Bill Self expects some opening night jitters from Kansas’ basketball newcomers Tuesday night.
“I think they’ll be nervous regardless of how cool they think they are and how worldly they are,” Self said with a smile of freshmen Udoka Azubuike, Josh Jackson and Mitch Lightfoot. They and Ole Miss transfer Dwight Coleby will make their KU debuts in an exhibition contest against Washburn in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I know they were nervous during Late Night (on Oct. 1) so they’ll be nervous (Tuesday). There will be some air balls and some bad passes and those things that occur. I think that’s par for the course all around America,” added Self, KU’s 14th-year coach.
“I’m as excited about this particular team as any team we’ve had since we’ve been here. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I could be more challenged or we could be more challenged and yet have the potential to be very good.”
His No. 3-ranked Jayhawks, who play a second exhibition against Emporia State on Sunday, open for real against No. 11 Indiana on Nov. 11 in Honolulu and No. 1 Duke four days after that in New York.
“I’m not going to change how we play in the first two (exhibition) games just because we open against Indiana,” Self said. “I will say we’ve got to get our main rotation playing together and looking at different combinations. We probably would do that regardless.”
He said he’d open the exhibition slate with a lineup of Jackson, Devonté Graham, Frank Mason, Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas.
Sophomore guard Lagerald Vick, who did not make the rotation a year ago, indicated he just might have some butterflies Tuesday. Asked what he wanted to get out of the contest, he said: “Probably get the nervousness out of the freshmen, and me, too. This time last year I was so nervous. I’m not as nervous as I was last year. I’ve been practicing over the summer getting comfortable. I just feel more comfortable.”
Self figures to play a lot of different combinations Tuesday and said he even figures to test a four-guard lineup.
“The same thing as always,” he said, asked what he wants out of the exhibition opener, “just see how we react with people in the stands, how we react to really guarding smaller quicker guys and undersized big guys. Just see how we react (in game situations).”
KU is 11-0 in games played against Washburn coach Bob Chipman, who is in his 38th and final season as coach of the Ichabods.
“We know ‘Chip’ well. We like ‘Chip,’ ” said Self, whose players have worked Chipman’s summer camp in Topeka for the past many years. “It’s exciting to see a guy get 800 wins and he’s at 788 (against 343 losses). He’ll obviously do that. They’ve got a good team returning. It should be quite a bit of fun.”
Coleby, who is coming off left ACL surgery, will make his KU debut Tuesday. “Dwight actually has done better in practice. His leg seems to be responding some,” Self said. “He has to play and not think. I’m excited to see how he does.”
Jayhawks respond to ranking
The Jayhawks were ranked third in AP’s preseason poll, which was released Monday. Duke was No. 1 and Kentucky No. 2.
“We don’t really buy into preseason rankings,” Mason said. “I’m not even sure what we are ranked right now.”
Noted Vick: “I feel that’s about right. We still have some steps to get better.”
Self’s reaction: “I’d rather be ranked high than not ranked high. It doesn’t bother me at all. Guys have got to learn to play with expectations. High rankings put them in position where other people think they should be good. I don’t have a preference one way or another. If we weren’t ranked we’d use it as motivation. If we are ranked we’d use it as motivation. It doesn’t really matter.”
Brown sets decision date
Troy Brown, a 6-6 senior guard from Las Vegas Centennial High, who is ranked No. 12 nationally by Rivals.com, said he will announce his college choice on Nov. 7. He has visited KU, Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon and Georgetown. He also has UNLV, Arizona and California on his list.
Washburn at Kansas
- What: Exhibition game
- When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence
- Radio: KFH, 1240-AM, 97.5-FM
- TV: Cox 22