Normally, off days for the Kansas men’s basketball program mean a light workout, some film study and lots of rest.
But on Sunday, the third-ranked Jayhawks took the day off from basketball altogether. And replaced it with football.
During what normally would have been reserved for a little shoot-around after their 66-57 win at Texas on Saturday, the Jayhawks on Sunday tossed the football around instead.
KU coach Bill Self attributed the reason behind the unusual occurrence inside the KU practice gym to “Chiefs fever.” He also learned a few things about some of his players.
“I was pretty impressed,” Self said. “I thought (freshman point guard) Dajuan (Harris) showed some real capabilities as a quarterback and I think David (McCormack, or Chris Teahan) has the best arm on the team.”
The idea came from former KU forward Wayne Simien, who told Self that the Miami Heat did this from time to time around the Super Bowl during his playing days in the NBA.
The lighthearted football fun included three different throwing stations, where players competed with deep throws, accuracy and mobility, and some pick-up style routes that a even attracted a few of the KU coaches, including Self.
The biggest surprise for Self came from junior forward Silvio De Sousa, who not only fared well in the skills competition but also revealed to Self that he actually had played football before.
“Silvio, believe it or not, had the best hands,” Self said. “He said he actually practiced football at IMG (Academy) before and put pads on and everything. That was actually something that I didn’t know he had in him.”
Asked if De Sousa, who stands 6-foot-9, 245 pounds, had played tight end during his brief time on the gridiron at IMG, Self answered with a different position.
“He said he’s a wideout,” Self joked. “He may not know the difference between a tight end and a wideout, but I didn’t get into it with him and say, ‘Is that the one that lines up right next to the tackle?’ But, I mean, you look at that body, he probably could be quite a tight end.”
While the football outing proved to be a lot of fun and provided a lot of laughs, McCormack said the Jayhawks at first were a little worried about what was coming.
“I was definitely caught off guard,” he said while grinning from ear to ear. “None of us had a clue (that was coming). I wasn’t sure if it was a new form of boot camp or if we were just going to have a fun day. So it was definitely a pleasant surprise.”
As for who stood out to him, McCormack had no problem tooting his own horn.
“I would say I probably have the best arm on the team,” he boasted. “And I think a lot of people would say that, too. I definitely had to bring out my inner quarterback.”
Self said KU’s schedule, which includes Big Monday games during the next two weeks, made it so this week was their only opportunity to have a little football fun on their off day.
Here’s a look at some of the action.
KU senior Isaiah Moss on Monday was named the Big 12 Conference Newcomerof the week after playing a key role in two Kansas road wins lastweek.
Moss, a graduate transfer from Iowa, started KU’s road win at Oklahoma and led the team with 20 points on a career-high six 3-pointers.
He followed that up with 5 points and a career-high 5 rebounds in last weekend’s win at Texas.
For the season, Moss is averaging 8.1 points per game on 40% shooting from 3-point range. And his usage — 23.2 minutes per game — has been on a steady rise since the start of Big 12 play, with the sharpshooter playing 30 minutes or more in three of KU’s first five Big 12 games this season.
Garrett doing ‘fine’
Junior guard Marcus Garrett’s hard fall in KU’s win over Texas turned out to be a shoulder injury and not a fall that affected anythingabove the neck.
“From what I heard, talking with (orthopedic surgeon) Jeff (Randall), it wasn’t a head (injury),” Self said Monday. “It sounded like it was a shoulder (injury). And what happened is, like many people do in football, he got a stinger and his arm went numb.”
Garrett left the game and went to the locker room but missed less than two minutes of game time and returned to the lineup to help lead KU to the win.
“We were fortunate with that,” Self said. “He’s fine.”
Kansas freshman Jalen Wilson is back on the practice court and a decision about his status for the season appears to be nearing.
“He practiced up and down a little bit the other day,” Self said of the 6-foot-8 freshman from Denton, Texas, who broke his left ankle during the first week of the season. “But I still think we’re a couple of weeks away from determining whether or not he’ll try to come back this year.”
Self added: “We’re trying to rush it because if he is going to play you want him playing as soon as possible.”
If the injured ankle allows it and Wilson and the Jayhawks can find a way to fit him into the rotation, Wilson’s chances seem good.
“I, personally, see value (in Wilson playing) and he wants to come back. His parents are good with him coming back. He could potentially help our team. But I’m not going to put him out there and lose this year unless I’m confident and he’s confident that he can be part of our rotation.”
The status of the rehabilitated left ankle is the biggest question surrounding Wilson at the moment. And Self said Monday that he has not seen enough to know definitively if the ankle is fully healed.
