No Scrooge, Bill Self wants his players home for the Christmas holiday.
So Kansas University’s sixth-year basketball coach has closed shop for a few days, instructing his players to report back to campus in time for a late Saturday afternoon practice.
Those Jayhawks who stretch their legs — after devouring home-cooked meals and desserts during their three-day furlough — will be better equipped for four practices heading into Tuesday’s 8 p.m., home game against Albany.
“Pre-Christmas isn’t as difficult as post Christmas,” said Self. His (8-3) Jayhawks fell to (8-3) Arizona, 84-67, on Tuesday night in Tucson.
“When you go home, all your friends and family are there and now you’re coming back and doing two-a-days plus watching three hours of film,” he added of what will be in store from Saturday until start of second semester classes on Thursday, Jan. 15.
“That’s not exactly what the players really enjoy. They probably didn’t think they were signing up for that when we recruited them. But in my opinion, this is the most important time for all basketball staffs in the country. You have unlimited practices and it’s your last chance to put stuff in and get better before conference starts.”
Self has one practice scheduled Saturday, two on Sunday and one on Monday. The team’s annual holiday clinic is Sunday afternoon.
“Practices will be longer and harder until we start doing what coach wants,” junior guard Sherron Collins said.
Self was not impressed with the Jayhawks’ play against Arizona, despite the fact his team led, 38-35, at halftime.
“We should have been up by more than three,” Self said, adding, “We have a long way to go before we’re a good team. This would have been a hard place to win regardless. We have to look at it as a learning experience. Arizona is good.”
KU’s traveling party flew home via charter right after the game, arriving at KC International Airport about 3:30 a.m.