April 2, 2012
Kansas 59, Kentucky 67
April 2, 2012
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started with Kansas. Coach, a couple opening remarks.
COACH SELF: Well, first of all, congratulations to the University of Kentucky. I thought they played an unbelievable first half. Had us on our heels. Really controlled everything the first 20 minutes.
But, you know, we got the game the way we wanted it. It was a muddy track. We had opportunities to make some plays to cut it to a one-possession game there late. Davis made an unbelievable play on Elijah to force the walk and Kidd-Gilchrist made an unbelievable play on Ty when we had the layup.
We came up short. But, you know, I don’t think we lost. I think they just beat us. I’m real proud of our team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Bill, Davis only had one basket in the game. I wonder what you think about the impact any player could have when scoring only one basket.
COACH SELF: He was terrific. But the one basket he made was one of the biggest baskets of the game. He made that face-up 18-footer on the baseline. He’s terrific. He’s terrific. Seeing him in person late in the season as opposed to early in the season, you can tell how much he’s improved. I think all the guys would agree.
We actually guarded him pretty good. Jeff did a good job on him. Thomas did a good job on him. He just impacts the game so much with his length and he’s so quick. He’s also a ball-handling big guy which puts you in an awkward position sometimes.
For a guy to have six points, he did control the paint there for a stretch without question.
Q. Tyshawn, what is it about this team that no deficit seems impossible to overcome?
Tyshawn Taylor: Well, I mean, we been fighting all year, man. We’re hard-working guys, man. Just tough and want to fight. You know, it sucks that we have to be down 14 before we want to start fighting. Guess that’s kind of what happened.
I think, you know, the fight never stops with us guys, man. You know, from Thomas to Kevin Young coming off the bench. We just was fighting the whole game.
We were right there. We were right there. But they a great team. Like coach say, congratulations to them. Great team. Played their hearts out, just like we did. They came out victorious today.
Q. Bill, you said you didn’t lose, you just got beat. Can you run us through your thoughts about how the season has been, weighing the disappointment of a missed opportunity tonight, but the great run you had before that.
COACH SELF: Well, it was a great run tonight, too. I mean, you get a chance to play in this game on this stage. One good team’s not gonna win.
We didn’t play particularly well the first half and they were terrific. We put ourselves in a position to make it a one-possession game late and just didn’t get it done. But it wasn’t for a lack of try or lack of competitive juice or lack of toughness. I mean, our guys the last 10 minutes played and we just came up empty.
But from start to finish, there’s been no team I’ve been around improved this match, there’s been no team I’ve been around compete this hard, there’s been no team I’ve been around that was able to take whatever situation dealt them and respond to it favorably, and there’s no team I’ve been around that represented our university or ourselves, our their families, any better than this one has.
It’s a pretty proud moment to be able to coach a team like this and a group of individuals like this.
Q. Would you comment on what Coach Self talked about the team ending up here in the championship with a chance in the last couple minutes, where you guys have come from and the journey you’ve been on.
Thomas Robinson: Uhm, it’s an accomplishment. It’s definitely a plus. Anything we did this far in the tournament, especially with the expectations we had coming into the season. Like coach said, I don’t think we lost the game, we just got beat. All season we’ve been coming back from, you know, 12-point deficits.
I’m just glad I got a chance to be a part of this team.
Q. Thomas, could you comment on how difficult it was to deal with Davis, how his presence was difficult.
Thomas Robinson: That was a difficult thing. A lot of times I tried to go to my left shoulder on Jones, but I could see Anthony skying over top of him. So it was kind of tough for me to even pass it to Jeff or try to get a shot up. He definitely impacted the game for a stretch on the defensive end.
COACH SELF: The thing about it is, in a perfect world, if you’re a team like Florida that has four stretch guys, you can eliminate him from being as big a factor defensively. We got two stretch guys and we play inside out. We weren’t going to change in 30 minutes yesterday how we’re gonna play.
We tried to take it to ’em. We tried to force help. I thought the first half, I think the guys would probably agree, we took some marginal shots the first half in tight that really didn’t have a chance to go in. The second half we didn’t. The second half, shots he blocked, majority went out of bounds, which is okay.
But he is an unbelievable factor on both ends, but certainly defensively he’s got timing, his first jump is unbelievable, and he’s a very smart defender, as well.
