Bill Self active at practice, No. 2 Kansas preps for attacking Arkansas

Bill Self actively participated in Kansas’ practice Friday for the first time since he needed medical attention prior to the Big 12 conference tournament.The Jayhawks are anxiously awaiting Self’s return to the bench while continuing to prepare for their second-round NCAA Tournament matchup Saturday against attacking, athletic No. 8 seed Arkansas in Des Moines, Iowa.”He was in practice with our guys just a little while ago and coaching them, so we will see what happens,” Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts said Friday.Kansas (28-7) perspired through the first half of the Jayhawks’ 96-68 first-round win over Howard on Thursday, and Roberts quipped postgame that he was prepared for Self to “kill me” upon returning to the team hotel.But Roberts, acting head coach since March 8, survived the hotel prep session and scouting preview of Arkansas. The Razorbacks bear some scary resemblance to a more familiar KU opponent: the Texas Longhorns.Scary because Texas beat the Jayhawks by 16 points in the regular-season finale and then manhandled Kansas by 20 in the Big 12 tournament championship game last Saturday.”I don’t think anybody in the country has as many athletes as Arkansas has,” Roberts said. “We have had different teams in our league that are pretty athletic. Baylor was athletic but they’re not as tall, long. West Virginia is long but they’re not as fast. Probably the closest one would be Texas. Texas probably has as many athletes in length that’s similar to Arkansas.”Arkansas suffocated Illinois’ guard-heavy lineup Thursday, building a 15-point lead before facing full-court pressure and temporarily losing a grip on the game. But after Illinois pulled to within five (62-57), the Razorbacks found a finishing kick that hasn’t always shown up this season, winning comfortably, 73-63.As Arkansas’ energetic big man Kamani Johnson put it Friday, the Razorbacks are trying to learn not to “let go of big leads.””Illinois gave us a run in the later half and we threw a couple punches back ourselves,” he said following Friday’s practice. “So I think our team grew up, in a sense, during that game. That’s kinda been our story all year and we fixed it last night.”Guard Jordan Walsh said Arkansas is confident in its brand of pressure that caused 17 Illinois turnovers on Thursday. He said he observed in preparation that teams are too generous giving Kansas space to operate.