Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stress test: Bill Self says freshmen ‘have a lot to learn’

Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Charlie Weis get together for a radio talk show Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Oread Hotel.

Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Charlie Weis get together for a radio talk show Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Oread Hotel.



Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Charlie Weis get together for a radio talk show Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Oread Hotel.

There’s never a dull moment for Bill Self when he’s working with Kansas University’s 10 freshmen basketball players.

“This year will be stressful in a lot of ways, because as Al McGuire said, ‘The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores,’” Self, KU’s 10th-year coach, said Monday night after leading his squad through its seventh of 10 pre-European tour practice sessions.

“These guys have a lot to learn,” Self added. “I told them all multiple times that the freshmen that usually have the best freshman years for us are the ones that know they don’t know. That is hard for a guy coming in here and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to quit everything I’ve been taught — not that it’s wrong — but I am going to try it your way.’ The guys who do that are the ones who usually perform the best. These guys so far have been sponges. They’ve been good.”

Self, who spoke with the media in the lobby of the Oread Hotel after joining KU football coach Charlie Weis as guest on the “Rock Chalk Sports Talk” statewide radio show, has an incoming class of red-shirt freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, true scholarship freshmen Anrio Adams, Milt Doyle, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Zach Peters and Andrew White and walk-ons Evan Manning and Tyler Self.

Self has gushed about McLemore’s potential in various interviews this summer. On Monday, he was asked about McDonald’s All-American Ellis, a 6-foot-8, 225-pounder out of Wichita Heights.

“Perry’s been impressive,” Self said. “We’ve had other guys be impressive for short stints. I’d say Perry has been as impressive as anybody in the gym over the entire seven practices. He has a knack to score. Of course, we need that (after) losing Thomas (Robinson).”

Ellis, who is ranked 24th nationally by, is KU’s highest-rated incoming recruit, followed by No. 51 Andrew White, 6-6, 210, out of Chester, Va.

“Andrew can shoot. We need that (after) losing Conner (Teahan),” Self said. “Andrew is going to be a good player. He’s still figuring things out. He’s a tall guard … 6-foot-6 guys who can shoot it … they are fun to have.”

As far as the big man group that includes Ellis, 6-9 Peters and 6-10 Lucas, Self said: “Stop and think about our bodies inside. Jeff (Withey), Justin (Wesley), Kevin (Young), Jamari, Landen, Perry, Zach ... even though we are not big girth-wise, still that’s seven bodies we can throw at you. It means we can foul a lot and not be penalized as much. Last year, if Thomas got two fouls in the first half, it was, ‘Oh, geez, what are we going to do?’ Hopefully this year we’ll have a little more depth.”

Speaking of the freshman group as a whole, Self noted: “Nobody’s been great, but as a group they are trying hard. This is going to be a fun team to coach.”

Self said senior point guard Elijah Johnson, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in April, is 100 percent healed.

“Elijah is practicing full speed,” Self said. “He is out of shape, obviously. He took three months off from the surgery. He’s out of shape, doesn’t have his rhythm, yet we are so much better when he’s out there.”

The Jayhawks will leave for Switzerland on Sunday and play four games (a week from today, Wednesday, Saturday and Aug. 12) in Switzerland and Paris.

“I don’t know how we’ll do things once practice starts. We are three months from that,” Self said. “In Europe? I’m going to play everybody about the same. I am going to have them all out there trying and playing together. I don’t care that much about combinations. I don’t know what we can really find out about ourselves in August as far as combinations. Some guys pick things up better than others, but I will give everybody an opportunity to play. We may have five freshmen out there playing at once, and we may not look very good, but still it’ll be a good experience for them.”

This, that: KU’s exhibition games will not be televised and not be broadcast on the radio. ... KU football coach Weis declined to speak to the media after his stint on “Rock Chalk Sports Talk.” ... KU is now recruiting Frank Mason, an unranked 5-11 senior point guard from Petersburg (Va.) High, reports.


chriz 9 years, 9 months ago

Good to hear about Perry Ellis. Seems like such a fundamentally sound player.

wrwlumpy 9 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Gary for the much needed red meat. I hope that somewhere in the LJW budget there is enough money to allow someone to travel with the team that has some kind of film crew. Give us some vids of walking along the Seine or Jeff Withy dancing at a bar across the street from the Moulon Rouge... But, in this hot dry summer, please supply the Jayhawk Nation with honest evaluations of the Fresmen class, Isn't there some way to stream the games from a phone?

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

We just lost Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. A stud guard and a monster in the post. They will be replaced with role players and unproven freshman but Self is still the coach.

