Sloppy play in an event as celebrated as the Champions Classic, college basketball’s opening-night gala, can be difficult to overcome quickly.
After committing 28 turnovers in a loss to Duke, however, Kansas coach Bill Self knew who should apply the first tourniquet to the Jayhawks’ floor game. He instructed his point guard, Devon Dotson, to “run a team.”
The sophomore, a preseason All-Big 12 pick, complied. Dotson posted 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Kansas cut its turnover total to 10 in a 74-62 win against UNC Greensboro.
Dotson leads the No. 5 Jayhawks (1-1) into Friday’s game in Lawrence, Kan., against Monmouth (1-2), which tumbled 73-54 at Kansas State on Wednesday.
“I just had a mindset this game, just attack mode,” said Dotson, who improved from the six turnovers he committed against Duke to just one in the home opener. “I tried to find my teammates and constantly put pressure on the defense. I wanted to have that mindset.”
Self will want to see Dotson sharpen that decisiveness as the Kansas coach continues to test different combinations.
Kansas must move on without 6-foot-8 freshman forward Jalen Wilson, the highest-rated recruit in the Jayhawks’ 2019 class. Wilson suffered a broken ankle and will be sidelined about 10 weeks. He could sit out the remainder of the season after initially being penciled in as someone who could play significant minutes.
Without Wilson, the Jayhawks will additionally rely on another 6-foot-8 freshman forward, Tristan Enaruna of The Netherlands. Guard Isaiah Moss, a senior transfer from Iowa, also figures to get more minutes as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
Kansas enters the matchup with Monmouth bolstered by a big catch on the recruiting trail. Bryce Thompson, a five-star combo guard from Tulsa, Okla., signed a letter of intent Wednesday.
His decision is proof the Jayhawks’ elite brand is still viable in spite of a recent notice of allegations issued by the NCAA following an FBI probe and federal trial that brought to light potential infractions.
“The signing of Bryce is one of our most important signees in recent memory,” Self said. “Landing a top 20 player is a positive statement for our program on and off the court.”
Monmouth, a fourth-place pick in the Metro Atlantic preseason poll, built a nine-point halftime lead on 54 percent shooting at Kansas State but crumbled after the break. Junior guard Ray Salnave led all scorers with 20 points off the bench.
King Rice, the Monmouth coach, mentioned physicality and the Hawks’ inability to reverse the ball as factors. That could pose problems against Kansas, considering Self is attempting to incorporate big men Udoka Azubuike, David McCormack and Silvio De Sousa into a high-low system.
“When you stand against a really good defensive team, then you want to go one-on-one,” Rice said of the loss to the Wildcats. “If it turned into a one-on-one game, we were going to lose by a bunch and our guys tried to make it a one-on-one game for a little while.”
–Field Level Media