NCAA Basketball Tournament Thursday Press Conference Quotes

March 24, 2011

Kansas basketball met with the media and held an open practice Thursday in San Antonio, Texas in anticipation of its NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game against Richmond. The teams will meet Friday at 6:27 in game televised on TBS.

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Kansas Press Conference Quotes

THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome our <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kansas student-athletes. We’ll open the floor for questions.

Q. Can you just talk about your development with your outside shot, your perimeter game, three-point shooting?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I think the biggest thing is I’m shooting with a little bit more confidence. I think I had a pretty good shot before, just kind of rushed it a lot. Now I’m just taking my time because I’m realizing that defenses are backing up on me, so I can just pretty much take my time when I shoot those threes, so I’m showing more confidence and taking my time.

Q. Can you also just talk about the suspension and your growth from that and how it’s changed you?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I think it definitely opened my eyes a little bit and realized that my team was just as good without me, so I had to come back and prove myself to my team and my coaches. And I think I did a pretty good job of that, staying hungry, staying positive throughout the whole situation. And I bounced back pretty good, so I just want to keep it up.

Q. When you came back could you tell there was a certain point that they had accepted you back, or were there certain, I don’t know for a lack of a better term, hoops you had to jump through to prove everything?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I think the whole time my teammates supported me through the whole thing and understood my situation. They never got down on me or anything. I never had to prove anything to them.

It was more to myself. I wanted to come back and show them that I belonged on the team with them. I felt like I kind of hung them out to dry a little bit. So I wanted to just come out and work two times as hard as I was working before. And I think once I came back and I got back into the flow it was like I never left.

Q. How has Coach Self imparted the “seeds don’t matter” message to you in the past few days? Bucknell, Bradley, Davidson, have they gotten brought up?

Thomas Robinson: No, those games don’t get brought up too much. We were the No. 1 seed last year and lost a 9 or whatever it was. We lost to a team that we probably seed-wise shouldn’t have lost to. So we understand, I think this team this year understands that we can’t look past anybody or take anybody lightly. We’ve got to come out ready to play. Play everybody like they’re the No. 1 seed. If we do that and we’re hungry to win, I think we have to be the aggressor.

THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Kansas head coach Bill Self to the dais.

COACH SELF: We’re obviously very excited to be back to San Antonio, a place that we’ve immensely enjoyed in recent memory, and certainly hope we play well again down here and create some new memories for our players.

Q. Coach, just in the locker room talking to some of the guys, they aren’t certain how many minutes they’re going to play. They all seem to have the same speech and the same focus. How important is it for them to keep that focus for you guys?

COACH SELF: I think it’s very important. And we don’t know, we don’t play with a set rotation, somebody plays 30 and somebody plays 10, and all that stuff. They’ve got to be ready when they’re called on. For the most part we’ve done very good this year. Our bench has been very good, our depth has been a bonus for us.

At this time in the tournament I think depth is less important than during the course of the regular season, unless fouls occur, because there’s an extra timeout and you don’t seem to get as tired. But it’s still very important. And we’ve got good quality players coming off the bench and they just need to be ready.

Q. Speaking of San Antonio two years ago, you guys had gotten there by beating a lot of lower seeded teams before reaching the Final Four. With the seeds that you’ve already beat and the seeds in front of you, does it feel familiar?

COACH SELF: Not really. When we won it in `08 we beat a 12 seed, I think Villanova in the round of 16 and beat an 11 seed, Davidson, in the round of 8. And Davidson, up until the National Championship game gave us the best game in the tournament, our best game, without question. And that was a one-possession game.

It’s not about the seeds. Fans and media people may play it out to be that way. It’s not about the seeds. It’s about players. It’s about match-ups. And Richmond has good players. Everybody left has good players. But Richmond has good players, they’ve got NBA prospects that could play anywhere in America, and just so happens they play in the Atlantic 10, which is a great basketball league. But our guys will not look at Richmond as a – they will look at them as incorrectly seeded and certainly very capable of beating anybody in the field.

