Men's Basketball Press Conference (Feb. 21)

Feb. 21, 2008

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

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

“They have always had great players, obviously. They have gone through some games where maybe they didn’t play as well as what they hoped, just like all teams go through. They seem to be on a serious uptick now. They’re playing very well. They handled Baylor in a way that we, obviously, did not and winning at Texas A&M is one of the most impressive wins that anyone has had in our league thus far. I am very impressed after watching them on tape. They are hard to score against. Their defense has improved. At least from my vantage point, watching tape, they are just playing better together.”

On OklahomaState’s improvement as the season has progressed:

“James Anderson got on a roll early in the season. Then, of course, (Ibrahima) Thomas has been on a roll here of late and he’s a good player. I like him a lot. He has a chance to be very good. To me, the biggest difference though is (Byron) Eaton. Bryon is really playing well. (He’s) really playing well, under control and doing a great job of managing the game on both ends.”

On Bryon Eaton:

“I think D.J. Augustine (Texas) is the best guy running a team in the country. I think he’s terrific. (Byron) Eaton is a little bit different in that he’s a scoring point guard. D.J. can score, too, but Byron looks for a shot. He tries to get his shot. I’ve always thought (Bryon) was very talented. I watched him a lot in high school and it appears to me that he is playing to his talent level, probably the best he has since he’s been at OklahomaState. He can score, he makes you guard him and he’s been really good off of ball screens as of late.”

On coaching OklahomaState head coach Sean Sutton:

“I coached Sean for two years, his junior and senior years. He wasn’t the fastest guy I’ve ever coached, but Sean was a great competitor and he could really manage the game well. (He was) a great post feeder and we had some good guys to throw it to in the post. And he was a terrific shooter. People didn’t give him the credit he deserved on shooting the ball. He was a very good three-point shooter. We had really good players there, but it is not a coincidence that we got better in large part because coach (Eddie) Sutton came, but also, give Sean his credit. He was a nice piece of that puzzle that allowed other players to be who they were. He was a very good college player.”

On reactions to OklahomaState fans hoping he would return to coach there:

“The only thing that I know about any of that is that people have requested to interview me about it and I haven’t. (I) don’t get on any blogs, don’t care what anybody says. I really think it is an injustice to their present staff because they deserve every opportunity to do as well as they can possibly do. I don’t think anybody in the know or anybody that I personally know (even thinks that). They know me, and they know what our situation is here and so that hasn’t been anything that has even remotely come up. I’ve had a couple of newspaper writers call up and want to interview me about it, but it’s not something that is even worth talking about. It is a dead issue. It is not going to happen. To be honest with you, it is really a disservice to everybody involved even to call attention to it.”

On his concerns about OklahomaState:

“There are a lot of things that concern me. (Marcus) Dove is a perimeter four-man. You’ve got James Anderson who you can’t allow to get on a role because he can really, really score. They can shoot the basketball. They are a scary shooting team even though the numbers aren’t as good throughout the season, but they are a scary shooting team. Personally, I know all of them can stretch the defense. They are very athletic. They are one of the best teams I’ve seen in recent memory that are great at altering or blocking shots in transition defense. You don’t talk about that much, but they have guys that can just run with you, jump up and make game changing plays.”

On the defense:

“We have not guarded lately, as well as we were guarding before. I thought our Colorado defense was pretty good, but our Baylor defense and our Texas defense, I can’t say that I feel as good about those performances than what we were doing earlier.”

On the offense:

“I think we have become a pretty offensive-efficient team. If we are the eighth highest scoring team in America, that’s about where we probably should be. I don’t think we are ever going to lead the country in scoring based on how we play. We do like to play as fast as we can and hopefully we are playing fast enough that we can win.”

On whether he has adjusted to being a visitor at OSU, his alma mater:

“That hasn’t been home to me in a long, long time. It certainly didn’t feel like home when (OSU head coach) Eddie (Sutton) had us down 42 when I was at ORU (Oral Roberts). I only played there when I was at ORU twice, when I was at Tulsa we never played there and when I was at Illinois we never played there. So there was a big gap before I had a chance to go back. I think I’ve only played in Gallagher-Iba Arena four times since I left (two at ORU, two at Kansas). It’s been an unhappy ride home after three of them, so hopefully we will play better this time.”

On Sherron Collins’ injury:

“He still has a bad knee. He hasn’t practiced. We were off Sunday, he couldn’t go Monday or Tuesday, we were off yesterday (Wednesday) and we don’t know if he’ll be able to go today (Thursday) or not. I wouldn’t say (he’s doubtful). I would say he wouldn’t be 100 percent. It is a day-to-day deal. We hope that he is able to do something today, but I don’t know if that will be the case or not.”

