Kansas Basketball Saturday Press Conference Quotes

March 19, 2011

Open Locker Room Video: Robinson | Selby

Kansas basketball met with the media Saturday to talk about its game against Illinois in the NCAA Tournament Sunday. The Jayhawks will tipoff Sunday at approximatley 7:40 p.m. in a game televised on TNT. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 in San Antonio, Texas Friday. Follow the Jayhawks throughout the tournament on twitter kuathletics and kugameday for photos and videos.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our student-athletes.

Q. Tyshawn, could you talk about your development in the last few games and how you’re feeling, what you’re bringing to the court right now?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I’m feeling good. I’m playing with a lot of confidence and just out there having fun. Just being aggressive and trying to put pressure on the defense and make plays for my teammates. That’s really it. I think trying to be a good defender. Once I do that, I think my team flows a little better and I play better.

Q. Would you comment on how the team changes when Tyshawn’s on top of his game?

Tyrel Reed: Yeah, Tyshawn brings a different dimension to this team. Obviously he’s one of the premier athletes in the country. He’s just really fast and quick, and he pushes the tempo for our team. When he’s out there focused, he plays great defense and does a good job for us. He just brings an element of athleticism that we don’t have, and we need him out there.

Q. Can you talk about defending Illinois, particularly Demetri McCamey? He is sort of the key to their whole offense, the way they run it through him?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: Demetri is a good player, man, he’s a great guard. One of the best in the country. It’s going to be tough defending him. He’s a big guard, he can score, he’s great at finding his teammates and getting them open shots. So we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us. We did our scouting report and prepared well. We know they run the motion.

So we’ll have to be locked in defensively and know that. And I think the other guys are going to have to know to help me a lot when he penetrates and kind of just be there to help me out a little bit.

It’s not like a game plan to stop him. We’ve just got to be locked in defensively and turn it up. When we turn it up defensively, we’re a good defensive team. So I think that’s really it.

Q. Has Coach Self talked about his time at Illinois to the players?

Tyrel Reed: No, not really. He never really talks to us about his time at Illinois. He’s told us stories about teams in the past, him and ORU and Tulsa and Illinois. So he’s told us stories about all of his teams. But he hasn’t put any extra emphasis about being at Illinois or anything like that. We know he coached there and this is a big game for him. And we just want to come out and play our best.

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: Yeah, he really hasn’t talked about Illinois too much as far as him coaching there. Like he said, he tells us stories of some of the good teams he had there and stories of some of the tough guys he’s had there. But not really talking about his time there. Just brings up some stories when things that are familiar happen with us.

Q. Has Coach’s style or approach to the tournament changed at all since last year’s early exit? Any change in the way things are going day-to-day for you guys?

Tyrel Reed: No, still handle things the same way. We prepare for teams the same way. We go through scouting reports. We do the same thing at the hotel. He hasn’t coached us any differently. I just think as a team we’re trying to be more focused and more loose and just enjoy the process. I don’t know that we really enjoyed it last year.

This is the culmination of a great year, and we want to take full advantage of it. Just want to go out and have fun.

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: Yeah, same thing Tyrel said. We prepare the same way. We do our scouting report. We hang out in the hotel. We chill the same ways. There is nothing different. I think like Tyrel said, last year was a little bit different. This year we want to embrace this more and have more fun with it and understand that this is something that every team doesn’t get to do. So this is the tournament. We’ve got to have fun in it and enjoy this time.

Q. To follow up on what you said about comparing this year to last year. Why do you think you didn’t embrace it last year? Did you feel pressure, or what was going on last year?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: Yeah, I think it was a little bit of pressure. We kind of felt like we were expected to win. We kind of felt like it was something that was just going to happen for us. I think that’s really it. We kind of looked past some teams and we were looking further into the tournament when we weren’t there yet. It’s just something that this year we realized we can’t do, because every team is capable, especially now. So I think that’s what is the biggest difference between last year and this year.

