Weekly Bill Self Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 25, 2010

Press Conference Video


Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

Weekly Press Conference

Prior to Oklahoma State Game

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Oklahoma State’s James Anderson being a Player of the Year candidate:

“Yeah, I think so. I think it’s too early still, although there are only three games left, he’s been as good as anybody in our league, period. And he’ll be very, very tough to beat out for Player of the Year in our league. I don’t think that award has been decided by any means yet and we have a couple of guys fighting for it themselves, but what he’s averaging and his team’s done well. I think he’s probably had as good of year as anybody thus far.”

On what kind of things he tells his team to keep them motivated this time of the year:

“I didn’t say anything yesterday. Maybe I’ll say something today, but the one thing about it is that team in ’08 didn’t win in Austin, didn’t win in Manhattan and didn’t win in Stillwater, so it’d be nice for this team to definitely make a sweep of that; to do something that other team labored so much to do. But the biggest thing is (for) us to get better. It’s not motivation daily, that we try to play with their minds to come up with some gimmick to keep them fired up, they should be fired up anyway. How many teams have put themselves in the position to have really great years? It doesn’t happen every year. When you put yourself in this position, you’ve got to figure out some way to go ahead and extend it and finish it off. There’s several teams out there that have had great years thus far and, of course, the best year anybody’s going to have is the team that wins on Monday night in April. But all this preparation (is for) hopefully having a chance to play for high stakes later.”

On if he tries to orchestrate the team’s mood, feelings or motivation:

“I wouldn’t say that. If we like ourselves a lot and start drinking our own Kool-Aid a little bit then practice is probably a little bit different than maybe if I feel like everybody’s really intent and in tune and on the same page. That’s every day in every practice. That’s not just because of what’s transpired here in the last few months, that’s the way it is going back to October 15. But our motivation for this trip down there [Stillwater] would be the chance to win another game, to go 14-0 and win it [Big 12 Championship] outright. And Sherron [Collins] hasn’t won in Stillwater either, so that’s motivation for him right there.”

On if the players talk about Kansas having a perfect season in the Big 12 as much as other people have been:

“They may among themselves, but I haven’t talked to them about it, and I won’t. If we’re successful and play well in Stillwater Saturday, then next week, obviously, that will be a topic of conversation so we’ll bring that up. But I think our finish of three games is the hardest of anybody’s finish in the Big 12 this season. We’ve got the hardest schedule from this point forward than anybody else in our league does, so we’re not thinking about K-State or Missouri, we’re just thinking about the next game. And the next game is very, very tough. And it’s a place where, obviously, when that building’s jumping, it’s a great, great home court.”

On is there is a “Bill Self Formula” for winning conference championships:

“I don’t know; I’d rather win postseason than our conference. But we think the conference is real important here. We put a lot of emphasis on it everyday in practice, every day going back to September 1, just to put in their [the players’] mind that this is what we have to play for. But we really don’t do anything special. The biggest thing in league play is, obviously, you need to defend your home court and go steal at least half of them away from home. We’ve had teams that are capable of doing that. And win games you’re supposed to win. So many seasons are not quite as great as what they could potentially be because for those two or three nights where you come out flat or whatever and let somebody slip up on you that you’d have a chance to beat nine out of 10 times. We’ve been really fortunate that even though we haven’t been great every night, we’ve respected our opponents and have come out, for the most part, played the game, as opposed to just expecting to win.”

On what it says about this team that it has won in places like Austin and Manhattan but has not been able to put the “foot on the throat” to finish off opponents:

“You know, I wouldn’t tell our players this, but I’d rather win and maybe being more concerned about putting the foot on the throat than not win and really be good in games where you’re up 20. I think this team does a pretty good job of playing the situation, and sometimes that’s bad when you’ve got a big lead early, and sometimes it’s very good when you really need to hunker down and get stops and execute late. There is an element of toughness with this team that I think does exist that rivals, certainly, that ’08 team.”

On when he thinks the ’08 team got tough:

“I think that team got pretty tough going back to getting embarrassed at UCLA the year before. That team had success on the road, as well, early in the season. But you knew that team was tough when it counted the most. I always questioned, as every coach questions, how they are going to react in certain situations, but seeing a team down nine with two minutes left, that team was tough. There’s not too many teams in the country that could have pulled that off.”

