Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self believes Sprint Center will remain a viable site for the Big 12 postseason basketball tournament if Missouri bolts to the SEC.
“I think it’s overrated on which side of the river the Sprint Center is on,” Self said at Thursday’s Media Day. “I think it’s KANSAS City,” he added, emphasizing ‘Kansas.’ “When I thought of Kansas City growing up, I thought of Kansas City, Kan., even though I know the majority is in Missouri. That’s when I was not very good at geography. I can’t see that as a huge deal, where the building is located. This place will fill up no matter what, with Kansas State and us. Trust me, people will rally around whatever the situation is and make the best of it.”
Self was asked for the umpteenth time if KU would schedule MU if the Tigers leave the league.
“I coach for Kansas, and I care about what our fans think. I’m not sure our fans would care too much, either,” Self said of playing Mizzou. “I’d think they would be very disappointed if Missouri left because it’s good, but if they choose to be somewhere else, I don’t know what we’ll do (in scheduling).
“We don’t poll what people say. If they leave, they leave. Big deal. We don’t want them to, but if they choose to do that, they do. I don’t think we’ll say, ‘Oh, geez, we have to hurry and schedule them.’ I don’t think anybody would feel that way.”
Self said the decision to play MU could be put off five years or so.
“I know one thing ... Texas made a pretty bold statement to A&M,” Self said of the Longhorns indicating they wouldn’t be playing the Aggies anytime soon following A&M’s move to the SEC. “I don’t know if we are in the exact same boat as that. We will do what’s best for our program.”
Self did point out if KU and MU played in Sprint Center and total profits were $600,000, the two would have to split the gate. He indicated a home game against any foe in Allen Fieldhouse would net the Jayhawks $500,000, so it’d likely be a losing proposition monetarily to play once a year at a neutral site.
Recruiting: Self said KU could sign up to five players in recruiting this school year. The Jayhawks have received commitments from Perry Ellis of Wichita and Zach Peters of Plano, Texas, and are hoping to land a commitment from 6-8 Ioannis Papapetrou of Melbourne, Fla., on Saturday. He’s down to KU and Texas.
Working out on own: As partial qualifiers, freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor cannot practice with the team until second semester, which Self hopes “will be the first day after fall semester is over and grades are in.”
Self said they could work out with strength coach Andrea Hudy “in a limited capacity. They can be supervised, but not have workouts where you count reps. Other than that, they can’t do anything except academic issues.”
They also can work out in KU’s facilities on their own.
This, that: KU is ranked No. 13 in the country in the first ESPN coaches poll. ... Texas freshman guard Myck Kabongo stopped by Self’s interview table to say hi. “We go way back in our relationship. Tell them about that coach,” Kabongo said with a smile. “It’s not that good (relationship),” Self joked, “because you picked Texas over us (as senior at St. Benedict’s High in New Jersey). This guy is good. He broke everybody’s hearts, though,” Self added jokingly. ... Texas coach Rick Barnes on playing KU twice this year: “I know our fans are excited about it. We’ve always enjoyed coming to play up here because it’s one of the great places to play. You want to win, obviously. We were fortunate enough to do that last year (in Allen). I think it has been and will ever get better with it being one of the best rivalries in college basketball.” Self agreed some of the great games in college basketball in the last decade have been between KU and UT.