Kansas University coach Bill Self wasn’t prepared to announce a starting lineup during Thursday’s media session held in advance of tonight’s season-opener against Longwood University.
“Every time I tell you guys who we are going to start, I get mad at practice and we end up starting somebody else,” Self said with a smile.
Seniors Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar started both exhibition games. Those with one start: Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Tyshawn Taylor, Mario Little, Thomas Robinson and Travis Releford.
Selby update: A Kansas City radio reporter on Thursday quoted unnamed sources as saying KU freshman Josh Selby would ultimately sit out between four to eight games following an NCAA investigation into Selby’s amateur status.
“(There’s) no news. Even though we think the end is coming soon,” Self said. “Trust me, anybody says they know ... (they) don’t know because we don’t have any idea yet.”
Red shirts: Self said it was all but certain senior guard Conner Teahan would be red-shirted while guard Royce Woolridge probably would play in games his freshman season.
“We could always pull him out, but that’s the direction we’re going to go (in red-shirting Teahan),” Self said.
“All indications are with me is that he (Woolridge) is going to play,” Self said, indicating he’d speak with the 6-3 Phoenix native about the matter before today’s game.
Withey update: Jeff Withey, who played three minutes in the first half of Tuesday’s win over Emporia State, is questionable tonight.
“He didn’t play the second half because he said he was a little sore,” Self said of the 7-foot sophomore, who had surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot in late September. “He’s going to be sore. It’s like using a muscle that hasn’t been used in a long time.
“I don’t know (if he’ll play),” Self added. “Depending on where their big guys are playing on the floor is probably a lot of it. He can’t move yet. It’s hard for him to play well when you can’t move. His foot is healing. There’s no question about that. He’s been in a boot so long he needs to get out of that. Doctors have told him it’s time to get out of that and get used to having a normal leg.”
Independent: Longwood University, which has an enrollment of 4,098 and is located in Farmville, Va., is still seeking a conference affiliation after becoming NCAA Div. I eligible in 2007.
“We’ve got to get into the Big South. There’s no secret about that,” eighth-year coach Mike Gillian told Blue Ribbon Yearbook. “It’s also no secret how we fit in with schools in the Big South. We just need to keep plugging away. We’re going to get in the Big South. We belong and we deserve to be in there now. We’ve proven that competitively by virtue of the performance of the teams. Just not our team but all the athletic teams.”
About Longwood: The Lancers, who went 12-19 last season, return one starter in Aaron Mitchell, a 6-2 senior guard who averaged 9.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game last season.
Junior center Antwan Carter averaged 14.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 2009-10.
“He anchors everything we do inside. His numbers back that up,” Gillian said of Carter in an interview with Blue Ribbon Yearbook. “Our expectation is he’s on the court 30 minutes a game and doing really, really fantastic things.”
The series: This is the first meeting between the teams. The Lancers are 0-3 versus the Big 12, falling to Kansas State (89-60) and Nebraska (80-65) in 2005-06 and Oklahoma (81-40) in 2006-07. Longwood has played five nationally ranked teams since its first full Div. I slate in 2004-05, losing to Illinois (105-79), Wake Forest (88-47), Cincinnati (95-69), Villanova (90-77) and Indiana (100-49).
The coach: Gillian is 63-149 in seven seasons at Longwood. Previously he’d worked for Jim Larranaga at George Mason and Bowling Green. The Lancers have improved considerably since a 1-30 campaign in 2004-05, the team’s first season playing a Div. I schedule. Gillian’s 2008-09 squad went 17-14.
Gillian’s scheme according to Blue Ribbon is “a hybrid of set plays and a more free-form attack that tries to maximize the flexibility and athleticism in Longwood’s four-guard, one-post lineup. Last season, it also resulted in 16.9 assists per game — fifth-best average among 334 Div. I teams.”
“We’ll keep four guys on the perimeter, and those guys have to all be multi-dimensional,” Gillian told Blue Ribbon. “With these guys that are returning and the combination of some of the new guys, man, there's going to be a lot of internal competition.”
Of the Longwood challenge, KU coach Self said: “It’s a first game. First games to me are always nervous because they (Lancers) may do something they haven’t done in years past. We have no tape on them except from last year. They could do some defense we have not had a chance to practice against. They are well coached and return some good players from last year. And a lot will depend like us, if some of their newcomers come through for them.”
Little’s take: KU senior guard/forward Mario Little on the goal for the opener: “We just want to get better every day. We can't take any team lightly. Get better and work on our stuff. Continue to execute.”
Recruiting: Ben McLemore, a 6-5 senior guard from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., hopes to sign a letter-of-intent early next week, he said Thursday. He still needs to talk to his mother, he indicated. McLemore is down to KU and Missouri with KU believed to be the heavy leader.