Q. Tyshawn, when you guys ran the back-door play, you were putting up the layup, did you think you were home free?
Tyshawn Taylor: Made an unbelievable play. I thought I had it. I should have finished it on the same side. But I felt like I was too far under the rim. He didn’t quit on the play. His length, you know, is something that you can’t really teach. So him not giving up, then him using his length, he made an unbelievable play. I definitely thought I had a layup.
Q. Bill, I had you guys having like 18 possessions where you were right at the rim and didn’t convert. How big was that, to get that close and not score? Also Lamb’s two three-pointers, how big were those?
COACH SELF: They were huge. We cut it to 10 and had the ball. I don’t know, it was nine left, 10 left, we have the ball, come up empty, then he sticks two in a row, gives them breathing room. That was huge. That was a huge play.
You know, really defensively, other than those two possessions, we can’t guard ’em any better second half. But, you know, sometimes it’s a little misleading. We missed 18 shots in tight?
Q. Didn’t come up with anything.
COACH SELF: Well, most of our misses were probably altered, as well. And it’s hard to score over length. Nobody in America can simulate length like that. It’s hard to score over length. But that’s who we are. We try to take it in there. A couple of marginal shots we shouldn’t have taken, but for the most part, you know, that’s who we are, that’s how we play.
You know, he controlled it the first half. But second half I thought we did a much better job.
Q. Tyshawn, you look stunned. What was it like in the locker room? What are you feeling right now?
Tyshawn Taylor: I’m proud of my team for how we, you know, competed, how we been competing all year.
As a senior, this is a bad feeling because I don’t get the chance to make it up to these guys. And so, you know, it’s a pretty bad feeling, man. I love how we fought. In a couple days I might look back and say this is a great year, we had a great year. But right now it’s just a bad feeling. It’s a bad feeling being so close, working so hard for four years for this one game. We finally here and we come up short.
Coach say something to us earlier. When you care so much about something, it doesn’t go your way, it’s going to hurt a little bit. That’s kind of the stage we going through right now. I think I speak for probably all my teammates and probably the coaches that this is going to hurt for a while.
Like I said, when we look back on this, we gonna feel okay about it because we fought our hearts out and we’ve been fighting our hearts out from the beginning of the season and that’s why this hurts a little bit more, you know.
Q. How have you seen Tyshawn grow as a player and leader over the past couple months even?
COACH SELF: He’s performed since conference play started more consistently and better than any guard that we’ve had since I’ve been at Kansas. He’s been absolutely terrific.
You know, his attitude’s always good. Sometimes he may have gotten in his own way a little bit a couple years when he was young, but he’s matured. He’s a terrific leader, too. He’s a good assistant coach. I mean, he coaches our guys. He understands the game. He has great feel.
He can make plays you can’t coach. Some of the plays he made tonight driving, off-balance, are plays you can’t coach. He’s performed at a level that I thought he possibly could, but he’s maybe even surpassed what I thought. He’s been that good.
Q. In the first half it seemed like Kentucky was scoring at a consistent pace. Ever think of taking the ball out of Teague and make the bigger guys make the plays?
COACH SELF: Yeah. Most of the first half, if you study it, they made three threes. That’s not the killer first half. What they killed us was in transition. They controlled the offensive boards when they missed. Of course, they drove it pretty good.
But to say what you’re saying, I don’t know if it’s as easily done as what you’re saying because the way they hurt us was getting the ball off the bounce to the paint. I thought our defensive strategy, to be honest, was pretty good. I didn’t think we were aggressive the first half like we should be. Against our halfcourt defense, they didn’t wear us out. They wore us out in transition against the glass.
Q. Thomas, you said yesterday that Anthony Davis wasn’t Superman. I wonder what your assessment of him is now after going against him twice.
Thomas Robinson: I still don’t think he’s Superman. Just a great player. He’s not Superman. I mean, I didn’t mean anything disrespectful by it. As a competitor, I’m not going to sit here and give all my praise to another player I got to go against.
Like I say, Anthony is a great player. You see he impacted the game without even scoring today. That’s just what he do.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about the tendency about your team having a better defensive field goal percentage in the second half. Could you put your finger on why it’s not there in the first half? What are some of the things you tried to do to get that intensity in the first half or effort?
COACH SELF: It’s not effort. It’s not effort.
The game I watched, I felt like Kentucky played great the first half. In transition, we did a bad job of sorting. We did a bad job of getting back. The stats may not show it as far as what fastbreak points there was, there was 12 fastbreak points they got the first half. That forced help in transition or whatnot.
