From an early age, coaches always said to have fun while playing sports. However, when it comes to Kansas men’s basketball, the fun notion usually gets thrown out the window.
Kansas coach Bill Self could have said all he wanted about the Jayhawks taking a step in the right direction after the 68-57 win against rival Kansas State, but this win showed the team is having more fun on the court.
“That’s the whole deal,” Self said. “When you look at our team, if we’re turned up, we’re playing right.”
On the court, the Jayhawks showed more energy than usually. Self said he’s encouraged the team to show personality on the court, and he thinks the more fun the players have, the better the team will play.
For instance, the Jayhawks came out attacking as soon as the ball was tipped. Junior forward Perry Ellis scored six of Kansas’ first 10 points, which helped give Kansas the early 10-4 lead. Ellis said he contributed the early lead to the team having both energy and fun.
“Fun is always the key, and coach has always emphasized on playing with energy and having fun,” Ellis said. “If you’re having fun, good things happen from that. We definitely have to continue to focus on that.”
Every time someone scored, the bench went nuts. On one possession, sophomore guard Brannen Greene had a pretty pass to freshman guard Devonte’ Graham, who finished with an uncontested layup. Sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. went so crazy on the bench that when Greene ran by the bench, Selden accidently hit Greene in the throat. Selden said he tried to slap him in the chest.
“I don’t know my strength sometimes,” Selden said. “I got him in the throat, and I felt pretty bad about it.”
At the end of that play, Graham received a technical for having too much fun. Graham was trash talking Kansas State guard Marcus Foster, and although Self said Graham deserved the technical, there wasn’t any poor sportsmanship involved.
The reason this three-letter word is important to this Kansas team is because earlier this season, the team looked deflated, and the court looked like a no-fun zone.
When Self looks onto the court, he said he can’t notice if the team is having fun because most of the team is “stoned faced.”
“We have a team of personalities that if Perry [Ellis] said he’s having fun, then that’s great because no one else would know it because he doesn’t smile a lot,” Self said. “I want them to have fun. When you have fun, you have more energy.”
— Edited by Lane Cofas