Now ranked No. 2 in the nation, the Kansas Jayhawks look for another non-conference home victory — and possibly to increase their 90.9 points per game average — as Holy Cross visits Allen Fieldhouse.
So the big news headed into this Holy Cross game tonight is junior sharpshooter Brannen Greene is returning to the lineup 1 game early, after being suspended 5 games.
Brannen Greene, you probably remember, hasn’t played since KU’s loss to Michigan State. It was after playing 9 minutes in that setback that he had some words with Bill Self about playing times. Self hit him with a 6-game suspension in response. It appears Greene got re-instated early for good behavior. Self will surely address it more in his post-game press conference.
Brannen Greene didn’t take a single field-goal attempt in that MSU game. He did make 6 of 6 free throws.
And that was coming off a masterful shooting display in the season opener, when Greene shot 5-for-5 from 3-point land vs. Northern Colorado.
Self mentioned yesterday Jamari Traylor had a tweaked ankle and Landen Lucas still has the nagging toe injury. Both went through pre-game big man work. But according to Gary Bedore, Self said Hunter Mickelson will start tonight.
A sub-plot to watch tonight for KU vs. Holy Cross: rebounding.
Kansas lost the battle of the boards 39-31 vs. Harvard. Self said one issue with KU’s rebounding is Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor aren’t very big guys, and some of the team’s better rebounders come off the bench. (We’ll see how Hunter Mickelson does on the boards, as he gets the start).
Self said KU does a “decent” job as a team on the glass, and he likes to look more at rebounding percentages, because, against Harvard for example, the Crimson turned the ball over 19 times — so there were less opportunities for KU to get rebounds.
Another fun sub-plot for tonight: Cheick Diallo’s playing time/impact.
Diallo only played 7 minutes vs Harvard. On that matter, Self said freshmen really take time to adjust to college game, and cited the first-year struggles of Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright years ago.
“We don’t want to lose games at the expense of guys getting playing time,” Self said.
Going into it that Harvard game, Self thought KU could’ve played “some guys some more minutes.” But KU kind of “screwed the game up” and didn’t have a chance to do that.
If all goes according to plan tonight, we should see a lot more of Mickelson, Carlton Bragg and Diallo — especially if Traylor and Lucas are banged up, as Self said.
Self talked some yesterday about how Devonté Graham has emerged as KU’s top perimeter defender.
“That’s a good thing, because he needs to take that off Frank,” the coach said.
Freshman guard Lagerald Vick hasn’t played much yet, either.
“You can’t play 12 guys. It’s hard to play 12 guys,” Self said on the matter, adding he’d like to get the rotation down to 9 or 10 by Big 12 play.
KU enters tonight’s game 9th in Big 12 in FG% defense at 40.9% “which is horrible compared to teams that we’ve had here in the past,” Self said yesterday.