Tuesday, December 23, 2014

KU hopes to make strides following break

Kansas coach Bill Self and members of the team watch in the closing minutes of a 77-52 loss to the Temple Owls Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Kansas coach Bill Self and members of the team watch in the closing minutes of a 77-52 loss to the Temple Owls Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.


Though they currently may be dazed and confused following a 25-point loss to unranked Temple, Kansas University’s basketball players nonetheless figure to be refreshed and ready to go for the remaining three months of the marathon 2014-15 season following what they hope is a relaxing three-day Christmas vacation.

At least that’s the plan and the way it’s generally worked out in past seasons, 12th-year coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks traditionally getting a lot accomplished between semesters when practice time is unlimited according to NCAA rules.

Self can hold two-a-day workouts, even three-a-days if he wishes, all the way until Jan. 20 — first day of second semester.

Of course, the 9-2 Jayhawks have games to play in that span, as well.

“I hope so. I like to say academics weighs on our guys on a daily basis in a big-time way,” Self said, asked if the players figure to make strides in coming weeks as they concentrate solely on hoops. “I think we had a really good week of final exams (last week).

“They can focus in, relax and play. Our teams in the past ... it hasn’t always worked out (that way). Sometimes you think you are getting better and maybe you are not gaining on it the same way you think you are. This has always been an important stretch for us, getting ready the couple weeks we have before conference. We seem to make a lot of strides and seem to put in the few extra things we need to put in to get us ready for conference play. Hopefully that will be the case,” he added.

The Jayhawks will gather for practice on Friday night, hold a clinic for youths Dec. 28 and play their next game versus Kent State at 7 p.m., Dec. 30, in Allen.

“I think it’s good timing,” sophomore Landen Lucas said of a three-day break followed by weeks of basketball with no classes on campus. “Before the season, you just want to get to the games. Around this time, it’s good to look at things you need to improve on after the first couple of games. Going into a tough league schedule it’s time that can really become helpful for us.”

KU’s Big 12 opener is Jan. 7 at Baylor.

Self on KU’s 9-2 start: “I didn’t put a number on it (before season). The schedule has been hard. We’ve done some really good things for a young team. I also think we’ve done some things pretty poorly, too, regardless of age. We have to tighten some things up. One thing about playing a hard schedule, it tells you who you are. It exposes you. We have to tighten up some things to get ready for conference play.”

Of scheduling, he added: “I think there is a strategy to scheduling. There’s an RPI strategy. There’s a record strategy. There’s a confidence strategy. There’s little things like how much preparation before certain teams. Georgetown was a smart scheduling game for us. We played Friday and Wednesday and that gave us four complete days to prepare. They are completely different than anybody else. If it had been one-day prep it would have been much harder.”

KU had little prep time for Temple after playing Lafayette on Saturday. Self, however, said he watched extensive film on the Owls and he and his players were aware of the opponent’s tendencies. KU will also play Saturday/Monday games in the upcoming Big 12 season.

“I think we say, ‘Let’s just play a good schedule. Let’s play teams that will finish real high in their conference, have a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament eventually.’ If you do those things, your RPI will finish pretty high,” Self said.

Embiid attitude is positive: Former KU center Joel Embiid, an injured rookie with the Philadelphia 76ers, recently put a smile on the face of his coach, Brett Brown.

“It was one of the greatest things a young player has said to me. I asked Joel Embiid who are the players in the league you look at and really aspire to be like,” Brown told “He said Al Jefferson and my jaw almost fell to the floor. Al is just so old-school, and clearly Joel was saying I want to be a post player.

“That is a dying breed and Al is one of the best. He is so skilled on the block, and when Joel said that, I loved him even more.”

Embiid may return in February from foot surgery, or may make his debut at the start of next season.

“He is a stone-cold centerpiece, a crown jewel to a program when you can post him. The other stuff is gravy,” Brown told csnphilly.

“He wants to do that,” Brown added of also shooting jumpers on the perimeter. “You all see him warm up and you get tricked. I think it is the last place that we want him to be at this moment and the last place that you want him to think he should be at this moment.”


