KU head coach Bill Self pulled up a chair and flashed an ear-to-ear grin kicking off the 2010-2011 media day festivities for the Jayhawks.
The 500 plus game winner hardly looked like a coach who's yet to hear
the status of freshman stud Josh Selby or one who's facing a critical
week for Kansas recruiting. Like he always done under the hairiest of
circumstances, Self smiled and said he was "happy to be here."
"I really like this team and the way its coming together because we've
got guys that didn't have as big a opportunity in the past and i think
they are very capable of making the most of it," said Self who is
beginning his eighth year at the helm in Lawrence.
This roster is laced with opportunity. Starting spots are up for grabs
and new roles are yet to be defined. No longer will the guards defer to
Sherron Collins and no longer will the bigs have their playing time
sliced and diced because of Cole Aldrich. Someone will have to fill
Xavier Henry's shoes from the outisde. KU's terrific trio is getting
paid to play in the professional ranks.
"We lost two lottery picks and the winningest player in the history of
the school. Kansas math is unique but usually you don't get better by
losing that," Self said with a chuckle.
"I do think this 33-3 is a pretty good winning percentage i don't think
this team will do that being quite candid with you. Our goal will be to
win every game but that will be very difficult to do. I do think this
team can be as good a team as last year's was when it counts the most."
To be that good Kansas will still need to plug holes. Without question
there are minutes to be had and leadership roles to be filled on a team
that Self ranks amongst the most athletic he's ever had. Yes, even
rivaling that special title team from 2008.
"We're going to be more athletic that what we have been the last couple
of years for sure," state Self. "It will be hard to surpass that
2007-08 team athletically but I think this team is the closest thing
that we've had to doing so since we've been here."
The terms "speed" and "athleticism" were staples in Self's opening
press conference as he gave fans a preview of what's to come. Sure
there will be moments of kicking and screaming and a youthful roster
giving fans fit - at times KU will be a work in progress. But there's
no doubt these Hawks will also provide an scintillating brand of ball
inside the walls of Phog Allen Fieldhouse this season.
"I think without question speed," Self responded when asked what
excites him most about this year's team. "With the way this team can
defend and do different things with interchangeable parts. From a raw
speed standpoint, we're obviously going to miss Sherron, X (Xavier
Henry), and Cole - primarily their skill set. But just from a raw
athletic standpoint. I think this is going to be a team that can
pressure more and play faster offensively."
At the center of a "faster" brand of KU ball is the highly touted
freshman Josh Selby. Selby is expected to run the point showcasing his
quickness with the ball and though he's cleared to practice and attend
classes he has yet to receive the go-ahead to log game-time minutes for
the crimson and blue. His eligibility remains a mystery and Self is
sticking to the no comment mantra.
"We hope to have a resolution to it sooner rather than later but i
don't know when that will be," said Self who did make Selby available
to the media today. "Certainly we understand why this is taking a
little bit of time but I do think there will be a positive conclusion
hopefully shortly, but i don't know that to be a fact."
Selby was allowed to meet the press on Tuesday but Self briefed media
members in attendance that he would field no questions involving NCAA
For right now Kansas knows success on the floor this season will be
accomplished by committee. There is a potential all-american and
budding superstar in Marcus Morris while brother Markieff appears
poised for a breakout year. Tyshawn Taylor is waiting to break out and
is hungry to erase the mistakes of last season. Thomas Robinson comes
in motivated and better. Mario Little and Travis Releford are ready to
show people what a year of getting healthy and developing can mean to a
college career. Tyrel Reed continues as this team's less heralded rock
and will compete for a starting spot. Brady Morningstar will again look
to provide deceptive defensive ability and critical shooting. Selby
certainly brings the gaudy pedigree.
Right now its time to get ready for Late Night and celebrating what
Bill Self thinks is a stable full of thoroughbreds who are ready to
again contend for another Big 12 title.
Speeding Up KU
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