Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Self, Jayhawks still sorting out 2018-19 rotation

Kansas head coach Bill Self and some of the players get their laughs out before the team photo on Media Day, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and some of the players get their laughs out before the team photo on Media Day, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Practices began in late September. The first official game is now less than four weeks away. And Kansas basketball coach Bill Self still does not quite know how he will juggle all of that talent and depth the 2018-19 Jayhawks will bring to the floor this season.

That fact was one of the big takeaways from Wednesday’s annual KU media day at Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks slapped on their suits and uniforms, smiled for pictures and met with a couple dozen media members about the upcoming season.

“I haven’t even thought about rotation yet,” Self said during a 23-minute news conference with media members Wednesday afternoon. “I’m not saying this would happen at all, so don’t take it (to mean too much), but we don’t even know how you play 12 (players).

“Do you try to potentially just play 10 and redshirt a couple? Do you try to play 11 and redshirt one? Do you try to play 12 and redshirt none?”

Those questions, and so many more, will be answered in the weeks ahead. And, in the eyes of Self, who is set to enter his 16th season in charge of the Jayhawks, finding the answers qualifies as one of those good problems to have.

“As long as there’s separation by the time the season starts,” he emphasized. “You need to have some separation so everybody can kind of see, if you’re going to sub, even the reserves need to see that there’s a little separation. ‘Hey, I may get my 10-15 (minutes), but he may get his 25-30.' But when everybody thinks they should be playing 25-30, I think that can create some chemistry issues. So I’d like to see some separation.”

After playing with a thin bench during the past two seasons, Self enters the 2018-19 season with an embarrassment of riches that includes former five-star prospects and prep all-stars potentially sitting on his bench.

While all of that talent and all of those options give Kansas plenty of potential directions to go with the rotation, Self admitted that, “seven practices in, or whatever it’s been, I think it’s just too early to tell.”

With just one senior on the roster — guard Lagerald Vick — and a foursome of freshmen who Self on Wednesday praised for having the “highest basketball IQ for an entire class that we’ve had for a while,” the KU rotation, whenever it is sorted out, figures to be a Swiss army knife of sorts, with Self being able to put any number of gadgets into use.

Wednesday, he elaborated on that thinking.

“I do think our players that are young are good enough that if they’re playing five minutes a game or seven minutes a game, they would be much better, obviously, at age 23 than they are at 18,” Self explained of the advantages of playing everybody. “But we haven’t even got that far yet.”

Take the point guard position for example. While most believe it is a battle between freshman phenom Devon Dotson and sophomore transfer Charlie Moore, — both in their first seasons of eligibility with the Jayhawks — Self explained that the quality depth on this year’s roster and the learning curve that comes with the start of every season could throw a wrinkle into even the most obvious situations.

“You could make a case that (returning sophomore) Marcus Garrett could be our starting point guard,” Self said. “You could make a case that Devon could or Charlie could. We could play ridiculously long or we could play two little guards at the same time.”

Regardless of the way it all plays out, or when and how that separation Self seeks presents itself, the players who are competing day in and day out know there is one easy way to make sure theirs is a name that cannot be taken out of the rotation during the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 season opener against Michigan State at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

“Just playing hard,” Garrett said. “It’s just not about scoring. I feel like that’s what everybody probably portrays it to be. But I feel like Coach Self doesn’t need everybody to score. He needs some people that can do the little things. That can give other players extra minutes, just by doing the little things and playing hard.”

Added Moore, echoing Garrett’s thoughts: “Being vocal, making plays for your teammates, make your teammates better and try to stay in attack mode at all times. I know we’ve got a deep team, everyone’s competing every day, and when we do that, we’ll just, as a team, form together and find out who should be playing.”

• More news from KU Basketball Media Day 2018

Media Day Notebook: Chemistry, caution and early lessons all key for Kansas

Tom Keegan: Silvio De Sousa says, 'I know I am going to play this year'

Self declines to comment on testimony of former Adidas consultant who says he arranged cash payments


Tony Bandle 2 years, 1 month ago

List of items necessary to start for Bill Self:

1] Play defense.

2] Play defense hard.

3] Play defense like a maniac.

4] Play defense like your dog's and your grandma's lives depend upon it !!!

5] Did I mention play defense???

Steve Zimmerman 2 years, 1 month ago

Without sound offense plays, BS team won't go too far, Tony. There are a lot of teams out there that can break just about any defense - teams that have played together for a while, teams which are well-coached with high disciplines, teams whose players are gifted and athletic. This is BASKETBALL!!!!

Tony Bandle 2 years, 1 month ago

Dok, Quentin, Lagerald, the big Lawson, Moore.........or not!!

Joe Baker 2 years, 1 month ago

Have you seen Moore lately or evaluated him in practices? I think he gets it after playing and scouting against Graham. I will give him some credit and say he definitely should start. However, Dotson is capable of stepping up anytime, likely in second half of season and hopefully peaking at right time with valuable minutes. I do see Self playing it conservative when needed by going with a trusted lineup when it counts.






You know how he plays it safe. You can throw MLight in the 4 or 5 spot when he needs some extra reassurance. SDS will play some safe minutes. These all have an advantage from last year. I just don't see how Self sits the Lawson's much at all. I'm really anxious to see Grimes' transition as the season progresses.

I'm not sure when Self needs to RS, by first game of season(?), but I would seriously RS Agbaji.

Shannon Gustafson 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree that KJ is going to play a lot more than most people think, and he will start quite a few games.

I also think there is no way Grimes doesn't start at least 30 games this year, likely 35 or more unless Self uses it as a motivating tool (like Vick last year). Self likes Grimes too much to not start him. This likely moves Vick to the second unit to be a primary scorer for that second unit (along with Moore possibly).

I agree Agbaji should redshirt and IF SDS plays (which is a big if at this point), I'd love to see Lightfoot redshirt as well, just because he's a guy that gets better every year, needs time to put on more weight, isn't an NBA prospect, and he just loves being a Jayhawk so I'd hate to "waste" a year where he gets single digit minutes when he could play a larger role later.Obviously none of this can happen if SDS is ineligible and DMac is the only big on the bench.

Self mentioning Garrett as the starting PG is interesting. It's certainly been floated as him playing there at times (I mentioned it in another article comment a few days ago) but I never really considered he'd be in the running for the starting spot. That certainly clarifies Moore would play more at the 2 than the 1 though (and Self has said he's more of a 2 as well).

Shannon Gustafson 2 years, 1 month ago

With that said, I could just as easily see Vick starting and Grimes & Moore being the "alpha dogs" of the second unit, at least until Grimes gets more comfortable playing college ball and being aggressive. Might be easier for Grimes to get comfortable if he's put in a position where he "has" to be the man of the second unit as opposed to just a piece of the starting 5 that has many other options to score.

Robin Smith 2 years, 1 month ago

PG Garrett - Dotson

SG Moore - Vick

SF Grimes - KJ

PF Lawson - Lightfoot

C Azubuike - McCormack

RS Agbaji (and Lightfoot if De Sousa plays)

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