News, notes and quotes on No. 2 Kansas' matchup with Wake Forest on Thanksgiving Day in the Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Arena in Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, at 2:30 p.m. (CT). If KU wins, the Jayhawks will play at 8:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of USC and Villanova. If the ‘Hawks lose, KU will then play at 2:30 p.m. Friday versus the loser of USC and Villanova.
If the Jayhawks (4-0) win their first two games, they will play in the championship game on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
The Imperial Arena in the Atlantis Resort is a converted ballroom which will seat 3,900 for the games.
"I think it's great," KU coach Bill Self said about the venue. "I think part of the excitement of these tournaments, a lot of times they're playing in a little bit smaller venues like in Maui and this one. I think it's really cool. I think we'll be amazed of just how intense and how loud and what a factor the crowd can be playing in this venue."
SCOUTING WAKE FOREST
Wake Forest is 5-0 with home wins over Colgate (89-78), VMI (98-71), Presbyterian (69-48), Jacksonville (90-83) and The Citadel (82-54). The Demon Deacons average 85.6 points per game and only allow 66.8. They also outrebound opponents 49.2 to 35.8, while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three-point range. Wake Forest averages 6.2 steals, 5.2 blocks and 17.2 assists per game.
Sophomore guard Codi Miller-McIntyre leads Wake Forest in scoring at 18.6 points per game and also has a team-high 24 assists. Sophomore forward Devin Thomas is next in scoring (14.4 ppg) while leading the team in rebounding (11.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (65.1). Senior forward Travis McKie averages 12.2 points per game, while chipping in 6.2 rebounds per contest and team-best 10 blocks. The fourth player in double figures is senior guard Coron Williams (11.2 ppg), who's made a team-high 14 three-pointers.
Head coach Jeff Bzdelik is 39-50 in his fourth season at Wake and 150-165 in his 11th season overall.
Self actually said that Wake plays similar to the Jayhawks.
"Based on what they've run on tape so far in their five games, I'd say that they run some similar things as what we do, without question," Self said. "A lot of ball screens, they like to spread the floor and drive it. That's one thing we really like to do, too."
KU and Wake are tied 2-2 in the overall series. Wake Forest won the first meeting, 69-59, in the 1984 NCAA Midwest Regional in Lincoln, Neb. A decade later, KU won, 69-58, in the 1994 NCAA Southeast Sub-Regional in Lexington, Ky. The two teams then split a home-and-home series in 2000 and 2001 with Wake winning in Winston Salem, N.C., 84-53, on Dec. 7, 2000, and Kansas victorious the following season in Allen Fieldhouse (83-76).
KU is ripping the nets through four games at 56.8 percent from the field. Self said that great percentage is due in part for not shooting as many threes. KU has attempted just 26.3 percent of its shots from beyond the arc (56-213).
"You're going to shoot a better percentage," said Self about not shooting so many three-pointers, "even though it's an adjusted field goal percentage when you shoot threes. And we've gotten the ball in tighter. For the most part, this is not saying that we're great at it, but for the most part our shot selection has been good. We haven't taken that many guarded looks unless it's being challenged inside. So those are all positive things."
IMPRESSIVE TOURNAMENT FIELD
Self likes the competition in the tourney.
"The field is good," Self said Monday in Lawrence at his press conference. "Wake Forest is 5- 0, and they're much better, and of course USC and Villanova (are good). I know that USC I believe is missing maybe their leading scorer if I'm not mistaken, but Villanova is definitely a tournament team and they pounded Towson the other day. On the other side, I'm maybe going to leave somebody out; Tennessee is definitely a tournament team, Iowa is definitely a tournament team, Xavier should be a tournament team."
"I would think this is probably as competitive a field as any of the preseason tournaments would be anywhere," Self added at KU's presser in the Bahamas on Wednesday. "I think the powers that be did a good job of putting together a field that everybody will look at the end of the year will be a great RPI-type field that all teams will get something out of it."
BUSINESS TRIP IN PARADISE
Self wants his players to enjoy the Bahamas, but he insists this is a business trip.
"We had a parent email us and ask, "Hey, let us know when the kid's free time is so we can get with our kids,' and I emailed them back, and I said, ‘This is a business trip, there's no free time. You have the free time, not us,'" Self said. "We'll give them some time on Wednesday and we'll give them some time on Sunday, but other than that, well, Tuesday night when we get there, they can hang out and stuff, but we're not concerned about anything other than trying to win games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and eat good Thursday night (for Thanksgiving)."