In true Bull Durham fashion, you could almost hear the players and fans asking, “Can’t you just let us enjoy the moment?”
And Saturday, Crash Dav… errr, Bill Self was quick to respond, “The moment’s over!”
“We got a chance to play a lot of guys, but we didn’t play that well. We made shots, but we didn’t play that well,” Self commented. “From a coach’s standpoint, tonight was probably as poor as we’ve played this year. If we didn’t make shots, then I’d be saying ‘very poorly.’”
But come on, coach: look at your stat sheet.
- Kansas shot nearly 61 percent from the field – including 61.5 percent from behind the arc (12-for-23).
- Wayne Simien registered his fifth double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) of the season in just 23 minutes of playing time.
- Keith Langford poured in 24 points and dished four assists against no turnovers in 23 minutes
- Aaron Miles only scored five points but handed out seven dimes with just one turnover in 25 minutes.
- Alex Galindo buried his first three of the season. And his second. And his third. He scored nine.
- J.R. Giddens scored 16 on six-of-10 shooting in 19 minutes.
There’s plenty to be happy about, right?
Not so much.
Immediately after watching his team building a 54-22 halftime lead against a badly-outmanned Ragin’ Cajun squad, Self read his team the riot act at the intermission.
“I got after them pretty good, trying to challenge them, and I didn’t think we guarded at all tonight. (Louisiana-Lafayette) beat us to loose balls, they rebounded better. I’m happy we won, I’m glad guys got to play, but you play that way on the road, you get your butt beat if you don’t make shots,” he said.
All-American candidate Wayne Simien was one of several targets. “That was probably the worst butt-chewing I’ve ever got, being up 30 or 40. He was upset about a lot of things. He expects a lot out of us, and he doesn’t want us to get complacent.”
KU built 54-22 lead in the first half, primarily on the fire power of Keith Langford, who pumped in 19 of his 24 points in the opening stanza. But even he was critical of his own performance
“To tell you the truth, I probably wasn’t being as aggressive as I should have been. The shots were there, I made them,” Langford analyzed.
Self made good on his post-Texas Christian promise Thursday night and began tinkering with his big men. However, no one was safe from his assessment. And, apparently, the much-heralded frosh missed a valuable opportunity.
When asked to evaluate the play of his three first-year big men, Self was quick to answer, “I would say, ‘very poorly.’”
“I don’t think it had anything to do with scoring points,” Self continued. “It had more to do with reaction time and being alert and doing what they’re supposed to do.”
What drew the coach’s ire? Sasha Kaun was grabbed three boards but missed more bunnies that a kid with a new BB gun in 13 minutes. Darnell Jackson bounced back from a concussion to play nine minutes and ring up six points and two rebounds in nine minutes. Finally, C.J. Giles was the first player off the KU bench, logging 10 minutes, scoring four and pulling down no rebounds.
Meanwhile, in the backcourt, Russell Robinson had five points and an assist in 15 minutes.
“I think that all our freshmen – and you could throw Russell (Robinson) in the bunch – played like it wasn’t as important tonight. And I think that all four of them had a great opportunity – especially the three big guys – to set the tone for minutes in the future. None of them took advantage of that.”
Was there anything to be positive about in the win? Yeah. Well…sort of.
Self praised, “Keith (Langford), Aaron (Miles) and J.R. (Giddens) all played well. Christian (Moody) played very well, too. Dub (Wayne Simien) was off tonight a bit, but I think those guys did some good things. But we’ve got to get better defensively. Just because (Louisiana-Lafayette) missed shots and a guy was guarding them, that’s not defense.”
“I’m not mad, but we didn’t get better tonight. That’s the thing that’s probably the most frustrating,” he said later.
What Self needs to start seeing, he says, are better, faster decisions from his young players.
“We need to get quicker minded,” he explained. “Just reactions, jumping to the ball, shoving off down-screens, moving on the pass and not the catch, playing your man before he catches it. There are numerous things we are not doing. From an individual standpoint, we certainly don’t have a team full of great defensive players, but as a team, we can be a great defensive team, and we’re not where we need to be.”
However, final exams present a unique challenge to Self and his staff in the coming week: academics must come first, but his team desperately needs work before next Saturday’s match-up with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
“This is really not a great practice week because this is finals,” the coach acknowledged. “We’ll practice Monday through Friday, but it’ll be between tests, maybe an hour and 15 minutes. Finals take priority over everything.”
“But this will be a good game to have, because the (video) tape won’t lie. We can certainly get the guys’ attention. It’s a bad week to get their attention, because academics obviously are most important, but we’ll find a way to get their attention by showing them the tape, even if it’s just in four- and five-minute clips.”
Other game notes:
- Bill Self on finals and end-of-the-semester academics: “We’ve spent numerous times talking, especially with the young guys, about what finals week is really like. It’s not a normal week. You might go a night or two with one or two hours sleep, if you do it right. I don’t know if they totally get it yet. But we’ll emphasize academics as hard as a team can. But knock on wood: They’re all going pretty good in class right now.”
- Redshirt Jeremy Case suited up for the game. Is he reconsidering the decision to redshirt, Coach? “No. He said he wanted to (dress). He must’ve run out of clean clothes.”
- Jayhawk legend Dave Robisch, who will have his jersey retired later this season, was in the crowd Saturday night. You want a big man with experience? He still looks like he could play.
- KU handed out 22 assists to just seven for the Ragin’ Cajuns.