No time is it more apparent than after a loss. Bill Self has the uncanny ability to turn an "L" into a learning experience and never seems to let his teams turn one loss into two.
In fact, it's such a rarity that the Jayhawks drop two in a row that
senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has NEVER been on the losing side of things
for two games straight and you have to look all the way back to the
2005-2006 Jayhawks to find the last time there was a two-game losing
streak for Self.
"I don't think we like the feeling of losing," said Taylor who leads
the team in scoring in Big 12 play averaging 19.0 ppg. "We always come
in with a good attitude and we try to get better and learn from our
mistakes that we made in the previous game."
"I think our team is pretty tough," Self said. "To be honest, I'm glad
we're not playing tonight because that to me would be a quick
turnaround after driving all night and getting back at three the next
day. I'm glad we're playing Wednesday instead of Monday, but I think
our guys will bounce back."
"It's just a feeling of not wanting to lose again," said Thomas Robinson who scored 29 points Saturday vs. Missouri and pulled down 13
rebounds. "You still have that bad taste from the last game, so
going into the game after that you want to get that taste out of your
"I'm not used to losing and I don't like how it feels," said Taylor. "I
don't even know how to handle it sometimes. I don't know what I'm
supposed to do, how I'm supposed to act. I'm not used to it and I don't
like it. I'm sure my teammates feel the same way."
If KU is to avoid further losses there are still lessons that must be
learned from Saturday's loss at Missouri. The Jayhawks left Columbia
disappointed. After earning an 8-point lead with three minutes to go
Kansas let it slip away and was outscored 11-0 the rest of the way. But
the vibes are more positive than negative for this Jayhawk squad.
"We left Missouri with three things; (Missouri) is really good, we need
to be able to close out games and we are really good," Self told
reporters at his weekly news conference. "Those are things that are
different from when we played Davidson in Kansas City; I had some
different thoughts leaving that game."
"If anything, I'm leaving Columbia thinking that we have a chance
to have a really good team. It's a totally different feel than when we
played Davidson. I see a lot of positives leaving Missouri. I didn't
see any positives leaving Kansas City versus Davidson."
There are a couple of things Kansas does need to fine tune quickly.
Baylor is talented and will be looking for payback after KU handed the
Bears their first loss of the season a few weeks ago.
"We made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized on our unforced
turnovers and unforced errors, period," assessed Taylor. "We have to
clean it up a little bit because those mistakes are easily fixable.
Now, we just have to fix them."
"We didn't close the game out and we didn't guard. Maybe the whistle
did not go our way but we still have to guard," said Robinson
referencing the charging calls late. "The referee didn't make those
shots go in for Marcus Denmon. That is what it came down to, because we
didn't guard out there."
As KU has hit its stride of late the maturation and blooming confidence
of Jeff Withey has been a big part of the equation. Withey's presence
on the interior has been a factor on both ends of the floor and it has
alleviated the ability of teams to double and triple team Robinson. On
Saturday, most of which 6-5 Kim English guarded him, Withey took just
one shot and scored no points. Missouri took away interior passes in
the first half and in the second half KU had more success operating
with Thomas Robinson alone in the post. In order to be a top tier
team Kansas still needs Withey's contributions.
"I think that I can help out offensively. Not scoring any points and
being out on the floor for 20 minutes is not very good for me. If I can
be more of a threat that helps out everybody on the floor," said
Withey. "I definitely want to be able to score, that way it relieves
pressure on the other guys."
"I'm going to tell him that we need him to be a factor after I show him
the tape of the first game against Baylor," Self answered when asked
what he would tell Withey before this game. "I always think big guys
who are really big play better against other big guys. I've never
thought big guys play well against little guys, and you see that all
the time in high school basketball. I think Jeff will play better
playing against another tall guy."
"It was difficult," said Withey of playing Missouri on Saturday night.
"I felt like I was up-screening and helping Thomas get some looks. I
feel like the game plan worked pretty well. We were up when we needed
to be and then something just happened. I try helping out the team
anyway I can whether that be screening, rebounding or blocking shots."
While Kansas will be looking for Withey more you can be sure that one
thing won't change. Self still knows that in a critical situation down
the stretch he still wants the ball in Tyshawn's hands. Taylor missed a
couple of critical free throws, had a charge, and another turnover down
the stretch vs. Missouri.
"That kid played great, he really played great," Self said about his
senior guard. "If I had to do it all over again, I would have him on
the free throw line more than anyone else on our team. He likes that
moment more than anybody else. I don't have anything remotely negative
to say about him, he lost the ball once and he charged once and I know
he wishes he could have that back."
Taylor has scored 15 or more in his last eight games and scored 28 the
first outing against Baylor.
Kansas hasn't lost two in a row but going to Waco after losing two out
of three is not easy. Kansas needs to answer against Baylor to remain
in reach of the top spot in the Big 12 standings.
"I know our schedule is tough," Taylor continued. "We're going to keep
trucking and getting better. It was a tough loss Saturday, but it isn't
the end of our season. It's not even the end of the Big 12 race. We
have a good team that will continue to get better and I think we are
getting better. We just need to tune some things up and we'll be fine."
"We know that in order to win the Big 12 you have to win road games and
this one is going to be really tough against a really good Baylor
team," said Withey.
"We just have to be aggressive, come out stronger and finish stronger,"
Kansas has perspective, a game plan, and stellar preparation. Self will
once again have his team ready to go into a hostile environment and
give all it can handle as KU once again looks to provide a quality
bounce back win.
It's All Perspective
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