Weekly Men's Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Jan. 5, 2006

Weekly Men’s Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self

On matchups with Kentucky:
“I may be wrong, but I don’t think they have played two of their seven-footers at the same time very much. They’re going to have at least one in the game a good portion of the time. They’ll go smaller sometimes with (Bobby) Perry and (Sheray) Thomas in there. I see us matching up pretty well with our taller guys playing against their taller guys.”

On Darnell Jackson:
“He’s still going through a lot of stuff with his mother’s health. She’s going through a hard time. Hopefully she’s doing as well as she can. I’m sure it’s been a great medicine for him to be out there playing. The NCAA suspension was something that hurt our team, but more importantly it was something that affected him negatively at a time when he could probably least afford it. I’m really proud of him. He’s come back and fought hard. The best way to help his family is for him to do well here at school, and I think he understands that.”

On Kentucky’s defense:
“That’s always going to be a staple of a Tubby Smith team. They’re going to guard and pressure. They’re going to make it very difficult to get easy baskets. We’re going yo have to earn everything. Watching last year’s tape, it was a great defensive game. We didn’t run good offense, and we probably kept them from running good offense because both teams guarded so hard defensively. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of the same on Saturday.”

On team’s progression:
“I think we have gotten better. I think we have played better than our scores indicate. We still haven’t executed well. I think our defense has been solid, and we’ve rebounded average. We have to get better in that area. We feel we’re playing better. Last night we didn’t play great the first 15 minutes, but the last 25 we played pretty well.”

On Mario Chalmers:
“I think he has been more focused since coming back from Christmas break. He seems to be trying to carry out what we want him to do. It’s not that he wasn’t trying before, but his concentration and level of focus wasn’t as good as what it is now.”

On how they beat Kentucky last year:
“I don’t know. We were lucky last year, but we also played really tough. Wayne (Simien) was out, Keith (Langford) got a concussion with about two minutes left, (Christian) Moody turned his ankle with about two minutes left, C.J. (Giles) had fouled out and Russell (Robinson) had his cornea scratched. We finished the game with four less players than we started with. The guys played great. I thought it was a great atmosphere and a great game.”

On Tubby Smith:
“Over time, I think Tubby Smith has done as a good a job as any coach in America. I think if you were to poll the coaches across the country, I think the majority would say the same thing. His teams are always tough. They compete and operate under probably the most pressure that a team can operate under in America. They always play well away from home, which is a testimony to a guy that makes his players tough and hard. He really helped me at Tulsa. Without him starting the success there, we may not have experienced the success that we had when I was there. I have unbelievable respect for Tubby. On top of him being a really good coach, I think he’s a really good guy as well. He’s done a lot for our profession.”

On the tradition of the two schools:
“I think there are only a handful of programs that have what Kentucky and Kansas have, and very rarely do they get the opportunity to play each other. I think that’s what makes for special games.”

On Kentucky’s Rajon Rondo:
“I think Rondo is the best, most complete guard in the country. He has a unique way about him. He can change the game in one or two possessions because of his length defensively and his hands. That’s something that we have to be prepared for.”

On the significance of the Kentucky game:
“A good performance on Saturday would be a great springboard for our kids’ confidence going into conference play. You can get confidence from winning games, but you still have to go out and beat someone of national magnitude to really believe that it’s going to help you win a hard game. Beating Cal the way we did in the second half was a good win for us, but we still need a big feather in our cap.”

On the Randolph Morris situation:
“He’s already been punished. Kentucky has also been punished quite severely. I think in college basketball, we get so hung up on how things affect us, that we forget to look at what’s good for our game. I think having the best players play is good for our game. I don’t know the details to go into it with Randolph, but we’ve experienced that a little bit on our end. I’m just glad they’ve worked through it and come to a resolution, and I hope he has a really good year. If it had been a 13-game suspension instead of a 14-game suspension, I wouldn’t have complained about that one bit. When we scheduled Kentucky, we planned on playing against him.”

On the impact of Brandon Rush and Julian Wright:
“Brandon has probably been one of the most consistent performers in the country for his age. He doesn’t force things, and he lets the game come to him. Julian is the polar opposite. He wants to get in there and make something happen the minute he’s on the floor. I think that’s a great characteristic. They’re both going to be fabulous players, but they need a little bit of time. I’ve been real pleased with Mario (Chalmers). Micah (Downs) is going to be a really good player, he just hasn’t had as many opportunities as of late. Certainly all four of our freshman have a chance to be standouts.”