Weekly Men's Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 3, 2006

Head Coach Bill Self

On Kansas’ big men:
“Playing a team like Oklahoma, you would think that you would need Sasha (Kaun), C.J. (Giles) and Darnell (Jackson) to play important minutes because of the big bodies they can throw at you. We’ll still start the same way, but we do need Sasha and C.J. to really play to their size. Darnell has been consistently doing that as of late.”

“I thought Sasha played really well the other night, and C.J. tried real hard and got a couple of cheap fouls early on offense, but at least he was trying. I’ve never faulted his effort. We’ve seen that they can do it. We know they’re capable. They just haven’t been consistent in putting it all together.”

On Julian Wright:
“Julian will be matched up against (Taj) Gray and (Kevin) Bookout, and physically those guys are a lot bigger than him. They’re going to have to guard Julian too, though.”

On preparing for OU’s big men:
“What we have to emphasize is the reality that they are plus-12 in rebounding margin, and they hit you every opportunity they get. They’re veteran guys and extremely strong. We really have to emphasize having a good base and not to be easily dislodged. For the most part, we’ll prepare for them just like we have everyone else.”

On Oklahoma:
“They’re shooting the ball a lot better. (Michael) Neal is a big part of that. I think he was out for those couple of games that they lost. He’s a terrific shooter, maybe as good of a pure shooter as there is in our league. I think (Terrell) Everett has obviously had some good games as of late. They really control the boards. They’re a team that guards you and rebounds the ball really well. They have a couple of guys that you can run the offense through and that will get you some points in traffic. That’s usually a pretty good formula for playing some good ball.”

On Oklahoma forward and Kansas native Taj Gray:
“I’m sure he’ll be motivated. I got to the job late, but we tried to recruit him. I think he’s a terrific player. We really liked him — as a person as well. He’s had a good two years in Norman, and I’m sure he’ll be excited to be playing back in his home state. I’m sure this will have extra meaning for him.”

On Kansas’ rotation:
“We haven’t adjusted. We’ve had the same rotation the past couple of weeks now. We play four guys on the perimeter, with the fifth one filling in, and we play five guys inside. We’ve probably needed to play five guys inside a lot because we’ve been able to keep people out of foul trouble. If you play five guys inside, you don’t have to play guys with two fouls. Our rotation is basically pretty well set. We’ll start Julian (Wright) and Sasha, and our first subs in will probably be Darnell and C.J. and then Christian (Moody) will work in, and then whoever is playing the best will stay in after that. The perimeter guys have been pretty well set for a while. We’ll start the same way, and (Jeff) Hawkins will be our first perimeter guy off the bench. We’ll have a situational substitute for our fifth guy off the bench.”

On Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers:
“If we’re able to keep our players intact, that could be one of the best perimeters in America down the road. You have what we have now, and then we’ll throw Sherron (Collins) and Brady (Morningstar) in the mix, and that’s pretty good. There will be a lot of teams that would love to have that. Russell is a much improved player. The reason he’s playing well is because he’s not focused so much on scoring, and he’s on the ball more so he doesn’t have to be. Mario is becoming a complete guard. Defensively, I didn’t think Mario was that good early, but he’s become a good defender. Those two do create havoc, but they haven’t sacrificed being sound to do so. They’ve done a good job picking their spots. When you look at the perimeter, you’re talking about Brandon (Rush) too, and Brandon has obviously played at a very high level.”

“Russell hasn’t become the lock-down defender that we had hoped he would, but when you look at it, he did a great job on (Jarrius) Jackson and (Curtis) Stinson. Those guys still ended up getting some numbers, so there is room for improvement. He’s done a good job defensively. He’s always been a good defender, but he’s becoming more sound and picking his spots better. I would think that Russell could still take it another step to become the premier defender that we think he can be.”

On Mario Chalmers:
“When you bring freshmen in, you’re not doing it so you can win games in November or December. You’re in it so you can do what’s best over time. If guys don’t fight through certain things, then I feel like they aren’t going to appreciate what they have. I think it’s better if you have to earn everything you get, especially early in your career. I don’t know if we handled Mario right, but I do know that Mario is playing pretty well right now. I think that’s in large part to him finally just saying, `What do I need to do?’ He’s been really focused in on that. He’s always had a good attitude, but I don’t think he was as focused in on the things we wanted him to be focusing on as much as he is now.”

On Brandon Rush’s future:
“Brandon and I talked about his future back in August a lot, but we haven’t really talked about it since. We really haven’t. I haven’t even talked to his family about it. Our deal going in was this: `They told you that you aren’t ready. If you do what you’re supposed to do, we think we can showcase your abilities, which will help you. In turn, if you’re looking to that as your motivation, then you’re going to have a miserable time. Kansas is your motivation, and if you’re able to focus in on that then good things will happen for you.’ I left it at that. His focus has been on Kansas and trying to get better. I don’t know where his head is right now, but based on what everyone tells me, his head is right where it should be, and that’s focusing on winning basketball. I think Brandon is one of those guys that would tell you the truth even if it’s a time when maybe he shouldn’t be totally honest with you all. I don’t think his focus is after Sunday or after March right now. I think his focus is today. Whatever he decides to do, I hope he does it because it’s what is best for he and his family. He shouldn’t do it because he’s obligated to a certain situation. I want him to make the decision based on what is best for his family over time, and I think the jury is still out on what that is.”