Omaha, Neb. Kansas University’s basketball players will have a lot of time to kill before today’s 8:57 p.m. tipoff against Detroit in Century Link Center.
“I do know that we need to shorten the day somehow. Whether that be strictly let them sleep longer, change your practice time to break it up more, break up the day more, but the last thing you want to do is lay around in your room and watch other people play because I think that does build to the anxiousness, so we will try to occupy their time a little bit,” KU coach Bill Self said Thursday.
“The other team has to play at the same time, too. It’s not the perfect time, I think, that anybody would want to play, but we played five or six games at 8 p.m. this last year and nobody wanted to play then, either, but it just works out.”
The Jayhawks aren’t crazy about sitting around all day waiting for their first NCAA Tournament game.
“I feel like it’s one of those things where I feel like I’ve got to tone it down a little bit,” senior Tyshawn Taylor said. “I don’t like playing the last game, but that’s the draw, and we’ve got to take advantage of the situation the best we can.”
“We’re anxious to play, and we will just wait our turn,” junior Elijah Johnson said. “I was watching teams earlier, and they were turning the ball over and having jitters and just watching, and it’s fun to watch the teams that you never thought would play each other, play each other, so I’m enjoying the process. I’m not in a rush.”
Difference of opinion: Taylor said Ray McCallum is a “terrific guard, a crafty player with great understanding of the game.”
He also said, “We learned about him briefly that he doesn’t want to guard too much so we’re going to put him in situations where he has to be a defender and maybe that can wear him down offensively, but he’s good, he does a great job for his dad (head coach Ray McCallum) over there and for their team.”
McCallum said he does like to guard. “Coming into this game I have a defensive mind-set,” he said.
More on Eli’s boasts; On Sunday, Detroit’s Eli Holman said he wasn’t worried about KU’s Thomas Robinson and that Robinson should be worried about him.
Of that statement, Robinson said: “He’s confident. I hope he backs it up. I mean, that’s a different part of the game. I expect somebody to try to challenge me. We’ll see when the game happens. I don’t have a comment at all.”
Noted Tyshawn Taylor: “I heard the quote. You are able to see everything over Twitter these days. I don’t think they were being disrespectful, just competitors. If I was on Detroit’s team and we were playing Kansas, I’d be telling my guys, ‘Look, man, this is what we’ve been waiting for all year. We’re not going to back down just because it’s Kansas.’ I expect that from anybody we play. I’ve been telling my team the same thing. We can’t sleep on them because they are Detroit. They’ve got guys that can put the ball in the basket like we do. We’ve got to play.”
Same dressing area as MU: KU shared the same locker room (at different times) as Missouri’s players Thursday.
“It’s a little ironic, kind of funny,” Kansas senior Conner Teahan said. “I don’t know if we’ll be cheering for them to win. They’re a Big 12 team. We want the Big 12 to be successful. It’s hard to cheer for them. I guess they are not part of the Big 12 any more.”
Taylor and Johnson discussed the issue together at a podium in the media room.
“I’ll root for the Big 12 because I know that any win will help our conference,” Johnson said.
“They’re not in the conference. They’re in the SEC now,” Taylor responded.
“You know what, Ty, you’ve got a good point!” Johnson said.
“So it doesn’t matter, really,” Taylor concluded.
Self a finalist: Self is one of four finalists for Naismith Coach of the Year Award. Others: Frank Haith, Missouri; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; and John Calipari, Kentucky.
Short practice: About 1,000 fans attended KU’s 40-minute shoot-around at CenturyLink Center. Justin Wesley concluded the proceedings with a vicious dunk to the delight of the spectators. The Jayhawks held a regular practice at Omaha Central High School before the 5:10 p.m. shoot-around.