University of Kansas

KU working on WVU press: ‘You’ve got to be composed, really look at your options’

Devon Dotson on how KU prepares for West Virginia’s press

KU basketball coach Bill Self throws everything at his team to prepare for West Virginia's full-court pressure. Devon Dotson says they even go 9 on 5 in practice. Is that true? Kansas plays WVU on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.
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KU basketball coach Bill Self throws everything at his team to prepare for West Virginia's full-court pressure. Devon Dotson says they even go 9 on 5 in practice. Is that true? Kansas plays WVU on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self uses scholarship players, walk-ons and even some of the Jayhawks’ student managers to swarm the starters during frantic full-court drills held in advance of the KU-West Virginia game.

The No. 7-ranked Jayhawks (15-2, 4-1 Big 12), who take on the Mountaineers (8-9, 0-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va., have been pestered by coach Bob Huggins’ pressing style of play in the past.

“We’ve been doing different drills — 9-on-5, 8-on-5, 6-on-5,” KU freshman point guard Devon Dotson said of live scrimmage situations in which KU’s scout team outnumbers the five-man starting unit while mimicking West Virginia’s press.

“You’ve got to be composed, really look at your options. It is difficult but you’ve got to get through it. We’ve broken it, yeah,” Dotson added with a smile.

The Jayhawks snapped a four-game losing streak at West Virginia last season. KU is 2-4 overall at WVU since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012.

“It goes back … any time we played against Mike we played against eight at practice,” Self said of preparing for former Mizzou coach Mike Anderson’s press. “It’s a lot easier playing against five after you play against eight, at least in theory. I think it’s just something we decided to do.

West Virginia may be 0-5 in Big 12 Conference basketball games, but KU coach Bill Self knows the Kansas Jayhawks face a tough challenge at West Virginia on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019: "they are more dangerous than their record," Self said.

“You can’t simulate how good their press is playing against five. Obviously you put more out there to offset maybe not having a (Jevon) Carter or (Daxter) Miles in the backcourt.”

KU had just 13 turnovers in a 71-66 victory over the Mountaineers last season in Morgantown. KU did trail in that game, 41-28, at the break.

“Last year … I saw (on film) they were ball pressuring, trapping everywhere, constantly hounding the ballcarrier,” Dotson said. “We are trying to get better and prepare for it.”

With the loss of key big man Udoka Azubuike, you would think the Kansas Jayhawks would spend hours on the practice court trying to reinvent themselves. Not so, and KU basketball coach Bill Self explains why.

Self won’t attend KC-Pats game

Self said he is not planning on attending the AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I think it’s great. I think it’s awesome they are doing so well,” Self said of the Chiefs. “I think they will play great on Sunday. We play Iowa State I believe on Monday (8 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse). We won’t be going to the Chiefs game on Sunday.”

With the Jayhawks facing Iowa State on Monday, is KU basketball coach Bill Self headed to the Chiefs-Patriots AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019? "I think they'll play great," Self said during a Thursday press conference.

Scoreboard watching

KU and Texas Tech are tied for first place in the Big 12 with 4-1 records. Iowa State handed the Red Raiders their first loss of the conference season, 68-64, on Wednesday in Lubbock, Texas.

“I did not watch one play. I saw the ticker and said I would follow it on the ticker. I didn’t watch one possession. It’s too early in the season to be hopeful on something happening,” said Self, who insists he’s not scoreboard watching so early in the season. “I really thought Tech was a team that would be hard for anybody to beat them anywhere, so that win that Iowa State had was the most impressive win so far in our league.”

As Self ate dinner he did watch one game Wednesday. Kansas State stopped Oklahoma, 74-61, in Norman, Okla.

“K-State looked great,” Self said.

KU and Texas Tech lead the standings at 4-1, followed by Iowa State and K-State (3-2), TCU and Baylor (2-2), Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State (2-3) and West Virginia (0-5).

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Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star — the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting. He attended KU and was born and raised in Chicago, as well as Lisle, Ill.