Men's Basketball Coach Bill Self Press Conference Quotes

March 13, 2007


Kansas Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self

On the team returning to Chicago and any distractions it might pose and Julian Wright and Sherron Collins’ play since the DePaul game:
“The first time you go back home and play when you are outside the area, there are a lot of distractions that you deal with, whether it be tickets, seeing people, people calling wanting tickets or people disappointed because you can’t get them tickets. That is going to happen this week. Sherron Collins and Julian Wright won’t be able to get tickets for everybody, so there will probably be people mad at them for that. They have to do a good job of understanding that they can’t please everybody and that this is a business trip. I think they’ll do better, in that going up there earlier in the season to play DePaul in early December was good for them in that regard. Those guys are pulled in several different directions that the coaching staff has no control over.”

“Sherron’s lost some weight since then and he is playing with a lot more confidence. I think Julian is also playing at a higher level.”

On how much he plans to watch the play-in game Tuesday night:
“I will probably watch the game and not scout the game. Some coaches will scout the game as they watch it. This way, I can get a feel for both teams and by tomorrow morning, I will have a great feel for both teams. We already have a good feel for both of them, but we’ll know a lot more after tonight and after three or four hours of studying them. We’ll have a really good feel before we practice tomorrow.”

On whether anyone from KU will be attending the game to scout:
“It’s against the rules. You can only scout during the tournament if the game is at the same site. Since this is the tournament but not the same site as we’ll be playing them, we can’t scout. You also can’t go watch other teams play in different places. They eliminated that rule about 10 years ago.”

On the difference between this year’s and last year’s team heading into the NCAA Tournament:
“We are more seasoned. I think that’s the biggest thing, that we are older. Last year’s team was really a perfect scenario for a young team. Get humbled early, get everybody grounded, nobody is quite as spoiled, toughen up because we weren’t that tough early and then play under the radar all year long. You don’t have that scenario that often, where you have very good players and you are under the radar. The only time we were really on the radar last season is after we won the Big 12 Tournament. I remember Danny Manning saying on that Friday morning that we didn’t have to worry about these guys being tight. Then before the game, there was a little different feel in the locker room than there was earlier in the day.”

“This year, the fact that we started out with expectations, lost early which humbled and toughened us up, we played games with high stakes and national implications, which we didn’t last year. I think through that maturation process we should be better to handle the attention that the NCAA gets.”

On last year serving as motivation for the team:
“How could it not be a little bit of motivation, but last year’s team is a different team. Playing in the NCAA Tournament is motivation enough. They’ll get asked enough and get upset talking about it.”

On whether all the No. 1 seeds should face a team from a play-in game:
“I would say probably not. I know that the two schools that are playing are disappointed to be playing in the play-in game, so why would you put eight in the same scenario. If you did that, you’d be adding three more teams to the tournament. If you’re going to expand it, then do it, but not at the expense of teams that have busted their tail getting there.”

On whether the team wants to atone for their last performance in Chicago:
“We haven’t practiced since the selection came out so I haven’t talked to them about that. I would say Sherron Collins and Julian Wright probably, more so than anyone, want a different result than when we went up there to play DePaul. From that standpoint, maybe the DePaul loss will be beneficial for us.”

On whether he has seen anything that makes him think the team is tight before games:
“I think we get nervous a lot. I don’t think nervousness equates to tightness, but I think if you’re human you get a little anxious and nervous from time to time. You can’t tell me that we weren’t a little anxious and nervous when we were down 32-10 against Texas in the Big 12 Tournament or at our final game in Allen Fieldhouse. I don’t think that is all bad though. I think that nervous excitement can also sometimes create an edge for you.”

On the condition of Darrell Arthur and Sasha Kaun:
“Hopefully Darrell can practice. If he can’t today, then definitely tomorrow. Sasha will not do contact today and hopefully limited contact tomorrow. They both should be fine. Sasha is very sore and swollen. That was a lot harder fall than I thought it was. Darrell got kneed in that bone pretty good. They are both sore, but it shouldn’t affect their preparation. It might affect their repetitions with contact, but shouldn’t affect our preparation.”

On how he thinks the team will approach this weekend:
“We basically tell them that they way that we have prepared and focused has worked and that we can’t get out of that routine. They have to be aware of the distractions that exist. You can’t be everything to everybody. You can’t return every phone call. You can’t worry about tickets or the media. You have to keep the same routine that creates better playing. If we do that, we’ll perform better.”

“There are other factors out there as well. Guys have to play for Kansas. There will be agents and runners that will tell them to do this or that and tell them this is their moment to shine. I don’t buy in to any of that stuff and our players don’t either. It’s still one thing to not buy in to it, but I also told our guys that they aren’t so smart that they think they can handle what the coaches are saying because it is good for the team, but that they can also handle the other things because they are good for me. We all have to buy into the fact that this all good for everyone. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

On what he thinks about Florida A&M and Niagara:
“Both teams are very good. Coach Mike Gillespie Sr. at Florida A&M does a fine job with his kids. They are very athletic and get up and down the court well. Niagara scores the ball as well anyone we’ve played. Aside from Texas, they are probably averaging more points than anyone we’ve played this year. All their big guys shoot three-pointers, which is a bit different and unorthodox. Their leading scorer (Charron Fisher) is a three man that is a pit bull, plus they have five guys who score in double-figures.”

