During various speaking engagements and interviews during the preseason, Bill Self warned Kansas University basketball fans to be ready for ups and downs as his young Jayhawks aged during the 2013-14 campaign.
The person who knows him best reminded him of those sentiments Monday — a day after the Jayhawks fell to San Diego State, 61-57, in Allen Fieldhouse and finished the nonconference season with nine wins against four losses.
“I actually got a text today from my spouse (Cindy) reminding me I said, ‘Enjoy the process,’” Self said Monday night on his “Hawk Talk” radio show.
“I am frustrated. I am. I don’t think we are playing as well as we should be playing. I think every team has a ceiling. I am frustrated because in my opinion, which I’m sure all fans would agree, we’re operating well under that (ceiling) when you look at personnel individually.
“But I am not discouraged,” he quickly added, “because I think we can get there.”
Winners of four of their past eight games after a 5-0 start, the Jayhawks will open Big 12 play on Wednesday at Oklahoma (12-2), a squad that started with an impressive 88-85 victory Saturday at Texas.
“I told our team this today. There are three seasons in every basketball season: nonconference season, conference season and postseason. I told our team, ‘I would never tell you nonconference is not important while we’re going through the nonconference.’ Reality is ... does everybody remember we won at Ohio State last year? I mean, no. They remember we lost to Michigan in the Sweet 16. That is the reality of it,” Self said.
“The big thing is, hey, we want to go win league and go compete for championships and have a chance to cut down nets. To be quite candid with you, you can’t do that in the first season. You can only do that in the second and third. We still have everything in front of us. Like every school in America, we’re starting 0-0.”
Self pointed out the Jayhawks went 12-1 nonleague last year, but hit a rough patch in the Big 12 slate when KU dropped three in a row — to Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma.
“Basically, hopefully, and I’m believing it’s true ... because of the schedule we played we’ll be better prepared for conference season because things haven’t been masked, so to speak,” Self said. “That’s the positive spin I’m putting on it, but it’s the way I actually feel. I feel we could potentially get more out of our nonconference schedule than we did last year.”
He said the one negative in playing such a tough schedule is he has not been able to develop his bench as much while playing a batch of close games.
“I am believing the hard schedule and the knocks we took will better prepare us for playing the season that’s far more important than the first season,” Self said. “If we could go out and win league, I don’t think anybody really will find a lot of fault with us losing four games in nonconference to three teams ranked in the top 15 (losses are to Villanova, Colorado, San Diego State, Florida). Now if we don’t learn from this and go out and lay an egg in the conference season, I think people can say it’s been a crap season. I would be one to agree with that.
“That’s not going to happen. We’ve got too good of players. They care too much. We’ll get it. We’re missing a little bit of something that is correctable.”
In a film session Monday, the players told Self, “We’re not that far off.”
He’d like to see more passion on the court.
“It’s time for us to put it together. It’s time for us to play with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm,” Self said. “Our guys try hard, but there’s not that zest for playing that we’ve had. It’s personalities. We’ve got some really laid-back dudes. It’s so out of personality for them to show emotion.
“Emotion also is contagious. If you look at our team, the only time we’ve shown unbelievable emotion is when we beat Duke (94-83 on Nov. 12). It’s like there was such a joy. The guys love playing. They just don’t show it. It maybe is leaving fans wanting more (because) we are used to having cocky dudes when they make a play they let everybody know they are fired up. We don’t have that type of personality yet. Hopefully we’ll grow into it.”
Recruiting: JaQuan Lyle, a 6-foot-5 senior guard from Huntington Prep in West Virginia, will attend Saturday’s KU-Kansas State game as part of his official recruiting visit to KU. Lyle, who is rated No. 22 nationally, told Rivals.com he has visited UConn, Memphis and West Virginia.
“I don’t know,” he said, asked by Rivals.com if this is his final visit. “If I get to Kansas and I think it’s the best place, there won’t be any more visits. If it’s something I’m not sold on and I’m not ready to decide, I’ll take my final visit.”
Lyle is good buddies with KU signee Cliff Alexander, 6-9 from Chicago Curie, who is ranked No. 4 nationally. They’ve talked repeatedly about attending the same school.