Men's Basketball Press Conference (April 1)

April 1, 2008

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Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self

On being new to the Final Four despite playing in big games before:

“I’m not a rookie. Even though I haven’t coached in the final four yet, there are other big games throughout a season, but none of the magnitude of this. I don’t feel like a rookie. I’ve been doing this a little while. Certainly, I do think every time you experience something, you potentially benefit from it. I would hope that if I have the opportunity to coach in the Final Four again, I hope I’m better than I am the first time because you always learn something.”

On what impresses him most about Tyler Hansbrough:

“Well, stating the obvious would be his toughness, his passion, he goes after it. He doesn’t take possessions off. You hear it all the time from watching him on TV. It’s true. He’s been like that for many years. We recruited <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Tyler pretty hard on his visit here. The thing about him back then was you knew he would be something special. His talent has improved and his skill set has improved dramatically since he’s been at North Carolina. You go along with the work ethic and get stronger, get smarter and develop more balance. That’s why he will be the National Player of the Year. I’d say how relentless he is going after the ball is as impressive a quality as he possesses and he possesses a lot of them.”

On how often he recruits against Roy Williams:

“Not that much really. We haven’t really recruited against him (Roy Williams) much. We recruited Quentin Thomas, we recruited Tyler Hansbrough and we were 0-2 there, but we really haven’t crossed paths too often on the recruiting trail.”

On North Carolina’s Ty Lawson:

“You don’t want Ty to have a huge night, obviously. I think everybody would agree with that. He can not have a huge night from an Xs and Os standpoint and still come away with 22 points and 13 rebounds from an effort standpoint. I think the thing teams, in this case us, need to do is not let him get easy baskets as generated through transition, second shots. In transition is key for him because he is the fastest guy I’ve seen as far as going from defense to offense. I don’t think anybody does it better than him.”

On who is best fit to guard Tyler Hansbrough:

“This is an important game for our four bigs. If you look at it on paper, Sasha’s (Kaun) standing height and size would probably be as good a match-up as we would have with him. That’s only going to happen when he’s in the game and how many minutes Sasha plays is based on how everybody else is playing. I believe that all the guys have to be prepared to guard him and do a good job of limiting his easy baskets and obviously get to the free throw line.”

On comparing guarding Tyler Hansbrough to Michael Beasley:

“Well, no disrespect to KansasState, but it is different. Against (Michael) Beasley, we did a great job with him and held him to 39 points, so there is a difference. Getting the floor spread allows Hansbrough to get more easy touches than Michael (Beasley) gets. So there are some differences there.”

On Brandon Rush’s development as a player at Kansas:

“Well, the biggest thing Brandon has done to help himself is that he’s become more disciplined. He’s always been a great kid. He came here with a reputation of not being a hard worker and not liking school, but he’s been more than we ever anticipated from a personal standpoint. He’s everyone’s favorite teammate; he’s as funny as any guy on the team. He’s a great defender, he works hard. There are a lot of intangibles that he has, but I still think there was an element in his life that he could become more disciplined and through his injury, that forced him to become that. I think there’s been a lot of carry over in other areas of his life and his game that have made him a better basketball player. I believe he’s 100 percent from a health standpoint and he’s more disciplined now than he probably ever has been as a player and a person. Because of those things, I think he’s far better off having come back to school this year than leaving last year.”

On what Brandon Rush does for the rest of the team:

“Well, he gives us confidence. When Brandon plays well, which he’s done a majority of the time, especially late in the season, everybody feeds off of that. You could say the same thing about Mario (Chalmers), you could say the same thing about Shady (Darrell Arthur), but there’s something about Brandon. We can run a bad offense and come away with three points, whereas when he’s not being aggressive or earlier in his career, he didn’t put himself in that position.”

On the speed of North Carolina’s game:

“I think that we have to be who we are and we’re at our best when we run as well. If you look at the times that we’ve struggled this year, it’s been times when it’s basically been a low possession game or we couldn’t generate points off a defense or in transition and I think that’s what (North) Carolina does better than anybody, is generate points before the defense is set. Of course we don’t want the score to be 110-108, unless we have 110, but we do want possessions and we want to play fast because that’s who we are. We aren’t going to change who we are after 38 games, but we can play smart and we can certainly pick our spots.”

On the mindset of the team possibly being satisfied with a trip to the Final Four:

“I think they’ll ramp it back up. How do you really know how to answer until after this weekend? Everybody is going to say, `We want this, we want this’. I don’t think there’s ever been a team that goes to the Final Four saying, `Ok, season’s over, let’s just have fun’. The mindset and the preparation, the willingness to listen to your staff, to eliminate distractions and all the things that go along with performing well this weekend–those are the teams that have the best chance to have success. I think everybody has good intentions going into this week, that they’re not satisfied. You definitely have to put those words into actions and I don’t think anybody can answer that until it’s over.”

