Monday, October 2, 2017

2017-18 Jayhawks prepared to practice for real on Tuesday

The Jayhawks come together in a huddle to start practice on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. The Jayhawks are preparing for four early-August exhibition games in Italy.

The Jayhawks come together in a huddle to start practice on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. The Jayhawks are preparing for four early-August exhibition games in Italy.


While Saturday night officially was the first practice of the 2017-18 Kansas basketball season, don’t think for a second that the coaching staff or players viewed it that way.

For starters, the Jayhawks hardly broke a sweat and played loose and free, laughing, smiling and trying things they may not otherwise have tried.

Beyond that, KU coach Bill Self, the newly inducted Hall of Famer who is set to open his 15th season in charge of the program, did not have a whistle and may not have even raised his voice once outside of his “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” shout that ended his short speech at the annual Late Night in the Phog season tip-off extravaganza.

In short, they had too much fun.

That all figures to change Tuesday, when the Jayhawks get down to business for real at practice No. 2 of the fast-approaching season.

The NCAA requires a team to take 12 days off during the 42-day stretch before its season opener — in KU’s case, No. 10 at home vs. Tennessee State — and Self, as he did last season, tried to set this year’s schedule so the Jayhawks would get at least a few of their 12 off days out of the way early.

While it remains to be exactly what the Jayhawks emphasize during their first real practice, Self on Saturday made it clear what would not be a focal point for Tuesday — chucking up fast shots.

“Thirty-eight threes in a 20-minute, running-clock game? That’s just ridiculous,” said Self of his least favorite statistic from last Saturday’s Late Night scrimmage. “Dedric Lawson didn’t get within 10 feet of the paint. Billy Preston didn’t either. You’re never gonna win that way. They never threw the ball to (Udoka Azubuike) unless it was an uncontested dunk. We’re never gonna play that way once we start practicing on Tuesday.”

Even though Tuesday marks the official official start to the season, Self’s squad enters October with a bit of a head start.

Because the Jayhawks played four exhibition games in Italy in early August, they were granted 10 mid-summer practices, which allowed them to get a roster half-full of newcomers up to speed on the terminology and philosophy associated with Kansas basketball.

It also created a bonding opportunity that both Self and senior point guard Devonte’ Graham said helped tremendously.

“It’s getting better,” Graham said Saturday, when asked about team chemistry. “From Italy to now, I think it went up a couple notches. We’ve been playing pick-up together and practicing and Tuesday we get to start really practicing so it’s just gonna keep building and building.”

Added Self of his team’s togetherness: “It’s better now than it was then.”

With just eight of KU’s 12 scholarship players eligible to play during the first semester, the team camaraderie, especially among the Jayhawks’ regular rotation, figures to get even tighter in the coming weeks.

Both Self and Graham talked after Late Night about the idea of this being a Final-Four-or-bust type of season for a Kansas squad that has ended its run in the Elite Eight during the past two seasons.

“We haven’t talked about it as a team, not with coach, at least,” Graham said. “But I know I’ve talked to the guys about it, about getting over the hump and stuff like that. It’s definitely that time.”


Barry Weiss 4 years ago

Sounds like team chemistry "was" an issue. Well, I guess Lightfoot did get his nose broke in a practice incident.

Andy Godwin 4 years ago

Amazing how the game can change with a little or a lot of coaching. The Jayhawks at times looked pretty good in Itay, against clearly over matched opponents; however, that scrimmage at Late Night did not include much taught/learned before the Europian trip.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years ago

There are a lot to be thankful for this season: HCBS is HOF, Dok is healthy, good # of transfers will make our team better even though some are only allowed to play in practices, great commits for the next season, Vick looking better and better, Newman is a stud, etc.etc.etc.. Expect to win 14th B12, go deep in the exciting tourney - sweet 16 sounds achievable.
I'm ready for this!!!!

Craig Carson 4 years ago

I dont think you are a KU...that or you are EXTREMELY pessimistic ..either way, you need to have a little faith...last years team was missing a reliable force in the paint, with the stable of guards this team has, Azibuike doesnt need to be dominant..just guard the paint, score about 10-12 per game, stay healthy and out of foul trouble, and all Preston needs to do is not be Bragg 2.0..they do that, and a FF is a very real possibility for this team..

Harlan Hobbs 4 years ago

I think you have hit it all, Steve. This season could be very special if the "chemistry" is anywhere near as good as it was last year.

We know what Devonte and Svi can do, and it looks like Lagerald may even be the "cream of the crop." Then, as long as Udoka remains healthy, and Malik is as good as advertised, then the roles played by Mitch, Billy, Sam, and Marcus can develop as they go.

Would love to see a more fast paced game with more pressure defense. It's a vaunted combination.

Craig Carson 4 years ago

Azibuike and Preston are the keys for this team..last years team was FF caliber in every area except its front court..I love Lucas, but he was more of compliment player..he wasnt gonna make that much of a difference against anyone in the NCAA..Oregon knew that....Azibuike doesnt need to dominate on offense..just guard the paint, add about 10-12 ppg, 9-10 rbs per game, stay healthy and out of foul trouble...Braggs lack of development put KU in a hole..Preston needs to NOT be like Bragg and produce.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

I still hope to see Bragg put it all together and make it into the NBA. People develop differently, maybe a fresh start and another year to develop will help him fulfill his potential.

Caleb Loong 4 years ago

Went out of town and my internet was really slow. Saw the headline while the pic was still loading, thought this is a football story.

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