Men's Basketball Press Conference Quotes (3/25)

March 25, 2008

Head Coach Bill Self<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

On Villanova head coach Jay Wright cutting Sherron Collins and Mario Chalmers from the <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>USA Under-21 team:

“Regardless of what anybody said, let’s make it real clear, Jay Wright did not cut these guys. There was a committee. I was on the committee. I’m not going to say how I voted, but it was a consensus deal. He wasn’t the guy who had the final say in those guys not making the team.”

On their final practices in the dome before the game:

“We’ll have two practices in it before we actually play. The message is that we have to get better. We can’t be content where we are. There are definitely some things that we can improve on. We need to have fresh minds and fresh legs. We talk about distractions all the time and this is a time when you definitely do not need them. We need to just stay focused and try to get better.”

On Villanova:

“Our guys understand they are not playing a 12 seed. They are seeded 12th because of where they finished in the Big East, but the Big East was a monster. They are playing, right now, as a much higher seed than that.”

On whether he feels pressure to reach the Final Four:

“I think all coaches that coach in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight feel pressure to get there. I don’t necessarily feel pressure because we haven’t gotten there. There is always pressure to win that big game and in order to get to the Final Four you have to win a lot of big games. For me personally and my staff, we haven’t accomplished that goal, and certainly that would be very nice if we got that accomplished. But that’s not the focus. Our focus is just our team performing as well as it can perform and trying to do something special for our University as a program.”

On whether the team feels pressure:

“For the most part this is a pretty loose group. If anything, we need to pull the reins in on them a little bit rather than loosen them. Right now I don’t sense that it’s a problem.”

On the team meeting:

“I knew that it hadn’t (taken place), but I did not know it was going to happen. I was very disappointed in our team and I let them know it because they hadn’t had one, yet. That blows my mind that whether things are going well or not going well, some point in time they would all get together and say `hey, let’s talk about how everything is going and how can we get better.’ We have a bunch of quiet guys and we needed someone to push them in that direction. I’m not saying I pushed them, but it may have been a coincidence that they had one soon after that.”

On the reason for the team meeting:

“The reason they met was that there were things going on within our team that were not giving us the best chance to win and they had to get some of those things out. It wasn’t individuals shooting the ball or things like that. It was more or less distraction-type things. I think it was good that they met and they talked about it and I guess they were able to get some things off their chest.”

Self quotes from 3-24

On the style of play in the UNLV game:

“It was a guard game, and a post game. It would be easier put that it was `their’ game.”

On Villanova::

“They are very guard-oriented. Their big guys can certainly hurt you, and they are great defenders. They are agile and can switch and trap ball screens. They are very capable. Dante Cunningham is their second leading scorer, and he is one of their big guys. But they want the ball in their guards hands, and primarily Scottie Reynolds.”

On playing a 12-seed in the Sweet 16:

“We’re not playing a 12 seed. We are playing a team that is obviously good enough to be in the Sweet 16. Even though, they probably have more losses than what you what you would think a Sweet 16 team would in a season, but that is primarily due to the league that they played in. They had some really close, heart-breaking type losses. They played great against Clemson. All you have to do is watch the Clemson game, and when you’re down 18 and come back and keep your poise to win a game going away, that was a great game.”

On how Kansas played against UNLV in comparison to the victory over Texas:

“I thought we played very well against UNLV. There wasn’t as much rhythm in the game because there were so many stoppages, but I thought we played very well. Offensively, we got the ball where we needed to get it. We had 10 turnovers, but three were just fumbled balls in the post as we were ready to score. I thought we played well. This game didn’t have the same feel as the (Big 12 Tournament Championship) game against Texas did because this was a grind it out game. There weren’t that many short possessions, where you were going to get an early shot. Against Texas, both teams seemed to get early shots.”

