Archive for Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Self defends KU’s slate

Despite home games, Jayhawks’ schedule 5th-toughest

December 28, 2004


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self certainly sees no need to apologize for the Jayhawks' nonconference schedule.

The slate, which has included games against 2004 NCAA Tournament teams Vermont, Saint Joseph's, Nevada, Pacific, South Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette, has been ranked No. 5 in the country in degree of difficulty by at least one ratings service.

"I get such a kick out of people saying, 'Well, I wish you would play somebody.' Our strength of schedule as of today is fifth toughest in America," Self said Monday during his Hawk Talk radio show. "It hasn't been the fifth-toughest schedule, but all the teams we played are real good teams in their respective leagues with a chance to win their leagues.

"Some people may play a really highly-rated team, then follow that with six that would be blowout-type teams. I don't think we'll have any worries about our strength of schedule going into the postseason as long as we keep winning 'em," Self added.

His No. 2-ranked Jayhawks will play host to No. 9 Georgia Tech at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse with games at No. 8 Kentucky and unranked Villanova set for Jan. 9 and Jan. 22 respectively.

Ken Pomeroy's 2005 Ratings Percentage Index calculations, which have the Jayhawks playing three teams in the top 50 and seven in the top 100 so far, ranked KU's schedule No. 5 behind Temple, Arizona, Illinois-Chicago and Wake Forest.

Over the holiday, ESPN's Dick Vitale took a lighthearted jab at KU's slate, which has included all home games.

In his Christmas-wish column on, he wrote: "For Jim Boeheim of Syracuse and Bill Self of Kansas, Santa, please give them a map of our beautiful country. Help them to understand there is more to life than Syracuse, N.Y., and Lawrence, Kan. They can leave their respective states before January and enjoy some sunshine in California or Arizona before league play begins!"

KU is ranked No. 1 overall in Vitale's top 25 with Illinois second, North Carolina third and Oklahoma State fourth.

"I had a smart alec buddy of mine call when we were in Kansas City (for the game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee) who said, 'Bill, I know you are real busy in your first road swing of the season. If you get a chance call me back,''' Self said with a laugh.

"It was not a road game but it was a different routine. Even though that's a minor thing, at least when we play our first road game, we've got the routine down. It's a positive."

  • Micah update: Self said he has talked to signee Micah Downs and Downs' dad, Steve, a couple of times since release of a Seattle Times article indicating the KU signee was NBA-bound.

In interviews since then, Micah Downs has said he still plans on attending KU unless he is guaranteed to be a top draft pick.

"Both were very apologetic," Self said. "I think the people or the person giving him advice in saying these things I'm not sure is up to speed where everything is regarding these things."

Self added: "I think it's all calmed down. The bottom line is I'm as excited about Micah, Julian (Wright) and Mario (Chalmers) as I have ever been."

  • KU signee scores 16: Wright tallied 16 points off 7-of-10 shooting with eight rebounds, five steals and four blocks in Homewood-Flossmoor's 54-26 win over Hubbard on Monday at the Proviso West tournament in Illinois.

"Micah and I haven't talked," the 6-foot-8 Wright said after the game. "Speaking for myself, though, I look forward to going to the University of Kansas next year."

  • Future recruiting: Self, who will fill his fourth and final scholarship with Rodrick Stewart if he is academically eligible and successfully completes a transfer from USC, was asked about the recruiting Class of 2006.

"There are about eight kids we are actively trying hard to go after that we feel are difference-makers," Self said. "We've done a decent job of filling some holes that will be left behind by the guys who will be leaving this year. I feel next year we need a tall player that can make plays that plays with high energy. And we need a fire-starter on the perimeter, somebody to mix it up and be a Keith (Langford)-type guy for us."

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