Self, Men's Basketball Players Address Media

Oct. 16, 2008

Kansas Men’s Basketball Media Day Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self:

On whether he’s looked backed at last season:

“I’ve thought about it once or twice. I’ve thought about last year a lot. It was a great season. We had a great season the year before, we just didn’t play as well in the most pivotal game. But I’ve thought a lot about last year, and why last year was so special, and how we can put ourselves in position to duplicate that in the near future. It’s going to be difficult, but it is for everybody. I’ve given a lot of thought as to why that was great. We think we have a pretty good handle on it, and hopefully we can get our guys to perform at some point in time at the same level those guys did.”

On which is tougher for a young team, playing together or playing defense:

“Well I think it’s playing together. I think it’s much easier to teach a team how to guard than it is to teach them how to score. If we had to pick one of the two to be good at early, I would say guarding. That will give you a chance to win games early. You can’t win games throughout the season unless you can score because it puts too much pressure on your defense, but I don’t see us being close to being as good of an offensive team as we need to be to win on offense early in the season. And it may not even happen this year. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t win a ton of games, and can’t win at the highest level. But our defense is going to have to carry us from what I can see early in the season.”

On how you replace the defenders from the national championship team:

“I’m not sure Brandon (Rush) had great natural ability when he got here. And Russell (Robinson) was always a pretty good defender but he labored obviously as a freshman. And Mario (Chalmers) always stole the ball a lot but he wasn’t a good defender until later. Julian (Wright) came here and he wasn’t a good defender when he first got here. He could block shots. I think these guys, while maybe not as gifted instinct-wise as some of the guys were in the past, but you also may have some guys that are maybe stronger than those guys when they got here. You may have a guy that may not be able to steal the ball as well, but he can rebound the ball better. I think we can still be very good defensively. There’s no reason why we can’t be good defensively as a unit. We may not have the individual great defenders, but as a group, I can’t imagine us not being able to guard as a team.”

On describing the talent of the team this year:

“I would say unknown talent. We’re not as talented as we were last year. We lost five guys to the (NBA) draft and replaced them with young kids. But we are comparable to where we were three years ago when those guys that got drafted were all real young. So we could be looking at this team three years from now and say that is parallel to the team that finished up in 2008. I hope that’s the case. We have good young players, there’s no doubt about that.”

On the ceiling of his team this season:

“I don’t know what the ceiling is, but I can tell you this: expectations will not change one bit, regardless of how young we are. We had a motto when I was at Illinois when we started those three freshmen and a sophomore, and that was youth is no excuse. That team performed at the highest level and ended up losing the Big Ten Championship in the last one second of the season. So there’s no reason why, just because we’re young, that we can’t be good. But how good, I have no idea. Expectations will be the same. I’m not going into the season hoping to finish in the top four in the league. Our goal will still be to win the league, regardless of who we have. That’s a pretty lofty goal when you have so many new guys, but I don’t think you want to bail your guys out by lowering the expectations just because they’re young.”

His thoughts on the new three-point line:

“I think it’s going to affect all teams. I think you’re going to see more teams take bad shots this year because they’re going to take it just inside the new three because they’re just not quite accustomed to it yet. Percentage will show that’s about as bad a shot you can take because a foot further back is worth three and that’s just worth two. So I think it’s going to affect all teams. I don’t think we’ll have as consistent of a perimeter shooting team as we had last year, because when Mario and Brandon lined it up, there was a one out of two chance it was going in. Sherron wasn’t far behind in that regard. I don’t know if we will utilize the three-point line as much as we did last year. The lines will affect everybody. It’s just new. I think over time, over two or three years, everybody will look back and say that’s been good for our game. I do like it.”

On what the Morris twins add to the team:

“A: size. Without those guys, we would have been tiny. But Marcus can score. He can make plays for others. Markieff is a good shooter. When you look at it, we haven’t really had any pick and pop guys that can stretch the defense beyond 15 or 16 feet. These two guys can do that, probably better than the other guys that we’ve had over time. They don’t obviously do some things as well as our other big guys, but they are both skill guys so that can help quite a bit. They certainly bring a presence, and I think they bring an air of confidence to us that we definitely need.”

On how the North Carolina game boosted Aldrich’s confidence:

“There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be one of the better big men performers in our league. He may not be a 15 point a game guy, but you should be able to pencil him in for double figure production and seven to eight rebounds every night. He’s got a great skill set, and he’s getting tougher all the time. The North Carolina game did wonders for his confidence in my opinion. He had a great offseason in large part because he was so confident throughout it.”

