Jayhawk Insider: New Faces, Same Expectations
|MEDIA DAY MURMURS|
|It was an action-packed afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse as the Jayhawks previewed the 2018-19 season for local, regional and national media gathered in Lawrence. Below are some of what was heard at Kansas’ annual media day:|
|“We are super deep this year. Everyone on this team can play multiple positions on the court. I’ve never played with a true big man, so having so many of those on this team is something I’m looking forward too.”|
|– Quentin Grimes|
|“Coming back was a big decision for me. I’m just trying to get better day-by-day and become a better leader. I am doing whatever Coach Self tells me to do and I want to become that guy for this team.”|
|– Lagerald Vick|
|“Our size is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You just don’t see that kind of size all on one team in high school. It’s just different here, everybody is good and this team has a lot of depth, size and speed.”|
|– Devon Dotson|
|“We have a lot of bigs this year. Each guy has something unique about him and that really helps this team. We’re going to be able to play differently depending on who is on the court which should be fun.”|
|– Udoka Azubuike|
|“I’m excited to see how the amount of size we have works out. On our previous teams we weren’t able to play two big guys as much. This year we can do that. I’m excited to see how our freshman do, they’ve been working so hard every day at practice and they bring a lot of talent to this team.”|
|– Mitch Lightfoot|
|“I’m excited to get back on the court. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to play, so it’ll be nice to get out there and compete in front of the best fans in America.”|
|– Charlie Moore|
|“I am looking forward to getting out there with this group of guys and just winning games. We have a team that can be really good defensively this year. We have a lot of long bodies, were athletic and we can rebound at a high level. I really think this year’s team could be pretty special.”|
|– Dedric Lawson|
By Adam Sullivan
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For fans of the University of Kansas Men’s basketball team, this year’s roster may look a little different. Gone are the likes of Malik Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham as each have moved on to the next level of their careers. Added are junior Dedric Lawson, sophomores K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore. A star-studded freshman class including Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack.
“We have been ridiculously thin the last two years,” said Kansas head coach Bill Self. “But the players we had playing were really good, but this year we’re different … We do have bodies and foul problems shouldn’t be an issue like it has been in recent years. It allows us to be more aggressive defensively defending in the post and around the rim.”
For this group of incoming freshmen, the theme remained simple, keep the tradition going. Kansas is seeking an incredible 15th-straight Big 12 regular season championship, something this group preparing for both mentally and physically.
“I can’t wait to get out there and compete for a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Self,” said KU freshman Quentin Grimes. “We want to continue the tradition and win another Big 12 title and hopefully win a national title.”
While the younger guys are eager continue the Kansas basketball tradition, KU has several veterans that know what it takes to compete on the biggest of stages. After declaring for the NBA draft last June, center Udoka Azubuike decided to return to Kansas for his junior season, something he is excited to share with this group of freshmen.
“We have a really young team so it’s important that we bond together,” said Azubuike. “We definitely talk about the Final Four and what it takes to get to that point. I’m always telling the other bigs in practice if there is something I see that they can improve on. I’ll tell them and try to show them what it needs to be like.”
Led by Azubuike, Kansas has one of the deepest frontcourts in the nation heading into the 2018-2019 season. Along with Azubuike, the Jayhawks will rely on sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa for key minutes.
“There’s a maturity about him that’s a little different that will allow him to play stronger,” Self said of De Sousa. “The way he played in the Big 12 tournament, getting 16 (points) and 8 (rebounds) against West Virginia and 4 and 10 against Duke in limited minutes, those games gave him confidence.”
Preseason top-5 in most publications, Kansas returns two starters and six letterwinners from last season’s 31-8 team which advanced to the program’s 15th Final Four, claimed its 11th Big 12 Tournament championship and won an NCAA-record 14th-straight regular-season conference title.
“This team has really high expectations,” explained junior Mitch Lightfoot. “But this team understands what is required of each of us. We know what we want and we know how to get there. If we just follow what Coach Self preaches, I think we will be in good shape this season.”
KU opens exhibition play when it meets the Emporia State Hornets on Thursday, Oct. 25 inside Allen Fieldhouse. This night will be the first time many members of this season’s roster will step foot on Naismith Court in a game experience.
“I can’t wait to play in Allen Fieldhouse,” said freshman guard Devon Dotson. “KU has the best fan base in the nation. It’s going to be loud, there will be a lot of energy. I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous as anyone would be, but it’s going to be a lot of fun getting out there.”
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