Kansas and North Carolina have only played each other nine times, and KU coach Bill Self was asked if he’d have any interest in playing a home-and-home series with North Carolina.
The short answer: Yes.
“I certainly think that it would be a great, great series,” Self said. “Kentucky and North Carolina play. And I guess we’re the second- (and) third-winningest programs of all-time, and I think it would be unbelievably good if we could play.”
North Carolina coach Roy Williams had a different answer.
“No,” he said.
After blocking 10 shots against North Carolina State, one shy of the NCAA Tournament record, KU junior center Jeff Withey will likely be matched up with North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, a 7-footer and likely lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
Self has said that Withey is at his most comfortable when the Jayhawks match up with a conventional frontcourt. But with North Carolina’s John Henson, a 6-foot-11 power forward, going against Thomas Robinson, North Carolina will have a slight size advantage in the paint. And Withey will be asked to control Zeller, who had 20 points and 22 rebounds Friday against Ohio.
“He’s a physical guy,” Withey said. “Every time he shoots, I want him to think about me blocking his shot.”
Zeller added: “It will be interesting to see how we match up; I think with our size, hopefully we can give them some problems, but I think it goes both ways.Meet Stilman White
North Carolina freshman guard Stilman White has played just 168 minutes in his career, with 32 coming Friday night against Ohio. He may be asked to play major minutes again today if sophomore guard Kendall Marshall can’t go because of a wrist injury.
“I definitely got my feet wet the last game,” White said.
White had six assists and zero turnovers against Ohio, but the most earth-shattering news came Saturday, when North Carolina coach Roy Williams relayed a story from breakfast. It seems White missed his order of toast while preoccupied with his Super Jetpack video game on his iPhone. White wasn’t the only one.
“To be honest, I was playing it before I walked in here,” Henson said. “ So Stilman’s probably a little better than me, but I’m just getting on it.”
T-Rob at the point
When Robinson grabs a rebound and starts to head up the floor like a point guard, Self doesn’t cringe. Until the second time it happens.
“Thomas is a unique guy,” Self said. “When we had a player named Russell Robinson, he was going to shoot one crappy shot per game, and it could come in the first minute or the last minute. He was going to shoot one and it may not hit the rim.
“And I got to the point where I was OK, that’s his one.”
So it is with Robinson.
“That’s kind of who he is,” Self said. “One of the great things about him is he’s being aggressive. One of the bad things is he’s being aggressive.”Mr. Iba influence
Kansas doesn’t come by its defensive excellence by accident. When he was on the Oklahoma State staff, Self was greatly influenced by Eddie Sutton. Sutton played for one of the greatest defensive coaches of all time, Henry Iba, affectionally known as Mr. Iba.
“Mr. Iba came to practice all the time,” Self said. “At 84, 85 years old he was still trying to figure things out, which I thought was so cool because he knew more about ball than anybody. Working for Coach Sutton gave me an opportunity indirectly to learn Mr. Iba’s principals and philosophies because Coach Sutton followed them to a T.”