Bryce Landon 7 years, 7 months ago

Our last non-conference opponent, UNLV, upset Arizona last night. So if these Jayhawks had any inkling of taking the Runnin' Rebels lightly, their victory over UA, along with our big loss to Temple, should erase any such inkling from their minds.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

And Texas lost to unranked Stanford at home and WSU needed some luck to beat unranked Hawaii by 1 pt...


We all know they laid an egg at Temple. Bill Self has their attn and plenty of practice time to work w them. They will get better, they always do.

PS. If anyone is looking to get away from all they manic mood swings on this site, head over to Much less doom and gloom when we lose and less fanfare when we win. Just knowledgeable KU hoops fans with a dose of reality and perspective.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 7 months ago

Are you going to kubuckets? They would love your insight. I bet you would be huge. Please let us know!!! Please!

ps- Texas, AZ, WSU none of them got blown out by 25, and all played with effort and focus, unlike what we did. I watched that Texas game, they played hard till the end, it was just not their night. AZ played hard got beat by a last shot. You are comparing Apples and Lasagna for crying out loud like it is relevant. You cannot just look at the box scores Brianna and think you know what happened in other games.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

And Bryce, I wasn't speaking to you specifically, I was more addressing the people yesterday, who were ready to jump off the highest building they could find.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

Adam, I did! Dude is a freak and is going to be a star. His dunk on K. Love while LeBron sat and watched, was sweet and foreshadowing for the future.

Andrew Dunlap 7 years, 7 months ago

This team has many weaknesses.. Self has his greatest .or even a coaching challenge ever. We have no front line. Perry Ellis is not the answer. I feel sorry for the kid. He is not a 4 rand barely can play the 3. We are missing the likes of the Morris twins, Whithey, Embid and even Tarik Black. Self has to come up with a new offense. he should have gotten Miles Turner at all costs.

David Kemp 7 years, 7 months ago

Just look at that picture of the bench and the body language exhibited. Lots of lost and uninterested looks. Like the announcer said they are already mentally on Xmas break.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

David, They look that way because they're getting their asses kicked. How should they look? I do agree w you that they were already on Xmas break and not engaged, but let's not shortchange these kids. They've put in a lot of work up to this point and will put in a ton more. THEY HAD A BAD NITE... That is all. Now if this continues for another couple of games, then we should worry. But for now, let's all just RELAX

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Brianna, they looked disinterested from the get go. No hustle on 50/50 balls, not going hard after rebounds, not even trying on defense. That's not a bad night. A bad night is when you can't a shot or the other team is hitting a lot of contested shots. That's not what happened Monday, Monday was KU not giving a damn other than Mason about the outcome of the game.

This team has major flaws that are not easily correctable, if they're even correctable. This team doesn't have strong leadership. In years past, you could always see someone like Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, or Thomas Robinson taking control of the huddle. The past 3 seasons, there hasn't been anybody that's stepped up to take control of the huddle in crunch time. Because of that that lack of leadership, that's why this team struggles with its intensity on a consistent basis. This team desperately needs Frank Mason to step up and take over the leadership of this team and impose his aggressive personality on the team.

A complete lack of interior defense is also a big issue that has to be corrected to this team Perry isn't strong enough to guard 4's and not quick enough to guard 3's, Cliff can't play without fouling yet, Landon Lucas isn't strong enough, Mickelson isn't quick enough, and Jamari Traylor isn't himself this year and is liability on both ends this year. Unless Self suddenly decides to play zone (there's a better chance of KU football winning the Big 12 next year), the lack of interior defense is going to continue to be exploited by opposing teams.

Bill Self is without a doubt one of the elite coaches out there today and the conference title streak is a great accomplishment, but his "my way or the highway" coaching philosophy has cost KU at least 1 national title and at least 2 Final Four appearances. I would trade all 10 of the conference titles for that 2011 national title. A "do whatever it takes to win" approach is what needs to happen with this team to reach their potential and that involves playing smaller and getting more shooters on the floor, playing more up tempo offense and taking advantage of the athleticism this team has, and playing more zone defense to hide the interior's inability to defend.

