Although the Kansas Jayhawks lost to the Oklahoma Sooners, head coach Bill Self’s post game press conference had a much different feel than it did following the embarrassing loss to the TCU Horned Frogs on Wednesday night.
For one thing, there was no reference to the Topeka YMCA team that Self made infamous during his press conference following the game against TCU.
Instead, Self was very sensitive to his team and what they are currently experiencing. “It hasn’t been a good week for us by any stretch, but let’s be real,” he said. “We were ranked No. 2 in the country seven days ago, and you don’t go from being a good team to a bad team overnight. We’ve had a couple of bad outings, but we’re still a good team.”
That statement was important, not only for his players to hear, but also Jayhawk Nation.
With a quick turnaround coming for the Jayhawks, they only have one day to prepare for a tough Kansas State Wildcat team that comes to Lawrence, Ks. for a game with huge implications in the Big 12 standings. The Jayhawks will definitely need the Phog Allen Fieldhouse faithful to be pumped up on Monday night.
Meanwhile, with a third straight loss in conference play, the Jayhawks find themselves going from a comfortable lead to behind the first place Wildcats and tied with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who started the Jayhawks skid last Saturday.
Nevertheless Self knows that he has a senior laden team along with a superstar freshman and several players who come off the bench know their roles.
Self was quick to remind the media that, “Obviously three in a row is not good, but this game to me today, I’m not leaving out of here disgusted with my team at all because we actually played better today.” Self added, “We played a good team today and they shot the heck out of the basketball.”
This game was a stepping stone for Kansas. Hard to believe but it is true.
However, Self knows that until they can string 4o minutes of quality basketball where they defend and run efficient offense, questions regarding his program will continue to be asked. It is the nature of coaching at Kansas.
Self does like this team and it is safe to say that his confidence is still with players, although probably shaken.
Senior Elijah Johnson, who has struggled a lot with turnovers and cold shooting as of late, said “We’re going to fight through it. We’re going to be all right.” Johnson continued that, “We’re learning right now. It’s cool. I’m all right with that. I think Coach is, too.”
Coach Self and Johnson understand that this is also the same team that reeled off an 18-game winning streak just prior to the three-game losing streak.
Coach Self’s positive, but realistic, approach will help his Jayhawks remember who they were just a week and a half ago. For Self, at least this loss was something to build on.
Plus, nobody can imagine Kansas losing four in a row, right?
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo