LAWRENCE — Odds are, not many of the Kansas Jayhawks will know very much about five of their next six opponents.
Oakland, Tennessee Tech and Alcorn State will lead into KU's Dec. 6 showdown at UCLA, which is followed by Radford and La Salle. KU coach Bill Self said he will try to be honest with his top-ranked team about what it should expect from less familiar competition. In the case of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, tonight's opponent from the Summit League, Self won't have to embellish to get their attention.
"We will be honest with them that this is a team that has a history of beating people," Self said, "and they could certainly beat us if we don't come ready to play."
Oakland, located outside Detroit, returns all five of its starters from a 23-13 team, and the Golden Grizzlies have been picked to win the Summit. For a point of reference, Oakland nearly won the Summit last year, losing to North Dakota State 66-64 in the Summit Tournament title game. North Dakota State, of course, put a scare into KU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before the Jayhawks prevailed 84-74.
"I think they'll be a very, very difficult game for us," Self said. "With the exception of Memphis, they're by far the best challenge we've had, and it may be comparable to the Memphis game."
Apparently, the Jayhawks have taken notice.
"It's one of those games you really look forward to," center Cole Aldrich said.
Point guard Sherron Collins said: "They're a tough team, scrappy. We're not looking at any team as a pushover."