Kansas Coach Bill Self acknowledged Thursday that news of an alleged rape in his team’s dormitory had affected his players.
“It’s not a distraction,” he said at a news conference. “It’s a major distraction.”
But Self downplayed the allegation as having a significant impact on his team’s play at Kentucky on Saturday.
“I know our guys will be excited to play,” Self said. “This will not be an excuse if we don’t play well, and it won’t be a motivating factor if we do play well.”
Self stressed that impact on a basketball team’s performance was of secondary importance.
“When you talk about distraction, you look at how it affects us,” he said. “But more important than that is a very serious allegation that has been made. That trumps figuring out how to guard (Malik) Monk or (De’Aaron) Fox, to be real candid with you.”
On Wednesday, The Kansas City Star obtained a police report detailing the rape allegation in KU’s McCarthy Hall. A 16-year-old girl alleged that rape and three other crimes occurred between 10 p.m. on Dec. 17 and 5 a.m. on Dec. 18, the newspaper reported.
The police listed five Kansas players as witnesses: Frank Mason III, Mitch Lightfoot, Lagerald Vick, Tucker Vang and Josh Jackson. Self pointed out that being designated a witness can mean having knowledge of something well before or after an alleged crime was committed.
“We’ve been given zero information that would warrant suspensions or anything like that,” Self said.
If such information surfaces, “I certainly will act,” Self said.
South Carolina Coach Frank Martin asked a good question on the SEC coaches’ teleconference Monday.
“Everyone says in our league, it’s a one-team league,” he said. “Kentucky’s so dominant, and no one ever poses a threat to them.
“Last time I checked, Kentucky is not the team that has won their conference 13 consecutive years. I don’t know why the Big 12 is viewed being such a strong, top-to-bottom conference. But then we’re viewed as being so bad.”
Actually, Kansas won won the last 12 Big 12 Conference regular-season championships.
Having lost on Tuesday at Tennessee and West Virginia, respectively, Kentucky or Kansas will lose a second straight game.
This prospect engaged Calipari’s sense of humor.
“Both of us, coming off road losses, and then having this game,” the UK coach said before laughing. “Is there a tie or does one of us have to lose?
“Tough deal, but it is what it is.”
Self dismissed the notion that the SEC-Big 12 Challenge will be an opportunity to showcase conference pride. He suggested all coaches would consider league games more important.
“It’s kind of like the bowl season,” Self said before asking reporters a question. “What was the Big 12 bowl record? Nobody knows, do you?
“It’s kind of played up to be a big deal. . . . I’m not sure it means as much to the coaches as it might mean to the people who are watching.”
Mychal Mulder, who missed the last two games because of what Kentucky called an illness, is still a week or more away from playing again.
“My guess is 10 days,” Calipari said. “But I could be wrong two or three days either way.”