Usually being selfless is a good thing in college basketball. It means you’re always looking for the open man.
For No. 5 Kansas, however, being Self-less means the team is playing without its head coach.
The Jayhawks (1-0) will face North Dakota State (0-1) in their next game, Thursday night in Lawrence, Kan.
Bill Self will serve the second contest of a four-game suspension imposed by the university as part of the fallout from an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption stemming from 2017.
Thursday’s game may not be a problem for Kansas against the Bison, who dropped a 76-58 decision to No. 10 Arkansas on Monday. But with No. 7 Duke looming on Nov. 15, the Jayhawks need to find their rhythm.
They looked like anything but a cohesive unit for part of the night in their season-opening 89-64 victory over Omaha on Monday. Kansas built a 46-30 lead just before the end of the first half, but it was trimmed to 50-43 after just over three minutes into the second. The Jayhawks got rolling behind a 10-0 run and never looked back.
“The arena’s energy, when that place (Allen Fieldhouse) gets juiced and starts going crazy, it’s a lot of fun to be in there,” interim coach Norm Roberts said. “Our guys felt the energy and really pushed forward.”
The Jayhawks used a balanced attack in their season-opening victory.
Jalen Wilson collected 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and freshman guard Gradey Dick led all scorers with 23 points following a 9-for-13 shooting display. Dajuan Harris had 11 points and eight assists, and Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar contributed 10 points and two steals in his Kansas debut.
“It was great,” Wilson said. “One thing about our team, no matter what year it has been, we always step up when we have any type of adversity. Our biggest motto through my years of being here is ‘Faces change, expectations don’t.’ That’s one thing we did today was come together. We want to set the tone for the year. We have the greatest coaching staff in America.”
North Dakota State hung with the Razorbacks for a half Monday night. The score was 38-31 early in the second half before Arkansas used an 11-0 run to blow it open.
The Bison had a pair of 17-point scorers as Grant Nelson and Boden Skunberg each reached that total. But the rest of the squad scored just 24 points. They’ll need contributions from everybody to run with the Jayhawks.
Nelson will be looked upon to carry this team. A member of the 2021-22 All-Summit League first team, he will be surrounded by a cadre of newcomers.
“There is a lot of hype and expectation,” coach David Richman said of Nelson before the season. “But we’ll never get to any of that unless we lock in every day and attack the process. That’s the best part about Grant. He’s so hungry and humble. No matter what happens (over the weekend), on Monday he’s coming to work. He’s gotten a lot stronger in the off-season. It will be fun to see Grant’s growth this season.”
–Field Level Media