Selfish Play Costs Kansas

Bill Self didn't have the best feeling heading into Lubbock, Texas last Saturday for KU's showdown vs. Texas Tech.  Despite winning 10 straight games and holding a top five national ranking, Self wasn't particularly pleased with how his Jayhawks looked in their last two victories over Missouri and Iowa State.

So, when Texas Tech knocked off Kansas (69-64), well, Self was hardly shocked.        

“We could kind of see this coming,” the KU coach said afterwards.  “We played a similar style at Iowa State and similar against Missouri, and it certainly caught up with us today.”        

Self bemoaned his team’s “selfish” play the first 35 minutes before they “really played as a team” the last five minutes when rallying back in desperation (Kansas went on a 13-1 run and tied the game at 62-all).  KU also didn’t help its cause by missing 11 layups and shooting just 45.2 percent from the field.  Meanwhile, the Red Raiders shot an impressive 49.0 percent and made 15 of 20 free throws compared to just two of four charities by Kansas.

The KU coach talked more about the game at his press conference on Monday.        

“We just didn't play very well,” Self said.  “I thought Texas Tech played very well. We shot the ball poorly, especially in tight. We had no patience offensively and wasted possessions, but that happens when you play on the road when you look across America.  For us to be an elite team, we have to be able to handle that and understand what it takes to win on the road.  We counted that we wasted 22 possessions where we did not do what we were supposed to do. That is certainly something we can learn from."        

Self said his team played too fast and hurried shots early in the shot clock while running the half-court offense.  He hopes his players can learn more about the importance of feeding the post and getting the big guys involved.        

“We know the strength of our team is inside,” Self said.  “Yet we did not get Sasha Kaun (six points and four blocks), who leads the Big 12 in field-goal percentage, a touch until three minutes left in the first half. That is ridiculous.  In my opinion, that is us not taking advantage of what is an advantage for us. We have to understand what our strengths are and take advantage of them.  I think that's why we wasted so many possessions against Texas Tech."

No. 8 Kansas (16-3, 3-1 in Big 12) will now try to get back on track and start another big winning streak at Baylor (11-7, 1-4) Wednesday night at 7 p.m.  The Bears have lost four of their last five games, including getting blown out by Oklahoma (91-51) last Saturday.  However, Baylor did beat Texas Tech (73-70) on Jan. 13 and has already won the most games this season in coach Scott Drew’s four years in Waco, Texas.

“They are dangerous,” Self said.  “I don't know if what happened to them the other night (losing big to OU) makes them more dangerous, but they have six guys that go out and score 20 on any night and they have balance just like us.”

Baylor has four players averaging in double figures, led by sophomore forward Kevin Rogers (12.4 ppg).  The Bears also love the long ball, averaging 8.1 three-point field goals per game.  Junior guard Aaron Bruce tops the team with 36 three-pointers this season.

Self, for one, thinks this Baylor team is on the rise in the Big 12.

"They are a player in the recruiting game,” Self said.  “I would say that other schools in our league are aware of that. They are getting guys from the Big 12 region and some others from the Louisiana region who are serious difference makers.  They are making a dent in this region. That is a serious compliment to their staff because of what happened four years ago (NCAA probation for major rules violations in the aftermath of Baylor player Carlton Dotson murdering teammate Patrick Dennehy). To be back to the point where they are competing for the high quality athletes that they are, it is only a matter of time before they start getting those guys consistently.”

One guy Baylor didn’t get is KU freshman forward Darrell Arthur.  Drew recruited Arthur very hard and the coaching staff thought they had a great chance to land him before the McDonald’s All-American committed to Kansas last May.

“Baylor did a good job recruiting him,” said Self, “so I know from Darrell's standpoint, I can't imagine there being any feelings about Baylor but positive. And from Baylor's standpoint, he gave them every consideration.”

Watch for Arthur to get a not-so-nice reception from the Ferrell Center faithful for leaving the Lone Star State to play at Kansas.  Of course, Arthur hopes his Jayhawks have the last laugh and begin a new winning streak.  After all, it was almost exactly a year ago on Jan. 21, 2006 when KU whipped Nebraska 96-54 and started a 10-game winning streak, finishing the season winning 15 of its last 17 games.

Can Kansas recreate that magic and get hot again?  It all starts at Baylor in Waco.  Self surely knows the Bears won’t be easy to beat. 

“They shoot the three very well and their guards are very quick, so they are a dangerous team,” he said.  “They have been close in a lot of games. They were close at Oklahoma State, at Kansas State and against A&M.  Really, Oklahoma is the only team that has handled them in league play."

Just like Kansas hopes to do Wednesday night and notch its 17th victory.


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