University of Kansas

One thing that made Bill Self happy during KU’s Late Night in the Phog scrimmage

Bill Self made sure to continue with tradition.

As is customary at Late Night in the Phog, the 16th-year Kansas coach joined the television broadcast during his team’s short scrimmage ... and followed by ripping his players for their substandard play.

“They’re jacking around,” he said at one point.

“He’s gotta catch that,” came after.

“What are we doing?” he added two minutes later.

Self was grumpy, and for good reason. He hates this type of selfish, disorganized basketball, which often leaves him wishing he could do something to fix it.

Yet, when Udoka Azubuike stepped to the free throw line, the coach’s mood — and tone — changed immediately.

“Watch this,” he told Jayhawk TV announcers Brian Hanni and Greg Gurley.

As Azubuike readied for his shot, Self talked about all the summer hours he’d put into improving his technique. His form was better. His shot was softer.

The attempt banged off the back rim, but the result here was less important than the process.

“He’s going to shoot it a lot better this year than he did last year,” Self said.

How much better? Remember, Azubuike made 41 percent of his freebies last season.

“I think 65 (percent) is realistic,” Self said. “If he could do that, that would help our team a lot.”

There are major differences with Azubuike, which can be spotted when comparing his form to last season.

For one, he seems to be using his left hand less on the shot, moving it more to the side of the basketball. His overall balance also appears to be improved, as he stayed more centered after Friday night’s shot compared to some of the body contortions he showed last season.

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On a night when no one should overreact to a 15-minute, no-defense-played scrimmage, this perhaps could be a real reason for optimism.

If Self says something nice during a Late Night scrimmage ... that’s a topic worth discussing.

Jesse Newell

Jesse Newell covers University of Kansas athletics for The Star.