On who needs to step up early in the season:

“Conner (Teahan), Brady (Morningstar) and Tyrel (Reed), all three of those guys, in my mind, somebody has to beat them out. Because they’re here and they have an advantage. They’re having to beat out guys that, for the most part, are younger than them. They know what they’re doing and the other guys don’t. So I would think that early on Conner, Tyrel and Brady really need to perform well so they can get some confidence.”

On Tyshawn Taylor:

“He’s one of those guys who you can recruit to Kansas that is better than his hype. Usually when guys sign here, you guys do a marvelous job of painting a picture that these guys are all all-world, and how long will they stay in school. Tyshawn wasn’t like that. He average 10 points a game on a high school team, but that high school team was also undefeated and was ranked No. 1 in the country, and that was his job. He never played the third and fourth quarter for the most part large in part to the score differential, but he’s good. He’s fast with the ball. Whether or not he’s a true point, we’ll have to wait and see. I think he will be, and I can see him scoring more points in college than he did in high school, even very earlier in his career. There’s also no reason why he can’t be a great defender. You guys will like him as a person, and as a sound bite and all of those things because he has the personality.”

Junior guard Sherron Collins:

On being selected to the Big 12 Coaches Preseason First Team:

“I am happy that the coaches picked me to be one of those players. There are a lot of good players in the Big 12 on that list. I am not going to dwell on it, but I was glad to make it. Now we just have to get ready for the season.”

On taking big shots:

“I look forward to taking big shots. I might not always be able to take the shot, but as long as I can make something happen for my teammates I am fine with that as well.”

On Mario Chalmers’ shot against Memphis:

“I was thinking, `oh my god, just get the pass off’. That is all I wanted to do. As long as I got the pass off I knew we were alright. I didn’t even see Mario catch it and I was just sliding across the floor. When the shot went up I knew Mario was notorious for doing things like that so I knew he had a good look at it.”

On his memories of last season:

“I don’t think there has been a day where I haven’t thought about it or someone hasn’t reminded me of it. I think about all of the hard work we put into that whole season. I think about the way we celebrated afterwards. I think about how something like that can create relationships that will last the rest of my life. It’s just the love that we have for each other.”

Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor:

On why he chose Kansas:

“I feel like this is one of the top three or four colleges for basketball in history. The inventor of the game was the first coach here. Great coaches came after him and great players came. There are a bunch of guys in the NBA. This is a great atmosphere with great history.”

On his freshmen teammates:

“We all talk about where we come from. We talk about Chicago a lot because Mario (Little) and Sherron (Collins) are from there. Tyronne Appleton is from Gary, Indiana so we make fun of that a lot. I’m from Hoboken, New Jersey and that sounds weird, so we make fun of each other a lot. I love where I come from. It made me who I am.”

Freshman forward Quintrell Thomas:

On the leaders on this year’s team:

“Sherron (Collins) has stepped up as the leader so far. He doesn’t lead by talking a lot, but he leads by example. He tells us what we need to do. In Canada, he helped us with certain things. If we weren’t working hard he would tell us we needed to pick it up.”

On gelling with his teammates:

“It has been easy. Everybody on the team is a good person. Nobody has an ego. We all get along well. Nobody other than Sherron has really done anything special so we are all on an even playing field.”

Senior center Matt Kleinmann

On being one of the veterans on the roster:

“I’m not quite the oldest guy on the team, Brady (Morningstar) has me beat by a month, but it’s good. This is my third time around seeing different guys. I was here with Wayne (Simien); I was here with Darnell (Jackson) and Russell (Robinson) and Sasha (Kaun). Now I get to see a new generation. My role as a leader is just to let these guys know what it means to be a Jayhawk. (I need to) let them know how much it means to people here and how hard we have to work to keep that level of success.”

On what the new players have shown so far:

“There are a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces, but it’s just a matter of time before we’re all ready to go. They’re all stellar guys and they all have great work ethics. So they’ll fit right in.”

On the excitement to get the season underway:

“I’m excited (for this season). We ended (last season) on a win, so we’re still rolling high from that. Hopefully we can keep that going this year through the early part and into the Big 12 season and then hopefully into the postseason again.”

On his role on the team this season:

“I have more of a leadership role this season, which is sometimes difficult when you’re not out on the court. For me, I try to encourage guys to get them working in practice. When we’re at practice I’m one of the few guys that never gets off the court. I want to be kind of a second coach out there, because guys can hear Coach (Bill) Self say something, or Coach (Danny) Manning say this, or Coach (Kurtis) Townsend say that and it all can get mixed up when we’re out on the court. I think I can help out and say, `this is where you go,’ `this is where you set a screen’. Hopefully we don’t need too much of that once we get going.”

