Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Self on KU Heading into the NCAA Tournament: ‘We Got to Get Our Swag Back’


By Michael Swain,


LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas basketball is in a funk heading into the NCAA Tournament unlike any other in recent memory. The Jayhawks have lost four of their last five games and have an average margin of defeat of just over 16 points in those four losses. It’s KU’s worst stretch of results since the Jayhawks went 2-5 over a seven-game stretch during the 2020-21 season. But that was in the middle of January, this is with the do-or-die nature of the NCAA Tournament right around the corner.

Wednesday night’s 72-52 defeat to Cincinnati capped what has been a dismal display against Big 12 opposition over the last month. And it happened in familiar fashion, too, even if Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar were sat on the sidelines due to injury. KU just could not buy a basket from beyond the arc, as the Jayhawks shot 3-for-20 from the field with the starting lineup going a combined 1 for 13 from deep. KU trailed by double figures in the first half but battled back with an 11-2 run early in the second frame. But the Jayhawks faded as they couldn’t create consistent offense and eventually suffered their second-straight 20-plus point defeat.

“We got to get our swag back, geez,” Bill Self said. “Guys are aiming the ball instead of shooting it, and I haven’t asked these guys this, but we had four starters combine 8 for 39 tonight. It’s like they’re shooting at the fair where the balls can’t actually fit through the goals. So we gotta start shooting at a bigger basket. We got about seven to eight days that we can get some of that back.”

To use a word Self has so often used to describe certain aspects of a team he’s leading, KU’s 3-point shooting has been awful during KU’s struggles as a team. Since the day KU lost to Kansas State in Manhattan (February 5), the Jayhawks are 4-6 and have shot 24.2 percent from behind the arc. To put that into perspective, only North Carolina A&T and IUPUI have a worse 3-point shooting percentage than the Jayhawks.

“We haven’t shot the ball well beyond the arc since the second game of the season,” Self said.

That’s a tad of an exaggeration, as KU was shooting a solid 36.5 percent from 3 over the first 22 games go the season. But, KU has not been a high volume 3-point shooting team. One of the key developments for KU in the early part of 2024 was the emergence of Johnny Furphy. The freshman shot 48.7 percent from 3 over the first nine conference games. But over the last 10 games — which coincides with KU’s loss at Kansas State — Furphy has shot 21.1 percent from behind the arc.

For the season, KU is now shooting 33.3 percent from behind the arc, good for No. 211 in the nation.

In some games, KU was able to make up for its lack of 3-point shooting with an efficient 2-point offense. But, the Jayhawks have frequently been out-scored from behind the arc.

“What we have done is run really good offense and score a lot of 2s, a lot,” Self said. “Probably as efficient as anybody in America inside the arc. But, you know, the bottom line is we need to be able to make six or seven threes. When you get outscored 15 to 30 points every game from beyond the arc, that’s a lot of two’s and you don’t have enough opportunities to make those up.”

Now, the Jayhawks enter the NCAA without much momentum and hoping Kevin McCullar and Hunter Dickinson can re-find some of their form from earlier in the season as they potentially return from a bone bruise and a dislocated shoulder, respectively.

KU has gone toe to toe with some of the best teams in the country when those two have been fully healthy. Self is hopeful KU can reach that level again starting next week.

“I mean, gosh dang it, if we can get whole we can play with anybody,” Self said. ‘We’ve proven that.”