Men's scrimmage

Senior forward David McCormack holds the ball during the men's scrimmage. 

With 10 total newcomers made up of six freshmen and four transfers, along with eight returners from last year’s squad, Kansas basketball has a mixed bag of veterans and newcomers making up this year’s roster. 

Despite the many newcomers, veteran leaders like center David McCormack feel confident that all the levels of talent and experience will mesh together to create a tightly bonded comradery. 

“I think we have done a great job as far as building a tight-knit community with our teammates,” McCormack said. “Last season, we didn’t really get to have a summer going into the season, so we took full advantage this year, building that cohesion. We have a phrase of ‘talk right, listen right’ and everybody has their voice and gets to speak.”

McCormack also believes that having a large number of veterans and returners helps with knowledge of the system and playstyle. 

“I think having a lot of older guys, having a lot of veterans makes a big difference. You have someone who knows the game that can easily accommodate what coach wants. They know what wins, they know what scores.” 

For McCormack and senior guard Ochai Agbaji, both now being veteran leaders, took newcomers under their wing, showing them the system of Kansas. 

“I would say for me, KJ Adams,” Agbaji said. “His locker is right next to mine, so we talk a lot. I talk a lot about just what to expect from practice, what to expect from something new, what to expect from Late Night. If I’m telling him like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to be nervous at Late Night, that’s just how it is. That’s how I was, so I know how you’re feeling’ type stuff. Just talking him through stuff which is just going to help him and in the end only going to help us.”

 “For me, I would say Bobby Pettiford, a kid out of North Carolina… Oddly enough, [he’s a] completely different position at point guard, but I just talk to him, let him know what coach wants,” McCormack said. “We just kind of feed off each other based on how we play in the post, give and go or ball screen and how to defend. Things like that to just help him out and understand the game at the college level.” 

Despite Agbaji and McCormack feeling comfortable with some of the newcomers, coach Bill Self has been less impressed and that adaptation of the system is still needed. 

“I thought we were actually doing pretty good. But after practice yesterday, I think I’ve done a bad, crap job of getting guys to understand,” Self said. “Maybe I took for granted that they understood better than they did. I think from this point forward more ‘chalk talks,’ more film sessions, more bringing them into the office and talking to them more.”

But, Self has still been impressed, especially with some of the freshmen and how they have adapted to the college environment to this point. 

“I think KJ Adams and Zach Clemence to me; Bobby Pettiford,” Self said when asked who was adapting fast. “To me, you could talk about whoever, but they have actually been ahead. Not playing better, but they’ve been ahead of what we think wins maybe than what the portal guys have without question.” 

Kansas will be leaning on both the veterans and newcomers to build a team destined for greatness, and McCormack is confident that the mix of the two can lead them there. 

“Oh, we’re going to be fantastic,” McCormack said. “We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and the greatest part is we can rearrange them any way we want. We can adapt to any part of the game. We can adapt to any opponent how we want to play. I think that’s just really the key. Our team is very versatile, athletic, skilled and capable of facing any opponent on any given day.”

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