Translation: BIG 12 CHAMPS AGAIN!!!

KGphoto 9 years, 9 months ago

9 is fine!

C'mon though, I know you didn't mean that, Bangkok. The reigning Big 12 DPOY is no role player, and EJ and Relly were key starters for a run to the title game. We have two NBA first round draft picks replacing Zero and TT, which is better than what we had going into last season.

Robert Lofthouse 9 years, 9 months ago

“...This is going to be a fun team to coach.”

Always love it when the coach makes this statement. It says so much about how he feels about his team.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Unless he says it the way I say things - " THIS is going to be a fun team to coach.....(eye roll)"

MN_KU_gohawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Hello everyone, I only write once a year and I actually had to change my username because I forgot my previous password. Anyhow, I used to live in Lawrence as a kid and have been a KU fan for all of my life. I lived in Minnesota for an extensive period of mine and now work and live in Zurich, Switzerland. I've been here for about 8 months now and I'm quite ecstatic about watching the game at Fribourg next week. A couple of questions to Jayhawks nation: are there any KU fans in the Zurich area (long shot I know)? anyone meeting up before the games at a pub? I would love to meet some die-hard fans... Anyhow, I will write a summary of the game and especially, about our new players.

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Okay, MN, we are counting upon you to provide enlightening posts re those two Swiss games. Jayhawk Nation will eagerly await word from you. Here's hoping that we play some really tough Swiss competition...and that our new players show some defensive spark.

VailHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Hey MN! Wanna Skype/Facetime during the games?

MN_KU_gohawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I can only make the tuesday game but I will try to post every 5 minutes or so. The Swiss team have the seholosha brothers so we will see how our freshman guards handle nba caliber players. Will there be anyone here doing gameday type posting?

Gary Bedore 9 years, 9 months ago

Hey Mn, Can you email me your phone number at I wanted to ask you a few things about Switzerland. Thanks, gary bedore

MN_KU_gohawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Just sent you an email with my phone number Gary.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 9 months ago

MN----please, by all means, correspond to Jayhawk Nation! Thank goodness we have someone in the Swiss Nation to eye witness the freshmen in action. Rock Chalk Jayhawk and thanks!

hucking_fawks_rock 9 years, 9 months ago

Well I'm jealous of you out the in Switzerland. Hopefully our guys look like they're progressing, and don't provide many facepalms for HCBS. Have fun at the game!

Danny Hernandez 9 years, 9 months ago

I wish I was going to be in Zurich again as I'd love to see the team especially in such an informal setting. We have friends in Zug we see annually but this year, they're coming to Miami. Have a great time cheering for the team.

MN_KU_gohawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I also have friends in Zug. Cute little town. Thanks for the wishes.

TenaciousD 9 years, 9 months ago

Gary - Are there any plans for covering these games? How about some streaming video? Or at least some video parked on the website? Are there NCAA rules or other considerations regarding video of these type of games?


clevelandjayhawker 9 years, 9 months ago

What station and When is this Rock Chalk Sports Talk show?

Watching Highlights of Lucas and White Im exctied to watch them. My biggest concern is guys leaving after this year due to a lack of playing time, I think we will need at least one or two guys to redshirt. Self talks about having 7 bigs...that scares me because I worry about a freshemn getting frustrated due to little playing time and wanting to transfer. Especially when Withey is a lock for 25-35 mins a game. On the flip side, man do we have some fun lineups we can throw out there!

Jack Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

As Mr. Smith said to Neo (Mr. Anderson) in the Matrix .. "You hear that Mr. Anderson?... That is the sound of inevitability." I think we'll likely lose one of the three after the season .. Lucas, Peters, or Traylor. Perhaps not because of PT their freshman season, but the inevitability of future PT. There is just not enough PT to go around.

This season resembles 2005-06 a bit .. 6 bigs, two walkons, Moody and Kleinmann, but 4 others sharing the majority of playing time. Kaun/Wright/Jackson/Giles .. and Giles left.

When you have 6 scholarship big guys, 7 total. And in the last 5 seasons (starting 2006-07) we've never had more that 5 total on a roster .. including non-scholarship guys (Kleinmann). Yes, it the odds are strong we'll lose one if we add a top big in the 2013 class.

Why does Self manage his roster that way? Because you can only keep so many players happy. Four bigs plus a walk-on big in reserve is probably the max for the the happiness factor. I've mentioned this before .. this season is likely a battle for 2 scholarships between Traylor/Lucas/Peters.