Tyrel Reed: Yeah, same thing Tyshawn said. Last year we were kind of No. 1 the whole season, and everyone had us picked as the favorite. I don’t know if that was more of a burden to us than a good thing. Yeah, we’re just not trying to hold on to anything this year. We don’t have anything to hold on to. We’re a No. 1 seed, which we’re happy with, but now you’re playing everyone, and everyone’s a good team from here on out.

We’ve just got to continue to stay focused and take it one game at a time.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement and then questions.

COACH SELF: Excited to play another day. After watching the tape last night, I didn’t think we played unbelievable, but I do think we played pretty well in the second half and kind of relaxed a little bit. Have an opportunity to play a team that in the first round of the tournament probably played as well as any team in the tournament in Illinois.

Q. A couple of your players were just in here and they talked about how last year they felt a little of the pressure of being a No. 1 seed, and this year they just decided to embrace it and have fun and just play with it. Do you notice a difference in them?

COACH SELF: Yeah, I don’t know how they expressed themselves, but last year was a little different because we were the No. 1 overall seed. We were ranked No. 1, I believe, all but two or three weeks the entire season.

So I think they carried that with them a little bit to the point where winning became a relief, and it was never a jubilation type thing.

I don’t know if that’s kind of natural or whatnot. But we’ve talked a lot about us making sure that this is the reward for their efforts all year long, and you have to enjoy it. Don’t look back and say, “What if? Why didn’t we do this and why didn’t we do that?” Let’s just enjoy it. It didn’t look like we were having that much fun the first half of last night. I thought we were playing a little tight, but I do think we have a pretty loose group.

Q. Any mixed emotions playing your former team?

COACH SELF: No, not really. I see a lot of familiar faces that have been really good to me when we were there. But the thing about it is I think it’s emotional for a coach when he plays a school when he still has players that he’s coached or recruited at the school.

If we had played Illinois, probably just like if Roy had played us or what not in that first or second or third year, then I think it would be a little bit different. But we’ve been gone. I mean, this is eight years. It’s totally different. It doesn’t take away from the fact that we had three really good years there and thoroughly enjoyed and loved our time there without question.

But it’s not the same. Even when we go back and play OklahomaState now, it’s not the same as it was the first time. As time passes, I think those things kind of go away. But it’s a big game.

Certainly the fact that we’re playing a school that I coached at, in my mind, isn’t motivation, but in my mind I’m probably a little bit more amped up and watched a little more tape or whatever the case would be, just like I’m sure they’re doing too.

Q. You said about being tight, what did you say to your team to loosen them up to get them to really play the way they’d normally play in the second half?

COACH SELF: Well, I can’t remember the exact terminology, but it was something to the term loosen up. I think that really hit home with them. I told them that the entire first half. You guys smile, enjoy this, have fun. And I felt like it was business the first half. Second half we kind of got out of it a little bit.

But I’m not sure that’s all bad either. There are going to be other times, sometimes on Sunday or whoever advances down the road, every team’s going to go through that in this tournament.

The big thing is how do you react to it and how do you play through it? I didn’t think we did a good job in the first half, so hopefully that will be a lesson for us to be prepared as we move forward. I think can you take anything and spin it into a positive down the road.

So that wasn’t bad what happened yesterday. It happened, but certainly I think we saw two ways to approach a situation. The second way was much better.

Q. They’ve got a couple of bigs that shoot from the perimeter quite a bit. Obviously you guys have that, and Texas is going to be facing that in the Arizona game with Derrick Williams. Just in general, when a team has bigs that step out, what kind of problems defensively does that tend to create?

COACH SELF: When you have to defend all five spots, it certainly puts a lot more pressure on you defensively. Illinois runs some things into their motion, but they’re a true motion team. The hardest teams to guard are teams that run motion that really know what they’re doing, and they know what they’re doing.

A lot of times, if you’re defending motion, you have to use one guy to clog it you up, and you can’t do that with Illinois, because all their guys can make shots to 17, 18, and beyond that.

