Kansas University’s basketball players paid the price at practice Friday afternoon and Saturday morning for losing Thursday’s Big 12 quarterfinal contest against Baylor.
“It’s been tough. Practices have been more intense, longer. Everybody’s been ready to work,” KU junior guard Sherron Collins said Saturday afternoon.
Practices were so intense Friday and in the Saturday a.m. ... “This is the first time all year people are getting ready to go in the ‘cold tub,’’’ Collins said of he and Cole Aldrich heading for some soothing treatment on nagging bumps and bruises. They were not required to participate in a late Saturday afternoon shooting session.
“Coach has been working us hard. It’ll help us out,” Collins added, noting Friday’s practice classified as the toughest all season.
“He was on us. Every mistake there was a consequence for. We needed that to wake up. It was all right. I’m used to tough practices so I’m not bothered by that,” Collins said.
Freshman Tyshawn Taylor acknowledged that the atmosphere Saturday afternoon — coach Bill Self joked with Aldrich and Collins as they headed to treatment — was much better than after Thursday’s 71-64 defeat to the Bears.
“The bus ride was tough and it was a long ride home (from Oklahoma City),” Taylor said. “Everybody was disappointed and upset and a little bit embarrassed. We felt like we should have had that one, but we can’t dwell on it. We’ve got to look at the bigger picture now. We lost the conference tournament, but now it’s NCAA time. Coach (Self) liked the effort yesterday in practice and this morning.”
Self acknowledged he wasn’t fun to be around after the BU loss.
“We had a ‘mad’ day Thursday and a ‘mad’ day Friday. Now we’re not going to talk about that anymore,” he said.
“That was tough to swallow but we’ve got to move forward. We’ve got a bigger stage to play on Thursday or Friday (in first round of NCAA Tournament).”
• Bumps, bruises: Aldrich was quizzed some more about his injured left foot on Saturday. He still wears a boot to protect what he’s called a “stress reaction.”
“When I’m not on the court I’ve got it on,” he said of the boot, which he’s had about a month now. “When I’m off, it’s on.”
When will the boot be discarded?
“It could be tomorrow or next week, whenever the doctors say,” he said.
He indicated his injury, “doesn’t bother me at all (in games). It’s very minor. The boot is there to keep stress off my ankle. It immobilizes my ankle from the leg. The boot has done a great job with that.
“I’m feeling good,” he added, dispelling any talk he might be worn down. “I think it’s unfortunate we lost the other day but we’ve got to find positives out of it, find ways to get better as a team.”
Collins, meanwhile, suffered a bruised left leg while running through a screen in the second half against Baylor.
“I’m all right. He (unnamed Baylor player) got me good in the leg. I get banged here and there, take a few hits. Other than that, I’m all right,” Collins said.
• No special meetings: Team-leader Collins hasn’t called any players-only meetings since the Baylor loss.
“I don’t think it is needed,” he said. “Everybody knew we didn’t show up with energy and intensity so I think we knew what the importance of that was. We didn’t do it. I don’t think we’ll ever come out like that again.”
“We have kind of gathered as a team with coach, tried to figure things out, and put ourselves in the best position to be successful over the next three weeks,” Aldrich noted of regular pre- and post-practice talks with Self.
• Other games on TV: Aldrich said some of the Jayhawks have been watching conference tourney games.
“I watched Minnesota-Michigan State the other day,” he said of his hometown Gophers’ loss. “It was a tough game for Minnesota. I always root for those guys because I know a lot of them. We don’t get a chance to see all our buddies that play through the year. I like watching those guys.”
• Tourney talk: Some always say it’s beneficial when a team gets bounced from the league tourney early. That allows more time to gear up for the NCAAs.
“I thought the last three years the conference tournament was very, very important and this year obviously I didn’t think it was very important. I’m joking,” Self said.
“I don’t think any team goes into it thinking they need a break. I said before our tournament expect some weird things to happen. Of course, we were part of the weirdness.”
• 5 p.m. on CBS: KU’s players and coaches will watch the Selection Sunday show today in Allen Fieldhouse. The building is closed to the public.
“We’ll watch it in Allen Fieldhouse. That’s a pretty good spot,” Self said. “The last three years we watched it after we played (and won conference title games). That’s another one of the advantage of us being here is we’re not watching it in our sweats after a quick shower,” he added sarcastically.
• Recruiting: Self was in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday night to watch Bradley Beal, a 6-3 sophomore guard from St. Louis Chaminade High, compete in the Missouri state title game. He’s considering KU, Missouri, Florida, Illinois and Purdue.