After a busy four days in Rome, Kansas coach Bill Self altered his team’s plans after arriving at the Westin Palace Milan on Friday afternoon, deciding to give his players the night off.
While many KU staff members visited “The Last Supper” painting by Leonardo da Vinci, the Jayhawks themselves were given the opportunity to relax after a travel day that included a three-hour train ride from Rome.
The weekend promises to be hectic again. KU will play Players Group Milan at noon Central time on Saturday before wrapping up its four-game exhibition tour against Italy All Star A2 at noon Sunday.
“Hopefully the teams in Milan are a little better,” Self said. “I don’t know if that’s the case or not.”
Regardless, there’s much Self would like to learn about his own team over the next two games. At the top of the priority list is simulating a 2017-18 regular season game.
“Certainly, I’d like to be able to see how that first seven or eight do together, because we’ve only got eight guys eligible on scholarship to play the first semester,” Self said. “I’d kind of like to let those guys play for about 30 minutes and see what it looks like.”
Self brought up the possibility of using only those players in the first three quarters of a remaining game, which could mean fewer minutes for Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson, who must sit out next season because of transfer rules.
The plan also could give Self an extended look at post players Udoka Azubuike, Billy Preston and Mitch Lightfoot, who each drew the coach’s ire for stretches in Thursday’s 92-61 victory over Players Group Rome.
“Our bigs don’t rebound the ball at all,” Self said. “Doke ended up getting five. Mitch got six. Billy got two. Our big guys combine for about the same number of rebounds Marcus (Garrett) had and played more than twice as many minutes.”
Self also has been frustrated with the sloppiness showed by his team’s backups — a pattern that continued in Thursday’s victory.
“We lost a little bit when we subbed,” Self said. “ … I’d say I’m disappointed in the guys kind of understanding how to play. We just overpowered them and were able to get away with a lot of gambling and stuff like that, which you can’t do against good teams.”
Whether Milan’s squads will provide better competition remains a mystery. Self heard KU will go against some professionals from Switzerland this weekend, providing some hope the final two games will be a better test for the developing Jayhawks.
“Our guys have got to rebound the ball and play better defense,” Self said. “Hopefully we can get them to do that.”