Last December, Bill Self met President Barack Obama before a scheduled speech in Osawatomie, Kan.
Obama, famous for his affinity for basketball, wanted to talk hoops, and Self playfully ribbed Obama for picking Kansas to win the NCAA championship in his bracket — a prediction that did not come true.
Perhaps Self and Kansas can inflict some on-court revenge on Friday night against Oregon State — a team coached by Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig Robinson. In fact, the history goes beyond presidential predictions.
Robinson, the older brother of First Lady Michelle Obama, was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year at Princeton in the early 1980s. And Self first met Robinson in the NCAA Tournament in 1983, when Robinson’s Princeton squad back-doored its way to a 56-53 upset over Self’s Oklahoma State team in the first round in Corvallis, Ore.
“He played for Peter Carril at Princeton,” Self said, “and our immaturity and lack of discipline allowed Princeton to beat us 56-53 running all their stuff.”
Oregon State is 4-1 entering Friday’s game at the Sprint Center. But Self joked on Wednesday that the results of the latest presidential election perhaps gave Robinson a little bit of a recruiting boost.
“He’s a good guy,” Self said. “You would think he would have a little bit more juice making recruiting calls over the last four years and the next four years.”
Power forwards battle for minutes
Kansas junior Kevin Young is slotted into the role as the Jayhawks’ starting power forward. But for now, the designation is hardly set in stone.
Self said he was still searching for more consistent production from the spot after the Jayhawks’ 70-57 victory over San Jose State on Monday. Young finished with six points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes, while freshmen Perry Ellis (four points) and Jamari Traylor (two points) were largely unproductive.
“If we combine those three guys the other night, we got very little out of any of them,” Self said.
For now, the Jayhawks are taking a forward-by-committee approach. Self views Traylor as the best defender, Ellis as the most natural scorer and Young as the best at stealing extra possessions and facilitating offense. But all three, Self said, need to do more.
“There’s been times when you combine them, and it looks like very good production,” Self said. “That’s still a situation that I think is pretty inconsistent, and those guys should be fighting for minutes everyday.”
Another Pac-12 test
The matchup against Oregon State is the second of three games against the Pac-12 during a five-game stretch. Kansas will play host to Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 8. Kansas is 14-4 against Pac-12 schools and has won the last nine meetings against the league's opponents.
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