Bill Self Weekly Press Conference

Jan. 7, 2011

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Press Conference Quotes
January 7, 2011

Kansas head coach Bill Self

On the performance of sophomore guard Elijah Johnson:

“He’s played well. He’s shot it really well and he’s confident with his stroke. He hasn’t had a ton of assists, but he doesn’t turn it over, so he’s really done a good job taking care of the basketball. I’ve said all along that I think Elijah is a good basketball player. He’s probably playing about as consistently as he has since he’s been here.”

On whether Johnson is part of the regular rotation:

“Yeah, he’s going to play. He’s going to be part of our rotation and I don’t see that changing at all. I don’t see him as a starter right now, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t become that. I definitely see him as a guy that will play his certain number of minutes off the bench.”

On how many will be involved in his rotation:

“I think nine probably, but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a 10th or 11th player playing in a game. I don’t see 10 or 11 guys playing double-figure minutes. I see nine guys playing double-figure minutes. As the season goes on, all coaches shorten their bench. One advantage we do have, we have a lot of good guys, but we’re not going to get guys in the game just to get them in the game. My teams at Illinois, we played nine; my teams at Tulsa, we played eight and the best team we had here, we played seven with Cole (Aldrich) being our eighth. I think what’s best for this team, considering our foul problems, we need to play four bigs and five perimeter players.”

On whether any players are starting to separate themselves in his eyes:

“I don’t know if I’d go that strong. I think one of the good things about not having separation is that it doesn’t matter who’s out there; results will hopefully be similar. I would like to be able to have some separation. When we won the National Championship in 2008, we didn’t have any separation within our top seven. We had seven starters. I don’t know if I feel quite as strongly right now, but I really believe that Thomas (Robinson) could be a starter very easily here and Brady (Morningstar) has been a starter and could be a starter here. I could see us not really mattering who we put out there to start a game.”

On whether senior guard Mario Little will be rejoining the rotation:

“There is a chance. I don’t know positively yet. I want what is best for us more than anything, but I want what’s best for him too, and hopefully that is in conjunction with what’s best for us. I’ve got information and I need to make a decision pretty soon, but I’m holding off on doing that just yet. I would say that in the relatively near future, we’ll probably have a more definitive plan on what his role will be.”

On any surprises so far this season:

“We pressed pretty well the other day. It was a soft press, but we still did some good things with that. I still think that we make the extra pass about as well as anybody I’ve seen. Guys will pass up a good look to get a great look, and I think that is a good sign. We don’t do a lot of things great, but we do a lot of things really, really well. Making the extra pass is one thing that I have been really pleased with.”

On Johnson, sophomore Tyshawn Taylor and freshman Josh Selby playing together:

“They will be out there some together like that, but that’s not going to be our core group that’s out there all the time. I think there’s going to be a lot of times, just like there were when (former guard) Brandon (Rush) wasn’t in the game, we had to play three little guys together. There are going to be times when the three little guys are out there together, too. It just so happens we have four little guys because Tyrel (Reed) is certainly one of those guys also. When you look at it, we’re playing so little right now. You’ve got Tyrel starting at the three (position), Josh starting at the two and Ty (Tyshawn) at the one. I don’t think we can really play much smaller than we’re playing. With Elijah out there, it gives us a lot of extra bounce. We’ve got some guys with some good bounce out there on the perimeter.”

On the team’s outside shooting:

“Brady lead the league in three-point field goal percentage–if I’m not mistaken–his sophomore season. So Brady hasn’t made shots and Tyrel hasn’t made shots like he can make. So for us to still be shooting over 40 (percent) from three is pretty good. Travis (Releford) has done a good job and Elijah has done a good job. Josh has shot it really well so far. Any time you can shoot about 40 (percent) from three, you’re shooting the ball pretty well. Most coaches would probably sell out for 37 or 38 (percent), so I’m pleased with that.”

On preparing for Michigan’s system:

“We need to have a good scout week. Our scout team needs to be really good. They need to be able to run their stuff in a way that gives our guys confidence in how to guard it. This is a big practice for our scout team and tomorrow will be as well. They (Michigan) are different. They are different than anyone else that we play. UMKC didn’t run that much stuff compared to what they would normally. I think a lot of that was the press slowed them down and they had to get re-set up. Maybe that took some of that away. But we’ve got to do a good job. They are different than any of the other teams we’ve seen. Plus, they play the one-three-one. They don’t play it a lot, but they certainly played it against us last year. We’ve got to do a better job of attacking it.”

On how Michigan’s style is different:

“It’s a variation of the Princeton offense with Coach Beilein’s twist. He’s a really good coach, so I’d say there are a lot of similarities to that.”

On having one more non-conference game while others start Big 12 play:

“I would rather start the league with everybody else, but if I’m not mistaken, we do this about every year. Texas is doing it with us this year, so I think 10 teams are starting league play this weekend and two do not. We all get caught up by the beginning of February, so it’s not that big of a deal, but I would rather finish the non-conference season before you start league play than be in league play and then step out of conference. I never feel like those non-conference games mean as much during league play.”

Senior guard Tyrel Reed

On any surprises so far this season:

“I think going into this year people though Brady (Morningstar) and I would be some of the better outside shooters, but I think some of the other guys have stepped up and really knocked down the outside shot. Travis (Releford), the twins (Marcus and Markieff Morris), Elijah (Johnson) and all those guys have done a really good job.”

On having one more non-conference game while others start Big 12 play:

“I think it will be another good test for us. It’s going to be a tough environment. I know they’re really good at home, so it’s going to definitely help us out going into the Big 12 and I’m looking forward to it.”

