Men's Basketball Media Day Quotes

Oct. 13, 2006

Head Coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks chatted with members of the media Friday afternoon to discuss the 2006-07 basketball season.

Head Coach Bill Self

Opening Statement:
“Everybody in our camp is very excited about the prospects of this upcoming season. I am really proud of how we played last year, especially after starting off very slow. We played at a very high level for the vast majority of the season, only to come to a sudden halt in the NCAA Tournament. I do believe that will be great motivation for these young guys. I was really proud with how we played for the most part. We have most of our guys back and have made some key additions, it should make for a lot of fun.”

On managing player’s egos:
“We think that we recruited the right kind of guys. Last year, we didn’t get off to a great start. We had a freshman, Mario Chalmers, just trying to survive. We had Julian Wright trying to survive. We had Russell (Robinson) in a brand new role. We had Sasha (Kaun), C.J. (Giles) and Darnell (Jackson) that had never been counted on to score. Everything was new. Early on, there was a survival mode that was positive for team chemistry. They put aside everything else. I think this year, the confidence level is higher, and if they play for their own personal goals, this team will be just another team. When you have a talented team, if they start listening to and believing what people outside of our circle are saying, they aren’t going to perform very well. Last year, we didn’t buy into any of that, if we we continue to do that this year, we can be a pretty special group.”

On Brandon Rush’s and Julian Wright’s preseason accolades:
“I love it when our guys get accolades, but Julian averaged eight points a game last year and Brandon averaged (nearly 14) and they are co-(Big 12) players of the year based on one word — potential. I think that those guys will handle it fine. I think it does put a little bigger target on their backs, individually, which I don’t think is a bad thing because this team needs to operate under duress and pressure, which will hopefully better prepare us for later on down the line.”

On the possibility of players leaving for the NBA:
“I would say that the table is set to have a pretty good team for the next couple of years. We don’t anticipate everyone coming back next year. Returning all 12 would be very difficult to do based on some of their talent levels and what people believe their talent to be, but I think with the majority of our team back, you could make a strong case that next year’s team could be more talented than this year’s.”

On KU’s freshmen:
“I think one thing that is perceived when we recruit players is that they are going to step in and have an unbelievable impact, and that is not always the case. These guys, primarily Sherron (Collins) and (Darrell Arthur) have a chance to make an immediate impact, and I don’t think Brady (Morningstar) is far away. We haven’t even practiced yet, so I don’t know how they will react in certain situations. If you would have asked these guys if college was harder than what they thought it would be when they were in high school, every one of them would have definitely said yes.”

On Russell Robinson’s leadership:
“He was (a leader) last year. I hope that to be the case this year, but he needs some help. I think Russell will do his thing from a leadership standpoint, but he is not a vocal guy. It would be nice to have someone else step up to the plate and become a vocal leader for everyone to look up to.”

On this season’s rotation:
“Last year, after we started winning, we didn’t play more than eight or nine, ever, unless foul problems dictated different. Last year, we also had 11 guys that we didn’t know how they would play. They had been pieces, but not counted on. This year, we have seven guys that played a lot of minutes coming back, and we know what they can do. I think it will easier blending in a few guys than just starting from scratch.”

On Kansas’ style of play:
“I think that we will be able to run more, although I thought we ran pretty well last year. My definition of running and Kansas fans’ definition of running may not be exactly the same thing, but we should play fast, and we should be able to pressure a lot more. I see it being much more up-tempo than it has been.”

On the post players:
“I think that they have all got better, but individual improvements are one thing. I think we still won’t know their confidence level as a scorer until we get into practice.”

On Brandon Rush:
“He needs to improve his ball handling, and he has worked hard on that. I think that will be something that hopefully will be a noticeable difference. I also think his confidence from an aggressiveness standpoint will be a noticeable difference.”

On how recruiting has changed recently:
“We have been fortunate here to have some pretty good guys yearly, and hopefully we can have a great class this year too. It is cyclical because you have the mass exits, and then the next year you have a great class, and those guys stay for a couple years. The biggest difference to me is that the good programs continue to get good players, so their chances to win at the highest level will not be yearly. It will be more on a rotation basis.”

On Julian Wright’s improvements:
“We spent almost the entire offseason with him working on the perimeter. Has has gotten better, and he spent the summer working on his own. But for the betterment of him and our team, he needs to be the most versatile around. That is what makes him different is that he can do a lot of things.”

