Finally, thanks to his Kansas University basketball team’s spirited effort in Saturday’s 90-54 victory over Colorado, Bill Self possesses some game film that’s pleasing to the eyes.
“We have shown them a lot of tape (this season). It hasn’t been very positive the majority of things we’ve shown. (We say), ‘Look at this. Is this the best we’ve got?’” KU coach Self said on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “Now we can show tape from the other day saying, ‘We’ve got to guard this better, but a lot of times effort and energy make up for the mistakes.’
“I think everybody tries hard. The teams that give the appearance of playing the hardest are always the teams playing with the most energy and having the most fun, and that’s what we had Saturday,” Self added.
KU has had some ugly victories en route to a 7-1 record and No. 9 national ranking.
“The mistakes we made defensively against Colorado ... we made up for them with four or six hands trying to steal every ball, two guys trying to block every shot, guys diving on the floor,” Self said on Monday’s “Hawk Talk” radio show. “I’m not sure we played a lot better. I just think we’ve been duds until Saturday. On Saturday it became fun for the kids. That’s something we have to bottle. We are not going to be a pretty team to watch all the time. We can do some good things, but what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to be high-energy, high-octane-type personality. If we do that, good things will happen.”
Senior forward Kevin Young provided a huge spark. He scored 16 points off 8-of-9 shooting with eight rebounds, two steals and two assists in 20 minutes.
“He had energy. He didn’t do many things where you look and say, ‘His stroke looked great or this or that,’” Self said. “Basically it was his energy, his hustle. He was terrific. His ball screen defense was better. So was Jeff’s,” Self added of center Jeff Withey.
For the year, the 6-foot-8, 190-pound Young has averaged 6.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 18.6 minutes a game.
“We were talking today ... it would be really great to bring Kevin off the bench,” Self said of the player who has started five of seven games, missing one game because of injury. “He brings energy off the bench. He’s playing so well, you can’t afford to do that. We’ve got to have Jamari (Traylor), Perry (Ellis) and Naadir (Tharpe) more so than anybody else bring energy into the game and be assertive as opposed to just trying to fit in.
“Quit worrying about screwing up. Quit worrying about trying to score points. Just rebound, defend, dive on the floor, do the things that will give you confidence. One thing about Kevin, he’s the best talker we have. He won’t shut up. That’s contagious and good. A team that doesn’t talk can’t play,” Self added. “Bring in young kids who are unsure, (and) they don’t open their mouths, all of a sudden you lose a little bit of talking and energy, and it doesn’t look near as crisp. (Young) guys aren’t used to doing that. Our guys can learn from Kevin in that regard.”
The Jayhawks, who are in final exams this week, practiced Monday. They will practice today, take a day off Wednesday, then practice again Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday’s game against Belmont (6 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse). Belmont, of the Ohio Valley Conference, takes a 6-2 record into Thursday’s game against Middle Tennessee State in Belmont’s arena in Nashville.
“It’s a huge week for us,” Self said. “Basketball-wise, we need to get better. I don’t know if you get a lot better in finals week. You maintain, hopefully. Hopefully those guys are exhausted and tired staying up late studying like everybody else is (in student body). We need a good week academically this week and again in May. Those two weeks are as important as any weeks all year.”