NCAA Tournament

Late start? KU has an app for that

By the time many watching the Kansas-North Carolina State game turn off the light for bed, the Jayhawks will be boarding a bus at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis to head back to the team hotel.

A meal will await, and players’ heads don’t figure to hit their pillows until around 2 a.m.

Hey, television has to get its money’s worth after paying $10.8 billion for the NCAA Tournament. What’s a little inconvenience for the kids?

Besides, Kansas has a plan for the evening/early morning.

“We have a plan for everything,” said Barry Hinson, the Jayhawks’ director of basketball operations.

Even for games that start at 9:17 p.m., as Friday’s schedule dictates.

Hinson and team nutritionists have met to plan meals. Late-night games require lighter fares for dinner, and with Lent, fish will be on Friday’s menu.

But at least Kansas is used to the drill. The Jayhawks played four Big Monday games that started a few minutes after 8 p.m.

KU’s NCAA Tournament games in Omaha, Neb., last week were the latest starts in that bracket.

For nocturnal players, the toughest part is waiting to play.

“I don’t think people expected that much downtime,” Kansas guard Elijah Johnson said. “Now we know you have to rest all day and get ready to play at night.”

Hinson said if there’s one advantage to Friday’s tip, it’s that the Jayhawks aren’t changing time zones. North Carolina State will be.

“Being on your biological clock makes a difference — even being off just one hour can throw things off,” Hinson said.

Night games are the domain of popular teams and good matchups. Often, late games mean projected good contests.

“The good programs are in prime time,” Hinson said. “We’re not complaining.”