Kansas University's men's basketball players won't sleep until noon or get fat during the Jayhawks' lengthy nine-day break between Big 12 Conference games.
"We're going to focus on the next game and getting better as a team," KU senior Jeff Graves said after the Jayhawks' 77-62 Big 12-opening victory Monday over Colorado in Boulder, Colo.
"We still have a lot of work to do. Nothing's going to be easy in the Big 12. If we want to win the league again, we're going to have to get better during this break."
The two-time defending Big 12 champion Jayhawks (9-2 overall, 1-0 Big 12) don't play again until a week from today when Kansas State visits Allen Fieldhouse for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
"We might catch a break one day," point guard Aaron Miles said, "but we just want to get back at it. The only way to get better as a team is to practice hard every day."
Rest assured, coach Bill Self will put the Jayhawks through rigorous workouts this week and into next. After all, there are no classes to worry about until the spring semester starts Jan. 23.
"We've had December 26th until January 23rd, four weeks to get better with nothing but practice," Self said. "These are four weeks to focus on basketball and basketball only. We don't have the limited time.
"We can go twice a day. We can spend an hour shooting every day. We can address deficiencies with time rather than just talking about them. We have to make it good for our ballclub."
"I told the guys to plan on getting in six hours a day, whether it be treatment, whether it be film sessions, whether it be two practice sessions. We haven't gone that long (so far this season). Some days we have. We'll get better if we do that the next couple weeks."
The team, Self said, had shown remarkable improvement since returning from a four-day Christmas break on the heels of the Jayhawks' loss at Nevada.
"(Jeff) Graves came back with a great mindset," Self said.
Also, the Jayhawks have realized they need to feed the basketball to junior forward Wayne Simien, who scored 21 points against the Buffs after totaling 23 against Villanova three days earlier.
Simien has been bothered by a strained groin.
"Wayne is about 80 percent healthy," Self said. "He's getting better. If we can get double-doubles like he did against Colorado and Villanova, we're a totally different ballclub."
The Jayhawks now have such a positive outlook they believe they can contend for a third straight league title.
"I'm not saying we'll go undefeated in the conference," junior Keith Langford said, "but it's a good win. It's important to go on the road and win."
It's doubly important to be able to do it in your opener.
"To get the first one is a big step," Self said. "We're plus one. It's a long process, but a lot of people would like to be plus one now."¢
Late arrival: Mechanical problems delayed the KU charter flight out of Denver International Airport. The plane didn't leave for Topeka's Forbes Field until about 3 a.m. MST, and the Jayhawks weren't back in Lawrence until after 6 a.m. CST.