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Friday, November 27, 2020

KU basketball notebook: Depth starting to show for sixth-ranked Jayhawks

Kansas redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson goes up for a shot during a game against Saint Joseph's on Friday Nov. 27, 2020. The Jayhawks earned a 94-72 win over the Hawks in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.

Kansas redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson goes up for a shot during a game against Saint Joseph's on Friday Nov. 27, 2020. The Jayhawks earned a 94-72 win over the Hawks in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.

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The sixth-ranked Kansas men’s basketball team has used two starting lineups in two games so far this season, but head coach Bill Self said it’s still too early to talk about having the team’s rotation set.

Redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson started on Thursday against Gonzaga in the opening game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off. True freshman Bryce Thompson started in his spot during Friday’s 94-72 win over Saint Joseph’s.

And there were points during the second half on Friday when both sat for long periods of time even as Kansas (1-1) played with five guards on the floor.

Despite sitting big men David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot for most of Friday’s second half, Self said he thought better days were still ahead for McCormack, who started both games along with Christian Braun, Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji.

“I've said this all along and I still believe this to be the case: David will be our leading scorer this year,” Self said. “It didn’t look that way down here because of the matchups and he didn't really play as well as he capable of. But it's encouraging to me that we can play small. It's also encouraging to me that teams in our league aren’t going to play like St. Joe. They're going to play one traditional big for the most part. So I believe it'll be easier for David to be more effective when he's got a big guy out there to play against.”

Nine players played at least 10 minutes against the Hawks on Friday, illustrating the amount of depth and how many different combinations Self can utilize this season.

Self said after Friday’s victory that the Jayhawks made a major jump in short time in the way they shared the ball.

“I thought everybody that played, for the most part, drove to pass today,” he said. “Where I thought yesterday we drove score a little too much.”

As an example of just how deep KU can reach to impact a game, Self pointed to freshman Dajuan Harris — 3 minutes against Gonzaga and 15 on Friday — as the primary reason for the uptick in passing on Friday.

“The biggest difference in the ball moving was Dajuan was in the game,” he said. “The ball never stuck with him. When he got it, it was in and out of his hands so fast, that makes the defense go from strong to weak faster.”

The Jayhawks, as a team, dished 17 assists on 32 made field goals on Friday, compared to just 10 assists on 33 makes against Gonzaga.

Injury update

Both McCormack and senior point guard Marcus Garrett were slowed by the injury bug during Friday’s victory.

Garrett, who started and played 29 minutes, recording five points, seven rebounds and three assists without a turnover, sat during the second half because of trouble breathing.

“He does that sometimes,” Self said. “He has days where it's hard for him to catch his breath, and today was one of those days.”

Self said McCormack’s minutes were limited in the second half because as a precaution after McCormack got tangled up with a SJU player near the end of the first half while battling for a loose ball.

“He didn't hurt it,” Self said. “But he tweaked his knee. If we needed to play him, we could have. We got the clearance. He put a sleeve on in the second half for some stability, but I thought there’s no reason to play him if he wasn’t 100%.”

Next up

After a couple of days off, the Jayhawks will jump right back into high-level competition at the Champions Classic on Tuesday in Indianapolis, where KU will face No. 10 Kentucky.

Tip-off for that one is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on ESPN from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Self said on Friday that the Jayhawks would spend two more nights in Fort Myers before leaving for Indy on Sunday in time to get acclimated in the Hoosier State one full day before their next game.

“We'll practice some (Saturday), at least walk through,” Self said. “And then we'll practice hard here on Sunday and I believe our flight is around 3 o'clock on Sunday and we get to Indy around 5 or 6.”

The extended trip, done in part to limit KU’s travel time, means that by the time the Jayhawks get home after Game 3, their season will have opened with an eight-day road trip.

This and that...

Friday’s victory made the Jayhawks 1-1 for the second season in a row and the eighth time under Self... KU now leads the all-time series with Saint Joseph’s, 6-2, including a 4-0 mark as a ranked team... The 22-point win made Kansas 97-13 following a loss in the Self era... Friday marked KU senior Mitch Lightfoot’s 100th game as a Jayhawk.

Comments

Steve Zimmerman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"David will be our leading scorer this year,” - I dare you, let's bet $1,000 on your statement, coach. Are you joking? He doesn't even know how to set screen without getting whistled, still doesn't know how to roll the easy and quick way to the basket, doesn't know how to box out well, occasionally got good low-post position established but to move away from the net instead, and how many TOs came from him getting trapped inside. He's not a freshman. Coaching staff needs to be re-evaluated. Kid's got all the tools. But so sad, so damn sad, he always looks lost on the court.

Len Shaffer 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"Tip-off for that one is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on ESPN from Bankers Life Fieldhouse."

So why does the home page list it as being at midnight???

Dirk Medema 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It’s always interesting to see some fans quit on the players and coaches as if they won’t teach and practice and learn. Over and over again the players improve but the fans never seem to learn.

The team has so many options on the perimeter but really only 1.5 in the post. Averaging over the course of the season against all the teams we’ll face makes a stronger case for the post than what we’ve seen so far.

Gerry Butler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

so true, easy to place blame huh. Yet when the person they have blamed and then later in the Season these same People will say see - -I told ya , i knew this kid was going to play huge for us. - -if they can't blame the player then they want to talk shade on the Coach's - So many un-defeated Arm Chair Coach's

Dirk Medema 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It’s also good to realize that Coach could be speaking more for the benefit of his players than for our info. What we think is going to influence a game this season just as much as it has in the past. None. What the players think is another story.

I wonder how much Coach’s decision to stick with Dok in the FT fiasco led to his development. FT% improved some but the rest of his game and D in particular improved tremendously.

Steve Zimmerman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Sadly, some fans equate positive feedback as blame. Sigh. Our team has bigs. Coach designs plays feeding 5. Against Zags, that doesn't go well with their bigs clobbering ours. Against smaller team like StJoe's - most pts came from FTs for the bigs. Playing 5 guards seems to be the answer. So what do we do with our bigs? How can they be more effective like other teams' bigs? Why can't they be more productive like other bigs? Practicing Xs and Os is important. Teaching the bigs how to use their strengths to execute those Xs and Os is just as important. Developing those bigs to be better will benefit everyone. I just don't see that in our bigs. I saw improvement in Dok's FT and defense. Maybe it's individual's ceiling. I haven't given up hope on DMac yet. He's got so much to offer to this team. It's up to coaching staff to find out (from what I see they haven't figured out yet) and use him to the max.

Mallory Briggans 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Basketball is a game of match-ups .......If we play small we are pretty deep ,if we are effective,able to defend and rebound teams will have to adjust to us which we will have the advantage ........I like our chances

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