It may only be November, but the week ahead is an important one for Kansas basketball. After being humiliated by Kentucky last week in Indianapolis, the Jayhawks are in need of some work, but more accurately, they are just in need of some basketball.
Beginning with a Monday night affair against Rider, Kansas will begin a week that will see them head to Orlando to compete in the Orlando Classic over Thanksgiving weekend against really good competition, but the to head coach Bill Self, the idea is more basic.
“It's a long season, too long of a season to put too much stock in a game that obviously was an opportunity for us to look better than we did,” Self said of the Kentucky game. “Let's tell it like it is, we weren't ready to play that game. That was a much more experienced, bigger, longer team that had had many more practices than us because of their trip.”
“And that's not an excuse. Then, on top of that, we lay an egg. So, I don't think that was great game for us other than the fact it exposed us, and now hopefully we can get better.”
The team even turned to an old fashioned 6 a.m. practice to get some work done in advance of the week ahead in the wake of the loss to the Wildcats. Self hopes improvement will be everywhere across the board as really no one looked good in last week’s loss.
One thing working in Kansas’ favor will be the amount of basketball played over the week. Despite the magnitude of the Kentucky defeat, it can’t be overlooked that the game was just the second game of the season. When the week is over, Kansas will have played six games and four in a week, combined with the trip to a good tournament in Orlando. All of which presents a great opportunity to improve greatly.
“I think the Classic will be hard,” Self said of the tournament. “There are good teams in the field and we certainly need to get off to a good start in playing Rider. We'll look forward to going down to Orlando just like we did Atlantis last year. I'm hopeful that we leave Orlando a heck of a lot better than we left Atlantis last year, because we left out of Atlantis a bad team. We weren't very god when we left there.”
The Jayhawks will face perhaps a tougher field than they did at last year’s Battle For Atlantis. A first place finish in the tournament would be a major accomplishment that could catapult Kansas to greater success and no doubt get them ready to host Florida at the end of the following week.
“The field is good. We get a chance to play Rider, and then obviously Rhode Island. They're good,” Self said. “They'll give us everything we want and more. Then, Tennessee or Santa Clara. Then on the other side, you've got good teams, highlighted by Michigan State. But, with Marquette and Georgia Tech, it'll be a very competitive field, a very good field.”