Bill Self's cell-phone minutes each month are eaten up by coaches, players, recruits, family members and members of the media.
"I get these sympathy calls every now and then: 'Hey, Bill, hang in there.' I'm going, 'Hang in there? What's wrong? Tell me what's wrong,'" Self said Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
"I had a high school buddy, a doctor in Kansas City, call me today. He said, 'How are you handling all the pressures? Just hang in there, you guys are going to be OK.'
"I'm like, 'I didn't know we weren't OK,''' Self added.
The Jayhawks' coach is OK physically and mentally -- "This is a great job. I love working here," he said -- and so is his first KU team, 11-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12 Conference heading into Thursday's 8 p.m. nonconference home battle against Richmond.
"I think I probably do a decent job of isolating myself from things because I have no clue what people are saying or thinking out there. I'm not sure I want to know, whether it be good or bad," said Self, who has not received much criticism from media and fans.
"If you get caught up in what people think, you forget about doing your job. Things don't bother me. The only thing that bothers me is when we don't play hard or when we don't share the ball."
He has been bothered lately by KU's effort on the backboards.
"It's ridiculous how we've rebounded the ball the last two games," said Self, who verbalized his concern at Monday's lengthy practice, which came two days after Texas A&M grabbed 19 offensive boards in the Jayhawks' 71-65 victory in College Station, Texas.
"At practice if we didn't box out (Monday), we ran, so it's getting into our heads now," said KU guard Jeff Hawkins.
"If we don't box out, it's a sprint," noted guard J.R. Giddens.
Center Jeff Graves, who had zero rebounds in Saturday's win, agreed rebounding has been an emphasis.
"We were horrible boxing out in the Texas A&M game. We came here Monday for four hours and worked on that," Graves said.
KU's rebounding efforts should be boosted Thursday if, as expected, center David Padgett returns from his two-game layoff in which he rested the beginning stages of a stress fracture in his left foot.
Padgett did not practice Monday or Tuesday but will work out full speed today.
"We are planning on playing him Thursday," Self said of the 6-11 freshman. "He may be limited as far as minutes go. My guess is he will come back stronger than ever because he has fresh legs. A lot of times the grind gets to be pretty long for the younger big guys. Getting 10 days off in January will do nothing but help his explosiveness."
Padgett thinks so, too.
"I'm trying to turn this whole thing into a positive," said Padgett. "It gave me a chance to rest my legs a bit, be refreshed for the rest of the conference."
He's eager to shed the boot he's been wearing the past couple weeks.
"I don't have to sleep in it, but other than that, it's on me 24-7. Being hurt stinks. I definitely am ready to start playing again," he said.
Padgett will not start Thursday, Self indicated.
"David's role will change for sure Thursday, I don't know about after that. A lot depends on his health and how he is playing, how others are playing," Self said. "His role won't change, just who gets announced may change. He understands that."¢
Practice slate: KU senior Wayne Simien, who has a strained groin, practiced hard Monday. The Jayhawks held a short shooting workout Tuesday and are slated to practice hard today in preparation for Richmond, 9-8 overall and 2-3 in the Atlantic 10.
"Wayne can't practice every day, so I would rather go hard when he is available and then give him a day or so to calm down so he can practice the day before games," Self said.¢
Extra shooting: Soph Jeff Hawkins, who has made eight of 42 threes including three of his last 32, has been working overtime on his shot with assistant Tim Jankovich.
"Right now I'm in the whole process of changing my shot," Hawkins said. "I'd been using my left thumb. I shouldn't be using it. He's helping to give me a much straighter shot. With touch, it should go straight, not off to the left or right."¢
Knee bruise: Graves suffered a bruised knee Monday, but was not limping at all Tuesday.
"Christian Moody went up, I went for the ball and he came down on my leg. It gave me a charley horse. I'll be fine by Thursday," Graves said.¢
Speaking to the fans: Self took part in a chat with fans Tuesday on kusports.com. He was asked by one reader about perhaps feeling pressure from the "fans and community" at tradition-rich KU.
"I'm sure there is a lot of pressure, at least perceived pressure, from people outside. I don't think the pressures have affected or changed me, because I don't think other people can put as much pressure on me as I put on myself. I know fans love Kansas basketball, but I can't get hung up on pleasing everybody. There are pressures with the job, but I haven't felt more here than at other places because I've always put a lot of pressure on myself to perform at a high level," Self said.