On if an Oklahoma State win would assure the Cowboys of an NCAA bid:

“Oh, I think it would definitely assure them of that. I also think that (I was asked this earlier today) if the selections were to come out today, we [the Big 12 Conference] would have seven teams in [the tournament]. There would be no hesitation. But the problem is, you don’t know what’s going to happen in other leagues with upsets and teams getting hot, so I think everybody could solidify their position by finishing the season strong. But I would say Oklahoma State’s got a lot to play for because they’re in right now, but this would make for a definite from a sleepless night standpoint, they’re not going to have those anymore. I think everybody would be able to rest comfortably knowing that they had knocked us off and solidified their bid.”

On the 2008 team’s loss at Oklahoma State, if they gained anything from that loss and if it is a concern that this year’s team is unaccustomed to losing:

“No, that’s not a concern. We’ve tasted it [defeat] and certainly may very well taste it again. We know that. We know when you play good people, then there’s a chance that can happen, especially away from home. Moving forward, that doesn’t even register in my thought process. Would a loss be good for us down the road? I don’t feel that right now. Maybe I’ll feel that two weeks from now, but I doubt I do. I think we’ve already done enough stuff that I think we’re where a loss would not be extra motivation for our guys to get refocused because I think they’re pretty focused right now. That team, in ’08, was reeling a little bit. We had some issues going on that were internal, that were minor, but [were] just enough that if it wasn’t addressed, could hurt your team or break your team up and that loss magnified everything and let everything come out, which helped us. I don’t think this team is going through that same type of stuff right now.”

On if this team relishes road games and playing in front of big crowds:

“Oh yeah. This team is kind of weird; you look on TV and you watch games and you see empty seats on TV and you think that would be an easier place to have a chance to go win, if, in fact, they weren’t into it. I think our guys look at it differently; I think our guys would be disappointed if it wasn’t full because I think that is part of them getting juiced for that. During league play, and you can check on this, but I think during league play we have only played in front of 300-400 empty seats in entire league play so far, and that was the first game against Nebraska. That’s based on sellouts and that kind of stuff. These guys like that.”

On if he talks to the team about being the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament:

“No, we haven’t even mentioned that. We could mention that a week from now, but that hasn’t even registered yet. Not even registered. Our players wouldn’t have a clue when the first round is. And they wouldn’t have a clue where the Regionals are, at least coming out of our camp. Maybe they’ve studied it more than I give them credit for, but I don’t think they think about that at all.”

On if he thinks about being the No. 1 overall seed:

“I used to. And now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t know if it really matters that much. In a perfect world, you’d like to be able to drive everywhere, but I really don’t know if it matters. I think our fans will show up no matter where we go.”

On if playing Saturday-Monday games for the past month is something the team and coaches are using to prepare for the postseason:

“Yeah, there’s no question. I’m not a huge fan of the one-day prep, but I do think it’s good for NCAA tournament preparation, no question. It’s probably been pretty comprable to what it would be during the tournament just in large part because that Sunday is a 40 to 45 minute day, and that’s exactly the way it would be during the NCAA tournament. It’s also good for your staff to have to prepare that quickly too. It’s good that on Wednesday you can practice things that you’ll potentially see on Monday and the players don’t even know you’re doing it. So, yeah, I think it’s good preparation.”

On what goes on in that 40-45 minutes on Sunday:

“Practice. No, I mean we could be guarding their stuff, it could be shooting, it could be working on certain things that we need to do the way they guard us. But it’d just be a shortened practice. It’ll still be intense, but it will just be a lot shorter.”

On if he has succeeded in shortening practice length as the season has progressed, with his target being an hour and 15 minutes:

“Yeah, I’ve actually made a passing grade with that so far. I don’t know if it’s exactly an hour and 15, but to our players, it’s a lot better. And that’s what I want, no matter what the situation is. I hope that we can get done what we need to get done in that period of time. At least where they’re only on their feet [for] that period of time. They can be watching tape or whatever, but we are trying to cut it back.”