On if he’s ever talked with Roy Williams about the irony of playing one another’s teams:

“No, we visit. We never have gotten together over soda or anything and talked about what all has transpired. But we’ve talked about doing that, we’ve talked about talking about it, but really, the opportunity on the road in the summertime just hasn’t presented itself.”

On Sean Sutton and OklahomaState as his alma mater:

“I got a phone call late this morning from a fan that said, `Don’t be blindsided, this could potentially happen’. The first thing I did was see my Athletics Director to tell him that this could potentially happen, but I haven’t heard that it’s happened. If it happens, I feel bad for Sean because I felt his team got better throughout the course of the year, without question. I do care deeply about my alma mater. I spent 11 years of my life at OSU. Nobody from there has contacted me, and if they did, I would strongly recommend that they move in a different direction.”

On coaches `moving home’ and why it is so appealing:

“I can’t answer that. If your home is a nice place- or if you didn’t like where you grew up, you probably wouldn’t want to move back- but if you loved where you grew up, then I can certainly understand why that would be a draw to anybody, but I can’t speak for everybody.”

On if he thinks OklahomaState will contact him:

“I don’t want to be presumptuous, but it could happen. I would tell them right now that they shouldn’t based on my situation here and how much I like being at the University of Kansas.”

On whether Sean Sutton and the OklahomaState position will be a distraction as the Final Four approaches:

“No. I guess there is a concern because I’m sure it will draw attention, but it won’t be a distraction to me, not in the least, and it won’t be with our players. I will visit with our players this afternoon about you guys asking them questions about this and go over everything, but I don’t see that being a distraction with them either.”

On possible future rules that prohibit coaches from being contacted until the end of the season:

“I have no idea. But I will tell you this, you bring up a good point because who says that schools are contacting anybody? If I’m not mistaken, Billy Donovan went through it last year throughout the entire NCAA Tournament because Kentucky was open. I bet you Kentucky wasn’t contacting Billy, but it was a story and the media made it out to be a story that never had any legs and I would anticipate this being the case if it goes in that direction.”

On Athletics Director Lew Perkins’ response regarding OklahomaState:

“We’ve talked about a lot of scenarios. Lew and I talk all the time about anything and everything. The bottom line is, you’d have to ask him, but we have a very good relationship. We’ve said all along that when the season is over we’re going to evaluate what’s going on, but I’ll let him answer any questions. I don’t anticipate, just because this happens at this time, that we change our game plan. Our game plan is that when the season’s over, Lew and I get together and make sure that this is a great fit for everybody and I certainly anticipate that being the case.”

On a certain player that provides leadership:

“Unfortunately for us, it kind of changes from game to game. Sometimes it’s been Mario (Chalmers), sometimes it’s been Russell (Robinson). Brandon’s not the most talkative guy. From my standpoint, when he’s right and his health is good, Sherron (Collins) is the guy that has the more natural, vocal leadership ability on our team.”

On whether or not he has talked to 1988 Championship team coach Larry Brown:

“I think coach Brown is a pretty smart guy. Think about this: He played and coached at Carolina, he coached UCLA to the National Championship game, he coached Kansas to a National Championship and John Calipari is probably closer to him than any other person. He’s going to go 1-3 this week, that’s what he told me. So no matter who wins, he’s 1-3 because three teams are going to lose. I would personally think that he’s really proud of all the schools. He’ll be a proud person watching the game and I bet he’ll be watching from a very neutral, tied in knots position because he would want everybody to do well.”

On Darnell (Jackson)’s improvements:

“Well, when he’s at his best, he’s our energy guy and he hasn’t played to that as much as what we would like. We’ve talked about that. He’s got to become a great rebounder, a guy that you can’t block off, a guy that steals you extra possessions and when you do those things, the rest of your game comes easier. We’ve got to get him playing with that same energy level, not lack of effort level, but same energy level to steal us some extra possessions.”

On Darnell’s focus with everything that has gone on in his life:

“I think he’s done a great job this year. I think it’s remarkable, that with the things he’s gone through, he’s made it to this point. We can talk about basketball, but he’s just 12-15 hours from graduating and he’s finishing up this semester and to have everything thrown at him, he’s still kept his focus and had the discipline to see it through. From an improvement standpoint, his offensive skill set has improved dramatically from years past. His key is energy. That is the key to him playing well.”

On his friendship with R.C. Buford:

“When I visited OklahomaState on my official visit, he was a walk-on at OSU and he was my host. I knew him when I was a senior in high school and he was a junior in college. When I went to OklahomaState, he was still there and when he left to come here (to Kansas), we were obviously still close friends and he basically got me to come work camp. Because I was up here, I had the great opportunity to hurt my knee and get a job. But we’ve known each other since I was 18 and been close since then. Unfortunately, now that his son plays for us, I get to see him too much. R.C. and Beth will be there and I’m sure they’ll be entertaining a lot of Kansas people because they love KU, but I won’t spend much time with him. I’m going to hunker down and try to spend as little time with people as possible.”

