ST. LOUIS (KTVI)- The NCAA tournament is the time of year when assistant coaches earn their stripes. Win or go home. Time is short when it comes to game-planning for and scouting of opponents, especially in the tournament’s first weekend. Teams may face a foe they have little or no experience against or knowledge of in the second or third round.
Still, a curious scene played out Saturday as teams met with the media ahead of South number 10 seed Stanford’s matchup with No. 2 Kansas Sunday. KU guards Wayne Selden Jr. and Andrew Wiggins appeared not to know much if anything about Chasson Randle, the Stanford guard from Rock Island, Il who led the Cardinal in scoring Friday in the game before KU’s tilt with Eastern Kentucky. The former Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois is coming off an All PAC 12 caliber season. When asked by FOX2 and then pressed twice more by reporters to address how they would handle Randle, Selden and Wiggins paused and giggled on the podium before giving broader answers.
“I feel like we all just have to play team defense,” said Selden. “We can’t really settle for just guarding our man.”
“Not focus on one person because when we do that we let the other guy go off and he is someone we don’t want having control of the game,” added Wiggins, who also said he wasn’t sure, when asked.
Kansas Head Coach Bill Self called it an unfair question, considering players had not yet reviewed scouting reports on specific personnel, and that unlike a Duke or a Michigan State, Kansas players haven’t been exposed as much to Stanford on television. “We made a decision not to throw too much at them yesterday (Friday) because of the fact that we thought rest was more important and gave them some things to digest, such as how they run their triangle offense,” Self said. “We know he’s good. He’s averaging 18.9 a game.”
Stanford’s availability to the news media came prior to the Kansas session. Randle said he’s seen KU “quite a bit” on TV and compared the Jayhawks to UCLA and Arizona in many respects, chief among them that they do a lot of dunking.
When Kentucky players didn’t get player-specific about Wichita State in making remarks ahead of Sunday’s second game between the top-seeded Shockers and the No. 8 Wildcats, we asked Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari if his team had seen Wichita State on television or game film. Calipari said social media and the AAU circuit have changed how players hear about their competitors. “They know eachother. You’ll be surprised how college players know eachother. So they know their players. They knew their players more than I knew about their players.”
Randle will again play in front of a large group of family and friends who have made the trip from Rock Island. The contingent has grown to 42, he said. “For me it just gives me a little extra motivation. I’m playing for Stanford but I’m also playing for them too. It’s just great to have them around to be able to see me play.”
Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins praised Randle’s three point basket Friday that broke a 45-all tie midway through the second half against New Mexico and said that the best is yet to come for his guard as he becomes a more vocal leader.
Randle told reporters Friday that his improved play this season has come from approaching this season as if it were his last, although he reiterated that he will be back at Stanford for his senior year.