Bill Self and Player Press Conference Quotes (1-17-08)

Jan. 17, 2008

Head Coach Bill Self:<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

On lessons that can be learned from losing:

“I think you can learn from not winning and correcting certain things to keep it from happening in the future. But you can learn everyday. You can learn in practice. Hopefully it doesn’t take a loss to teach you. Everybody does lose and when you do lose and make the most of it, it usually helps you.”

On <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Missouri’s schedule:

“Missouri has played more good teams away from home than we have. Michigan State, Maryland, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Cal all on the road.” That’s a good non-conference schedule. Just because they didn’t win every one of those games, they can still accomplish what they want to accomplish because the conference means so much more than anything else. They do well in a league that is number two in the RPI so I would say they would have a great chance to go to the NCAA tournament.”

On the pressure of being undefeated:

“I really don’t think there is any (pressure) right now. Our season is just starting. Even though we are 17-0, all but three of those games are considered home games. We should win those games. So now we are getting to the point where our season is actually beginning. I promise you our players aren’t thinking that way. I don’t think that is even remotely the case. We just want to go and play well against Missouri.”

On Missouri compared to a year ago:

“They’re better. They are obviously a year older and more used to Mike’s (Anderson) system, but I think (DeMarre) Carroll makes them better. Period. Leo Lyons is one of the most improved players in our league, too. When you really look at their stats, they have lost some tough games where maybe everybody wasn’t playing well at the same time. Against Texas, we saw what it’s like when everybody’s playing well at the same time. Keon Lawrence is a very good offensive player. Matt Lawrence is a very good offensive player. Stefhon Hannah can play as well as any guard in our league. They have really nice pieces. I see them as a much improved team and a tougher team than what we faced last year.”

On what he is expecting from Missouri:

“I think they’ll get after us in a way that will generate energy from the crowd. They’ll trap us and pressure us and we have to be able to handle that.”

On Columbia, Mo:

“I know our players, they get jacked up to go. It is just a good atmosphere. Every game that we have played over there, even the games that we didn’t win, you left there thinking that it was a college basketball atmosphere is like when it is at its best. And you like being a part of those type of games.”

On Brandon Rush:

“He has taken some big mental strides to put himself in a position to make more plays. To me, physically he has been close. He may not have the exact vertical he had before, but physically I have seen flashes that he is back to where he was. I just haven’t seen him put himself in that position enough times. He’s probably still not where he is going to be Feb. 1, but he’s pretty close to 100 percent in my mind. Medically, the doctors say for him to be 100 percent, it takes 12 months. He’ll be as close to 100 percent as the natural healing process allows him to be. It has been seven and a half months now and he’s doing remarkably well.”

Senior guard Russell Robinson

On getting excited to play Missouri:

“Yes, we are looking forward to that game. Its going to be a great game. We’ve been preparing all week and we feel really good about it.”

On what kind of team Missouri is compared to last season:

“I think they are little bit more mature than a year ago. They have some solid pieces, some new pieces. They are playing pretty good right now, but we are just going to go in there and play our game.”

On the hostile environment of playing at Missouri:

“Environments like that are great. It will be very competitive. It will be one of those games about who wants it more. It’s not intimidating at all. It’s one of those games that, as a player, you really look forward to.”

Senior forward Darnell Jackson

On how the team is different this year without Julian Wright:

“Last year when Julian [Wright] was here we relied on him because he was so good with the ball that he could get everyone involved. Now a lot of guys have stepped up on the team to get other players involved like Sasha, Darrell and me. When we get the ball we just have to make plays and we know that is our job.”

On being the most improved player from last year:

“I wouldn’t say I am the most improved. I’d say everybody has improved, we’ve improved as a team and I am just improving with them. They really helped me a lot and I was working out at home. We have a lot of older guys this year who are more experienced, and we know what to expect from coach everyday and we know what to do when we’re on the court. We are not underclassmen anymore, we’ve been through the good times and the bad.”

On being undefeated so far this year:

“We don’t think about the record at all. Things happen, you can’t predict the future. Yeah, we are 17-0, but that doesn’t mean anything. We can’t get satisfied at all. We just have to keep playing and keep working hard.”

Freshman Center Cole Aldrich

On playing in Columbia:

“It’s tough. They (his teammates) said that it is basically going to be an all out war. It goes back to the Civil War days and it’s not going to be an easy game. With the football team’s loss against Missouri, but getting to the bowl game adds even more fuel to the fire. It makes the game fun though, rivalries like this make basketball fun.”

On his improvement:

“I’ve made a lot of strides. There is still a lot of work for me to come around. I’m getting better and I’m starting to feel that.”

On Memphis and North Carolina:

“We watched the game (North Carolina at Georgia Tech) last night. We were hoping that Georgia Tech could possibly pull one out. They had a good look at it, but unfortunately they didn’t pull it off. North Carolina and Memphis are really good teams, shown by their records and the guys on their team.”

Freshman Guard Tyrel Reed

On Missouri’s guards:

“I know they have a lot of great players. Their guards are really quick. In practice, we have been trying to prepare for their quickness. Defensively, they do a lot of different things, so hopefully we should be ready for all of that.”

On his playing time this year and a likely increase in minutes played next year:

“I do not feel any urgency (to get more minutes). I’m just trying to enjoy this year. I’m just trying to get better everyday in practice, playing against a great group of guys and I’m trying to learn a lot from them, because I know they are going to be gone in a year. I’m not trying to look toward next year and just stay in the moment right now.”