Wildcats and Jayhawks strike out overseas

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I’m from Kansas, so I’ve heard the Dorothy and Toto jokes more times than I can count. Nonetheless, here goes:

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more!”

That’s what Bill Self and Bruce Weber most likely did not, under any circumstances, say to their charges this weekend. Both teams are on overseas trips, however, with the Wildcats in Brazil and the Jayhawks in France. Neither coach said those cliched words, but they may have felt Dorothy’s open-mouthed surprise at the stiff competition each team faced.

The Kansas City Star reported late last night that the Wildcats, in their first organized game under Weber, lost 81-67 to something called a Sao Jose dos Campos, after leading 22-10 in the first half. Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez led the Wildcats with 15 points, but his efforts were in vain. Apparently, the result did not surprise an openly pessimistic Weber.

Before leaving for Brazil, Weber said there was a good chance Kansas State might lose its first three exhibition games before taking on lesser competition near the end of its 10-day trip.

There’s a fine line between setting realistic expectations and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Kansas coach Bill Self could have reasonably expected better from his troops, paced by experienced big man Jeff Withey, but his team’s trip to Paris ended in an L as well. The loss, to a mysterious troop of ninja-mimes known as AMW France, was at least closer than that suffered by their in-state foes. The nip-tuck affair ended with a score of 74-73 following a missed three-pointer from sophomore point guard Naadir Tharpe. The loss broke a streak of 41 straight exhibition victories for the Jayhawks.

To my way of thinking, Weber’s approach – telling people he would lose, and putting that plan into action – doesn’t make a ton of sense. He should watch and learn from another (more successful) former Illini coach; Self will use this narrow loss to galvanize his squad, and there will be no talk of acceptable levels of losing.