Jayhawks Discuss Florida Atlantic at Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 28, 2011

On Monday afternoon Kansas players, along with head coach Bill Self, spoke with members of the media in Allen Fieldhouse about the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent, Florida Atlantic. Self fielded questions about the improvements his team made in Maui, as well as how he thinks his team will handle the remainder of the non-conference schedule.

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

  • Coach Self – 1
  • Coach Self – 2
  • Coach Self – 3
  • T. Taylor

Bill Self Press Conference
November 28, 2011
Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas head coach Bill Self
On what he hopes to get out of his bench throughout the season:
“I’d rather get a certain number of minutes. Realistically, if we could get close to 50 minutes out of our bench, I’d probably be pretty happy with that. That would be a couple of guys getting 15 (minutes) each and a couple of guys getting 10 each. If we can get to that point where we’re having a productive 50, then I think we’d be in pretty good shape.”

On how much he trusts the bench right now:
“When you say trust, are we better off having veterans in there who are tired than maybe having some youngsters in there who don’t know what they’re doing yet? That’s what I would say about trust. We’ll get there. I think we’re playing our starters entirely too many minutes, especially Thomas (Robinson) and Tyshawn (Taylor). We have to get Naadir (Tharpe) and Kevin (Young) to get us some minutes off the bench. Justin (Wesley) and Conner (Teahan) will give us what they can give us, but it would certainly be nice to have a couple more guys that can buy some time.”

On if the amount of minutes Tyshawn Taylor played impacted his number of turnovers:
“I don’t know about that. I think that if we had subbed for him, maybe he may not have had 11, but Naadir turned that sucker over, too. It’s not like you’re for sure going to cut down on your team turnovers. I feel comfortable with the ball in Tyshawn’s hands, but I thought he got fatigued. Also, that’s three games in three days with a lot of humidity and different things like that. That was pretty taxing on our guys’ bodies, but Duke’s starters played more than ours throughout the tournament. They were able to respond, but I think there, at the end, Duke’s guys were dead exhausted, too. That was just whoever made a play late was going to win the game, and they made a couple of them.”

On if the players should be used to playing three games in three days with conference tournaments in the spring:
“I don’t know if anybody’s used to it this early in the season. When we start practice, by November 1, I hope our guys are able to play maybe eight or 10 minutes the right way. That kind of gradually grows to 20 or 25. We’re at the point fatigue-wise that I think guys can probably play in that 30- to 33-minute range if they’re playing the right way every possession. We still don’t play 40 minutes. I don’t know any team in the country that plays 40 minutes, but by the end of the season it’s a totally different feel than what it is early on.”

On what Kevin Young needs to do to earn more playing time:
“I think Kevin can do some good things. I think Kevin’s strength is obviously a factor with him. If you play him on the perimeter, which we’re going to play him some on the perimeter moving forward, he’s kind of a three-and-a-half playing as a guard. If you play him inside, he’s kind of a guard playing as a big. He’s kind of in-between a little bit, but those are usually the hardest teams to guard – the teams with that hybrid four-man that can do a lot of different things. He can do some different things, but he’s still thinking. He’s not reacting. I just want him to be more aggressive. I think he can be more aggressive in a positive way in having more of a presence out there, getting his hands on ball, carrying out assignments and doing the things that we know he can do. When he does those things, he’ll start scoring the ball a little bit better, no question.”

On what Justin Wesley can do to correct his fouls:
“Keeping his hands off the opponent would be a good start. I believe he may have been in foul problems every game in Maui. Against Kentucky he wasn’t. I think he tries to be aggressive sometimes. When I was here coaching as a graduate assistant, we had guys named (Greg) Dreiling and (Danny) Manning that played inside. They didn’t call fouls on them, but as soon as (Chris) Piper checked in, he got three quick whistles where he didn’t half as much as the other guys. I do believe bench guys don’t get the same respect as starters, and we have to be better with that.”