Tom Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

How do you figure Self's coaching philosophy cost KU the 2011 title?

I kinda lean towards: 3 pt. FG's: 2-21 (9.5%) FT's: 15-28 (53.6%)

Benz Junque 7 years, 7 months ago

It wasn't a bad night, it was a bad effort. One is OK, the other is not.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 7 months ago

Excellent post Aaron, Brianna has unrealistic expectations. (Aaron Rodgers tellings GB fans to relax is one thing, her saying it is just not viable, she has no basis to make that statement)

Wonderful basketball points, facts instead of conjecture. I agree on coaching, I know Jack W and others do too. The team this year just has not shown it can play the way he has coached in the past.

I agree Benz bad night and and bad effort are two different things.

Harlan Hobbs 7 years, 7 months ago

You are a breath of fresh air and realism, Brianna.

Lloyd Kinnison 7 years, 7 months ago

These young men have will improve with more experience. I have difficulty understanding why players on the bench are not being used when the starting 5/8 are not able to play offense or defense. Use everyone...

Jack Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

Brianna ~ You make a very realistic analysis of this year's team, and about the Temple game. One of the least attractive traits about the "typical" sports fan, is when their enthusiasm for their favorite team becomes too closely tied to their ego. We see evidence of that here, and certainly in the 'blog' comments following the Temple game. When individual "fans" become involved in personal attacks on one another, which happens much too often on this site, it is clear that it's more about an ego, rather than the basketball team. Yes, this team has significant "flaws" ~ not as individual player flaws so much, but because of the almost complete lack of experience they bring as a group ~ this is one of the least experienced Bill Self's teams I can recall. Even the few 'returning' players did not bring all that much experience and raw talent with them. Extremely talented, without question. Big 12, D-1 experience, hardly any. The contrast in those games when we've played brilliantly for a half, and really poorly in the other half, is clear evidence of both the innate talent of our individual players, and their lack of experience. We are fortunate to have a coach who has proven over the years to have the ability to turn a talented group of individual players into a very good team. Frankly, our record at this point in the season, considering a very tough schedule and a very inexperienced team, is pretty damn good. The two blow-out losses, combined with overall inconsistent play, gives a distorted picture ~ especially when trying to make an accurate assessment of the team as of now, and for sure, going forward into Big 12 play. Thanks for the tip about the the other site ~ hopefully, the "band-wagon", ego driven, so-called "fans" won't follow.

Benz Junque 7 years, 7 months ago

Just stop. There are freshmen and sophomores having great seasons all over the country. I don't see any one questioning the effort of Stanley Johnson at Arizona or any of the freshmen at Duke. You don't have to be an upperclassman or an uber-talented player to play hard, hustle on defense, dive for loose balls, fight for rebounds or look at a ball that is being passed to you.

No one is mad that they lost. I 100% agree that young teams lose games, sometimes even games that they should win. Everyone that is mad is mad because they didn't make much of an effort to win or even compete. That's the problem.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 7 months ago

Jack rarely do I see a post off base on so many points. Please feel free to go to the other site to post, they will love a post like this lol.

There is no distorted picture here. Anyone who is a fan of a team would cry foul at that performance, even those who are objective will. Things seem to be something more underlying, something is out of kilter here. Let me help point out some actual facts.

You do realize that this is the first Bill Self team ever to lose by 25 twice in a season and its barely a 1/3rd over. In fact it has only happened once before ever to a Bill Self KU team.

Self has had to take away starts in games more than once this season for multiple players not fulfilling simple requirements to play on the team.

We have not played a full game with consistentcy yet this year.

Our preseason B12 player disappears in big games. Is he taken out by the defenses (more talented players), not competitive enough, or is it something else? He was not sick at Temple.

Why has Traylor been so inconsistent? He should be a solid player after what we saw last year.

There are more, but you get the point, there is a lot to correct during the holiday break, Self pndered himself what he could actually get done before the conference games start.

