As Kansas coach Bill Self walked toward the dais at Sprint Center on Wednesday morning, Big 12 media day was already nearly two hours old.
Self spent 10 minutes talking about expectations for the season, a group of four newcomers and the competition in the backcourt.
“We’re obviously a much different team than we were last year,” Self said. “We lost three quality guys, but we recruited fairly well, and we have four newcomers that we think will all be good guys. But our returning guys have improved.”
Self returns two starters from last season’s team, which finished 25-10 before bowing out to Stanford in the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament.
For the last 10 seasons, the Jayhawks have either won or shared the regular season Big 12 crown. Now they enter the season searching for No. 11. Here are Self’s comments from Big 12 media day:
Self on re-energizing his team every season: “How does anybody re-energize themselves to do their job. That’s our job. The other thing is, it’s not really work. It’s something that we love, to be part of what we feel is the greatest game on earth. I don’t think that’s very difficult. But it is fun to watch guys get better.
“We take a lot pride … whether it’s a Wiggins or a Brady Morningstar or Tyrel Reed, our job is to get them as close to their ceiling as possible.”
Self on the Jayhawks’ defense after the departure of Andrew Wiggins: “I think that we’ll do it by committee. I think that as a team, we were probably as poor defensively as we’ve been in a long time. I think this year’s team has maybe a different mindset, maybe more capable to be better defenders. But we do not have a rim protector like we had last year.”
Self on his backcourt rotation and the competition on the perimeter: “I think there’s a chance that (Wayne Selden) is going to a lot. But truthfully, we have seven good perimeter players, and I didn’t say great, but really good perimeter players. But there is a lot of competition there because you can’t play seven perimeter guys. I mean, we’ll play five and maybe six in certain situations. I think practices are a little more heated. I think the guys are competing against each other. But it’ll probably be two or three weeks before I have a feel for how we’re going to start the season. And how we start the season won’t be how we finish it. Because we’ve got some young kids, when they figure it out, they’re going to be pretty good.”