No. 2-Seeded Jayhawks to Play Detroit Titans in Second Round of NCAA Tournament

March 11, 2012

  • Coach Self
  • Kansas Players

2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball
Head Coach Bill Self let out a smile after hearing his team’s announcement into the NCAA Tournament.

Complete 2012 Bracket

NCAA Midwest Regional (St. Louis)
Greensboro, N.C.
1 North Carolina March 16
16 Lamar/Vermont
8 Creighton
9 Alabama
Nashville, Tenn.
5 Temple March 16
12 California/South Florida
4 Michigan
13 Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
6 San Diego State March 16
11 North Carolina State
3 Georgetown
14 Belmont
Omaha, Neb.
7 Saint Mary’s March 16
10 Purdue
15 Detroit

Lawrence, Kan. – Kansas has been named a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as was announced by the tournament selection committee Sunday afternoon. Bill Self’s squad will take on the No. 15-seeded Detroit from the Horizon League on Friday, March 16, at approximately 8:57 p.m. (Central) at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. The game will be televised on truTV. Kansas will have open practice in the venue on Thursday, March 15, from 5:10-5:50 p.m.

The Jayhawks are making their 41st NCAA Tournament appearance, as well as their 23rd-consecutive trip to the tournament and are a number two seed for the fifth time since seeding began in 1979. The Jayhawks were a two seed in 1990, ’93, ’96, ’03 and this season.

KU, which is ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches polls, has won eight-straight Big 12 regular season championships dating back to 2005 under head Coach Bill Self. This season, KU enters the postseason tournament boasting a 27-6 regular season record and a 16-2 clip in Big 12 conference play. Kansas has won nine of its last 10 games.

The eight-time defending Big 12 regular season champions are lead by 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year junior Thomas Robinson, who is averaging 17.9 points per game to go along with his 11.8 rebounds. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, first team All-Big 12 selection, gives KU 17.3 points per game and leads the team in assists with 4.8 per game. The Big 12’s defensive player of the year, sophomore center Jeff Withey, gives KU a presence under the basket with a conference-leading 3.3 block per game and adds 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Junior guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford round out the KU starters with Johnson tallying 9.6 points per game and adding 3.8 assists per game, while Releford posts 8.5 points per game.

Detroit posted a 22-13 overall record and a 11-7 mark in Horizon League play. The Titans defeated Valporaiso 70-50 in the conference championship game on Tuesday to punch the team’s automatic ticket to the NCAA tournament. Detroit will be making its sixth overall appearance in the NCAA Men’s Tournament and first since 1999.

DU is lead by sophomore guard Ray McCallum who averages 15.6 points per game and 4.5 rebounds as well as senior guard Simon Chase who boasts a 13.5 point per game average and 4.5 boards. Also averaging double digits for the Titans is junior Eli Holman with his 10.9 points as well as his team-leading 6.8 rebound per game average.

Kansas and Detroit have met three times prior to Friday’s matchup. KU holds a perfect 3-0 record all-time against the Titans with the most recent meeting a 63-43 KU victory in Lawrence on Dec. 28, 2006.

If the Jayhawks beat the Titans, they will take on the winner of the No. 7 St. Mary’s vs. No. 10 Purdue game on Sunday. Kansas has never played St. Mary’s, while the Jayhawks hold a 2-2 series tie with Purdue.

Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Notes
–2012 is Kansas’ 41st NCAA Tournament appearance.
–Kansas’ 23-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, from 1990-2012, is the nation’s longest active list and ranks second-best all time. North Carolina had 27 straight from 1975-2001.
–Kansas is making its second NCAA Tournament trip to Omaha and its first since the 2008 sub-regionals. The Jayhawks are 2-0 in NCAA Tournament games played in Omaha. KU’s two victories came during its 2008 national championship run.
–Under head coach Bill Self, Kansas is 18-7 (72.0 percent) in the NCAA Tournament, with five Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights, one Final Four and one NCAA National Championship.
–In the last nine NCAA Tournaments, Kansas has a 27-9 (75.0 percent) record with one NCAA National Championship (2008), three Final Fours (2002-03-08) and six Elite Eight (2002-03-04-07-08-11) appearances.

