Self, KU Talk Texas and Senior Day

March 6, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self and select players met with the media Friday afternoon in Hadl Auditorium to discuss Saturday’s senior day and season finale against Texas.

Men’s Basketball Press Conference Quotes

March 6, 2009

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

On Wednesday’s loss to Texas Tech:

“We’ve left that one alone for a while. I thought we played very, very poor. Our energy level wasn’t any good. Even if it was good, that particular night after watching the tape, I think that would have been a tough place for us to win because Texas Tech played so well. They shot lights out. So it was definitely a reminder to us that our margin for error isn’t quite as great as maybe what we had thought. We better bring it each and every night.”

On if A.J. Abrams is as hard to guard and follow as Alan Voskuil:

“I think he’s harder. No disrespect to Voskuil, but I think he’s harder because he’s faster. But I think Voskuil is really, really smart in how he uses his screens, and A.J. does such a great job of creating separation because of his speed. They’re both hard to guard, especially if you let a guy get comfortable like we did Voskuil the other night. But I think A.J. is a more difficult guard because of his raw speed, and he has a very quick release.”

On clinching the No. 1 seed with a loss Wednesday:

“I could care less about the No. 1 seed. That, to me, isn’t anything. Just because you’re a No. 1 seed, if you tied for it, doesn’t mean you had a better year than somebody that’s a No. 2 seed. I do care about winning the league a lot. More than likely, we have to win this game (against Texas) to win it outright. It will be really cool to have a chance to clinch it at home with (tied for) the best league record we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

On if it will mean more to the team to win the Big 12 outright:

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to share, and they wouldn’t want to share. Nobody likes to share. We’re selfish, and everybody else is too.”

On what else stands out about Texas:

“I think the biggest thing, to me, is the big bodies they throw at you, the numbers of big bodies and the foul problems that they don’t have to deal with because they have big bodies. Even though our rebound numbers are pretty good over the course of the year, I think Texas is a great rebounding team. You have to get to Abrams obviously, and (Connor) Atchley and (Damion) James have proven that they can make perimeter shots. That makes them very difficult to guard. I think they are really sound defensively. They’re a better defensive team than what they’ve had. Maybe even better than last year. I don’t know if Rick (Barnes) would agree with that, but I see that. They’re very athletic. (Dogus) Balbay is an athlete, and (Justin) Mason is an athlete. Varez Ward is coming on; he’s an athlete. A.J. is quick as a cat. Damion (James) is as good an athlete as we have in our league, probably. They have some really athletic guys.”

On his team’s perimeter defense as a whole:

“I’d say over the course of the whole year, our perimeter defense has been good. But I would say over the course of the last few games, it hasn’t been nearly as good. I do think that we’re a good defensive team, but I never said I thought we were a great defensive team. I think we have the potential to be very good defensively, but when we’ve been our best, we’ve really been turned up, and we weren’t turned up at all the other night.”

On if what’s at stake makes the Texas game such a big game year in and year out:

“Absolutely. I think when there’s a lot at stake, teams do turn it up. I think Texas still has a lot to play for. They’re in the tournament, without question, but they’re playing for a good seed. We’ve had some remarkable games with Texas over the years, and I’m sure this one will play out to be another great game. You have two good teams playing each other when the stakes count. Rick will have his guys fired up. Usually when they come in here he has them fired up and playing well, as evidenced by when we had that really good team a couple years ago and they came in here and had us down 16 or 17 in the first half. So he’ll have them ready to go.”

On if Texas is a better team now than when they struggled a few weeks back:

“I would say they’re playing pretty good. I thought the OU win was impressive. They beat Baylor the other night by a pretty good margin. I think they’re playing well. Our league is weird though. All the teams are capable of beating everybody. There are a lot of good teams in this league, capable of beating each other. I think Texas is playing well, and I think we’re playing well. But when you play each other, somebody has to lose.”

On Seniors Brennan Bechard and Matt Kleinmann:

“Matt will be a trivia question answer for a long time, unless with Brady (Morningstar) we win the next two Big 12 titles. Because then Brady would get five as well. That’s not going to happen very often over time, to have a team win five in a row and have somebody redshirt during that time.”

“Matt is a fabulous young man. He’s going to be a great success story, as will Brennan. They have both put their handprint on our program in ways that people don’t know unless they’re behind the scenes. I’m really proud of both of them. They’ve both matured, and have both been a real treat to be around daily.”

Kansas Player Quotes

March 6, 2009

Senior Brennan Bechard

On his senior day speech:

“It will be fine. It won’t be too long. A couple of minutes and I’m out of there.”

On his plans after graduation:

“I don’t know if I want to do the whole grad school thing or just go try to find a job. It’s still up in the air.”

On a memorable moment from his time at KU:

“Every Texas game. We’re playing Texas tomorrow and I’m sure it’ll be a great game. A couple Texas games in the past have been great games and great memories.”

Senior Matt Kleinmann

On feeling old:

“We were actually just talking in the locker room about how soon after Drew Gooden left that I was here. I was like, ‘Man, was I really here that soon?’. It’s been awhile, so I’m kind of old now.”

On senior day tomorrow:

“I don’t think it’s going to hit me until I’m up there starting to talk in the microphone and thinking about all those things I want to say to everybody. That’s going to be when it sinks in that this is the last chance I have to suit up here at the Fieldhouse and run out of the tunnel. It’s going to hit me pretty hard, I’m sure. Hopefully I don’t need any Kleenex out there.”

On starting tomorrow:

“Knowing my reputation and Brennan’s reputation, hopefully we don’t get out there and foul within 10 seconds. Hopefully we get to play more than that in the game. We’re excited. Texas is a good team, so we’ll prepare for them just like any other game.”

Junior Sherron Collins

On Texas and Kansas bringing out the best in each other:

“We’re just competing. I think over the past couple years this has been made a rivalry, so it’s going to be tough game. It’s going to be fun. They’re going to come in and be scrappy and tough.”

On whether this game feels like a rivalry game:

“It does. Any time we play them it’s going to feel like a rivalry because it’s going to be a good game. It’s going to bring out the best in both teams.”

On who will match up with Texas’ A.J. Abrams:

“All of our perimeter guys could stick to him. I don’t know who Coach is going to put on him yet. I think he’s probably going to put Brady (Morningstar) on him to start off, just to see what he can do. Brady’s a little longer. I think we can match up with him though.”

On trying to win the title outright:

“We’re not trying to share the title, especially not with Mizzou. It feels better to win it outright than share it.”

Sophomore Guard Brady Morningstar

On if the team has anything to play for on Saturday:

“We don’t want to share the championship with anybody. It’s kind of like in football when they say there are two national champions. There should only be an outright championship and not shared, especially with three teams. We kind of let it slip away at Texas Tech, we had a chance to do it then, but caught a little bit of a break when Missouri beat Oklahoma. Now we get another chance to redeem ourselves.”

On how much better the team is when he and Tyrel Reed are hitting shots:

“We’re a lot better when we’re hitting shots. When Cole (Aldrich) and Sherron (Collins) are hitting shots we’re a lot better. If all four of us are off and a couple of other guys are off, it’s tough for us to go out there and win. If Tyrel and I are hitting shots it’s a lot easier to win. You’re not going to hit shots every night and that’s when we have to step up on the other end and play defense.”

On the possibility of guarding Texas’ A.J. Abrams:

“I hope I get to guard him. I can try to redeem myself a little bit and get back to how I used to play.”