Q. Going a little further on that, is it not eerie how similar this season is, does that make sense? In 2008 you guys lost to K State and you come in and beat the 16 and I believe it was an 8 or 9, and beat a 12 and 10 to get here.

COACH SELF: Was Davidson a 10?

Q. Yeah. And a possibility of playing another 10, FloridaState. Is it that the selection committee has a sense of humor or is it eerie to you?

COACH SELF: No. In `08 we also went through Nebraska and Michigan, which is the same path that they went in `88. So there’s a lot of similarities. And when you do the – when you’re in the business long enough you’re going to have things like that crop up. But I haven’t thought about the eerie at all until you mentioned that. And I don’t think that at all. We’re excited to be here. The field here is strong. It may not appear from a seeding standpoint to be as strong as 1, 2, 3 and 4 that are left, but I guarantee that there will be nobody that will be looking forward to playing anybody in this field right now. Unless you get to the Sweet 16, you expect to play a great team. And certainly we have an opportunity to play a great one tomorrow.

Q. Speaking of Richmond, does that loss in 2004 at Allen Fieldhouse in your first year as head coach, you’ve got to think about it sometime, like, Man, I get to play Richmond again or does that crop up for you at all?

COACH SELF: It’s cropped up a little bit, but not much. Their coach, Jerry Wainwright is a good friend, and he’s reminded me they beat our butt in Allen Fieldhouse. We made a couple of bonehead plays late, which I’ve seen on television this week, to remind me of that. But for the most part that doesn’t even register. That was a long time ago.

But I told our guys, you know, last time we played them they got us in our building. So if anything our guys know that they’re capable of playing at a high level as a program, even though it was several years ago, but they certainly did that night.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports…

Kansas Jayhawks Lockerroom Quotes

Brady Moringstar, Sr., G

On having been down this journey before and how it changes …

“Basically, the teams you play is the only change. The routine of preparing for each NCAA Tournament is about the same. This is a very exciting time of year for all those still playing.”

On the teams they will be facing this weekend and if it adds more pressure since they are lower seeded teams …

“It makes it both exciting and a little more pressure. I think you know a lot about the teams just because we watched them last weekend beat the teams that everyone was expecting to win. It is exciting to be in the Sweet 16 and we will be playing a tough Richmond team for sure. I think this is just March Madness for you and every team feels the pressure. If you don’t win, you go home, and that is pressure for anyone.”

On being back in San Antonio after winning the 2008 National Championship …

“Everything is very recognizable, especially coming down the hallway and the locker room. I don’t think we were in this specific locker room, but they all look the same. We are excited to be back in San Antonio because there are definitely a lot of good memories from here.”

On looking back on that National Championship year …

“It is exciting to get to play in the Alamodome. When we won it, I was a redshirt, so I didn’t get to play, but I was still here with the team to experience it all. It is exciting to be playing here and to be able to help my team achieve our goal of winning a National Championship is just great.”

Marcus Morris, Jr., F

On Richmond …

“They are very fundamental. They have a good inside-out game. They have a point guard that is really good but I like ours better.”

On Richmond having all five starters with a high shooting percentage from 3-point land …

“They do shoot well, but we have played teams before that have done that as well. Iowa State shot well and we beat them twice this year, so we have definitely played teams that could shoot. We just have to play our game and guard them a little tighter.”

On facing a lower seeded team …

“We don’t look at the seeds, but we look at the team. When you start looking at the seeds and thinking about that, then you lose.”

On dreaming of this journey with his brother when they were growing up …

“Well, we didn’t really have a driveway in Philadelphia. We never really thought about it until we were in high school. We played football and didn’t really start playing basketball until we were freshman in high school and then I was too big to play in a driveway. We are enjoying the journey though.”

Markieff Morris, Jr., F

On being in San Antonio and one step closer to the Final Four …

“It feels great. It was great to get out of the first and second rounds. We just want to keep getting better and try to make it to the Final Four.”

