KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas Jayhawks will spend their Thanksgiving in Florida, playing in the 2020 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans Fort Myers Tip-Off.
Their first opponent of the season is the preseason No.1 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Kansas was last year’s No. 1 team in the final Associated Press poll, Gonzaga was No. 2.
On Monday, KU head coach Bill Self said as of now, the team is “relatively healthy, nothing to keep anybody out,” and will fly east on Tuesday.
Like most NCAA basketball coaches, Self feels like his team isn’t prepared because of the unknown.
“If we would have been able to do a couple of dress rehearsals, I would say we have a better chance to be prepared and I’m sure Mark (Few) is saying the same thing with his group.” Self said.
“We’ve opened up against Kentucky or Duke or Michigan State to start a season multiple times now in the first game. I’m not saying we are always successful but our guys usually rise to that occasion.”
Sophomore guard Christian Braun is ready to compete again. With the way the last season ended, Braun is excited to get back to winning — picking things off where they left them last year. He’s confident the Jayhawks will perform well on Thursday.
“Obviously, nobody’s where they’re going to be toward the end of the season in the first game, but I think we’re ready because we got so many guys we can throw at people," Braun said. "We got a lot of different guys that can do a lot of different things, so I think we’ll be prepared for, really, anything."
Self said there is no starting-five, but feels good about Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun and David McCormack.
“We don’t know what direction we’re going to go in addition to that. I do think those four probably have the best shot to start the game against Gonzaga and I don’t see anything in the next three practices to change that,” Self said.
Kansas has only played Gonzaga once — back in November of 1998. The Jayhawks won the game 80-66.
KU will play Saint Joseph’s the following day at 1 p.m.