Head Coach Bill Self's Weekly Press Conference Quotes

March 1, 2007


Kansas Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self

On the play of Texas guard D.J. Augustin and his comparison to Sherron Collins:
“Looking at the situation as an outsider, he has played a huge role in Kevin Durant’s success. He is one of the best five freshmen players in the country too. He warrants serious first team all-conference consideration and may deserve to make that. I think he has been terrific. He does everything. He can shoot, drive and he’s a great set-up man with great poise. The game seems to go in slow motion to him. He can change speeds and is a really good player. When we talk about the best freshmen point guards in the country, I don’t think any freshman has had the year that he has had.”

“I love my point guard. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. But Sherron is averaging 10 points a game while D.J. is averaging 15 points and six assists a game and is shooting 80 percent from the free throw line. D.J. walked into a situation where they needed him to play immediately, whereas Sherron had to take care of some things before he could really impact the program.”

On his impressions of the Texas-Texas A&M game on Feb. 28:
“I thought it was a great game. It was a better game than the Oklahoma State-Texas game in my mind because it was better played and was high quality. I thought it was one of the best basketball games I’ve seen, period. From a national perspective, people should think `wow, the Big 12 has some teams.'”

On the job Texas coach Rick Barnes has done this season:
“He has done a great job. He is a good coach. He has done a fabulous job. His team is even younger than our team was last year. Last season, we started three freshmen and two sophomores and he’s starting four freshmen and one sophomore. They can really score the ball. If you get into a scoring contest with them, they are going to be hard to beat because they have so many weapons. He has done as good of a job as anyone in our league, that’s for sure.”

On how to guard Texas’ Kevin Durant:
“A lot of teams have tried to do different things, using a guard, switching ball screens, trapping him or using a big guy. There’s a lot of things you could try to do and we may have to try them all. Just looking at it on paper, if he matches up as a four, then our four is Julian Wright. You have to put a pretty agile guy on him because he can step out and make you pay. I would say one of our taller and athletic guys will be guarding him for the majority of the time.”

On the team’s frame of mind:
“We’ve only had one practice (Tuesday) and we seemed pretty fresh. We will be excited to play Saturday. We can see the end and everyone’s focus and energy will be channeled toward this game and no one will be looking ahead. I see great energy from both teams for this game.”

On whether Durant is the best freshman in the country:
“I’ve said this all along he is. I was reminded the other day that I picked Kevin as the Preseason Player of the Year in our league. I thought he would be the best player in our league the first day he stepped on campus. I’ve said from the beginning he is the most talented guy to ever play in the Big 12. And that has played out to be true, regardless of age. Since freshmen became eligible, maybe only Wayman Tisdale could rival what he has done. Wayman was an All-American and averaged 25 points a game as a freshman, but he didn’t do the multiple things that Kevin can do. Looking at the great individual years players have had, including Danny Manning at Kansas, David Robinson at Navy, Elton Brand, Christian Laettner and Jason Williams at Duke, other than winning the last game, those guys’ years wouldn’t be better than what Kevin has accomplished this year. He’s 6-10 and a fabulous shooter, a great free throw shooter, he’s the best rebounder in the league and he leads the league in blocked shots. He’s really good and he’s not even 19. He’s a joke.”

On the recent play of Brandon Rush:
“I don’t know if I’d call it a slump, but he hasn’t performed as well in the last three games. We’ve talked and I don’t think it’s any one thing that is hanging over his head. For us to be a great team, we need him to perform because he is one of our best players. I think he may be putting a little too much pressure on himself and when he does that, he gets tentative. I don’t think it’s a slump, but I do think it’s something of a funk for the last week or so. “

On whether March is the most taxing month on college coaches:
“Well, I hope it is because that means we’re playing a lot of games. Unfortunately, it was only taxing for half the month the past two years. It can be stressful times. Though, I think it can be stressful around here a lot of times. When we lost to Oral Roberts, I didn’t come into work the next day loving my job. But for all coaches, the stakes are so high and everything is magnified, I also think it is the best time of the year. Coaches love it. I love to play games for high stakes and if you’re a competitor, this is the best time.”

On whether the team is peaking at the right time:
“We peaked at the right time last year and it didn’t really pay off. We have not played as well at certain times and then gone on big runs. It is a very inexact thing. Over time, we’ve been pretty consistently good this year. I do think we’re playing our best ball now, though that wasn’t as evident against Oklahoma in the second half.”

On his teams’ history of performing well late in the season:
“Because it is such a long season, I have never put too much or as much emphasis on the preseason as I should, though I really don’t know. We just seem to play better in conference than we do in the preseason and that’s because of what we emphasize. Our goal from day one is to win the league and that’s the focus. That is the second season and once Saturday is over, we’ll change our focus and start talking about the postseason. There are a lot of reasons why teams play better or worse late in the year. “

On thinking about NCAA tournament seeding :
“If I said I wasn’t thinking about it, I would be lying. I think every coach is anxious to find out. I don’t think there is much difference between a one and a two seed, except for maybe program exposure. I don’t know what we are. I think there is a great chance we can help ourselves by playing well Saturday and next week and conversely, we can really hurt ourselves quite a bit by not finishing strong. We have a lot to play for, but if you had told me after the Texas A&M game that we’d be in this position, we’re really going to have to turn it up a notch, and we have for the most part.”

