Bill Self has never been the type of guy to complain about things he has no control over, like the Big 12 basketball schedule.
And so Kansas University’s ninth-year coach shrugged his shoulders twice Monday — once during the morning Big 12 coaches teleconference and again Monday evening on his “Hawk Talk” radio show — when asked if he likes the fact the Jayhawks open the 2011-12 slate against rival Kansas State (7 p.m. Wednesday, Allen Fieldhouse).
“I don’t know. I guess I do since that’s the way they scheduled it,” Self said.
“You look around, and everybody is playing somebody good. Baylor-A&M is a big rivalry game, too. No matter who you play, you are dealt a tough hand. Everybody has a tough road. Everybody plays the same schedule.”
The Jayhawks (10-3) will enter with a No. 14 national ranking. KSU (11-1) is No. 23. The two teams last met in a league opener to start the 2008-09 season, when KU beat the Wildcats, 87-71, in Allen.
“I may prefer something else, but it’s OK. It’s the way it shakes out, shakes down, but certainly we know this will be an intense game ... totally,” Self said. “The only thing that’s a bit negative about it … anybody at home, you’d like to have your students back on campus when you play home games. We’re not going to have that. I don’t know who has that this time of year.”
The Jayhawks, who have won 20-straight league openers (15-0 in Big 12, last five in Big Eight), opened at Iowa State last year and Nebraska in 2009-10. In the 15-year history of the Big 12, KU has had four league openers against Colorado (now in Pac-12), three against Nebraska (now in Big 10), two against K-State, Iowa State and Texas A&M and one versus Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
KU has had 10 league openers on the road and five at home.
KU, which has won seven straight league titles, follows the KSU game with contests at Oklahoma (1 p.m. Saturday) and Texas Tech (8 p.m. Wednesday).
“We talked to them (Jayhawks) about what our goals are. They are the same as they have been every year, to win the league,” Self said. “It’s not so much seven in a row as much as, ‘This is what our goal is and what we are out to do is win a league championship.’ We have talked about it, but not like people may think. Our goal is to win. You’ve got to do certain things to win. We talk about what we need to do to win as much as the end result.”
Robinson player of week: KU junior power forward Thomas Robinson on Monday was named Big 12 player of the week for the third time this season. The 6-foot-10 Robinson averaged 19.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in victories over Howard and North Dakota.
Robinson exploded for 30 points, 21 rebounds and four assists Saturday against North Dakota. For the season, he averages 17.7 points and 12.2 rebounds a game, the only Big 12 player averaging a double-double.
“I thought he played one of his best games he’s played in a Jayhawk uniform Saturday,” Self said. “Not because he had 30 and 21. (It’s) the way he played with poise in handling double-teams. He could have easily had six, seven assists with no turnovers if we made shots. He played with such patience and poise, and his motor was going. It was fun to watch. It was good for him. He’s played really well this year but in my mind has another big step to take. In my mind, he’s doing a great job doing that.”
Wednesday’s atmosphere: The KU students who live in the area certainly will make their way to Allen for Wednesday’s game, which is on semester break. “I think it (atmosphere) will be pretty good. I would say when our building is good, it’s as good as any place anywhere,” Self said. “I would think this would be one of those times it’s very good. We won’t have as many students here, but we’ll have other people pick up the slack, I’m sure.”