On if there is any different feel going back to Stillwater since OSU courted him to be its head coach:

“No, not at all. I said this when doing a couple of deals this morning and a similar question came up; when I was the head coach at Oral Roberts, we played there every year. So it wasn’t as emotional when we were down there 41 [points], but still, it was still an emotional deal. Then when we come back here [to Lawrence], people made a big deal of going back and that was emotional to me; it’s not emotional anymore, it’s a business trip. And we will not mix personal on this business trip. There will be some people that I’ll love to see, but it will be when we’re coming out of the lockerroom after the game. It is not a negative towards OSU, but I can’t do both. And I would think that anybody going back and playing their alma mater, it’s probably a little bit different the first couple of times you do it, but after you do it awhile, I don’t think…I think when [Michael] Jordan was playing for the [Washington] Wizards to Chicago to play, it probably lessened a little bit as far as being emotional. I could be wrong, and of course, I’m not comparing that to Jordan, that’s a bad comparison. Anybody going back to play their alma mater. So I think it will be emotional, but I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal.”

On Sherron Collins’ role in the 2008 National Championship game compared to what he’s been doing this season:

“Well, his role is the same thing. We don’t talk about ‘in this particular game, we want you to steal the ball and make a three’, but if that’s what the team needs with a minute and a half left…I mean, that’s not how we approach it, but his role is to be the guy to make plays. The difference would be this year, he’ll be on the shooting end of it as opposed to passing, if we’re ever in that situation, more than likely. One thing that’s kind of emerged recently is I think that we have more than one player we can go to in that particular situation. So maybe he’ll be a decoy, I don’t know, but I certainly don’t see it that way as we sit here today. But who knows how it will play out down the road.”

On his joking about being beat by OSU by 41 points one year and saying it wouldn’t happen again, then being beat by 40 the next season:

“No they didn’t, they only beat us by 39. No, I joked and I said ‘I guarantee one thing, they won’t beat us 41’. And they beat us [by] 39.”

On if those were the two worst losses he has recorded as a coach in Stillwater:

“Well, one of them came on our home turf in the Mabee Center, so my teams have probably been beaten as badly in Stillwater as any place. Our worst defeat probably in conference play since I’ve been here was in Stillwater; it was only a 20-point game, but it felt like 40 and we were never in it probably from the opening tip. I think we called three timeouts before the first TV timeout, which is usually not a positive thing in most cases. We’ve got it handed to us pretty good at a couple of spots. Nebraska beat us bad one time, but we led at halftime. That was a total domination in Stillwater when they had that great, great team.”

On how Mario Little is coming along during his redshirt year:

“He’s doing great. He’s still a hybrid player, he’s a guy that can play inside and play outside and he’s most effective probably when he can get a big away from the basket. But he’s a good scorer and a good shooter. Before he could score, but I didn’t know how well he shot it. Now I think he can really shoot. So I think it’s been good for him, there’s no question. He’ll be ready to take off next year, I believe.”

On Travis Releford’s progression during his redshirt season in 2009-10:

“Great. They’re both doing good. If they were playing now, they would both play. We would have to find a way to get our ninth and 10th player in the game, there’s no question, because they would be that. They may not be our ninth and 10th, they may be our sixth and seventh, but we’d have to find a way to get more guys in the game.”

On if he is pleased with the current play of Tyshawn Taylor:

“I think he’s confident and feels good about himself. And I know he knows I feel good about him. And I think so much of confidence is knowing that your coaching staff believes in you. And there’s no question we do. So he’s going to continue to, hopefully, elevate his game as we move forward because he may be the ‘X Factor’ with our team because he can do some things that basically no body else in our program can do. So I hope he continues to play better because he is playing at a pretty high level now.”

On if he thinks the team is close to playing their best at this time of the season:

“I think we’re getting better. I hope the answer is yes. I’m always reluctant to say that ‘hey, we’re getting ready to play our best ball’ because you never know what’s going to happen. From a practice standpoint, and how we look in practice, and how we’ve played in certain stretches of games and that kind of stuff, I think it’s coming together. I do. And hopefully we’ll put it all together at the most important time. But right now we are still a team that has room for improvement. Against Oklahoma in that first stretch, we were really, really good. So if you just study that, you say ‘hey, we’re getting it’. And then you study other parts of it and you say ‘that’s how you lose games in the NCAA tournament when you relax’. So there’s still a lot of things we can improve on, but I think it’s coming together.”

