Archive for Monday, November 19, 2007

Kansas basketball putting up big numbers, too

November 19, 2007

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Stewart steps in to starting lineup

Brandon Rush may have returned, but the injury bug is still a factor for the Kansas basketball team. With Sherron Collins out with a foot injury, Rodrick Stewart has stepped in, and stepped up. Enlarge video

Through three games, Kansas University's basketball team has displayed an offense even the Jayhawks' high-scoring football team would be proud of.

KU, which has defeated overmatched Louisiana-Monroe, UMKC and Washburn by an average of 28 points per contest, has averaged 94.7 points off sizzling 53.7 percent shooting.

The near-95-point total is even more impressive considering the 3-0 Jayhawks have made just 50 of 83 free throws for 60.2 percent.

Coach Bill Self is not about to toss any bouquets the offense's way, however, not with speedy Sherron Collins out of the lineup entering a tough stretch of games.

Playing its first game without the 5-foot-11 Collins, who is out six weeks due to a stress fracture in his left foot, KU led Div. II Washburn, just 22-16, with six minutes left in the first half. By game's end, KU had 92 points to Washburn's 60.

"We are definitely not the same team, speed-wise, without Sherron," Self said. "He brings an element that the other two guards do a good job at, but when you have a third guard out there, you are obviously a lot more difficult to guard. Hopefully we'll get him back in a timely manner."

Not until Christmas-time, however, which means there's less margin for error from guards Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush, Rodrick Stewart, Tyrel Reed and Jeremy Case.

As far as Self's bread and butter - defense - the coach says KU has been lacking in allowing foes 66.7 points a game off 43.1 percent shooting.

"Our defense has not been our best yet," Self said. "If this is the best we've got, we're going to struggle. We've got to get better defensively. Usually this time of year the defense is ahead of the offense. I'm not sure it is for us.

"Whenever they (opponents) score on something that's on a simple scouting report, all that is asking for is problems later on. Of the 26 shots Washburn missed (against seven makes) the first half : at least 10 weren't challenged."

He had more to say about the defense.

"I think we'd look better if we had everybody healthy and full speed," Self said. "You've got two of the best 10 players in the league that aren't out there full speed in Sherron and Brandon (who played 12 minutes in his return game from ACL surgery). From a paying-attention-to-detail perspective, we don't play the way I hope we'll play."

Self is seeking improvement : and fast.

The Jayhawks at 7 p.m. Wednesday meet a (2-1) Northern Arizona team that clobbered UMKC, 77-62, on Saturday, a game that followed the Lumberjacks' narrow 76-69 loss at Arizona.

After that, it's Pac-10 power Arizona on Sunday, followed by Rex Walters' Florida Atlantic team on Nov. 28. Marquee games at USC (Dec. 2), against DePaul (Dec. 8 at home) and at Georgia Tech (Dec. 18) also are rapidly approaching.

"Our schedule is going to get tougher. We need to practice on situations and a lot of things this week," Self said. "As much as we want our guys to be at that magic level emotionally - I can't understand why we appear not to be sometimes - I know there is another gear we'll have just by the competition. Hopefully we have some good practices. Northern Arizona played Arizona to the last minute and had a chance to win."

Northern Arizona will meet Mississippi Valley State tonight in Itta Bena, Miss.

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