Kansas coach Bill Self in no hurry to determine who plays where during 2020-21 season
The Kansas men’s basketball team will be welcoming a handful of new faces and seeking to replace popular starters Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike in the upcoming season, but coach Bill Self is hardly concerned with roles and minutes right now.
“As far as tinkering and stuff, it’s hard for me to come up with ideas on how to play when I haven’t even seen four of them play yet,” Self said of newcomers Bryce Thompson, Tyon Grant-Foster, Gethro Muscadin and Latrell Jossell during a recent episode of his “Hawk Talk” radio show.
Now, of course, Self has seen all four play basketball. But he has not seen them do it at Kansas, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a while since he’s seen them play at all. So even as talented as all four newcomers were with their high school and AAU teams, the next time Self sees any of them play will effectively be the first.
When he finally does get to see them, there will be rust. There will be growth, physical and otherwise. And all four will need time to adjust to college, Kansas, their coach and the grind.
As of today, KU’s players are expected to report to campus for summer workouts by July 19. Coaches can start working with them in a limited capacity beginning July 20. Both dates still could change as the pandemic continues to play out, but the roster likely will not.
None of this is to say that the Hall of Fame coach with more than 700 victories has no idea what he’ll do for the upcoming season. Self will probably do what he normally does, preaching defense, ball movement, effort and toughness.
The ones who handle it the best and deliver under pressure will be the ones who play the most minutes. And with the excess depth both on the perimeter and down low, Self will have many options.
“I see us playing four around one a lot,” Self said of the four-guard approach that has become the norm during recent seasons. “But we’re still going to have to play two bigs some.”
The roster has nine perimeter players, three of whom can play the 4 position in small lineups and four of whom will be playing their first games at Kansas during the 2020-21 season — five if you count redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson, who played all of two minutes in two games before getting injured last season.
The roster also has four big men who, most nights, will be asked to hold down one spot.
As a result, there are plenty of options. Three ball-handlers and two bigs? Check. Four long and athletic wings and one big man? Check. Three shooters and two bruisers? Check. And on and on.
“So let’s get them here,” Self said. “And then we’ll mess around and come up with hopefully some stuff that’ll probably look a lot like the past, (with) maybe some tweaking going on to best fit our personnel.”