Valparaiso-Kansas Preview

Despite the highest-scoring game in his seven-plus years at the
school, Kansas coach Bill Self wasn’t completely impressed with
this season’s debut.

The seventh-ranked Jayhawks will try for a better defensive
showing Monday night against Valparaiso, which is coming off its
highest-scoring game in nearly five years.

Kansas (1-0) extended the nation’s longest home win streak to 60
games with a 113-75 rout of Longwood on Friday. Self and junior
forward Marcus Morris, however, were more concerned with the points
the Jayhawks gave up, not the ones they scored.

“You don’t want a team to come into your home and score 75
points, especially the first game in the year,” said Morris, who
scored a team-leading 18 points. “One hundred fifteen points looks
good on paper, but 75 is kind of upsetting.”

Even with top recruit Josh Selby benched because of amateurism
issues, Kansas hit 62.3 percent of its shots for its best
performance since connecting at a 66 percent clip in a win over
Oklahoma State on Feb. 27, 2005.

The Jayhawks also allowed Longwood to shoot 45 percent and hit
11 3-pointers.

“I love our guys,” Self said. “But this is the softest team
defensively.”

As it continues a string of four consecutive home games to open
this season, Self team’s will next face a Valparaiso squad that
took a 111-64 victory in Friday’s season opener against NAIA
opponent Indiana-Northwest.

Junior guard Brandon Wood had a team-best 20 points in the
Crusaders’ highest-scoring game since 111-41 victory over
Indiana-South Bend on Nov. 28, 2005.

Wood averaged a team-best 17.7 points per game last season for
Valparaiso, which led the Horizon League in scoring, field goal
percentage and 3-pointers made per game.

The Crusaders return four starters from that squad, including
Wood who was the conference’s newcomer of the year. The former
Southern Illinois player and senior forward Cory Johnson, who spent
his first two seasons at Iowa State, were named to the preseason
all-conference teams.

Johnson scored 17 points while hitting eight of nine shots
Friday. He averaged 15.6 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds in his
first season with the Crusaders.

Valparaiso might need Johnson’s help Monday against Kansas’
front line.

Marcus Morris’ twin brother, Markieff, had 15 of the Jayhawks’
39 rebounds and 14 points in the season opener. The Jayhawks also
have Thomas Robinson, who had 16 points and seven rebounds off the
bench Friday, and Jeff Withey, a 7-foot sophomore who is still
recovering from a right foot injury suffered in the preseason.

The Crusaders, meanwhile, allowed 20 offensive rebounds in their
victory.

“We really have to improve our rebounding,” coach Homer Drew
said. “We gave up 20 offensive rebounds tonight, which is a major
concern for us heading into Kansas. But I thought our shooting, our
defense and the way we shared the ball were all very superb (in the
season opener).”

The Jayhawks are 2-0 all-time against Valparaiso and 14-1
against current members of the Horizon League.