Self, Jayhawks Discuss Sunflower Showdown

Feb. 12, 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 Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State.

Men’s Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

On the last few days of practice:
“We didn’t practice on Tuesday because you have to take a mandatory day off. We practiced yesterday and it was pretty good. Missouri is behind us, so there’s no reason to talk about them. We corrected what we needed to correct yesterday and talked about what we needed to talk about. Our focus is positively K-State.”

On Kansas State’s recent success:
“They had a rough schedule to start out. I think they are guarding really, really hard. Of course, I always think K-State guards hard. I think they are really, really trying defensively. To me, they just seem to be a little bit more fluid offensively than what they were the first time we played them. That’s in large part due to Denis Clemente playing with a lot of confidence. We did a good job for the most part on him and Pullen the first time. Not great, but a pretty good job. Those guys are really playing at a high level right now.”

On the lack of touches for Cole Aldrich in the post:
“I think a lot of it is confidence. Guys play not to turn the ball over as opposed to making winning basketball-type plays, aggressive plays. When you play not to turn it over, you never pass as good. I think that is probably most of it. I think our big guys can certainly do a better job of making themselves available, but Cole for the most part does a pretty good job of that. He’s a big target and he’s hard to front because of that. He can get touches. One of the problems that we’ve had with Cole as of late, not a problem but he hasn’t done it quite as good as he did before, is his mask. I think it has affected his play offensively, especially being able to see two defenders coming at him and being able to pick people out on the weak side quickly and that kind of stuff. He kind of has to refocus, because there are blind spots. We hope to have a new mask for him, hopefully today. He can get out of that one and wear one that gives him a little bit better vision.”

On traveling to face one archrival after the other:
“I’m not making much of it as far as it being hard. Everybody has a hard schedule. If you look at the Big East, for example, they go to Pittsburgh and Syracuse back-to-back games. This is the way it should be. I don’t see it in the least bit being an advantage or disadvantage. It’s just the way the schedule fell.”

On how many turnovers is too many:
“If we could average fewer than 13 turnovers a game, I would be pretty pleased with that. We are going to turn the ball over, the way we play. Last year’s team turned it over, in large part because we let everybody handle it. Teams with the fewest turnovers are usually the teams that have one primary handler and he makes every decision, every possession. Texas was a great example last year. They averaged around nine turnovers a game for the season last year, but the ball was in D.J. Augustin’s hands to make the decision every single possession. We don’t play like that. And Texas doesn’t play like that this year. It’s more equal opportunity. It kind of just depends, team-to-team. In our situation, we have to do a better job of getting a shot and not wasting possessions. The other night, of our 27 turnovers, at least 15 of them were self-induced turnovers.”

On the difference between the Missouri and Kansas State atmospheres:
“I’ve always thought the Missouri game was more hatred and that the Kansas State game was more of a respective rivalry. That’s how I’ve always viewed it since I’ve been here. The atmosphere in Bramlage (Coliseum) last year was unbelievable. It was terrific, and it will be that good this year. And it should be. They are both great atmospheres. Just as a college basketball fan, I am never happy when somebody does well at our expense, but in our area it’s good that the teams are good. It’s good that the North is doing well.”

On if Saturday is a must-win game to keep pace in the Big 12:
“I think the way that OU is playing, our margin for error is almost nil, as it would be for everybody else. OU still has games on their schedule that will be very, very difficult, just like everybody does. To win the league after falling behind and one of your remaining road games is at their place, it puts a lot of pressure on winning there if your goal is to win the league. Our goal is to win the league, and it will be every year. It always has been. But anybody going two games down to OU, I think it would be difficult to come back from. Not impossible, but certainly difficult based on how they are playing right now.”

On guarding Clemente in transition:
“We can use more than one person to guard him in transition. That is something that is very important. We can make sure that when we shoot the ball, we’re not standing. We need to be getting to our assigned spots. There are some things that we can do with any guard to try to slow them down. Lawson (North Carolina) was a jet too and we did a pretty good job on him. And then there have been other times where we’ve gone against some speed like that and have done a very poor job. So we’re going to have to be very conscious in transition defense, probably more so than we were when we played them here, because teams usually play a little bit faster at home.”

Kansas freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor

On the loss at Missouri:
“We can’t look back now. K-State is a good team. They are on a six-game winning streak. We can’t be thinking about the Missouri game. We have to look past it and get ready for Saturday.”

On hesitating on his three-point shot:
“Sometimes I just feel like it’s not there. Coach told me he wants me to shoot them more, so I’m going to shoot them.”

On K-State:
“We just have to keep our composure and not get sped up as much. We’re going to play fast, but we want to play fast and under control. The other day, we didn’t play under control at all. If we do that, then we’ll be fine.”

Kansas sophomore center Cole Aldrich

On how Kansas State has changed since the teams’ first meeting this season:
“They are starting to find their identity more. They were a really good team when we played them here. They gave us challenges. It’s going to be even that much tougher when we play them Saturday.”

On if he’s seen Kansas State play since KU played them in Lawrence:
“We haven’t watched a ton of film, but just being an avid fan of basketball and the Big 12, I’ve watched a few games here and there.”

On his new mask:
“We just got it today. We’re going to see how it is. [With the old mask] there were a few times where I couldn’t quite see things, but that’s going to be with any mask. Until my nose is fully healed and I’m not wearing a mask, there are going to be limitations here and there.”

Kansas junior forward Mario Little

On his recruitment by Kansas State:
“I liked the coaching staff. I liked Coach (Frank) Martin. It was good. I played good. I think it was my best open gym while I was on a visit. I knew Jacob Pullen from playing AAU around Chicago.”