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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Notebook: KU’s Bill Self on struggling big man David McCormack: ‘He’s got to do better’

Kansas forward Jalen wilson, left, looks on as teammate David McCormack lays up a shot in over North Texas forward Jahmiah Simmons (10) during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.

Kansas forward Jalen wilson, left, looks on as teammate David McCormack lays up a shot in over North Texas forward Jahmiah Simmons (10) during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.

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Kissimmee, Fla. — Following Thursday’s 71-59 victory over North Texas, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self did not hide his frustration over another sub-par performance by starting big man David McCormack.

“Let's just be real,” Self said. “He’s 6-10. He’s the biggest guy on the court. (He’s) got to score the ball. With the shots he took, I mean, that’s a 5-of-6 day and he was 1-for-6.”

McCormack’s offensive struggles kept him on the bench for much of Thursday’s victory in the opening round of the ESPN Events Invitational at HP Field House.

He played just three minutes in the second half and 13 for the game.

McCormack is now shooting just 43% for the season (13-of-30) and has yet to show himself as the dominant force down low that earned him preseason all-Big 12 honors.

The 13 minutes of action marked McCormack’s lowest total of the season and the fewest he had played since playing 13 in a win over North Dakota State on Dec. 5, 2020.

“We want to play through him and everything,” Self said after the win. “But he’s got to do better.”

The 2020-21 season started much the way this one has, with McCormack struggling to find his rhythm and confidence throughout November and December. He flipped the switch when conference play rolled around and wound up earning second-team all-Big 12 honors and the Big 12’s Most Improved Player award.

“I want him to do great and I love him,” Self said Thursday. “But we’ve been better without him in the game. I hope we don’t have to deal with last year again.”

McCormack is expected to start again during Friday’s semifinal game versus Dayton, and Self said Thursday that he believed the 6-10 senior would bounce back quickly.

“He wants to do good so bad and he’s a terrific young man,” Self said. “But he’s kind of wishing it to happen, rather than going out and making it happen.”

Rematch of Maui on deck

In Thursday’s first game, the Dayton Flyers knocked off Miami, Fla., 76-60, in a game that DU controlled from start to finish.

The win, combined with KU’s victory in Game 2, set up a rematch of the Maui Invitational title game from 2019.

The teams are different, of course, but the environment figures to be awfully similar.

KU and Dayton brought by far the most fans of any of the eight teams in the tournament, and their matchup in Friday’s semifinal figures to be as electric off the floor as it is on it.

Between the lines, the Flyers (2-3) bring length and depth to the matchup. Both strengths were on full display in their Round-1 win.

“Defensively, our guys really set the tone in the first half and our defense created a lot of opportunities for us,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said after Thursday’s win.

Grant said one of the big keys for his team is interior defense and controlling the glass because that gives the Flyers the chance to get out and run.

On Thursday, Dayton was led by four players in double figures, three of which were freshman. Freshman forward DaRon Holmes II (6-10, 220) led DU with 15 points and 6-foot freshman guard Malachi Smith added 14.

While acknowledging Dayton’s length as something the Jayhawks would have to contend with, Self said he was looking forward to it, too.

“I almost welcome that,” he said. “We played three teams in a row that were tiny, and I actually welcome playing some bigger guys that are more our size.”

Tipoff is slated for 12:30 p.m. on ESPN/ESPN2.

Scouting the field

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self drew a comparison between this week’s ESPN Events Invitational and the NCAA Tournament when talking about his preparation for the eight-team tourney.

“To me, it’s kind of like an NCAA Tournament deal,” Self said before leaving for Orlando on Tuesday. “It’s a four-team tournament and then if we get the extra day we’ll worry about that then.”

Doing so in March, of course, would lead the Jayhawks into the Sweet 16 or even the Final Four. But there would be additional prep time between games two and three in those scenarios.

At this event, it’s just one day of prep for Game 3, which will come on Sunday, win or lose. If the Jayhawks win their first two contests on Thursday and Friday — starting with the 1:30 p.m. opener against North Texas on Thursday — they’ll land in the championship game on Sunday.

So far, Self has worried more about getting to that point and less about what will happen if the fourth-ranked Jayhawks (3-0) get there.

