Bill Self Weekly Press Conference

Feb. 24, 2011

Press Conference Videos Reed | Robinson | Johnson

Head Coach Bill Self
On if Elijah Johnson will start Saturday:
“Yes he will start Saturday, absolutely. Unless he gets injured or something comes up then he’ll be starting in the backcourt with Tyrel (Reed) and Brady (Morningstar).”

On how much he tributes having steady influences in Tyrel and Brady:
“We’ve been able to dodge some bullets by having guys out, guys stepping up and playing well. I don’t think we would be dodging the bullets as easily if Brady and Tyrel were two of the components that were gone. They are a calming influence over our guys and have been our two most consistent players, especially since conference play started. Brady’s stats in conference play are a joke – what is it 54-7? That’s a joke. He’s leading the league in three-point field goal percentage too so hopefully he can keep that going. Those two have been the main stage of the backcourt and certainly whenever (Marcus and Markieff Morris) are playing like they’re playing right now, they would certainly be missed if they’re not out there.”

On if the calming influence from Tyrel and Brady is coming from experience or personality:
“I think it’s a combination of both. A lot of it is experience though. They’ve both been there and done that and they don’t ever take it for granted. But also, their personalities are such where they allow the other players to be the best players they can possibly be with no ego involved. Sometimes ego gets involved – why is he getting shots and I’m not? – That stuff doesn’t even register with Tyrel and Brady. Tyrel could go into a game thinking he’s going to take 15 shots or three shots, it doesn’t even register and it makes no difference, whatever is best for the team and Brady certainly feels the same way.”

On KU’s record of 26-2 being so remarkable considering all of the players that have been out or injured:
“Remarkable probably isn’t a great word because we have good players. I do think that this year has surpassed – record-wise – what I thought it could be without question. I didn’t think going into the season that this team could be 26-2 at any point in time. I guess this is the only point in time that we could be 26-2; you’d have to play 28 games in order to do that – that’s my Oklahoma math coming out of me. But certainly I did not anticipate this. I did not anticipate losing two lottery picks, your best player and best leader. But somehow or another, we talk about we don’t have and we look up and we’re still 26-2. The disappointing thing to me is that we lost a tough game at home to Texas and that’s certainly affected the league race more so than anything. Usually you don’t run the table on the road; usually you lose a couple of games on the road in good leagues even if you have unbelievable years. Certainly we’ve been good on the road and it remains to be seen how we’ll finish on the road. But the loss at home is something that doesn’t happen very often if you’re going to win the league and that, to me, has tempered our record more than anything.”

On Thomas Robinson returning from his knee injury:
“He’s doing great. He’s an amazing guy. He practiced yesterday for the entire practice. I sat him out the last 15 minutes to shoot free throws. He’s shooting those a lot better now. He’s doing great. Mentally he’s close to 100 percent, believing that he’s healthy. (Physically) he’s still probably 90 percent. There’s still another week before you feel like he has the same explosion he had before the injury.”

On what was different about Elijah Johnson in his performance on Monday:
“I don’t really know the biggest difference, but with Tyshawn not playing, he knows he’s going to play. That helps a lot, knowing that you don’t have to look over your shoulder if you screw up. He’s a bench-watcher more so than what I’d like when he screws up. He wants to please, he wants to do what’s right, but when you play not to screw up usually that’s when you screw up the most. I thought he played with more of a free mind. I don’t know if that’s the reason or not. It helps when you make all of your shots, and you get some confidence that way. To me, I thought he focused in on what we wanted him to do, which was do a great job on (Keiton) Paige. He did a fabulous job, made two screw-ups, two major screw-ups guarding Paige in a span of 30 minutes, which is really good. He played well because he wasn’t worried about screwing up. He was worried about guarding Paige and being solid defensively. When you’re worried about the right things, good things happen in other areas.”

On what area his team has improved the most this season:
“I think regardless of what happens, we’ve proven that we can take some hits personnel-wise and keep on moving forward. We still don’t have everybody playing their best. If you go through and look at who has had great individual seasons, there are only four guys that have had great seasons – Marcus and Markieff Morris, Brady and Tyrel. Everybody else has been pretty sound and played good in spurts. That’s not taking anything away from them. Very rarely do you have a situation where everybody plays their best all of the time. That doesn’t happen very often, so when we dipped we’ve had other guys step in. Mario (Little) was great when he needed to be great. Travis (Releford) has been great for us when he needed to be great, Elijah, Josh, whoever. (Jeff) Withey has given us good minutes when we needed him to give us good minutes, so I would say the thing I’ve learned the most is that we can absorb things when things aren’t going well on the court, which is a positive for any team.”

On whether or not Tyshawn Taylor will play this week:
“I don’t think so, no.”

