In the days after Kansas hired a new football coach, the contact between David Beaty and Bill Self was minimal — just a brief phone conversation last Thursday and a few texts. But Self said that he had already learned one thing about Beaty, who was introduced at a news conference on Monday morning.
“I know he's a night owl, texting me at midnight,” Self joked, “waking me up.”
Self added: “It's nice to see guys with energy.”
While Self is a serious football fan, he also has a vested interest in the fortunes of the KU football program. The success, or lack thereof, of Kansas football, Self says, can affect his own program—both directly and indirectly.
“There's a lot of pressure on men's basketball to be good, which it should be at Kansas, to generate a lot of revenue,” Self said. “But it does help so much when football is doing well and also putting butts in the seats, attracting television games, things like that. It brings unbelievable exposure to us.
“When we recruit, it's nice that the name 'Kansas' is out there, period. It doesn't have to be Kansas basketball, we want to be Kansas.”
Point guards healing for Kansas
Self has a mild conundrum in his backcourt. He would like to put starting point guard Frank Mason and backup Devonte’ Graham together on the floor more often, but his little guards keep getting dinged up. Graham has been nursing a sore shoulder since Kansas’ loss to Kentucky, while Mason suffered an ankle injury in Friday’s victory over Florida.
Both players are expected to play Wednesday at Georgetown, but each has been limited to certain degrees at practice. Self said Mason spent the last few days receiving treatment on his ankle, while Graham still wears a yellow jersey in practice, to limit the contact that he receives.
“Those guys need to play together some,” Self said, “there's no question about that.”
The combination of Mason and Graham was critical in an 18-point comeback against Florida, especially on the defensive end. Mason finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Graham had nine points and three steals.
“Just watching the game,” Self said, “we put so much more pressure on the defense when those guys were in there together, as opposed to when just one of them was in the game.”
Wednesday’s trip to Washington D.C. will also serve as something of a homecoming for Graham and Mason. Graham, a native of Raleigh, N.C., said his mother, grandmother and many other family members will make the four-hour drive. Mason, meanwhile, is from Petersburg, Va., which is two hours south of Washington.
“I think I’ll be a little more excited about them being in the crowd,” Graham said.
Before Monday’s practice, Graham said he enjoys playing alongside Mason, who can become more of a playmaker on offense when Graham is in the game to aid with ballh-andling duties.
“It’s a faster pace,” Graham said. “We like to get up and guard, and we can guard the two best guards. Once we’re out pressuring and running, it just gets everybody else involved.”
Self on Big 12 expansion
While the Big 12’s absence of a team in the inaugural College Football Playoff has spurred more conversation about possible Big 12 expansion, Self says he’s “fine with whatever.”
“I will say this,” Self said, “and I'm not in the meetings, but the football coaches, based on what I was told when we went to 10, were quite happy that we did not have a playoff game. That was also based before we went to the football playoff. So that may drive a different deal moving forward.”