Self, Players Discuss Weekend Matchup with Border Rival Missouri

Feb. 2, 2012

  • KU Players Press Conference
  • Self Press Conference 1 of 3
  • Self Press Conference 2 of 3
  • Self Press Conference 3 of 3

LAWRENCE, Kan. – On Thursday afternoon Kansas players, along with head coach Bill Self, met with members of the media in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks discussed their upcoming opponent, border rival Missouri Tigers. Self fielded questions on Missouri’s speed and style of play, as well as the importance of play in the post.

Below are videos and transcripts of Self’s and select players’ interviews.

Media Availability
February 2, 2012
Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas head coach Bill Self
On the atmosphere in Columbia:
“I think it will be loud, so if it is loud you are not going to hear anything anyway. When it is loud, you don’t hear individual comments. When you hear individual comments, that is when there is nobody in the stands. I don’t think what people say will have any bearing on the game. It will be crazy, but people say it’s crazy here (at Allen Fieldhouse) too, so I don’t think the verbiage that comes out of individual mouths in the stands will play any factor.”

On how Missouri plans to guard Thomas Robinson:
“I don’t know exactly what they are going to try to do, but they are going to play small the majority of the time except for when they go big off the bench. With that being said, that means a guard is going to guard Jeff (Withey) or Thomas, so they may run two defenders at him or they may trap off somebody. In the past, they have run off a guard to go trap the post or at least make him give it up, so I am sure they will do something. Or they will play zone, because one way they can combat some things is make sure their big, (Ricardo) Ratliffe, is able to stay in the middle of the zone so he is always playing in between the post man and the basket.”

On Jeff Withey’s height as an advantage versus Missouri:
“You can look at it a lot of ways. It could be an advantage, but it also could be an advantage (for Missouri) where speed beats size. I will tell our guys it’s an advantage, and he (Frank Haith) will tell his guys it’s an advantage for them, so you just have to wait and see how it plays out. You cannot take advantage of height or size unless your perimeter does a good job taking care of the ball. Our guard play is just as important as getting the ball to the bigs as it is actually trying to create a size advantage.”

On how Kim English’s size plays into a Missouri advantage:
“They have made a perimeter guy a four man, and how many uncontested looks has he gotten this year because a big can’t get to him? They have really done a great job taking advantage of that, and that is also a tribute to him In his mind, he is thinking, `I am not big enough to be playing down there?’, but really he is playing like he always has. They (Missouri) have just been able to spread the floor, and they are so good at making the extra pass because they are very unselfish. I think they are very fun to watch offensively.”

On his team’s depth:
“Marcus Morris could play the three and Mario Little could play the four, so we have had a lot of that. This year we don’t have as many options, but that is okay, too. I look at Missouri’s team and, if I’m not mistaken, they are just playing seven.”

On match-ups versus the Tigers:
“So much is made of how you match-up, but the bottom line is we have to match-up with them, but they also have to match-up with us. One of their strengths is playing Kim (English) at the four. They have a lot of strengths, but that is one of their biggest. When you play him at the four, then that also isolates (Ricardo) Ratliffe one-on-one in the post because there are no traps or anything like that. It is a well thought-out scheme that they are doing over there and it is our job to try and take something away.”

On how he would rate his team’s zone offense:
“I think we’ve been good against a zone. I didn’t think we were any good last night (Feb. 1 vs. Oklahoma). It’s always been my experience, the best zone offense is when guys make shots. That’s just the coach in me, but we have to be able to knock down shots. The bottom line is you have to be able to get inside the zone.”

On if players are treating this game like a regular conference road game:
“No, I don’t think it’s just a conference road game. I think our guys circle certain games and their (Missouri) guys circle certain games. This is a game that has certainly been circled by both teams. From a rivalry standpoint, it’s disappointing and sad that you have a great rivalry that basically could be ended. It’s no one’s fault. We’re not blaming Missouri. They chose to be somewhere else. They felt it was best for their school to be in another league. Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M did the same thing. The unfortunate thing is that those schools (Missouri and Texas A&M) made moves when the league was on its most solid footing. They chose to think the grass is greener somewhere else, and it may be for them. When you make decisions like that, there are certainly things that happen behind those decisions that are affected. It definitely adds adrenaline to an already competitive situation. Kids on both teams are very prideful.”

On if Missouri will try and attack Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson to get them in foul trouble:
“That’s everybody’s game plan no matter who you are going against, attack and be aggressive. They are better off the bounce than any team we’ve played this year, no question. Matt Pressey’s having a really good year. (Marcus) Denmon is a player of the year candidate in our league. (Michael) Dixon is unbelievable off the bench. He’s arguably the best sixth man around. Of course Kim (English) is having a good year, but little Phil Pressey is still the guy that drives the bus. He makes plays with his speed, which is very hard to coach. He’s good at finishing, but until you watch a lot of tape I don’t think you really appreciate how fast he is and certainly he can get big guys in foul trouble. It’s the guard’s job to keep him in front of him. That’s an easier thing said than done because he is fast, but Tyshawn (Taylor) is pretty fast too. There will be some pretty good athletes out there.”

