Self Vents After LaSalle Win

I was glad to hear that I wasn't the only guy in the Sprint Center Saturday who thought the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks played the first 10 minutes like they'd just rolled out of bed.

In fact, I was in pretty good company. Coach Bill Self wasn't too crazy about his team's energy level, either.

KU led by two, 21-19, at the under-12 media timeout and just one a few seconds later after a LaSalle free throw.

So how was your team's energy level, Coach?

"Bad."

He singled out starting guard and energy guy Elijah Johnson's lack of spark, but the freshman shouldn't take it personally. When it came to energy Saturday, Self wasn't happy with anyone.

"I thought (our energy) was average at best," he said..

The gospel according to Bill says that rebounding and what he calls "50-50 balls" – loose balls and rebounds that either team could come away with – are tests of hustle and toughness as well as the hallmarks of great college basketball teams.

KU out-rebounded LaSalle, 44-34, for the game, but LaSalle held a 22-17 advantage at the half. And those 50-50 balls? Don't get the coach started. He ripped his team on both counts.

"(LaSalle) killed us – you guys saw the same thing I did – on 50-50 balls and rebounding the first half. So, for us to be plus-10 after being dominated early is probably good."

Self continued, "I was pretty frustrated a couple of times early."

Then he paused and looked down at the table. What he said next was vintage Self. He sounded just like a fan. You wanted to buy the poor guy a beer.

"The thing about our team that drives me absolutely nuts is the fact that, we're more athletic than what we play to, and our toughness level isn't near what it should be. Whenever anybody beats you on 50-50 balls like we got beaten on and on rebounding, to me those are all toughness-type plays and we've got to get a lot tougher."

"Toughness" and "urgency"have been watchwords throughout Self's tenure in Lawrence, and Self's not seeing enough of either of them from his 9-0, #1-ranked team right now.

He said, "We play to the score too much, we play to situations, we okay to, you know, 'It's early, Coach, so we got plenty of time to make it up.'"

All this worry after a 25-point win? Well, sometimes a win or a big score can be deceiving, Self warned. He and his team are more concerned with how they play. The first 12 minutes, he said, "I didn't enjoy coaching very much."

He also gave credit where credit was due, though. "The last 28 minutes or whatever, I thought we looked like a pretty good basketball team. For Sherron (Collins) to go 1-for 12 and us to hang 90 (points) is probably a pretty positive thing."

When asked where that sense of urgency was going to come from, Self said that was his job and explained what he needed to teach his team.

"Coaches should be judged on two things: how hard their teams play and how unselfish they are. And toughness should be the third thing you throw in there," he explained. He cited the first half of Kansas' recent win over Radford as the best first half of basketball the Jayhawks have played all season, despite shooting just 37 percent.

"If we do those three things, we've done what we're supposed to do. I think it's the coaches job to instill that."

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