Sophomore guard Conner Teahan

On the difference with the three-point line this year:

“I don’t think it makes that much of a difference for me; I don’t even know how much farther back it is. It’s rare to have somebody shooting right on the three-point line anyway; usually you’re a couple inches back. The only thing I’d say is that along the sideline it gets a little tighter. You have to be conscious of that out-of-bounds line now.”

On how he feels heading into the year:

“I feel pretty good. If I can do stuff to make this team better, then I’ll be happy with that. Obviously, I want to constantly get better, because that’s what everybody is trying to do. That’s your goal. (For someone in my situation) your goals are to get better and help the team, and I feel like I’ve done that the last couple of months.”

On Cole Aldrich’s new role for this season:

“Cole is a great player. We saw that at the end of the year last year. He’s a tough matchup, just because he’s so long. He’s got a good shot too. People haven’t seen that from him, but he can shoot the ball. He’s got a pretty good 17-to-18 foot jump shot, which might not be the prettiest thing, but it goes in every time. I would never give him any space. I think he’ll fit into the role pretty well, and obviously him and Sherron (Collins) will have to carry a pretty big load this year.”

Sophomore Center Cole Aldrich

On having the chance to play more this season:

“It’s exciting, it’s really exciting. I went through last year knowing that we had some great guys on our team like Shady (Darrell Arthur), Darnell (Jackson) and Sasha (Kaun). I knew it was going to be tough to get some minutes from those guys, so I just took practice everyday as my game and I learned a lot from those guys.”

On if he will be assuming some of the leadership this year:

“Yeah, definitely it’s an exciting role. It’s going to be a little bit difficult at times, but I am looking forward to it and will go into it with an open mind.”

On if being picked third in the Big 12 standings is fair:

“It’s just a number; it’s just kind of there. It gives us a little something to say, `they are picking us third, so let’s show them something’. I think we are really just excited to get on the court and start playing. That’s our main thing, some of these new guys are really good and nobody has really seen their talent yet. They saw a little glimpse of it in Canada, but once Coach (Self) really gets to work with us, it’s going to be a fun year.”

On the best part of Late Night:

“Everything. I think this might be my sixth time here at Late Night. Ever since my freshman year of high school I have been here, so it’s an exciting time. I have seen both parts, as a big fan and last year as a participant. It’s a little nerve racking getting out there and dancing in front of the people, but it’s always fun.”

Junior Guard Mario Little

On where he watched the National Championship game last year:

“I was in my front living room, sweating bullets, hoping that we could get a stop. When the shot went in I freaked out for a minute and then stopped because every time I get too excited something bad seems to happen. So when it went into overtime I stayed cool, but after the game was over, that’s when I let loose.”

On if he patterns his game after anyone:

“Not really, I watch people and try to pick up things from them, but I don’t really pattern my game after anybody.”

On the transition from junior college basketball to Division I basketball:

“It will be tough, because this is Kansas and this (Division I) basketball. So you have to come ready to work hard every possession.”

On if he knew any of the recent KU players from Chicago growing up:

“I played against Sherron (Collins) my sophomore year and we were on the same AAU team. I played a little bit on the 17-and-under team with Julian (Wright) when I was 16. Me and Sherron played on the same AAU team my senior year.”

Junior Guard Tyrone Appleton

On how the team will handle having a target on their back:

“I feel like we will have a big X on our shoulders, but it’s a whole different team. Last year’s team was a great team and this year’s team is new and we are starting over with a bunch of new guys, so I think we should handle ourselves well this year.”

On this season being a clean slate with most positions up for grabs:

“Coach Self is fair, there is no certain position and no starting spot set in stone, you have to work for everything you get out here.”

On what he thought about boot camp:

“Boot camp was tough, but it was getting us in shape as well. The hardest thing about boot camp was getting up at 5:30 or 5:45 in the morning. I’ve never had to get up that early in my life, so all that was new to me, but in the end it pays off.”

On if the new players have to live up to last year:

“It is just where the bar is set; we know that we are starting off fresh with a new team. We just feel that as the year goes on we need to progress to get the step that last year’s team took.”

Freshman guard Travis Releford

On anticipating the beginning of the season:

“Years ago when I came up to Late Night I sat behind the bench and watched the guys before me. I always couldn’t wait to get out there and perform, dance, and play in front of the crowd, and tomorrow I’ll get my chance.”

