Men's Basketball Press Conference Quotes (2-7-08)

Feb. 7, 2008

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

On Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew:

“When he took over it (the program) was rock bottom. They didn’t even get a chance to play non-conference games. To see the program come from where it was to winning games like they are now is a very good testimony to the job that their staff has done. And you don’t win games without good players and their talent level is very good.”

On Baylor’s guards:

“They are probably the best collection of guards that we’ve faced so far this year. Baylor is probably as deep at the guard position as anybody in the country. (Aaron) Bruce has been there forever and he is hard to guard. (Curtis) Jerrells is a pro and he’s hard to guard. (Henry) Dugat is as athletic as anybody in the league and then you bring in Tweety Carter and Dunn is fabulous. They have five really good guards.”

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

“We have five that we can put out there, too. But we are going to have to guard better on the perimeter because our perimeter defense hasn’t been very good. Our technique has gotten pretty flawed and careless. We are getting beat way too much on the bounce because of lunging and reaching and we are not forcing turnovers. It’s a bad combination when your don’t force any turnovers and you still get beat. We can do both. We can pressure and not get beat, but that certainly hasn’t been the case of late. We need to get a lot better with our perimeter defense.”

On improving the play of Kansas’ guards:

“We still have the best defensive guards around. They just haven’t played to that level. You don’t go from being a great defender into a bad defender in a week. But there are a lot of things that we can improve on. We just have to tighten some things up.”

On the effects of playing Big 12 opponents compared to non-conference opponents:

“When you get into the teeth of your schedule, the other team has comparable athletes to what you have. I feel like that we may have not played to the defensive level that it appeared because we we’re going against players that couldn’t beat us off the bounce. Now we are going against guys that can beat us and we have to get better. We will get better. I think that is something that is correctable, but it is going to take some effort.”

On Sasha Kaun:

“Hopefully he is getting in a groove where he is just playing well. He’s just aggressive. He has a mind set that he’s more aggressive right now on offense. He went after the ball as well as he has in a long time – chasing down rebounds and rebounding outside of his area. In the last two games he’s played he has been very good offensively. He has gotten much better in the last two or three weeks.”

On the season winding down:

“We only have four more home games left. These guys only get to run out of the tunnel four more times. The reality for the seniors is, `hey, it is coming to an end’ and there should be more of a sense of urgency. I hope that’s the case. I don’t know if I feel it everyday in practice yet, but it’s going to get to that point soon.”

On Brandon Rush:

“He is being more aggressive. He’s more confident with his knee. The play he made against Colorado in transition is the first time he’s jumped off one foot all year. That’s the first time all year he has jumped off one leg because that is how he got hurt. Now you’re starting to see positive, positive strides. I think he’s ready to kick it in. A lot of it is about him being more aggressive, but a lot of it is that he feels better about himself physically to put himself in those positions.”

On Rush maturing from his injury:

“I think he has become a better player. I have said it all along. The ACL (injury) will allow him to become a better basketball player over time. This is where we should see it. As he gets healthy and is real close to 100 percent, the technique things and the things that he has done to get him to this position will now allow him to be a better player because he won’t just rely on athletic ability.”

On Darrell Arthur:

“I think Darrell is playing well. His production per minute is very good and his rebounds per minute are up. The problem is that we are talking about per minute as opposed to talking about a game. How do you commit three fouls in two minutes? That is hard to do. He has to become better at that. All three fouls he committed should have been avoided. They were fouls that you shouldn’t make. If you eliminate that, I think he’s played very well. At K-State he didn’t play because of foul trouble and the other day (versus Missouri) he didn’t play because of foul trouble. He needs to be out there 30 minutes a game and he’s only out there 14 or 18 or 22 and that is not enough for him to really play at the level he can play.”

Senior Guard Russell Robinson:

On the defense:

“Coach (Bill Self) is refocusing us. Coach always talks about getting a false sense of who you are when you don’t play teams as strong as teams in the Big 12. He does a great job of grounding us and working us hard in practice to get us ready.”

Senior Forward Sasha Kaun:

On Baylor:

“I’m happy for them. They have some good players. They have turned it around, come on strong and gotten good wins. I have seen them play a couple times and I think they are pretty good. Their big man is pretty good, Kevin Rogers. We have to get ready for them.”

On the foul trouble of the guards:

“There are just some fouls you can’t avoid and some fouls come from dumb plays – fouling the guards when they come in the paint or just fouling when you shouldn’t be. We have to just let it go. We have to play a little smarter.”

Sophomore Forward Darrell Arthur:

On Baylor:

“They are playing really well right now. Their guards are especially playing well. They have some small, quick guards so it is going to be tough to match up with them. Kevin (Rogers) is playing pretty well so it is going to be pretty hard matching up with him, too. It is going to be a fun game.”

On any extra incentive he has as a native of Dallas:

“It is going to be a fun game. I’m going to be hyped up about it. It’s just another game that we have in front of us, a tough game. They are playing really well right now. Hopefully, we can pull out a win, but it is going to be a tough game.”

On his progression since he arrived in Lawrence:

“I try to play hard. I try to do the easy things – rebound, run the floor and score when I’m open. I’m just a role player right now and I’m just trying to get things done to win games. Since last year, I think I got a lot better with Coach Danny Manning helping me out in the post.”

Junior Guard Mario Chalmers:

On coach Bill Self riding the guards to be more defensive:

“Kind of. I think he wants us to be more solid. By us being more solid, it keeps our big men out of foul trouble, so once we do that, it will be good. I think we can apply a little bit more pressure outside. We still need to play by the fundamentals and regular defensive rules. We just have to do that and put more pressure on the offensive guards.”

On Brandon Rush getting back to himself following his injury:

“Definitely, he’s getting a lot better, he’s getting more confident. He’s going to be able to do a lot more things like he used to. We’re getting in the flow of Big 12 and we’re coming down to crunch time and we need him to perform.”

On the upcoming game against Baylor:

“We know they’re a good team. I have a couple of friends down there, we’ve been talking a little smack back and forth, but it’ll be a good game and a good challenge for us.”

Junior Guard Brandon Rush:

On playing without the brace:

“I’m going to try to play without it and see how it feels the next couple of days and go from there. It’s a great sign. I’m going to just get a feel for it. It didn’t bother me, but I’m going to have to get out of it at some point. I don’t think about it being off. I’m not worried about it at all. It felt good (yesterday) without it. I’ve been out of it a couple times before, but it’s (today) the first day I’ll really go up and down without it and we’ll see how it feels then.”

On being a better player than he was a year ago:

“I don’t know. I’d have to say yes. I do think I’m a better overall player as far as passing the ball, making shots, getting to the hole, I do think I’m a better player. I always understand the game pretty well- I have always known the game.”