So I think it’s a game which we have to be as alert defensively as we’ve been at any point in time this year.

Q. Would you talk a little about Demetri McCamey’s game? Does he remind you of anybody?

COACH SELF: Well, from a physical standpoint he kind of reminds me of Derrick. I don’t know how much you guys look at him, but he’s got to be 210, 220. He’s strong, he’s fast. Really, really can split a ball screen. He can shoot threes behind it. He’s got unbelievable range, and he makes the game really easy for others. It’s an amazing stat.

You get seven assists and you’re undefeated. He’s a big key to their team. I thought yesterday he controlled that game about as well and about as much as a point guard can control a game, and only have 17 points or whatever it was. I that you go he made the game so easy for everybody — thought he made the game easy for everybody else. He’s very unselfish. He can score, but he always looks for guys that are open, in my opinion. He’s really good, but physically he’s gifted because he’s strong and fast.

Q. So much of this is about the match-up, about how much trouble Coach Weber had adjusting when he got to Illinois with his players. But that seems to be a universal thing. When a new coach takes over a program, to introduce himself to a new team, that’s tough for anybody. I wanted to get you to just recollect how tough that was for you in those first few months at Kansas, introducing yourself to Wayne and Keith, and Aaron. And just how tough that is generally for a coach?

COACH SELF: Well, the perfect scenario is to take over a new job where they’ve got great players and nobody knows they’re any good. And they haven’t won and the previous coach was disliked. Okay? So I’m smart enough to take over for Roy Williams who everybody knew they had great players, won 80-something percent of his games and everybody adored. So that was not smart.

So in our first meeting I’m talking to our guys. They asked how we’re going to play, and I said we’re going to do this, this, and this, and it really works. The reply in their minds, obviously was we’ve won more than you ever have. How do you know it works as good as what we do. So I think that takes time. I really do think that takes time.

Our first year there, I loved those kids. They’re great kids. They didn’t really fight me, but I had to meet them halfway because they were so engrained in the way they’d done things there, and certain things I thought were more important and certain things Roy thought were more important than I did. That’s coaching. Everybody’s got their own philosophy. We ended up doing decent. We were 24-9 and went to the Elite 8 and finished second. Really that wasn’t a good year because they were coming off back-to-back Final Fours. So it’s not easy. It’s never easy.

There is a reason why jobs come open. Either the coach, unfortunately, didn’t do the job in the manner in which alumni and the president and everybody thinks they should, or he did it so well he was able to do something else by his own choosing. Either way it creates situations where there could be a little bit of unrest. But that was a long time ago. That was a long time ago, and that didn’t weigh heavily at all with me at all.

Q. It seems like it’s almost useless to ask underclassmen about next year and what they’re going to do, but there was kind of a wrinkle with the NBA lockout looming. I’m wondering if it’s going to take more counseling maybe than usual talking to underclassmen who are NBA prospects.

COACH SELF: I would think so. But trust me, they’re getting counseling, and it’s not always from the staff. They’re getting counseling from family members, from agents, from a lot of people that they trust or whatnot, that see it through their eyes. Coaches may see it through our eyes. And a lot of times I think there are people out there that feel like coaches are being selfish because they want you back for their own personal benefit.

But the lockout is an interesting twist because it doesn’t do a lot of good to get drafted real high if you’re not going to get paid. But the agent will say, “But you’ll get to your second contract quicker.”

So there’s going to be a give and take on everything, but I think the big thing is to have a good relationship with your players where you can be open and honest.

We’ve always had the philosophy and there’s only been once or twice where I thought kids didn’t make great decisions. But the majority of the time the kids that we’ve had have made great decisions. And when the time’s right, they’ve got to go. That’s the way I look at it. Hopefully they’re mature enough to know when the time is right and not put it in fast forward.

But I do think it’s an added twist that in the next month is going to be a big topic of conversation in all the camps.

Q. A lot of us are going to dredge up this story about Bruce and the funeral from eight years ago that he held for you. I’m just wondering — I know it was a long time ago — but what you thought of it at the time and did it cause any awkwardness between the two of you as you ran into each other along the way?