On Oklahoma:
“Seeing them early in the season to where they are now, (Oklahoma head coach) Jeff (Capel) has done a great job. The game last night (against Texas A&M) they were in the game late. A&M is 9-4 in the league, so he has done a great job. They are certainly a different team than they were when the season started. They’ve lost some close games of late, and their record is not an indication of how much they’ve improved. They are a much better basketball team than they were a month-and-a-half ago.”

On what matchup problems Oklahoma presents:
“Obviously, I love Cade Davis. They’ve been playing him at the four, but you can guard him at the three, you can guard him at the four. They can present problems that way. He can really get on a roll and make shots. (Andrew) Fitzgerald’s become a very good back-to-the-basket guy and even facing (the basket). That’s Thomas (Robinson’s) teammate in high school, so that will be interesting. He’s looking forward to that. The thing that they do is they mix their defenses. They do some things where they just don’t give up easy baskets. I think they’re good defensively.”

On if Oklahoma was the team’s biggest rival when he played at Oklahoma State:
“Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s hard to grow up in a state where you go to the rival school and not feel that way, especially if you play collegiate sports. Without a doubt, that was the case. We grew up in Oklahoma feeling the same way about the Sooners as people here grew up feeling the same way about the Tigers and the Wildcats. That’s just par for the course.”

On if he was recruited to play at Oklahoma:
“No, they already had a slow, white point guard. There’s no reason to have two on the roster. I like (former Oklahoma head coach) Billy (Tubbs) a lot, but I don’t think I fit Billy’s athletic, pressing scheme.”

Senior guard Tyrel Reed
On being named an Academic All-American:
“I was really surprised and it’s a tribute to the people here at KU, my academic advisor, Scooter Ward, and my coaches and teammates. I’m very thankful for it.”

On if being a senior has helped get the team through some tough times this year:
“I just try to be consistent and solid. I’ve been here for four years and I’ve known what to expect. I’ve played with some great players and I’m playing with some great players this year again. I want to be someone they can rely on and hopefully keep playing hard.”

On getting the whole team suited up at once:
“It will be nice when we can get everyone out there. We’ve dealt with injuries and some tragedies, but when we get all the guys out there it will be fun. Until then, we’ll have to do the best we can with the guys that are out there playing.” On whether it’s crazy that the team is 26-2 with all the off the court stuff going on this year:
“I wouldn’t say it’s crazy. I think we’ve got good guys regardless of whoever is on the court. I think guys can contribute no matter who they are. I think it’s a testament of how close we are as a team and how good of a job our coaches do of getting us ready to play.”

Sophomore guard Elijah Johnson
On how much better the team is with Thomas Robinson on the floor:
“It’s just his presence. His presence is always felt when he’s out there and I think he brings a lot of the focus of other teams on offensive and defensive rebounding, so it opens up spots for other guys. There are going to be times when him, Markieff (Morris) and I are out there and that is a very big team. I think we are very effective when all three of us are on the court.”

On Oklahoma State forward Matt Pilgrim trying to rattle him with physical play:
“I didn’t ignore him. In the beginning of the game, he just gave me a little bump to show me that he was there and I gave him 27 shoulder knobs back.”

On if the team had done anything differently leading up to the Colorado and Oklahoma State games:
“We just started practicing harder. Honestly, you have to give a lot of credit to Markieff because I think that he is really starting to step up and becoming a leader of this team. He’s been pushing everybody these past couple of weeks since the K-State loss. You can tell after that game that he’s a different player, and I think that is motivating everybody to do extra.”

On if his start versus Oklahoma State felt different than his other three career starts:
“It definitely felt different. This was an official start. If you ask me, this was my first start at Kansas because it meant something. Coach actually needed me, so I felt like that was my first official start.”

Sophomore forward Thomas Robinson
On playing against his high school teammate Andrew Fitzgerald:
“(In high school) we were interchangeable pretty much. I played the four; he played the five. We won a lot. I think we lost five games the whole year. He’s more of a mid-range player. Short-corner shots, that’s his game. He’s a very good mid-range shooter, probably one of the best at it. He’s a face-up player, and he has a good work ethic.”

On if he and Fitzgerald considered going to the same school:
“Yeah, there was talk during our recruiting period when both of us were still uncommitted. When we first went to Brewster (Prep Academy), there was talk about us going to the same school, but things changed and we went our different ways.”

On if he talks to Fitzgerald during the season:
“Yeah, a lot. They’re (Oklahoma State) just hanging in there. They’re still trying to get used to each other as a team. They keep working hard. I told him, ‘Keep playing. Things will fall into place.’ ”

On the success of the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund:
“It makes me feel great that the people here care so much for me and my family. It’s beyond words how I can thank all of them. It’s a good feeling.”