Speaking prior to Tuesday night’s game with Kent State, Self talked about things he likes, but mostly talked about simply energy, that one thing missing that could be just the tonic needed to get the Jayhawks playing the kind of basketball that many envisioned when the season began. In reality, it’s pretty simple.
“Basketball is a very uncomplicated game from this standpoint,” Self said. “So I like football. You can throw a screen pass to a running back, and if he's slow, you're going to gain three yards; if he's a jet he can make people miss and go the distance. That's what it is.”
Kansas has had some good wins, including nice wins over Florida, Michigan State and Utah, but in most of those games, the Jayhawks struggled at times. Against the Gators, they overcame a 20-point deficit, aided by the raucous Allen Fieldhouse crowd and against the Utes, they led 21 in the first half before losing the lead in the second half and having to claw back just to win.
But in their two losses, they have looked bad, falling behind 10 at halftime against Kentucky before the bottom fell out in the second half. Then, there was last week at Temple, where Kansas looked disinterested and were thoroughly beaten by 25.
Despite the way they lost both games, Self believes energy can get them going more than most tactical fixes. With that, they’d be ready to compete for an 11th consecutive Big 12 conference.
“I don't know, what are we, No. 2 in the RPI? We are No. 2 in the RPI, and we played a great schedule. So it's not like it's totally busted, but the last game was broke without question, and I think that it isn't as much what we do as having the passion and the energy,” Self said.
“(new Michigan coach) Jim Harbaugh spoke to our team last year and he gave a great statement, and I'm sure every football coach does this: Energy always finds the ball. Energy finds the ball.”
Starting with the Kent State game and continuing with Sunday’s game with UNLV, the Jayhawks will have a chance to correct it and it’s something their coach believes is vital for his team going forward, otherwise nothing else may matter.
“So, it doesn't make any difference how you guard a ball screen or the angle you set a screen or this, this and that,” Self said. “That's all important after you play with great energy and passion. Until you do that, it doesn't matter. You've got to do those things in order to give yourself a chance, and that's why teams cannot be a great team and that's why teams can play poorly and still win, because they are turned up all the time. Because energy finds a way to cover up mistakes.”