LAWRENCE (TNS) — Bill Self hopes Kansas' second and final dress rehearsal of the exhibition season unfolds a lot smoother than the first.
"A little less game slippage," Self, Kansas' 16th-year basketball coach, said of his goals for Thursday's 7 p.m. game against Washburn in Allen Fieldhouse, which follows last Thursday's somewhat sloppy 93-55 victory over Emporia State — a game that featured 22 Jayhawks turnovers.
"But for the most part just get out and compete. I'd like to see a couple of our young kids relax and play," Self added, realizing Tuesday's season-opener against Michigan State in Indianapolis approaches rapidly.
KU's three freshman McDonald's All-Americans — Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson and David McCormack — combined for 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and six turnovers in 56 minutes against Emporia. They may have had butterflies for the first game of their college careers.
"I don't know if it was jitters or whatnot. He didn't play like he's been practicing," Self said of power forward McCormack. The former Oak Hill Academy standout scored three points with two rebounds and four turnovers in 13 minutes. "That's OK. I could say the same thing about Quentin (combo guard who had 10 points, two boards, two assists, two turnovers, 20 minutes). I don't think they played like they've been practicing. This will be good for them to get a second dry run."
First-year point guard Dotson scored eight points with four boards, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 23 minutes against the Hornets. Meanwhile, freshman guard Ochai Agbaji, who is a redshirt candidate, scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 12 minutes.
The Emporia game also marked the KU debut of junior forward Dedric Lawson. The Memphis transfer scored 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to the delight of 16,300 fans.
"I thought Dedric put up numbers, but don't think he played great," Self said. "He had one assist (to four turnovers) and lost his balance multiple times. He can play better. We look at his 31 and say, 'Great,' then we look and he and Doke (Azubuike) combine for 33 we say, 'Average.' We need to get them both going at the same time."
Junior center Azubuike hit his only floor shot, good for two points. He was 0 for 2 at the free-throw line and grabbed seven rebounds with six turnovers in 17 minutes.
"Of course he had an awful night the other night, awful, so when he went to the free-throw line his head wasn't right because he was struggling," Self said. "But he rushed them. The first one didn't go in, so the second didn't have much of a chance."
Azubuike hit 41 percent of his free throws his sophomore season.
"Don't get panicked on that," Self said Tuesday on his Hawk Talk radio show. "He has to see the ball go down like anybody. He needs to see success. His foundation and fundamentals are so much better than last year. He needs to see it. Once he does and gets a little rhythm and confidence he'll shoot them a lot better. I think he can be 65, 70 percent this year. I don't see any reason why he can't do that."
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Sophomore guard Marcus Garrett -- he had nine rebounds in the Emporia game to go with five points in 18 minutes — said Azubuike has played well in practice since that sub-par outing.
"He's responded great," Garrett said. "He still feels good. We just let him know it's just an exhibition game. It can be like that sometimes. We're just glad it happened early."
Garrett says first-team preseason All-American Lawson is capable of even more impressive numbers.
"I feel he didn't really get to show what he can do," Garrett said. "It was more layups under the goal (on 11 of 16 shooting night). I feel he didn't get to show his skill set yet. I feel people still have got a lot to look out for."
Self started freshman Grimes and Dotson and senior Lagerald Vick on the perimeter to go with frontcourt players Lawson and Azubuike.
"I doubt I do," Self said, asked if he'll keep the same opening five for the final exhibition, "but I don't know (yet)."
As far as the rotation (11 players played 12 or more minutes against ESU) Self said: "Without going into any details, I think we can get it down to nine, for sure 10."
Sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa is not expected to play Thursday as the NCAA and KU look into his eligibility.
"If you look at it on paper, we only have 11 on scholarship. Getting it to 10 shouldn't be hard at all. Getting it to nine would be the goal going into the Michigan State game," Self said.
Thursday's game marks the return to KU of Brett Ballard. The second-year Washburn coach both played at KU and worked on Self's coaching staff for seven seasons.
"It will be good to see Brett," Self said of the 38-year-old Hutchinson native. "He's wanted to be a head coach and he has had the opportunity. We're all happy for him. He was very valuable (at KU). I hope the fans definitely welcome him the way he deserves to be welcomed."