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Monday, January 5, 2015

Shhh! KU riding league-opening win streak

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander calls for a UNLV foul after a steal and a bucket by point guard Frank Mason during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander calls for a UNLV foul after a steal and a bucket by point guard Frank Mason during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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A media member mentioned to superstitious Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self that the Jayhawks have won 23 straight conference openers dating to the 1991-92 season.

The last loss was at Oklahoma in 1991.

“Thanks,” KU’s 12th-year coach said with a smile during Monday’s weekly news conference in Allen Fieldhouse. “I guess it (opener) is (important), but it’s not the end of the earth, either. It’s a long season. Eighteen games is a long time, but I really appreciate you pointing that out, though.”

The No. 12-ranked Jayhawks (11-2) open the 2014-15 Big 12 season at 8 p.m. Wednesday at No. 21-ranked Baylor (11-2, 0-1).

It took no reminding to point out another number of significance — 10, as in 10 straight league championships for the Jayhawks. It ties UConn for third longest streak of all time.

UCLA won 13 straight Pac-10 titles from 1967 to ’79 and Gonzaga 11 West Coast crowns from 2001-11. KU has won a nation’s-best 57 conference titles overall. Kentucky is second with 51.

“Even when we won it in 2008, we still lost three out of five in our league over a 21⁄2-week period,” Self said.

“I think last year was a year that there’s no way after the San Diego State game I would say we win the league by two games, no way,” he added of a loss that came right before the start of conference play.

“The year before, we were dead and somehow put it together and end up losing to Baylor to end the season. But K-State lost at Oklahoma State, and we ended up pushing. We started out 1-2 the year we won it when Brandon (Rush) and Mario (Chalmers) and Julian (Wright) were freshmen. There’s been numerous times it didn’t look good. This year, whoever wins it will really deserve it. This league is really, really good.”

Graham update: Freshman guard Devonté Graham (sprained right big toe) has started “light running, some light cutting. He’s doing some individual shooting,” Self said. “We’re going to continue that, and I’m hopeful we can put him in some type of practice situation later on this week.

“He’s in terrible shape, obviously, but I think he can get his shape back, and he can get back where he can play spot minutes in a week, I would think, for sure. But we are not going to put him out there too early.

“We are going to make sure that he has total confidence in it, but I don’t know when that will be.”

Self said there’s still the chance Graham could use a medical red shirt if he doesn’t respond well once he starts practicing full-go.

Svi’s parents coming to town: Self said Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk should receive a lift this week when his parents visit from Ukraine.

The 17-year-old freshman’s mom is Inna, a high school biology teacher, and dad is Iurri, a college history professor.

“Mom and dad will come see him this week. We’ll be excited to have them here, give him (Svi) a hug, and I’m sure he’ll be feeling a lot better,” Self said of Mykhailiuk, who Self said is “really laboring now.”

He has scored five points in KU’s last three games.

“I talked to him a long time after practice today,” Self said on his “Hawk Talk” radio show. “He is the nicest, sweetest young man you could ever be around. Add the fact he’s two years younger than everybody, add the fact his parents are 5,000 miles away, it’s not an easy deal for him. I still think from a prospect standpoint he may be as good a prospect as we have if you grade everybody at age 21. He’s in a phase where he was more confident against Kentucky and Michigan State than in practice. I think he agrees with me.”

Chit-chatting with team: KU’s two-hour team meeting that Self called before the UNLV game was not particularly significant, he said.

“Oh, we’ve met a lot since we’ve been back from Christmas. No, no, it wasn’t a ‘break-you-down’ meeting, no. It was just, like, ‘Hey, let’s identify what’s going on.’ I actually read the Big 12 stats to them and where we ranked and that kind of stuff.”

Comments

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

OU and WVa's with 2-0 starts are putting some heat on the Hawks right away making the BU game a huge opener...on their court. That 23 game streak will be put to a heavy test Wednesday evening.

I get an uneasy feeling there is alot more going on with Mykailiuk besides being home sick. What happened to his right eye? Looks like he caught a nasty elbow. Although he had the one traveling call in his two minutes, he played really well saving a ball from going out of bounds and two steals. With our inability to shoot 2s and finish at the rim, we need all our deep shooters on the floor to win.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 7 months ago

Svi's hit the freshman wall like Cliff has. They'll get through it, but it just takes time to do it.

