Bill Self has a hard time believing anybody has played a tougher schedule through five games than his No. 15 Jayhawks.


Bill Self has a hard time believing anybody has played a tougher schedule through five games than his No. 15 Jayhawks.
     It won't get much easier anytime soon, either.
     Kansas (3-2) finally returns home this week to play Florida Atlantic, just its second game at Allen Fieldhouse. The youthful Jayhawks opened the season against Towson before embarking on a road trip that took them to Madison Square Garden for a date with Kentucky and then to the Maui Invitational, where they knocked off UCLA and Georgetown before falling to Duke in the finale.
     "How many teams are there in Division I basketball?" Self asked. "There's probably 325 teams that the best they could be right now is 3-2, and maybe 330 or 335. There's not a lot of people that are going to beat Kentucky, and there's certainly not a lot of people that are going to beat Duke.
     "Where we're at from a record standpoint is not the worst thing that could happen," Self said. "There's not a lot of teams out there this time of the season that can beat those teams."
     The Jayhawks don't get much of a breather Wednesday night against FAU, a program that gave Washington all it could handle on the road. A pair of games against South Florida and Long Beach State leads right into a high-profile showdown with second-ranked Ohio State on Dec. 10.
     "The schedule has given us the enthusiasm and energy to get better," Self said. "But it'll be fun for our guys to be back home. There are not many teams out there that are high majors that are playing their second home games on Nov. 30."
     The Jayhawks relied heavily on their starting five in the 68-61 loss to the Blue Devils, the kind of back-and-forth game that would be expected from two of the game's bluebloods.
     Self said that was by design: He wanted to win the Maui Invitational, just like Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who likewise relied heavily on his starters. So both coaches opted against developing their bench in favor of the best players they could put on the floor, and by the end it was obvious.
     Jayhawks star guard Tyshawn Taylor wound up committing 11 turnovers while playing 38 minutes, and the other four starters for Kansas each logged at least 31 minutes.
     Self acknowledged that'll have to change between now and the start of Big 12 play.
     The Jayhawks don't have a deep bench, in part because much of their recruiting class was deemed to be partial qualifiers and thus ineligible. So they're forced to rely heavily on Taylor and big man Thomas Robinson, the league's player of the week for his performance in Maui, with the hope that newcomers Naadir Tharpe and Justin Wesley can contribute meaningful minutes.
     "Are we better off having veterans in there that are tired or youngsters in there that don't know what they're doing yet?" Self asked. "We'll get there."
     Self said he would like to get about 50 minutes out of the bench — a couple of guys logging 15 minutes each, and a couple more logging 10. That total is nearly double what he got from the reserves against the Blue Devils.
     "Let's look at it this way: That's three games in three days," Self said, referring to the wins over the Hoyas and Bruins that got Kansas to the championship game. "That was pretty taxing."
     Self said he expects Tharpe to provide some scoring punch off the bench, though the freshman guard has been prone to turnovers. Wesley presents match-up problems for defenses because he's someone who can play inside and outside, but he's been hampered by foul problems.
     Self said those two will have to get up to speed between now and January.
     "March is a long ways away, and what we want to do is get as good as we can nonconference to give us a good chance of success in our league," he said. "We're not going to get a chance to catch our breath for a while. But I believe when you play a hard schedule you have to win some of the games.
     "I do think it's a great barometer of where we're at," Self said. "We've been exposed some of the things we don't do well, and I'd rather be exposed in November than in March."