|No. 4 Kansas testing big men as East Tenn. St. visits|
Experimentation among big men figures to continue for No. 4 Kansas after Silvio De Sousa drew a start despite not making a basket in the first two games.
The 6-foot-9 junior, who did not play last season because of an NCAA suspension, responded by scoring all but two of his 11 points in the second half of a blowout win last Friday against Monmouth.
The player De Sousa replaced, 6-10 sophomore David McCormack, still managed a double-double as the Jayhawks (2-1) will continue to examine alternatives Tuesday in a home game against East Tennessee State (3-0) in Lawrence, Kan.
"I thought (De Sousa) did fine and that is not a knock to David at all and we haven't decided, by any stretch, what we are going to do moving forward," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
"We were turned up. We made them play bad and I think that is a big key for us to have a chance to be good is to make sure our opponents aren't very good."
In other words, defense matters. It always does to Self. So did other flaws he noticed in Friday's 112-57 laugher, which saw six Jayhawks net double figures.
Although Kansas knocked down 3-pointers at a high rate, including a 5-for-6 performance from behind the arc by Iowa transfer Isaiah Moss, Self criticized his guards for not feeding the post.
Nonetheless, McCormack recorded 17 points and 11 boards, while senior center Udoka Azubuike added 12 points and eight boards.
Also, the Kansas coach cautioned not to underestimate East Tennessee State. The Buccaneers are coached by Steve Forbes, who rose from the fertile Kansas junior college ranks and was a Wichita State assistant under Gregg Marshall.
Forbes directed at least 24 wins in each of his previous four seasons at East Tennessee State, shaping the Buccaneers as a perennial Southern Conference contender.
"This is not a tune-up," Self said of the Jayhawks' last matchup before next week's Maui Invitational. "It is a real game. People will think I'm nuts, but it will be as hard to play well against them as Duke."
Last Thursday, senior guard Tray Boyd canned a decisive 3-pointer inside the final 30 seconds as East Tennessee State held off Winthrop 61-58 behind 17 points and nine rebounds from junior guard Bo Hodges.
Hodges leads the Buccaneers in scoring (15.3 points per game), while their leading rebounder, senior forward Jeromy Rodriguez (7.7 per game), confronts the Jayhawks' deep front line.
An ongoing concern for East Tennessee State is its 60-percent shooting from the foul line.
"We can't shoot free throws like that," Forbes said.
Playing at Kansas, Forbes said, "will be a wonderful opportunity in what, to me, is the best place to play a game in college basketball."
Forbes based that comment not only on previous visits to Allen Fieldhouse, but other opportunities. The last clash he was involved in against Kansas was a win for Wichita State in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
"It can happen; we're going there to win," Forbes said.
East Tennessee State is 0-11 all-time against current members of the Big 12.
--Field Level Media