Jayhawks’ offense hasn’t clicked thus far, Bill Self maintains

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Kansas’ basketball offense has failed to light up the scoreboard since the official start of practice on Sept. 28.

“I’ll be pretty candid,” Bill Self, KU’s 16th-year head coach said at Wednesday’s media day at Allen Fieldhouse, “our offense doesn’t look very good.”

This is an offense that lost explosive guards Devonté Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman off last year’s Final Four team.

“It looked much better,” Self said, “when you surround four shooters around Doke (Udoka Azubuike). Right now we are laboring to figure out the easiest way for us to score. We’ll have to score different ways. We do have bodies,” Self quickly added. “Foul problems shouldn’t be as big an issue as what has been (the case) in recent years. We’ve been ridiculously thin the last two years, but the players we had playing were really good players. We just didn’t have many of ‘em up front.”

Time will tell, but outside shooting may turn out to be an issue for this team.

“Honestly,” Self said, “last year we were a 40 percent three-point team. This year we will not be that. We have guys capable of shooting over 40 percent in situations but I don’t think over time, with the exception of maybe Lagerald (Vick). So it’ll be different.”

Self said while the offense may be lagging, having a plethora of big men in 2018-19 “should allow us to be more aggressive defensively defending the post and protecting the rim.”

An abundance of talented players has Self pondering possibly red-shirting a Jayhawk or two.

Guards Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett, Quentin Grimes, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore and Vick and forwards Ochai Agbaji, Azubuike, Dedric Lawson, Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack appear to all be quite capable of playing significant minutes if asked.

“I haven’t even thought about rotation yet,” Self said. “I’m not saying this would happen at all so don’t take it (as something that will occur). We don’t even know how you play 12. Do you try to potentially just play 10 and potentially red-shirt a couple? Do you try to play 11 and red-shirt one? Do you try to play 12 and red-shirt none?

“I do think our players that are young are good enough if they are playing five minutes a game or seven minutes a game they would be much better off obviously at age 23 than they are at 18, so. …”

Self stressed: “We haven’t got that far yet.”

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Of the lead guard situation, he noted: “You could make a case that Marcus Garrett could be our starting point guard. You could make a case Devon could or Charlie could. We could play ridiculously long or we could play two little guards at the same time. To be honest I don’t know. Seven practices or whatever we are in, it’s too early to tell.”

He conceded having a batch of talented players “is a good problem as long as there is separation by the time the season starts. You need to have some separation so everybody can see … If you are going to sub, even the reserves need to see there’s a little separation. (Players could say), ‘I may get 10 to 15 (minutes). He may get his 25 to 30.’ When everybody thinks they could be playing 20, I think that could create some chemistry issues. I’d like to see some separation.”

Self said the team’s lone senior, Vick, has shown signs of being a leader.

“He’s been a 10, no question about that,” Self said. “To me he seems more engaging, definitely more talkative, seems to be happy where he is. We’re certainly pleased with him.”

One interesting tidbit was revealed at media day. Newcomer Dedric Lawson revealed that his brother, K.J., was engaged to a fellow KU student.

“Congrats to him and his fiancee,” Dedric said, not revealing his future sister-in-law’s name. “Overall, he’s a great human being,” he added of K.J.

K.J. responded jokingly: “That ain’t their business. But I met her here and she’s a great woman. She does everything. We’ve got a great relationship and I’m just grateful for that.”

One player was absent from media day. Self said walk-on Elijah Elliott had an academic responsibility but was definitely on the team.

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