Self confident KU freshman Grimes will shake slump: ‘He’ll get out of it’

Quentin Grimes led all scorers in Kansas’ 92-87 season-opening victory over Michigan State at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound McDonald’s All-American and MVP of last summer’s FIBA Americas Under-18 World Championships followed that clutch 21-point, four-assist outing with 10 points and 10 assists in an 84-68 home victory over Vermont.

Since then?

“He’s in a funk. I mean that’s just calling it like it is,” KU basketball coach Bill Self said Saturday when asked specifically about Grimes. The Woodlands, Texas native scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting (0-for-3 from three) with a rebound and a turnover in 16 minutes in KU’s 90-84 overtime win over Stanford at Allen Fieldhouse.

“He’ll get out of it,” Self quickly added, “but he’s going to have to get out of it (himself). That’s the thing. (People may ask) are you showing confidence? Well, he’s starting every game. He’s still playing 25 minutes a game (25.8 mpg average). But the bottom line is he’s got to produce.”

Grimes followed a six-point (2-of-7 shooting), three-assist outing against Louisiana in Game Three (89-76 win), with a pair of sub-par performances at the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, N.Y.

He scored three points (0-for-3 shooting) and grabbed four rebounds in a 77-68 semifinal victory over Marquette and had five points (1-of-4 shooting) with four rebounds in an 87-81 title win over Tennessee.

That tourney preceded Saturday’s outing.

“Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, to figure out how to win and how to get some things early in your career,” Self said. “I’d rather it happen now rather than happen in conference play. He’ll get it figured out.”

Self said Grimes looked like he’d turned things around at Friday’s workout — just hours before the Stanford game.

“He had a great practice yesterday, great,” Self said. “I didn’t like today, not because he missed shots. I didn’t think he was very engaged. He did make one real good move and they goaltended the ball and didn’t call it. Doke (Udoka Azubuike) ended up scoring.

“I think he’s capable of playing a lot more aggressive and better than what he is,” Self added.

Grimes’ sub-par outings haven’t hurt the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks in the big picture. No. 2-ranked KU will take a 6-0 record into Tuesday’s 7 p.m., home game against Wofford.

“I don’t want him to really think much at all once he gets out there,” Self said of Grimes, who is KU’s fifth leading scorer at 7.8 points a game on 35.7 percent shooting. He’s made 9 of 22 threes for 40.9 percent and 8 of 13 free throws for 61.5 percent. He has three steals all season as well as 17 assists, 10 turnovers.

“I’d like for him to watch tape and study and say, ‘OK, now we have to get the ball downhill and what am I not doing to put pressure on the defense?’ From an activity standpoint,” Self stated, “three steals in 150 minutes and Marcus Garrett can get four today (vs. the Cardinal)? Steal your team some possessions. It’s not he can’t do that. I’ve seen him do that. I coached him this summer doing it (for Under-18 team). He’s a little bit tied up mentally and his feet are not reacting as quickly a they are capable of reacting. He’ll get that.”

Haase had team ready, Self says

Self was asked his opinion of former KU guard Jerod Haase’s Stanford team, which fell to 4-4 Saturday.

“They were better prepared obviously,” Self said. “I thought he did a much better job than what the coach on the other side of the court did. I thought they played with poise. I know that has to be a hard, heartbreaking loss for them.

“I asked him before the game, ‘Do you like your guys?’ He said, ‘I really do.’ He said, ‘We’re going to get really good, I just don’t know when, if it’ll happen today or next month or three months.’ He said, ‘I think we’re going to be a good team.’ I would agree. Anytime you have length and can switch five spots, a lot of times it is an advantage and certainly creates problems,” Self added.

Haase ‘proud’ of Cardinal

Haase, a fiery competitor during his playing days at KU, was a bit emotional in the media room after the OT loss.

“There’s a lot of thoughts,” third-year Stanford coach Haase said. “I think I’ve been around here long enough to know these opportunities (to win at Allen as a visitor) don’t happen very often in life. When you get these opportunities, you want to take advantage of them. We are in this situation in this profession you get more (opportunities) than other people, but you want to take advantage of those opportunities and we didn’t. That’s probably my first thought. The lingering thought and one I’m going to continue with is how proud I am of the guys.”

Haase did not want KU’s Lagerald Vick to hoist a three on KU’s last possession of regulation. However, there was too much time left for him to consider fouling Vick before he shot a game-tying, overtime-inducing three that swished with :07 left.

“The fact is it was an unbelievable shot and we had quite a bit of time. We weren’t effective (in final :07) when we got the ball back,” Haase said. “I do have a plan, a personal belief in when to foul (with three-point lead). It (time) was well over that number. If we go out and do it again, I’lll probably foul,” he added, smiling. “I’ll probably second guess certain things but to be honest with you, that’s one I won’t.”

Comeback impressive

Self’s Jayhawks have trailed by eight or more points in each of their last five games (all wins). Stanford led by 12 points with just over 12 minutes left Saturday.

“To win that game, ‘miracle’ is probably too strong (of a word) but that was a long-shot win,” Self said.

Vick torrid from three

KU’s Vick has made 28 of 43 threes (65.1 percent) over the last five games. According to ESPN’s John Gasaway, no other player since 2010-11 has made better than 60 percent of his threes on 43 or more attempts. For the year, Vick is 28 of 47 for 59.6 percent. He scored 19 of his 27 points Saturday in the final 7:30 of the second half and overtime.

Hurt update

Matthew Hurt, a 6-9 senior forward from John Marshall High in Rochester, Minn., made his first official visit — to Kentucky — over the weekend. Hurt, who is ranked No. 7 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by, tells analyst Eric Bossi will visit North Carolina on Dec. 15, Duke on Jan. 19 and Kansas for the KU-Texas Tech game on Feb. 2. He said his fifth visit would be to either Memphis, Villanova or Minnesota.

“They (KU coaches) always told me I’m their guy in that class and that I could make an impact as a freshman,” Hurt told Of being coached by Self in the FIBA Americas tournament, he said: “It was pretty cool and a good experience for me. I got to see what he’s like in a practice, in a game, how he plays his players so I think their message is the same.”

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Gary Bedore

Gary Bedore covers University of Kansas athletics for The Star.

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