Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Andrew Wiggins is doing well. He's starting to feel more comfortable. He wants to please and not screw up. He's figuring it our fast. Each day, he's showing more of what he can do. Wiggins is a much better player than he was in June and July. He understands more what KU is trying to do. He's been more consistent with his energy. His ceiling is ridiculously high. Self doesn't think he will come close to reaching his ceiling this year, just because he'll be better at 22 than 20 because of strength and things like that. He does things others can't do athletically. His ceiling is still high just for this year.
• KU could red-shirt someone this year. The freshmen will play in the exhibition games, then Self and the staff will make a decision. Self is going to play all the freshmen in the exhibition games to see how they do. Self originally thought he would red-shirt at least one guy, but Self is not sure about that now.
• Tarik Black is the most mature guy on the team. He wants Joel Embiid to be good, and when Embiid does get good, those guys will start splitting time. Black knows that's best for the team.
• Starting practice earlier this year was good for the team. Self doesn't know if KU is any further along getting things implemented this year with the earlier start. Right now, the team tries to practice all facets. KU certainly doesn't have everything in yet.
• These exhibition games might be a little more important compared to other years. Self isn't going to try to make sure certain guys get certain minutes as he might in past years. A lot of guys need to get minutes. Self will be excited to see how different guys react in different situations.
• Self doesn't believe he's been impatient with the new guys, but he thinks he could be more patient. He doesn't think backing off the guys in practice is the best thing. He believes he should be demanding. Hopefully, Self says the guys figure out that KU plays only a certain way: hard with a lot of toughness.
• Andrew White III has emerged as one of KU's best performers in practice. He's more confident with his shot, and he's one of KU's best rebounders. He also tries "so darned hard."
• Self believes this team is better than the young 2005-06 team, but Self joked that team couldn't get it past half-court at the Maui Classic. KU is asking these freshmen to do everything from Day 1. That wasn't the case with that group in '05-'06. Self hopes this team progresses as much as the '05-'06 team did by January.
• Self says when you tell young kids to be aggressive, they think they have to go score. Self wants guys to be aggressive to open things up for themselves and teammates.
• Self said Frank Mason should change the pace every time he enters a game, because he'll only be playing 3-4 minutes at a time, whereas in practice, he goes for 2 1/2 hours and like all other players naturally wears down. Self is interested to see if his guys perform well in their new roles in a game.
• Self says his team has, knock on wood, adjusted to the new hand-checking rules well so far. Self heard one Div. II game had 72 fouls. That's bad ball. The scrimmages that KU has had, though, haven't had a lot of fouls. Self joked maybe that's because KU's guys aren't getting close enough to guard.
• Self said the five in the starting lineup haven't completely separated themselves. Andrew White III and Joel Embiid have played well enough to start some practices, and other practices, Jamari Traylor has been one of KU's best players. Those eight players, so far, have separated themselves from the others.
• Self thinks KU could be terrific defensively later in the year. The team isn't good defensively now. Self is excited for this team, because it has wings it can run through passes. But now, KU can't pressure the ball as well because of the new rules that don't let you get as physical with offensive players as you used to be able to.
• Wiggins needs to learn to deal with media, but at this point, Self doesn't see why Wiggins should have to do much more media from this point forward. He will be available postgame if he does well, but Self is going to try to protect him from getting worn down with having to do too much. Self feels for him, and he's never felt for one of his players like that. The less Wiggins wants the attention, the more he gets. Wiggins still has handled everything like a pro.
Lunch links: Bill Self video welcomes West Virginia; behind the scenes with Mario Chalmers in New York
A few summer links in case you missed them ...
• While doing some research on West Virginia's football team, I stumbled onto this video, which was displayed on the WVU football athletics site. Basically, it's KU coach Bill Self introducing KU (and Kansas) to West Virginia.
Which made me wonder: What's the first thing I would tell West Virginia fans about Kansas if they knew nothing about it?
I came up with two things:
Not everyone here wears cowboy hats.
Every single person here has already seen a "You're not in Kansas any more" sign in an opposing Big 12 arena or stadium. Therefore, if you make one, it will not be seen as funny and/or clever, so try to be a bit more creative.
I'm guessing there'll still be at least one of those during KU's first trip to Morgantown for basketball.
• Former Kansas guard Mario Chalmers made his way back to Lawrence last week for his annual golf tournament, but before that, he was in New York City to do multiple interviews after winning an NBA championship.
This video from The Daily gives an interesting, behind-the-scenes look at his day in NYC, which includes more wardrobe changes than I would have expected.
• For those folks interested in memorabilia ... a 1915 KU basketball jersey is being auctioned off online.
The suggested value for it: $30,000. Though right now, if the price holds, it looks like someone could get a steal for under $10K.
During the chat, Lundquist brought up this year's KU-Missouri game at Allen Fieldhouse. (He starts talking about it at the 26:35 mark.)
"That's one of the great games I've ever seen, and more because of the setting, Matt," Lundquist said. "Allen Fieldhouse, if I had to pick my favorite college basketball arena, that would probably be it."
That's pretty high praise from a guy that has seen a lot of arenas and college basketball over the years.
• Producer Kevin Willmott and former Kansas basketball player Scot Pollard are continuing to ask for KickStarter donations for their proposed independent film, "Jayhawkers," which would examine the story of KU coach Phog Allen, how he recruited Wilt Chamberlain and how that changed Lawrence.
For more information on the project, check out the video below.
• And finally, the Kansas City Chiefs are having a contest to determine the National Anthem singer for their Aug. 24 preseason game against Seattle, and one of the potential singers has deep KU ties.
Ron Gutierrez attended KU and also has performed the National Anthem at KU basketball games.
Here's his official tryout video from his audition at Arrowhead, and those who want to vote for him can do so at the same link.
Another of the five finalists, Mandy Peck, also lists a connection to KU in her bio, saying she has performed the National Anthem at Jayhawk events.