Kansas Postgame Quotes vs. Illinois

March 20, 2011

Recap | Box Score | Notes |

Kansas Postgame Quotes

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement and then questions for our student-athletes.

COACH SELF: We’re really excited. I thought we played extremely well. Even though we were behind — even though they cut the lead from 12 to 4 in the first half, I still felt like we had control of the game many it really hurt us when Tyshawn got his second foul.

But I thought Elijah did a great job on Demetri in his absence. Then in the second half we kind of got it going and played through these two guys. Obviously, they delivered.

Q. Could you kind of talk about the role that the two senior starters play on this team?

Marcus Morris: They’re our guys that are our shooters and more as team leaders. They’re definitely our team leaders, and they’re the people we look to to make the big shots and Tyrel, we call him Squeeze as a nickname, he shoots. That’s what he does. We tell him to stay confident at times.

And Brady is just the old man of our team. He’s been there for 7 or 8 years. So he knows everything. He knows the ins and outs of everything. They’re just our two guys.

Q. Sometimes sibling rivalry can be difficult. Did it ever matter to you guys growing up who scored the most points? If it did, when did you get past it?

Marcus Morris: It never mattered. It never mattered. We feel like if one does good, the other does good. We’ve always been grouped together so we take it as if he does good, I do good, and if I do good he does good. Never really looked at it like that.

Markieff Morris: I agree.

Q. Could you comment on an analysis of your brother’s dunks tonight, and how they may have energized the team and broken it open a little bit?

Marcus Morris: It definitely energized the team. To me, Kieff is the best thing that we have on the team. A lot of people look to me as a leader, but I look to Kieff as a leader. The things he does on the court definitely changes games and it opens it up for a lot of people.

I feel like if you put it up there, he’s going to go get it, except for the one he missed of mine when I gave it to him. But other than that, I feel like you throw it anywhere, and he’s going to go get it.

Q. Were you just talking about the play off the backboard?

Marcus Morris: Yeah, that was a pass. That wasn’t a shot.

Q. Right. Was that a called play? I’ve never seen anything like that in the half court.

COACH SELF: No, it wasn’t a called play (laughing).

Marcus Morris: No, it wasn’t called. We kind of did it in practice when coach wasn’t looking, so we said we’d do it in the game, because they both bit on our fade screen perfectly, it just slipped off Kieff’s hand when’s he missed it. But I had to take the blame for it.

Q. How good does it feel to get to the Sweet 16 after what happened in the Northern Iowa game last year?

Markieff Morris: It feels good. It feels like we’ve got a lot of pressure off our shoulders. Feels good to go to San Antonio and it feels good to get better this next week that’s coming up. I just feel like now that we’ve gotten past this weekend, we got over the hump, and we’re ready for next weekend.

Marcus Morris: Yeah, it definitely takes a lot of pressure off our shoulders knowing we’ve gotten past the first weekend now. Just trying to build off of these two games and trying to do the same thing next weekend. We’re playing against a good Richmond team that beat two great teams.

So it’s definitely time to get back in the gym. We’ll take a day off, and it’s right back to work.

Q. You guys obviously wanted to win for all the normal reasons. Did it come up among the players at all that Coach Self had coached at Illinois and you want to bring your A-game for that reason?

Marcus Morris: Yeah, when we first came out to break the huddle I told the guys that we needed to do it for coach. That was his old school. When we went to Philly, he told the guys that they needed to do it for us when we played against Temple. So I just felt like we needed to return the favor.

Just to get our emotions going that coach would beat his old school.

Markieff Morris: I think, yeah, like Marcus said, we definitely did that for coach. We just wanted to play hard and try to win the game, what we did, and just get that win for coach.

Q. Could you take us through that dunk that you had where Brady, I think it was, came through on the baseline and it seemed like the lane was wide open? Could you see what was developing in front of your eyes on that play?

Markieff Morris: Yeah, I did. I knew Brady drives baseline really well and he’s a great passer. I knew if I put myself in the position that I did, that he was going to pass it, and I finished it.

