Let’s make this as simple as we can.
Sometimes events occur that stick in a coach’s
craw…not just for hours but even for days.
On Wednesday when Phog.net spoke to KU head coach Bill Self, he was
still lamenting the lack of rebounding in the second half in Austin. On
Thursday, when Self met the media at his weekly press conference, you
could tell his team’s performance was still touching a nerve
with the fifth year coach.
Make no mistake about it - Self is over KU’s loss on Monday
at Texas. But he may not be over the uncharacteristic lack of toughness
displayed by his team.
Self was all business Thursday when he stepped to the podium for his
weekly news conference and attempted to set the record straight with
“I’m not ready to say the sky is falling because we
lost to a top11 team on the road by a possession but I do think that if
we’d done some things differently our chances for a different
outcome would’ve been much better.”
More specifically the difference-maker, according to Self,
could’ve been the defensive glass, an area that KU dominated
in half one (+10), and was severely outplayed in during half two (-11).
Self wasn’t just referring to his big men when he spoke about
the drastic turnaround on the glass – when asked about the
impact the guards had on the lack of board work, Self answered,
“The thing that disappointed me most about the game, win or
lose, was that we didn’t compete hard on the glass in the
second half after rebounding about as well as we have all year the
first half,” Self said candidly.
“The second half, for whatever reason, we didn't hit anybody
on a block out, we didn't attack the ball at its peak and we did not
make tough plays. That is the thing that is most frustrating to me
because that should be something that you should be able to pencil in
As a result, the Jayhawks spent a majority of practice on Tuesday
attempting to “right the ship”. Self felt it
wasn’t quite necessary to bring out the pads for practice but
he certainly stressed toughness. And yes, according to the man
who’s won over 300 games in his career, toughness can be
“You can do it by just demanding every single possession
certain things. Flinching when you go after balls is not tough. You go
set a screen the guy hits you and he displaces you - that’s
not tough. A guy hits you on a block out and he displaces you
– that’s not tough. There are a lot of things that
go into being tough,” Self stated. “Those are
“It’s not just physical, it’s mental,
it’s a combination of a lot of things. You have to try to
coach it because if you don’t have it, you’re not
going to go anywhere. And some people have it but I’ve never
coached a guy that couldn’t get tougher.”
When the “toughness” line of questioning continued,
Self became animated and backed up his team saying that KU had plenty
to work on but sounding any alarms was a bit premature. This Kansas
Jayhawk team had one poor half on the glass, and they are far from
“soft” according to their head coach.
“Who on our team is not tough?” Self asked.
“That should be the question because everybody on our team is
tough. We didn’t play tough one night. You cannot tell me
that over time we do not have tough guys - as tough as
Self was also emphatic about letting reporters know that KU has plenty
to work on, but there is no reason for alarm.
“It’s not broken we just kind of went through a
lull there and hopefully we’re working our way out of
it,” Self said. “But it’s not something
I’m going to make a huge deal out of. I will make a huge deal
out of us not playing tough but not the fact that we lost.”
One reporter, who clearly knows that toughness is a point of emphasis
with any Bill Self coached team, tiptoed around the topic by asking him
a question referencing “the ‘T’
word”, but Self assured the room that this would not be
something he dwells on because as a whole, his team has graded well
this year in the area of toughness.
“Our guys will be motivated and use this as motivation but
its’ not something that I’m going to hang onto.
I’ve gotta let it go. I dealt with it on Tuesday.
It’s over and now we move on.”
Kansas is moving on against a Colorado team that presents a difficult
matchup on the perimeter but doesn’t exactly provide the
sternest test in the rebounding department. Kansas is the
conference’s best rebounding team, while Colorado ranks dead
The Jayhawks will play the Buffaloes on Saturday and then have the next
seven days off. For Self, the timing is perfect. It gives Kansas a
chance to practice and work out any kinks, and it also gives the team
the chance to gear up and ready themselves for a critical stretch run.
“We’ve got six games left - three good ones at home
and then three very difficult road games,” said Self
referring to road contests at Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Texas
A&M. “Anything can happen. If you’re going
to make a strong push to win the league now would be the time that you
really start playing your best ball.”
The "T" Word
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