A quick rundown of developments, notes and quotes about the Kansas basketball team from Thursday’s NCAA Tournament interview and practice day at the CenturyLink Center.
▪ The Star’s Sam Mellinger wrote about KU’s expectations.
▪ The Star’s Vahe Gregorian wrote that New Mexico State is undaunted by KU’s credentials.
▪ KU freshman Kelly Oubre explained the meaning of his elaborate arm tattoos, one of which pays tribute to New Orleans:
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
▪ KU forward Perry Ellis, who returned to the Jayhawks’ lineup while wearing a brace on his sprained knee during the Big 12 Tournament, said he is continuing to heal and is bothered less by the injury.
“Time is good for healing,” he said. “It’s getting better and better. I’m doing everything full pace.
“I’ve been going through so many different reps … I’m not thinking about it no more.”
KU coach Bill Self said he gave Ellis the day off Monday but that he’s practiced the last three days.
“He’s been terrific,” Self said. “He hasn’t winced once; he hasn’t had to come out, none of that stuff.
“He probably hasn’t shot the ball consistently as well as what he was before the injury, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the injury.
▪ New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said his team will mix up its defensive strategy, showing some full-court press as well as zone defense.
“Guys that have turned ‘em (Kansas) over have been guys that are quick and long and athletic,” he said.
Self said New Mexico State’s front line of 6-foot-8 Remi Berry, 6-9 Pascal Siakam and 6-10 Tshilidzi Nephawe will give KU a challenge in getting the ball inside.
“Their zone is a distorted 3-2 that looks like a 4-1, because they bring their guys up really high, at least initially,” Self said. “It’s from the same family that Baylor does, so at least we’ve gone against Baylor three times where we had to attack their zone.”
▪ Nine of New Mexico State’s 13 active players are from outside the United States, including Nephawe of South Africa (more on him from The Star’s Vahe Gregorian), who said during a news conference that “I think I’m bigger and stronger than everybody, so I think I will have an advantage over them.”
Known as “Chili” (his full name is pronounced Cha-LEE-zee Nah-POW-way), Nephawe was the MVP of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
▪ Rustin Dodd, The Star’s KU beat reporter, and Gregorian break down the game, which is set for an 11:15 a.m. Friday tipoff on CBS.