Bill Self Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 9, 2006


Head Coach Bill Self

On where he believes the team stands right now, after practicing and the exhibition season:
“I think we have done some nice things in practice and were decent in the two exhibition games. We’re not close to where we should be, but I don’t think it’s possible to be close to where we should be if we don’t have Sasha (Kaun), Mario (Chalmers) or Jeremy (Case) out there. Jeremy is a guy who would be in our rotation for sure the way he has played so far. Based on what we have, I think we’ve done well, though we’re still missing a couple of pieces. “

On the flexibility of the team when fully healthy:
“As long as we have all our guys healthy, I think we will be a very versatile team. The way we can be versatile is that there is an opportunity to play both big and small, with one guy creating most of those opportunities—sophomore Julian Wright. Right now we’re not quite versatile because we can’t play Julian anywhere else but where we’re playing him. “

On Darrell Arthur playing the 3 position:
“He needs to learn the big spots and that will be a full-time job. Maybe eventually he could play the three, but right now he’s a skilled four. Shady playing the 5 presents mismatches because he can draw defenders away from the basket because he shoots so well.”

On the status of Mario Chalmers:
“We expect him to play Saturday, but it has been a little frustrating. I believe that he will play and practice today. He just needs to work through this. It has been frustrating for him because we didn’t anticipate some of the things he’s dealing with. His situation is frustrating, but it’s not like turf toe. He has some blisters and the injury is at a tough spot and is very irritable. He needs to get comfortable pushing off.”

On the defensive tandem of Chalmers and Russell Robinson and the team’s defensive possibilities:
“I think the sum they create is better than the individual parts. But looking at our team individually, I would say our best individual defender is Brandon Rush. He’s one of those few guys who slides well and his length lets him contest. He wants to be a complete basketball player and has worked hard at that. Sasha (Kaun) would probably come next from an individual standpoint. But when get all the pieces together out there and the guys are all doing their jobs, it gives Mario and Russell great freedom to take advantage of what they are good at, being active with their hands and playing in the passing lanes. I think when we get all the guys back together, our defensive effort will be much better than if we have just some of the parts.”

On the problems Northern Arizona poses:
“They shoot the three-pointer well. They have the nation’s leading three-point shooter returning and they have signed a guy that is a great three-point shooter as well. All their big men can also step away from the basket and stretch the defense. They run motion that Emporia State and Washburn helped prepare us for. They have the ability to shoot, and if they get on a roll, they could shoot nine shots and have 18 points. That is a great equalizer. And of course, there is the great unknown of not having seen them play this year. It is hard to be totally prepared for the first game of the year. They will be in the postseason this year, probably in the tournament, so I think this will be a great game for us.”

On Robinson’s leadership:
“Nobody has done anything in my mind to show that they are the pulse of the team or more valuable to the team than Russell. He’s older, wiser, tough and more competitive. He’s just a good basketball player. Although he may not average 15 a game, he could score 20 in any game. You should judge Russell by if your team has more points than your opponent at the end of the game. In the players’ and coaches’ minds, no one is more important than Russell. I think if you were to ask the other guys, they would say that even though he’s not vocal, they look to Russell as the guy who’s going to make the play and be the leader. Of all the players, they’ll look to him more than anyone else. Sure he’d be a better and more effective leader if he were more vocal. We’ve talked about that a lot. The really great leaders all talked. He just needs to get more comfortable doing that.”

On the need to develop stronger rebounding:
“I think it would be great if we had a guy who was going to average 11 a game, but that is not going to happen. We don’t need our 3 leading us in rebounding again this year. Darnell, Shady, Sasha and Julian need to do a better job going after balls. I thought Julian was great the other night on the offensive glass, not just because he got them, but because of where he got them. He made some great efforts. Potentially, we could be a good rebounding team.”

On Wright’s rebounding development:
“I think he needs to work on rebounding and being a better defensive presence. In the first two exhibition games, guys would back him down and shoot over him. With all due respect to the previous two teams, we’re going to go against bigger, stronger guys than that. Of course, we didn’t do anything to help him and that was by design. That way he can get exposed and know what he needs to get better at.”

On whether freshmen are more prepared for the college game because of extensive playing in high school:
“I think freshman are more prepared because of the travel and playing against tougher competition. A lot of kids spend the whole summer away from home and that helps them adjust.”

On his feeling about this team with the regular season about to start and how it compares to previous teams:
“With my really good Tulsa team, I was really nervous. And then we went into Rhode Island in the first game and went up 15-0, which got me thinking that we were going to be very good. With Illinois, I didn’t know we we’re really good until we played Maryland and Arizona back-to-back. I think with every team you can think, but you need to have proof. I believe this team will be very good, but I still want to see some proof when the lights are on. This team is going to be very good, hopefully sooner than later, but we’ll know more after the first couple of games.”

On what he likes about the team:
“I think it’s obvious: we’re long, athletic and return six of our top seven scorers. We also signed two pretty good freshmen and a third that could be very helpful.”

On the signing of Cole Aldrich:
“I would say he is a true anchor. In college ball, there are very few big guys and he is a true big man. He is rugged and he can seal. I would compare him to Scot Pollard and may even develop better low-post scoring. I think he can be a very good player and a true big man who knows what he is. I think potentially he could be a 14-point and nine-rebound player in his career.”

On Kaun’s and Case’s progress:
“The trainer and doctors tell me Sasha’s doing great, but that still means at least three weeks. But he’s still going to have to go through that minimal timeframe before we do much with him. He’s not at the point where he can shoot now. We hope in the time frame given to us that he’ll be ready to practice and participate on the team. Case is going to try and do some more physical things today, but he is very doubtful for Saturday.”

On what themes the coaching staff is focusing on with Rush:
“For us to be at our best, our best scorer should always score early. But by his own admission, Brandon was not very good the other day. A large part is that I don’t believe he was as prepared to play as well as he normally does. This is not a sport where you can turn it on and off like a switch. There is some preparation involved and he’s going to get other people’s best shots on defense. He needs to understand that and it’s a process for him. He is not always going to play well, but he can certainly prepare better than he did the other night. I would say naturally, he’s our best rebounder. If he’s focused and committed to it, he would get eight rebounds a game. He just needs to get more aggressive in his entire game plan. When’s he aggressive, he shoots more free throws. I think selfish is the wrong word to describe how we would want him to play. Selfish is if he’s wide open and doesn’t shoot. If it’s best for the team to shoot it and you don’t, that’s selfish. Selfish is about not doing what’s best for the team. I am going to sell it to him that he’s hurting the team if he’s not doing what he’s capable of doing.”