One day after No. 5 Kansas’ 92-75 exhibition victory over Fort Hays State, here are three thoughts on the Jayhawks:
•1. Kansas played an exhibition game against a Division II opponent
, essentially a much louder and better attended scrimmage (Bill Self played 11 players more than 10 minutes) and the focus still stayed on freshman Andrew Wiggins, who had a pretty quiet night.
Some of that came after Bill Self’s postgame comments, when he said he held Wiggins out for a few extra possessions in the first half because he didn’t feel like Wiggins was playing as hard as he could — at least, not up to Self’s expectations.
That changed, Self says, when he returned late in the first half and into the second half.
“He did OK,” Self said of Wiggins. “He didn’t have any success early and he didn’t play much. I thought he was better when he got back in.”
If there was concern over Wiggins’ night, some of it feels a little premature. Wiggins still ended up playing 20 minutes — no KU regular played more than 20 — and Self has made a career by pushing the right buttons with freshmen that tend to coast at times.
Brandon Rush was that way. So was Ben McLemore.
One curse of Andrew Wiggins’ immense talent is that he can make things look effortless. After Kansas scored its first 50 points with Wiggins remaining scoreless, Wiggins entered in the final minutes of the first half and glided in for an easy dunk. He finished the half scoring six straight points.Hey, that was easy, Why doesn’t he just do that all time?
That, of course, isn’t quite how it works.
Still, Wiggins finished with 10 points in 20 minutes in his second game in Allen Fieldhouse, and if he played starter’s minutes — let’s say 32 — he probably would have finished with 15 or 16 points. But this was an exhibition game against a team from the MIAA. And Self was rotating in players like a good-natured youth coach.
Wiggins is still learning how to play hard all the time and how to play for Self. In that regard, he is like most Kansas freshmen that have played two exhibition games.
That changes on Friday when Kansas opens against Louisiana-Monroe. And perhaps any concern over Wiggins’ night against Fort Hays State — however minimal it might be — can wait for the regular season.
•2. Wayne Selden looked a lot more comfortable.
When a coach distributes the minutes like Self did on Tuesday, it’s easy to miss a few things in the box score. Selden, a freshman wing, finished with 13 points while shooting five-of-eight from the field in 20 minutes, and it didn’t really garner much attention after the game.
Some of that might have been the fact that Selden didn’t speak to reporters after the game — that duty fell to Jamari Traylor, Frank Mason and Perry Ellis. But Selden certainly looked more at ease than he did against Pitt State last week, when he picked up two early fouls and never quite got in sync.
In six days, Kansas will play No. 4 Duke at the Champions Classic in Chicago. If the Jayhawks are going to beat the Blue Devils, their young players will need to handle the big-time atmosphere. We’ll analyze plenty about the matchup between Wiggins and Duke freshman Jabari Parker in the next six days, but for the Jayhawks, their other freshman starter could be just as important.
•3. Sophomore forward Jamari Traylor appears to have taken a step forward. Bill Self loves Traylor, loves his toughness, loves his motor, loves his story
. But as Traylor prepares to return to his hometown of Chicago next week, he also looks like he could become a major contributor off the bench.
Traylor was four of four from the field while finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds in an active 17 minutes.
“I’m looking forward to the game Friday first,” Traylor said. “But Chicago is gonna be nice to play in front of my family back home.”