Kansas Previews Regular-Season Finale Against Missouri

March 3, 2011


Kansas Weekly Press Conference

March 3, 2011

Kansas head coach Bill Self

On if the biggest motivation for Saturday is playing Missouri or winning the Big 12 outright:
“It’s Missouri. It’s the rivalry more than anything else. We could play shirts and skins with nobody in the stands, and I think our guys would be excited to play. That’s probably the primary thing, but also the chance to win the league outright is a big factor.”

On the biggest difference for Elijah Johnson defensively in the last three games:
“He used to be like Velcro; he’d stick to screens. He’s really getting through things better now – over them, around them. He’s focused in on just doing that, and if you focus in on doing the right thing by making winning plays to help your team win that possession, you perform better. He didn’t score yesterday, but I really thought the last 10 minutes he was terrific defensively.”

On Missouri scoring 86 points in the first meeting:
“I’ll be shocked if there’s that many points scored Saturday, but it will be a fast game. They want to play fast, and we want to play fast. A lot of times it’s misleading, just because you give up points doesn’t mean you don’t guard and just because you don’t give up points doesn’t mean you do guard. That’s a misnomer because there are so many more possessions (in fast-paced games). More possessions usually produce more points, but we have to do a better job defensively. We allowed it to be a horse contest the first half against them, and they stepped up and made all of their shots.”

On if the competition between Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor for playing time can be a good thing:
“The way I see it, you have three perimeter positions and I’d love to play three point guards as long as one of them is big enough to defend the three (position player on the other team). They’re not in competition with each other as much as they are in competition to be one of the best three (guards to play in the game). I don’t think it will create any negativity between those two, but the reality is Brady (Morningstar) and Tyrel (Reed) have been pretty good in the other two spots.”

On not wanting to share the Big 12 title:
“In all honesty, I don’t think anybody would like to share if they don’t have to. I think in this particular situation it’s good to be selfish. We don’t have anything against Texas personally, but we’d just assume the trophy resided only in Lawrence as opposed to Lawrence and Austin.”

On playing in a hostile environment at Missouri:
“We’ve only played one road game since KansasState, and that was Oklahoma. That was a game where we made shots early, so we didn’t feel the pressure in that particular game. We’re going to feel some pressure Saturday, so we need to have a tight huddle and really talk about why we didn’t succeed in Manhattan to make sure our mindset is such that we have a better chance to succeed in Columbia.”

On Thomas Robinson’s health since returning from knee surgery on Feb. 10:
“I don’t think he has the same explosion he had before he hurt his knee. You can tell by looking at him, he’s not jumping over people. He’s fine, though. He just had surgery two and a half weeks ago, so he’s doing remarkably well.”

Sophomore guard Elijah Johnson

On his defense:

“I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing our defensive strategies, and I’ve realized that I can be a good defender in my own way. I’m just trying to figure people out ahead of time, so by the time the game comes around, I feel like I know them really well.”

On his enjoyment of defense:

“It’s weird because I’ve never had to play defense, I always just outsmarted people and stopped the plays. When you get to college, you realize that people are just as smart as you and you have to play a lot of defense. I kind of used to dread it, but it was something I wanted to get good at. I felt like I was pushing myself to get a lot better, but I felt like my heart wasn’t really in it. When coach threw the challenge at me, it was like a complete 180. I actually enjoyed the defensive end more than I enjoyed the offensive end.”

On when his attitude regarding defense changed:

“In the locker room before OklahomaState. Coach threw a fastball at me, and I hit it out of the park. My mindset just changed. Actually, it didn’t really change, but something happened inside me. I don’t know how to explain it; I really don’t.”

Junior forward Markieff Morris

On winning the Big 12 outright:

“We’re definitely not happy sharing it. We want to win it outright every year. It’s going to be a tough game for us at Missouri, but we’re going to try to get it done.”

On what makes Missouri tough at home:

“Everybody plays with a chip on their shoulder at home and Kansas-Missouri is always going to be a big game. It’s always tough to beat them there, and I think they are a very talented team who can score the ball very well.”

On losing to their last rival, KansasState:

“We’ve erased that from our memory. It was one game and we moved on. We took that loss, we talked about it, and we moved on.”

Junior guard Tyshawn Taylor

On whether he was rusty from missing two games:

“I don’t think I was rusty. I’ve still been practicing with the team. I’ve been with the team the whole time. It was just different coming off the bench, but I think I played pretty good yesterday.”

On his play against Texas A&M:

“I just wanted to come in, be aggressive and play defense. I think I did that. It was a tough game because it was low scoring, for us anyway, so I just wanted to come in and provide a spark.”

On what means more, beating Missouri or winning the conference outright:

“I think it’s a little bit of both. It’s Missouri, so it’s definitely a rivalry game and they are going to play us tough. They are undefeated at home, so it’s going to be a tough game. The last time we played a rival on the road, it didn’t go too well. We have to come out and be better than when we were at KansasState. I think we’re going to be well-prepared and ready for their pressure. We know the atmosphere is going to be crazy, so we have to be ready to respond to it.”

On giving up 86 points to Missouri in the first meeting:

“We’re definitely going to focus on defending their motion. They run a five-out motion and a lot of back-cutting. We’re going to be well-prepared for them. We’re going to practice today and tomorrow and be ready for it.”

On whether he thinks he can get back into the starting lineup this year:
“I think it’s something that is definitely possible, but I’m just focusing on winning and being better for my team.”