The defending NCAA champs practiced this week in preparation for their exhibition games in Canada on Aug. 30 and 31. KU plays two games on Saturday against McGill University (10 a.m. CST) at Montpetit Hall on the campus of Ottawa University and versus Carleton University (6 p.m. CST) at Scotiabank Place, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Then on Sunday, KU will face Ottawa University at Montpetit Hall at 6 p.m. (CST).
All three games will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network. The
McGill and Ottawa contests will be heard live, while the Carleton game
will air following the KU-Florida International football game
coverage Saturday night. (Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CST.) The KU-Carleton
game will also re-air at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday before the Ottawa contest.
With such a limited time to prepare, KU coach Bill Self said he just
focused with his team on offense this week, and not talked about
“In one week, you cannot get how you’re going to
guard and how you’re going to play,” Self said.
“Offense is much harder to teach than defense.
We’ve historically got guys to guard. I think every coach
will tell you that it’s easier to get guys to guard than it
is to score, so we just want to give them a base on how we’re
going to do some things offensively.”
KU’s offense is very basic right now.
“We’re running our foundation,” Self
said. “Last year we probably had 50 sets we ran in addition
to our foundation. We’re just trying not to do one of those,
and just get through our foundation. I think if they can do that,
they’ll be able to tweak it as we go.”
“It’s brain freeze time with some guys because
everything is so new,” Self added. “Even though
it’s not complicated to us, it’s foreign to
Indeed, Self has five newcomers to show the ropes. Two other freshmen
(twins Marcus and Markieff Morris) haven’t practiced this
week since KU has yet to hear from the NCAA Clearinghouse about their
eligibility status. Self has said previously he expects the twins to be
eligible. Marcus and Markieff will not be traveling with the team to
Without the Morris twins this week, Self has been playing junior
college transfer Mario Little at power forward. Little played the three
(small forward) and four spot at Chipola (Fla.) Community College.
“We’re just going to play small,” Self
said. “Quintrell (Thomas, 6-8 freshman forward) is coming
along fine, but there’s a learning curve for him. It forces
us to play Mario at the four and then we’ll play small, which
we’ll do anyway. It hasn’t totally revamped how
we’ll play, but it’s certainly looked how
we’re going to play small, at least offensively.”
Self said that the 6-5 Little is “probably more comfortable
(at the four) than he is out on the perimeter.” However, Self
added that Little is versatile enough and “a good player
(who) we can move around a lot like we did Julian (Wright).
He’s just not as tall as Julian.”
Self is trying to blend Little and the other newcomers with
KU’s returning players, which include sophomores Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Conner Teahan. Aldrich,
Reed, Morningstar and junior Sherron Collins are the only returning
scholarship players. Collins has participated in limited drills in
practice since reporting to school overweight. Although Collins has
pleased Self with his attitude and work ethic since classes began
(“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to
do”), Self said he probably won’t play in Canada
because he’s not yet in game shape.
Collins is the only returning player who averaged more than eight
minutes per game last season.
“I’ve certainly coached more experience
before,” Self said. “Cole played (8.3) minutes a
game and (Reed, Morningstar and Teahan) really haven’t played
yet. There’s not too much experience out there. We found out
(during our first practice) that we were a little spoiled by having so
many experienced guys (last season), but I think that’s part
of the fun in trying to mold these guys into a team. I do think it will
happen, but it certainly isn’t going to happen
Self, who said he’s not concerned at all about finding a
rotation or lineup in Canada, needs his returning players like Reed to
be more assertive this season.
“(Reed) needs to be one of our best shooters, without
question. He and Brady,” Self said. “(Just) become
a little bit more aggressive in the whole mindset and approach. Last
year, he probably played not to make mistakes as opposed to playing to
make plays. I think he has to become more of a playmaker. I’d
say that with Cole, Tyrel, Brady, and even Conner. They were just
position to position players trying to survive and not score. They need
to become more aggressive and realize we need them to create for
Reed, who averaged 2 points in 6.3 minutes per game last season, seems
up for the challenge.
“It was such a great group of guys last year,” Reed
said. “My playing time wasn’t as much. I
got to experience it all, it was awesome. Now I have a chance to maybe
play some more and do some more things on the court. I just want to
keep being a better basketball player.
“Last year was last year. We got to start all over.”
KU will “start all over” in Canada as a warm-up
before fall practices begin with Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 17.
Reed and the Jayhawks can’t wait for the exhibition games.
“It’s going to be a good opportunity for some of
the young guys, me included,” Reed said.
“It’s going to be a good experience for us to get
some playing time. It doesn’t count against our regular
season. It’s going to be fun.”
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