Sunday, June 17, 2018

KU coach Bill Self eager to see commitment level of trio of transfers

Kansas senior guard Devonte' Graham smiles with transfers Dedric Lawson and Charlie Moore after a missed chance by Mitch Lightfoot during an exhibition game Tuesday against Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas senior guard Devonte' Graham smiles with transfers Dedric Lawson and Charlie Moore after a missed chance by Mitch Lightfoot during an exhibition game Tuesday against Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.


Now that Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has finished leading Team USA to a gold medal at the U18 FIBA Americas tournament, he can turn his attention back to the Jayhawks and preparation for a fast-approaching 2018-19 season.

Although summer workouts began just a couple of weeks ago, the official start of the season will arrive earlier than ever this year, with the NCAA announcing over the weekend that the first official practice date for college hoops teams is set for Sept. 25. KU’s annual Late Night in the Phog is then set for three nights later.

For Self and his coaching staff, that date in September does not exactly mark the first day of practice for the 2018-19 Jayhawks. Instead, it marks the day things get serious, with everything that’s done between now and then designed to ensure that Jayhawks new and old will be prepared to put the pedal to the metal this fall.

That means the next couple of weeks, for Self, will be about making up for the first couple of weeks of June, when he was with USA Basketball instead of in Lawrence.

One crossover bonus of Self’s debut stint as a USA Basketball head coach was the chance to spend two weeks with KU freshman Quentin Grimes, who won MVP honors for Team USA en route to winning gold.

Self said before the team was formed that he thought the opportunity to coach Grimes in a competitive environment before things begin for real at Kansas would benefit both Grimes and the rest of the KU freshmen.

“I think it is going to be beneficial to him to kind of be in a system that he understands, and then he can kind of help with the other three freshmen (back in Lawrence),” Self said in late May. “He’s had some great experiences himself, whether it was the McDonald’s Game or the Hoop Summit or whatnot. He’s played against some really quality guys.”

While the extra time with Grimes proved to be incredibly valuable, there are several other newcomers in Lawrence who Self is eager to connect with now that his time with USA Basketball is finished.

“I'm really anxious to see the commitment level of Charlie (Moore) and K.J. and Dedric (Lawson), after sitting out a year, to see how much they'll be turned up compared to this past year,” Self said of the group that red-shirted the 2017-18 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. “And I thought they all three had really good years last year.”

All three figure to compete for significant minutes, if not starting spots, and each of them will bring a much-needed element of experience to a Kansas squad looking to replace four starters from last season’s Final Four team.

Despite being forced to replace nearly all of his 3-point shooting, his entire backcourt and one of the best leaders the program has ever seen in Devonte’ Graham, Self enters the summer excited about the 2018-19 team’s overall depth and variety of options in both the backcourt and frontcourt.

“I thought we had a great spring,” Self said. “We had limited numbers, so they got more individual attention. I really think we have, on paper, one clear deficiency and that's if we can stroke it well enough consistently. But we also have quite a few things that we'll do better than last year's team, as well. So it'll be fun. But it's hard to replace Devonte' and Svi.”

Now that the USA Basketball business is behind him, the journey to do just that officially can begin.


Sam Allen 9 months, 1 week ago

I am eager too! Will Coach Self Coach animatedly of have the team play through too many mistakes, I am excited to get the year kicked off!

Sam Allen 9 months, 1 week ago

I am eager too! Will HCBS coach animatedly or sit in chair and have the team play through too many mistakes at the wrong time (hopefully rare), but either way, I am anxious and excited to get the year kicked off! RCJH!

Andy Godwin 9 months, 1 week ago

Obviously Self tries to win ever game, but he will not have his usual safety nets entering the season. Udoka is the only constant from last season, with some Garret mixed in. But based on past history, he will never risk the outcome of a game to establish teaching moments. So ultimately the 5 players who give him the best chance to win will be on the court at crunch time.

Chris DeWeese 9 months, 1 week ago

Self did keep Udoka in the OU game despite his atrocious free throw shooting. The plan was to teach Udoka that he and the team had trust in him, so it's not like Self will never risk the outcome of a game. But generally I agree with you. If you don't produce, Self won't play you.

