Men's Basketball Head Coach Bill Self Press Conference Quotes

March 5, 2007


Kansas Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self

On the team’s toughness after the win’s against Texas and Oklahoma:
“I think we demonstrated more toughness against Texas than we did against Oklahoma. I think our team is getting tougher. Even though we were getting our butts kicked pretty well, they didn’t panic. We actually played decent to only be down 12 at halftime, because it could have been a lot worse. We did show some toughness at the end of the first half and had an unbelievable run (9-4 to end the first half, eventually 24-7), and that was as good as we played all year during that stretch. We were mentally tough Saturday because we did not let a poor performance or an outstanding performance from Texas take away from us making good basketball plays to get back into the game, and we made a lot of good, solid plays to get us back into the game.”

“The odds are whoever you play in the postseason, you’ll be behind at some point, so not panicking and showing poise is important and we did do that on Saturday.”

On the team’s rebounding:
“Coach John Wooden used to emphasize going after the ball. We have guys that go after the ball, but we don’t block out very well. If we could combine those two a little bit better, we could become a very good rebounding team. We miss a lot of box-outs, but we do have guys that chase the ball around pretty well. You can have really good athletes, but if they don’t go after the ball, they aren’t going to get them. We have some guys that are rebounding their area and some guys that rebound outside their area pretty well. We are not a great individual rebounding team, but we do have balance there. I think we’re a poor block-out team that can improve in that area, but we do have guys that can go after the ball.”

On whether the team is performing at an elite level:
“I would say that we’re playing more consistently at a level that would warrant us being one of the better teams around.”

On the team’s weaknesses:
“We don’t guard the ball very well. D.J. Augustin and Oklahoma got the ball where they wanted off the bounce. Our block-outs can certainly improve. Against OU, we made one three-pointer, and against Texas we made 11, so we can become more consistent shooting the basketball. Of course, this late in the season, I don’t think you change who you are overnight, but I certainly think we can improve in some of those areas with foul shooting being as important as any of them.”

On the development of Julian Wright this season:
“When you look at our team from a most-valuable standpoint, not by point production, the defensive efforts and assignments he has drawn have been tough ones and he has done a good job there. His value to me is so different because he changes how teams have to play us. He’s very good against the zone, is a good interior passer and without question is our best rebounder. He’s averaging 12 points a game and for a guy at his size to get 13 rebounds in a big game like Texas is very valuable. I think he’s really developed. In scoring points, he’s gone from eight to 12, which is a big step, but he is not going to be a prolific scorer. That’s not who he is. I know the coaches and media voted him first team in our league and that’s good to see that a guy can do so many things to impact a game and it not necessarily be all about points. He’s had a very solid year. The Florida game may have spoiled us into thinking he should be doing those things on a consistent basis, but that’s like saying Kevin Durant should be scoring 20 points every 12 minutes.”

On Brandon Rush being named to the second team and his scoring:
“There are some good players in our league. If I was voting, and I can’t vote for my own players, I would put he and Julian Wright on the first team. I would think it would get very tough to decide who goes on what team and I am sure my opinion would be very different than a lot of writers or a lot of coaches. I see all the players up close when we play them, as opposed to seeing them when everyone else plays them too.”

“I thought he would average more points, but I also didn’t think we’d average more points. So that doesn’t really bother me much. We’re averaging 81 points in the league and that’s pretty good for a team whose leading scorer is averaging around 14 points a game, which means we have pretty good balance.”

On the recent play of Russell Robinson:
“Before he hurt his toe, I thought he was playing at a higher level. Then he hurt his toe and against Oklahoma, I thought he played good, but not great. But he was terrific against Texas. I don’t know what it is, but he’s labored in scoring this year and a lot of that is due to balance and while he might not have as many opportunities, I still have confidence in him when the game is on the line in big games that he is going to produce. He made some big shots against Texas, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, in the first half when we didn’t have much offense. Getting him confidence shooting the ball would certainly be a big bonus for us heading into the postseason.”

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 any uncertainties left over the starting lineup:
“I think, if anything, our balance shows that it really doesn’t matter with this team. I’ve been saying all along that we have eight starters. Going into the Texas game, we had six different players lead us in scoring in our last six games. Balance is one the strengths of our team and Sherron Collins deserves to start, but you can’t say after Saturday that Russell, Mario or Brandon doesn’t deserve to start. We wouldn’t have won the league without Sherron. He put us on his back multiple times this year and he has been as a good a performer as we’ve had during some stretches. It just turns out this past week that it was someone else’s turn to step up. “

On the message he and the coaching staff are saying to the team heading into the postseason:
“We are telling them not to be satisfied. There was a big deal made out of us winning the league, and there should be any time you win the league, but that’s not the goal. That is not the ultimate goal and now we need to shift our focus and stay hungry.”

On what he’ll remember from this year’s season:
“I don’t know if I’ll think of just one game, though the Texas game was certainly memorable. I might think of the Texas A&M game to be honest and wonder how we did that. I might also think about the Texas Tech game and how we didn’t play very well but still came back and made it a one possession game. I’m hoping that when I look back on this season that the Texas game is not what I remember because we probably didn’t do that well in the postseason.”

