Quentin Grimes: Jayhawks 'trending upwards' entering postseason
Kansas City, Mo. — The four freshmen members of the Kansas basketball team’s starting lineup have experienced plenty over the last four-plus months.
Flourishing and regressing. Achievements and failures. Getting tastes of what it’s like to battle national powerhouses such as Michigan State and Kentucky. Discovering pedigree alone doesn’t assure your team of a victory during conference play.
And now they get their first crack at the postseason, as the Jayhawks (23-8) take on Texas (16-15) in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.
Quentin Grimes, a starter in all 31 games for KU, can’t wait for the new encounter.
“Just watching it on TV as a kid growing up and finally just getting a chance to be a part of it is real special,” Grimes said of playing in the postseason, beginning with this week’s conference tournament. “Everybody in the locker room’s excited.”
Grimes, for one, thinks KU can be “one of the best teams in the country” when the players are locked in. And even though the Jayhawks finished third in the Big 12 standings when the program’s expectations are first place or bust, Grimes is optimistic about their current trajectory.
“I feel like we’re trending upwards. We had a good couple days of practice, we had a good little 40 minutes out there,” Grimes added of KU’s Wednesday session at Sprint Center.
The 6-foot-5 guard from The Woodlands, Texas, shared that KU’s relatively ho-hum regular-season finale versus Baylor reminded him and his teammates about the importance of entering a game with the proper mindset.
Now that they’re embarking on the postseason, Grimes said the Jayhawks have to be “locked in” on the defensive and offensive ends of the floor. Doing so and putting together a run at the Big 12 tournament this weekend, he said, can be accomplished in large part by paying attention to the game plan.
“Not going out there and doing everything on our own,” Grimes emphasized, pointing to the need for KU’s players to trust one another when encountering key potential turning points during a game.
If you ask Grimes, the Jayhawks can be “really good” this postseason. And he said KU coach Bill Self is encouraging them go “just go out there and play free” now that the regular season is behind them.
“He knows what we’re capable of and how we played early on in the season, what we can do as a unit,” Grimes said. “So I feel like he knows how good and special this team can be. Even though we lost a couple of guys, a lot of guys have stepped up.”