On whether the team will watch the game together Tuesday night:
“They’ll watch it unless they have study hall or other academic responsibilities. They’ll find a way to watch it. This is the time of the year when it is hard to get a player participating in the tournament away from the television. Sometimes they can watch too many games.”

On his happiness in the team’s ability to overcome large deficits and play in big games:
“I don’t think any coach is ever happy with performance over the course of the time. There are always droughts or bad moments. I am very pleased right now with how we have responded in certain situations. We’re very good defensively, but we can be better. From a toughness standpoint, we have to rebound the ball better. We did not rebound the ball well in Oklahoma City last week. That is a sign of toughness. We were fourth in the country in rebounding margin and in Oklahoma City, we were only plus-one. We have to steal some possessions. From a mental standpoint, I am very proud of our guys. For a bunch of young guys, they have done a really fine job.”

On the team’s problems with rebounding:
“Boxing-out has been our problem all year long. We don’t block-out people in a textbook manner. I also think a lot of it is mindset. I think a lot of guys wait for the ball to come to them instead of attacking it with two hands. We had several opportunities where we could have got balls where the more aggressive player got it instead. We can’t allow that to happen. The one guy that has emerged and is our best rebounder-per-minute is Darnell Jackson. Darnell goes after the ball like a man. We need to get Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright and Sasha Kaun all doing that as well. Our guards have also done a good job of tracking down long rebounds all year and we need to continue to do that.”

On his feelings heading into the weekend:
“I feel pretty good. I am going to sleep fine, though Thursday night I might not sleep much. There is no question that the last two years have made me not so much nervous as mad. Sometimes I think that has created some extra incentive and fight which will be a positive situation and hopefully our team sees that in practice.”

On how he feels about the team heading into the tournament:
“I think this team has the highest ceiling of any team I have coached. I think that we are still young and we make young mistakes, but we do have a high ceiling. I love this team. I really like how it doesn’t matter who it is that has the big game. I like that Sherron can go scoreless last week and get 20 points on the big stage. I like that Brandon can miss shots and come back and make them I like that Mario can score nine points one game and still want the shot to force the game into overtime. Our go-to-guy changes, but I like the balance. They seem to really like each other too. We are, if healthy, equipped to play very well and our depth situation has been very important to us this year.”

On whether returning to Illinois will pose any distractions for him:
“I doubt it. Believe it or not, there were some people who were quite upset with me when I left Illinois. There won’t be a lot of people calling for tickets. Plus, Illinois is playing in Columbus, Ohio.”

On getting guys focused with a short preparation week:
“This year, we have played Wednesday, Saturday and then again on Big Monday. That has taken place with us four times and we were pretty successful with that. When people wonder if you’re fresh, it’s not from practice. It is whether you have a fresh mind and are paying attention to scouting reports so that you digest everything. I don’t think that we’re operating at a disadvantage here. I think we’re operating just like everyone else is. We played Sunday night and we’re going to take off Monday no matter what. We needed to get away from ball for a day anyways.”

On how much he recruited in Chicago before coaching at Illinois:
“Before I was at Illinois, I had never really recruited Illinois hard. It is such a great basketball recruiting area. There are some tough, hard-nosed kids that really love basketball in that area. We had a lot of success when I was at Illinois and have been pretty fortunate to get some good guys out of there recently. Chicago will always be a basketball hotbed. If I hadn’t been at Illinois, it would have been hard to get those guys to come down here. It all comes back to contacts. That’s the way it is always is in recruiting. If you recruit someone outside your area, it’s likely that you have a connection in the area. Certainly, Kurtis Townsend has played a large role in that as well, recruiting in Michigan also.”

On whether he tries to get the team to not play loose, up-and-down basketball:
“I don’t do that because that is what they like to do. That is what we’d like to do. As a coach, I think it easier to slow teams down than speed teams up. The teams we have played recently have done a good job of trying to keep us out of the open court. Our strategy is to play how we want to play, but we can also play a slower, grind-it-out game. It might not be as artistic, but I think defensively we’ve become good enough to make people miss on the first shot and if we rebound the ball, our defense has been very good. Playing grind-it-out games is good because those are the types of games you’ll play in the tournament eventually if you are fortunate enough to continue deep.”

Kansas Player Quotes:
Junior Guard Russell Robinson
On whether he’ll be watching Tuesday night’s play-in game:
“I am pretty sure everyone is going to take some time out to watch the game. I look forward to preparing for that game and doing everything I can to help us win. I will watch it as a player. The coaches do a great job of scouting and preparing us for the game, so I usually just watch the game as if I was playing against them.”

On being a No. 1 seed:
“There is some pressure, but being a No. 1 seed defintely gives us the best opportunity to get through the tournament. There are some good teams in our bracket and we need to take it one game at a time in our preparation.”

Sophomore forward Julian Wright
On returning to Chicago:

“It should be fun, but only at certain times. Obviously I’ll get to see some people, but going there and doing what needs to be accomplished is the main goal. I think playing at DePaul earlier was a big help. We haven’t gotten this far to let distractions get the best of us.”

Freshman forward Darrell Arthur
On playing in his first NCAA Tournament:
“I will probably be a littler nervous. Once those butterflies leave then I’ll be good, just like the first game of the season. I played in some big games this year and I know what the feeling is like, so hopefully I can get those butterflies out of the way early.”