LAWRENCE — Don’t expect lingering issues for Kansas basketball in the aftermath of the Jayhawks’ below-par Saturday.
Bill Self doesn’t, at least.
“I think we’ll rebound fine,” Self said Monday, two days after his team’s 67-55 defeat to then-No. 3 Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse. “I think that we got beat by a team that was better than us Saturday. I don’t think there’s much else to say about that. ...
“It’s certainly something that we’re not used to here, losing at home, but it has happened before. At some point in time it’s going to happen again, hopefully not soon. Other teams have rallied around it and performed well. I don’t know why this team can’t.”
Whether the now-No. 6 Jayhawks (12-3, 2-1 Big 12) can recover from the rare home setback largely depends on the physical recovery and continued on-court growth of their standout point guard.
Devon Dotson suffered a left hip pointer injury in the first half of the loss to the Bears, an ailment that sidelined him for the start of the second half but one the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder returned from midway through the final frame. The sophomore is expected to play in the Jayhawks’ next contest, an 8 p.m. Tuesday tilt with Oklahoma (11-4, 2-1) at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.
KU didn’t practice Sunday, but Self anticipated Dotson would participate in Monday’s activities.
“It’s not one of those things that’s threatening to make it where you can’t play, but certainly whenever you get a hit it can make it uncomfortable where you’re thinking about it all the time,” Self said. “Certainly he’s very, very sore. He’s going to have to be mentally tough to get through that, but he can do it.”
Dotson didn’t remember when the injury occurred, but Self and associate director of sports medicine Bill Cowgill theorized it came after Dotson attempted to get over a screen — the Charlotte, N.C., native grabbed at his hip shortly after that sequence. Dotson likely exacerbated the issue later in the opening period while attempting to chase down a fastbreak layup following a Jayhawk turnover.
“There’s no contact, but that’s when he felt it,” Self said. “Any time when you move in any direction it certainly puts pressure and stretches that area and can create pain. We don’t think it was a big, big hit or a blow. We just think it’s something that he got and now it’s just been aggravated. ...
“It’s going to be sore. That’s not going away. But to say that there’s a risk of injuring it worse, I don’t believe that’s the case. It’d be like playing on a turned ankle. You can always re-tweak it. But he’s tough. He’ll deal with it.”
Dotson ended up with nine points on 4-for-10 shooting with 3 assists, 1 rebound and 1 steal in 28 minutes. He also finished with a game-worst plus-minus of minus-17.
“I thought actually he and Marcus (Garrett), although they both got scored on, I thought they actually guarded pretty well. I thought the majority of their sizing-us-up-type plays didn’t happen on those two guys, so I didn’t think it hurt us much defensively,” Self said. “And I’m not sure (the injury) hurt us a ton offensively. I think that the way Baylor guarded us had a lot more to do with our ineffectiveness than any injury did.”
Regardless how Dotson physically progresses, areas of on-court improvement remain.
KU guards committed 11 of the team's 14 turnovers Saturday versus just nine assists. More troubling, Jayhawk guards were unable to get frontcourt bigs Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack involved, with the duo combining for six points on 3-for-8 shooting.
Passing has been a season-long Self-identified problem for this squad, though he acknowledged that it is “one of the hardest things to get better at,” with the head coach marveling at former standouts Brady Morningstar, Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason’s abilities as facilitators.
Hesitancy, Self indicated, may be holding the current crop of guards back.
“When you play with a big post man you’d like to be able to get ’em touches,” Self said. “Well, you do, but usually the best time to throw it to ’em in our guys’ mind is when he’s wide open. Doke (Azubuike), in my opinion, he’s wide open a lot because he’s so big. I mean, even if a guy looks like he’s guarding him, he’s still open.
“That was something that Devonte’ and Frank did an unbelievable job of. I don’t know if you remember how many times Doke got easy baskets by them just forcing a little help and just throwing it to an area where there’s only one guy in the gym that could get it. We just don’t do that quite as well.”