Bill Self did not have to go through such lengths of time in 20 seasons in Kansas. However, the coach did not appear angry or even discouraged during the rare three-game losing streak.
Self knows this is not the Jayhawks that won the national championship last season.
Kansas (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) has gone from one of the nation’s most experienced rosters to a much younger group with no proven presence in the busy big 12 conference it could be better than ever.
“We don’t have as much margin for error as we have in years past, and that’s okay,” Self said. “But (when) you don’t have much margin for error and other teams in the league are much better, it makes it harder.”
The ninth-place Jayhawks lost three in a row for only the fourth time under Self. Each loss was to a ranked conference opponent, two on the road. The last one was 75-69 at Baylor. on Monday night in a matchup between the last two national champions, this is the fifth straight win for the 17th-placed Bears.
“I’ll be honest with you, I have to take a different approach and understand that this is a marathon,” Self said. “It’s not an immediate reaction because you can react immediately in this league and at some point nine other teams will go through the same thing.”
Kansas is still full of talent.
Junior forward Jalen Wilson leads the Big 12 in scoring with 21.4 points per game and is second in rebounding with 8.6. Freshman Grady Dick (14.9 ppg), despite the streak, is the league’s best three-pointer at 43.7%, while Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCallar Jr. is averaging 7.3 rebounds. Dajuan Harris Jr. is one of the top assisters at 6.5 per game despite his long shooting difficulties.
But these Jayhawks are different from most of the great Selfie teams in the past, who played on the post with big guys like David McCormack, Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson or Udoka Azubuike.
McCormack was part of last year’s championship team along with first-round NBA draft picks Ochai Agbaji and Christian Brown. The Jayhawks also lost ball carrier Remy Martin and veteran sharpshooter Jalen Coleman-Lands.
Kansas is playing its SEC/Big 12 Challenge game Saturday in Kentucky (14-6), which won 80-62 at Allen Fieldhouse last season. The Jayhawks will try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 1988-89, their first season under coach Roy Williams.
After heading to Rupp Arena to face coach John Calipari’s struggling Wildcats, the Jayhawks return to conference play against fifth-seeded Kansas State. They then open the second half of their Big 12 schedule at No. 12 in Iowa before taking No. 10 in Texas.
Their current drift started with an 83-82 overtime loss. last week in K-State, which had a 14-point lead midway through the first half. TCU, now ranked 11th, landed 13 of their first 15 shots and had a 19-0 early in an 83-60 win on Saturday. second largest home loss in the Self era.
“Our league is so good,” Self said. “It will be hard.”
The Jayhawks were 13 points behind midway through the first half at Baylor. They took their only lead when Wilson hit a three-pointer with 15 1/2 minutes left, but the Bears responded with a 12-3 run.
“The way K-State played the first 10 minutes, the way TCU played the first 10 minutes, and the way Baylor played the first 10 minutes, if we had played really well, we would still be behind,” Self said. before using the wrestling analogy inspired by seeing two former Oklahoma State classmates in the interview room after the Baylor game.
Brad Livingston was a senior at Oklahoma State in 1981-82 when Self was a rookie with the Cowboys. Livingston’s wife, Baylor president Linda Livingston, also played basketball at a school in Stillwater, where wrestling is widespread.
“When you’re at the top and you have time to ride, it takes twice as much energy if you’re the shortest man in the fight. … It’s the same in basketball,” Self said. “When you fall behind, more energy is required, everything increases, more effort is required. And when you play solo, obviously, you are looser, everything is not for life and not for death.
AP Collegiate Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.
Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.