Selection Sunday Press Conference
March 11, 2012

Head coach Bill Self
On if he likes the draw KU received:
“I don’t know if you ever say you like it or you don’t like it because it never plays out the way I envisioned it. I learned that because I used to say, `I like this or I don’t like that’. I don’t think Detroit is an easy first round game. When you think of a 2 and 15-seed game in the past, you certainly don’t see Detroit being on that line. I’ve only seen them play a couple times, but I know their coach (Ray McCallum) well and of course, we recruited their best player (Ray McCallum, Jr.). We’re excited to be where we’re at and I don’t know if there is any advantage at all of being close, but I think from a fan perspective Omaha and the potential of being in St. Louis would be good for everybody.”

On if he likes the toughness of his team:
“I think there are times when we play really, really tough and I think there are times when we don’t. I thought in Kansas City, we did not. I didn’t think we guarded the two days we were over there. We’re certainly going to have to tighten a few things up in that area because I think when we really do guard and rebound our team takes a whole different dimension than when we don’t. I think we have the potential to be a very tough team and we just have to be very tough in every phase going forward instead of picking and choosing like we have been doing the last couple weeks.”

On the Big 12 not getting a number one seed in the tournament:
“You could make that case. Somebody from the Big 12 deserved a one seed, but I would say this, for us to get a one seed or Missouri to get a one seed you have to take somebody off the one-line. Who do you take off? To be honest with you, I think that would be a hard call. We’ve been a one seed four of the last five years and of course everybody likes to be a one seed, but after the initial question – how does it feel to be a one seed? – it’s totally irrelevant from that point going forward. If we wanted to guarantee ourselves being a one seed, we would have played better in Kansas City.”

On if this is the most tested team he has had, as far as teams in the tournament that KU has faced this year:
“We played a pretty hard schedule. One thing about our schedule is that we played number two, three, five and we played Georgetown and I think Duke was in the top five when we played them. It was a monster schedule for us. I think that was very good for us in Big 12 play because I don’t think we go 16-2 if we hadn’t lost some games to a really tough schedule in the non-conference.”

On how much of an advantage it is having players who have been through the tournament before:
“I think the advantage is that there is no safety net for Tyshawn (Taylor) or Conner (Teahan). The next loss is the last game and that’s the way it is for all seniors across America in the tournament. I think there is a point of urgency or a purpose that guys will play with because nobody ever wants it to end. Of course, you can’t go into a tournament thinking I don’t want it to end. You go into it thinking, `we’re going to advance’. When you say, `I don’t want it to end’, that’s when it puts a negative connotation on it, that losing is part of the equation. Our talk will be, `hey, looking forward to playing again and can’t wait to get to the game’. I do think with seniors the finality of it really motivates a lot of teams. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Sometimes young kids don’t know they don’t know, so I don’t know if there is an advantage or not.”

On his relationship with Detroit’s head coach Ray McCallum:
“Ray’s been around a long time and of course he was the head coach at Houston. He was a heck of a player himself. (Assistant coach) Kurtis (Townsend) knows Ray better than me, but he’s a really nice man and a good coach. He was able to convince the mother of his best player (McCallum, Jr.) that Detroit would be the best place for him to go. I got to know Ray (McCallum, Jr.) and his mother because we recruited Junior. He’s a terrific player and a terrific guard. I’m happy for the success he’s had there. This is a league that just went to the National Championship the last two years, so it’s a very competitive league.”

On if he has a feeling of how well his team will do in the NCAA Tournament:
“I don’t know how well we’re going to do, literally in pregame warm-ups or when we talk to them right before we go out on the floor. I think that’s one thing you realize in coaching over time, pregame shoot-around, whether you make shots or you miss them, whether you are focused or not. Those can have no bearing on whether you play well that night. Sometimes it does, but it’s hard to predict. I do like our guys’ attitudes and I do think that even though I was very displeased with how we guarded and our attention to detail against Baylor, I think that could be a good thing for us. I think we’re okay if we learn from it. To me with this team, when we haven’t performed well and we’ve lost, we’ve kind of rallied around that and hopefully we’ll do the same thing and correct the things that are correctable.”

On if he’s happy six teams from the Big 12 got in the tournament:
“Oh yeah. I was excited when Texas got in and even our players clapped when Texas got in. I thought that was great and they deserved to be in. You could make a real strong case that Missouri’s record and their performance throughout the course of the year would warrant them a one seed. You could make a strong case that Baylor, if you take away three or four performances, they’ve been in the top 10 all year long and could possibly have been a two. When you have six teams out of 10 in your league get in and you have a two, two and three (seeds), the committee showed us some respect. I don’t think anybody in our league would be displeased with that.”

