Kansas Men's Basketball Holds Media Day

Oct. 12, 2010

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Player Interviews: Little | Reed

Kansas Men’s Basketball Media Day
Oct. 12, 2010 – Lawrence, Kan.

Head Coach Bill Self

Opening Statement:

“We’re excited about this year, and I really like this team. It’s really coming together because we’ve got guys that didn’t have as big of opportunity in the past and I think they are very capable of making the most of it. It should be a fun year; we’re more athletic than what we have been the last couple of years, for sure. It will be hard to surpass that 2007-08 team athletically, but this team is the closest thing we’ve had to doing so. I’m excited about it and it should be a fun year.”

On what excites him the most about this year’s team:

“I think without question: speed. With the way this team can defend and do different things with interchangeable parts. From a raw speed standpoint, we’re obviously going to miss Sherron (Collins), X (Xavier Henry) and Cole (Aldrich). This is going to be a team that can pressure more and certainly play faster offensively.”

On the improvement of Mario Little:

“Mario really hasn’t shown what he can do because his first year he only played half the season and then sat last year, and it was good for him to sit because it guarantees graduation, but it also gives him a chance to impact this team in ways that he couldn’t do last year when he wasn’t quite as healthy. He’s a 100% now and he’s a bad matchup 4-man or he’s a big 3-man. He can certainly get the ball in the basket and we saw a glimpse of that his first year. He’s a guy that can put up numbers regardless of how many minutes he plays.”

On his reaction of his team not picked to finish first in the Big 12:

“Well we shouldn’t have been. We’ve been picked not to win the league before, and won it. It really doesn’t make much difference to me. Last year we were a unanimous pick and this year Kansas State is close to being a unanimous pick. In my opinion they deserve to be picked preseason one based on their year last year and the key players they have returning. We lost two lottery picks and the winningest player in the history of the school and usually you don’t get better by losing those types of players. I do think this, 33-3 is a good winning percentage and I don’t think this team will do that. Our goal will be to win every game but that will be very difficult to do. I do think this team can be as good as last year’s team. The league will be very good again, and we just have to make sure and take care of our business and not worry about everybody else.”

On Tyrel Reed’s role and expectations for the year:

“I want him to have a big senior year and no one deserves to have a big senior year more than he does. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s our best-conditioned athlete again and he wants to go out in style. What’s most important to him is that our team has a great year. If we do that then he will feel great. He’ll have a chance to fight for a starting spot and we expect him to be what he’s always been for us: a shot-maker, but he’s more than a specialist. His ball-handling and passing has gotten better to the point where he’s more of a complete guard than he has been since he’s been here.”

On the improvement of Thomas Robinson:

“I think he’s grown-up. I think Thomas was one of the kids that wanted to come in and really do good right when he got here. I also think he’s bought in to how we want him to play and the way he can be most effective. I’m really excited about him and he’s had a really good offseason. I think Thomas has a very high ceiling.”

On Travis Releford’s role this season:

“I don’t know if I see him scoring a lot, but I see him playing a lot. Hopefully he can be a lockdown-type defender and be a guy that averages close to 10 points a game. I think that would be a bonus for us and I think he is capable of doing that.”

On how Markieff Morris has developed:

“He’s become more of a post-player. He’s got good touch on the ball from range and he understands that he can score on the block. He’s got some things that are hard to guard from a move and size standpoint. I think he finally understands how to use his body in relationship to what he’s got. He’s going to shoot more threes this year, but he can’t fall in love with it. He’s a very capable three-point shooter.”

On replacing Cole Aldrich defensively:

“I don’t know if we can replace what he did defensively. We can guard ball screens differently. We can full-court pressure more. I think we can do some things that we couldn’t do with Cole in the game that would make us different, not necessarily better, but just different. If we’re able to do those things well then maybe some of those things Cole covered up won’t be quite as important as what they were last year. You don’t replace a guy that can block and alter shots like that, but hopefully (Jeff) Withey can get healthy and be a guy we can put in there and he can have that impact whenever he’s in the game.”

On the importance of Friday’s Late Night:

“It’s big. It’s probably the biggest one we’ve had. It’s an important weekend for us.”

Freshman guard Josh Selby

On why he chose to attend Kansas:
“The 2008 National Championship. That’s when I knew it was best for me to be here. The way they played together, they always stayed by each other’s side when they were down. Family’s a big thing with me. What they have here is great family tradition.”

On if he’s looking forward to “Late Night in the Phog:”
“Everybody’s been talking to me about it but I’m not trying to concentrate on it until Friday because I have to get through Wednesday and Thursday. But when Friday comes, I’ll be excited.”

On whether he feels pressure to be the next Sherron Collins:
“I don’t feel that I need to show the fans that I’m the next Sherron because the fans just want to win. That’s all I’m here for, is to win for my team.”

