Bill Self Weekly Press Conference Quotes

Jan. 17, 2005

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

On Wayne Simien’s health
“I don’t think he’s fully back, but he has practiced twice. I don’t see how he can be totally back, but he and our strength coach did a real good job of keeping his rhythm and conditioning. Even against Colorado, there were some balls that he would have normally gotten to if he would have had two good hands. He got 17 (rebounds) with one and a half hands. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s getting close.”

On Sasha Kaun
“I think he’s starting to like contact more. As a guy with his size and body, he has to like contact when he posts. He has to spin off guys to score, as opposed to just to shoot over them. It’s taken him a little bit of time, and he’s still not where he needs to be. Certainly, I think he’s doing a much better job in that area. He played great against Kentucky, but against Iowa State he only played a couple of minutes and had two turnovers so we played somebody else. He played great against Colorado while he was in there. He could still rebound the ball a lot better. I think a lot of it (success) is opportunity.”

On the recently concluded three road games
“Mentally, we played tough. More so than I thought we would because we haven’t been in that situation before. Physically, at times, we played very tough although necessarily we didn’t do that in Boulder. I also like the fact that we’ve sustained a decent job defensively on the road. Statistically, our first shot defense has been better the last three games than it has been the majority of the time at home. By no means do I consider us close to being a finished product and understand what it takes to win on the road. We haven’t had anybody shoot the ball well against us on the road. We’ve got to find a way to take better care of the basketball and certainly shoot the ball better and have better shot selection on the road. Overall, I think we’ve played tough.”

On the play of the seniors
“The constant denominator has been Keith. At Ames, he tipped the ball in, then made an 18-footer. Then he took the game over for about three minutes in Boulder. Wayne, Aaron and Mike have all contributed and played well — especially Wayne against Colorado. However, in those key stretches — those three of four possessions when it really counts — Keith turns it on. For whatever reason, he seems to like it when it counts the most.”

On Simien’s protective splint
“Before every game, the head official has to OK any type of protective device that you use to make sure other players can’t be injured. It’s not to protect Wayne, it’s to protect other players. That’s a judgement call with each official. They (team doctors) have made a splint for him that’s padded and then he wears a padded glove over the top of it. (At Colorado) we had to put some extra padding on it to make sure the official was comfortable with it. In the first game (vs. Iowa State), the official was totally comfortable with it. It’s no harder than a knuckle, but it’s a judgement call that we have to go with. He’ll have to do that the remainder of the time he wears it. It’s just a homemade splint, similar to what people have used with the same injuries in the past. Our training staff has done a good job minimizing the size of it.”

On still being undefeated
“I thought that we did what were supposed to and that’s win at home. Then, when we lost Wayne, we just had to keep it together and do as well as we could do. Certainly, these guys have surpassed that and Wayne came back quicker than what we had originally anticipated. We were hopeful that Wayne would get back in four weeks and he came back in three. I don’t like putting numbers on wins and losses. If you try and get better every day, they take care of themselves. I would not anticipate — with the injury situation that we had — being undefeated at this stage.”

On the mindset of KU’s team
“A lot of times, motivation is gained through winning because you gain confidence. You can be harder on your team when you are winning. The guys are probably as confident as they can possibly be right now, not that we’re playing great, but they feel like they can figure out a way (to win).”

On Aaron Miles
“When we work camps in the summer, he wants to know exactly who we are recruiting. He wants to be involved in every campus visit. He wants to know how recruiting is going with players that we’ve already signed. He will stay in contact with those guys. He’s one of those guys that wants everyone to do well and he’ll clue me in when he thinks that I’ve sent mixed signals. Certainly, all players care, but point guards have to see the big picture — and he sees the big picture better than any player I’ve ever coached. I totally trust him. I trust him when he’s playing poorly. I trust him when he’s playing great. I certainly hope he feels that from me. I think his intangibles allow him to be terrific. Not so much his athletic ability, but he just wants it so bad and he’s so unselfish.”

On Russell Robinson learning from Miles
“With those guys (Miles and other seniors) gone next year, Russell has got to assume that type of attitude as well. He’s getting better at that, but I think that Aaron has been great for Russell. We always talk about Russell being great for Aaron because he (Miles) can rest. Aaron’s been great to Russell in giving him a general idea of what it takes to be a major college point guard at a very high level.”

On preparing his team
“We’ve got a lot of young guys so we spend a lot of time on our opponent — talking about them and walking through situations to show them what they like to do. Today’s focus, however, will be Kansas. Tomorrow’s focus will be Kansas and Nebraska. That’s how we’ve always done it. We’ll start showing guys tapes of Nebraska the next two days and then they’ll get Villanova on Thursday and Friday and Saturday, even though most of the time on the court will be spent on us.”

On the Nebraska Cornhuskers
“In some ways, they are a lot like us in the fact they go through phases where they struggle to score. If you look at their scores, you’ll see their defense has been great all year long. They beat us bad up there last year. I’ve got a lot of respect for them. They will play smart. (John) Turek is an excellent post player and (Joe) McCray is one of the best newcomers in our league. They’ve got some nice pieces, there’s no question about that. Barry (Collier) has done a good job there.”

On Nebraska’s Joe McCray
“He’s taken 107 threes out of 167 shots so he’s certainly not nervous about putting it up. On the flip side, he’s also got an in-between game. I like his aggressiveness. He plays with no fear — most freshmen don’t do that.”

On whether or not his team is tired
“I don’t know why we’d be tired. The last two road games we’ve played, we’ve taken the next day off. These guys are 20 years old and you’re not supposed to get tired when you’re 20.”

On the team’s rebounding woes
“Our young guys and our wings do a bad job of blocking out and making contact on a consistent basis. The best rebounders are the ones that go get it. There are a lot of coaches that don’t believe in blocking out — just go get the ball. We don’t have the mindset to go get it like we should.”