The No. 2-seed Kansas Jayhawks are tackling one of the unique challenges of the NCAA Tournament: jam-packed weekends that force near-instant preparation for quality opponents. After rallying to stop upset-minded Eastern Kentucky with an 80-69 victory Friday at the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis, KU is hustling to get ready for Sunday’s 11:15 a.m. game (CBS) against No. 10-seed Stanford, which on Friday upset New Mexico.
When asked how he and his assistants prepare players for a team they haven’t faced in just one day, coach Bill Self replied, “The chances of them seeing more than one or two minutes of edit tape of the previous game would be very, very slim. Your focus is the next game. So we may say, ‘Hey, when we ran this, this didn’t quite look right; if we do it this way it maybe improve it.’ But that’s it. Our focus will be on the next team.”
Asked whether Self’s coaching style changes during the tournament, sophomore forward Jamari Traylor said it was too late in the season for Self or anybody else to inspire the players: “He shouldn’t have to coach us for intensity this time of year because everybody wants it and everybody wants to come out and give it their best shot. I don’t think that is a good look on your team if you have to coach that right now. So it’s just the same thing: Give everybody confidence and tell us what we’re doing wrong at times, and that’s about it.”
Traylor backed up his statements about intensity against Eastern Kentucky, propelling the Jayhawks’ second-half rally with 17 points and 14 rebounds and a determined energy that fueled his teammates.
“He gave us so much energy tonight,” said sophomore forward Perry Ellis, “there are no words to explain.”
Said Self, “I don’t know if he’s had a better game. I agree with what Perry said. I think he gave us the energy.”
Also hustling to prepare for the early Sunday game were KU Alumni Association staff members, who will against host, along with Kansas Athletics, KU’s official pregame rally at America’s Center, adjacent to the Edward Jones Dome, a 15-minute walk from the Scottrade Center.
Doors will open at 8 a.m. and the band, cheerleaders and Big Jay will launch the festivities at 9:30. As with Friday, there is no cover charge (with cash bars, concessions and KU Store merchandise), and the large room will remain open as a TV watch site for those without tickets.