On what the seniors who were here in 2008 have told them …

“They haven’t told us much. We haven’t really talked about it much, but we definitely know we had success here and we are going to try to keep that going.”

On the pressure of being in the Sweet 16 …

“I feel like it is pressure on every team in the tournament because if you lose, you go home, so there is pressure to win every game.”

On the motivation of playing Richmond vs. getting to the Final Four …

“There is motivation for both. We are going to try our best to get to the Final Four and, whoever they put in front of us, we are going to try and beat.”

On Richmond …

“They are versatile. They have a guard that scores 20+plus points a game and they have their bigs like my brother and I. They run a great offense.”

Tyrel Reed, Sr., G

On being back in San Antonio …

“It has been fun and brings back lots of great memories of being here in 2008 and winning it all. I think Brady (Moringstar), Conner (Teahan) and I are the only ones that were here then. We were all walking together last night on the River Walk and just remembering the good times we had.”

On being able to reflect on the 2008 title and what he is telling the younger guys about this journey …

“You can’t take anything for granted this time of the year. We have been a No. 1 seed before and got knocked out in the first weekend of the tournament last year, so I stress to the guys to just soak it in. Enjoy it, but continue to play hard and do your best.”

On being able to cut down the nets again on Sunday …

“It would be big. Winning the championship in 2008 was awesome. This is a great city and I really like it here, so we hope to continue to have success here.”

On Richmond …

“They have some really good players in (Justin) Harper and (Kevin) Anderson that are very capable and could play for any team in America. They run a match-up zone that is different to play against and something we don’t play against very often. I think all five of their starters shoot over 40 percent from the 3-point line in conference play and that allows them to really extend the floor.”

On your game plan against a team like Richmond …

“For us, I think we have to just play our normal game and not let them dictate the style of play. We need to play through our bigs in Marcus (Morris) and Markieff (Morris) and continue to do that, whether they are in zone or in man. We just want to play our game.”

Richmond Press Conference Quotes

THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started here with our first news conference of the day with Richmond. At this time we’ll welcome to the dais, Richmond coach, Chris Mooney. Start with a brief opening statement.

COACH MOONEY: Thank you. We’re thrilled to be here in San Antonio and looking forward to our game tomorrow night versus Kansas. Our guys seem loose and ready to play. Had a good 50 minute practice session before our next kind of real practice. So we’re excited to play.

Q. Can you talk about Princeton, how that shaped you? The school in general, the atmosphere, how that molded you as a coach?

COACH MOONEY: Sure. Playing for Coach Carm at Princeton was the most important thing that happened to me. He’s such a tremendous coach, very demanding person. Didn’t exactly fit in with the rest of how Princeton was.

Obviously I was very, very fortunate to be able to go to school there and to meet some of the people that I met, the professors, the other students. And it was a very unique experience for me. It was a completely foreign experience to me at the time. I’m really proud that I went there and have a lot of memories from there and have made some great lifetime friends there. But at the time it was a very different experience for me.

Q. Coach, Kansas is Kansas, this is your school’s second trip to the Sweet 16. Have you talked to your players about playing the guys in the uniforms and not playing the uniforms and the history of Kansas?

COACH MOONEY: We have. Kansas is a storied program, an incredible program with great tradition. I think we’re all aware of that. There’s no sense in hiding from that or pretending it doesn’t exist. It’s just more important for us to go out and play. We feel like we have a good team who’s achieved a lot and the most important thing is for us to go out and play, pay attention to the scouting report, and try as much as possible do the things that we’ve done throughout the last season, last four years, and try to keep it as much of a — try to keep our program as much the same as possible.

Q. You’ve played as good defensively and rebounded as well in these last four or five games as you have in your whole tenure at Richmond. Is it reasonable to assume you can maintain that against a high-scoring, highly-ranked team such as Kansas?