On the team coming together:

“I think we’ve come together a lot. We come from different places, not knowing each other before we got here. I think we’ve bonded well.”

On the highly publicized freshman class and expectations:

“We are expected to come out, play hard, and give it all we’ve got. There’s a lot of learning that we have to do, and if we just try to stay focused and listen to what Coach Self tells us to do I think we’ll be alright.”

On the pressure on the team after winning a National Championship:

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure coming from winning the National Championship. We just want to be able to come out every game knowing that we are the defending National Champions, and we are just going to come out and compete.”

On coach Self’s decision to stay at Kansas:

“I’m glad he didn’t decide to go to Oklahoma State. After winning the championship, I kind of knew deep down inside that he wouldn’t want to leave.

Sophomore Guard Tyrel Reed

On the incoming guys:

“I’m not sure if just one guy has impressed me. Every newcomer has had their day where they’ve been great. The twins are really good, Tyshawn (Taylor), Mario (Little), all those guys are just great and I think they’re going to bring a lot to the table this year.”

On being picked third in the preseason poll:

“I think that’s a good spot for us. We have a lot of new guys. There are definitely going to be some great teams in the Big 12, and we are just trying to compete with them and do the best we can.”

On ranking despite national title:

“With losing so many guys, stuff is going to happen, and we’re not too worried about our rankings or anything. We haven’t even played a game yet, so as soon as we get the season started we should have a better feel for where we’re at.”

On pre-game rituals:

“I always listen to my iPod. I have a lot of Christian music on there that I listen to before and after games. I always pray before the game. Other than that I just try to get focused and keep my mind on basketball

On modeling game after Kirk Hinrich:

“Kirk is such a great player, having his jersey retired and everything, so I just try to mold my game the best I can around him. He’s such a complete player. He can really defend and I’d like to get a little better defensively, be more aggressive. But he’s Kirk Hinrich and I’m Tyrel, so there’s really no comparison.”

Freshman Forward/Center Markieff Morris

On anticipating the first game:

“I’ve been waiting for the first game since I got here. Late Night has come up really fast, and after Late Night, the regular season starts with three weeks of practice and then the season, so I’m just waiting for the season to start.”

On playing in Allen Fieldhouse:

“I’m really excited. There will be a lot of people here. When I came here last year I couldn’t believe everyone could fit into one gym. I’ve never played in front of that many people before, so it was a great feeling. I’ll have goose bumps in the beginning, but I’ll get used to it.”

On the decision to come to Kansas:

“There are a lot of reasons. When I came on my visit the guys were great, it felt like a family environment, there are great coaches, you know, it’s Kansas. Great facilities, great campus, great people; they all came together and that was the reason I came to Kansas.”

On playing with twin brother, Marcus:

“We’ve had it on our minds since we started playing basketball. We were always going to go to the same college, so I was used to it already.”

On differences on and off the court:

“On the floor he’s a 2 or 3 and I’m a 4 or 5. He’s more outside and I’m more inside. Marcus is more laid back and more outgoing.”

On pulling twin pranks:

“We switched classes in the third grade, but that’s about it. When my mom found out we couldn’t do that anymore. We’re all in the same classes this year, so there’s no reason to switch anymore.”

Freshman forward Marcus Morris:

On what position he will play at Kansas:

“I will play wherever my team needs me. I know wherever Coach Self puts me, that’s where I’ll play. Coach has already put me at every position so I can get the feel of being a big and being a guard.”

On his brother Markieff:

“He’s quick out the box. He can move real quick. As far as being a big guy, he can shoot the three-pointer real well.”

On the biggest difference between he and his brother’s games:

“There’s not really a big difference, but I think I’m more mobile. I can play the inside, and I can play all five positions on the court. It depends on how the matchups are going. He’s a great player, he can shoot the three, he’s real quick out the box.”

On the best way to tell him and his brother apart:

“Normally I’ll cut my sideburns off so I can be clear.”

On his game:

“I’m very versatile. I can play inside and I can play outside. I’m real quick on my feet for being 6’8”. “

On how honored he is to be a part of a championship program:

“It’s a great honor, just to play behind the people that have been here, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Mario Chalmers. I know that the greatest basketball player, in my eyes came from Philadelphia, and his name is Wilt Chamberlain. I know that we (he and Markieff) will be the next people from Philadelphia to come here, so it’s great to be in this position.”

Senior guard Brennan Bechard:

On telling the Morris twins apart:

“It took me a while to tell them apart, but I think after you get to know them a little bit it gets easier. Markieff usually has more of a beard. Their eyebrows are a little different too. I think everybody is trying to tell them apart.”