University of Kansas

Boot camp a success so far, Self says: ‘I can’t get over how hard they are trying’

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has been thoroughly pleased with the performance of his Jayhawk players during Week one (of two) early-morning boot-camp conditioning sessions in the team’s practice facility adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse.

“Boot camp has been good, very good. As long as we finish strong it would be as good a week as we’ve had,” Self told The Star on Thursday night.

“I know it doesn’t translate to playing well (in games),” Self added, “but attitude, togetherness in conditioning has been very good. I can’t get over how hard they are trying,” Self added.

Known as a tough drill sergeant during 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Boot Camp sessions, Self nonetheless said he is aware an hour’s worth of sprints, defensive slides and backboard touches are difficult for players to conquer.

“It’s hard because sometimes you don’t see the finish line,” Self said. “These guys have tried even not knowing where the finish line is.”

As far as leaders ... Self agreed with sophomore Marcus Garrett’s early-week assertion that senior Lagerald Vick is doing a good job in that department.

“He’s doing fine,” Self said. “There is (leadership) by committee. A lot of guys are trying to lead in their own way. Whether it be Doke (Udoka Azubuike) or Dedric (Lawson) or K.J. (Lawson) or Marcus (Garrett) or Lagerald, whoever. I think we have a long ways to go to know who the leaders are. They are all looking good.”

Of the freshmen, Self said: “They are all trying very hard.”

Self noted that, “there is little separation. I still don’t know who our best players are right now. Everybody looks about the same to me.”

Even one manager has stepped up at boot camp this week, shown for all to see in a highlight video on the Kansas basketball (@KUHoops) Twitter account.

“Two guys were late (at some point this week). I said I was going to run the whole team unless Ollie ran it. I said, ‘Ollie, what is it? You run or the whole team runs?’ He said, ‘I’ll take care of it,’’’ Self said of manager Riley (“Ollie”) Cobb.

Cobb made his time in a sprint drill called a 22 (halfcourt and back, fullcourt and back in 22 seconds) while pushing a mop — an exercise Self added to make the drill a bit more interesting.

“He’s something. You can see he’s fast,” Self said, lauding Cobb, who actually made the time in 20 seconds.

Self said the plan was to run boot camp Friday, reconvene at 6 a.m. Monday and finish drills on Tuesday morning. The Marines come to town with “The Program” on Wednesday and Thursday with Late Night in the Phog set for Friday night, Sept 28. “The Program” is a conditioning exercise that focuses on developing team leadership skills.

Gary Bedore

Gary Bedore covers University of Kansas athletics for The Star.