On if he is surprised the team is shooting 40 percent from three-point range for the season:

“I don’t know about surprised, I think we’ve shot it pretty good. If you take away a couple of stretches, we’re probably about 42 percent. I mean, we shot it miserably there for about two weeks. But I do think we have good shooters and, of course, it helps when you can bring guys like Tyrel [Reed] and Brady [Morningstar] off the bench that can makes shots. And it helps when Marcus [Morris] and Markieff [Morris] have been able to consistently, for the most part, make threes even though they haven’t made a ton; I think they’ve made 17 or 18 combined. But still, that’s more threes than a lot more than other teams’ big guys shoot. So we’re a pretty good shooting team and for the most part, we take good shots. You should make a decent percentage if you take good shots.”

On C.J. Henry’s health status:

“He’s practicing off and on. He slipped on the ice the other day and it didn’t help his back at all. But he’s practicing off and on. I don’t know if we’ll use him in a game coming up, but he’s probably 70-80 percent.”

On his reaction to being one game behind North Carolina in all-time wins:

“I would say that is something for fans to talk about. Who really cares about that, getting there first? Does that mean you’ve got a better program? That doesn’t mean anything. I think from our fans’ perspective, it would probably mean something just based on the history with Carolina and Kansas. But to me, that doesn’t mean much at all.”

Kansas Player Quotes


Prior to Oklahoma State Game

Junior guard Tyrel Reed

On his hole-in-one over the summer:

“One hundred and seventy-one yards, seven iron, a little downhill, out in Colorado. It took one bounce and rolled in.”

On what was the bigger thrill, the hole-in-one or winning at K-State:

“Winning at K-State. I would rather have basketball thrills because I can have golf thrills the rest of my life.”

On if he is aware that Kansas is three wins shy of 2,000 total school victories:

“I think it is a big thing for our school, having 2,000 wins. Kentucky already has 2,000, but as players, there are still three more games for us. They are going to be really tough and we just want to compete and get better in those games.”

On if it is an exciting possibility for the team to win games this season at Texas, at K-State and at Oklahoma State since the 2008 National Championship team lost at those three locations:

“Yeah, I’ve never thought of it that way. That would be really cool. That was a great team. They went through a little lull right there in the season and had a couple losses on the road, but I think they really learned from it and got better. So hopefully we can just keep getting better and hopefully not have to lose to get better.”

On what makes this year’s team so good at winning close games:

“We’ve got a lot of leadership with Cole [Aldrich] and Sherron [Collins]. There’s just a calmness out there; somebody’s going to make a play and we’re all confident in each other.”

On if the team is still motivated to win after being presented with the Big 12 Conference trophy after Monday’s win against Oklahoma:

“Oh yeah, for sure. I know Coach Self would have rather they not presented us with the trophy that night, but I think they had to give it to us. Our goal now is to win the league outright. We’ve got a lot of tough games coming up, we’re going to have to be prepared and look forward to the challenge.”

On if the team thinks about trying to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament:

“We haven’t talked about it, or even thought about it as of right now, but yeah, that is something we can strive for, to play closer to here so we have more fans. But we’re going to have to take these games one step at a time right now and have a good Big 12 tournament.”

On if the team knows where the potential NCAA sites are located:

“I actually don’t. I haven’t looked ahead at all. I know last year they were playing in Kansas City, so I’m sure there’s not one this year there. Anywhere close to here is something nice to have.”

On if he ever checks out Bracketology from ESPN:

“I haven’t. I’ve been busy with school lately. These upcoming three weeks until Spring Break are going to be pretty tough on me with classes. I’m just focused there and on basketball.”

On if he is finishing up his degree this year:

“I’m finishing up my classes this year. I just have to do an internship and then basically graduate and have a semester where I’ll just play basketball. Just relax and focus on basketball and enjoy being in college.”

Senior guard Sherron Collins

On if he gets a kick out of showing people up when playing on the road:

“I guess you could say that. I’d say it’s more fun to win on the road. It’s always fun to win here at home. The home-court advantage is always easy. Playing on the road you face a tougher task.”

On if he likes when the opposing crowd is yelling at him and trash-talking him:

“That’s every game, so you get used to it. You like to be able to shut them up. But, it’s fine.”

