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Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jayhawks hope to solve identity crisis before Big 12

December 28, 2005

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It's decision-making time for Kansas University's men's basketball coaches and players.

"The big thing is, we have to figure out as a team and staff a lot of things: a.) who to play, and b.) how we're going to play in different situations," KU coach Bill Self said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

He's well aware his Jayhawks (6-4) are perilously close to the start of the Big 12 Conference season. Home games remain against New Orleans (6:30 p.m. Thursday), Yale (Jan. 4) and Kentucky (Jan. 7) before league play begins.

"If we are going to run, then we need to run," said Self, who plans to establish a nine-man rotation. "If what we think is most important is halfcourt offensive execution, then that needs to be our emphasis. You can't do either of them halfway.

"We have to be really good at something and have something we can hang our hat on. We think we know what it is. We need to get really good at it and the players believe they can score out of it whenever we run it."

Self said he'd like to keep it simple, giving the team about 10 different things to look for offensively. He indicated his preference would be to run.

His team has averaged 74.5 points a game off 46.7 percent shooting while allowing 60.6 points off 35.6 percent marksmanship.

"But if we don't get really good at it, we'll have to become an execution team," Self said. "We'll always run off of misses, but I'm talking, we need to get the ball up and down the floor to utilize our length and athletic ability and our depth.

"We have to have everybody committed to it if we are going to run. We have to score out of it or get a shot out of running. I think it's more a mind-set of the players. They've got to put themselves in position where they are not nervous to make plays."

Self said, for instance, he had talked to Brandon Rush about being more aggressive.

"If he's more aggressive, he'll get more shots," Self said of the unselfish guard/forward who has averaged 12.9 points a game off 54.4 percent shooting while hoisting an average of nine shots per contest.

"One other thing about saying, 'Commit to run' : the guards have got to score more than 10 a game," Self noted. "When you run, you get shots early off the shot clock. We need to get more consistent scoring out of our perimeter."

What it boils down to, Self said, is offensive cohesion.

"We have to be totally on the same page that whatever the situation is, we can get a shot whenever we want to," Self said. "Right now, we run offense to run offense, as opposed to run offense to score."

The Jayhawks realize there's a decision-making process going on regarding running or walking.

"I'd say we're still trying to put that together," senior Christian Moody said. "I think we've got a great group of running big guys. I like to run. Then again, I've seen some times we run (halfcourt) plays really well. With this practice time, we'll really figure that out, whatever gives us the best chance to win is what coach will have us do."

Added senior guard Stephen Vinson: "Right now, the plan is to run until we prove we can't take care of the ball or that's not the style we're best for.

"I think the main thing is, do you run a secondary break or not? If they score a basket, do we take off and try to score immediately or walk the ball up the floor and run a set play? Nebraska has about 100 set plays. They set up every time. Some schools have different philosophies. Ours right now is to run, look for a primary break, if not have it go into secondary, so hopefully it's what we end up being."

Run or walk?

Which players will be on the court, with Rodrick Stewart and Darnell Jackson joining a team that already has had up to 10 contributing players a game?

Stay tuned.

"I think coach just wants to continue to see who is effective on running certain plays and see how people respond to certain situations," Moody said. "Running in different defenses, see who is in the right place at the right time. Coach is just putting together what he thinks will be the team that gives us the best chance to win."

¢ Friendly skies: None of the Jayhawks had travel problems and all reported for the first practice after Christmas break Monday night. Moody, who was stuck in a snowstorm returning from Asheville, N.C., a year ago, had no woes this time.

Except :

"Crowded airports," he said with a smile.

Moody spent Christmas in Florida with relatives celebrating his grandfather's 80th birthday.

¢ Early look at UNO: New Orleans will enter with a 2-7 record. The Privateers, who were displaced because of Hurricane Katrina, have played three "home games" - victories over Belhaven and SE Oklahoma State and a loss to Louisiana Tech at the University of Texas at Tyler, where the team relocated first semester. The squad has moved back to New Orleans for second semester.

"We understand their situation coming here. We did a lot of stuff for Hurricane Katrina relief during football season," frosh Julian Wright said Tuesday. "Our fans are classy. They will show their support. It will be a great atmosphere Thursday."

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