Kansas basketball prepares for upcoming trip to Italy

Courtesy: KU Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Practice No. 3 is on the books as the Kansas men’s basketball teams continues preparations for its Summer Tour to Italy, which is set to begin July 31. Head coach Bill Self, along with sophomore guard Malik Newman and junior forward Dedric Lawson, met with the media Tuesday to discuss the team’s progress following its third of 10 practices before the squad departs for Rome.

The Jayhawks will embark on their nine-day excursion through Italy July 31-August 8. Kansas will play four games against Italian All-Star teams, the first to be held on Aug. 2 in Rome. For more information on the Summer Tour and how to follow the Jayhawks in Italy, visit KUAthletics.com.

Head coach Bill Self
On what he can tell about this year’s team after two practices:
“After two practices in the summertime, that’s a very relaxed (environment), I can tell you the same thing I could have told you two days ago: not much. It’s a good time to get everybody together and maybe put in some ‘meat and potatoes’ stuff, but it’s not going to be an intense deal like it would be during the regular season or a normal practice. I’ve learned that Devonte’ (Graham) is still good, that Dok (Udoka Azubuike) is still big, Lagerald is still athletic, but I don’t really know much about the team.”

On the types of things that can emerge in these types of practices:
“It’s probably too early, but I think guys will start separating themselves a little bit. Players will start looking to other guys as good players and learning how to get the ball to guys in certain situations. With the young kids, I think the biggest thing you can start developing is the culture and how you’re going to work. I’m not saying this is going to help us win one more game if you do something in the summer, but you should probably be a week or two ahead when games start. But that’s probably about the extent of it.”

On if the trip to Italy could be a bonding experience:
“I think it will be. I’ll be in a good mood the entire time, so I can’t imagine the players not having a good time and enjoying themselves. Even though we are going there to play ball, it’s also kind of a reward trip. So hopefully we’ll go over there and get a little bit better basketball wise, but most of getting better basketball wise is going to take place here, in Lawrence.”

Sophomore guard Malik Newman
On what it’s like to be on a team with so many new faces:
“It’s fun. Like you said, it’s something new. There are more things that they are going through than just having the people around who you are used to. They have to learn us, we have to learn them. We have to try to ‘mold as one,’ like you said.”

On what he learned from watching Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III last year:
“Being able to control the pace of the game. Toughness. The leadership that those guys brought and the respect others have for them.”

On what he’s looking forward to most about the Italy trip, other than playing in games:
“I have not (been to Italy). Just sightseeing. I’m excited about it and I’m pretty sure the entire team is excited about it. Whatever Italy has to offer, I’m ready to see it.”

Junior forward Dedric Lawson
On what practice for the Italy trip has been like so far:
“Practice, for me, has been very fun and competitive, which is something I love about the game of basketball. It gives me a will to go out there and have fun. I love the way the coaches coach us and the way the players compete every day at practice.”

On any adjustments he’s had to make since his arrival from Memphis:
“A lot of things are different, from a coaching standpoint to guys being in the gym more than just the time you are given to be in the gym. That’s something that I have embraced with open arms. It was really surprising to me to see how many guys were in the gym late at night. It encouraged me to stay in the gym.”

On if a trip like the one to Italy can bond a team:
“Most definitely. Things like this carry on into the season. It builds chemistry with guys, builds trust, which are a part of winning as much off the court as on it.”

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