Tom Jones 7 years, 7 months ago

Neither of them have hit the freshman wall. That happens later in the year if it happens at all. Hopefully it won't. Cliff's playing quite well, actually.

They're both just still adjusting to playing against guys on or near their level every game.

Mike Riches 7 years, 7 months ago

So looking forward to being in Waco for the game Wednesday night! Texas getting BLOWN OUT by Oklahoma at home shows how important every game will be this conference season. Although I certainly wouldn't call the first conference game a must-win, road games like this (games that we are favored to win) will be crucial to winning #11.

This year may come down to the last regular season game, March 7 at OU. They still have tickets available...come on down!

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the tip about OU still having tickets available for the Kansas game. I just got mine and am shocked by their availability. Do you know where the pre-game party is held? Normally the pre-game parties are at the watch sites listed on the KU Alumni page but nothing is listed for Waco.

Mike Riches 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm surprised too by how many tickets are left at OU, especially for a Saturday game. And they're relatively inexpensive! I don't know about the pre-game party in Waco...I'm sorry!

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

Found the pre-game party on the Alumni Assn. web site. It commences at George's Bar at 4 pm. www.kualumni.net/kuaa_entry/ext/event...

We got out tickets to the BU and OU games for $20 and $25 respectively! KU road games are a great deal and the pregame parties are great. My favorite is Bar Louie in Ft. Worth.

Chris Shaw 7 years, 7 months ago

I am not too worried about SVI. He's still so much younger than everybody else. He's always played against older players and talent but it's different just leaving your home and coming over here to college and tying to do the same thing. He really hasn't had an adjustment period.

For svi imo, there are factors than just basketball he has to get use to. When he ges more experienced and the "timing" of everything is just baskeball as he matures and gets more comfortable...he will be fine. However, "homesickness" is a very big thing. I hope he can push through it. He has a bright future.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm puzzled by his lack of PT, especially Sunday behind an injured Greene. Other than missing shots, he's never played poorly. His two minutes Sunday, sans the travel, were excellent. What's the deal with the cut over his right eye?

I hope Mykailiuk's parents bring their CVs with them. It would seem like Inna being a high school biology teacher should find several job possibilities in Lawrence/KC/Topeka. His dad, Iurri, a college history professor from the Ukraine should be appealing to the KU history department.

John Randall 7 years, 7 months ago

Easy to say what someone else should consider important ... I'm pretty sure the Mykailiuks are well established in their current situation. I have no knowledge of other relatives, but that counts a lot. Also, the border conflict with Russia seems to have cooled considerably from last summer/fall.

This seems way different, for example, from the Chalmers' family who weren't Alaska natives (or Lawrence natives either, as it turned out).

Chad Lee 7 years, 7 months ago

the cut? it's basketball, I have two scars to match

Michael Sillman 7 years, 7 months ago

Like Suzi, I am confused by Mykhailiuk's lack of playing time.

His ball handling skills are superb. His quickness is amazing especially for his height. He stays in front of his man on defense.

His shot is not falling but it is dead on line. Usually it is hitting the back of the rim.

I am worried that with conference play starting that the window to get him really going may have closed.

That would be a shame since I think we need his skills to have a shot of advancing deep in March.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

Mike & Suzi,

Thx for the tip on the OU tix. I got mine for $29/. So pumped! I just hope the game means something 😒

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 7 months ago

Looking forward to meeting you at the pre-game party. The LJW should reserve a table for all of us.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 7 months ago

Self read the BIG12 stats to the team... huh. I guess someone else thinks that they mean something too. Imagine that a coach thinking that, I guess they do keep them for a reason.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 7 months ago

I can sense that Self is actually glad that KU is near the bottom of the conference in several statistical categories. Because he can use that to motivate his players. Self knows and stated as much that the non-con stats are not apples to apples in terms of the competition, however, if he can use the rankings to show his players how tough the next two months will be then that is definitely a benefit.

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