Self, Jayhawks Eye Big 12 Tournament

March 9, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self and select players met with the media Monday afternoon in Hadl Auditorium to talk about the upcoming Big 12 Tournament this week in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Men’s Basketball Press Conference Quotes
March 9, 2009

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

On what the purpose of the conference tournament is to him:
“Any time you play, you play to win. If you’re going to go ahead and do it, you might as well try to win. That obviously means something. For us personally, we’re going down there to try to have a successful weekend, get better and prepare for the NCAA Tournament.”

On how much the Big 12 has improved over the course of the season compared to other conferences:
“I’ll be honest with you, going into the season I thought our league was going to be down compared to past years, and midway through the non-conference schedule I thought our league was not as strong. Then, by the conference season, I thought our league was getting a little bit better. And after we got into conference play, there’s no question our league is good. No question.”

On Marcus Morris becoming a more reliable offensive player:
“He’s become more reliable, absolutely. I think he’s more aggressive, I think he’s driving the ball. He’s facing and driving. To me, that’s the hardest thing that he does to guard. He’s not just relying on 15-foot shots, he’s getting to the basket a lot better.”

On Tyshawn Taylor getting the ball to the rim:
“He is good at it. I’ll tell you something else he’s really good at. He makes more shots off one foot than just about anybody I’ve had. He’s a guy that’s maturing, and he’s going to be a fabulous player in time. He’s also doing a better job, for the most part, of making better decisions and taking care of the basketball. He’s become a pretty reliable double-figure scorer for us, even though he’s had his droughts. And that’s so important. Last year, we didn’t ever talk about that because he had seven guys that could go get you 20 any night. And usually one or two of them did.”

On Kansas’ potential second-round opponents:
“I think Baylor can beat anybody. Their record isn’t what they envisioned before the year, but they have good enough scorers that they can beat anybody. This is their NCAA Tournament, I’m sure they’re putting all their eggs in this basket. They will be juiced and ready to play. They are really, really talented. And I say this about Nebraska all the time, but who does a better job of coaching his guys than Doc (Sadler)? They gave us fits up there, and we were fortunate to win. Down here, they gave us everything we wanted and we kind of pulled away there at the end. So it will be a tough game either way.”

On what ways Nebraska is better on the court than on paper:
“They’re not an as impressive-looking airport team, when you’re walking through the airport, because they don’t have standing height. But they play so hard and they’re good defensively. They force you to play different than the way you want to play because it’s hard for a true five-man or a true four-man to guard a guard. And they put you in that position a lot.”

On the importance of Brady Morningstar:
“I would say that Brady has become the glue, stabilizer guy. He had a rough last couple of weeks, a rough three games going into the Texas game, but he was fabulous against Texas. He’s our best perimeter defender, hands down. He has to understand that’s who he is, and then he’ll make more shots.”

On how Kansas needs to utilize Mario Little in the postseason:
“I would say take advantage of his quickness. The other day, he put the ball on the floor and actually tried to go around people. He tried to make a play, as opposed to settling for a one-bounce pull-up. He’s a good mid-range shooter, but I think sometimes he does the hardest thing that you can gain confidence from as opposed to doing what he does best. We just have to get him where he’s more aggressive driving the ball.”

Kansas sophomore center Cole Aldrich

On his leg injuries:
“I sprained my ankle the other day in the (Texas) Tech game. Just a regular sprained ankle, it’s nothing big. We’ve got a lot of treatment on it. It’s feeling really good right now compared to what it was when I sprained it. (The other foot) is just a little stress reaction. It’s a small, little lingering thing. It’s nothing big at all. I just wear the boot for precautionary reasons, to keep the stress off of it and to make sure my ankle is immobilized.”

On Dexter Pittman:
“Big is a small word for him because he’s so strong. He’s like a Shaq-type. He’s just that good. He has huge hands and a real good touch with his big hands. He has good feet. He has that huge body that can really bang into you and push you around. I had fun. I struggled at times going against him because he really wears you out. That’s one thing he can do: just lay on you for 40 minutes. After the game on Saturday, I was dead tired. One thing that I tried to do was get out in transition and run a little more to make sure that I could use my speed to try and wear him (Pittman) out a little bit. They had so many big bodies. It’s tough. You wear Pittman out and (Clint) Chapman comes back and you’ve got 6-10 laying on you there. When Chapman goes out, you’ve got (Connor) Atchley coming back and another 6-10 laying on you. It’s just kind of like one of the never ending processes of another big guy laying in on you.”

On recovering from Saturday’s game:
“(I got) a lot of rest. We have a big schedule coming up here in the next few days and we’re going to need all the rest we can get.”

On being named All-Big 12:
“I think it’s great. It’s really exciting. I know preseason, no one really thought anything of me or the other guys on the team. Sherron (Collins) was kind of the guy in the limelight. It’s just my hard work over the last two years paying off.”

Kansas junior guard Sherron Collins

On the team’s motivation going into the Big 12 Tournament:
“The last two years the motivation was that we were supposed to win it, we were the favorite and that’s what favorites are supposed to do. This year our motivation is that no one expects us to win. We probably won’t be the favorite and we just won the conference.”

On if there is any pressure after winning three straight Big 12 Tournaments:
“I think there is pressure just playing at Kansas, but there is always pressure trying to repeat and go back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I don’t think that if we lose it will be a missed accomplishment though.”

On Nebraska and Baylor:
“Nebraska is a tough, scrappy team. They present matchup problems and are going to get under you and give you their best shot. Baylor is talented and they can play with anybody in the conference. They are a very capable team.”

On if the team will prepare any differently:
“I think we will prepare for both teams and go over a little bit there (Oklahoma City) and a little bit here on both teams. I think we remember them as a team. As players, you have to remember the scouting report. I don’t think it will be a problem preparing.”