The coaching staff will log countless hours on the road. The players will hit the weights and spend countless hours in the gym trying to improve their individual skills. Definitely not the glamorous parts of the job, that's saved for non-conference matchups on national television against the likes of Kentucky, but it's the most crucial time of the season for a program such as Kansas.
First, recruiting where there should be plenty of action this summer for the Jayhawks.
Kansas Head Coach Bill Self likes to get an early jump on his recruiting targets. It's no coincidence that early commits are commonplace in a Self-led regime. It's been a staple at every coaching stop of his career and don't expect that to change anytime soon. It has allowed the staff to get a head start on junior recruiting and freed up time at the end of the year to deal with surprise departures.
The recruiting formula goes like this…If the staff is certain about a player, an offer is made – simple but true. “Certain” means the prep star is unlikely to waffle or change his mind later and that there are no lingering doubts about the prospect’s ability.
Something for Kansas fans to keep in mind -- frequently the number of scholarships offered is greater then the number of spots available. For example, if a coach finds 3 players comparable in skill level, he'll offer all 3, knowing that the first to take the bait will have his scholarship. This really pushes an interested recruit to investigate the school sooner rather than later. Suddenly, they realize a delay could cost them a spot on next season’s roster.
Kansas employs this procedure but chooses to be candid with each recruit. Every recruit is well-aware of where he stands and who else is on the priority list -- probably another reason early commits tend to swing in Self’s favor. Any recruit considering any program would be foolish to think that he's the one and only vying for that spot.
With Louisiana’s Dwight Lewis already committed, you can expect Kansas to look to the middle. More specifically, the Jayhawks are in the market for a tall, versatile skill player. This is priority number one. Self loves a skilled big man that can wreck havoc with matchups and the class of 2006 has several players who fit the bill.
How important are summer workout sessions? According to Coach Self, “a summer is wasted without individual improvement.”
The Jayhawks ran into this buzz saw last season when J.R. Giddens, Wayne Simien and Keith Langford all spent some time healing injuries. Now Giddens is again out of action for awhile while he continues to nurse a stab wound in his lower leg; probably not the start to the summer Self was looking for.
Offseason development is an area where you and I might learn just as much as the coaching staff! Coaches are not allowed to watch pick up games or impact any kind of player workouts.
That leaves it up to each individual player because every coach in America, if they’re following the rules, is flying blind in this category. According to Self, the principal component in summer improvement is having upperclassmen who understand what needs to be done. This is even more essential now with so many young and inexperienced faces in Lawrence.