Bill Self Weekly Press Conference

Jan. 11, 2011

Media Videos Coach Self | Taylor | Reed | Mc. Morris

Head Coach Bill Self

On his thoughts about the team through non-conference play:

“I think we’ve been really good at times and I think we’ve been below average at times. Obviously we’re happy with the record. The first season is important but not near as important as the second season, that’s conference play. We’re going to have to play better than what we’ve played at a consistent level to have a chance, especially when we’re away from home against league play. Starting tomorrow it’s going to be a really juiced atmosphere. It was great we were able to play a road game at Michigan to get us a little acclimated to that.”

On what the team needs to do to be successful in conference play:

“Get a little bit better in all areas. I would say we have made some improvements in some things that are important to us but we still don’t take care of the basketball very well. It’s one thing to get a turnover when the other teams forces you to turn it over. We just turn it over when the other team doesn’t force us to. And so much of basketball, just like all sports, is not so much beating your opponent, it’s not beating yourself. We need to be in attack mode but we need to be sure we don’t put ourselves in the situation where basically we create our own problems and that has happened way too often.”

On how he rates his team’s defense:

“I think we’re playing better. Statistically, we’ve been really good defensively but sometimes stats lie obviously. But I do think that we’re getting better in that area which, to me, is real important. But now that we’re getting better there, we’re not scoring near as easy and we still need to improve there, too.”

On what kind of defense Iowa State runs:

“They do play some zone and kind of a matchup 2-3-type look. And they may throw some stuff at us that we haven’t seen based on some recent games that we’ve played. They could throw in something that maybe they haven’t done much of but who knows. The one thing about coaching is this, you’d rather do what you do rather than always basing it off of what somebody else does.”

On what the team needs to do to put teams away:

“We’ve actually done a decent job in some areas of putting some people away but you don’t put people away on the road in the first half. So you get sort of a false sense (of security). Where we screwed up the other day was not being ahead 15 at halftime, because we should have been. Seven is not a big number but it’s a totally different game at seven than 15 and we just didn’t play well the last four minutes. What we have to do, in my opinion, is play the last four minutes of each half better. And the first four minutes of the second half better and that should take care of a lot of things.”

On clearing Mario Little for competition:

“It wasn’t an easy decision but I really believe 100 percent in my heart it’s the right decision. I tried to look at it as if he was my own child. I also let the legal system play out. We’re certainly not going to make light of anything that happened. Any time you’re dealing with the law it’s all serious. He has two misdemeanor battery charges. He has done a lot of things through us and I had thought that holding him out six games and bringing him back for conference would be the time to do it. He’s handled this as well as you can considering how much it hurt him. A big part of his life is wrapped up in what happens here in his life as a Kansas basketball player. And five minutes of whatever happened, and who knows exactly what happened, but we know something did and it was wrong. But the five minutes to me, to totally affect his opportunity to play overseas, his opportunity to go ahead and finish in uniform and have a good experience, that would be a springboard for the rest of his life and I thought that was too severe to take from him. I want to do what is best for our program first and foremost. I think this is what’s best for our program. Sometimes coaches have to do things and make decisions that sometimes are popular and sometimes aren’t very popular, but I feel like I would seriously be letting him down as his coach, somebody that said would always look out for him and have his back. In this particular situation, because I believe that he has done what he should have done, and certainly the remorse I know he feels. It wasn’t an easy decision but something I feel is the right decision.”

Senior guard Tyrel Reed

On what he knows about Iowa State:

“I know that they’re a real good team. They don’t play a whole lot of guys. They have a new coach and they run a little bit different system. But they have a lot of good players in their system so we’re going to have to come out and play well.”

On wearing teams out with KU’s depth on the bench:

“That hasn’t been an emphasis at all of ours. Just by looking at their scouting report I know they have just been playing about seven or eight guys. I don’t really look too much into trying to get them tired we’re just going to have to play well. I think we have good depth and can keep guys fresh. I think we can use that to our advantage.”

On what he thinks of the non-conference season:

“I’m happy that we got through it (undefeated). Last year we lost our last game to Tennessee. This year we were very fortunate to get the win at Michigan. We had our ups and downs but it definitely made us better and hopefully it prepared us for the Big 12 season.”

On what he thinks the team needs to do to get better:

“I think we need to play more complete games. I think we’ve had some stretches where we’ve played well. We got up on teams but let them get back in the game so we just have to be able to play 40 minutes and finish our opponents.”

On how he feels about having Mario Little back in the lineup:

“I’m excited. I’m glad to have Mario back. He went through some tough times but being his teammates, we’re definitely there to support him through everything. But I think he’s roaring to go. He’s been practicing really hard. That’s just Mario, he always wants to get better and compete.”

On what he thinks about the team still having room to get better:

“I think that’s great. You never want to peak too early and you always want to peak at the right times. We definitely have some areas we need to improve on and can definitely keep getting better.”

Junior guard Tyshawn Taylor

On what the team’s overtime win at Michigan says about Kansas:

“I think it showed us a lot about ourselves. But then again, it showed us that we shouldn’t even have been in that position with a 15-point lead. We’re not supposed to lose that. I think it’s a learning experience but it is a confidence booster and we’re ready to get conference started.”

On what he knows about Iowa State:

“I know they have a bunch of (good) shooting. They have a big that shoots and they have an aggressive guard, an athletic guard. They played Nebraska tough so it’s going to be a good game and their crowd is going to be real into it, too.”

Kansas junior forward Marcus Morris

On the results from Saturday:

“Conference (games) have already been surprising. K-State lost its first game and Colorado beat Missouri. That was definitely big. You just know that any given night, anybody can be beat.”

On if Mario Little can get back into the rotation right away:

I think so. We’ve all been here with Mario (for a few years). It’s been hard for him to be sitting out and watching, but we’re happy to have him back and we’re happy to get him back on track and taking reps with the first team.”

On what Mario Little can bring to the team:

“He can bring his scoring abilities. He’s a great scorer, and one of the best scorers that we have that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s the best time for him to come back, because it’s (time for) conference (play), so we know we’re going to use him.”

On if it helps playing close games like Sunday at Michigan:

“Definitely. (It helps) just for down the line for having confidence to know how to close games out and being in that type of atmosphere where it’s close and the pressure is on. We know how to respond to it.”

On if Markieff Morris has always had the green light to shoot from the outside:

“Definitely just this year. ‘Kieff has probably taken just as many threes before conference play this year than he did all of last year. Same with me. We both have the green light. I wouldn’t say it’s the ultimate green light, but if we’re open there isn’t a shot on the court that we can’t make.”

On if the Big 12 season can be lost early:

“Anybody is capable of beating anybody. With Iowa State (Wednesday), if we don’t come to play they’re definitely capable of beating us up there. They’re going to have the crowd behind them; it’s our first Big 12 game; it’s on the road and they’re going to be juiced up. It’s one of those games that can get away from you early if you don’t play well.”