Ego lol, not sure how you mean that word... As a pronoun, Freudian, or in a religious context? Regardless not sure how it would help your ego to critique a team you follow, would make you less self worthy to follow something you do not think highly of wouldn't it. Does not help your (Freudian) taking notice of reality, or dentity of an individual to represent itself as in religion.

I say this over and over to folks like you, it is ok to boo your team. To ask for better play and coaching. To do so does not mean you are a so-called fan. Band-wagon is wrong too, if you were a band-wagon fan you jump ship to another team who was better, rather then stay and ask your team to play better.

So many concerns with your post.

Jack Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

Rod ~ So many concerns with your post. Let's begin with an easy one. "Ego lol"?~ Ego, as evidenced in the barrage of words contained in the posts you so frequently submit. In fact, your paragraph about the word is a perfect example of someone driven by an ego to attempt to impress others. Fail! Not sure where the "distorted picture" reference comes from. The 'fact' remains that this the least experienced Bill Self team in recent memory. In addition to the many first year players, those returning from last year's team are just 'pretty good' players, with not all that much experience either. Even our "best" returning player, Perry Ellis, had an up and down season last year, not unlike this year. Their inconsistent play is an example of what can happen in these situations. I suspect a number of KU fans, including me, were expecting several of the incoming players to make the transition to D-1 basketball much better, and at a quicker pace than has been the case. I guess not all McDonald's All-Americans are equal in their ability to make that happen. Your comments in paragraphs 4 -7 are simply statements of fact, and the Traylor question is one I suspect many, including Coach Self, are asking ~ and other than simply repeating common knowledge, have little to add to the dialogue. I disagree with your statement that it is ok to boo your team. Critique your team, comment on your objective perceptions, but, it's simply not ok to make personal criticisms of individual players. You ain't been there-done that! Other than satisfying one's 'ego' (that word again) by attempting to appear to be more of an expert on the subject than you are ~ I see no value in doing so. Certainly, you can ask for (your words) better play and coaching ~ although other than expressing an opinion (everyone's got one), I'm not sure that actually accomplishes anything other than personal ego satisfaction. Your declarative "Band-Wagon is wrong", and your 'authoritative' personal definition is nonsense, and another example of ego taking center stage. While I hesitate to waste the time and space ~ in the context of my comments, it means a so-called fan who is rah-rah when things are going good, and boo-boo, when times are tough. By the way ~ you might want to look again at your third paragraph. "...the first Bill Self team ...lose by 25" >> "...only happened once before...."??? Just so you know ~ I've violated a personal code by responding to your "response", and have no interest in engaging in a "conversation" with you, In fact, to me one of the most pathetic characteristics of many "sports fans", is when they engage in a conversation that too often, on this site and others, turns into an ego-driven monologue. Lest I forget ~ I don't need your permission, or advice as to which site I choose. Bye-Bye

Rodney Crain 7 years, 7 months ago

Aww Jack don't cry just cause you made a lot of mistakes in your post it will all be ok little guy. It is also ok if you are too immature to continue. I understand you cannot handle an adult conversation. Make sure to pick up your poms poms where you left them. Here this will help, RCJH KU.

Please honor your personal code, what a joke, an ego driven statement if there ever was one, and do not reply to me. We will both be better off for it. Sleep tight buddy.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

This isn't the first group of college kids not to show up to a game. This isn't even the first Kansas team to do so. They're kids, they're going to slack sometimes and they're going to make mistakes. Ever heard the saying that goes "what's the worst part of having a freshman on your team? He plays like a Freshman." Granted, they're not all freshmen, but experience wise, most of them are.

Don't assume that because you or I would try our absolute hardest every second we were out there, knowing that they should cherish what a special opportunity they've been given and not take it for granted, even for one game, that an 18 or 19 yr old kid is going to do the same... Youth wasted on the young.
Bill Self WILL get this team's attn. He's shown the ability to in the past, why are you going to doubt him now? That's why he's compensated so well. That's why he's at the height of his profession, because of his ability to get his kids on the same page. Or get new ones.

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