On Late Night in the Phog:
“I can’t speak for the fan base, but I believe the players think it is pretty cool because they usually come. I hope they enjoy it. From our player’s standpoint, they have been looking forward to this since May 1. I asked Brandon Rush if he is nervous about Late Night, and he said yes. They will be nervous tonight. I think that is neat that they get so excited to run out there in front of so many loyal fans. It sets the tone for the first month of practice. It is something we really look forward to. And from a recruiting standpoint, I think Kansas has done well when we are able to get kids on campus when there is a great enthusiasm. Kids are making decisions earlier and earlier. This is the one time that we can get guys here when they can feel an atmosphere, so from that standpoint, it is really important.”

On the team’s unselfishness:
“I think that it is a concern of how unselfish your team will be, because that is one thing that we will stress — playing hard and unselfish. If you do those things, we will have a chance to have a really good year. I don’t see an 18 point-per-game scorer on our team. I think they understand that the strength of our team is balance. I think these guys are into winning, and if they are into winning, we are able to put all personal things on the back burner.”

On the NCAA infractions case:
“This is major. We will be operating at a disadvantage for the next two years in men’s basketball. I will say that we are in a time period the next two years where we have to budget as well as we ever had, and we have to work smart, and we have to do a really good job of evaluating because we are operating at a disadvantage compared to the other teams in America.”

“I am disappointed. I am dissapointed that anything associated with Kansas has something negative put on it. I am disappointed that the booster situation happened while we were here. I am proud of the way it was handled after we found out about it. We knew that this could happen. We hoped it wouldn’t happen to men’s basketball, but we knew it was a possibility. You have to take it and move on, and that is what we will do. It is a hit, and there is no doubt about that. We are going to have to work very smart to keep it from being a major hit, because advantage-disadvantage, right now, we are at a disadvantage.”

Junior Guard Russell Robinson:
On off-season training:

“You’re working on your game, trying to get better, trying to get stronger. You have to stay focused on the season, try to stay healthy. Pretty much everyone has done that the whole summer, and we try to do things better than we did last year.”

On personal improvements since last year:
“I’m going to try to work on my shot. I need to get that as consistent as I can. I’ve put a lot of emphasis on that, and also my playmaking and leadership skills.”

On the coaching staff:
“The great thing about the coaching staff here is there’s a lot of different personalities. They give a lot of different perspectives, and I think that helps players evaluate their game and improve their game.”

On team chemistry heading into the season:
“The team chemistry is great. Coach Self did a great job recruiting. He found the pieces that fit perfectly into what we try to do personality-wise they fit in great, and playing-wise they are awesome.”

Junior Center Sasha Kaun:
On preparing for the season:

“We had great conditioning. Late Night is tonight and it’s the start of practice, so we’re just excited about it.”

On what he’s looking forward to:
“I’m looking forward to the start of the games, and seeing how the team is going to develop. We have great expectations and we’ll see how well everything works out. Last year was great, but this year is a brand new year and a brand new team.”

On Darrell Arthur and starting:
“It’s too early to say because I don’t know what the rotation is going to be like and what coach will want to do. He (Darrell) is a great player, definitely, and I think it’s going to be exciting. I’m going to be working for it (the start), definitely.”

On learning from C.J. Giles:
“It’s been great. I think we help each other a lot when we play against each other and have someone to play against. I think it’s been really, really helpful. We learn from each other a lot just playing against each other every day.”

On NBA aspirations:
“I will want to play in the NBA. The question is out there. It’s a matter of me working hard enough to get to the next level. I definitely want to be here all four years.”

Sophomore Guard Mario Chalmers:
On the freshmen during boot camp:

“They looked very strong. They were coming out there and working hard. They were eager to get boot camp over with, so I really think that helped them get through it.”

On Russell Robinson:
“Russell’s been in the weight room getting stronger, getting bigger. He’s been in the gym every day getting his shot ready. Everybody is just doing little things that will help the team win.”

On his personal experience during boot camp:
“I think I did very well at boot camp. I just had to stay focused and not think about what you’re doing now, but think about how it’s going to better prepare you for when the season starts.”

On what coach Self wants him to improve:
“My defense and my shooting and just getting stronger.”

On being the team to defeat this season:
“I think so (we are the team to beat), but we just have to stay level-headed and don’t get too ahead of ourselves and think that we can’t be beat. The biggest key for us: don’t take anybody lightly.”

On helping this year’s freshmen:
“I think I’ll just talk to them and tell them how me, Brandon (Rush), and Julian (Wright) struggled last year in the beginning, but how we just bought into what Coach was telling us, and it worked.”

Freshman Forward Darrell Arthur:
On adjusting to college:

“The toughest part is the time management in between classes. We have to do a lot of studying and tutoring, and it just kind of wears you down with practice and weights and pick-up. I socialize well with my classmates. We’re all getting through it the same.”