On Villanova’s defense:

“They have interchangeable parts. They switch-up on how they guard ball screens. They switch-up on how they guard screens. Sometimes they switch and sometimes they don’t. They create confusion with what they do. We played some other teams that are comparable to that, but they probably do as a good a job as anybody of switching screens and their guards defending the post. And their big guys are so agile that they can guard the guards. You bet that they can get after it and their percentages show that. I think they are playing very well over the last seven or eight games.”

On how Coach Self will handle the practice schedule:

“We won’t gear down from an effort standpoint, but we certainly will from a time standpoint. We’ll still go as hard as we’ve ever gone, but we just won’t go as long. I’d like to keep all our practices on Monday and Tuesday under and hour and a half. And then on Wednesday and Thursday keep it around an hour and 15 minutes. We’ll work on our stuff, but we’ll spend the majority of the week working on Villanova’s stuff. We won’t look ahead with our players, but as a staff we’ll look ahead in the office only. We’ll spend this week looking only at the Wildcats.”

On knowing how long to practice:

“I think that when you get late into the season, we try and cut our times back. This is a time when you definitely need to do that, because there is stress on the guys. And you don’t want to add to the stress by running their legs down.”

On Sherron Collins’ injury:

“He didn’t even practice on Friday. We talked to him on Friday and said `it’s going to be sore and going to hurt, but you have to decided how bad you want to be out there.’ Structurally, he’s fine, but he re-bruised his knee and it’s the one that’s been giving trouble over time, but he’ll just have to play through it if he’s going to be effective, because it’s not going to heal up in one day. I think he will get the feeling better, but he bumped knees last Tuesday and he hasn’t been himself since then. I didn’t think he was himself against PortlandState, but I thought he moved played pretty well against UNLV. He moved well, but I don’t think he’s quite 100 percent. But I’m banking on him being 100 percent by Friday. I think he’s going to be fine.”

On running the `five-game’ against UNLV:

“We do it quite often. We’ve done it on various possessions throughout the year, but we had not done it very often with four guards on the floor. Based on situation and time and score, I could see us doing that again in the future. The biggest thing is if we can guard that way. And with the size of Vegas, I didn’t think it hurt us that much. Brandon (Rush) is our best defender, so I would feel comfortable with him guarding anybody, but we can definitely do it with Brandon as our second big guy. It is not something you want to do all the time though if they are posting Brandon or Rod (Stewart) a lot. Rod’s not big enough to play post defense a lot. Vegas played primarily on the perimeter.”

Senior guard Russell Robinson

On the team’s mentality:

“The main thing is that you have to focus your energy. You have to get over those two wins. They were great, but the main thing is that you have to refocus and get ready for your next opponent.”

On traveling:

“I love traveling with my team. This will be one of my last experiences with them so I just have to make the most of it.”

On the team meeting last month:

“We just wanted to get everybody on the same page, get everybody pulling in the same direction. We were going through a tough time and we needed to come together. That meeting helped us come together as a team and everybody refocused their energy toward winning and we’ve been able to put together a good run since.”

Junior guard Brandon Rush

On the team’s mentality:

“It is very important to stay focused on Villanova right now. We aren’t worrying about the team that we might have to face next.”

On playing in a dome:

“I’m way more focused on who we are playing than where we are playing. We have to focus on Villanova and that’s what we are going to focus on today.”

On Villanova:

“They are small like UNLV. We are probably going to play little to go against their pressure. Then we will try to throw it down to our bigs whenever we have the opportunity.”

Junior Guard Mario Chalmers

On how Villanova compares to UNLV:

“They compare to UNLV a little bit, I think that they have a little better shooters than UNLV does, so we have to do a better job at guarding the three point line and be ready to get every loose ball.”

Senior Forward Darnell Jackson

On the late game time:

“Coach Self will make sure we get up early, eat breakfast and then let us chill for the rest of the day. We have to get our legs under us and make sure that we are rested.”

On how the team is taking advantage of the extra practice:

“Right now we are just going hard in practice. We are trying to get ready for Villanova; those guys are great and Coach Self tells us everyday not to take anything for granted. Practice has been great. Everybody has been focusing and we have got the right mindset to go out there and win the game.”