Self, Jayhawks Discuss Sweet 16

March 24, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self and select players met with the media Tuesday afternoon in Hadl Auditorium to discuss Friday’s Sweet 16 rematch with Michigan State.

Men’s Basketball Press Conference Quotes
March 24, 2009

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self

On how the team has changed since the game against Michigan State in January:
“I think we are older and I think not playing in the Breslin Center will be somewhat beneficial. When we played them the first time we stunk offensively, we were a really bad offensive team. I think they had us down 37-to-18 in the first half and that’s after we got off to a good start. They just dominated us in the first half; we played hard in the second half but didn’t have enough gas in the tank. I believe we are a little bit tougher and our supporting cast has been more consistent, although it didn’t really show in Minneapolis. Overall I feel like we are a better team.”

On how having played Michigan State already will benefit the team:
“I think it will help us a little bit, going back and watching clips of the game before will give us a better understanding of how they like to play. I think our kids will be able to pick it up quicker as well, so it will help, but it will help Michigan State also. Tom Izzo historically has done as good of a job with the scouting report as any coach I’ve ever coached against. They were really prepared for us the first time and took away a lot of our strengths and I’m sure they will do a good job of trying to do that again. We have to figure out a way to counter that and we need to do a much better job of guarding them.”

On making the Sweet 16 for the third straight year:
“It’s different, but it’s not an overwhelming feeling. I felt that with last year’s team and I feel it again this year. I was telling Cindy (wife) that it was a little bit different making the Sweet 16 here than with Tulsa. At Tulsa there were parades and everything else going on and now it feels like that’s what we are supposed to do. I do think that our guys, in their minds, will be freed up because we have done as well as we have done. I will be the first to tell you and they will tell you as well that the North Dakota State game was a setup game. It was a game that we could have very easily not played well in and not pulled off. Sherron did everything in the first half; he carried us. Against Dayton, even with as good of a game that Cole had, Sherron carried us in that game as well and as soon as we established a lead it allowed the other players to settle down. Our kids expected to be in this position and I’m proud of that, if they expected less I would be very disappointed.”

On how Kalin Lucas stacks up against other guards they have faced:
“He’s the Big 10 Player of the Year. I would say, next to (Ben) Woodside, that we haven’t had a guy out play us more than Kalin Lucas did in the Breslin Center. He totally dominated the game. From our perspective when the game was in the balance he just took the game over. I know positively that he has all of our guys’ respect.”

What impresses you about Tom Izzo’s program:
“I think that programs that are successful all have similarities, they way they go about getting there might be different, but they all have similarities. They are going to defend, rebound, take care of the basketball, be tougher than the opponent and play harder. He really has a group that appears to like playing with each other. We don’t run a lot of things that he runs, but we have used his program as a model when it comes to rebounding. That was all we talked about when I was at Illinois, when you play Michigan State if you don’t bring it, you are going to get embarrassed and I do believe that is still true. You have to play like men when you are going after the ball.”

On if anything has changed with Sherron Collins’ play from the Big 12 to the NCAAs:
“No, he has made shots. In the Baylor game our team collectively didn’t play with any energy. I think the NCAA tournament is the time for the best players to shine. People talk about them all year long and finally get to see them on the brightest stage. That’s not just for our players, but for players from every program. The best way to really show what you are capable of is for your team to advance.”

Kansas sophomore center Cole Aldrich

On going back to the Sweet Sixteen:
“It is great, kind of a dream come true. It is a dream that we all had at the beginning of the season. We all had so much fun last season and wanted to do it again. My teammates have really been great over the last year; we have really worked hard and developed into a team.”

On the point that he knew KU could make a run in the tournament:
“It definitely was not in Canada. We were definitely rough around the edges before we went to Canada, but that trip really helped us. After going to Canada, making it through boot camp, and learning each others style of play and character we figured out that we could do something special.”

On improving since the last time they faced Michigan State:
“We are going to need to take better care of the ball and rebound. They are going to be a real physical team that rebounds the ball and is really good in transition. We just need to play really good defense.”

On the loss to Michigan State earlier in the season:
“It was definitely a learning experience, we try to take as much out of every loss that we have had during the course of the season and it was one of those points that we really matured afterwards.”

Kansas junior guard Sherron Collins:

On being compared to Isaiah Thomas:
“It is a compliment being compared to him. He is someone that I have always looked up to growing up in the Chicago area.”

On whether or not the making it this far is more satisfying that last year:
“I am still not satisfied; I think that we can do more. I just think that it gives us a sense of urgency knowing that we can play with these teams that nobody thought we could play with. I think that it is good that we have responded like we have.”

On his elevated play in the tournament:
“I think that I have been very productive all season, I just think that right now it is lose and go home. I just have the mindset right now that I do not want to go home.”

Kansas sophomore guard Brady Morningstar

On Head Coach Bill Self:
“I feel like we’re always going into games prepared. If we don’t play well it’s always on the players’ shoulders. He prepares us as well as he can. The rest is left up to us. He always does his job. He’s passionate about what he does.”

On his current shooting slump:
“I just have to keep shooting the ball. Shooters don’t hit every shot. Sometimes you people go into slumps. I just need to keep shooting the ball. My shot feels the same it’s just not going in right now.”

Kansas freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor

On putting pressure on himself:
“I know it’s the NCAA Tournament so I put more pressure on myself that was needed. No one else really put pressure on me. I just wanted to perform well. I knew it was a big stage and everyone wants to perform well on a big stage. I was thinking a little bit too much instead of playing.”

On playing Michigan State earlier this season:
“It was a different experience. It was our second away game of the season when we were a lot more immature than we are now. It was a tough game. We didn’t really know what to expect from them and this time we do.”