LAWRENCE — He still loves the Mario Chalmers story. More than any other story from his first 10 seasons at Kansas, you’re most likely to hear Bill Self talk about that day in Maui eight years ago, when Chalmers couldn’t get the ball across half court.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
Chalmers was a freshman. Kansas was playing Arizona. And a young KU team turned the ball over 27 times — Chalmers had seven — in a 61-49 loss to Arizona in the Maui Invitational.
Two years later, Chalmers and the Jayhawks won the NCAA Championship. But if Self suspects that somebody is forgetting about the growing pains, he’ll pull out the Chalmers story:
Hey, remember when Mario couldn’t the ball across half court?
Self has another reason to use the story this week, as he prepares to take another freshman-dominated team to a tourney in paradise. The second-ranked Jayhawks, 4-0, will open the Battle 4 Atlantis against Wake Forest at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Sometimes you take a young team to a tropical island and it does not go so well.
“It can be a bit of a distraction,” sophomore forward Perry Ellis said. “But I feel like we all know we’re going out there to try to handle business. That’s the mind-set we want to have.”
The games at the Atlantis tourney are played in Imperial Arena, a large ballroom that is transformed into a 3,900-seat basketball court. KU will play three games in three days — beginning on Thanksgiving. If the Jayhawks beat Wake Forest on Thursday, they’ll play the winner of Villanova-Southern California on Friday.)
Kansas is coming off its most complete performance of the season, an 88-58 demolition of Towson on Friday at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks shot 60 percent and after four games, KU ranks fifth in the country in “effective field-goal percentage” (61.7 percent), which takes into account the extra value for a three-pointer.
Part of the reason, Self says, is solid shot selection.
“We haven’t shot nearly as many threes,” Self said, “and we’ve gotten the ball in tighter.”
For now, nearly 80 percent of KU’s scoring has come on two-pointers.
That’s not to say that Self is comfortable with his team’s casual use of the three-point line. KU is averaging just 14 three-point attempts per game, and that number may need to rise.
“We haven’t been very aggressive shooting them,” Self said. “When you can get other things, I can understand why they haven’t. And we’ve done a pretty good job of attacking the lane and we’ve been pretty good in transition.
“But historically, we’ve probably never shot as many threes as our opponents.”
Maui in 2015
Kansas will return to the Maui Invitational in 2015.
KU will join Indiana, St. John’s, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and host school Chaminade at the Lahaina Civic Center during Nov. 23-25, 2015.
To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/rustindodd.