Bill Self Weekly Press Conference Quotes

March 6, 2006

On winning Big 12 Coach of the Year honors:
“The coach of the year deal is nice, I’m not going to lie, but that’s all a reflection of the players. That’s the way it always works. If you have good players you have a good chance to win those things. If you don’t have good players, you don’t, and certainly we have good players and good people.”

If he had to do more coaching this year:
“We coached the same way we always have. We probably had more things to teach this year than what we would have had to do with a more experienced team. Any coach will tell you that. It was no different than last year’s team. The key to evaluating a coach is whether or not his team plays up to its potential, and only the coaches know what the potential is. Our potential last year wasn’t to where we were ranked in the preseason. Our potential this year was much better than what we were ranked in the preseason.”

On practice times:
“We’ve had a lot of shorter practices because we go harder. Last year or the year before it seemed that we had to go longer just to get it right. This year we can do what we need to do in shorter periods of time.”

“Part of it is attention span. I made a deal with them that if they go really hard then we wouldn’t go as long. They like that formula.”

“We didn’t practice two hours late in the season last year, but the practices certainly got shorter as the year progressed. We don’t do that much stuff. It’s not like we’re working on three different types of zones and different types of presses. You basically see what we do. We probably spend less time in practice working on things that maybe some other teams work on because they do multiple things. We don’t do a ton of things so it doesn’t take much time to get through all our stuff.”

If this is his most gratifying coach of the year honor:
“The coach of the year award doesn’t make a season more gratifying. Having a team that’s young win six road games and all of them by double figures, that to me is gratifying because we’re so young.”

On Brandon Rush being named All-Big 12 First Team:
“He deserves it. If you’re going to tie for the championship, you at least would have to get one guy up there, you would think. I thought Mario (Chalmers) deserved third team, and I thought Russell (Robinson) deserved honorable mention, but there’s a lot of other coaches that say the same thing about their players. Brandon certainly played at a certain level and led us from start to finish. He’s deserving of that.”

On this week’s schedule:
“We’ll practice Monday through Thursday. We took yesterday off. We won’t go hard every day. We’ll probably go really hard tomorrow and pretty good on Wednesday. Today and Thursday we’ll go about an hour and a half, but it won’t be quite as intense as the other days.”

On why this was his most gratifying conference championship:
“Last year we started out 10-0. When you start 10-0 you’re supposed to win the league, and we finished (league play) 2-4. This year we started out 1-2 and nobody thought we had a shot. To come back and go 13-3, winning 12 of our last 13 with a team that started 1-2, I think makes it special. The other teams that won the league had been at the top the whole way through. This team, although it was early in the season, started at the bottom. For us to have to worst league start since `71 and then go 13-3 is probably more gratifying than if we had started out 10-0.”

On preparing for the potential of three games in three days:
“We did it in Maui. We didn’t really do it that well though. Hopefully we’ll do it better this time. The thing about postseason tournaments, since they’re one-and-done, you have put unbelievable emphasis on each game. Usually more mature teams handle those situations better. We’ll emphasize some different things as far as being at that magic level on Friday, but then again if we’re fortunate enough to win, we’ll have to make sure we conserve enough energy to make sure we’re ready to go again the next day.”

On the teams’ morale and chemistry:
“I thought our chemistry was fine, but I thought our morale was pitiful coming back from Maui. I thought we wasted two weeks coming back. We were just an average team at best. Our guys didn’t have any energy or focus. It was like they went to Maui and in their own young minds thought they were going to go over there and show the world right off the bat. When things didn’t go well, they were totally deflated. We played with no energy against Nevada and Saint Joe’s, and the biggest reason was because we had prepared exactly the same way we had played. The Cal game was good in that we started to get back in after that game.”

“The other thing that needs to be said about chemistry is that it’s not the easiest thing being a senior starter and then have your role diminished and go to the bench. I think (Jeff Hawkins) and Christian (Moody) both gave us a chance to have great chemistry because they accepted a role that was different than what they started with.”

On Russell Robinson:
“I don’t know if one player spurred it (team chemistry) on more than others, but I do think Russell Robinson, from start to finish, has been the heart and soul of our team.”

“He’s taking less chances. It used to be that he was at his most dangerous when he gambled and missed and then he would come from behind. He’s been more solid. We talked to Russell quite a bit about this, but we told him that whatever his role ended up being, that he needed to accept that and take pride in it. We have challenged him. We told him that he isn’t the best defender in the league yet. We told him that if he’s going to be the best then he needs to become a lock-down guy that can take a guy out. He hasn’t done it to a level that maybe we had hoped, but I do think that there isn’t a better one-on-one defender in our league. A lot of that is the pride he takes in knowing that he is this team’s best defender.”

On how eager the team is to get the postseason tournaments underway:
“I think they’re eager. I haven’t talked to them since the K-State game since we took yesterday off, but they’ll be eager. Every team in our league will be excited to play. We better be eager or else we’ll get beat the first game. We could go try really hard and still come up empty. There isn’t a big discrepancy in talent level. This will be a great test for us to see just how mature we are.”