You know, we did guard ’em better the second half. I don’t know if I buy into the total philosophy that we don’t guard the first half or whatever. I think Kentucky’s 1 in field goal percentage in the country, I think we’re either 2 or 3. We’ve guarded for the most part all year long. We didn’t do as good a job the first half, obviously, and against Ohio State we didn’t, so I guess that’s the appearance that you have.
But I think Kentucky’s really good and I think they made some plays. Of course, they shot the heck out of it early.
Q. Thomas, you indicated yesterday leading up to the game you wanted to play different than you did in the first game and be a bigger factor. What was your level of frustration the way they defended you in the first half, your general impressions about how the game played out?
Thomas Robinson: Uhm, well, my impression how the game played out. Like we say over again, we play hard. We just started off slow. Kentucky is terrific in transition, and we didn’t get back and stop that. That’s what put us down so much.
As far as my impact on the game, I really don’t know what to say about it. I feel the same way just as much I did the first time.
Q. I’m wondering when you made that run at the end if 2008 crossed your mind at all?
COACH SELF: It really didn’t cross my mind. But under the four timeout, I called the guys back over and said, We were down nine with two minutes left in ’08, we got plenty of time. Then Thomas makes two free throws to cut it to seven. I could be mistaken, I think we got a stop. Then we had the ball down seven. If I’m not mistaken, I think we came up empty on that possession.
The way that the game went, in my mind, I haven’t told the players this, in my mind we didn’t want to get down 18. Trust me on that. But we wanted to be a one, two, three possession game under five. We thought the pressure would obviously shift on them. We almost got it there. We almost got it there.
They’re late. They played not to score just as much as they did to run clock. We did a better job of cleaning up the possessions.
It crossed my mind, but we just didn’t have the mojo tonight like we did back then.
Q. As a coach, do you have an appreciation for what the Kentucky staff has done in order to get such a young group of players to be so patient on offense and buy in defensively?
COACH SELF: They’ve done a great job. They’ve done a fabulous job coaching their team. They share. They like each other, the appearance is. And they certainly defend. They’re playing with pros. That didn’t hurt either.
But, you know, they’ve done a great job, great job coaching their team. I don’t think their staff gets the credit sometimes that they deserve on how well they coach because they’re so talented.
Q. Bill, when John went to Kentucky three years ago, do you remember thinking at all that he’s going to win a title there, only a matter of time? Did you think it might happen this quickly for him?
COACH SELF: Well, the way that they’ve done it, I don’t think you could really say anything is ‘quickly.’ Because they’ve been playing with really talented kids every year. It’s not like they recruited freshmen and by the time they’re juniors and seniors they’re ready. They’re turning them over every year.
But absolutely I thought he’d win a national championship at Kentucky. You know, you have resources. You have facilities. You have so many things going for you there when you recruit the level of players they’ve recruited, and they coach ’em the way they coach ’em. I think it was obvious that he was going to win a championship.
Q. John said he doesn’t need this to validate his career. You’ve been in his position. As a coach, what does it mean to win a national championship?
COACH SELF: Well, I mean, for me – I can’t speak for him – but for me, you know, Kentucky’s an historic program. It’s unbelievable. But so is our program. And for me personally to be only the third guy to lead his team or coach his team to the winner’s circle, so to speak, was an unbelievable, humbling feeling to me, to be a part of something that is so much bigger than me, but still yet be a serious part of the fabric of what the existence of the program has been. I’m sure Cal feels the same way.
Q. All year long you guys have been generally the biggest, longest team with the most reach. No team has been able to match what you guys have. What was it like out there dealing with a team that had all those things that you guys usually dominate with?
Thomas Robinson: I mean, I wouldn’t totally agree with that because from my memory we kind of been the underdog in mostly all the big games we had this year.
But no team in the country matches with Kentucky when it comes to length. That’s pretty much all I got to say about that.
COACH SELF: Just to interject, we’re not that big. We’re playing a 6’3″, 6’4″ three-man and guards that are 6’3″. Kentucky’s length to me is so good with Davis, but you forget about, hey, Jones is long, Wiltjer is long, Gilchrist is the longest three-man around, Darius Miller is the longest three-man in the country. They’re long in a lot of spots.
Thomas is right. We haven’t gone against that type of length in our league. That’s the longest team we’ve played.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.