Kansas freshman combo guard Marcus Garrett will start his second straight game and third of the season on Tuesday against Texas Tech, KU coach Bill Self said during Sunday’s media session at Allen Fieldhouse
“I assume he’ll be starting more as the season goes on,” Self said of the 6-foot-5 Dallas Skyline High graduate. “Nothing against Malik (Newman). Malik has a sore (left) foot. He won’t practice today. We’ll stick with Marcus (Tuesday) unless something unforeseen happens,” Self added.
Sophomore guard Newman — his injury is not serious, Self said — scored 13 points in 29 minutes off the bench in Friday’s 92-86 victory over Texas in Austin. Garrett, who is known as a solid defensive player, had two points, two assists and two steals in 18 minutes.
“We’ve been getting no offense off the bench,” Self said. “If this is handled correctly and minds are right and it doesn’t affect people, it could end up being kind of a bonus for us, I think.”
Garrett had a spectacular up-and-under driving layup while avoiding 6-foot-11 Mohamed Bamba on Friday.
“He has to get to the point he can keep people honest with his shot. He has not shot it well the last several games,” Self said of Garrett. “He was 3-for-4 one game (2-for-4 against Omaha); other than that …”
Garrett has made four of his last 17 shots over the Jayhawks’ last six games.
“We keep energy points for miscellaneous things — deflections, steals, dives on the floor, dunks, offensive rebounds, all these things,” Self said. “He graded out second most on the team behind Udoka (Azubuike).
“Udoka … it’s easy for him to get them (energy points) because dunks count and blocked shots count. I’m encouraged with Marcus.”
Asked about his driving layup during Friday’s win, Garrett said: “I felt when I drove to the goal and looked to my right, I saw him (Bamba) coming. I knew if I went straight up he would have an easier chance of blocking it. I went to the other side and used the rim, made it a harder path to block the shot.”
Garrett said that play could give him confidence, “knowing I can still do that (drive to the rim). In high school they doubled me a lot. I had other scoring players on the team. I didn’t settle for jumpers as much. I went to the hole a lot more, attacked the defense.”
Newman wasn’t the only Jayhawk to sit out Sunday’s practice. Self said 7-foot sophomore Azubuike would rest his sore back. Azubuike should be able to play Tuesday night vs. Texas Tech (8 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse).
“Bamba was unbelievable (Friday with 22 points, 15 rebounds, 8 blocks),” Self said, “but after Doke kind of settled in and realized his back was OK, I think he (then) did OK. After the first five minutes, he (Azubuike) played him even except for blocked shots.”
Self said he did not necessarily expect freshman forward Silvio De Sousa to be cleared for participation in time for Tuesday’s game.
“The (NCAA) offices don’t open until Tuesday. The NCAAs first look at it (De Sousa’s admission materials) will be Tuesday,” Self said.
De Sousa will have to be interviewed by the NCAA either in person or on the phone before being cleared through the amateurism process.
Self said he was hoping for De Sousa’s clearance to come in time for Saturday’s game at TCU. “He’s not going to play (right away),” Self said. “It’ll be another 10 days probably before he can help us.”
That’s because De Sousa, a 6-9 forward, until recently had been playing for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He now is in the process of learning KU’s plays.
“It’s going to take until February for Silvio to have a clue on what we’re really trying to do, to be totally comfortable. Even though he can play before that obviously,” Self said.
Meanwhile, freshman forward Billy Preston has yet to play in a game as the NCAA looks at the results of KU’s findings into the financial picture surrounding the car Preston has been driving this school year.
“Billy … I’ll be real honest,” Self said. “Billy is talented but Billy’s focus through all this … he’s hung in there but you can imagine that his frustration set in. It’ll be interesting to see how quick he can really help us win a game as opposed to being just out there, too. It won’t happen overnight.
“Our team … I think we’re going to be really good by the end. I don’t think we’ll be close to what we can be until February. I really don’t. That’s with everybody getting favorable outcomes.”
Self was asked about sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot’s possible reduction in minutes if and when De Sousa and Preston are added to the mix.
“Mitch (Lightfoot) will handle whatever we throw at him,” Self said.
“Mitch is a great kid. He loves this place. He wants to win more than he wants to play. Not everybody is like that. He is a quality, quality person. I’m so glad we have him. He frustrates me sometimes because I want him to do more in some areas. It’s not from lack of effort. I think a lot of it is just lack of experience and having opportunities. I’m not sure Mitch’s minutes will go down. I think it’ll be the perimeter minutes that go down as much as anything.”
KU’s guards hit 17 threes in Friday’s Big 12 opener.
“I really believe we can play small,” Self said. “Go back to last year we played small a lot. When we played small it was primarily with Josh (Jackson) in the game. That’s not small like this year’s small. We’re doing 40 minutes of small ball every game right now. It’d be nice if that could go to 20. With two additional players I think it can.”
Film room, lounge upgrades
There’s some construction going on over the holiday break on KU’s hallway leading to the locker room on the northwest side of Allen.
“We are upgrading our locker room clubhouse,” Self said. “Primarily the lounge and film room. The locker room will pretty much remain the same. Everything else will be upgraded and will give us extra square footage.”