Q. What kind of responsibilities do you put on your two senior starters being that it’s a fairly young team?

COACH SELF: I think I put a lot on them. This hasn’t been talked about at all. I didn’t bring it up to our guys until after the game. But Brady won’t get credit for this because he red shirted, but they were here the same time, same years.

But Tyrel, he passed Sherron. He’s the winningest player in the history of the school. He’s a pretty big deal. I want to say they’re 131-16, something like that, which is pretty good. They’re a huge reason why we’re successful. They’re rocks. They’re anchors. They make the game easier for everybody else. Tyrel more with his shooting, and Brady more with his play-making and defense. They’re both terrific players.

Basketball early in the season, coaches feel a certain way feeling things out. But as you get into conference play and move forward, you develop an element of trust. There is nobody I trust more than those two guys having them out there.

Q. Not to get hung up on this, but can you tell us what was going through your head? Walk us through that play off the backboard the alley-oop?

COACH SELF: I didn’t know what he was doing. I mean, we run a play and we just put it in for him, and he’s wide open. That was one of those deals that they’ve laid around talking and figured out that would be a highlight play, I think. I’ll go back and watch it. I don’t agree with Marcus, he said it was a good pass and Kieff just missed it. I thought it was a crap pass, and nobody could have caught it. We’ll talk about that when moving forward.

But those guys are pretty creative. They are great passers. But that wasn’t the time or place to try that one, I didn’t think.

Q. Until the very end of the second half, Marcus and Markieff had scored basically all your points. At halftime was it as simple as you’ve got these two big guys, get them the ball?

COACH SELF: No, I didn’t think so. I thought the first half not having Tyshawn in the game hurt us if you really studied it, because no other guard drove their pressure. We hadn’t had anybody driving their pressure. Everything we got was off the catch or backing guys down, and that’s not how we run good offense. We’ve got to get paint touches by driving it as well as passing it.

Our whole deal was drive it, drive it, drive it, which forced help and allowed those guys to get touches. So I think the guards deserve as much credit as those two playing through them, because they’re the ones that forced help.

Q. I was right behind your bench, and your guys who were young, even though you have the two seniors, were so calm. Even when Illinois made runs, they were so calm. Are those two seniors that calm? Is this just that kind of bunch and are they the kind that responds that way?

COACH SELF: I think there have been times when we didn’t respond very well. Obviously at K-State, which was probably a good lesson for us to learn. Texas at home, that was kind of a weird day, so I don’t put much stock in that one. But we didn’t respond well the second half there.

But we’ve been in quite a few close games. A lot of people have questioned — I shouldn’t say a lot, a lot of people question you’re winning, but you’re not winning by enough or not winning pretty or whatever. But sometimes those are the best games to win because it forces guys to play through pressure.

We’re going to play through pressure again. There will be pressure on Friday. If we’re fortunate enough to win, there will be pressure on Sunday. But Tyrel and Brady have been around a lot. And having anchors and guys you trust like that are so positive for your ballclub.

I thought Elijah showed a lot of poise. I thought Thomas showed a lot of poise. We didn’t play a lot of guys today. Josh showed a lot of poise. I thought our bench, though the numbers weren’t terrific, they didn’t make mistakes.

So much of basketball is about not beating yourself, and we did a good job of being aggressive and also being patient. That’s a hard come face a lot combination a lot of times.

Q. You and the players talk a lot this time of year that games are generally won with defense. Could you comment on the job your guards did on McCamey?

COACH SELF: Hey, our guards were great. Defensively we were really, really good. Richardson got away from us a few times, obviously, but the job that Elijah and Tyshawn — and Tyshawn did a great job on him, but Elijah guarded him 13 minutes in the first half and didn’t make a point, didn’t score a point. So that was a big bonus for us.

But we did a good job on a good player, and our ball screen defense was better than what it’s been, which was credit to our bigs because they did a good job helping him.

Q. Elijah and Tyshawn both mentioned you cut the head off and the body will follow. Was that a mantra in practice that you knew? You shut down McCamey?

