Men's Basketball Meets the Media Thursday

Nov. 8, 2012

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Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self met with the media Thursday. Below are the transcripts.

Kansas head coach Bill Self:

Now that the games count, do you have any concern, is there anything that, would you like to kind of see your team show you tomorrow night? Maybe not show you but kind of build on from the exhibition?

“I’ve got a lot of concerns. I didn’t think we played very (in two exhibition games) well at all. I thought we did some good things in the first one and didn’t think we did near as many good things in the second one. We didn’t rebound the ball defensively at all. We turned the ball over at an alarming rate, which is pretty consistent to how we played going back to the summer. I mean that looked like the team that played in Europe, to be honest with you, offensively. And we didn’t attack them with the ball. We didn’t put pressure on the defense at all. So those would be the things that I would hope that we would improve on, at least put pressure on people on both ends, which we didn’t do that very well at all against Washburn. (We were) much better against Emporia State.”

Was (practice yesterday) a step in the right direction?

“We stepped (up). It wasn’t great. I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t great. They lifted weights and then they got loose and I talked to them and the talk lasted longer than what I had hoped. We didn’t have great flow yesterday at all. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything special by any stretch. I think today will be much better. It wasn’t from lack of effort or try. It was just maybe the circumstances probably didn’t lend itself to having the most enthusiastic practice.”

What was the message to the team before (practice)? What did you talk to them about?

“Well, the same thing that we’ve been talking about, it’s leadership, enjoy winning whatever way you need to win that night. We used to make a big deal out of it like when we play teams that guard a certain way or slow it down, hey, enjoy this. Enjoy playing this way. You’re going to have to make yourself enjoy it and we didn’t do that the other night the way that we played. So I think that’s as much as anything, that it’s okay to win ugly. But you’ve got to enjoy it or you can’t do it consistently over time.”

What are your thoughts on Southeast Missouri?

“Really athletic. You know, they returned their team from last year and they’ve got two guys inside that are very, very active – I mean, very active – and they both go after the ball, they both rebound it well, they both can score in tight and put it down. Our big guys will have to guard movement. So they run our stuff for the most part, so we should be familiar with what they run. They run it better than us sometimes, at least based on their exhibition games, than what we’ve run so far. But you know, Dickie’s (Nutt) got a good team. They went nine and seven in the league last year and returned everybody, so they’ll be one of the favorites in their league.”

This year, you’re probably going to need a little bit more from Jeff (Withey) on the rebounding end. Does that affect the way he can guard and go after block shots?

“I don’t think so. The majority of the block shots that he gets are not on his own man, they’re coming from help or whatnot. So I really don’t think it should affect him too much at all. I think if anything, it should help him, knowing that we need him to get rebounds, which it does nothing but help his future. A guy that big has got to be able to block and he’s got to be able to go get it after he blocks it or go get contested rebounds in traffic. That’s what he can really improve on that last year. He did an okay job with it but Thomas (Robinson) got most of those. And Jeff needs to be the guy that delivers that for us, and every team needs one that can do that, and he needs to be the guy for us.”

Have the last couple weeks been a little bit of a wakeup call for Elijah (Johnson) that you expect with him?

“Maybe so. The thing about it is Elijah’s trying to do what he thinks we want him to do but he’s forgot about playing. It’s what he does best. He’s thinking instead of playing, too, because it’s a different deal for him so everybody’s going to have to kind of adjust, so to speak. But I think the film session was really good for Elijah, I really do.”

Do you want him to penetrate more?

“That would be affirmative. We would like for him to penetrate more and Ben (McLemore) and Travis (Releford) and Naadir (Tharpe). And when Kevin’s (Young) in there, he’ll do it. Perry (Ellis) should be able to drive the pass. Jamari (Traylor) should be able to drive to pass the pass. We’ve got a team full of guys that should be decent at it. The only one maybe would be Jeff that obviously wouldn’t be great at it, but the other guys are all quick, explosive and can handle (the ball) pretty well. So that’s something we all need to do. But nobody’s more important in doing that than Elijah.”

Is that hard to teach? It’s sort of an instinctive thing sometimes to attack the right thing.

“No, it’s not hard to teach because that’s what he’s done for three years here. You look at our team last year, he drove it hard. He got in to paint that well last year. It was a mindset of our team to drive and drive and drive and drive and drive it. And this hadn’t been his mindset with this team as much. We need to get back to that being our mindset. But he can do it, there’s no question.”

Was Tyshawn (Taylor) a big factor in that mindset last year?

“Always. You know, if we had 20 possessions, he’s going to touch the paint 10 times just by himself. You don’t run offense to do that. He has a unique way of getting in there. Elijah will not do that as good as Tyshawn but Tyshawn didn’t shoot it, at least consistently, like Elijah potentially can. So it’s a give and take, but Elijah’s got to be able to give guys easy baskets. He’s got to. Because we’re going to be a team that labors offensively unless we can figure out a way to get some easy baskets because we don’t have the natural low post scores we’ve had in the past.”