On what he knows about his team as a result of playing Kentucky, Georgetown, UCLA and Duke as opposed to lesser opponents:
“Out of 345 teams, there are probably 325 that the best they could be right now is 3-2 (after playing Kansas’ schedule). There may be 330 or 335. There aren’t a lot of teams that are going to beat Kentucky. Certainly there aren’t a lot of people that are going to beat Duke. Where we’re at from a record standpoint isn’t the worst thing that’s happened. There may be some teams that can beat one of the two, but not a lot. There aren’t a lot of teams out there this early in the season that can beat experience and talent like those two teams when they haven’t had a chance to have all their pieces gel. Georgetown’s a heck of a win. UCLA was a good win. We didn’t play particularly well, especially the second half. No team in America has played four games in a row like we have. We’re not tough yet, but we’re probably a little more competitive as a group than maybe what I had envisioned. I think what we’ve shown is if you guard and you rebound, you can definitely have a chance to win games. It’s not a bad formula for success. If you take care of the basketball, those are three things that will definitely give you a chance to win. The two games we lost, our own offense and ball handling is what kept us from having a chance to win those games. It wasn’t our defense and our rebounding. I think there are some positive things moving forward because I do think we can tighten our offense up.”

On if facing teams like Georgetown, Kentucky and Duke sets the bar for the team:
“I think so. March is a long way away though and what we want to do is get as good as we can in non-conference to give us the best chance to win the league. Florida Atlantic, South Florida, Long Beach and Ohio State, you know it doesn’t get any easier at all. We’re not going to get a chance to catch our breath for awhile. When you play a hard schedule you have to win some of the games and we’ve won a couple big games and lost a couple big games, but we need to have some big wins moving forward. I do think it is a good barometer of where your team is at and we’ve been exposed in things we don’t do well. I’d rather be exposed in November than in January or February.”

On if he think it’s better for the players to return home after playing in New York and Maui:
“I don’t know if I buy into that theory because I think we have gotten better each day with the schedule we’ve played. The schedule we’ve played has probably forced us to have the enthusiasm and the energy level to want to get better every day. We still have some big games on the horizon that should give us the motivation to want to get better each day. I thought about this the other day, I don’t know the last time Kansas has had 19 days in-a-row without a home game since I’ve been here. It’ll be fun for our guys to be back home. There aren’t too many teams out there that are high-major and playing their second home game on November 30th. From that standpoint I know our guys will be in more of a comfort-state, and hopefully get better.”

On if it is tough to develop a bench when playing teams like Duke:
“That’s a good question because we didn’t have any problems playing our bench against Towson. I don’t know how you feel, but I really wanted to win that championship in Maui and I think Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski did too. His bench played less than ours. When you think about it, (Miles) Plumlee played eight (minutes) and (Tyler) Thornton came in and played great. Those are the only two guys that got off the bench. I don’t know how many Thornton played, but combined they probably played 23 minutes. We played more than that, so I think when it really got down to it at the end we were just trying to win that game. Now, moving forward, we have to try and develop guys and develop a bench.”

On if Elijah Johnson has become the go-to guy when the team needs a bucket:
“Not yet, I wouldn’t say that. He made a huge three against Duke and a great 1-4 flat move against Georgetown, but I don’t know if I can go there yet. We have to develop that as we move forward. We have to find a way to get Thomas (Robinson) the ball so he can be a go-to guy inside and either have Elijah or Ty (Tyshawn Taylor) be the outside guy. Ty’s done some really good things, but he just had a really poor second half (against Duke) and I do think fatigue was a part of that.”

On where he would rank the head coaching job for the Kansas football team:
“I would definitely rank it as a good job. I don’t think the football job at KU is the equivalent as the basketball job at KU because there’s not as much history or tradition. I do think this: we’re still selling the same product that football is selling. We’re selling the school, the location, the conference and I think it’s really a good job. I think it will attract a lot of people that would potentially be interested in it. It’s been proven that you can win big here. I think yesterday with what happened was a sad day; I’ll be real candid with you. I think everybody likes and respects Turner (Gill) and his staff without question. A lot of times in business you make decisions that are hard and sometimes controversial, but I know we’ll be in good hands moving forward. We have total confidence in the administration to get a good guy and certainly I wish nothing but the best for Turner and his family. Hopefully he will resurface real soon.”

