KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For a few hours on Friday, Kansas coach Charlie Weis wasn't worried about football.
He was worried about Iowa State, Kansas basketball's Big 12 Tournament semifinal opponent.
“I mean, seriously. We've had two overtime games now against Iowa State,” Weis said. “You can learn a lot by watching this basketball team and the way they play — their toughness and their cohesiveness. They like playing with each other.”
And that's what Weis has done all season — watched and learned from Kansas' basketball team after his football team went 1-11 in his first year as head coach.
The Oklahoman caught up with Weis to talk about basketball and next year.
You go to a lot of games in Allen Fieldhouse, right?
As many as I can.
What do you like about KU basketball?
I like the toughness of our basketball team. When I took the job last year, I thought they were one of the most overachieving teams in the country and that they have a really tough mentality that I think we can try to rebuild a football team with. … We have a great team already on campus and we can emulate them.
Do you think it's been kind of hard being at a basketball school?
No. I think there's two ways of looking at that. You either look at it as you're a second-class citizen or you play into it. And for me, what kind of better recruiting tool is there in January than to go to Allen Fieldhouse when it's rocking and rolling and bring in a bunch of recruits and they say, “Oh, my God.” So there's two ways to look at it.
What are you going to take from last year and apply to next year?
We were 1-11 last year. The games that we were in, Oklahoma not being one of them, but Oklahoma State being one of them, the games we were in where we had opportunities to win, we couldn't close any of them out. I think that in the Big 12 one of the things you better do is close out some of those. We're better but so is everybody else.
There's not any newness this year. You're not feeling each other out. Now we kind of know what we're dealing with.
What did you learn about the Big 12?
It's wide open. It's wide open, fast break offense. I'd just come from the SEC, which is ground to ground. This is wide open run and gun. But you better be ready to play in a hurry and you've got to be ready for a lot of athletes, because there are a lot of athletes in this conference.
What is it like to watch Kansas, especially when they had that three-game losing streak?
In sports, especially when you're playing so many games, unlike football when it's one game a week, there's going to be ups and downs in every season. Psychologically, it's impossible to stay at your peak when you have that many games. So it's not the losing. It's how you react after. That showed a lot of perseverance and toughness in the team.
This is spring break. We knocked out five practices. I'm the furthest thing from their mind right now. They're trying to get as far away from me as possible … We get them back in a week and we'll have three more weeks of spring ball and we'll see if we can't fix more of the problem.