But that's the game. Don't worry about. Survival of the fittest. And if one goes, it leaves (likely) the two stronger players for the future. Further, we're not talking about top guys tranferring .. if Ellis would transfer, that would be a concern. But not three I mentioned

Sure, all three could be here come 2013, but I wouldn't bet on it. If they all are here for 2013, then that is either 1) Good news, telling us that Self thinks that all are real players for the long term, or 2) Bad news, as we likely missed on a top post player in the 2013 class.

Mel Clare 9 years, 9 months ago

Why? Whithey and Young graduate. That leaves us Ellis, Traylor. Peters and Lucas............still room for a big in 2013. Wesley will be a senior next any incoming freshman will get loads of learning before his sophmore year. As it usually happens. We lose 4 schollies next season due to graduation.............Whithey, Young, EJ and Relly..............we have two guards already onboard who will impact early.............two more schollies for our bigs or swings...........

Jack Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

Sniper: Why? Good question.

We can speculate as to what Self might do. But if you look at the last five seasons of rosters, Self composes his roster with 4 scholarship bigs at the most. It is just fact. Sometimes he would carry a 5th, but only a walk-on (Kleinmann). Sometimes just 4 total. Again, history tells us that we won't carry all of them. We can guess and hypothesize, but the evidence tells us what will happen.

But also look at what you said. We recruit a top big, and we have Ellis, Peters, Traylor and Lucas. And Wesley. Forgetting Wesley, and just talking about the 5 scholarship bigs, that's too many to keep happy. Each of these players can see the writing on the wall. Let's say you're the 4th in line of the 4 freshman this season. What does that tell you? If we bring in a top 50 big .. Randle, Lawrence, Shepherd, etc., do you really think anyone except Ellis would be real competition for them? If I'm the 4th of the 4 freshman, I'd be looking real hard at Tulsa. Not only am I behind two starters (Ellis and the top big from 2013), but 2 others in my class. Ugh. And Self will certainly try to add another top one post in 2014.

You say keep everyone and possible even two more scholarships for posts in 2013. That is pure fantasy. That would mean 7 post players, 6 on scholarship. That's disproportionate to the need on the floor .. 46% of the scholarships for 40% of the floor time. 5 Scholarships is closer .. 38.5 to 40%

Another practical reason is it is easier to play small than play big. You can put Releford at the 4 and get by. You can't get by in the college game with too many post guys on the floor.

These guys want playing time. They don't want to see their college careers pass by. Even more, coach Self certainly wouldn't want to provide a scholarship to a player that won't play. He'd clearly rather roll that scholarship over, bring in new potential players.

Again, I leave it open to possibility. But roster composition is a coaching approach .. meaning, Self clearly feels better carrying more perimeter players.

Sam Constance 9 years, 9 months ago

Not sure if it's completely fair to say Giles "left".

More like, he was kicked off campus for being a repeat violator and allegedly getting physical with his lady friend.

Regardless of what actually happened, he didn't leave for lack of playing time. Of course, I suppose had he not been kicked off the team, someone else may have left due to said lack of PT...

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Comfortingly good news re EJ's knee. He should have his conditioning and rhythm back, well before November games. Too bad about lack of video coverage of the European tour. KU Sports could bank some dollars, selling a video of the 4-game series for $25.00. Something exciting to pull us through these toasty dog days.

milehighhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Devastating news that the games won't be televised or broadcast! What is this, the 20th century??

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

"...the word of a brilliant and clever coach famous for masking injury issues with games imminent." Man, you hit that nail solidly on its head! What, EJ has been back to nearly full speed for ten now is 100%? Self could survive at a poker table with Wily H. Coyote. Or Ratzo Izzo.

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

jb, your analysis is probably right on re the Doyle acquisition. High class insurance for a wobbly point guard situation. Milt might just turn out to be one of Bill Self's finest late finds. Naadir had best pass, protect and defend like a dynamo if he is to become our point guard of the near future, esp. if Adams gets full clearance to play. There is considerable upside to all 3 of those guys who lurk behind EJ.

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Speaking of "late finds" and commitments during the Bill Self years, I suppose that Rush and Withey might fall under that category, as well as Kevin Young and Doyle. Any others? Did the twins sign before June? Selby?

kellerman411 9 years, 9 months ago

Bate is right, take it from a washed up motorcross racer with 8 seasons of experience. The final stage of rehabilitation is competition. Until he is using his instincts only to compete, who knows how good the knee is. Although, I'm not worried, these players are cut open by world class orthopedic surgeons. I think Dr. Randall does some of the work, also I think Dr. Bruner from Wichita is involved at times. If they say EJ is good, he's good.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

No. but for you I will gladly perform a nut-ectomy. :-)

Ron Franklin 9 years, 9 months ago

"6-foot-6 guys who can shoot it … they are fun to have.”=MUA. I'm looking forward to this.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 9 months ago

Hi everyone...just got back from a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was my sixth trip so I highly recommend it if you like Nature's beauty, history, Southwestern cuisine and spiritual cleansing.

