,lack of depth, off-court issues) this team is binding together into a real "Band of Brothers."

Geezzzz... those arms on Mason reminds me so much of the Michelangelo David sculpture in Florence.

Phil Leister 2 years, 6 months ago

There's really no mention of the newest report by the KC Star? It does not look good at all for Vick.

Janet Olin 2 years, 6 months ago

Today's sports story in the Star names Vick and Jackson as persons of interest in a car vandalism case but doesn't name sources. WDAF's John Holt tweeted last night after tallking to LPD that persons of interest have Not been named. Seems the Star is off and running on an anonymous tip by an unnamed man that contradicts the LPD information. www.rockchalktalk.com/2017/2/3/144966...

Mike Tackett 2 years, 6 months ago

One thing that always made it easy for me to love and follow KU BB is that for the most part our players had character. With this bunch I'm sure they have character, but maybe not the best. I don't look forward to games the way I used to. No matter what it is I look forward to the truth. I hope the university and HCBS have acted with character in all of these matters. If not the price to pay will be bitter.

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't agree with your assessment at all. I've talked with several students, whom I hold in high regard, that know Bragg well...and casually know the others. They all say Bragg is a first class person, very polite and fun to be around. Same for Vick, Jackson, Graham and Mason although they don't know them as well. Svi and Lucas must spend a bit more time studying because they are not seen about town as much, but they do get out. I'm really happy to hear all the guys on the team socialize well with the rest of the student body. Apparently these guys do have high character.

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

Correction...they knew Bragg well last year. Perhaps some things might have changed some this year.

Bob Bailey 2 years, 6 months ago

JW-- Have tried to see the warbird a couple of times! Get serious interference from GOOGLE ads.

It is bad enough you put up all kinds of crap with every article, But to leave Google continuous on the page is unforgiveable!

Please -- straighten out this junk.

Ben Kane 2 years, 6 months ago

I've commented many times how i feel this website has gone downhill. JW, fix it or call me and I'll help!

Bob Bailey 2 years, 6 months ago

Seems like something may have happened since last year.. Taking a few tokes is bad enough, it affects your spatial judgement. And who knows how long.

And serious smoking equipment must be much worse.

For my money, having supported my dead wife about 50 tears ago, I still see NO VALUE in dabbling with your mind that way. I have been in serious danger from hop heads who don't care. For my wife, it could make you feel there was nothing about dieing to worry about and maybe help your digestion. But putting people in danger of hop heads is a different matter!

Mike Schell 2 years, 6 months ago

Hop heads? Lol your referencing weed of course? Ya know there's a lot of worse things in the world than a player in college smoking a little bud.. especially during the season drinking is actually worse on your body and impairs your judgement far worse then "bud" I know the older generation would never approve of the use of Marijuana but in 2017 weed is everywhere especially in Lawrence and a lot of athletes smoke weed, I went to school with and played with willy cauley-stein and Shavon Shields. Both of which smoked weed. And one is in the NBA, and in high school if you think coaches didn't look the other way for a drug test, especially coach Grove who put winning above anything else. Weed isn't cocaine or heroin or meth it's simply weed and today's generation parktakes most athletes not all but most, also went to school with a kid that played football for Ku and another went to kstate all of them " partook" nobody has to agree with it but don't sound so shocked that Bragg had a bong, better on your lungs then a blunt

Barry Weiss 2 years, 6 months ago

lol..I got a good laugh out of "hop heads" myself. everyone knows weed and basketball players go together like PB and J

RJ King 2 years, 6 months ago

Bob, very sorry you had to go through such a long, painful goodbye with your wife. You are perhaps Robin Williams talking to Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" here. One day Mike and Barry might understand what the second half of life can bring.

They are right about the prevalence of weed today. Whether or not it affects performance is obviously related to how much & how often a player smokes.

Using a bong is not at all worse than a joint. Often milder, in fact. The trouble is today's weed is not the pot of yesterday. So lots of off-setting factors here. There are worse things, and it's widespread . . . but still just not wise for athletes to get involved.

Mike Schell 2 years, 6 months ago

I did over look him loosing his wife, Bob my apologies no disrespect ment. I'm not married nor could I imagine how difficult something like that could be. Sorry for your loss

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

I have it on confidential sources that before the Kentucky game the following team discussion occurred:

MASON. O that we now had here

But one more of those men in from Kansas

That do no work to-day!

SELF. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin Mason? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not one more man from Kansas.

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more methinks would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Mason, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This season is call’d the feast of Record Championship.

He that outlives this season, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,

And rouse him at the name of Record Championship.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say ‘Tis-year is Record Championships.’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say ‘These wounds I had on Record Championship season.’

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that season. Then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words-

Bill the King, Mason and Jackson,

Graham and Mykailiuk, Lucus and Vick, Lightfoot and Coleby -

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Record Championship shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in Kansas now-a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon this Record Championship season.

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