COACH MOONEY: The thing that jumps out at you watching them and looking at their stats is just how easily they score and how potent they are offensively. Their shooting percentages, their assists, the way they handle the ball, it’s an impressive team in that regard. I don’t know how well we can guard them. That’s something that we’re working very hard on and trying to figure out and during the course of the game we’re going to have to see if we need to make any adjustments.

This is a team I’m sure that has seen everything that’s come their way. The most impressive part about them, in my opinion, is for all these star players and highly-recruited guys — they share the ball extremely well. And that’s something that’s hard to shut down. When you don’t know where the ball is going to be all the time, it makes it that much harder to defend.

We’re going to work hard on it, we pride ourself on our defense, but at the same time we recognize how big a challenge it’s going to be.

Q. First of all, have they ever told you that you look like Mike Dunleavy?

COACH MOONEY: The younger Mike Dunleavy?

Q. Certainly.


Q. You guys played this kind of school, basketball-stature wise, Princeton and Richmond have both accomplished about the same stuff. Would you say your guys, especially your seniors, are looking at this game as the biggest moment of their lives to this point?

COACH MOONEY: Well, I would have to say they are. Their experiences are fairly limited and so to be able to play Kansas in the Sweet 16 in the Alamodome is probably big stuff for them, and for all of us. And I think it’s not just that it’s Kansas. I think that makes it that much more special, that we’ve advanced this far and that we’re, you know, very much on a run in the NCAA tournament. So I think that’s very special to them. And I think they’re really embracing it.

Q. Is all the pressure on Kansas because of their seeding, tradition, and all the things that go with it, or when you step on to a stage like this for the first time is there pressure that’s inherent in just being in this building, being on the stage, et cetera?

COACH MOONEY: Right, exactly. I think there is on both sides. I think Kansas probably plays with pressure, you know, probably almost every non-conference game, most of their conference games. So I think they’re probably — even though there is pressure, it’s probably something they’re very familiar with. They lose so infrequently, that’s why I think people make such a big deal about some of the losses that they have. They’re 34-2 again. But for us there’s pressure because this is something new. We’re trying to make sure we play as well as we can to justify that we’re here.

I think it’s a little bit different. I think they’re probably used to the pressure that they’re playing with and it’s probably pretty significant, while there might be less pressure on us. It’s pretty new.

Q. Coach Self and other coaches say at this time in the tournament it’s not about seeds, it’s about match-ups. How do you see your guys matching up, and what are some of the key match-ups that you think are going to come out in the game tomorrow?

COACH MOONEY: Well, the twins are obviously — you probably start right there for Kansas. They present a problem to everybody they play because of their strength, their versatility. Kansas is very committed to getting the ball inside to them, which is another strength of their team. You very rarely see them go back-to-back possessions without the big guys touching the ball.

As far as the other match-ups, in the other way, I’m not sure. I know they’re a very good defensive team. But I’m not sure if they’ve seen someone like Kevin Anderson or get the ball out of his hands. And Justin Harper is a difficult match-up for some teams.

I think there are difficult match-ups on both ends. For Kansas again what’s so impressive about them, their game plan is to throw the ball inside and they rarely go too often without doing that.

Q. Going with the Morris twins, have you talked to him about trying to be less aggressive and keep him from getting in foul trouble?

COACH MOONEY: No, we need Darrius to provide what he’s been providing off the bench for us, his defense and rebounding. They really change the makeup of our team. I think his aggressiveness is a very big part of that. His athleticism and aggressiveness is a big part of that. He’s played a lot of games where he has not been in foul trouble. And hopefully we’re playing the game and subbing from a standpoint of strength and not put players in to protect other players from foul trouble. If that happens, we’re going to see what we have, and do some things that don’t let us get too many fouls. But I think Darrius needs to be as aggressive as he can.

Q. It’s not only tournament season, but it’s coaching vacancy season and speculation season, your name is often mentioned. First of all, what’s kind of a general reaction when your name is mentioned for other jobs, and how do you manage it?