COACH SELF: I didn’t know he actually had a funeral. I thought it was just a saying that he’s no longer with us. I didn’t know there was actually a funeral. But I do remember when that came out. My wife, the only time she’s been real excited when I answer the phone knowing that I was still around. But, no, Bruce and I — I have total respect for him as a coach. I always have, even when he was at Southern and I played him and I was at Illinois and he was at Southern.

But we’re not close. We don’t talk like that. It’s a situation where that happened, but I think he meant it in a certain way, and that wasn’t a huge deal.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kansas Locker Room Quotes

March 19, 2011

Kansas sophomore F Thomas Robinson

What do you know about Coach Self’s relationship with Illinois?

“We know that Coach Self coached there years back, but to be honest, Coach Self doesn’t really talk about that. Besides him talking about Deron Williams and stuff like that, I haven’t heard him talk too much about that. It was long ago when he coached so I don’t know too much.”

Is this game really just another basketball game?

“It’s just a basketball game. We’re not worried about trying to get back or any type of karma or stuff like that with Coach Self coaching there. It’s a basketball game. Coach Self is our coach and we want to get past them to the Sweet Sixteen.”

Do you like the match-up against Illinois?

“I love it. They’ve got some great players over there. They got some good role players over there that I can compare to. (Demetri) McCamey is one of the best players in the country and one of the best distributors in the country also. It will definitely be a task and I’m looking forward to it.”

Kansas junior F Markieff Morris

(Against Boston) Did you think about playing a 16-seed team too much?

“I think we didn’t think about it enough. I think we were uptight and they were speeding us up and we were playing their game. I think in the second half we slowed them down a little bit and started playing our game and we got loose, like Coach (Self) said. We started playing Kansas basketball.”

This time of year, how much of it is taking it to another team or doing what they do?

“It means a lot. You definitely want to play your game and definitely don’t want to do what they want you to do because there’s only two halves. You don’t want to get down by too much and have to fight back. If we play our game, it’s tough to defeat us.”

How much scouting of the opposition do you see now? Did you work on that in practice or is it more film tonight?

“It’s both. We did a lot of film and a lot of walking through it and guarding and stuff. We’ve got a game plan to try to stop them. It starts on the defense and they’re playing hard.”

What do you think of the Illinois size and rebounders?

“With Mike (Tisdale), he’s a big man with a great touch. We have to guard the ball a lot better than we did in the last game and that’s going to give us a better chance to win.”

Kansas freshman G Josh Selby

On the matchup with Illinois…

“It’s exciting for us. Of course, Coach Self coached there a few years ago, so it’s exciting to play them tomorrow. I heard they played well yesterday and we went over the scouting report today and, hopefully, we’ll be able to stop them in transition and stop their offense because we know they have a lot of shooters.”

On the guard matchup between the teams…

“McCamey is strong, he’s probably one of the biggest guards at our position. We’re going to have to be physical with him, get up close on him because he can shoot from anywhere.

On whether or not the matchup vs. Illinois will be emotional on Bill Self…

“To be honest, you never know with him. If he is (emotional), he’s not showing it to us right now.

On whether or not it means anything extra to win against Coach Self’s former school…

“We’re not really talking about that. We’re just looking at it as another team that stands in the way of where we want to be.”

Kansas senior G Brady Morningstar

On Illinois guard Demetri McCamey

“Whoever is on him will have a tough task. He’s an all-around point guard that can score and pass the ball. So, whenever you have a guy like that you have to be on your toes and make sure that you know where he’s at at all times.”

On Bill Self coaching against his former school…

“As far as us playing his old team, I’m excited for us and I’m excited for him. It would be a good win for him.”

On Illinois…

“I’ve watched them a couple of times on TV this year and they’re a solid team. They can shoot the ball and have guards that score and pass and when you have all that it’s a good combination for an offensive team. We’ll need to be ready to go out there and play defense.”