What about the matchup between KU’s guards and Pacific’s?
We have a ton of confidence in Aaron (Miles) to play well against whoever he goes against.
Pacific’s going to play two point guards in (Miah) Davis and (David) Doubly. Davis is the Player of the Year in their league, he’s a tremendous, tremendous player. He’s fast. I thought he totally controlled the game yesterday against Providence, and it’ll be a big challenge for Aaron. Aaron’s gone against some good players, there’s no question, but hell be one of the very best he’s ever gone against in his time at KU.
And what makes it even more difficult is that he (Davis) is that good but nobody knows he’s that good. I’m sure the world’s finding out.
Did you prepare for both second-round opponents equally? How much did you know about Pacific or Providence before you saw the pairings?
Well, not much before I saw the pairings. Of course, I’ve known about Coach Thomason for years, and he does a great job. He’s got a reputation for being one of the best coaches around. But we really didn’t know much about (Pacific) before the pairings, but neither did I know that much about Providence, either, other than they play two-three zone. So, I spent the majority of the week working on UIC, and we split the other two games up with the assistant coaches.
Our scouting was basically done before we ever got to Kansas City by Wednesday or Thursday for this Sunday’s game. But as far as I was concerned, I’ve just been diving in the last 12 hours because I spent the majority of my time watching UIC tape. I did watch tape of both opponents last week, but not seven or eight like what we will have done by tomorrow.
Anything you can tell us about Wayne today? Is he a game-time decision? Will he practice (Saturday)?
In practice today, we won’t do much at all, but he’ll be out there. If we were going to list him, I was told to list him as “probable.” He’s sore. He couldn’t play today, but when the juices get flowing and he had time to get himself really into it, I think he’ll be able to convince himself that he can go.
Coach, talk about how the team has struggled on short rest this season.
I think the reason we struggle on short rest is health. I don’t think it’s depth as much as it’s health. I think this is a unique year because a bunch of young guys have bodies like 30, 35-year-old men right now, and we need some time to recover. I do think 48 hours is enough time, but it would be a big, big challenge to play today.
The most Wayne has (practiced) in numerous weeks is two days in a row. We know that Keith’s only going to play on days of games, so he needs a day to recuperate. Aaron’s playing so many minutes, he needs an extra day. So, I feel like that won’t be a concern but back-to-back would be tough.
Are you deep enough into the year that the lack of real practice time doesn’t matter?
Oh, it always matters. I’m a big believer in you play like you practice. This has been a unique situation where, sometimes, I hope we don’t play like we practice because we haven’t had all the parts very often.
But that’s not an excuse. We’ve played well without being together that much, so certainly we should be able to repeat that during the games, but that’s been a challenge. It’s been a challenge to the guys. You gain confidence through repetition. We haven’t had a chance to get much repetition in.
J.R. Giddens said he’s got a lot of aches and pains. Is there concern whether or not he’ll be at full strength?
We haven’t made excuses for J.R., but J.R. , when the season’s over, will probably be out of basketball for five or six weeks. He’s just doing all he can. We try to spot-practice him , but when the season’s over, he’s just going to have to shut it down awhile just like Wayne and Keith will have to shut it down for awhile. Still, it’s not an injury that he can hurt himself more by playing but it’s definitely one that’s going to take time to heal. But he’s a tough kid, and he’s grown up dreaming of this moment, so there’s no way, unless the doctors say you cannot go, that we’d keep him out of playing right now.
Is it dangerous to play against a team and players that no one knows anything about?
I think it is dangerous, if you allow it to be dangerous. I think after our guys saw some tape of them (Pacific) this morning, they saw some things that definitely got their attention. I can’t see that being a factor as far as overlooking anybody. These guys have been around enough to know that Utah State took (KU) to the last possession last year, and Pacific beat Utah State to come to the tournament, so that right there will get their attention because they thought Utah State could really play.