Kansas' Bill Self calls out players' 'selfishness,' makes lineup change

Gary Bedore, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Basketball

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Miffed at his Kansas basketball team's lack of energy in Saturday's home loss to Oklahoma State, Jayhawks coach Bill Self has decided to change his starting lineup for Tuesday's game against TCU.

"I think we have a couple of guys (starters) that obviously don't try very hard, and we're going to make some changes in our lineup, at least one change," Self said Monday. "We don't have a lot of options to do more than that."

He revealed plans to start sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot over junior guard Lagerald Vick in the 8 p.m. game at Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN2 that matches No. 10 KU (18-5, 7-3) against the unranked Horned Frogs (16-7, 4-6).

Self only mentioned the one bit of lineup tinkering, though he hasn't been enamored with the play of sophomore center Udoka Azubuike. Self noted that the 7-footer has lacked "quickness, intensity, athletic ability, want-to more than anything else" of late, but would keep him in the starting five.

"It'd be nice to have guys compete and play to their athletic ability. We're going to try to do that. Mitch certainly deserves the opportunity to play," Self said in describing the Lightfoot for Vick lineup switch as "long-term."

"Mitch, Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Devonte (Graham) try harder than anybody else," Self added. "We're going to get him (Lightfoot) out there. I don't know that it fixes it at all. I'm not predicting unbelievable results from it, but I will predict the guys that start will try harder than the guys who started last game."

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Lightfoot, who will be making his first career start, has averaged 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game. Vick, who has been mired in a slump that included a 5-point, 3-rebound, 1-assist outing in Saturday's 84-79 loss to the Cowboys, averages 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

"He actually tries to rebound. He actually tries to block a shot. He'll actually run a guy down in transition and try to make a play," Self said of the 6-8 Lightfoot. "Mitch is going to screw up. We all screw up. At least he's going to screw up going hard, which doesn't guarantee he's going to play well. I'm not saying that at all, but I know as a staff it's more comforting to know that the guys out there will try their butt off to try to do what's best for Kansas and what's best for our team. We know Mitch is always going to do that."

Self did not specifically address Vick's shortcomings on Monday. After Saturday's game Self said he had "no idea" when asked what was wrong with the 6-5 Memphis native, who has scored in single digits in seven of 10 games since he had 21 points in the Big 12 opener against Texas.

"When you look back to why we've lost some games, it's been attitude. It's been focus. It's been preparation. It's been selfishness. It's been effort. It's been energy. It's been intensity. It's been competitiveness, or lack thereof," Self said. "You are not going to have that great for all 23 games. I know that. But certainly we should be better in those areas than we have been, especially with guys that have been around here and know what it takes to win at a pretty high level."


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