On what he expects the atmosphere to be like on Saturday:
“It will be a fabulous atmosphere. I hope it rivals some of the best game atmospheres since I’ve been here. Three games stand out to me: Michigan State my first year, Oklahoma State two years ago and the Georgia Tech game two years ago. I have to believe our fans will be just as excited, if not more, for this game for a lot of reasons. It’s our last game, we’re playing for an outright Big 12 championship, there’s a lot at stake outside of that and we’re playing an opponent (and one guy in particular) who our fans would like to see play. I won’t guarantee this, but I don’t think Durant will make a second trip back to Allen Fieldhouse. It should be a lot of fun.”

On whether this game will have an NCAA tournament feel to it:
“I think it will have an NCAA tournament-type feel from an intensity standpoint, but not outside of that. The NCAA tournament involves games in 30,000 seat arenas where maybe 18,000 people are there and the crowd is split or neutral. This will have a true intensity type feel with a home court advantage, which you won’t get in the NCAA tournament.”

On whether Sherron Collins’ game against Oklahoma will help in the long run:
“I’d rather a guy play good all the time. I’ve watched the tape, and to be honest, he didn’t play poorly. He got into a little confrontation with an OU player and may have lost his focus, but he didn’t play poorly. He just didn’t score the ball and that’s something we’re used to of late. I think the OU game in general was a good re-focus game for us.”

On the comparison between Durant’s season and Danny Manning’s senior year:
“They are both scoring and rebounding at the same clip. Danny took his team and won a national championship and that’s six important games that you have to win. Kevin is good enough to take his team and win a string of games in the tournament. If you look at the performance throughout the year, Kevin’s rivals Danny’s. Both will be national player of the year. But then, we don’t know what Kevin and his team’s performance will be in the NCAA Tournament. However, he is capable of anything.”

On whether KU is capable of producing someone like Durant or Manning in the NCAA tournament:
“From a scoring standpoint, I don’t think we could do that. What some of our best players do best is not score. If you look at Texas, what Kevin does best is put the ball in the basket. What Julian Wright does best is that he’s a quick-twitch, bouncy passer, but that’s not his mindset. I think we might have someone jump up and average 18 points a game, but Durant is averaging 30 in league play. We’re not going to have anyone do that.”

On the difficulties in late game situations of having so much balance:
“What I mean is that it is a different guy. Let’s say you’re winning games by going to a certain guy and then suddenly in the next game, you don’t go to that guy. It is about consistency. I do like the fact that it can a different guy every night for us. That way, whether it’s injuries or foul trouble, you’re not solely relying on one guy. I think a `go-to-guy’ is the most overrated thing the media talks about.”

On playing a senior-less senior day:
“We do have two managers that we’ll honor. But if you look at it, we have two teams fighting for a conference championship and I would say the 10 leading scorers in the game will be freshmen or sophomores. That is a pretty talented young game.”

On how much it matters that tradition-rich programs like Kansas perform well in March:
“I don’t know if it makes a huge difference on the court, but from a personal standpoint, using Duke as an example, when players play a team like Duke, you almost have to convince your guys that it is a shirts and skins-type game because the four letters on the chest could potentially mean something. But it’s only from a mental standpoint. It has nothing to do with the play or the talent. You’re so engrained at seeing certain programs there, some teams may go into a situation like that thinking `wow, we’re playing Duke.’ as opposed to thinking our next game is against Duke. I don’t think it has much to do between the lines if you don’t let your guys mentally affect you.”

On the similarities between this year’s Texas team and last year’s KU team:
“I think there are similarities. They are even a little younger than we were last year. Both teams are incredibly young. Our team got a lot better as we went on and Texas is doing the same thing. We went 13-3 in the league last year and they have a chance of doing that as well. I loved our team last year. I thought it was a terrific team and our freshmen emerged late. But Texas has one thing that our team did not have last year, something no team has and I think it may be easier for some of their guys to know you can pencil in 25 points and 12 rebounds even on an off-night.”

Sophomore Guard Brandon Rush:

On the game Saturday: “I’m pretty excited for Saturday, it’s going to be a pretty good game.”

On Kevin Durant: “I think he’s an excellent player. He’s a great free-throw shooter and he gets to the line more than anybody I know.” “It’s a pretty big game, we’re not trying to share the title with anyone.”

Sophomore Forward Julian Wright:

On guarding Kevin Durant: “It’s going to be a team effort. We just going to try and stick to our principles and try to limit easy baskets and rebounds. He’s going to get the ball eventually and he’s got a great supporting cast. We’ve just got to try and stop his easy buckets.”

On playing against Kevin Durant before college: “I’ve played against him my senior year in high school. I think he’s one of the best players in the Big 12. He’s got a fearless attitude and he’s such an important part of that team with all of those freshman. He obviously makes them go, he’s the engine.”