Beard Talks Kansas and McCullar’s Progress

A big game on Thursday night.

Chris Beard met with the media in anticipation of Thursday evening’s game with Kansas. This is a non-transcript, which means that these are not direct quotes, but me typing as quickly as possible to get you the gist of the presser. Let’s go.

Never been done before, unique season, starting conference play pre-Christmas and about this challenge. Not excited about playing the best team in college basketball. Encourage fans to use their tickets and fill the seats, execute the masks, if you can’t come to the game give your tickets to those who an come. A lot of respect for our opponent. Not sure it is a sellout, may release more tickets and there are ways to get to see this game if you want.

I’m not sure how those decisions work, a lot of times, they save the marquee games for later on, I tell the players control what you can control, so we’ll just play the schedule they give us.

Kevin McCullar is continuing to improve, he’s been in practice a couple of times lately, a chance he will play on Thursday, the actual thing is the improvement and Kevin is working extremely hard, appreciative of Mike Mill, helping him.

on Jalen Wilson, I’m not there every day, not the guy to ask about Kansas players, from my point of view, he’s run his own race and was going to play at Michigan, like talented players, I’m sure he’s expecting to get on the court a bit more, from the outside looking in, he’s running his own race, his second year of college, he is embracing it, and he’s a positionless guy, bought into toughness and Kansas defense has talents in shooting.

It is a level playing-field, so as long as the playing field is level, ideally I would like to play Kansas the last game of the season with a healthy roster and would love for Bill Self to invite me into coaches meetings, there are all sorts of challenges in playing Kansas.

Every Kansas team has a different identity, I would tell you that this is a really good defensive team, they are manufacturing a lot of offense from the defense, guys can impact the game with steals, guys that can switch, they guard the ball really well, they don’t have to help a lot because of the individual talent on defense. Still trying to figure out things on offense, like all of us are.

Mac McClung is important to win the game, do it in different ways, 6 assists and no turnovers, have to let the game come to you. There are things Kyler can control and things he cannot. What’s important is letting the game come to you, I grew up watching Michael Jordan, he would have 15 assists on one night or 30 points the next. Mac scoring is really low on our list, we’re trying to win the game.

It is a work in progress for sure, normally you build this thing through the scrimmage and non-conference play. We have to get our new players in quickly, give young players opportunities. We are trying hard at it, there are guys I wish we could get a better look at, and we are a work in progress and in a month, the rotation could look very different. It is about these guys running their own race. You can’t play 14 guys each night, all 13 players are alive and well and it will be interesting to see how these players play out.

I really like how competitive these guys are, saw this in the Houston game, after the Houston game, we’ve also seen the competitiveness after a big lead and there are guys who don’t want to lose and are paying attention to the scoreboard and not stat sheet. That’s exciting, I like the unselfishness, and can be one of the best, when we aren’t the guys own it quickly. Burton has only played with McClung a couple of months, I like our unselfishness. Our defense is nationally ranked, Adams knows more about that and he’s trying to motivate players with those stats.

I think it depends on the team and returning on the starting lineup, I think the offense can be ahead of the defense depending on the players. During the summers, it is a focus. I think our defense is ahead of the offense because the players haven’t played together.

My thoughts:

  • I don’t have a ton here, but I am really excited that Kevin McCullar is practicing and it gives me a bit of hope to consider that he might play on Thursday. That would be pretty significant shot to the team, although the problem hasn’t been on defense, which is where McCullar shines, but on offense and generating good looks. McCullar tends to score without needing the ball in his hands and I love that type of offensive input because it’s a ton of hustle plays.
  • Beard has said multiple times “running your own race” and although he’s talking about Kansas forward Jalen Wilson, I think he’s definitely talking about his team and players as well. Beard has said this about Nimari Burnett a couple of times and I think Beard’s thought process here is that every player is going to be a bit different in terms of development. Some players will be great the minute they step on campus and others may take some time.
  • Beard is asked again about McClung not scoring and it has become a bit of a trend in terms of him getting the ball in the basket, but if he can affect the game in other ways including dropping the assists, that’s going to make him money in the long term as well. Yes, he needs to be able to create his own shot, but creating for others is significant.
  • I’m really excited for Thursday.

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