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Archive for Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Self, Jayhawks won’t let loss dampen holiday

December 23, 2003

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Bah, humbug?

Not quite, says Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, who wishes his 16 basketball players a very Merry Christmas as his Jayhawks enter a four-day break on the heels of a 75-61 loss Sunday to unheralded Nevada at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.

"It's good everybody gets to go home. Nothing should put a damper on Christmas," Self said. "When you really stop and think what Christmas is all about ... you can say basketball should never put a damper on that."

At the same time, Self's Jayhawks, who headed home today -- Senegal native Moulaye Niang was off to San Diego to stay with his uncle -- will have KU's worst game of the season on their minds.

"I certainly don't think anybody in our basketball program will go into the Christmas holiday thinking about too many things other than the team's state of mind and what we have to do to be better," Self said.

Self, whose Jayhawks will congregate Friday in Lawrence, said the 12th-ranked Jayhawks (6-2) needed some soul-searching and family time.

"We need to get away from each other," KU's first-year coach said. "I am not saying that negatively. We need to get away and re-group. We can correct some things. We can't correct some things overnight. It's going to have to be a long, drawn-out process. We have to approach it that you (players) trust this is how we need to play. These are your strengths and your weaknesses. We are going to play to our strengths and carry out our assignments instead of guys being out there on their own."

Self said it was uncanny how the Jayhawks, who bricked 15 of 18 three-pointers Sunday, were not working the ball inside to big men Wayne Simien, David Padgett and Jeff Graves, who combined for 23 points off 10-of-16 shooting.

"Our post players should be one of our strengths," Self said. "Our post players are going to struggle if we don't get them the ball. Every other team we play can get the ball on the wing and throw it inside. We will be able to do it. We are not able to do it yet. We practice it every day."




Simien, KU's junior power forward from Leavenworth, agrees with critics who say KU's offense at times appears anemic and unproductive.

"Definitely, I'll agree with that," Simien said. "People are out there who still don't know the plays. We are not passing the ball well. We are not making shots. There's no fluidity out there. It's little things. Coach said we are the only team in the country that can pass it to the wing and not pass it to the post. Somehow we cannot do that."

Simien said the Jayhawks would improve.

"Yes, of course," he said. "We will keep working until we get it right."

Guard Jeff Hawkins agrees, saying last year's Final Four appearance mentally affected the Jayhawks.

"I think it's a good loss," he said. "I think it will wake us up and let us know we are not as great as we think we are. There's room to improve if we hope to get close to where we were last year."

The Jayhawks, who have been working hard since practice began in mid-October, are glad to get away for the holidays.

"I feel it's good to take four days off, not be around each other and get everyone to go home, relax and think what they need to do to make the team better," Hawkins said.

"It's not necessarily good to take a break," Simien noted, "because this stuff will be on our mind. But hopefully it'll give us a chance to refocus what we need to do to be the team we can be."

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J-Hawk 'T': Hawkins explained his technical foul in Sunday's game. He was called for making contact with Todd Okeson, who put his hands on Hawkins after Hawkins tried to help up Kirk Snyder, who fell after getting fouled by Jeff Graves.

"I tried to help him up. He was stubborn and said, 'You hit me in the face,''' Hawkins said of Snyder. "I said, 'I didn't try to.' He said to get away from him. Then No. 3 (Okeson) came up and pushed me away. I said, 'Stop,' and knocked his arm off mine, and they called a 'T' on me.

"I don't want to get technicals to hurt the team."

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Clinic info: KU's holiday hoops clinic, set for Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, is for boys and girls grades 3-8. The clinic will run from 9:45 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. For more information, call KU's basketball office at 864-3056 or check kuathletics.com.

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