On being prepared to play at the college level:
“I’m trying to get mentally tough. I’m physically tough, but my mental part isn’t where it needs to be right now. I’m trying to learn most of the plays and get up and down the court and watch Julian and all of the big guys before me so I can see what to do.”

On teammates who have helped him adjust:
“Darnell and Julian have really helped. I ask them a lot of questions about what to do on the court and off the court and they give good advice.”

On what’s improved since he’s been at Kansas:
“Conditioning. We’ve been doing a lot of running with boot camp, obviously. I’ve been able to run up and down the court more. Running and blocking shots.”

On his role with the team throughout the season:
“We haven’t really talked about that yet. He (Coach Self) said whoever works the hardest will get that starting spot.”

On playing in front of the Allen Fieldhouse crowd:
“I’m trying to see what it’s going to be like. I have butterflies right now, but hopefully when I get on the court, it will shake off. I’ve played in front of some big crowds before, but none like this.”

Freshman Guard Sherron Collins:
On the transition to college:
“It hasn’t been too hard. At first the adjustment from the city where they were always things to do was tough but it has gotten easier. It has been good for me.”

On his decision to come to Kansas:
“What really sealed the deal for me was how much people around here care about basketball. Coach Self is a great coach and he instills discipline in his players and that is something I really need. Coach Self is a great person.”

On his first boot camp experience:
“It was real hard. I made it through the camp without throwing up, but it was tough. When we were done running I would be on the ground, but my teammates were there to pick me up.”

Junior Guard Rodrick Stewart:
On playing time:

“It is not necessarily hard to find minutes because Coach’s job is to figure that out. We are just trying to get better every day in practice and whoever Coach decides to play will get to play.”

On the incoming freshmen:
“The freshmen are definitely going to make an impact. They are good players. We view them as added pieces to the puzzle and they are only going to make our team better.

On added pressure of being highly ranked:
“No matter what we are ranked we are still going to be Kansas. It really doesn’t matter what we are ranked because night in, night out we are going to get everybody’s best shots. We just need to keep taking it day-by-day from here on out.”

Junior Forward C.J. Giles:
On the team’s preparations for the upcoming year:
“It has been pretty good. We have been helping the freshmen through the two-week boot camp. The mental aspect of getting up early in the morning is worse than the running itself. Coach is just trying to get us prepared both mentally and physically.”

On the keys to improving this season:
“The key for this team is focus. Last year we were so excited after winning the Big 12 Tournament that we may have lost our focus. We did practice hard and had a good mindset going into the Bradley game but somewhere in that game we just got lost.”

On the improvements in his game since coming to Kansas:
“The major thing has been increased confidence. I didn’t start playing until I was a junior in high school and my confidence continues to get stronger.”

On the team chemistry:
“Our team chemistry is really good. We are a very young team that is just trying to have fun. We even tried to make boot camp fun. Our team always hangs out together and we are really tight.”

Junior Guard Jeremy Case:
On the team’s long-range shooting abilities:

“I really think we have some good shooters. A lot of people say that we just have scorers, but I honestly think we can shoot the ball as well. Mario has improved his three-point shot a lot. Brandon obviously can shoot the ball. Brady has a real nice jump shot. I think we really shoot the ball well as a team.”

Sophomore Forward Julian Wright:
On the team:

“Everyone is just looking to get better and do well. As a team I think we have a really good attitude. The freshmen will bring a lot of intensity and athleticism to our team. Sometimes it takes freshmen a while to get adjusted, but we have a lot of guys returning and the intense practices we will have will help the freshmen get adjusted.”

On things he wants to improve on this season:
“I want to get better at decision making. I am starting to become more confident in myself and the game has slowed down. It is getting easier to know when to pass, spin or drive. I have naturally become more of a leader and the sooner we become comfortable in our roles within the team the better we will be.”

On being named Preseason Conference Co-Player of the Year:
“I was surprised. There are a lot of guys that are very deserving. I was surprised that Mario wasn’t up there, but he was named Honorable Mention. We are a team that isn’t concerned with the stats and honors. It does say a lot about our team that we have so many options. Our team isn’t one that is focused on individual awards.”

Sophomore Guard Brandon Rush:
On the team’s high expectations entering the season:
“I think we are going to perform well. I think we are going to come into the season focused and will do great.”

On being named Preseason Conference Co-Player of the Year:
“I view it as a great honor. There are several guys on our team that were just as deserving of the award other than Julian and I. We both just view it as a great honor.”

On the team’s offensive potential:
“I think we are going to have a real exciting offense. We don’t know who the leading scorer will be because everyone on our team can score.