Junior forward Markieff Morris

On how motivated he was over the summer with Marcus at Lebron James’ Camp:

“It’s probably about the same as when he is here. I’m really happy he got a chance to do that. He told me a lot of stories about him doing those things and going to camps, but if he was here it would have probably been the same motivation.”

On how Marcus has improved the most:

“He’s a lot quicker, his ball handling is a lot better and he’s shooting a lot better.”

On Bill Self’s comparison of Josh Selby to a bigger Sherron Collins:

“I don’t know anybody like Sherron. Sherron was tough and Josh is tough too, but to be Sherron-tough you have to be in college for four years and lead a team like he did.”

On using last year as motivation:

“Last season ended tough for all of us, so of course I do use it as motivation. I just can’t wait for this season to start. It’s just around the corner and we can’t wait to get after it.”

Junior guard Tyshawn Taylor

On the difference with the team this year:

“I really haven’t seen that much difference. I think we’re hungrier, and I think losing guys, and other guys having to step up and be leaders is something that is new to us but I think we’re ready for it. We’re hungry, we just want to win. We want to be better every day, so we’re going to come in here and work like we want to win.”

On being consistent throughout college:

“I was never one of those guys that was predicting to be one-and-done or two-and-done or even three-and-done player. Since I’ve been in college, it’s really hard to be consistent in college. College is a different level than high school, but I think it can be done. I don’t think it’s really that hard but college is a different game.”

On the hardest thing for him to be a consistent college basketball player:

“I think it’s more mental than anything with me. I think a lot and I think too much. If I make a turnover I’m thinking, ‘Don’t make another one,’ instead of, ‘Make a good play or just play solid.’ I think it’s just mentally with me but I think I could be a real good player and I think I could beat the system and I think I will beat it.”

Sophomore forward Travis Releford

On his redshirt season:

“Coming here I never saw myself being a redshirt. Midway through the season I realized it was a great decision. I was improving and seeing result. I got a lot more shots up. I worked on my game every day because in practice, that’s all I was doing.”

On his improved jump shot:

“I try to just put up about five or six hundred shots a day. I had been doing that all through last season and just continued doing it through the summer; I built up a lot of confidence doing that.”

On the roll he will play for the team:

“I feel that I’m a shooter, but the type of roll I will play is just getting out and defending, knocking down open shots and creating for my teammates.”

On the Big 12 preseason poll:

“It doesn’t really matter. If you look back my freshman year, we weren’t picked to be number one and we ended up winning it.”

Freshman guard Royce Woolridge

On his first year at KU:

“I’m really excited. It’s just a whole new experience and classes are going well. It’s something you have to just get used to, but I’m starting to get used to it now. I’m really excited and I can’t wait for the season to start.”

On his playing time:

“I don’t really know yet, I just go out there and play hard in practice and we’ll just see what happens. I just want to fit in the best I can. Whatever the teams needs me to do I’m going to do.”

On his first Late Night in the Phog:

“Of course you’re going to be a little nervous because there’s going to be so many people here, but I’m more excited and anxious. I’ve been practicing my dance moves and I got a couple for you guys.”

On the team’s athleticism:

“We are a very athletic team this year. I think we should have really high expectations this year. We’re a little under the radar, so I think we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.”

On his early commitment to KU:

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling because when you’re a sophomore in high school you never think you would make it here. Now I’m here and it’s crazy. I’m really glad I’m here and I’m excited.”

Senior guard Brady Morningstar

His personal goals:
“I just need to be consistent and just do what I do when I’m out there.”

On whether his role has changed this year:
“I guess we’ll see when the season starts, but as of right now, it’s the same. I think everyone is out there playing as a team, because we have a different team than last year. A lot of roles are going to change, but I think they will change in a good way.”

On what the freshmen need to understand:
“I think it’s important to listen, learn and ask questions. There will be a lot of stuff thrown at you in practice that you won’t understand. Coach Self likes to go through practice and not be waiting. He likes to get things done. You just can’t be afraid to ask questions, and the rest should come easy because you like playing ball and that’s what you’re here to do. Don’t worry, I was in your same shoes five years ago. Just make sure you get more reps and it will come easy to you.”

On the new uniforms:
“I like them way better than last year. I don’t know why it took adidas so long to get us something this nice, but they feel good.”

Junior forward Marcus Morris

On starting the season without Sherron Collins:
“It’s been cool so far. I’ve been gone a lot this summer, so I haven’t really been around the guys without Sherron, Cole (Aldrich) and X (Xavier Henry). It’s been a little different. Just knowing those guys won’t be here is making me drive a little harder knowing I’m going to be one of those guys to make those shots and carry the team at times.”

On who will take over this year:
“We’ve got a lot of guys who could do that: me, (Josh) Selby, Kieff (Markieff Morris), Mario (Little) and Ty (Tyshawn Taylor) can. We have a lot of weapons this year, as we did last year.”

On whether he is the face of the program:
“I can be, but I don’t want to. I want this to be a family thing and a team thing where everybody is the face of the program, not just one or two players. We need the whole team to play, not just one or two players.”