Upon review of the last eight days of posting, it looks like the highlight was the record number of times Jaybate was "bleeped."

Is there a new censor sheriff in town??!!

Regarding freshmen....I hardly would consider BMac and Semi in that category. A year of school, a semester of training and practice, experiencing an NCAA trip up to the title game.....I'd say they may be just a tad further along than the "other kids."

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago


Put down your pueblo pictures and listen up.

I've been bleeped lots more times than that. :-)

And this time HEM even came with me into the water to play with TexasSquawk.22short!!!

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

JayDogger, perhaps unintentionally, raises a significant question in his otherwise amusingly head-in-sand post above. :-)

What is the status right now with the KU players reputedly referred to by someone reputedly now indicted and approaching a reputed pot trial reputedly being held in a Federal court in Wichita?

Whew, that was a lot of reputing, but I had to do that not to mislead others into thinking I knew/know more about a perhaps sensitive situation than I actually did/do.

All I know about this issue is what I recall from reading here and at ESPN some time ago now.

Anyone--pros or board rats--have some new scoop to share?

Or has this story passed into some kind of coverage limbo to avoid generating any information that might prejudice a jury pool?

So: what's up? Should we be "bothered" by this situation the same way Coach Self said he was "bothered" by it in his second no comment story on this site? or is "bother" no longer fitting?

P.S.: Sometimes when JayDogger has raised an issue in the past and said it was nothing to worry about, that has seemed to me almost like a kind of early warning signal to start worrying. :-)

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago


Now the plot thickens.

Tell us how you know there is an absence of evidence? Who told you this? Bill Self has just issued two no comments that I know of, and one of those indicated the situation "bothered" him. I don't recall him asserting that there was no evidence supporting the allegation. Did I miss that claim by him? Or did the Chancellor, or AD, report the absence of evidence?

And I know I don't know one way or the other.

Is some one in a Federal case leaking information to you? Or are you just making up that you know there is no evidence?

Again, I don't know one way or the other.

Perhaps you should fill Coach Self in on this information of yours, if you have it. He did say he had done some inquiring himself. Surely he would want to know how you know there is no evidence.

I would. :-)

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

"One Picture, Two Coaches, And Maybe Two Different Styles"

Richard Gwin's photo of Bill and Charlie above suggests a whole lot about the natures of these two strong men; this makes it quite a good picture, but good pictures that suggest things are not always correct in what they suggest.

At the same time, Dan Rather once wrote a book with a ghost writer called "The Camera Never Blinks."

So: let's concede for a moment that maybe Gwin's photo did catch something about these men, and let's give psychological photo analysis a go.

Both men approach each other confidently.

But Bill's head tips down a bit and Charlie's tips up a bit.

Bill looks up from under his brow a bit at Charlie. Its a somewhat shifty look.

Charlie looks down a bit over his cheeks at Bill. Its a somewhat dominant look.

Bill smiles like he's got the world by the tail and can afford to take a very neutral position with Charlie.

Charlie smiles like he's got to prove a lot to the world and has to compensate by exuding some extra confidence.

Interestingly, Bill leads with his forehead, like a prize fighter that takes punches to get in position to give back more than he gets. Some prize fighters, like Ali, and Larry Holmes, liked to dance and pull their heads back from punches. It certainly looked good, but while it saves a fighter from some punches connecting, those that do take a much bigger toll because the full force of the punch lands against a head, neck and shoulders that are not flexed to the max to resist the punch. Joe Frazier fought the classic prize fighter style. He crowded into reduce the distance the opponent had to accelerate the punch, thus taking a shorter, lower velocity punch. At the same time he leaned into the punch with his forehead, while covering his nose and jaw with gloves as much as possible. His neck, shoulders and head were flexed and extending into the punch. He was using his forehead as a parrying counter punch. Prize fighters that lead with their foreheads understand the forehead is the hardest part of the face and, with neck and shoulders flexed, able to to take the strongest blows with the least rocking of the brain in its neuro hammock in the brain case without slowing down the prize fighter in his quest to cut off the ring and down an opponent. Prize fighters lead counterintuitively with the head and actually lean into in-coming punches to prevent the punch from landing on the nose or jaw. They try to deflect every punch with their fists and their anticipation. The bob side to side to make the punches that do hit their foreheads slide off. They are prize fighters that are prepared to go the distance no matter what. They can take punishment to avoid being knocked out. This approach is that of someone that thinks if they just keep looking for a weakness, keeps taking a few punches, eventually they will frustrate their opponent, find an opening and win on points, or a TKO, or a KO.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Charlie leads with his nose and lower face. This is bar room fighting style that plans on intimidating the opponent and closing in for a quick KO. All his weight is forward and coming at the opponent and he risks one shot to his own nose, or jaw, that would coal-cock himself. This approach is the approach of the person that thinks he's got one chance to win and he has to go for it.