COACH MOONEY: Well, I would say obviously it’s flattering, obviously it’s one of the unfortunate parts of college basketball, while we’re in the midst of our most exciting time for players and coaches that there’s this other facet because jobs are becoming available. As far as managing it, you know, if there are a hundred blog posts about Shaka, to put all the pressure on him (laughter), if there are a hundred blog posts about Shaka taking this job or that job and somebody is interested, if he doesn’t turn on his computer. I would talk to my guys right up front about it if there was anything to talk about. But we kind of push it out and get it away from us and really concentrate on the business at hand.

Q. Any Hoosier-like moments where you said to your guys, Don’t think of this as the Alamodome, think of this as another place we’re playing? And have you measured the rims or anything?

COACH MOONEY: No, not really. To be honest with you, I think we recognize this is Kansas and this is a huge national stage. But at the same time, you know, we’re drawing on our experiences, on our feelings, and we feel like we’ve beaten some really good teams over the past few years. We haven’t played a perfect game once in any of those games. That’s what I talk to our guys about, is we’re not going to play a perfect game tomorrow night and not to worry about that. And also that we don’t need to play a perfect game.

In our big wins we have not played perfectly. We have been out-rebounded by a lot or shot poorly. We need to go out and play and have the game started so we can focus in on each possession.

Q. You described Kansas as a team that rarely loses. When you’re looking to formulate a game plan against a team that doesn’t lose very much, do you try to find their weaknesses or do you try to cater to your strengths and how it applies to them?

COACH MOONEY: That’s a great question. We were actually trying to figure out which tapes to watch besides the most recent, and we’re going down and looking at any game that was close that they played, just to see if we could gauge what they ran down the stretch, how they kind of played. Did they switch their defenses or anything like that. So, yeah, I think we need to try to figure out what gives them problems, not that we’re going to change how we play, but you do have to have an understanding of what gives them problems, whether it’s zone defense or a particular pattern on offense. I think you really need to do that because they are so strong and so deep and so talented.

But we want to make sure, like I said, we only have our experiences to draw on, and we need to kind of go with what got us here, and really try to accentuate our positives.

Q. You talked about your own experiences, you only lost twice since the end of January, but both of those losses were 20-point losses. What did you take from those games, what were the tendencies when you go against a Kansas team that really can score quickly?

COACH MOONEY: They were different games. Xavier game was close and got close with foul shots, whereas Temple kind of really controlled us throughout the game. So what I think is important for us is we seem to gain a great deal of energy when we’re defending well, and when we lose energy when teams are scoring too easily against us. So it’s interesting that it doesn’t have as much to do for us on offense. I think that we gain confidence when we’re defending well, we’re doing what we set out to do and we’re following our plan. And in those rare games that we haven’t defended well, we just haven’t been as poised and we haven’t been as efficient on the offensive end to follow that.

So I think that’s going to be important because Kansas is going to go on runs and they’re going to have success against us and we’re going to need to maintain kind of our composure as we come back down with the ball.

THE MODERATOR: At this time we’d like to welcome the Richmond student-athletes. At this time we’ll go ahead and open the floor for questions.

Q. Dan and Justin, both the Morris twins have the combination of playing inside and outside, and that’s the same for you two. How advantageous is it for you to have that similar skill set to them?

DAN GERIOT: It’s similar. It’s advantageous for us because we know how they play, we do the same thing. We’re able to shoot, we’re able to also play inside a little bit. And so I think in scouting them we’re able to draw comparisons. So when we’re scouting them it’s more like we know what their tendencies are and everything. So one obviously plays more inside and one plays more outside, so that’s going to help us a little bit.

JUSTIN HARPER: Just us being able to spread the floor. I don’t think they’re going to be as comfortable playing guys that have the same skill sets and great shooters outside and taking them out of their comfort zone and staying in the paint all day.

Q. Kevin, I was watching you out there in your little practice session and you seemed particularly pumped. Lots of dunks, lots of reverse dunks. Are you excited about this? Was this typical practice for you or was that because you’re here in the Sweet 16?

