KU Men's Hoops Previews Pittsburg State

Oct. 31, 2011

  • T. Releford Interview
  • C. Teahan Interview
  • J. Withey Interview
  • Coach Self Interview

LAWRENCE, Kan. – On Monday afternoon Kansas players, along with head coach Bill Self, spoke with members of the media in Allen Fieldhouse about the Jayhawks’ first exhibition opponent, Pittsburg State. Self fielded questions about the status of junior forward Thomas Robinson as well as how his young team has progressed thus for in the preseason practices.

Below is a transcript of Coach Self’s and select players’ interviews.

Bill Self Press Conference
October 31, 2011

Head Coach Bill Self
On the status of junior forward Thomas Robinson:
“We’ll see at practice today how he’s getting up and down the floor. Yesterday he was staying at half court. I think there’s a chance he’ll play, but I’m not going to put him out there unless the training staff tells us that we should put him out there. He’s still not close to 100 percent. He’s probably about a week away from that.”

On his expectations heading into the first exhibition game:
“My expectations will change with this (game). If you don’t have a healthy Thomas (Robinson) and if you don’t have your starting backcourt then obviously it’s not the same team. 60 percent of your stuff is gone. Tyshawn (Taylor) and Elijah (Johnson) are going to be playing 32-35 minutes a game each so it’ll be a totally different look. My expectations are that we go out there and play with some energy and enthusiasm and play tough. I’ll look forward to see how some of the newcomers play when they have to play a lot.”

On Jeff Withey’s progression through the preseason practices:
“I think Jeff’s done well. I think he’s inconsistent but he hadn’t really played much. He’s been here for for two-and-a-half years and he really hasn’t played a lot. I think it’s going to be inconsistent. His production level right now had been pretty good. Our guys feel as comfortable throwing to Jeff as anybody, which is a positive. He’s not really a guy that’s going to average 20 points a game, but he’s a guy that can get 20 in a game, which is good. Hopefully we’ll find out a little bit more. He’ll play better against big guys and Pitt State isn’t huge so that’ll be a little different, but I like how he’s coming around.”

On if he is more hands-on with this team compared to previous years:
“I don’t think you coach more. Coaching is getting guys to play as hard as they can and as unselfishly as they can. I think that we are accomplishing half of that. Our guys our playing unselfish but I don’t think we know how to play hard or compete on every possession. That’s something you learn as you go. Guys may think they’re working hard or playing hard but if you ever say, `Pick it up,’ and they go faster, that means they weren’t doing it before. When we get to the point where we say, `Pick it up,’ and they don’t respond by doing it faster then we’ll know they’re playing hard.”

On what position(s) senior guard Conner Teahan will see Tuesday night:
“Conner will play some at the four, there’s no question. He’s a tough matchup because he can shoot it so well. He’s been good.”

On the suspension of senior guard Tyshawn Taylor and junior guard Elijah Johnson:
“I told those guys back in our offseason that I was going to sit them for the exhibition games. Looking back on it now, if I hadn’t said that I don’t think I’m doing anybody a favor. I think the object is to get your team ready. I’m not doing it to embarrass them but this is what needs to be done and they’re totally in agreement with me. I warned them and they did it so that’s the penalty. We’re here to win the battle over time, not to appease the situation and make it seem like something didn’t occur. These guys have been great. It’s unbelievable how good they’ve been from an effort standpoint and a discipline standpoint. So maybe the discipline is actually helping them. I’m not going to apologize for that.

Senior forward Conner Teahan
On what position he is playing:
“I’m practicing at the 3 and 4, just in case someone gets in foul trouble. I’ll primarily be at the 3, but we might have to go small sometimes. It just depends on what the lineup asks for.”

On being a primary player going into the exhibition game:
“I take the same attitude every day. I just do what I can to make the team better as a player. I mean, it’s exciting to know I’m going to be able to contribute, because I haven’t really been able to do that in the past. It’s something I’m looking forward to and hopefully I can step into some of the guys’ shoes who left last year.”

On if he sees the exhibition game as an opportunity to get a lot of playing time:
“I think it’s going to be an opportunity for a lot of guys on the team. I think I would have had the opportunity no matter what, but there are probably some guys we need to depend on in emergency situations.”

On if he’s ever played the 4 position:
“I did in high school. I started to play it as a sophomore because they didn’t want our guards to, so they had me at the 4. I was kind of bigger for high school competition. I have a couple post moves and we’ll see how they work.”

Junior forward Travis Releford
On the first exhibition game:
“We have to be very aggressive with those two guys (Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson) out.”

On how scary it was when Thomas (Robinson) went down:
“It was so scary. I think practice was silent for like 20 or 30 minutes even after it happened. After practice we had a coach’s clinic for breast cancer and during the whole thing we were just waiting to hear how bad it was. When we finally got word, it was like a huge weight off our shoulders.”

On the short lineup tomorrow:
“It’s going to be very different. The new guys are going to have to step in and play and contribute key minutes while Tyshawn (Taylor) and Elijah (Johnson) sit out.”

Junior center Jeff Withey
On starting the year out healthy:
“It’s definitely huge because I can get the necessary reps in practice and be ready for a game. It’s a confidence booster for me just knowing that I’m healthy and I don’t have to worry about my body.”

On being a finesse offensive player:
“I’ve always been a shot-blocker and on offense I’m trying to be more aggressive. I think Coach (Bill) Self knows basketball pretty well and I think he gives a good description of my game.”

On Robinson being questionable for the game:
“If he can’t go then Travis, Conner, some of the other returning guys and me are going to have to step up. I think we’ll be able to take that role on.”

On how thin the roster will be for the first couple games:
“It’s always concerning when you know two or three guys won’t be playing, but we’re going to practice hard today and get after it. So, yes it’s concerning but we’ll be ready.”