COACH SELF: We practiced for 40 minutes, so it wasn’t a point of emphasis. I believe when the other team’s best player or maybe not even best player, but key player as a point guard, you’ve got to do a great job on him. Those guys did a great job on him. I think he still had 7 assists if I’m not mistaken, and they’re undefeated this year when he’s had 7 assists or more I read.

But those two guys were terrific. We didn’t gamble, we were solid and kept him in front of us. Got up underneath him to the point where he couldn’t get off open looks, which was a lot different than what it looked on Friday. On Friday he was just amazing against UNLV.

Q. I know you said this wouldn’t be a milestone win because you have higher aspirations. But can you put to bed what happened last year? Also do you have any thoughts on looks like you’re going to have a bracket with double digit seeds.

COACH SELF: We’ve said this and everybody says it all along, it’s not as much seeds as players. Davidson was a double digit seed too, and they had the best player in the tournament that year. They were one basket away from beating us. So I don’t put much stock in that.

But there was a little bit of extra pressure today. I think in large part you’ve got the same exact record as last year. You go in as a 1 seed, and last year’s team didn’t get it done. This year’s team had an opportunity to do something that last year’s team didn’t do. I think maybe a little bit of pressure on that.

But to me it was kind of a weird day. Playing back in Tulsa, and we really haven’t played well in this state.

You have going against Illinois for obvious reasons, and then what happened last year. But those guys have been reminded of Northern Iowa every day for the last 365 days. So it was good to get that monkey off our back, so to speak, but there are bigger fish to fry. Now it’s time to go play.

Q. Now that it’s behind you, you’ve won a lot of these games in the tournament. But is it special to advance out of Tulsa where you have a history?

COACH SELF: Absolutely. This was cool for me. I didn’t make a point to spend any time with friends or anything like that, but I had some ex-players come to our practice. I was able to get a couple of guys, a few ex-players tickets and things like that. That to me makes it special.

Fortunately my friends knew they needed to get their tickets on their own, and I think they did a pretty good job with that. But Tulsa, the city has been very, very good to myself and my family. There are so many people here that have looked out for us and taken care of us, that I really did want to play well this week. I really did. It wasn’t a distraction, but it was a big bonus.

Q. You’d already had a No. 1 seed or seen a No. 1 seed fall in Pitt, and then Duke struggles today. Do you bring that up to your guys as a 1 seed at all or are they watching?

COACH SELF: They watch it. They watch it. We didn’t talk about Michigan-Duke. Our guys watched the game. It was right around pre-game when it was on, so we watched the end of it together. Pittsburgh, I don’t even know if that ever came up. What a fabulous game that was with the weird ending last night.

We can’t worry so much about what other people are doing, we just need to take care of ourselves. That first day so many close games maybe got guys attention, but after that I think it doesn’t really matter.

Q. You mentioned the memories you have here. Obviously this next site has a lot of history for you in San Antonio with Mario’s shot and everything. Is that something you’re thinking about going forward?

COACH SELF: Probably not. I mean, we’ll be reminded of it and think of it that way. But Conner, Brady and Tyrel were the only ones around when that happened, and it was a special, special weekend. I mean, unbelievable weekend.

I love San Antonio, and our players will too. It’s a fabulous host season the way they set it up and the river walk and all that stuff. But it is a business trip. We’ll be reminded of it. It will bring pleasant memories to us, but we’ve got to go make new memories.

Kansas Locker Room Quotes

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

Overall thoughts on the game…

“It was a typical Big Ten game. There were few possessions and you had to grind it out. I thought our defense was outstanding. We rebounded the ball well except for the start of the second half. I thought Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor’s defense on Demetri McCamey was the real key to the game.”

On the play of Marcus and Markieff Morris…

“They’re good, and we need them to perform like that. Certainly, we have an advantage over a lot of teams because they’re so versatile. We did a good job of getting them the ball in the second half.”

Kansas Senior Guard Tyrel Reed

Overall thoughts on the game…

“Illinois is a real scrappy team, and they’ve been showing that all year. They’ve got really good players. We couldn’t shake them in the first half, but finally we got a big run in the second.”

