Coach faces former team as Stanford meets Kansas
Stanford coach Jerod Haase will face his alma mater on Thursday when the Cardinal play No. 14 Kansas at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif.
Haase was a three-year starter for the Jayhawks, and Kansas finished the 1996-97 regular season as the No. 1 team in his senior season under coach Roy Williams.
This week Haase and Stanford (6-6) will try to upset the struggling Jayhawks in the second game of a doubleheader that features Sacramento State against Portland in the opener.
Two weeks ago, the Jayhawks (9-2) were unbeaten and ranked No. 2 with a victory over Kentucky under their belt. Kansas then lost consecutive games to unranked Washington and No. 3 Arizona State, the latter on the Jayhawks’ home court, and needed a 3-pointer by Svi Mykhailiuk with 21 seconds left to get past Nebraska 73-72 on Saturday in its Big 12 opener.
The Jayhawks may have regained some of their confidence with Monday’s 109-64 victory over an overmatched Omaha squad.
Mykhailiuk was 6 of 7 from long range while scoring 26 points in that game.
“I’m sure that shot at Nebraska gave him some confidence,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We shot the heck out of it, and our defense was good in stretches but it wasn’t great. I thought we played well and really shared the ball. Certainly, we looked a little bit better than we looked three weeks ago opposed to the last couple games.”
Guards Lagerald Vick (17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists per game), Devonte’ Graham (17.0 points, 7.7 assists) and the 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk (16.5 points) are the team’s top scorers, and all three are making better than 44 percent of their 3-pointers.
Self hopes to have 6-10 freshman Billy Preston and 6-9 freshman Silvio De Sousa eligible for Big 12 play at some point, but they will not play in Sacramento.
An inability to get to the foul line concerns Self. Jayhawks opponents have attempted 173 free throws to 132 for Kansas. That may be an issue against Stanford, whose star, Reid Travis, makes his living at the foul line.
“I don’t know why, but we don’t get to the free throw line,” Self said. “(Travis has) shot 102 free throws (101 actually) and we, as a group after tonight, have shot 132. It’s ridiculous how we don’t get to the free throw line and that’s what he does well.”
The Jayhawks’ inside threat at the moment is 7-foot Udoka Azubuike (14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds), and his inside battle against the powerful, 6-8, 245-pound Travis will be pivotal.
Travis is averaging 22.2 points and 7.3 rebounds and has scored at least 20 points in each of the past five games. He has shot at least 11 free throws in every game this season.
Travis had 29 points, and even had two 3-pointers, in Sunday’s 71-59 victory over San Francisco.
“He was a monster,” Haase said. “He is a heck of a player and we were able to free him up some but a lot of it he does on his own as well. Physically, he is such a big presence. He can score a variety of ways, obviously he made some threes today, but that’s not his bread and butter. He was able to get to the free-throw line a few times and score around the basket a lot. He’s a heck of a college player right now.”
However, Haase was not pleased that the Cardinal committed 20 turnovers against the Dons.
“Twenty turnovers is probably not the recipe for success against Kansas,” he said. “We are going to have to value the basketball and be smart about what we do, but we can’t become passive. We’ll find out at this point if we are good enough to be the aggressor and make those plays.”
Stanford guard Dorian Pickens, who averaged 12.6 points last season, has been out since the second game with a left foot injury. Haase hopes to get him back for the Pac-12 opener against Cal, but he is not expected to play against the Jayhawks.
Forward Michael Humphrey (10.9 points, 8.7 rebounds) and freshman guard Isaac White (10.9 points) are the Cardinal’s other offensive threats.