Self, Jayhawks Talk Oklahoma State and Missouri

Feb. 5, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self and select players met with the media Thursday afternoon in Hadl Auditorium to discuss the Jayhawks’ upcoming stretch of two games in three days.

Men’s Basketball Press Conference Quotes
Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

On if he’s surprised by his team’s fast start this season:
“I’m probably surprised. We haven’t played to an unbelievable level, but we have played good enough so far. Of course we know the meat of the schedule is just starting and we’re going to have to play better. From a record standpoint, we can’t be any better off than we are right now, so that’s a positive. I’ve been around long enough to know that can change in a week or two. We certainly have to keep trying to get better. I’ve said this many times. We’re playing about where I had hoped we would play. I wish our record was better because, in my opinion, we gave a couple games away. But certainly I think we’re playing about as well as what I hoped we could play, which may be a bit of a pleasant surprise considering I never anticipated not having (Mario) Little for an extended period of time. If Mario can keep gaining confidence and keep playing better, I do think we can play our best ball down the stretch.”

On if being ranked matters:
“I personally think it’s important to be ranked this time of year, going into March, because the selection committee members are humans. Of course a ranked team gets the most publicity at that particular time. And you also have to play your best on TV. I do think it’s important, but I don’t think it’s the biggest deal. A team that we had that won the league with all those young kids got off to a bad start. I don’t think that team was ranked until we got to March. It didn’t bother us at all then. I think it’s ok to be ranked and have your program talked about.”

On if he thinks about seeding this early:
“No. Not at all. We’d like to get in. We’re just trying to do our best we can in the league. That’s been our goal every year, to put ourselves in position to win the league. That’s all we’re focused on. If you’re able to do that, it’s kind of like eligibility and graduating. People talk about eligibility. Well, that shouldn’t be an issue if you’re working towards graduation. It’s the same thing. We shouldn’t worry about seeding at all. If we’re taking care of our business, then seeding takes care of itself. By no means are we taking anything for granted. We’re off to a good start, but tripping up at home or whatever can negate some of the good things that have been done.”

On the Big 12 North vs. South divisions:
“I don’t think there’s any question, from what I have seen, that Oklahoma is the best team. Going into the season, the North was so unknown, and now that we’ve actually played against each other, I’m pretty proud of our North brethren. We’ve done a pretty good job against the South, but that’s not the goal, for the North to beat the South. I think we have probably surprised some people in that we have had some big, big North wins against the South division. And the South is going to have some big wins against the North division. But I think people kind of thought it was such a wide gap disparity in talent, that the South would dominate, and that’s not the case at all. Our league is good. I am surprised that our league is this good. I thought our league would be very good, and it’s better than I thought. In large part because teams like Missouri and K-State have been pleasant surprises. Also, going to Nebraska and winning is going to be very difficult. So there have been some good things that have happened in regards to the North, no question. For us, from a selfish standpoint, if we’re going to pick a group of teams to be better than, I would rather the North be better. We play them twice and only play the South once, so we like it when the North does well from an RPI standpoint.”

On playing Big Monday road games:
“Since we’ve been here, probably 40-45% of the losses we’ve had in the league have been away Big Monday games. But they would be tough games no matter what because you’re going to Missouri, going to Texas, going to Oklahoma, going to Oklahoma State, going to Kansas State. Those are all tough games, no matter when you play them. But it’s usually a situation in which you can showcase a league better, by us being a part of it, playing in other peoples’ buildings. The number of home games to away games for us and Big Monday is probably more than two to one away. I don’t know what it is. It’s probably more than two to one. That’s ok, we’ll get some exposure out of it. I don’t see anything negative with that at all. You can’t play all games at home, you know you have to play some of them on the road.”

On Missouri:

“Mike (Anderson) has done a great job. There’s no other way to look at it than that. His players are playing hard. I love DeMarre Carroll. I just think he’s so active and gives them something. He doesn’t have to score to play great. He gives them kind of a personality, an identity. They’re doing a great job. Anybody that watched last night’s game, which I did get a chance to watch the last 10 minutes of, to me that was a game that was not a fluke. That’s not taking anything away from Texas, that’s just talking about how good Missouri is.”

On Oklahoma State:
“I think they’re really talented. They probably make me as nervous as any team in the league because they have five guys that can certainly make a three every possession, any possession. And they will shoot it any possession. No lead is safe, no deficit is too big unless it’s really, really late in the game. They are so aggressive and attack the paint and can really, really drive it and pitch it and shoot it better than anybody in our league, hands down. They’re a team that would make any coach nervous because they can beat anybody, anywhere. Of course then they pressure and trap. If you allow their athletes to play in the open court, I think that anybody would be in some trouble. I like their team a lot. They’ve won two really close games in the league and lost two heartbreakers. They’re used to playing in tight games. Travis (Ford) is doing a real good job with them.”

Sophomore Guard Brady Morningstar

On Oklahoma State:
“I think they are a tough team. Last night they got a big win against Texas Tech and I think that they’re going to come here ready to play.”

On the 7-0 conference start:
“We’re trying to prove something. We’re on our way with a 7-0 start. It’s a good start, but by no means are we satisfied. We aren’t going to quit working hard. Coach pushes us every day in practice. If you lose your next nine games you end up 7-9, so we are just going to keep coming out and working hard every day. We want to keep this thing going.”

On the attitude of the team:
“I don’t think we’ll get overconfident. I think we had a couple losses earlier in the year that show you can lose to anyone. You can lose some games if you get a little overconfident and we don’t want to do that.”

Junior Guard Sherron Collins

On teammate Brady Morningstar:
“Brady doesn’t make too many mistakes out there. Even when he does, sometimes it’s not even his fault. He’s just been so strong for us and we know we can count on him anytime.”

On Oklahoma State:
“They’re a tough team and they’re scrappy. They play small with a three at the four, but that’s not a problem for us because we can do the same thing. They are a good team that lost a few key players from last year. We can’t take it easy because this will be a tough game.”

Kansas sophomore guard Tyrel Reed

On comparing head coach Bill Self’s coaching between this season and last season:
“He does it more than last year. He’s coaching each possession. The main thing is not needing to coach effort. That’s what people are learning. If you don’t have to coach effort we can get better in areas such as defense and stuff like that.”

On if wins by North teams over teams from the South improve the image of the North:
“I hope so. Those other teams showed that the North is just as good. Hopefully we can keep that up and keep playing well against the South.”

On playing Oklahoma State this Saturday:
“They’re going to be tough. They have a tough four man that can score. It’s going to be tough for our big guys to get out and defend, but hopefully we’ll be prepared this week.”