It may be a while before a kinder, gentler version of Bill Self resurfaces at Kansas University basketball practices and in speeches before games.
"Coach is being coach. He came in and jumped our case from the beginning. I think he'll be like that the rest of the season to keep us focused," junior point guard Russell Robinson said.
Robinson was speaking after Sunday's 87-61 rout of Towson University, a game that followed the Jayhawks' shocking loss to Oral Roberts, one that still has KU's fourth-year coach steamed.
Tonight, Self will expect no letdown against Tennessee State, a team that dropped its Las Vegas Invitational and season opener, 87-69, to Western Kentucky on Sunday at WKU.
Tip is 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse with a live telecast on channels 27 and 38 and replay at 10:30 on cable channel 6.
"We have only one day to prepare for Tennessee State," Self said. We want to prepare for them (but) we have only one game of theirs (on film). They played last night and lost in what was a close game until late.
"We've got to worry about ourselves. We need to try to understand what they want to do to us but have to get better ourselves because we've been way too hot and cold.
"Hopefully we'll get in one of these streaks where we grind it out and get better a little bit daily and look up 30 days from now and be a really, really good ballclub."
The Jayhawks, at 2-1, are in the midst of a hectic slate with a game tonight and games against Ball State on Friday and Florida on Saturday in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
"It's strange because the last five weeks we dealt with so much stuff, now we're really busy from a basketball standpoint," said Self, who had injuries to Sasha Kaun, Mario Chalmers and Jeremy Case to deal with as well as the dismissal of C.J. Giles. "Players like the games. We've got Tennessee State then we get to take our first trip (of the season) to Vegas, and everybody is excited about that. We're going to play Ball State and, of course, Florida.
"A lot of people have talked about that the whole offseason, and there's probably been a little bit of dampened spirits on that with C.J.'s dismissal and with Sasha being hurt and our poor performance against ORU.
"I do think we will play better because I feel there is more a sense of urgency now than there has been the last couple weeks."
¢ Kaun practices: Junior forward Sasha Kaun, who has missed the first three games because of a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee, practiced on Monday.
He's not expected to play tonight, but this weekend might be a different matter.
"There is a chance he could play (against Florida on Saturday)," Self said Monday on his Hawk Talk radio show. "He practiced today and looked good practicing, but he is not in game shape. I don't know how fast we'll bring him along. We'll let the doctors dictate that and Sasha dictate that on how he feels. He's healing up very nicely.
"We miss him (playing), and we miss him talking and telling guys what to do because he understands as well as anybody what we're supposed to. I think we'll look more fluid in a lot of ways when he is game-ready. He is not game-ready now."
Self said it was good to have Kaun - who has stayed in reasonable shape the last few weeks working out in the pool - back Monday.
"I think you take players for granted from a fan perspective or a coaches perspective until you don't have them," Self said. "He is our anchor - no doubt about that. Whether he starts or not (when he returns) I don't know, but we need him in the game between 20-30 minutes a game.
"I believe Sasha ... seeing the way he's interacted since he's been sitting out, I think they'll (teammates) look to him more as a leader than I thought they would three weeks ago."
¢ Self received no negative calls on his first radio show of the season.
"Everybody has been nice tonight," he said. "Let's call it like it is. We played bad last week. From a coaching standpoint, of course you want to win, but the thing that really frustrated me is we didn't have close to the same bounce or energy, and we played tired (against ORU). We played as lively the other way four days before (against Northern Arizona). That's frustrating.
"Our team ... I know we are young and we'll get better and I know we're going to grow, but I think we've learned enough hard lessons. It's OK if somebody comes in and beats your butt, but not OK if you allow it to happen. I felt we allowed it to happen.
"Where is our fight and energy? Nine times out of 10 it's good, but when you face everybody's best shot everytime we lace it up, it needs to be there every time."