KU’s Bill Self shoots for milestone victory against Siena
By Gary Bedore email@example.com
Streamers won’t fall from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters if No. 7-ranked Kansas, as expected, defeats Siena of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
High-fives and pats on the back might be extended to 14th-year KU coach Bill Self, however, if the Jayhawks win their 43rd straight home opener. With a victory, Self will have the most coaching wins in the tradition-rich building.
“It’d be nice, but I don’t think it’s going on anyone’s tombstone by any stretch,” Self said with a smile, referring to eventually landing the milestone victory. He noted that, “Dr. (Phog) Allen would have that record easily if he was the coach (in Allen instead of Hoch Auditorium).”
Self’s teams, for the record, are 206-9 at Allen Fieldhouse. Ted Owens went 206-47 in 19 seasons; Roy Williams 201-17 in 15 campaigns, while Larry Brown was 71-5, Dick Harp 51-29 and Allen 9-2.
Self, who says he doesn’t keep track of personal milestones, obviously isn’t taking Friday’s game for granted.
“Siena is a very good team. It’s not the team I was hoping we would come home to after a long trip,” Self said of a Saints’ squad that opened the season by defeating Cornell 89-78 at home on Nov. 13, followed by a loss Tuesday at George Washington, 77-75. Senior guard Marquis Wright and senior forwards Javion Ogunyemi and Brett Bisping average 26.0, 16.0 and 14.0 points per game respectively for Sienna, while sophomore guard Nico Clareth also averages 14.0 points per game.
“We’ll have to be ready obviously. Hopefully the crowd will be juiced for it,” Self added.
KU’s players and coaches returned Wednesday from an eight-day season-opening trip that included stops in Hawaii, where the Jayhawks fell to Indiana, 103-99 in overtime, and New York where Kansas defeated Duke, 77-75 on Tuesday.
“It’s good to be home,” Self said. “It’s not going to South Korea (for 17 days for World University Games). It’s going to Honolulu and New York City. It was a long trip. It was too long to take this time of year. Certainly it was very tiring. It would have been totally worthless if we’d come away 0-2. The fact we were able to get a win there against Duke I think made the trip worthwhile.”
Self, who gave the Jayhawks the day off Wednesday and returned to practice Thursday, hopes junior guard Devonté Graham (14.5 points per game) soon will be over his cramping problems. He suffered cramps in Kansas’ two exhibition games and first two contests of the regular season.
“I’m not a doctor. We are not going to comment on any specifics, but he’s having a problem with cramping,” Self said. “… We think we can get that under control,” Self said.
Of senior forward Landen Lucas (6.5 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game), who has been hobbled a bit by a sore foot, Self said: “I saw Landen at lunch. He said he felt good.”
Lucas had committed nine fouls while averaging 24.5 minutes in the two games.
“Even out of foul problems he should be a little more active doing some more things,” Self said, “but he got a couple of bad ones (fouls) the other night.
“I’ll say this. Some of Duke’s bigs got a couple of bad ones, too. They (refs) are calling everything, and it’s hard to post up, hard to play post defense because incidental contact — they are calling fouls now. We’ll adjust and be better moving forward. … It’s something we have to get better at. It puts our team at such a disadvantage playing out of foul trouble all the time.”
Self hopes junior forward Dwight Coleby, who is coming off ACL surgery, will be able to play soon. Coleby has not entered the first two games.
“We’re listing him as healthy,” Self said. “He’s practicing every day. It’s just that he doesn’t have the same bounce or quickness as he had last year prior to injury. He’s still working on getting it back. It’s not anything I’ve got against Dwight. It’s really not fair for our team or fair for him to put him out there if he can’t quite move to the point he needs to.”
The game against Siena and the Nov. 25 home game against UNC Asheville, are two guarantee games for Kansas in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The Jayhawks also will play UAB on Monday (approximately 8:30 p.m.) and either Georgia or George Washington on Tuesday (6:30 or approximately 9 p.m.) in the Sprint Center as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.