On Darrell Arthur:

“I think he’s been pretty good. He didn’t score as much against Colorado, but before that he had maybe the two best offensive games of his career back-to-back against Baylor and Texas. I think Darrell is playing well.”

On a sense of urgency that this must be the year to win the National Championship:

“I don’t feel more of a sense of urgency now more than I did a month ago or before the start of the season. There is always a sense of urgency when you say that this could be our year. But looking back since I’ve been here, you could make a case of it could be our year every year. I really feel next year we are going to be fine no matter what. No matter who leaves, even though it could be a jolt initially, we have good players coming; we’re going to have good players returning. I don’t feel like we have to do it now because next year may not be as good, but I hope we understand that this collection of players and the pieces fit as well as what it does right now and that we have to make the most of this opportunity.”

Senior Guard Russell Robinson:
On Sherron Collins injury:
“I think he’ll be a little limited, but he’s still going to be a contributor to the team. As long as we keep him in good spirits, he will be fine.”

On Byron Eaton:
“He’s a stocky guard. He reminds me of Sherron (Collins) a little bit. He’s quick, good defensive-minded, can knock down a shot, gets to the basket and uses his body pretty well.”

On OklahomaState:
“Anytime we go there it has always been tough for us. It’s a nice environment to play in. I imagine it is going to be a good game. You really can’t hear in there (Gallagher-Iba Arena). We are going to have to communicate well and execute down the stretch.”

On the week off:
“We did go hard (in practice during the week), but it is definitely good to sit back and get away from games. We can refocus to prepare for the game this weekend and prepare for that final stretch.”

Sophomore Guard Sherron Collins:
On how he injured his knee:
“It was last week. I hurt it in practice. I tweaked it a little bit when I came down. It was already bruised from the Colorado game (Feb. 2). When I came down the wrong way I aggravated it again.”

On how his knee is feeling:
“It is heading in the right direction. It takes time. It’s a nagging injury and I’m just trying not to get it hit again. It is better now than it was last game.”

On whether he will play Saturday:
“I’ll play through (the pain) on Saturday. I don’t know about my minutes. I just want to go out there and do whatever coach asks me to. I’ll play.”

On how the week off has been beneficial:
“It was a good week for me. I’m just going to go in there (training room) and get treatment like I have been doing. Hopefully, it will turn around pretty quick.”

On whether he will be at full strength soon:
“I have been questioning that all year. For a couple games I’ve been full strength, but this is the hand I’ve been dealt and I have to play it.”

Sophomore Forward Darrell Arthur:
On having a week off with no mid-week games:
“We have had a chance to get back into the gym and work on some things and get a little rest. I think we’ve just been getting closer as a team since the last couple of games and we’re coming together.”

On the approach of the end of the season:
“We have two home games left and it’s going to be a fun way to finish the season. KansasState just lost, so that makes it better for us ranking-wise in the conference. Hopefully we can get the conference championship and go on to the conference tournament.”

On the upcoming Oklahoma State game and playing in Stillwater:
“I’ve never played there. They (OklahomaState) came here last year, but Mario (Chalmers) and Brandon (Rush) say that it’s a tough place to play. It’s going to be a fun game. We’re just going to try to get out there. I haven’t really watched them play that much this year. I’ve watched them play a couple of times, but I haven’t really focused in on them. We’re going to get in there and watch some film, so I can get a little more comfortable with them and scout them out.”

On playing with Darnell Jackson:
“He’s a high-energy guy and he keeps the team going. When we have a bad practice, he’s going to try to lift us up. He’s a good role model for us.”

On an almost three-way tie for first in the conference with only a few games left:
“We have to pick our energy level up each game. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot. Everyone is trying to get their wins up, so it’s going to be pretty tough to win the conference between us, Texas and KansasState as well. We’re trying to get every game out of the way and only focus on the game coming up.”

Freshman Forward Cole Aldrich:
On Gallagher-Iba Arena:
“It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be rocking. And it’s going to be sold out. It’ll be a fun game and it’s going to be a tough game to play there.”

On OklahomaState:
“They are a really good team. They beat some good teams throughout our conference. They are on the rise. It’s going to be a real tough game to go in there. On the road it is never easy to win and going into an environment like that makes it even tougher.”

On the week off:
“We definitely enjoy playing, but it is nice to get a break once in a while. We came back at practice and really tried to get better on defense and on some other things.”