On why KU couldn’t quite put Illinois away until the end…

“They were just hanging around. They hit some tough shots and got some lucky bounces in the first half. You have to give credit to Illinois because they never quit. I’m proud of our guys.”

On the dominance of Marcus and Markieff Morris in the second half…

“We really didn’t stress that at halftime, but we want to play inside-out every game. The twins are great players, and they are unselfish. They kick it out when they’re being guarded, and they were just big for us tonight.”

Kansas Junior Guard Jordan Juenemann

On the team’s feeling after the game…

“We’re feeling great. We celebrated a little bit, but we’re still focused even though we’re enjoying this right now. It’s a big win, so we’re enjoying it.”

On the preparation for their matchup with Richmond…

“We’re going to go back and watch a lot of tape to see what they do. They’re a good team. They’ve beat some good teams. They’re hot right now, so we have to learn as much as we can about them leading up to San Antonio and that game. We’re excited to get back and do that.”

Kansas Junior Guard Tyshawn Tylor

On the Game plan for tonight’s game…

“For me it was to stop Demetri McCamey. We knew what he was capable of, and I got in foul trouble early and that’s when Elijah Johnson came off the bench and did a great job on him. We held him to just two baskets. Coach said if you cut the head off, the rest of the team would just follow, and that’s just what happened.”

On the offense stalling when he was out of the game…

“I think it was just a slower pace, and that what Coach Self talks about a lot. I just bring a different dimension, like how I push the pace. That’s what he wants me to do so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

How important is it for you to get off to a fast start like you did tonight…

“I think its good, if you look at the games that we get off to a fast start we play very well. It was exactly how we started off against Texas, coming off being aggressive and making big shots.”

Illinois Postgame Quotes

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement and then questions for our student-athletes.

COACH WEBER: Any time it comes to an end, it’s very disappointing. I thought last month we had kind of got it back together and we were playing pretty good basketball, but we faced a team that is special. They have very talented players, and the thing that makes them special is that they also play hard. The talented players play hard all the time. They’ve got some glue guys and they seem to be a great team.

We just thought we had to have an extra special effort. Somebody had to go crazy and make a bunch of shots, and I thought early we shot it too quick. They got the big lead on us, and we weren’t patient enough, didn’t play as a team and put them on defense. It was one of the things we talked about because then they get in transition.

I joked yesterday that all I ever watch is them doing lob dunks. They got rolling and got some early and got some late, and just gave them too many easy opportunities. But we didn’t quit. Had it at 4 at halftime. Had it 4 or 5 several times in the second half, and we needed them to maybe make a mistake or two. For us, somebody to make a big shot or something happened, and it just didn’t, and they just kind of took it over down the stretch.

Couldn’t be more proud of our seniors. They’re great representatives of our university, quality kids. Two have already graduated. The other two, I hope they have it in their mind to graduate. I think they’ll have a great future. We have some young, talented kids and hopefully a bright future for our program.

Q. Could both players talk about the defense you saw tonight versus UNLV, 60% shooting that night, and a little less than 40 tonight.

MIKE TISDALE: You know, their defense was obviously pretty good. They’re physical. They were quick, and made it tough on us. We didn’t make the shots we normally make, and it just happened to be like that, I guess. I’ve got to give them credit. They’re a good team.

MIKE DAVIS: UNLV is more of a gamble type team. They want to pressure you and play fast. Kansas is more of a discipline defense. Coach Self runs a great system on their defensive end. They stay in front of us. They don’t gamble. They just make shots. Tonight we didn’t make shots. We needed them to miss some shots and we needed to make some extra shots to and shoot better against UNLV to have a chance to win.

But we played hard to the end but just couldn’t get over that hump. They kept cutting it to 5, and the kept making a run. I’ve got to give credit to their players. They’re a great team.

Q. Can you talk about playing against the twins, what they were like tonight?

MIKE TISDALE: Obviously, they’re good players. They don’t get where they’re at for not being good. They made plays when they needed to. They made shots and rebounds. So you’ve got to give the two credit. They’re good players, and they played tough tonight.