On if this year’s team has more of a taste for winning road games than the team a two years ago:

“I’d say we still enjoyed it then, we just didn’t carry it all the way out. I think we probably do enjoy it a little bit more. I think that’s when we play better, on the road, sometimes.”

On if playing in front of huge crowds on the road is a point of pride for the team:

“It’s a point of pride. We’re going to give everybody our best shot. We know every game is going to be sold out. It’s something we’re always prepared for; that it’s going to be loud and every stadium is going to be behind their team. I think we do a great job of preparing [for these games].”

On how the team keeps the home team from feeding off their crowds when on the road:

“Get into a big lead early in the game or just playing well early. Trying to take their crowd out of it, not letting them back into it.”

On if playing in front of a small crowd at Texas Tech hurt KU last season:

“I wouldn’t say it hurt us, but it definitely a little bit of a factor. We should have been ready to play though. We weren’t ready to play last year at Texas Tech. That was it; we just weren’t ready to play, weren’t prepared for it.”

On if being a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is something the team thinks about:

“It’s out there. Of course I think we can do it. But we’ve got a few steps to take and we’ve got to keep winning, of course. We’ve got some tough games left and we’ve got a tough conference tournament to look forward to. First we worry about those things, then we’ll to worry about everything else. No matter where they put us or what seed we get, we’ll be all right.”

On if he personally knows where the NCAA sites are:

“Yeah, I know. It would be better for us to stay in the Midwest Region. It’d be close to my family. But other than that, I think it’d be better for our fans because it’s closer from them to get to.”

On if there is motivation for him to win somewhere he hasn’t in his KU career (Stillwater):

“Of course, that’s Oklahoma State. We lost there my sophomore year and I didn’t get to play that much because I was a little bit bothered by injuries. Of course you always want to win a place you’ve never won as payback. But it’s not payback because we beat them last year and we’ve just moved on. I’ve never won there [Stillwater] and the team I’m with now, we’ve never won there, none of these guys. So I think there is somewhat a sense of urgency [to win there].”

On if he ever looks at Bracketology:

“No, I’m not into that. We don’t have to worry about that, we’ll be in the bracket somewhere. I know we’re there, so I don’t have to pay attention to it.”

On how often this year’s team hears the comparison to the 2007-08 National Championship team:

“A little bit. Coach [Self] uses it for motivation because he always says we’re not as good of a team as the 2008 team. That kind of sparks a fire in practice. If you start thinking about it, it can drive you crazy. Other than that, we try not to think about it.”

On if he feels that this year’s team is as good as the 2007-08 squad:

“We’re truly not [as good of a team]. He [Coach Self] says it as a point for us to get better on defense. He knows that, I know that, we all know that. We watch tape on it. We watch how we fooled around and how when we got to certain point in time, we had to stay consistent.”

Junior guard Brady Morningstar

On playing on the road:

“I think it’s fun when you’re on the road. The crowd talks to you, it’s really fun. They get pretty mad when we win. Nobody really likes us. I’m sure Missouri will have a pretty good crowd in a couple weeks, and it will probably be one of the best all year. We always get everyone’s best shot, whether [it’s] from their fans or their players.”

On whether this team has a better handle on winning on the road than in the past:

“I think we know how to win. I wouldn’t say we know how to close games out, because we’re not really doing that well this year, but I think we’re a year older and a year more mature. We now know what we have to do to get the job done on the road. I think we’re a little more experienced, which makes it a lot easier.”

Junior center Cole Aldrich

On being named Academic All-American of the Year:

“It’s definitely a huge accomplishment because it’s a reflection of not only working for one year, but three years so far. It’s taken a lot for me to finally get there, but it’s a huge accomplishment. It’s one thing that I’m going to be really proud of for awhile.”

On getting a 4.0 GPA during the fall 2009 semester:

“That was not fun. But looking back at it, as much as it wasn’t fun, it was really worthwhile now. It really makes me proud.”

On whether the team will still fight after already receiving the Big 12 Conference trophy:

“I think so. We have two away games and Senior Night left. The guys need to get excited for another road game against a good Oklahoma State team. We’re going to be fine, though. It will be one of those things where we have to love playing in other people’s arenas.”