It's All Perspective

Bill Self (John Rieger/US PRESSWIRE)

Perspective is something Kansas Head Coach Bill Self has and so do his players.

No time is it more apparent than after a loss. Bill Self has the uncanny ability to turn an "L" into a learning experience and never seems to let his teams turn one loss into two.

In fact, it's such a rarity that the Jayhawks drop two in a row that senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has NEVER been on the losing side of things for two games straight and you have to look all the way back to the 2005-2006 Jayhawks to find the last time there was a two-game losing streak for Self.

"I don't think we like the feeling of losing," said Taylor who leads the team in scoring in Big 12 play averaging 19.0 ppg. "We always come in with a good attitude and we try to get better and learn from our mistakes that we made in the previous game."

"I think our team is pretty tough," Self said. "To be honest, I'm glad we're not playing tonight because that to me would be a quick turnaround after driving all night and getting back at three the next day. I'm glad we're playing Wednesday instead of Monday, but I think our guys will bounce back."

"It's just a feeling of not wanting to lose again," said Thomas Robinson who scored 29 points Saturday vs. Missouri and pulled down 13 rebounds.  "You still have that bad taste from the last game, so going into the game after that you want to get that taste out of your mouth."

"I'm not used to losing and I don't like how it feels," said Taylor. "I don't even know how to handle it sometimes. I don't know what I'm supposed to do, how I'm supposed to act. I'm not used to it and I don't like it. I'm sure my teammates feel the same way."

If KU is to avoid further losses there are still lessons that must be learned from Saturday's loss at Missouri. The Jayhawks left Columbia disappointed. After earning an 8-point lead with three minutes to go Kansas let it slip away and was outscored 11-0 the rest of the way. But the vibes are more positive than negative for this Jayhawk squad. 

"We left Missouri with three things; (Missouri) is really good, we need to be able to close out games and we are really good," Self told reporters at his weekly news conference. "Those are things that are different from when we played Davidson in Kansas City; I had some different thoughts leaving that game."

 "If anything, I'm leaving Columbia thinking that we have a chance to have a really good team. It's a totally different feel than when we played Davidson. I see a lot of positives leaving Missouri. I didn't see any positives leaving Kansas City versus Davidson."

There are a couple of things Kansas does need to fine tune quickly. Baylor is talented and will be looking for payback after KU handed the Bears their first loss of the season a few weeks ago.

"We made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized on our unforced turnovers and unforced errors, period," assessed Taylor. "We have to clean it up a little bit because those mistakes are easily fixable. Now, we just have to fix them."

"We didn't close the game out and we didn't guard. Maybe the whistle did not go our way but we still have to guard," said Robinson referencing the charging calls late. "The referee didn't make those shots go in for Marcus Denmon. That is what it came down to, because we didn't guard out there."

As KU has hit its stride of late the maturation and blooming confidence of Jeff Withey has been a big part of the equation. Withey's presence on the interior has been a factor on both ends of the floor and it has alleviated the ability of teams to double and triple team Robinson. On Saturday, most of which 6-5 Kim English guarded him, Withey took just one shot and scored no points. Missouri took away interior passes in the first half and in the second half KU had more success operating with Thomas Robinson alone in the post.  In order to be a top tier team Kansas still needs Withey's contributions.

"I think that I can help out offensively. Not scoring any points and being out on the floor for 20 minutes is not very good for me. If I can be more of a threat that helps out everybody on the floor," said Withey. "I definitely want to be able to score, that way it relieves pressure on the other guys."

"I'm going to tell him that we need him to be a factor after I show him the tape of the first game against Baylor," Self answered when asked what he would tell Withey before this game. "I always think big guys who are really big play better against other big guys. I've never thought big guys play well against little guys, and you see that all the time in high school basketball. I think Jeff will play better playing against another tall guy."

"It was difficult," said Withey of playing Missouri on Saturday night. "I felt like I was up-screening and helping Thomas get some looks. I feel like the game plan worked pretty well. We were up when we needed to be and then something just happened. I try helping out the team anyway I can whether that be screening, rebounding or blocking shots."

While Kansas will be looking for Withey more you can be sure that one thing won't change. Self still knows that in a critical situation down the stretch he still wants the ball in Tyshawn's hands. Taylor missed a couple of critical free throws, had a charge, and another turnover down the stretch vs. Missouri.

"That kid played great, he really played great," Self said about his senior guard. "If I had to do it all over again, I would have him on the free throw line more than anyone else on our team. He likes that moment more than anybody else. I don't have anything remotely negative to say about him, he lost the ball once and he charged once and I know he wishes he could have that back."

Taylor has scored 15 or more in his last eight games and scored 28 the first outing against Baylor.

Kansas hasn't lost two in a row but going to Waco after losing two out of three is not easy. Kansas needs to answer against Baylor to remain in reach of the top spot in the Big 12 standings.

"I know our schedule is tough," Taylor continued. "We're going to keep trucking and getting better. It was a tough loss Saturday, but it isn't the end of our season. It's not even the end of the Big 12 race. We have a good team that will continue to get better and I think we are getting better. We just need to tune some things up and we'll be fine."

"We know that in order to win the Big 12 you have to win road games and this one is going to be really tough against a really good Baylor team," said Withey.

"We just have to be aggressive, come out stronger and finish stronger," said Robinson.

Kansas has perspective, a game plan, and stellar preparation. Self will once again have his team ready to go into a hostile environment and give all it can handle as KU once again looks to provide a quality bounce back win.

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