“When I say go up and down, I’m talking about, you know, a few possessions and block-out break or something like that,” Self said of the extent of Wilson’s time on the practice floor. “But we haven’t stressed him to the point to know if he is physically ready to help us.”
Even when Wilson does fully return, Self said there likely would be a 2-3 week period of time where he would need to get his legs under him and find some kind of rhythm that clears the way for him to compete at the same level as his teammates.
That’s a physical issue, though. Mentally, Self said he thought Wilson would be fine.
“I think he’s really bright,” Self said. “So I think he’ll actually pick up on some stuff quickly. But that’s part of the two weeks, probably, letting him run with the first group and see if he can do it. “We don’t even know yet if he’s 100% healthy. Part of that is conditioning, part of that is a lot of (other) things. He hasn’t even tested to the point where he knows that he can be explosive.”
Ranked No. 47 overall by Rivals.com in the 2019 class, Wilson committed to KU and signed with the Jayhawks last June after receiving a release from Michigan, where he had committed and signed, following former Michigan coach John Beilein leaving the Wolverines for the NBA.
Wilson picked Michigan over KU initially but said at the time that getting a second chance to sign with the Jayhawks felt a little like fate.
“I always asked myself, ‘What if Coach Beilein left,’” Wilson told the Journal-World in an interview last June. “So I was always prepared for that, and Kansas has always been in my mind.”
Back-to-back road wins over Oklahoma and Texas, coupled with a handful of losses by other teams in the Top 5 last week, cleared the way for the Kansas men's basketball team to move back into the Top 5 of the Associated Press poll.
KU (14-3 overall, 4-1 Big 12) moved up three spots to No. 3 in Monday's new poll and the Jayhawks now sit behind new No. 1 Baylor (15-1, 5-0) and second-ranked Gonzaga (20-1) in this week's AP poll.
Gonzaga dropped a spot despite not losing, with Baylor receiving 33 first-place votes and 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel and Gonzaga receiving 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.
Kansas received the only other first-place vote.
The nation's last remaining unbeaten team, San Diego State (19-0), and Florida State (16-2) round out this week's Top 5.
Baylor's move into the top spot ties the record for most No. 1 teams in a single season (7) in the history of the AP poll, which dates back to the 1948-49 season. Seven different teams also were ranked No. 1 back in 1983.
RUTGERS ON THE RISE
The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.
Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.
ON THE WAY OUT
The Wichita State Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.
No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.
Complete AP Top 25:
1 - Baylor, 15-1, 1,591 (33)
2 - Gonzaga, 20-1, 1588 (31)
3 - Kansas, 14-3, 1,470 (1)
4 - San Diego State, 19-0, 1,422
5 - Florida State, 16-2, 1,335
6 - Louisville, 15-3, 1,303
7 - Dayton, 16-2, 1,139
8 - Duke, 15-3, 1,065
9 - Villanova, 14-3, 1,055
10 - Seton Hall, 14-4, 1,034
11 - Michigan State, 14-4, 1,004
12 - Oregon, 15-4, 886
13 - Butler, 15-3, 867
14 - West Virginia, 14-3, 758
15 - Kentucky, 13-4, 755
16 - Auburn, 15-2, 637
17 - Maryland, 14-4, 525
18 - Texas Tech, 12-5, 399
19 - Iowa, 13-5, 398
20 - Memphis, 14-3, 394
21 - Illinois, 13-5, 280
22 - Arizona, 13-5, 225
23 - Colorado, 14-4, 154
24 - Rutgers, 14-4, 152
25 - Houston, 14-4, 151
Others receiving votes: Wichita State 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, Northern Iowa 42, Ohio State 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn State 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, East Tennessee State 6, Indiana 6, USC 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Norman, Okla. — Devon Dotson may not have played in KU’s 66-52 victory over Oklahoma on Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
But that does not mean that Dotson did not play a role.
Sidelined because of a hip pointer that kept him out of parts of last Saturday’s loss to Baylor and may keep him out longer depending on how treatment and recovery go the rest of the week, Dotson found ways to impact KU’s most recent victory even while wearing street clothes on the Kansas bench.
The two biggest benefactors of Dotson’s presence in Norman on Tuesday night were junior guard Marcus Garrett and freshman Christian Braun.
Those were the two players who Dotson kept in contact with throughout the hard-earned, shorthanded victory, lending advice when he could, encouragement when needed and tips throughout.
“To the team, he just told us go get a win,” Braun said of Dotson’s words of encouragement after learning at Tuesday’s shoot-around that he would miss the game. “You know, every game in conference play, you just have to find a way to win.