“I’ve only looked at our side so far,” Self said of North Texas, Dayton and Miami, Fla. “Our staff has completed it. Every team’s been scouted. But, for me personally, I don’t get that far ahead.”

Dotson’s ideal timing

Former Kansas point guard Devon Dotson caught a break with his schedule this week, which allowed him to attend Thursday’s Kansas victory.

Dotson’s Chicago Bulls are in town to play the Orlando Magic on Friday, bringing him to Florida in time to catch his old team and some of his old teammates.

The luck didn’t stop there. Dotson, who has spent time between the NBA club and the Bulls’ G League affiliate was just recently recalled by the Bulls to join the roster.

Hello, old friend

It seems as if former Kansas guard Charlie Moore was destined to play in the ESPN Events Invitational.

Moore, who played for the Jayhawks during the 2018-19 season, started for the Miami Hurricanes in the first game of the event on Thursday.

Moore also redshirted during the 2017-18 season after transferring to KU from Cal. He then went to DePaul for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons before landing at Miami for his super-senior season.

Moore scored just two points in Thursday’s loss to Dayton, shooting 1-of-7 from the floor in 27 minutes.

Thanksgiving plans

Following Thursday’s victory, Self said the team had plans for a 6:30 p.m. team meal.

Families were invited to the meal, but Self said each player also had the option to go off and have a smaller holiday celebration with his individual family.

“We’ll have a good meal,” Self said. “And we all have so much to be thankful for, and then we'll be back at work right after.”

Comments

Benjamin Shear 1 week, 1 day ago

Charlie Moore...now that's a name I haven't heard in a very long time.

Len Shaffer 1 week, 1 day ago

I'm at the point where we've seen this so much from David over the years that it's hard to believe we'll ever be able to count on him to be consistently good. I mean if he hasn't gotten it by now, why should we believe he'll ever get it?

Len Shaffer 1 week, 1 day ago

Also, what's the deal with the lack of information as to which channel the games are on??? They really can't decide until game time whether the games will be on ESPN or ESPN2??? That makes it difficult to plan if we're not going to be home and want to record the game.

I was able to watch this game, but for the next one I'm just recording both ESPN and ESPN2.

Tim Orel 1 week, 1 day ago

Right now, on my screen, it shows the KU game starts at midnight. Somehow, I don't believe that.

Andy Godwin 1 week, 1 day ago

My comment during the game about our bigs was Udoka was the best finisher around the rim I have ever seen. David is a completely different player, but he must go up stronger and abuse the rim. He has a superior shot when facing the basket, but with his back to the rim he struggles. He also refuses to pass to an open team mate when doubled and tripled teamed. KU continues to feed the post, but the scouting report is to front and back McCormack because he will likely turn the ball over when he tries and dribble or put up an errant shot. Hopefully Bill can put him in a better place and let him face the basket - e.g., play Wilson at the 5 and McCormack at the 4 at times. Who knows but David is key to a successful season.

Mallory Briggans 1 week, 1 day ago

Wilson at the 5 .......cant see that happening .Mccormack is what he is he will never be a smooth polished player . Self insists on running the offense around a player who cant dominate the position. Early in Lucas' career he caught hell for missing so many bunnies but he got better and better on top of being a beast on the boards . Mccormack is a senior and has played the same since he was a freshman ... I dont question Mccormacks heart and wanting to do better but his skill set is whats lacking

Lee Short 6 days, 21 hours ago

Funny thing. He had several fantastic games last year. He needs to return to form in those games he dominated.

So, I am not sure if this is a skill issue or if just needs to return to the mindset he had. (Wouldn't this have already been reflected/corrected in practice by now?) I do think he needs to kick the ball out a lot more. You can tell he is going to miss the shot before he even lets the ball go between the coverage and his current approach of not being as strong to the rim as he was much of the last half of last year.

Maybe if he watched some of his better games from last year it would help him in spotting the difference.

Steve Zimmerman 1 week ago

McCormack will cost us games. It's unavoidable. He needs chill pill - his turbo engine has to be downgraded to v4. He doesn't have real post composure in him. How many times did he lose his balance? If there's a position in coaching staff, please DM me!!!

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