49ers no small-time foe
Kansas head coach Bill Self doesn't believe his team is looking past Tuesday night's opponent – Long Beach State University – to Saturday's highly-anticipated match-up with Ohio State, despite the lack of an illustrious name on the front of the jersey.
At least they'd better not be, he said.
"We look ahead to Saturday, then we'll go in to Saturday with three losses," Self said Monday. "This team will probably be the second-best team that we play at home, non-conference, without question. And certainly capable of giving us lots of problems."
The 49ers are currently ranked 12th in the RPI with the No. 7 strength of schedule in the country. They've played a pair of high-profile opponents to date - with a victory over Pittsburgh and a loss to Louisville under their belt - and the schedule only gets tougher from here.
Self is well aware of how dangerous LBSU can be, with its fantastic team-speed and up-tempo style of play. Senior guard Casper Ware is the engine within the machine, averaging 36 minutes, 17 points and 4.5 assists per game.
"They're so fast," Self said. "I mean, so fast. Casper Ware is as good with the ball as any guard in the country. He can really go make a play."
Following Saturday's sluggish victory over South Florida, Self indicated a few team members were dealing with a minor illness.
Fortunately, it appears as if "the crud" is now gone.
"You know, I haven't talked to any of their mothers are any of the medical professionals today about that," he said, smiling. "So I think they're fine."
Self pleased with Withey
It's fair to say junior center Jeff Withey has been inconsistent this season, seven games in to his tenure as a full-time starter with the Jayhawks.
In 21 minutes, the 7-footer is averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, in addition to two blocks. However, he's shown up in big moments when the spotlight has been the brightest, Self said, such as during contests with Duke and UCLA in Maui and Kentucky at Madison Square Garden.
Withey isn't blocking as many shots as Self expected, but he's right on track as far as the Kansas chief is concerned.
"Jeff's doing fine," he said. "He's been pretty efficient on the offensive end and his presence is known defensively, but I still think he can be more of a presence than what he has."
As anyone who has spoken with him can attest, Withey comes across as an extremely laid-back individual. He frequently cites his aggression as an area in which he needs to continue to work, and Self agreed it might not be a bad thing.
"I think a mean streak would help, no question," he said. "But he's a nice kid. He's a nice kid. But Thomas (Robinson) is a nice kid, too, and he can go after the ball pretty good."
It's been a rough couple of games for junior guard Elijah Johnson. After a stellar showing during the EA Sports Maui Invitational, since returning home to Allen Fieldhouse he has scored a combined five points on 2-of-13 shooting from the floor - including 1-of-11 from beyond the arc - to go with seven turnovers.
Self's message to him? Keeping gunning away, because slumps happen all the time.
"That's where he's at right now," Self said. "It looks good, he says it feels good. He needs to keep shooting. I'm not as worried about his shot, I'm worried about his shot affecting his other play and losing aggressiveness in other areas."
"He's been on fire (in practice)," he added. "He's been on fire shooting the ball. It's unbelievable. He's been knocking it down. And he's been doing that for a while, it just hasn't translated to the games."