“But, personally, he just told me if I needed any help, you know, at shoot-around with plays or if I was going to be handling the ball, which I didn’t have to because Marcus did such a good job, he just told me if I needed any help to let him know. So he helped us all out just with plays and little stuff that we take for granted because he always does it.”
Garrett had a little more communication with Dotson throughout the game, as he played 38 minutes, handling point guard duties for nearly all of those.
“He put confidence in us,” Garrett said of Dotson. He was just telling us before the game, ‘Just play our game. Just keep doing what we do and we can still win the game.’ On the court, he was coaching us, telling us what he was seeing on the bench. That helped out a lot.”
At halftime, the conversation between Dotson and Garrett turned more specific.
“He was basically telling me the reads off the pick and roll,” Garrett recalled.
That input no doubt helped the Jayhawks both execute and remain calm in Dotson’s absence on Tuesday night. And with no exact timeline known for his return, it should serve the Jayhawks well moving forward should Dotson have to miss any more time while his left hip heals.
“I have no idea. I have no idea,” Self said when asked if he knew when Dotson might be back on the court.
“Devon’s a tough kid,” Self said. “I mean, he's a tough kid, but I guess the pain and where it is and everything and any type of movement that requires any quick-twitch or change of direction or anything like that, he hurt. He was laboring quite a bit. So we were better off playing other guys at 100% than him at 50, probably.”
Self and the Jayhawks head to Texas this weekend for a 1 p.m. Saturday showdown with the Longhorns in Austin.
A source close to the Kansas basketball program told the Journal-World on Tuesday afternoon that KU point guard Devon Dotson will not play in tonight's 8 p.m. game at Oklahoma.
Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday that he thought Dotson would be fine for the game and that the hip pointer Dotson suffered in last Saturday's loss to Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse would not keep him out of KU's next game.
At that time, KU had not yet practiced following Saturday's loss, and had only run through film and a walk-through in preparation for the matchup with OU.
Senior guard Isaiah Moss is expected to slide into the starting lineup in Dotson's place, with junior Marcus Garrett and freshman Christian Braun likely handling the bulk of the point guard responsibilities against the Sooners.
KU and OU tip off at 8 p.m. from Lloyd Noble Center on ESPN.
A couple of months removed from winning three games during Les Miles’ first season in charge, the Kansas football program last week picked up a key offseason victory that should be celebrated every bit as much as any of those in-season wins were.
KU’s decision to promote Emmett Jones from receivers coach to passing game coordinator last week — read: make sure he sticks around Lawrence instead of leaving for other opportunities — was by far the biggest and most important news of the offseason to date.
Keeping arguably the best assistant coach on staff and one of the top recruiters in the Big 12 Conference in town made last week a win for all kinds of reasons.
Continuity is key and Jones’ contract is also now guaranteed through the 2022 season. Jones’ recruiting skills are second-to-none. And his ability to both motivate and hold players accountable is a crucial part of the steep climb Kansas football is facing.
Clearly, the reasons Jones is so important to this program go well beyond his coaching chops. But to look past those would be a mistake.
What he got out of a largely unproven group of wide receivers during the 2019 season was rock solid. And it significantly upgraded the production of the Kansas offense.
Remember, it was Steven Sims Jr., (now killing it with the Washington Redskins) and Jeremiah Booker who had done most of the heavy lifting at the position for the three previous years, and both were gone when the 2019 season began.
Sure, there were bodies there and plenty of potential, but players like Andrew Parchment, Stephon Robinson Jr., and Kwamie Lassiter II were just that — potential. Yet Jones pulled something significant out of each one of them.
And don’t even get me started on the work he did with senior receiver Daylon Charlot. That, to me, was the biggest sign of just how talented Jones is as a coach and a human being.
In just a few months, he reached Charlot in a way that two other coaching staffs — both here and at Alabama — could not. And through equal parts love and compassion and hardcore expectations, he turned Charlot into the player Kansas fans expected to see when he transferred from Alabama in the first place.
As a group, the numbers put up by the KU wideouts in 2019 went up in every important category — more receptions (184-178), more yards (2,387-1,909), more touchdowns (20-15) and a higher yards-per-reception average (13-10.7).
And, remember, those numbers were recorded without the luxury of having two proven seniors, like Sims and Booker, who were both solid throughout their KU careers. They also came in Jones’ first season coaching these guys and first season under Miles.
KU’s head coach, offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon and quarterback Carter Stanley all had key roles in elevating the production in the passing game. But it was Jones who worked with the receivers day in and day out. And it was Jones who tapped into what it took to make each one of them more prepared, more aggressive football players.
