LAWRENCE — Over the years, Kansas coach Bill Self has become a master of the postgame press conference, picking his spots like a savvy point guard.
Oftentimes, when the Jayhawks play their worst, Self will project calm to the public in an effort to control the message, sharing his deepest angst only with his players. Wednesday night, after Kansas plodded past Florida Atlantic 77-54 at Allen Fieldhouse, was not one of those times.
Take Self's assessment of Thomas Robinson, who had 19 points and 17 rebounds for a KU-record sixth-straight double-double to start a season. Self pointed out that Robinson made just four of 13 field goals because he continually dribbled the ball instead of making a decisive move.
"It's a Hawaiian hangover," Self said. "Too much pineapple juice on the islands, I guess."
Self was then asked if his guards' turnover problems — the Jayhawks had 17 turnovers and 11 assists — were also a result of Kansas not properly recovering from its encouraging performance in the Maui Invitational last week.
"Now, I don't know if I can say that totally," Self said, "because we're good turning it over both inland and in Hawaii. I'll give you a stat, because I figured it out... I'm not really happy with our guard play.
"Since Towson, when we had 30 assists and five turnovers, our starting point guard (Tyshawn Taylor) has 16 assists and 21 turnovers, our starting two-guard (Elijah Johnson) has (14) assists and 15 turnovers and our starting three-guard (Travis Releford) has seven assists and 10 turnovers. That tells you, right now, that's probably the poorest ball-handling backcourt of anyone in the country when you talk about assist-to-turnover ratio.
"That can't happen when you've got good guards. Our guards are too good to play like this."
Johnson, who had 23 points last week against UCLA, went scoreless against the Owls and turned it over seven times.
"He is still in Hawaii," Self said. "He didn't get hungover, he got left there. That was a really poor night for him, and he wasn't able to change it, which is a little frustrating. Usually when things are going bad for you, you figure out some way to contribute."
That's what Robinson did for No. 15 KU, getting to the free-throw line 13 times and making 11. He also blocked four shots — contributing to the Jayhawks' 13 swats as a team.
Releford also competed hard, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Taylor had 18 points, but Self isn't necessarily looking for Taylor to be a prolific scorer.
"The thing about a point guard," Self said, "it's just as important to make the pass to start the play as it is to make the pass to finish the play. He's trying to make too many big plays."
Self's ranting and raving was well-placed, but there were some positives. Florida Atlantic (3-5) is the Sun Belt Conference preseason favorite and had not lost a game by more than 13 points this season. KU struggled all night and still won by 23 because the Jayhawks so thoroughly dominated the paint area and made 76 percent (25 of 33) of their free throws. Still, the players weren't satisfied either.
"We've got to keep our focus and not catch A.D.D. halfway through the game," Robinson said.
Self admitted that he had a feeling the Jayhawks wouldn't play their best on Wednesday. Those islands can do a number on kids, apparently.
"I knew they'd be flat," Self said. "You look at those teams coming back from Hawaii, nobody's really looked good. UCLA beat Pepperdine, but other than that everybody got their clock cleaned pretty good.... I thought we took a step backwards tonight."