Self coaches and his teams play a bit the way I have described him in this analysis. I know he is a handsome man and has a boyish smile, but he likes to hunker down with the best of them, when that's what they give him. And already he is talking about having tons of fouls to give in the paint. This is a coach that likes his team to get in and mix it up with an opponent. Self and his team struggled with the mauling Purdue game them last year, but they didn't even consider backing off. They took the punishment, even stuck their foreheads into it. When Self describes a grind it out game, with say Michigan State's Ratso Izzo, he is in Joe Frazier mode. When someone does not take him into a grind it out game, when they run on him, he still has his team stick its forehead into the transition game. Self's great guards like Chalmers, RR, Sherron, and Tyshawn, have all not just taken it to the hole, they have lead with their forheads as they go into the paint. Even in transition they will lead with the forehead if confronted. This is why Self's basketball teams are so very tough to play and beat. Kentucky had a team full of draft choices. It was long and athletic. Initially it was too fast for Self's team with one first rounder, a very tough point guard, two walking injureds at 2 and 3, and long skinny swatter at 5. But over time, KU started getting in closer, started leading with its foreheads. And in time, they started taking UK's punches from closer and closer in and kept delivering blows to Kentucky, which was running to escape the contact, running to bounce and dunk. And KU, way outmatched in talent and health, came back into the game and even had a slim chance to win it. It was like Frazier going after Ali. Ali was too good for Frazier, but the pure prize fighter style, over the length of a match, can sometimes overcome greater talent, if the greater talent makes enough mistakes, if the greater talent tires, etc. And even when it cannot, it makes a close, ugly fight of it.

It will be interesting to see if Charlie coaches the way he approaches Self in this picture. Will his players play the game like barroom fighters looking to go for the knock out punch?

Time and games will soon tell.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 9 months ago

The only good thing to come out of Petersburg High was Moses Malone. With so much talent still unsigned, why are we recruiting Frank Mason?

Jack Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

The back-up plan, to the back-up plan, to the back-up plan.

Barber, then Jackson, then Woodard, then Mason. Or something like that.

There is information out there that we have actually made an offer to the guy (understanding that it is likely laden with conditions).

Makes me wonder if there is concern at Allen that Adams might go the way of Braeden Anderson.

You better watch it. The mere mention of an unranked player like this is liable to bring out scores of excited posters, just sure we're on track to bag a talent only coach Self truly comprehends.

litlmikeyb 9 years, 9 months ago

Not sure if everyone has seen this already, but pretty cool video about the upcoming Europe trip, season and other stuff:

mikehawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Great video. Where did that come from? I think Coach is excited about this team because like last year, he gets to mold guys who want to listen and learn. We'll take some hits early in year, but look out late. Once again, I wouldn't want to play us late. Elijah spoke of being humble. This has all the makings of a very humble team. Very little big time swagger we've had for awhile. No big personalities, at least none I see, yet.

Kman_blue 9 years, 9 months ago

The video is from KU athletic's official youtube channel. Here's a link to their channel with lots of other good KU videos available.

Kman_blue 9 years, 9 months ago

The video is from KU athletic's official youtube channel. Here's a link to their channel with lots of other good KU videos available.

Not sure what happened, but sorry for the double post.

Mike Hart 9 years, 9 months ago

Oh yeah...uh huh... We ALL sure do "love" to read Jaybate's diarrhea-of-the mouth, never-ending stories.

Steve Brown 9 years, 9 months ago

VeVey & Montreaux way cool on Lake Geneva. When in Bern you can skip the bear cage, go to the banking square, impressive. Stroll old town.

When attending the games, to get a crimson and blue jersey, it is easier to find a Barcelona 'football' (soccer) fan shirt most anywhere, usually close to our colors.

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