At the conclusion of a week-long tour of Switzerland and France that included his team's first exhibition losses of his tenure, Kansas coach Bill Self clearly saw an opportunity to motivate his players.
"If anything it tells us how hard we need to work because we're not very good right now," Self said. "I'm not sure anybody's any good in early August, but we're certainly not. Our veterans need to really step up. There's no reason we should have lost back-to-back games."
The second of Kansas' two losses, a 79-60 drubbing at the hands of a French pro team, was somewhat expected for Self since he sat veteran starters Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson to give his newcomers more playing time. The previous day's one-point loss, however, Self described as "inexcusable."
Despite the back-to-back losses, there were some positives from the trip for a Kansas team hoping to extend its Big 12 title streak to nine despite the departure of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Here's three other takeaways from the trip:
1. Kansas fans will have to wait until November to get a better idea of what highly touted Ben McLemore can bring to the team. McLemore tweaked his groin during the Jayhawks' final pre-tour practice, sidelining him for the final two games of the trip and limiting him to just 21 unproductive minutes during the first two games. McLemore, who sat out all of last season due to academic eligibility issues, surely would have benefited from playing in some competitive games prior to November. The last full season the 6-5 junior has played was as a junior in high school.
2. Of the young players who did make their Kansas debuts, Andrew White and Perry Ellis were the two most impressive. White, a sweet-shooting small forward, averaged 11.0 points per game and shot 8-for-18 from behind the arc despite logging just 75 minutes in the Jayhawks' four games. And Ellis, a skilled power forward, concluded the trip with his best performance, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in Sunday's one-sided loss. "It was a lot of our first times coming overseas," Ellis told the school's official site. "Just getting together and bonding, it was a good experience for us."
3. Maybe the most memorable episode of the trip occurred during the second quarter of the Jayhawks' first game in Switzerland. Swiss forward David Ramseier went berserk after being assessed a technical foul, spitting in the faces of two officials before being restrained by coaches and teammates. "He went nuts. He went absolutely nuts. I've never seen that," Self told the Lawrence Journal-World. "I saw Bill Romanowski do it in football one time, and I saw Roberto Alomar do it in baseball one time. But this guy went and actually did it twice. He's going after the official and did it twice."
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