On Kim English’s ability to draw charges:
“Some of the best games we’ve played since I’ve been here we had four or five charges in a game. Some of the worst games we had seven turnovers. We’ll certainly make our guys aware of how important it is to be under control. The guy who draws charges better than anybody is Steve Moore. He draws charges better than anybody and maybe better than anybody I’ve seen on tape. Kim (English) also does a good job, but Moore is terrific.”

On his favorite memory of playing in Missouri:
“We’re 5-3 in games at Missouri since I’ve been here, so I have five favorite games. There’s nothing more fun, in my opinion, than beating Missouri and I’m sure they would say there is nothing more fun than beating Kansas.”

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
On importance of the game Saturday vs. Missouri:
“I think it’s definitely more important than another game. It’s Kansas-Missouri. Just that fact alone makes it a little bit more important. It’s probably the last time we’ll play against them. They’re going to a different conference. We’re looking at it as we’re playing on the road and we need to get a road win. I think in that aspect, it’s the same. It’s another regular tough conference game we have to win.”

On the hostility of Missouri’s crowd:
“I’m thinking (it’s going to be the most hostile crowd I’ve ever played against). It’s going to be pretty rough down there. It should be because they’re a good team, top 5 in the country. We’re a good team and it’s a rival. I would be disappointed if it wasn’t a good crowd. I’m excited about Saturday. I think it’ll be a good atmosphere. Atmospheres like that feel a lot better to win in when it’s a lot rougher in there, and you know the crowd is into it. I’m excited about Saturday.”

On playing against zone defenses:|
“I think we kind of fall in love with that three-point line. When we see a zone, we think it means to shoot it. We just have to work it in and get our posts touches. Play inside-out. If we do that, the threes will be more open and will be better-looking shots. I think a lot of our threes are one pass. Just because it’s open, we shoot it. We have to penetrate the zone and let our bigs work in the middle, in the free throw area and baseline.”

On Missouri’s team this year compared to recent years:
“We haven’t really broke it down yet or gone over any tape. Just from watching them a few times this year, they don’t press as much as they used to, but they still pressure. They still want to create havoc defensively and create their offense off that. We have to do a good job of taking care of the ball. I think them playing their four guards is something that a lot of teams haven’t seen playing against them. They’re making it work for them. They are a good rebounding team for a team that plays four guards. Their big guy underneath is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do for them to win games. He’s rebounding, he’s making easy buckets, he’s making his free throws and he’s playing hard. They’re making it work for them so it’s going to be a tough game, but we’re excited.”

On playing in the Kansas-Missouri Rivalry:
“This rivalry goes way back, before we even know. We kind of take on that role of not really liking those guys. In the competitive sport that we play in, it’s going to be like that when you have rivalries. You’re not going to like them too much and that’s how it should be. That makes the Missouri-Kansas games fun to me. Every time we play them, it’s a good game. We’re going to take this ride to Missouri and enjoy every minute of it. We’re going to embrace the crowd. We’re going to embrace their fans. We’re going to go out there and do what we do because this is why we came to Kansas, to play in games like this. It’s College Gameday so we’re going to enjoy it.”

Junior forward Thomas Robinson
On the matchups vs. Missouri:
“I look at it both ways. I don’t really see it as a matchup problem. I think I have the ability to at least contain them, staying in front of them. I just look at it as he has to check me at the other end. If things can get bad for us, they can probably get worse for them.”

On keeping his emotions in check during games:
“I know I can’t afford to get a technical anymore. That’s going to hurt my team, me sitting down for one. When I was younger, it was easier to get riled up or get in a pushing contest with somebody. You forget about the game. Now that I’m older, I know that’s probably some other players’ game plan to try and get in my head. At the same time, I’m too important to my team to let that be a reason I’m not playing.”

On staying composed vs. Missouri:
“I know going to Mizzou is probably going to be the most testing situation I’ll have in my career. Their fans are pretty rough on us. We’re the opposing team and all the odds are going against us. I want to get this W, so I’m not letting anybody in that gym, stadium or state stop me. It is what it is. They can say what they want.”

Junior center Jeff Withey
On the difficulties playing a smaller team presents:
“Just playing out on the perimeter is definitely going to be something new and different. As long as we contain them, and just keep them in front of us, I think they’re going to have to deal with having to play against a bigger group of guys down on the defensive end. We see it as them having to match up with us instead of us having to match up with them. That’s our mindset going into the game.”