Is preparation for this game a little awkward knowing you have Michigan State coming up?

“No, not at all. It wouldn’t make any difference who we’re playing after Southeast Missouri, the preparation will be the same. We practice playing games when you have two days preparation or three days preparation. And we’ve got Saturday, Sunday, Monday for Michigan State. Now granted, the emphasis that we’ve been working on hopefully will be the same emphasis that works well against Southeast Missouri and Michigan State. But as far as just focusing in on them, we won’t do that. Three days is enough in basketball.

Personally, are you excited right now (for the start of the regular season)?

“If I don’t seem excited, I promise you I am. I wasn’t real excited about how we played the other time but I’m excited about this team. I’m excited about what potentially can take place. I’m excited about the process of us getting better and taking the team from November through March. I’m excited about all that stuff. I think it can be a fun year. But I do know this – I know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. But it can certainly be a fun year.”

I’m sure your players aren’t excited about how they played the other day. So does that bode well for Friday, the fact that they’re not?

“You know, it should. But you see that stuff all the time and I don’t know if there’s an exact science for that stuff. Teams that play bad, you think they’re going to be really fired up the next week but instead of being fired up, they lost confidence so they don’t play as good the next week. Or teams that play great, you think they’re going to play great the next week but they have a letdown because they can’t handle prosperity. I don’t know what it is about certain things but usually, in the past, I’ve liked our chances to play better when we’re coming off a time where, basically, their pride has been challenged. So I think we’ll come out and play hard, no question.”

Any views on Zach (Peters)? And is he feeling any better at all? (Also commented on Landen Lucas)

“He may be feeling a little better but he’s definitely still out, definitely. And you know, I’m not going to make a decision now on what we’ll do with Zach. But you know, if he can’t get back soon, we have no choice but to redshirt him because he’ll be so far behind he won’t be able to catch up. And Landon (Lucas) will not play tomorrow. He may not play Tuesday because he is definitely a guy that we are strongly considering redshirting and we visited with Landon and his family about it, and they are in agreement with that. But it’s not 100 percent sure because he could still play two weeks from now. But our thinking is right now, put a redshirt on him.”

Is that to work on his body?

“It’s to really replace age 23 with age 19. He’ll be a much better player than he will be now. And you don’t redshirt guys that you don’t think can play. He does have a future here impacting our ball club.”

What did you think of the freshmen’s play in game two compared to game one? And are you at all concerned about their mindset?

“I would say I’d be concerned about a couple of their mindsets. Because I think confidence is pretty shaken right now in a couple of them based on… not really from the first game to the second game, just based on over the last two weeks of practice maybe haven’t played as well as what they’d hoped or what we had thought they could. But that changes all the time with freshmen. I mean that always changes. I think Jamari and Ben and Perry are fine and those three guys would be the three freshmen that you would think had the biggest impact in what we’re doing right now.”

Is Andrew going to be asked to see the ball go in pretty quick when?

“We talked about that with Andrew and he doesn’t want that to be the case. He wants to be a complete player but right now, his shooting skills are definitely ahead of his ball handling skills. It may appear that way now but I don’t know if that’ll be the case a month from now or two months from now. We’ve only been practicing three weeks and for some of these guys it’s still kind of new.”

Coach, does Elijah Johnson put the pressure on himself to replace Tyshawn? And same question with Jeff Withey. Does he put the pressure on himself to replace Thomas?

“I don’t think so. More so Elijah than Jeff because Elijah’s probably as important a player as we’ve had in our program to the success of our team as anybody we’ve had since I’ve been here. You know, Aaron Miles would rival it. We used to run offense for Aaron to handle pressure, initiate it, and let’s make sure we get the ball back to him so he can make the pass to finish the play. Elijah’s not quite to there but we’ll rely on Elijah more than we relied on Ty because we don’t have a second handler as much. Ty could take possession as often as Elijah can do it. This year it’s going to be a little different because our second handler is Travis (Releford). Last year, he was our third handler so it’s going to be a little bit different for him. The ball needs to be in his hands and that’s why he’s got to be very, very good for us.”

After doing it last year, do you like having the big game so early, the Champions Classic? Do you think that was valuable for the team?

“Well, I thought it was valuable because if it wasn’t the Champions Classic, it was the next game. You’ve got Georgetown and Maui and all that stuff. So last year, it was probably good for us to kind of accelerate everything. With this many freshmen, I wish we could go slower. Last year, we didn’t have any freshmen, so we could go faster. Our freshmen were ineligible. So I think that this year with seven of them, I wish we could go a little slower but you can’t.” The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.