Think Fast

If you were to take a peek into the Kansas practices this week, there may not have been much to see. Rest and recovery took precedence over intense practices due to ongoing injuries to several Jayhawks, including three of the starters. <p> Although practices may be light, the Jayhawks are not taking the upcoming match up with UAB or the "fastest 40 minutes in basketball" lightly.

Coach Bill Self stated he was preparing and focusing on breaking the press. At some times Self may try 7-8 players instead of the traditional five, in an attempt to simulate the speed of UAB and practice attacking the pressure.

"They pressure and they will trap the ball. Anytime when there is a cross that involves the ball they will sometimes take four guys defensively in the backcourt -- just trying to create a sense of panic. You just try to survive as opposed to attacking them," said Self.

"What we have to do is break that initial rush and if you break that initial rush you can have numbers behind it."

UAB Coach Mike Anderson dubbed it the fastest 40 minutes, but Self agrees with this self assessment.

"Fast doesn't mean they shoot it fast. There are some possessions where they will use the entire shot clock. On defense they go 100 mph at all times. I don't think anyone in America plays faster than them at both ends," said Self.

"We are going to try and play the way we play," said Self. "The thing we do best is run, so we are not going to take away from what we do."

UAB has its own worries about the mach up

"They are experienced," said Anderson. "They have been to the final four the last two years and have guys that have been there. They know the ropes and the arena, just the things you gotta do to prepare."

"Their size is a huge advantage for them. They can bang and everyone knows that is one of our weaknesses. It is going to be a tough task for us and a big challenge, as was Kentucky."

"Not only that, I think they have a tremendous team," continued Anderson. "The transition period is over with and now is the time you want your team to be playing good basketball."

And both teams are playing good basketball. Kansas has the experience. UAB has the depth. Kansas has size. UAB has the frantic pace. Both have their eye on a national title. Both are considered long shots, though Kansas is not quite as inconceivable.

"We are different than UAB -- like apples and oranges. We are a conventional team. They may play four guards around one big guy. They may play three big guys with two guards -- their parts are interchangeable. They may switch ball screens where their four or five man guards against Aaron," explained Self.

"The way they play is they execute their defense so they make sure they have the most pressure on you at all times," continued Self. "I really don't know how we match up against somebody like that because we haven't really played against anybody like that all year long."

"The thing UAB does the best is create pace and force you to play at a speed maybe a little bit faster than you want to. That doesn't mean taking away running -- it just means you get hurried. When you catch the ball in the post you feel like you have to hurry up and get a shot off before you get trapped. We have to exercise patience but attack every opportunity we get."

Patience is something Bill Self has preached all season, along with the infamous and intangible "mental toughness" he wanted his team to discover. The last few weeks have shown the Jayhawks are closer to that than every before. Is UAB mentally tough?

"I think so! I guess we will find out," said Anderson.

"Especially with out style of play, you have to have some toughness. At time we have shown it and at times we have not. If I was in a fight…I like this basketball team, let me put it that way," laughed Anderson.


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