On all three Division I schools in Kansas making the tournament:
“It’s a great state for basketball. I’m happy for K-State and Frank (Martin). I think they are very deserving and if I’m not mistaken an eight seed and Wichita State a five. Wichita State is very deserving as well. I’ve heard people say that Wichita State had a path to play the number one seed and they may very well. They have a very good ball club.”

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
On being a two seed:
“I think it is all right. I don’t think it is what we played the whole season for, but it is not bad. I’ve been saying for awhile that once you get to the tournament, the seeding goes away, it is more about matchups. We are cool with a number two seed.”

On if he likes the draw in Kansas’ region:
“I think it is all about matchups. If you look down at our bracket, I think we match up with the teams really well. We have to take care of business – the teams that we are competing against are good teams, and they can beat us if we don’t play well. We have to be prepared and focused and ready to play.”

On what he knows about Detroit guard Ray McCallum:
“He is a good guard, I have been hearing a lot about him these last few years. He is tough, and I’m sure he is going to be aggressive since the team runs through him. They have five guys that average double figures and they have guys who can score from every position. Throughout the week we will learn more about their offense and what they run. We don’t know too much about them (now), but I’m sure we’ll be well prepared by Friday.”

On if it is easier to game plan since Ray McCallum is the focal point of Detroit:
“He is their main focus right now since he is the guy everybody knows about. I’m sure they have guys that can do some things if Ray doesn’t play as well. I’m sure he hasn’t played terrific in every game that they have won this season. They are well coached, and they will be ready and excited to play.”

On why the Kansas team responds so well to losses:
“I think the games that we lost are games that we didn’t play so well ourselves and we helped teams beat us. Earlier in the season, Kentucky beat us and Davidson caught us on one of those days where we didn’t play well. Once we came back from the losses, watched tape and had a couple days of practice, I think we learned from our mistakes. All those mistakes are correctable, and we understand that. We understand what things we do that can get us beaten at our best.”

On if this year has a different feel:
“I think so; I think the last couple of years when we were a number one seed, we felt like we had to win it. I feel the same way this year, but I don’t feel like it is on us as much, I don’t think anybody is going to call us failures or say that we let them down or we choked or whatever it might be. We are always going to put pressure on ourselves, and if we put the pressure on ourselves to be the best that we can be, then we have a pretty good chance of winning. That pressure is always going to be on us from our coaching staff, and as teammates we are always going to push each other to be better. We are going to enjoy it to the fullest and enjoy the matchups that we have and where we are playing.”

On the teams’ matchups:
“I think any matchup can be a bad matchup for us if we aren’t rebounding the ball or we aren’t tuned in defensively. We know any team can beat us if we aren’t a good defensive team. A good matchup for us would be any team who plays us when we are playing well. Like I said, I think if we prepare like we want to win and like we are an underdog almost, I think it is going to be hard to beat us.”

Senior Guard Conner Teahan
On if he is superstitious about starting tournament play in Omaha:
“Not really, because we also went back to San Antonio last year and everybody had a good feeling about that and you saw how that turned out. I kind of try to just leave it up to us taking care of business ourselves, really not letting it be put into hands of superstition at all.”

On how this year feels in comparison to his first three years:
“For me personally, it’s very exciting but to tell you the truth. I’m kind of excited to be a two seed also just because the one seed didn’t go over to well last two years and I think that maybe there was a little bit more extra pressure. Like Tyshawn said, I’m excited about the two seed and our matchups; it’s looking like it’s pretty good, but we have to go out there and win and take care of business one game at a time. I think we’re looking forward to doing that.”

On whether or not he put additional pressure on himself after watching Brady Heslip’s Big 12 Championship performance:
“I’m just going to treat every game as the same. Obviously, (I will) prepare for it harder than other games just because it’s one and done, but at the same time I’m not going to change my role because my role has been the same all year, and we’ve been a successful team all year. So if I get that opportunity I’d be glad to hopefully put some daggers in some people but at the same time it’s going to be what is best for our team.”

On the performance of the three teams in the state of Kansas this season:
“I think that just talks about the universities in Kansas and the coaches and players. I think it’s been a great year for not only us, but K-State and Wichita State, obviously; it is really good to see the state of Kansas doing so well. I think all Kansas people should be proud of that.”