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Archive for Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Practice habits hold key to KU future

Self will use 10-day break as evaluation session to find right players for success

December 12, 2006

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Bill Self, who has not been satisfied by his Kansas University basketball players' practice habits, soon may see a dramatic increase in intensity at workouts.

The Jayhawk coach is using a 10-day stretch between the Toledo and Winston-Salem State games as an evaluation session of sorts.

"We're approaching it like we don't have starters. It's how I'm approaching it," Self said Monday. "The guys who perform the best over the next two weeks will probably play the majority of the minutes.

"We need our best athletes and what many perceive to be our best players and coaches to perform at a higher level. I think that will be the case. Maybe we'll get to the point we're not playing the right guys and need to make some adjustments.

"Certainly the guys have the opportunity the next two weeks to do that," he added, referring to making an impression on the coaches.

Self, who has been bothered by his Jayhawks' inconsistent play during their 8-2 start, was asked specifically on his Hawk Talk radio show about perhaps using players like Jeremy Case and Brady Morningstar more.

"Jeremy ... he has a shot at getting in there," Self said. "The next 10 days and Christmas break will probably determine a lot on what happens the rest of the season with a lot of kids, because this is the most time we have to practice, and guys have a chance to get in there and hopefully do some things differently.

"Brady is getting better," he noted. "We are in a situation we are playing eight guys, Rod (Stewart) as the ninth guy. We will not play more than nine likely. Brady had a real good day today (Monday). It's about making the most of opportunities at practice.

"The next 10 days to two weeks could be beneficial to him, a chance for him to prove he needs to be out there on a regular basis. If he does that he'll be out there. Brady's going to be a good player."

Self on Monday addressed a recurring topic: finding a team leader. Last week, it appeared junior point guard Russell Robinson might be the prime candidate; maybe not so this week.

"We're asking Russell to do something he's not comfortable doing. He's just not," Self said of Robinson, who in the past has led by example more than words. "Maybe he's not going to do it. Maybe we need to look in a totally different direction.

"What we (coaches) are doing with Russell is we're screwing him up in that he's always been very instinctive, playing his best when he's not thinking and just playing. He's not been playing quite as effectively. A large part is because of us. I think we have his brain too cluttered.

"You've got to do what's within your personality. We have to get better at it," Self added of players leading. "Last year we had three seniors who did it by committee and behind the scenes. We don't have that yet. I do believe it'll come. I do believe it'll happen."

Self said that Robinson, who received some criticism after making just three of seven free throws down the stretch of Saturday's 68-58 win over Toledo, has shown a lot of toughness of late.

"Russell does not make excuses. Russell has had his hand taped every game, every practice because he has a bad wrist now," Self said of Robinson's sprained right wrist. "It's one reason he has been more hesitant that usual," he added of Robinson, who had six points, four assists and two turnovers in 35 minutes.

¢ Happy coach: Self arrived at his radio show Monday at the Salty Iguana restaurant after practice - KU's first practice since the Toledo game.

"It was a good, spirited workout, something we desperately needed. I feel better now than I did two hours ago (entering practice). I'm fired up," Self indicated.

¢ Tough week: The Jayhawk players will be taking final exams all week as well as practicing.

"We've got to practice, but finals take priority over everything else," Self said. "I think sometimes getting a little exercise is pretty good if guys are actually spending their time keeping their nose in their books.

"The guys all made As or Bs on their tests today," Self added, drawing applause from fans. "I didn't say anything about them (tests) being graded yet. The guys said they all got As and Bs," he cracked.

¢ New seats in Allen: The break in the schedule will allow workers to install new wooden chairback seats on the west side of Allen Fieldhouse. The seats will be identical to the ones on the east side of the building.

"We had hoped they would be ready before the season started. They ended up not being ready, so we were looking to this window to install them," said KU associate AD Jim Marchiony. "They will be in before our game next week (a week from today versus Winston-Salem State).

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