MIKE DAVIS: They’re not lottery projections for nothing. They’re great players. They made some tough turnarounds. They play together. Those two call for ball screens, and those two say high-low. They play together. They just went out there and they were physical. They made some tough shots, and their guards got it to them. They made their team go, those two twins. So got to give them credit to their guys for getting them the ball.

Q. Do you think you guys left a good positive impression on this last game? Do you think you won some fans back?

MIKE TISDALE: We played as hard as we could. They’re a good team. We may not have won, but regardless I’m proud of us and our team, so that’s all I have to say.

MIKE DAVIS: Like Tisdale said, we played as hard as we could. We kept cutting the lead down, cut it to 5. And we couldn’t get over the hump. When they kept cutting it to 5, they came down and made the play, and the crowd got loud and we kind of got stagnant again.

But I’m proud of my guys. I’m proud of my young guys, and they played hard. I know they’re going to work as hard as they can next summer and this summer coming up to get farther than we got. Leave a better legacy than we left.

But as seniors, we play as hard as we could. We love the fans whether they don’t like us or not. We just love them. And we want to thank all the fans for being so supportive.

Q. I think you were within 5 with about 6:00 to go, and the twin towers kind of unleashed it on you. Could you talk about their impact there down the stretch?

COACH WEBER: I mentioned at the start of this that their star players play their butts off, and they’re physical. These guys said it if they play together, they read off each other, and the guards are smart. They know where to get it to, they execute, get it to those guys. They know they’re going to produce.

I didn’t think we did a horrible job on either one of them. They had some turnovers. Where you’re trying to trap sometimes and dig sometimes. But down the stretch they just kind of took over, and too many easy dunks, too many easy shots.

It was one of our goals or things we talked about against Vegas. We said no turnovers to touchdowns. And we were trying to limit the easy baskets, the easy dunks down the stretch, and they got too many of them.

We just couldn’t get some shots to go down that we needed to. They are difference makers. They’re very, very good, and they play very sound defense, the whole team.

Q. What did they do to slow down Demetri? What happened to him?

COACH WEBER: I think sometimes Demetri just makes his mind up what he’s going to do on a play or a possession. They went out, trapped him sometimes, jammed him hard, hard hedge as we call it. Then he had to be patient and make the next play and pass the ball to the open man and then cut through the defense and learn to get open without the ball, when people are jamming you up with the ball, get open without it.

I think he got frustrated. He got down on himself. We just kept saying hang in there, hang in there. You’re going to make a play, and just didn’t seem — he needed one to go in. One of those bombs or something to go in to make him feel good and us to make a run to maybe make it a game down the stretch.

Q. Is there an appreciative difference when you game plan between Markieff and Marcus Morris?

COACH WEBER: Well, it’s hard. They’re both very similar. I wrote on the board basically the same thing for each one of them. The one rebounds a little better because the other one got more shots off or offensive rebounds. But they both are very talented.

I said they play hard. They post hard. They don’t try to do things out of their system. I think the biggest improvement for both of them, and I haven’t seen them that much and you’ve probably seen them more, they’re shooting from the perimeter now too compared to last year when you talked to people that played them last year who said the one thing can you do is sag off of them, and now you can’t do that.

Now they spread you out. They’re good inside. They’ve got other good shooters. I think Morningstar and Reed don’t get as much credit how good they are, and how solid they are. Just we make a run, and all of a sudden one of them pops up and makes a play, makes a pass, makes a jumper. Taylor also played well. He guarded Demetri. His quickness, I think when you asked about that, it probably bothered Demetri a little bit.

Q. You made that point about their best players being the hardest workers that play the hardest. You had that a few years back when you had a great team. When you look at the guys coming up now, do you think they can be that looking now?

COACH WEBER: I think that’s the message I said, I appreciate the seniors and the quality student-athletes they’ve been for our program, and they’ve done some special things and made big strides from their freshman year. We just couldn’t get the wins that you would hope for, or the big wins.

