Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self spoke with his players in a Monday afternoon film session about a trend that needs to stop.
“We haven’t been as energized the last two games. We’ve played flat,” Self said of Wednesday’s 64-54 home victory over Texas A&M; and Saturday’s 72-64 loss at Iowa State.
“It’s not about playing hard. I’m talking about just being enthusiastic, energetic. When we do that, we’re pretty good. When we are not (energized), we don’t appear to be near as athletic and don’t seem to make plays that players make when games are tight. When you are energized, it covers up for a lot of mistakes. When you are not energized, then execution and discipline — all those things become more a factor. Against Iowa State the last five minutes, we didn’t get stops. The majority of those times it all came with under seven seconds on the shot clock. A guy reaches, a guy loses sight of his man, a guy doesn’t block out. All these things can be avoided if we are a little more in-tune.”
He said on his weekly Hawk Talk radio show that energy also shows up in rebounding totals. ISU outrebounded KU, 36-23. KU has been outboarded in three of the past five games.
Offensive rebounding has been especially poor.
“Travis (Releford) didn’t get any rebounds. Conner (Teahan) is not getting any rebounds when he’s at the 3 (spot). Thomas (Robinson) isn’t getting any rebounds. Jeff (Withey) didn’t get many offensive rebounds. Let’s call it like it is. It’s not one or two guys, it’s a lot,” Self said. “That’s where I think the energy stuff comes in. A shooter always assumes every shot is going to go in, but a rebounder should always assume they are going to miss. That’s not how we have played at all. Our second and third effort on the glass on both ends was extremely poor. We need to do a much better job. It’s not just the guards, it’s our bigs, too.”
Sore wrist: Self revealed on the radio show that Releford sprained his left, non-shooting wrist a couple weeks ago. “He’s fine,” Self said.
Tharpe update: A caller asked Self about freshman point guard Naadir Tharpe’s limited playing time.
“I know some people think maybe if you give him more of an opportunity he can play better, but you can’t check in and four seconds later a guy takes the ball and goes and makes a layup,” Self said. “That’s happened two games in a row. That right there is something where he has to value the ball a little bit more. He’s a good player. I just think having Elijah (Johnson) in there as backup is probably better right now than having Naadir in there.”
Of Tharpe, Self added: “We desperately would like to have another guard be able to play so he’s probably not to the point I think he’s ready. That’s not being negative toward him. He’s young. He’s a freshman. He has not come around probably at the rate I thought he would the way the season started.”
As far as future minutes for Tharpe and the current bench players, Self noted: “It remains to be seen because right now if you look at our team, if you are on the bench, you have a great opportunity to get minutes because we want to be able to play our bench more. If you are not able to do it this year, you will have to really step up to the plate because we will not be in a situation like this where we do not have depth again, at least I hope not. All the guys who are probably not playing as much as they’d like, it’ll be harder for them to play next year because we are going to recruit some cats that will be competitive, and whoever plays the best in practice, plays. That’s how it’s going to be. I don’t really know how our bench fits in next year because I want to wait and see how they compete against guys we’ve recruited.”
Only seniors speak on Senior Night: Self was asked if he’d allow junior Thomas Robinson to give a speech on Senior Night this season (March 3 vs. Texas), since Robinson assuredly will be turning pro after his junior campaign.
“I’ve actually thought about that, but I don’t think so,” Self said. “I love Thomas. I love Cole (Aldrich, who stayed three years). I loved all those kids that left early, but Senior Night is about seniors. It’s not about the sophomores and juniors. As much as I like Thomas and as much as I think that he would benefit and everybody would benefit hearing from him in that situation, he can do it in a different forum I hope than that (perhaps at postseason banquet). I tossed that around in my mind. I still think at the end of the day there’s something special about those kids that stay four years and it’s their night. We’re definitely going to make them feel that way.”
Self helped ref: A high-placed source who witnessed the court-storming aftermath of Saturday’s KU-Iowa State game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Monday praised Self. Self joined ISU university police and ISU officials in assisting Big 12 ref Darron George, who cut his hand and also chipped a bone in his knuckle after getting run into by fans.
“KU coach Self and the KU players stopped to help George when they saw him kneeling in a hallway and bleeding profusely. Self kept people from running into George and called for the KU doctor to make sure somebody was coming over to assist,” the source, who did not wish to be identified, told the Journal-World.
“The medical staff of Iowa State shuffled George into the training facility to care for him, but Self was right there until the ref was taken care of,” the source added. “After losing a game and having the stress of making sure his kids got off of the floor safely ... the fact that he set all of that aside to offer help says a lot.”
Self would not comment on his role in helping George, who also declined comment.
Self has spoken about the incident in general.
“That was a dangerous deal,” Self said. “Whenever an official goes down like he went down ... we go back there and he’s laying on the floor and in so much pain he can’t communicate with you and you don’t know what is going on... if it can happen to officials who are escorted off the floor, it can happen to anybody.
“If that had been a last-possession game, I think somebody would have gotten hurt,” added Self, who had all his players stand near the scorer’s table as he instructed the five players on the court to dribble the ball near that area as the clock wound down and the students prepared to storm. “Somebody would have run into players and a player would retaliate or something trying to get through it (mob). Somebody could accidentally push somebody down and that person gets trampled. It’s nobody’s fault, but if you are going to allow it to happen, I think there has to be some security to at least allow a three or four-foot area for guys to walk through the crowd.”