University of Kansas

KU’s Bill Self seeks improved perimeter defense heading into Sunflower Showdown

TCU’s J.D. Miller went up for a shot over Kansas’ Josh Jackson during the first half Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. Jackson scored only four points in the Jayhawks’ 86-80 victory.
TCU’s J.D. Miller went up for a shot over Kansas’ Josh Jackson during the first half Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. Jackson scored only four points in the Jayhawks’ 86-80 victory. TNS

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self remains miffed at his guards for their effort on the defensive end in Friday night’s Big 12 Conference opener at TCU.

“I was much more upset after watching the film,” Self said Monday, still steaming in the wake of an 86-80 victory over the Horned Frogs. “We showed the entire game to the guys the next day. Tape doesn’t lie and they know. Certainly we didn’t do much of anything defensively. That was inexcusable about how our perimeter defended the other day.”

“Landen’s man (forward Vladimir Brodziansky) gets 28 (points) and I bet you he made three baskets on Landen (Lucas, 6-foot-10 senior). It’s because the guards put him in position so many times where he had to help.”

Self has delivered his message loud and clear: KU’s guards, who have been explosive on offense in helping the Jayhawks to a 12-1 record, will be expected to step up their defensive pressure in Tuesday’s Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State (12-1, 1-0 Big 12). Tipoff is 8 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.

“They’ve got both guards healthy, which is obviously a big bonus — (Barry) Brown and (Kamau) Stokes,” Self said, while also lauding 6-foot-5 newcomer Xavier Sneed, who has averaged 9.5 points and according to Self, “gives them a lot more depth off the bench.”

Kansas State will bring a 12-1 record into Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night against Kansas.

Brown, a 6-3 sophomore, averages 12.1 points per game, and the 6-foot Stokes, who missed the last 12 games of his freshman season because of injury, contributes 10.7 points and 4.4 assists a game.

“I think personally they are one of the most improved teams in the country,” Self added of the Wildcats, who were picked to finish ninth in the league’s preseason coaches poll. “They are sound defensively. They are playing with freedom offensively. They are scoring more points (75.5 to KU’s 86.5). They are looking to score early, yet are still very disciplined.”

The Wildcats, who are coming off Friday’s 65-62 home win over Texas, also have an active inside player in 6-9 senior D.J. Johnson, who averages 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.

“He’s an undersized guy that can create some problems because he’s such a great athlete. Johnson is one of my favorite players in the league. I love his energy and how he plays,” Self said.

Lucas, who is coming off a 15-point, 17-rebound effort at TCU, said he respects St. Louis native Johnson’s game.

“Personally I am matched against a big that goes after everything. I enjoy going against guys who are hard workers. Johnson is definitely one of those,” Lucas said.

The Jayhawks, who have won nine straight against K-State at Allen Fieldhouse, are ranked No. 3 in the AP poll. K-State is unranked, but receiving votes.

KU was passed in the poll this week by fellow league member Baylor (13-0, 1-0), a team that moved from No. 4 to 2 following previous No. 2 UCLA’s loss to Oregon.

“That won’t be motivation for us against K-State obviously, but that will get our guys riled up a little bit,” Self said, noting he agreed with Baylor’s positioning by the voters. Baylor won its Big 12 opener at Oklahoma, 76-50.

“I think they were six votes behind us going into this last weekend. They were far more impressive than we were,” Self said. “That doesn’t surprise me at all. They deserve to be where they are at.”

KU freshman guard Josh Jackson figures to be especially motivated for his first and likely only Sunflower Showdown game at Allen. He is coming off a four-point, 12-minute performance at TCU. Jackson was whistled for a technical foul in that game after being called for going over Brodziansky’s back for an offensive rebound early in the second half. Self was asked about the play and the technical on Monday.

The Jayhawks will host rival Kansas State at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

“I thought it was a really bogus call to begin with,” Self said of Jackson’s foul. “There’s no way I thought the official could see what happened on the inside when he’s standing directly behind. (He) had the same view I had. I thought that was a bad call.

“Josh didn’t react. When they gave him a ‘T’ I thought he reacted negatively. After I watched the tape, that was a controlled frustration. The guy across the court blows the whistle and calls the ‘T,’ which in theory they are supposed to call that. He (Jackson) bounced the ball (on court). It stayed in his hands. He set the ball down. He ran to the other end, didn’t say anything.

“The officials got one call right on that play. That was the last one,” Self added with a smile, referring to his own technical foul that followed Jackson’s technical. “That was the only call I think they got right on that play.”

Self has heard reasons why Jackson might have had a poor league opener.

“He missed two or three layups to start the game. That happens sometimes,” Self said. “I watch these games around the country. They (announcers) say, ‘Well, it’s his first conference game. Guys react differently. It’s his first road conference game.’ They make such a big deal about things that are very trivial in my opinion. In this particular case, I don’t think it was nerves. I don’t think it was the fact it was the first conference game. I just think it was a bad game. I don’t think there was really anything else to it.”

Lucas wins fantasy league

Lucas was in a great mood Monday.

“I have to announce that I just beat Tyler Self in the championship of our fantasy (football) league, so I”m pretty happy about that. Yeah, I killed him. It wasn’t even close,” Lucas said. “Overall this week has been going pretty well.”

He said four or five Jayhawks were entered in the same fantasy league.

Home streak update

KU has won 49 straight home games, including 46 straight at Allen Fieldhouse. The NCAA counts games on a school’s season-ticket package as home games, meaning three victories at the Sprint Center count on KU’s homecourt win list.

“The homecourt is obviously a huge advantage. I’m not going to lie and say it’s not,” Self said. “I think having really good players is a bigger advantage than actual number of people in the stands. I watched the three K-State games from last year. The one here (77-59 KU win) … it’s a two-point game (47-45) with 12 minutes left, then all of a sudden you get that one run (nine points in under a minute to go up by 11).

“When we haven’t been good at home, we’ve been good for three or four minutes. That three to four minutes is a run that has been able to separate ourselves,” Self added. “In large part, it’s due to the atmosphere. Guys just get confidence playing here.”