Wrapping up the KU-Mizzou scrimmage with a couple of nuggets from Big 12 Media Day
Given that the game took place just two days earlier, in the very same venue in which he was speaking on Tuesday, no less, it made sense that the brief renewal of the Kansas-Missouri Border War rivalry was a hot topic during Big 12 media day at Sprint Center this week.
All three Kansas players — Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman — were asked about beating the Tigers and building from the early-season test. And Kansas coach Bill Self also was asked about the exhibition game for charity, both in the context of whether he would consider playing the Tigers again in the future and how much good had come from the event that raised nearly $2 million dollars for hurricane relief.
No strong or surprising stances emerged on either topic, with the four Jayhawks continuing to say that they enjoyed the test, loved the atmosphere and were thrilled to be able to use their platform to raise so much money for such a good cause.
But there were still a couple of interesting nuggets and tidbits that came on Tuesday that sort of put a bow on the whole experience.
Here’s a look.
• The last time Graham played in Sprint Center prior to Sunday’s 93-87 victory over Mizzou came during KU’s heartbreaking Elite Eight loss to Oregon in last season’s NCAA Tournament. In that game, Graham struggled mightily, finishing with an uncharacteristic line and a lot of questions.
In 38 minutes on the floor against Oregon, Graham was 0-of-7 from the floor, 0-of-6 from 3-point range and finished with just three points and little else.
Sunday, against Mizzou, the KU senior flipped the script completely, leading all scorers with 25 points and knocking in 6-of-13 3-pointers and adding 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals to his line.
Asked Tuesday if his disappointing night vs. the Ducks back in March provided any added motivation for Sunday’s monster game against MU, Graham said the Oregon dud was not on his mind at all.
“It honestly wasn’t until the next day, when somebody said it,” Graham said Tuesday. “They were like, ‘I’m glad you got to have a good game in there after the last one,’ and I hadn’t thought about that. It was crazy because I played terrible then and I came out and played a good game (Sunday). I wasn’t thinking about it, though. … I just wanted to win.”
• Although it was addressed briefly on Sunday after the game, Self was asked again on Tuesday if he would play Missouri again in the future for a similar event.
Before answering, he reminded that the two schools needed a waiver to get the game approved in the first place and added that he was unsure whether something like this would be easier to accomplish in the future.
“It goes against their bylaws to say, ‘Hey, go play another game,’” Self said of the NCAA. “There has to be a reason and the reason was good.”
As for whether he would be in favor of another charity game, be it for the benefit of victims of a natural disaster or something as simple as a way to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club or a similar organization, Self did not hesitate with that stance.
“Yeah, if there was something that would warrant doing something that was good for others,” he said. “I think what some people misinterpret about this is, if it would have been Creighton that would’ve brought in the most money, we would’ve played Creighton. If it would’ve been Washburn that could bring in the most money, we would’ve played Washburn. The reason we played Missouri was because it brought in the most money. … I think there’s a lot of things that need to be thought through on it, like where the money would go, but I would be all for doing something. Absolutely.”
But instead of just thinking about one game or a handful of games like it around the country, Self is thinking bigger for the next round. And he has been for a long time.
"I certainly think we missed an opportunity after (Hurricane) Katrina to do something like this," he said on Tuesday. "I would like to see it be a lot bigger than this. The way we're doing it now, you've gotta understand it's on two weeks notice. So it's hard for people to pull it off. But what about if every school was allowed to play one and every Div. II and every Div. III and every NAIA and every juco and every high school in the country could just do one thing to give money, you're talking 50-100 million dollars. Then you're talking about real money. That, to me, would be the dream."
• Because he and his coaching staff immediately hit the road to recruit following Sunday’s victory, KU coach Bill Self said Tuesday afternoon that he had not yet watched the full game film from KU’s win over the Tigers.
But based on feel alone, Self said he thought his team probably played about 15 good minutes during the 40-minute exhibition scrimmage.
“I actually thought we did some good things and I thought we did some things really poorly,” Self said.
After an afternoon practice on Tuesday, following their obligations at Sprint Center, Self and the Jayhawks watched the Missouri film in its entirety for the first time.
Next up: KU's exhibition opener at Allen Fieldhouse, Tuesday vs. Pittsburg State.