But the young guys, the message I sent was, you have to realize how fast it goes, and how hard it is and how hard you have to work. If you want a special moment like this in advance, you’ve got to be prepared and put in that effort beyond just practice, beyond just weights, beyond just the conditioning in the summer. It’s got to be a special effort. We’ve got to get some young guys to step up and give that and be that leadership that pushes people.

Q. Do you ever get used to the suddenness of it? You go into a game with high hopes and then it’s over.

COACH WEBER: It’s just hard to deal with. Talk to several coaches from anywhere, Tom Izzo, Kevin Stallings, just the last few days, it’s hard to deal with. Especially when you say you have high hopes. We felt good going into the game. I think our kids felt good. They hit us pretty hard early, and that was one thing we did to Vegas was hit them hard early, and we let them set the tempo.

But to our kids credit, we didn’t back down, we kept coming. It’s four at the half. It’s four or five. We just needed one or two plays to go our way, and maybe them not to play as well or make a mistake, but that didn’t happen tonight.

It’s hard to deal with because I said the other day there is nothing better than winning in the NCAA and going back to the hotel and watching film on the next game and feeling good about yourself that you’re going to play another day.

When you can’t get back to the hotel to watch film again, it leaves little emptiness. No matter the ups and downs of the season, you just don’t like it to end.

Illinois Locker Room Quotes

Illinois Senior Guard Demetri McCamey

On his play tonight…

“They made plays. I couldn’t get it going offensively. I missed shots I usually make. My teammates stepped up. I’m proud of all of them—Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis. They battled. D.J. Richardson came and gave us some good energy off of the bench by hitting threes. I just didn’t get the job done. I couldn’t make a jump shot. I had some open looks, and I just didn’t get it done.”

On the season…

“It was up and down. We accomplished one goal and that was to get into the tournament. We fell short in trying to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, but the seniors went out with a battle. I respect that.”

On his final game…

“It hurts to know it’s my last game in an Illini uniform. I didn’t play well. My team almost had a chance to beat one of the top teams in the country to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. It hurts, but at the same time, I have to get better as a player and move on. Hopefully the young guys get it and get another opportunity like this.”

Illinois Sophomore Guard Brandon Paul

On the second half and Kansas pulling away…

“They gave us a lot of chances to stay in the game. We kept fighting. Then we just let it slip. They caught a couple of dunks. That boosted their emotion. We kind of just laid down after that.”

On the season and next year…

“The season was filled with a lot of ups and downs. For the most part, I think we competed well. We beat a lot of teams that are either ranked ahead of us or are top contenders. Some of those teams are still in the Sweet Sixteen right now. We can compete with the best of them. As far as next year goes, I think we’ll have a strong team. We have a lot of people in my class and the freshman class. We have another athletic freshman class coming in. I’m excited for it. We have a lot of workers. I feel like if we all just work hard every practice and don’t let up, I think we’ll have a good season.”

Illinois Senior Forward Bill Cole

Do you think you played your best game tonight?

“I thought we played great against UNLV, but today I thought we played pretty good, but we needed to be special to beat Kansas. Even if we were going to be special, we probably needed an off night from Kansas.”

Talk to us about the close game tonight.

“We kept it close all night. We gave them everything we had. I kept thinking we were going to make that spurt to put us over the top and it never happened.”

What are your thoughts on the Morris Twins?

“They are tough. We didn’t want to double team them because we knew how good the Kansas’ shooters were, so it’s kind of a lose-lose situation playing those guys.”

How do you think the team will do next year?

“These guys have so much talent on the team. They are going to be good next year. They work hard. D.J. [Richardson] and Brandon [Paul] are going to be the foundation junior class next year. I will be supporting them and they have a good coach.”

Illinois Sophomore Guard D.J. Richardson

Do you think there was a turning point in the game?

“They started to get a lot of momentum when they got dunks. That was one thing Coach [Weber] told us in the locker room to not give them a lot dunks. Every time they got dunks they fed off of that.”

Did the non-conference schedule help prepare you for this environment?

“We played on a lot of neutral courts. Coach [Weber] did a good job putting in the non-conference schedule, putting us in games that helped prepared us for games like this.”