He did so by connecting with them as people first and then by removing the fear of failure and replacing it with confidence and swagger.
Jones would be the first to tell you that it’s the players who deserve the credit for their production last season. They put in the time and the work required to be ready to deliver and then went out on Saturdays and did just that.
The players themselves would tell you that they could not have done it without Jones.
He just has a special way of reaching people. Whether watching film and breaking down coverages or joking around before drills or at media sessions, Jones always seems to know the temperature of the room and makes sure everyone is comfortable in his presence.
Not only that, but rare is the instance when you walk away from a conversation with Jones without having learned something of value.
Retaining him does not guarantee that Kansas will win a bunch of games next season. But trying to do that without him — both next year and into the future — would have been much more difficult.
For the second time this season, the status of an injured ankle belonging to Marcus Garrett was a hot topic heading into KU's next basketball game.
And for the second time this season, it does not appear that Garrett will miss any additional time.
"It's getting better," Garrett said Friday morning of the left ankle he rolled during Wednesday's win at Iowa State. "I'll be good for tomorrow."
Tomorrow, of course, brings the third-ranked Jayhawks' Top 5 showdown with No. 4 Baylor. And because of both the low-grade severity of the injury and the magnitude of KU's next game, Kansas coach Bill Self said he fully expected Garrett to play against Baylor when the Jayhawks and Bears tipoff at noon Saturday on CBS at Allen Fieldhouse.
Asked if he thought Garrett would be 100% for the Baylor game, Self was less sure.
"I don't know; I honestly don't," he said. "We didn't practice (Thursday). We just watched tape and (had a) walk-through. So, he didn't push it at all. But I can't imagine him not getting jacked up to play and adrenaline taking over."
That was not always the case. Garrett, who said he landed on a teammate's foot which caused the ankle to fold over in the win against the Cyclones, said he was initially much more worried about the severity of the injury.
"It felt more serious than what it really was," he said.
After missing roughly 8 minutes in the first half after being examined on the bench and back in the KU locker room, Garrett returned to the game late in the first half and then played the first 10 minutes of the second half. He moved well, running, jumping and cutting without issue and helped the Jayhawks cruise to their biggest win at Iowa State since 2003.
With around 10 minutes remaining and the game well in hand, Garrett asked out of the game and did not return.
"Yeah, it started doing some crazy stuff," he said Friday. "It started getting sore so I was just asking to come out."
As for how this latest injury — to the opposite ankle — compared to the ankle injury that kept him out of the second half of KU's loss to Villanova a few weeks ago, Garrett said the two were "very different."
"The feeling at Villanova was almost like I couldn't move," he said. "This game, it felt like that but once I started moving it loosened up."
Provided Self and Garrett are correct in their assessment of the junior guard's status for Saturday, expect to see KU's most experienced player and top defender in his usual spot in the starting lineup when the Bears and Jayhawks open play.
The standings show the Kansas Jayhawks at 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference race, with an early lead on five other Big 12 teams in the race to win this year’s Big 12 crown.
But that’s not quite the way KU coach Bill Self sees it.
The man who has made a career out of winning on other coaches’ home floors actually sees the Jayhawks sitting even after the first game of Big 12 play.
Let me explain, as Self did on Monday’s edition of “Hawk Talk” with Voice of the Jayhawks Brian Hanni.
The formula Self’s uses is simple. A home win is worth nothing and a home loss is worth negative-1. A road win is worth plus-1 and a road loss doesn’t hurt you.
So today, after knocking off West Virginia, 60-53 at Allen Fieldhouse last weekend, the Jayhawks are even because they won at home.
“To me, winning a home game is just breaking even,” Self said. “It’s not a bonus. It’s not anything. It’s just breaking even. If you lose a home game then it’s a big minus. And certainly winning a road game is a plus and losing a road game is breaking even at most places.”
The No. 3-ranked team in the country will have a chance to move to plus-1 in Self’s eyes on Wednesday night, when they take on Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, where they will look to get back to their winning ways away from home after a rough run in that department last season.
“(That’s) the best way to win a league,” Self said Monday night of winning on the road. “Our road record has been so good up until last year in league play. Just winning at home’s not enough. You’ve got to go .500 or better on the road.”
Had the Jayhawks done that a season ago, their NCAA-record streak of consecutive conference titles would be alive and well at 15 in a row.
“Instead we went 3-6,” Self reminded, making even a perfect 9-0 mark at home more or less irrelevant in the league race that Kansas lost by two games to Kansas State and Texas Tech.
