Sports Illustrated has nicknamed Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams the "X-Man" for his chalk talks -- his 'X' and 'O' work -- on defense.
Not surprisingly, the "X-man" talked about execution heading into tonight's exhibition against Australia's Victorian All-Stars. Tip is 7:05 p.m., at Allen Fieldhouse. It'll be shown live on channel 13.
"Really, it's very simple. We want to have better execution in every phase of our game. We've got to do a better job offensively of moving the ball sharper, setting better screens. On the defensive end, we have to control their offensive play better than we controlled the offense of the Converse All-Stars. We didn't dictate by our defense as much as I wanted to dictate in that game."
KU thumped Converse, 102-69, on Nov. 10 at Allen. Tonight marks the Jayhawks' final exhibition. The Jayhawks open for real against No. 10 Utah at 3 p.m., Saturday at KC's Kemper Arena.
Are the Jayhawks ready to tip it up for real?
"I don't think any coach knows that," Williams said. "You don't know until you get started in competition. I know one thing. We are nowhere near where I want us to be. I want us to be in February form. That's not going to happen right now.
"Am I disappointed (with preseason)? Not greatly. Am I satisfied? No. I still think there's a lot more we need to do and can do."
The Australians, led by 6-4 guard Simon Kerle, who had 27 and 26 points respectively in losses to Vanderbilt and Tennessee State, lost to Tennessee-Martin, 88-81, in overtime on Saturday night.
The team has also lost to Tennessee State, McNeese State and LSU and defeated Alabama-Birmingham.
"They are pro players from a mixture of teams," Williams said, not knowing if tonight's foe is more talented than the Converse stars.
"I don't have a clue," he said. "The Converse All-Stars won their last four games."
Whatever..."It helps to play before the public because of what I call game-slippage," Williams said. "It's different from practice because of the simple fact there are more people in the stands."
Tickets on sale: Some tickets are available for tonight's game and are on sale at KU's ticket office. Also tonight, KU will be selling tickets for "The Classic," a doubleheader set for Saturday at KC's Kemper Arena. Memphis and Purdue will tangle at 12:30 p.m., with KU and Utah will meet at 3.
KU is ranked second in the AP preseason poll; Utah 10th. The Utes are led by 6-9 All-America candidate Keith Van Horn and 6-5 Brandon Jessie.
"Everybody says 'Virginia and UCLA,'" Williams bristled, referring to KU's early-season schedule. "People are thinking Utah will not be that difficult a game. People do not know much about Utah.
"I guarantee you right now, Utah has two No. 1 draft choices, without any hesitation, in Brandon Jessie and Keith Van Horn.
"Last year we played UMass (in Wooden Classic). This team we play Saturday is as talented as UMass."
As of last Tuesday, 9,700 seats had been sold for "The Classic." Kemper Arena seats 15,900.
Last week, Williams said KU might "get killed" by the Utes. "I meant it," Williams said. "Utah is ranked 10th in the country and does not get the benefit (from pollsters) the Eastern teams are going to get. Still they're No. 10. That means people think they are going to be doggone good. I believe people around here have no idea, seriously no idea, how good they are."
- For a halftime update and the final score, call Access, 865-5000, category 6000.