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Archive for Sunday, October 26, 2003

ESPN analyst: Defense key for KU hoops

October 26, 2003

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Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self wore a microphone at two-a-day practices Friday so his comments could be taped for an upcoming segment of "College Game Night."

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who watched the workouts at Allen Fieldhouse, cited Self's words as wisdom.

"I've always been a huge admirer of Bill's -- just his philosophy of the game and the way he approaches teaching," Bilas, a 39-year-old former Duke player, said of Self, a 40-year-old former Oklahoma State standout.

"Really more than anything, I've admired the way his teams guard people. Bill has a manner of teaching and coaching that exudes toughness."

Bilas said Self's hard-nosed defense would be needed during the 2003-04 season, because offensive firepower could be a Jayhawk weakness.

"This team is not going to be a great shooting team, but it can do other things very well," Bilas said. "I think the one thing this team has to embrace is playing team defense. In the past, especially the past few years, Kansas had the type of team that could outscore you. Some teams outrebound you. This team could outscore you.

"I think this team will have to take more pride in keeping teams from scoring and holding them down."

KU loses a pair of high-scoring NBA lottery picks in Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, who averaged 35.8 of the Jayhawks' 82.7 points per game a year ago.

Collison scored at an 18.5 clip mostly on the inside, while Hinrich stroked 89 of 219 three-pointers (40.6). They helped KU to a 30-8 record and spot in the national-title game.

"Hinrich was the team's entire three-point attack," Bilas said. "You knew if you took away his threes, you were going to have a better chance to win, because very few guys were proficient three-point shooters."

Indeed, Hinrich's teammates converted just 94 of 327 threes for 28.7 percent.

KU returns just three players who hoisted a significant number of threes a year ago.

Junior starters Keith Langford and Aaron Miles made 22 of 76 (28.9 percent) and 24 of 98 (24.5 percent). Sixth man Michael Lee cashed 21 of 42 for 50 percent.

The Jayhawks have added three freshmen with three-point range -- freshmen Jeremy Case, Omar Wilkes and J.R. Giddens.

Case has been especially effective from the outside at practice.

"They (Jayhawks) can make them, but it's not going to be a thing where they are going to be launching up threes," Bilas said. "It's not going to be a team that is going to shoot 30 threes a game. They've got guys who can shoot it, but perimeter shooting at the start of the season is not going to be their strong point."

Bilas -- he was in town last year to watch one of Roy Williams' KU practices -- said it was interesting to watch a coach lead his new team.

"Bill is the type of guy who wants his team on edge and a little uncomfortable, and right now they (Jayhawks) are," Bilas said. "Right now they are putting everything in, so the guys are learning a new way of doing things and frankly new terminology.

"It's a feeling out process at the beginning. It's going to be a good basketball team. It's just going to take some time to get everything down."

Self has said his team was struggling with an Nov. 4 exhibition date with EA Sports approaching.

"Right now they are learning," Bilas said. "When you are learning, you are busy thinking. Basketball is a game of reacting. What's thinking now is going to be reacting in a couple weeks. This will really be a fun team to watch."

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Family's here in town: KU's players are not jealous of members of the student body who headed home for a four-day weekend during fall break.

"No, because those students are not going to get to play on TV and be part of a team and part of a family like we are," frosh J.R. Giddens said. "They get to go home and see their family. My family is here. This is my family now."

"I am doing what I like," senior Bryant Nash said. "I am doing what I love."

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