Kansas Players

Senior Guard Jeremy Case

On playing against Roy Williams:

“I think that it is going to be a fun game, but that was five years ago and I have put it behind me. Coach Williams is a wonderful coach and I wish the best for him, but I am just going to focus on what we need to do to win.”

Sophomore Sherron Collins

On the tempo of the game:

“We play fast so we are going to still play how we play and are not going to do anything different. They play fast and are going to try to push the ball and we are going to have to be ready for it.”

Senior Forward Darnell Jackson

On the effect Brandon Rush has had on this team:

“When Brandon came back it made a big difference for us, because he is a guy that can get off and make a big shot. When he is out there on the three point line, I don’t think anybody in the country is shooting better than Brandon Rush right now.”

On the distractions the team faces:

“I don’t think that there will be any distractions for anybody. Our guys will get ready to play North Carolina and when we go down there we have to be ready.”

Senior Forward Sasha Kaun

On his performance against Davidson:

“Just energy, which is something I’ve been striving for all year. I’m just always trying to be energetic and I think that helped me the most.”

On North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough:

“I’m really looking forward to playing against him. He’s just unbelievable. He’s a great physical player, and he knows how to draw contact. He shoots a lot of free throws which puts us in a position to try to play without fouling as much. He always goes for the boards hard and he knows how to block out. We just have to always try to find him and put a body on him.”

On KU’s game plan:

“They (UNC) are a good offensive team, but I think we just have to play the way we’ve been playing. As long as we secure the ball, I don’t think we will change much. Between Cole and I, we will try to put different bodies on (Tyler) Hansbrough and make some adjustments, but we haven’t really discussed it too much yet.”

Junior Forward Brandon Rush

On returning for his junior season:

“It feels good right now to be here with my family (my teammates). Coming back, making it to the Final Four was something I really wanted to make happen, one of my goals. I think it was the perfect decision for me, knowing I had to rebuild my knee and get back into playing shape so we could make it this far.”

On distractions leading up to the game:

“I think there will be distractions, but we have so much at stake right now. We’re playing against North Carolina and we’re in the Final Four with three other great teams. Every team is really supposed to come out and play this weekend, and we’re really trying not to worry about that other stuff at all.”

On the team’s attitude:

“I think we just have to come with the right mindset. We reached one of our goals, which was to make the Final Four. Now we’re trying to reach our other goal, and that’s to win the National Championship.”

Senior Guard Russell Robinson

On how he will prepare for Saturday’s game:

“I don’t want to get out of character. This is the biggest game of the year and I want to keep doing what I’ve been doing all year for my team. The most important thing is that I just get out there and play harder than I ever have in my life.”

On what it would mean to win the National Championship:

“It would be a perfect ending to my college career. It’s a great way to graduate and go out. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the Final Four and now here I am. The main thing is going out and playing hard and giving it my all.”

On the keys to stopping North Carolina’s offense:

“We need to do what we’ve been doing all year and that is getting up and down the floor. When we are playing good offense that means we are playing good defense, so the main thing is to play our game and do the same thing we’ve been doing all year.”

On if Kansas feels like the underdog with Memphis, UCLA and North Carolina all having All-Americans on their teams:

“I don’t feel like we are the underdogs. Part of our success has come from us being unselfish and everybody sharing the spotlight and contributing. Different guys step up on different nights and that is how we got where we are.”

On whether North Carolina is easy to prepare for since they are always on tv:

“North Carolina is easy to prepare for because not only do we see them play on tv, but we have played with those players growing up in the AAU circuits so we are familiar with their tendencies. ESPN is going to do the scouting report for us so it makes it a little easier.”

Sophomore forward Darrell Arthur

On the keys to stopping Tyler Hansbrough:

“I think we are pretty deep down in the post. We have a lot of guys we can throw at him so we will do that and try to wear him down and not give him any easy looks at the basket down low.”

On if Saturday’s game will be a fast-paced, high scoring contest:

“We are definitely going to try to stop them defensively. But we are going to play our game the way we have been all year. That is what got us this far so we are going to keep doing it.”

Junior guard Mario Chalmers

On if playing talented players such as KansasState’s Michael Beasley has helped prepare KU’s bigs to take on North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough:

“Yes, playing players like Michael Beasley has definitely helped. Our bigs will be up to the challenge and will do a good job. Beasley is a little different because he steps out more and shoots the three. Our bigs just have to keep him [Tyler Hansbrough] contained and keep him in front of them on offense.”

On the keys to stopping UNC’s Ty Lawson:

“We need to keep him in front of us and not give him any open layups. We can’t let him feel comfortable while he is out there on the court.”