Mike Greer 9 months ago

And that's how you win 14 conference championships in a row, go to the NCAA tournament every year, get number one or two seeding in the tournament, etc. Coaches get paid to win games, as many as they can, so most teaching moments come during non-conference play when the outcome of the game is not in question. That, in part, is why you have a non-conference schedule.

In my opinion, that was one of the things that hurt Sam last year, he wasn't eligible for the non-conference part of the schedule and all the conference games were too close to have "teaching moments". A bunch of teaching moments would have meant more losses than the Oklahoma game. There should be plenty of time for "teaching moments" during non-conference play this season.

Tony Bandle 9 months ago

This coming season's team may see the greatest growth from the first preseason game to the start of the NCAA Tourney than any KU team in recent memory for a number of factors:

1] The void of experience left by the departures of Svi, Devonte, Malik and Lagerald.

2] The incorporation of seven new teammates to live bball [3 transfers, 4 newbies].

3] No fixed time table for the resolution of Silvio's situation.

4] Freshmen, albeit uber-talented, seeing lots of PT at the elite level.

5] Coach Self switching back to his more traditional 2 Bigs, 3 Twigs offense.

6] Dok at center now knowing what he needs to do to join "The Big Time".

7] As mentioned by Mike, using the non-conference schedule as a live lab for both teaching and finding out the right combinations of players for the greatest results.

8] Having all the new guys finally learn that on the University of Kansas basketball team, the words P-L-A-Y-I-N-G T-I-M-E are spelled D-E-F-E-N-S-E!!!

Craig Carson 9 months ago

1) this might be the least experienced team Self has ever had..outside of Azibuike we really have no idea how anyone else will play..the Lawson are about to play a much higher level of ball than what they had at Memphis 2)it will be interesting to see how Self fits all these new pieces together..but id rather have this problem than the problem of no talent 3)the Silvio situation in the biggest question have this uber talented kid that you know has some possible eligibility issues that could affect the you play him and take the risk of vacating a entire season, or do you sit him until you know for 100% certain and lose a guy that valuable ? Id rather they sit him and not risk the season 4)it certainly wont be the first time Uber talented freshmen have been pushed into prime time playing time but this season, he doesnt have a Mason or Graham to guide steadying hand out on the court 5) this is the type of lineup ive been waiting for..Ive hated the small ball lineup..sure it was fun to watch all those 3's but it sucked watching them getting outrebounded and out toughed.. 6) Im betting Dok comes out and plays with more focus and intensity..if he can remain out of foul trouble and at least hit FT near 60% there isnt a reason he shouldnt score 15+ per night..his rebounding and foot work on defense has to get bette 7)Self better at least have an idea of what lineup works the best by the 2nd game of the season when they play Michigan State so they can avoid getting stomped on national TV LOL 8)this team has the personnel to be an elite defensive team as long as the freshmen catch on

Craig Carson 9 months ago

I think the only part of this team that might give Self fits is the back court..with a Junior Azibuike and a Junior Dedric Lawson, he'll have 2 high performance front court guys to rely on.i cant see Self starting Grimes AND Dotson..Moore has the experience and he has talent..

Harlan Hobbs 9 months ago

Mike, you make a very strong point regarding Sam Cunliffe. There is nothing like getting game experience, and the situations after he became eligible didn't lend themselves to much experimentation. There were hardly any "blowouts", so his time was basically limited to plugging a temporary hole when KU got into foul trouble.

Hopefully, this year he will get more reps early, and he will add a dimension that KU appears to need this year - - a potential outside shooter and perhaps a "slasher." Hope it works out well for him.

Robert Brock 9 months ago

Moore will be an outstanding 6th-Man.

Alan Dickey 9 months ago

I would not be surprised if Moore starts many a game.

Tony Bandle 9 months ago

Moore Dotson Grimes Lawson Udoka = Small Team.

Moore, Dotson, Lawson, Lawson, Udoka = Large Team.

Moore, Dotson, Grimes, Cunliffe, Lawson = 3 Point Barrage Team.

Moore, Lawson, McCormack, De Sousa, Udoka = Beat the Crap Out Of Everyone Team.

Craig Carson 9 months ago

why are people just assuming that Dotson will start??? Id rather have a more steady experienced player like Moore start...if Moore were just some random transfer from some D2 school then I'd understand..but Moore had a great freshmen season at Cal and showed he has starting pg talent

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