On what he remembers about Michigan’s style from last year:

“Their offense plays a little bit like UMKC. It is kind of a Princeton-style offense with a lot of backdoor cuts and a lot of reads on their part. It’s definitely a tougher thing to defend and we’re just going to have to come ready to guard it.”

On trying to go undefeated in non-conference play:

“Last year (at Tennessee) was a tough loss going into the Big 12 and we don’t want to have that this year. There is some fuel in our fire to stay focused and get the job done.”

On whether last year’s loss at Tennessee adds any motivation to this game:
“I don’t know if it’s motivation, but I will tell our guys that we have a chance to do something that last year’s team couldn’t do – go undefeated in non-conference. It’s a similar setup. Of course, Tennessee was going through all of those problems last year when we played them and they played great. We didn’t play (well) at all. We deserved to get beat. It may have been a blessing in disguise because we won 18 of our next 19 (games) in conference play after that. It didn’t kill us, but I’d rather learn lessons through winning than not winning.”

On how this year’s Michigan team compares to last year:

“They are a better team than they were last year. I’m sure they would say the same thing – statistically, record, all of those things. This team, on a neutral floor, played Syracuse to within a basket. They beat PennState and lost to Purdue, but they’re very capable and they can all shoot the three-pointer. They’re really good in transition (offense). They’re better in transition than what I remember last year.”

On how Kansas defended Michigan last year:

“I thought we did a pretty good job against them last year. I can’t remember the final score off the top of my head, but I thought we did a pretty good job of defending them last year. They’re doing some things better than they did last year, though. I think they’re harder to guard this year.”

On only getting five offensive rebounds as a team against UMKC:

“It obviously doesn’t help when Thomas isn’t here. If Markieff (Morris) doesn’t play either, that doesn’t help. If we’re playing Brady (Morningstar) or Travis (Releford) at the four, that doesn’t help. There were maybe some reasons why that occurred, but we missed 27 shots and we got five offensive rebounds, so that’s a bad percentage. We certainly have to do better than that.”

On if Michigan’s high volume of three-point shooting affects KU’s transition offense:

“We always talk about long shots mean long rebounds, but what it really forces you to do is your guards have to come up. They have to be good rebounders. Knock on wood, we’ve actually done a better job here of late with our guards rebounding the ball – Josh (Selby) and Tyrel (Reed) primarily.”

On how Thomas Robinson’s grandmother passing away has affected him in practice:

“He was good yesterday. He had a great attitude. Thomas could have been back here for the game, but as a man of his house he said it was more important for him to be with his family. I totally agreed. I thought he should stay. It’s a little different role. He was obviously close with his grandmother and she helped raise him with his mother, Lisa. He needed to be back there. I’m sure it was hard for him to come back, but he has family here, too. He gets comfort from those guys also, but it’s tough for anybody to lose a loved one, regardless of timing or what’s going on. I’m sure it’s heavy on his heart, but he’ll deal with it.”

On the atmosphere at Michigan with the students being so close to the court:
“I haven’t talked to them (yet). Yesterday was really limited so we didn’t talk about Michigan yesterday. We’re talking about them a lot today, so I’ll bring that up. It’s good preparation. They’re right on top of you. I played there a few times, and (assistant coach) Kurtis (Townsend) has been there many, many games. There are a lot of places that are on top of you, too. It looks cool on TV with their students right behind their benches. I think they will have a good crowd. We’ll have to play arguably our best game that we’ve played so far.”

On if the players are doing well adjusting to playing with Josh Selby:

“I think so. I don’t know if our players have done a great job adjusting to Josh as much as Josh has done a great job adjusting to them. He’s stepped in knowing his skill set. They know it to some degree, but not in every area. He’s really trying hard to fit in and not take away from others. He took six shots the other night. Who would have ever thought, seeing Josh Selby play in high school, that he would take six shots in a game? That would have a bad first quarter, so he’s done remarkably well. He’s excited about making the extra pass. Of course, that’s what we emphasize and he’s buying into it. It’s a fun way to play. I don’t see the adjustments being quite as great as what a lot of people saw them to be – in large part because he’s bought in. He’s made it easy for everybody.”

On how Selby is progressing as a defender:

“He’s better. That pillar over there could have gotten a few baskets against him when he first started and that doesn’t move. Now, I think he’s really buying in. He’s trying hard and he’s getting better. He’s a long ways away, but he’s getting better. He’s a freshman that’s just learning how to play. He probably has more confidence on the offensive end than the defensive end still, but he’ll get there. He wants to learn.”

Sophomore forward Thomas Robinson

On having one more non-conference game while most of the Big 12 teams play each other this weekend:

“I think we need this game. We know a lot about our team, but one more game won’t hurt us. I think we have an advantage having one more (remaining non-conference) game than everybody else.”

On if he followed Kansas’ game against UMKC while he was away:

“Yeah. They played very well in the first half. From what I read, the press looked good and in the second half we kind of laid back a little bit. We just need to be consistent with everything.”

On how his teammates have helped him with losing his grandmother:
“Yeah, my teammates and coaches have been the best. I don’t think this situation would have been as smooth (without them). They talked to me every day when I home – calling and checking to see how I was doing. Also the fans. A lot of fans wrote on my Facebook and Twitter, so I appreciate that also.”

Junior guard Tyshawn Taylor

On if it’s good to have one more non-conference game:

“Yeah, I think so. Michigan has a good team. I’ve watched them a few times. I think it’s going to be a challenge. I think it’s good going into conference. It’s going to be our second true away game so it’s going to be good to see where we’re at.”

On if the team does anything better this year than he anticipated:

“I think we share the ball. I think that’s the biggest thing, how unselfish we are as a team.”