Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
Practice, practice, practice.
Coaches can't get enough of practice. That's when they teach, when they mold their players and teams in a controlled environment. Any chance a coach has to practice, he's going to take it.
Rivals Kanas and Missouri took a similar path with their men's basketball teams. In late August, the Jayhawks and the Tigers each headed to Canada for three-game exhibition trips. Kansas coach Bill Self and Missouri coach Mike Anderson got the benefit of practices before the excursions.
"We had a chance to see what kind of basketball IQ the newcomers have and see how they're gonna adjust to the Division I basketball," said Anderson, who is going into his third season as the Tigers' coach. "Hopefully this will give us a jump start that will help come Oct. 17 (the official start of practice)."
Self must replace eight players from the national championship team. The Canada trip was planned last fall when Self figured he was going to be losing up to six players.
"First and foremost, we got eight days of practice," Self said of the Canada experience. "We got a foundation of how to work. I think we can teach 'em how to guard but I'm very concerned about generating points. To have our new guys score as well as they did, I was pretty happy."
Self said that Cole Aldrich, a 6-11, 245-pound sophomore who played well in the NCAA Tournament, was the Jayhawks' best returning player on the Canada trip. Tyshawn Taylor, a 6-3 freshman guard, was the most impressive newcomer.
"This set us up so we'll be farther along once we start practice," Self said. "I still don't know how we're gonna play. We've got some pieces we're missing."
The down side for Kansas was that two newcomers didn't make the trip. Twin brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris were not cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center until after the trip to Canada.
Self believes he'll have a good team that will probably have its ups and downs because of its inexperience.
"We might be on a roller coaster," he said. "We could have three good days and a bad day. As the season goes along, hopefully we can have more good days for every bad day. As a staff, we'll have to do more teaching than we've ever done because we don't have any older guys to show the younger guys how to do it."
Missouri seniors DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Matt Lawrence provide Anderson with experience. On the Canada trip, the Tigers were working in seven newcomers who fit the style of play Anderson prefers.
"Hopefully when October gets here the new guys won't be in awe," said Anderson, whose team scored 100 or more points while using lots of lineup combinations. "I think we've got some blue-collar type of guys. We recruited those kind of guys and we found out more about them in Canada. We've got more instinctive guys. We're young but we've got potential."