“Home wins, (it’s) imperative that you get them,” Self said Monday. “But road wins are the ones that actually give you a chance to separate yourself. You’ve got to split on the road at worst, and then you’ve got to win them all at home. And if you don’t do that then you’ve got to steal one somewhere.”
Given the fact that the Jayhawks will be a road favorite on Wednesday night, winning in Ames would not be considered stealing one. But since KU still can go unbeaten at home this season, the Jayhawks are not quite in the position of needing to think about stealing anything yet.
Here’s a quick look at the Big 12 standings along with where each team sits according to Self’s system.
Baylor 1-0 – Even after home win vs. Texas
Kansas 1-0 – Even after home win vs. WVU
Oklahoma 1-0 – Even after home win vs. K-State
Texas Tech 1-0 – Even after home win vs. Oklahoma State
TCU – 1-0 – Even after home win vs. Iowa State
West Virginia 1-1 – Plus-1 after road loss at KU and road win at Oklahoma State
Texas 0-1 – Even after road loss at Baylor
Iowa State 0-1 – Even after road loss at TCU
Kansas State 0-1 – Even after road loss at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State 0-2 – Minus-1 after road loss at Texas Tech and home loss vs. WVU
So the only blood drawn in the race to date came from Monday’s road win by West Virginia at Oklahoma State. Every other team did what it was “supposed to do” and now we move onto Round 2.
No. 4 Baylor gets its chance to move into plus territory tonight with a road game at No. 22 Texas Tech.
And TCU will get the same chance in Manhattan against Kansas State.
It may be a bit early to start tracking this stuff, but wins away from home — and what Self often refers to as “holding serve” at home — are the way the Big 12 will be won.
Asked the annual question about what record he thought it might take to win the conference this time around, Self, at first, gave no answer and then settled in on a record that he seemed to think might do it.
“Oh, I have no idea,” he said. “I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I think you could probably give it another 10 days or two weeks (and) probably get a feel for that. But 14-4 (in Big 12 play) right now, to me, looks like a very, very good record.”
Self on Thursday was asked about a recent comment made by ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg, who said on the air that he thought Self would end up leaving Kansas for San Antonio at the end of the 2019-20 season.
“My boldest prediction for 2020 is Bill Self to San Antonio,” Greenberg said during Wednesday’s appearance on ESPN’s "Get Up!"
Rumors of Self someday joining the Spurs are nothing new and have been a regular part of the KU basketball season for years.
But unlike previous reports of the Spurs being interested or Self being tied to San Antonio, this latest instance was merely one man’s prediction about what might happen.
Nonetheless, Self reacted to Greenberg’s take during Thursday’s press conference.
“Well first of all, I haven’t talked to Seth in five or six months,” Self began. "And secondly, and most importantly, I haven’t talked to (Spurs GM) R.C. (Buford) ever about (the job), and he was in my wedding and I was in his so I’ve known him pretty well and we’ve never once discussed it. And thirdly, I think it’s kind of an insult to the Spurs because they have the greatest coach maybe our sport’s potentially ever known — certainly the NBA — one of the two or three best of all time for sure. So, yeah, there was absolutely zero truth to that.”
Self went on to say that comments like those made by Greenberg “cracks me up.”
“What it was was ‘Bold predictions for 2020,’ so you just grab something or throw something against the wall and hope that something sticks,” Self said. “But, no, there’s zero truth to that. That’s not even one that would impact us positively, negatively. There’s nothing to it at all.”
Out of the boot and off the scooter that aided his rehab from a broken left ankle suffered back in November, Kansas freshman Jalen Wilson has been on the practice court for the Jayhawks during the past few days.
But Self said the freshman from Denton, Texas, remains a couple of weeks away from being fully cleared for practice.
“He is participating in individual (drills), he’s on the court, moving about a snail’s pace, adding a little bit each and every day, and we’re hopeful — hopeful that within a two-week period he can be released and be full go. But we’re not at that point yet, where he can have contact at all.”
With a potential return nearing, Self said no decision had been made on whether to redshirt the 6-foot-8 wing or to try to work him into the rotation before the end of the season.
“We haven’t decided yet,” Self said, noting that he recently talked to both Wilson and his parents about his future plans. “I don’t think you make a decision on what you want to do with him until you see how his health is. If he’s not 100%, why would you even consider it? And if he is 100%, how does he fit in and does he have a chance to impact this team?”
Self said it was still too early to make any final decisions and added that Wilson was “on schedule” for a full recovery.
“I’m hopeful, and I know he’s hopeful that he can get to be 100%,” Self said.