Archive for Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Break allows KU to focus on hoops

December 27, 2005


Bill Self's 72-hour Christmas vacation was short but sweet.

Self - Kansas University's basketball coach - his wife and two children spent the weekend visiting relatives in Edmond, Okla.

"It was good to get away, but we're really excited to get back," Self said Monday. "It feels like it's time to get back to work."

Self made it back to town for Monday night's Hawk Talk radio show, followed by hoops practice with team members who also headed home for the holidays.

The Jayhawks (6-4) will face a demanding regimen of basketball the next four weeks until the start of second-semester classes Jan. 20.

"Now for four weeks we can focus in on basketball," Self said. "We'll have unlimited practice time, unlimited film sessions. These guys will eat, sleep and drink basketball for a bit. It will not be to the point where we wear them out intentionally, but for us to learn and have things become second-nature to us, we need to spend a lot of time in the gym and film room."

It won't be like preseason practice, however, since the Jayhawks will play two games a week between now and the time school resumes- starting with Thursday's 6:30 p.m. game with University of New Orleans at Allen Fieldhouse.

Winners of three straight games and six of 10 overall, the Jayhawks have a lot of work to do the rest of the way.

"This will be a good opportunity for all teams to get better and maybe put in things they haven't had a chance to address yet," Self said. "We certainly will do that.

"I can tell you exactly what we expect. We expect them to play their butts off every possession. We expect them to represent Kansas in the way it deserves to be represented.

"We expect them to play with reckless abandon and do it in the confines of the parameters we set forth," Self added. "We expect them to play with great energy and enthusiasm. If we do those things, obviously other things (like winning) will take care of themselves."

Self will stress the effort and energy part. He said the Jayhawks had exhibited inconsistency in those areas.

"It's not that we haven't tried," he said. "I don't think we have played with the energy and passion and toughness we can.

"I expect the guys to be as good as they can be. I don't look at a won/loss record. I will say, if we do the things I just mentioned, we will have a real good record at the end of the season."

He also is set to challenge KU freshmen Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright.

"I expect them to play beyond their years," Self said. "I know we need to be patient to an extent. The patient stuff : these guys are no longer freshmen.

"They have had enough minutes to play where they are in advanced stages of their freshman year right now. I expect them to play beyond their age. I don't expect them to run perfect offense every time. I don't expect to go undefeated. I expect if we play with energy and give great effort, and the focus is good, we have a chance to play and beat anybody.

"That's what we have to do."

Here's a look at KU's freshmen and their averages entering winter break.

l Brandon Rush, who started all 10 games, averages 12.9 points per game off 54.4 percent shooting. He has made 15 of 25 threes and has 22 assists to 19 turnovers while logging an average of 28.0 minutes.

l Wright, who has come off the bench for 16.3 minutes per contest, averages 8.0 off 50.8 percent shooting. He averages 4.5 rebounds and has 15 assists to 19 turnovers.

l Mario Chalmers, who averages 18.4 minutes off the bench, averages 6.1 points off 32.2 percent shooting. He has made seven of 29 threes and has 28 assists to 26 turnovers.

l Micah Downs, who has come off the bench for a 14.9-minute average, has connected for 5.9 points a game off 37.5 percent shooting. He has made 11 of 30 threes and has 10 assists and four turnovers. He has grabbed 2.8 boards per contest.

¢ Football excellence: Self watched KU's 42-13 Fort Worth Bowl victory over Houston on TV.

"Kudos to those guys. They were awesome. They looked good," Self said. "That was domination on both sides of the ball. They played great."

¢ Clinic coming: The Jayhawks on Saturday will hold their annual holiday clinic for youths. The clinic, which includes fundamental instruction from current KU players and coaches, is for boys and girls in third through eighth grades. It will run from 9 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. There is a $60 fee, which includes a ticket to the Yale game. More information is available at in the camps section.


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