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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self unsure of how he’ll proceed with handing out starting nod at the 5

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) shoots as Oklahoma State forward Moussa Cisse, right, defends, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) shoots as Oklahoma State forward Moussa Cisse, right, defends, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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Long before he praised his bruising power forward for delivering 17 points and 15 rebounds in Tuesday’s road win at Oklahoma State, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said he did not know what KU senior David McCormack’s role would be in the games ahead.

Luckily for Self, neither McCormack, who came off the bench, nor super-senior Mitch Lightfoot, who started in McCormack’s place, seems to care much about who starts and who doesn’t.

“Me and him (McCormack) were joking, that’s kind of what you want to see out of that 5 spot, isn’t it,” Lightfoot said of the 23 points and 19 rebounds the two veteran KU big men produced in Tuesday’s 74-63 win. “There’s a lot of people online that were saying some stuff, but it’s all good. We’ll take that and we’ll move on and we’re going to help this team win games.”

Forever a fan of reminding anyone who will listen that who starts a game isn't important, Self was at it again on Tuesday night in the aftermath of his team’s 31st consecutive win in a conference opener.

“It doesn’t really matter much,” Self reiterated.

Asked then what might go into evaluating whether to stick with Lightfoot to start games or to go back to McCormack, who started the previous 12, Self painted the picture of a democratic approach to answering the question.

“Maybe I’ll talk to the guys and see what they thought,” he said. “We won a game on the road in a hard league against a quality opponent doing what we did, so I don’t know exactly how we’ll do it next. You guys make a bigger deal of that than what it is.”

Be that as it may, Lightfoot said the opportunity to start for the first time this season and just the ninth time in his six-year Kansas career was a thrill.

“It means something to me, starting at Kansas,” he said. “It’s a responsibility and you’ve got to go out there and give it what coach expects out of you, maybe even a little bit more.”

With that said, Lightfoot said it was the honor of starting and not the ego boost that made it matter. He couldn’t care less which one of the two starts at the 5 for the sixth-ranked Jayhawks (12-1) on Saturday at Texas Tech or in the weeks ahead.

“I would say whatever’s best for the team, whatever makes everybody the most confident,” Lightfoot said while offering his input on Self’s upcoming decision. “Start him, start me, start whoever. As long as we get better as a team then I’m completely fine with doing whatever.

“Every minute in a Big 12 game is valuable, especially a road game. (Starting is) something that I appreciate, but it could be either way. It doesn’t bother me.”

Kansas travels to Texas Tech this weekend, when it will look to go 2-0 in Big 12 play with two early conference road wins.

“A road win means a lot more, especially (with it being) your first win," McCormack said of KU's win on Tuesday night and the chance to do it again on Saturday. "It kind of just sets the tone for the rest of conference (play).”

Tipoff for KU-Texas Tech is slated for 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

Comments

Dirk Medema 3 weeks ago

A road win means a lot, because home wins are almost a given in the fieldhouse. It’s why we have the streak. Defend your home. Sweep the bottom of the league. Steal a couple on the road from the top half.

23/19 is a crazy 40 minute stat.

Andy Godwin 3 weeks ago

“There’s a lot of people online that were saying some stuff, but it’s all good. We’ll take that and we’ll move on and we’re going to help this team win games.” Mitch Lightfoot. I wonder which is more difficult for players to hear - random public opinions on this type of platform or on twitter, broadcasters using the phases "Good David or Bad David", or Self's vented rage during a game. The TV announces loved to show Self chewing out David shortly after he got into the game. After that David went into "beast mode". Coincidence? Prior to the OSU game, David had only one game in double figure rebounds. So, what motivates player the most? Apparently, they are used to coach Self yelling as David shared during one of those interviews recorded and broadcast during a game at Allen Fieldhouse. Clearly Self got what he needed against OSU from the center position, so why change immediately. As Bill has said forever, it does not matter who starts but who finishes. Hopefully the combined production will continue. Rock Chalk.

Benjamin Shear 3 weeks ago

I'm with you. Why change? It worked, or something worked. Why not keep it for at least another game.

Fortunately the, "lot of people online that were saying some stuff." Isn't a reference to us. I highly doubt those guys read this website. We are fairly civilized around here and I don't see anyone lobbing ad hominum attacks. I imagine they get a ton of stuff coming at them via insta and snap.

Jerry Walker 3 weeks ago

I'm an echo chamber for the praise of the efforts of Big Dave -- and I don't care if he starts or not. But I kind of like the potential for Mitch to soften up the opposing bigs by drawing a foul or two early on.

Wilson's extreme work on the boards shows he's going to produce a lot of double/doubles in the conference play -- he's going to get his points.

Continuing to provide evidence that the +/- stat line is the dumbest thing on the score card -- it shows that Ochai's minutes should be reduced because of his -5 effort. And Mitch draws more time on the bench because of his -4. What a joke!

Edward Daub 3 weeks ago

It really does not matter who starts, it's who finishes that counts! Bill Self is perplexed by the reality he is dealing with polar opposites.

He has to rotate a skinny jumping jack and a massive incredible hulk at the critical 5 position, which most likely will determine the future success of this Jayhawk team.

I'm No Clair Bee, but if I were Self I would simply rotate the twosome, who cares who starts, and then go with the hot hand for the Lion's share of the minutes. Rock Chalk!

Robert Brock 3 weeks ago

KU looked okay when playing a bunch of stiffs. The Hawks may not look so good Saturday afternoon in Lubbock. Tough game.

Blake Brown 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Love Mitch. He's said all of the proper things over all of thew years and in most instances, has performed well. Now his game is even more significant and he is a challenge when guarded one on one as well as still being a shot blocker, setting screens and hustling. I do expect Jalen Wilson to get into the offense more and be the all around player he is capable of being. He will be super tough when that happens and we will win some close games as a result. Rock Chalk!

Barry Weiss 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I would go back to DMac starting, with the caveat to him that Coach will rotate back to Mitch if David struggles. Keep it an open competition of sorts. Whoever plays the best in a game gets the start in the following game.

Michael Leiker 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Wish they would put them on the court together for 6-8 minutes a game. Give it a shot

Steve Zimmerman 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I agree, Blake. Mitch played great, unsung hero. Not many praised him, but he's set the tone especially in the beginning. In 15 minutes, he collected 4 blks, shot over 50%. Had he played more minutes, I'm pretty sure we would still win. His role is becoming more and more significant. I doubt 'good Dave' is back. It's OSU. Judging from the way he handles passes, his jittery moves, old men reaction, he will have hard time scoring against more athletic defenders. He was once an MCAA. Is he injured? Is he bothered by some foot issues?

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