Bill Self says Kansas University's big men need to play better as the Big 12 Conference season nears.
"When you say the 'big guys', you're primarily talking about two - Sasha (Kaun) and C.J. (Giles)," Self, KU's third-year coach, told media members Tuesday. "Because Julian (Wright), Christian (Moody) and Darnell (Jackson) ... we can't complain about what they've given us the last two weeks. They have been pretty consistent.
"Those two have to play to their size, which they haven't done, evidenced by C.J. making seven free throws for the season (in 16 tries).
"A guy (that on paper) could be your leading scorer before the season has made seven free throws in 11 games ... you won't lead anybody in scoring," Self said. "Sasha plays to his size a lot of times. A lot of times he fades away, avoids contact."
Kaun, who averages 10.8 points and 6.8 boards overall, has averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 boards the last five games. Giles, who averages 8.5 points and 6.7 boards, has averaged 7.0 points and 5.8 rebounds the past five games.
Self, who has started Christian Moody in place of Giles the past two games, said Moody likely would start tonight against Yale (7 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse). He didn't know which big man would be starting next to Moody.
"We have to play harder and smarter, do the little things," Kaun said of himself and Giles.
¢ Wright has back strain: KU freshman Julian Wright, who suffered a back strain at practice this week, is questionable for tonight's game. Self said he was day to day.
¢ Case great: Jeremy Case said his resurgence could be because physically, he's feeling fine. He could not play in the Saint Joseph's and California games because of a torn tendon on the bottom of his left foot.
"From what the doctors said, it's better. Once that tear heals it won't bother me, it'll be fine," said Case, who has hit seven of 10 threes during his last two games.
A year ago he took a red shirt in large part because of a stress fracture of his pelvic bone. His dad, Win, the head coach at Eastern Oklahoma State College, helped him get through last season with daily phone calls.
"I might be down, he tells me to keep working hard. He says, 'You've got to fight your way through this,'" Case said. "He says, 'You are at an elite college. There always will be great players coming through there. Keep working, and make coach Self play you.' He's always kept it positive."
¢ Hard work: The Jayhawks, who had the day off Sunday, have been practicing hard since returning from Christmas vacation. "We go twice a day about two hours each practice," Case said. "They (practices) are not spread out too much, so sometimes people will sleep in the lounge, wanting to stay close and not have to walk all the way home and come back."
¢ Robinson improved: Russell Robinson, who has started all 11 games, is KU's early candidate for most improved player. He did not play in six of KU's last 15 games his freshman season, scoring one point in that span.
He pretty much was a non-factor after his declining to enter the closing moments of a 86-66 victory Jan. 25 at Baylor.
"If I could go back in time, I'd change that. I probably would have gone back in there and got some shots up or something," Robinson said, acknowledging that act might have put him in the coach's doghouse.
As far as his productive stretch this year ... Robinson, who figures to play more point guard, has 18 assists against four turnovers the last five games.
"I'm a lot more confident now, a lot more comfortable," Robinson said. "I know when to pick my spots."