KEVIN SMITH: That’s typical. You can ask everybody down the line. That’s how I get going. That’s kind of my job is to get practice flowing, and get everybody ready to play and that’s how I get myself ready to play.

Q. Justin, just wondering if six or seven years ago you had any idea, kind of forecasting what your college experience was going to be like, and if you thought it was going to be anything like it is right now?

JUSTIN HARPER: No, not at all. I’m fortunate and blessed to be part of a program that’s allowed me to grow, and be with this group of guys right here. And just fortunate to, you know, be able to have a senior year that we’re having and just making history. I couldn’t have forecasted it like this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q. Kevin, what makes the heart tick faster, being at the Sweet 16 or facing Kansas at the Sweet 16?

KEVIN SMITH: Can you repeat the question, please?

Q. What makes the heart tick faster, being at the Sweet 16 or facing KU at the Sweet 16?

KEVIN SMITH: Well, I think they kind of coexist. This is an opportunity for us to advance in this tournament, you know, and it’s something that we look forward to doing. And another opponent that is highly looked upon as a traditionally high-powered team. It’s another opportunity for us to be on the stage where we are playing a great opponent and it’s the opportunity to get to the next round. And that’s the only thing that’s on our mind is the next game. And that’s what kind of drives us right now.

Q. Kevin and Dan, Kansas is Kansas. They’ve got a storied program. This is the second time in history your school has been in the Sweet 16. How do you make sure that you play the guys in the uniforms and you don’t play the uniforms and the history of their program?

KEVIN ANDERSON: Well, we don’t want our season to be over, so we’re just going to go out there and play hard. Kansas is a great team. We don’t want this to end. It’s been an unbelievable year for us. We don’t want this to end. Our focus is to get to a National Championship and Kansas is in the way right now, so we have to go out there and handle our business.

DAN GERIOT: We’re more interested in the scouting report than the guys we’re playing. Same with Kansas, same with Vanderbilt and MoreheadState. You’re more interested in the actual guys, that’s how you’ve got to focus on that.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports…

Richmond Spiders Lockerroom Quotes

Darien Brothers, So., G

On being in the Sweet 16 …

“It’s a great feeling. Not many players get this opportunity to even make it to the tournament, so I feel like it’s a huge accomplishment.”

On being from Richmond and helping the Spiders to this point in the tournament …

“It’s a blessing to be from Richmond and to play for my home team and to get this far in the tournament.”

On the national attention the city of Richmond has received with two Sweet 16 teams (Richmond & VCU):

“It’s big. It gives us both an opportunity to put Richmond on the map. A lot of people sleep on Richmond because they don’t see it as a basketball city, but now I think we are starting to get that recognition.”

Om Friday’s matchup with Kansas …

“They rebound well and push the ball well. We definitely have to get back and box guys out and out-rebound them.”

Darrius Garrett, Jr., C/F

On the key to shutting down the Morris brothers …

“It’s going to be limited looks in the hi-low action and keeping them off the glass. That’s going to be the main key to the game. I think anybody that makes it to the NCAA Tournament has an opportunity to win every game.”

Cedrick Lindsay, Fr., G

On being in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman …

“It’s a great experience. We have a great group of guys here and we really truly believe we can take it all the way.”

On making an impact as a freshman …

“I’ve been in a fortunate situation to come in and play some big minutes as a freshman.”

On the team’s underdog role against Kansas …

“We feel like we are in a position we thought we’d be from day one. We’ve played well in this role in the past and hope we can continue that tradition.”

Francis-Cedric Martel, Jr., F

On being in the Sweet 16 …

“It feels great. I’ve been watching it on TV my whole life and just dreaming about being on such a big stage. Here we are today and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

On Friday’s matchup with Kansas …

“I think everyone is confident. We’ve shown in the past we can compete with bigger teams. It’s a great experience to play a number one seed in the tournament. We’re trying to make history. Our school has been here before, but we’re just trying to do more – put our own mark in school history.”