KU shows its age in season opener -- and not in a good way
NOV 08, 2013 10:15p ET
Apparently, there will be free throws. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of free throws.
"That's an ugly game," Kansas coach Bill Self said Friday night after his team hemmed and hawed, then outslugged Louisiana-Monroe, 80-63, in the season opener for both schools. "I don't see how you can have a pretty game when there's 58 fouls."
More from the ugly camp: The Warhawks outscored the Jayhawks 32-28 in the paint, 19-15 off turnovers and 8-7 on second-chance opportunities.
Oh, and did we mention Monroe won four games a year ago? Temper thy assessments accordingly.
"Obviously, we wanted to come out and win bigger than we did," KU forward Tarik Black said. "We're not going to be perfect right now."
Perfect, they ain't. They are raw and green and full of potential, with a ceiling you'd need a rocket to touch, but perfection? Perfection is miles away, several exits down the road. This is a team with five new starters, three of them freshmen, and the Jayhawks spent most of the evening acting their age.
"(It) certainly was good teaching tape," Self said.
It wasn't a complete turd, either. White (12 points, three treys) has been a minor revelation. Given the NCAA's draconian hand-check rule, the Jayhawks continue to showcase depth, and quality depth (six players racked up at least 18 minutes), that few peer programs can match.
As a bonus, Wiggins found his outside stroke, too, connecting on two of his four 3-point attempts while netting a team-best 16 points. And when you add that weapon to everything else tucked inside Batman's utility belt, well -- good night, nurse.
"He's still a young guy," White said of the Canadian's official NCAA debut. "For what he did (Friday), I respect him."
The rest was a mixed, November-basketball kind of bag. Frank Mason and Wayne Selden, filling in for suspended point guard Tharpe, combined for nine assists and just one turnover. Although they struggled, collectively, to get back on transition D, more often than not, another cardinal sin in Self's universe.
On the plus side, the Warhawks missed a boat-load of bunnies underneath, especially in the first half. The downside, of course, is that the Warhawks got a boat-load of opportunities for bunnies in the paint. You get spoiled, you know, after years of waiting for Jeff Withey to come sweeping in and clean up someone else's defensive mess.
"We obviously foul too much," said Self, whose kids committed 27 on the night. "You know, fouling negates hustle."
It also, unfortunately, tends to negate the folks in the stands at Allen Fieldhouse.
Actually, if there was a turning point, it came roughly five minutes into the second half. Mason was whistled for a foul, his third, and Self jumped out of his seat as if Bugs Bunny had left a pile of giant cartoon tacks on it.
His kids took the hint. And the crowd did, too, rising from a bored slumber and bubbling into a mighty, volcanic roar.
"Oh, it's definitely fire," Selden said. "That definitely fueled the tank for us."
The Warhawks went all fetal, and that was pretty much that. As for all the ticky-tack fouls called, well ...
"By conference play, it'll be a lot better," Self said.
The Jayhawks will be, too. Eventually. Considering that Duke is next up on the dance card, we're going to know a lot more about this bunch by Wednesday morning. Although, to paraphrase Dr. Zaius in "Planet of the Apes," we might not exactly like what we find.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.
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