On what the team has learned through the season:
“I think one thing we learned after the Texas A&M game was that they were a good team and we didn’t play poorly. We didn’t finish and they played great down the stretch. We have also learned that one possession games will probably determine the success of our postseason. We have to make sure we make the most of every possession. The one thing that I like is that we’ve won eight in a row and we’ve had eight great performers in those games. We have to accept that we are a team with balance and if we are in sync, we are pretty good, but we can’t get individuals off an island and think we’ll play through them. We need to stay focused on what we do as opposed to what I do and the individual things will come.”

On what it will take to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament:
“I think our non-conference resume is pretty impressive. Everybody can skew the numbers to give their team the best look, but I would say winning the Big 12 tournament would probably guarantee it. Getting to the finals might not be enough, losing in the second round might not be enough and losing in the first round defintely would not be enough. I don’t know if it’s as important to be a No. 1 as it is to be put in the best position and I think that could potentially help us.”

On the Oklahoma-Iowa State game on Thursday:
“It will be a good game. Iowa State handled Oklahoma in Ames and we struggled in Ames but handled them pretty well in Lawrence. We struggled in Norman so whoever we play will be a tough match-up.”

On maximizing the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament:
“I think any time that you play at night, the game may end at a certain time but the game doesn’t actually end till early the next morning. If you play that 9 p.m. game, you’re talking about an 11 p.m. finish, media responsibilities, team meal around 12:45 a.m. and lights out around 2:15 a.m. There are so many things going on, that you give them no free time by playing that late. And then you play in the afternoon that next day. I think there is advantage for the second day. I don’t think there is a big advantage after that second day because both games are in the afternoon and both teams will get a good night’s rest.”

On the potential future of certain Kansas players past the season:
“I told our guys not to address any situations about their individual futures. They don’t want to either because they don’t know. There isn’t anybody right now who knows if they’d leave. There are guys who in their minds would know that they would stay, but things happen and people get involved. We’re going to enjoy all our guys as long as we have them and we hope we have them again, unless it’s best for them to leave now, and if it’s that time, then they should leave.”

On preparing for Iowa State or Oklahoma:
“The good thing is that we have played Iowa State and Oklahoma two and three games ago, so it should still be relatively fresh. The other thing is that while they don’t play alike, they do similar things offensively. I think we should work on OU’s pressure and work on Iowa State’s successes when we played up there and when they played in Lawrence. The bottom line is that we’re going to focus on us. I don’t know who we’re going to play, but we’ll be prepared because we played them two and three games ago.”

On any advantage the Oklahoma schools would have in the Big 12 tournament:
“I would think OSU might have a bigger advantage because their fans really get into it. I would think OU would certainly have an advantage over anyone they’re playing except for Oklahoma State. I would think there would also be a lot of Kansas fans trying to get tickets.”

On the marketing of the league heading into the NCAA Tournament:
“Billy Gillispie and I talk quite often and I would say that the best marketing job our league has done this year has been Kevin Durant and Acie Law. Acie Law and Kevin Durant have brought more exposure to our league, plus the Oklahoma State-Texas game, the Texas-Texas A&M game and the Kansas-Texas game brought great exposure to our league because the stakes were high and of the national implications. I think if the league had not had those things happen, I would say we would be one of the most undervalued leagues that is out there. I don’t know exactly what it is, but how can we have our top three teams considered top-four seeds and a team like Kansas State, with 10 conference victories, considered on the bubble? To me, that does not make much sense. I think people saying K-State is on the bubble is ridiculous. If our league doesn’t get five teams in the tournament, I think that is a shame. It seems like the so-called experts are saying better things about other teams than ours with very similar resumes. I don’t think the transistion of coaches has done anything to the marketing of our league. If anything, Bob Huggins’ past and his national popularity would enhance the marketability of our league. Bobby Knight set the all-time wins record this year. Bob Huggins has Kansas State rolling. You have maybe the best college player since 1980. You have maybe as clutch a college player we’ve seen in recent memory and you have as balanced team a team in recent memory. We have so many things going for us in the league. “

“I don’t buy the RPI numbers, I think our league is very good and I think we’ll get a minimum of five teams into the NCAA tournament. If teams that are in the middle of the pack in other leagues are considered in, then we have some teams that are in as well. I thnk the RPI perception has hurt us. I think there are some things we could do better, but when we scheduled our non-conference, I thought there were going to be some teams. I thought it was a good RPI schedule. The numbers don’t always add up. I do think people can put too much emphasis on the RPI. We’re working at somewhat of an institution because the location of our institutions might not warrant as much national attention as others. I think our league does a great job, but I do think there are some things we could address and talk about. From a coaches’ perspective, why is K-State still considered on the bubble? We should look at it and study it from a coaches perspective and a scheduling perspective. If the RPI is the golden rule, then we need to do something to help ourselves with the RPI. The coaches scheduled what was probably best for them, but we need to develop some new strategies.”