KU coach Bill Self: 'I can paint a pretty bleak picture sometimes; we're still 8-3'

Kansas head coach Bill Self congratulates his players and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 92-86 win over Texas don Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self congratulates his players and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 92-86 win over Texas don Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Most years, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self is peppered with questions on a weekly basis about weaknesses, low points or obstacles to the Jayhawks being the supreme college basketball program in all the land.

And most years, it's Self's high demands and stringent coach's perspective on every detail of his team's performance that leads the questions that direction.

Throw in the fact that the Jayhawks have lost three games at Allen Fieldhouse already this season and are playing with a paper-thin bench and a group of players who, though talented, have not yet fully clicked for any kind of period of time, and it's easy to see how Self could, would and perhaps even should be hypercritical of everything involving his team right now.

But that was not the way things went down on Thursday afternoon, at his regularly scheduled news conference, where, between fielding questions about KU's progress and the individual strengths and weaknesses of nearly every player in KU's rotation, Self hit the pause button.

“I think we've had some guys individually get better,” Self began, when asked if the opportunity to play a team for the second time in a season — a la Baylor on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Waco, Texas — offered an opportunity to better assess progress. “Being a descendent of Tony Robbins, always being so positive all the time, I can paint a pretty bleak picture sometimes, (but) we're still 8-3.”

That's 8-3 in the Big 12. 19-5 overall. Both are records most coaches and programs would do anything for, and, at Kansas and with Self, those records spark a much different response.

“I had a text yesterday or this morning from one of my ex-players at Oklahoma State,” Self recalled. “He said, 'Coach, I know you're having a rough, rough season, but hang in there.' That is the mindset so much, in large part maybe because I help paint that in some ways. I'm not saying I'm happy by any stretch. I would just think that the tougher teams, the teams that can execute out of timeouts, the teams that understand the importance of getting two or three stops in a row at game point, those are the teams that will have a chance to finish strong and win the league.”

With seven games still to play — four on the road and three at home — Kansas has positioned itself to have that kind of finish.

Tied with Texas Tech for first place in the Big 12, the combined record of KU's final seven opponents is: 109-57 overall and 37-40 in Big 12 play compared to 114-53 and 39-38 for Texas Tech.

The two play each other again on Feb. 24 in Lubbock, Texas.

Who knows what will happen between now and then, or in the two conference games that remain after that one's over. Either way, record differential or not, it doesn't figure to be easy for either squad and likely will come down to the same thing that so many Big 12 games this season already have — stars and subs alike rising to the big moment.

“TCU, the first time we played them, our stuff worked, their stuff worked,” Self said. “The second time we played them, our stuff didn't work, their stuff didn't work. I think you probably have that in the NFL, the second time you play a team within your division. I think you'd have that wherever. In all honesty, the way you win more times than not (during) the second half (of the Big 12 schedule) is (with) guys making individual plays rather than scoring off your plays.”

Comments

Kent Richardson

I find myself wanting to have the Mitch experiment lead to more possessions and an energized Vick having to fight off Garrett for more playing time.

Vick has the purest three stoke over DeVonte and Svi, which is saying something. He has lost confidence and is passing up open shots. This along with teams assigning a constant big guard or small forward has hurt Svi by not having to guard Vick as closely. If Garrett gets his confidence, and he has an excuse that Lagerald doesn't have because of mucho less floor time, and bombs successfully then he doesn't hurt Svi's offense either. Right now we are not taking advantage of these open shots when we play the four guard. And Vick is getting a lot of playing time he hasn't made productive use of.

What will a successful Mitch/Udoka scenario mean to Svi? Right now we are playing 4 on 4 it seems like. If Mitch and Udoka can get a game of drawing a double team and we know Udoka can pass then dump to Mitch or out to Svi for III?

Malik hitting shots game in and game out is also another way for us to be hard to guard.

Will we ever get it really rolling? If our two bigs can get boards and outlet passes started and then maybe just maybe.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Tony Bandle

Er, uh....sometimes??!!! :)

3 months, 1 week ago

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Chad Smith

We've been in this position before. We have the right coach to lead us to another conference title. Steady down the stretch. BEAT THE BEARS!

3 months, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

And hope that KSU trips up T-Tech.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Correct, Chad and Bryce. That would be a marvelous combination.

3 months, 1 week ago

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Kit Duncan

The key is, will this team buy in to Self's usual demand that they put defense ahead of offense? This team has proven they can score, and several games have been won only because they scored more than their opponent. But, the losses have come when the other team got ahead and stayed ahead, no matter what KU did. The come-from-behind (FAR behind on a couple) wins have happened when the team actually made defensive stops. The best Kansas teams under Self have been terrific on defense. This year's team has a long way to go to prove it can defend on a consistent basis.

For us the fans, we must remember that KU nearly always gets the opposing team's best effort. That means KU must bring their A game every time. 3 losses in the Big XII is not bad, considering they are tied for the lead with T-Tech. Kansas is still in the driver's seat. If they win out (a BIG if), they win the conference outright, since T-Tech is tied with KU and the two play again later this month. I believe they will do it.

RCJH!

3 months, 1 week ago

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