A calm, rational Hawk Talk radio show caller stumped Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self for a second on Tuesday night.
"What would be a good way for me to say this without headlines tomorrow in the paper?" Self, said, thinking out loud when asked by a fan if there was a "common thread" in KU's two losses this season.
"I'd say competitive plays - 50-50 balls. Who is quicker to balls, hitting somebody on a blockout? To me those are 'manly' plays," Self said, still steamed at his Jayhawks getting 'outmanned' in the second half of Monday's 72-69 loss at Texas.
He also felt KU lost most of the hustle plays in an 85-74 loss to Kansas State on Jan. 30 in Manhattan.
"You can't play the game well unless you are tough, getting 70 percent of those 50-50 balls and limiting layups of other teams. We were outquicked to balls and did a poor job (of) rotation rebounding," Self said.
"It goes to toughness-type plays. Our skillset of what we are doing is not poor. The fact we got outplayed in physical areas is what bothers me the most."
He was just getting started discussing KU's toughness quotient in its two losses, as compared to strong effort in the squad's 23 victories.
"You go on the road, you don't always shoot well. You often don't shoot as many free throws. A lot of things can happen. The thing that stood out : they (Longhorns) had a 6-foot-1 2-guard get more offensive rebounds than our team did the entire second half. That can't happen if you want to have a ballclub do special things," Self said.
Self was referring to 6-2 sophomore Justin Mason grabbing five offensive rebounds the second half to the Jayhawks' two. In all, Texas outrebounded KU, 23-12, the second half. KU won the board war the first half, 23-13, and led by four at the break.
"Our energy level was good against Texas. We played our butts off the first half," Self said. "Our rebounding the first half was as good as it's been all year. The second half was as poor as it's been all year. The second half they controlled us from a physical standpoint on the glass."
UT's Damion James, a 6-7 sophomore who played just three minutes the first half because of foul problems, grabbed 13 boards and scored 12 points the second stanza.
"It's a lot easier to rebound when you are out there jumping by yourself, to put it plain and simple. He is a good player and rebounder, but we definitely helped him," Self said.
So upset was Self at the second-half rebounding, he scheduled an evening practice Tuesday to focus on boardwork.
"We will practice two hours exactly. We will shoot 10 minutes. There will be 110 minutes working on blocking out or some form of defense on a block out," Self said. "At this time of year, you shouldn't have to spend that much time on that particular area. That's what we need to do."
Self said he didn't want to take away from the fact the No. 11-ranked Longhorns (20-4, 7-2) played well and deserved to win Monday.
"To say we laid an egg would be way too strong," Self said. "Saying we played poorly would take away from the other team. Playing the No. 11 team on the road : they have good players, and good players make plays.
"(But) we didn't compete on the boards the second half. Watching tape was the most frustrating to me. Our first-shot defense the second half was 6-for-21. You force a team to shoot 6-for-21, that's 28 percent on the home team's floor, and we still lose the basketball game. It wasn't defense. It was our ability to secure after the misses."
Self said he wasn't overly distraught 6-10 Connor Atchley hit four threes in four tries the first half.
"Although we didn't defend it great, I could live with three of them," Self said. "On one of them, 'Shady' (Darrell Arthur) overshadowed on a ball screen going away from the basket. It was contested, and he made it. One ball inside we overdove, and they threw it back out. One of 'em we dared him to shoot. As a coach, (part of) the game plan is, 'Whatever you do, don't give easy looks.' We dared him to make one. That bothers you."
KU will meet Colorado at 12:45 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks outrebounded the Buffs, 34-21, in a 72-59 victory on Feb. 2 in Boulder.