On if there is an advantage to having a legitimate football program:
“It benefits us tremendously. It benefits everybody on our campus. It benefits the athletic department and our budget. It benefits baseball, volleyball or women’s tennis. Everybody needs to have a good football program. There’s no revenue stream that this university can create that’s greater than putting people in the seats over there (Memorial Stadium). When you put people in the seats over there, advertisement dollars go up. There are multiple opportunities that you have, more television exposure means more people are paying more to put their signage up in the stadium. Regardless of how people may see it, it is a business. You have to generate income and basketball here, I don’t know exactly where we’re at, but we’re close to being maxed out on what we can generate. I think it’s very important that the football program be successful. We can’t do this because the size of our stadium. Penn State has 110,000 and we’ll say 10,000 of those are students, that means 100,000 are paying approximately an average of 70 dollars a game. That’s clearing seven million a game plus parking and concessions. When you’re putting a lot less numbers in there, how do the athletic budgets compete against each other because those are the dollars that have to stretch out over the entire budget? We need football to be good and also because football brings an element of energy to the campus too.”

On Jeff Withey’s progress:
“I think Jeff’s done great. Jeff has to keep getting better. He’s been motivated to be really good. He wasn’t a factor against Georgetown, in large part because of fouls, but in the first half against UCLA he was the best big man in the game. For the entire game against Duke he definitely held his own really well and they had a big guy play great. Duke’s bigs played great (Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee). I thought our two bigs matched them. It was just one of those things where we have to get a stop and we didn’t get a stop.”

On Florida Atlantic:
“Well, they’re 3-4. They’ve played a good schedule so far and they’ve only played one home game. They played without their leading scorer against South Florida and only lost by 13. They only lost to Washington by six or seven, and a lot of people are picking Washington to win the Pac-12. Coach (Mike) Jarvis does a good job. They won the Sun Belt last season and they’re picked to win it against this year, so it’ll be a tough game.”

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
On what they learned as a team playing in Hawaii:
“I think we learned that we need to get in better shape. It was tough playing three games in three days with a couple practices. And I think it showed that we were tired, towards the end of that Duke game. But overall I think we played good and we got better. Jeff (Withey) played amazing; he had a really good tournament. Elijah (Johnson) played really good and T-Rob (Thomas Robinson) played amazing. Overall I think we all had a good tournament against some good competition and we got better so we can build off of that and continue to get better.”

On if fatigue factored into committing 11 turnovers against Duke:
“I don’t want to make excuses for it, I just think I made some dumb mistakes and had some dumb turnovers. And part of that may come from being tired, but that is not the only reason. I just need to slow down, take my time and make better decisions. I’ve got to be crisp and I think what gets me in trouble is when I’m nonchalant with my passes. These are correctable things and Coach and I have talked about it.”

On how the bench can earn the trust of head coach Bill Self:
“I think that they have to be defensive minded. They have to come in and want to be a defensive presence. They shouldn’t focus on scoring because he (Self) always feels that the scoring will come if you do the other things. The other things include taking care of the ball, rebounding and setting screens; and I think our guys are getting a better understanding of Coach Self, so we are coming along and I think that Maui helped that.”

On the difference between playing fast and playing sped-up:
“I think it is to our advantage to play fast and I think we have the tools to do that. We need to attack and take care of the ball. Coach (Self) always says that we can push the ball up the court and still reverse it and get into our offense if there is nothing there. I think that is one of the things I have to do is always be in `attack mode’ but at the same time be under control. And like I said, that’s something that is correctable. I have watched tape 100 times already since we got back for ways I can correct those things and they will be corrected.”

Junior center Jeff Withey
On how it feels to be back home:
“It’s great to be back. The time difference is a big one, but slowly and surely everyone is getting back into our normal routine.”

On playing top competition this early in the season:
“It definitely gets us ready. When we play the best teams out there we’ll be ready and prepared. It really shows what type of team we have and we’re definitely getting better. It should be a good year for us.”

On guarding Duke’s big guys:
“(Ryan) Kelly was a tough matchup. Thomas (Robinson) guarded him most of the game, but he definitely was able to stretch the defense because he shoots a lot of threes. He’s really herky-jerky because he used the pump-fake a lot. He was definitely hard to guard.”

On what he needs to work on:
“I think rebounding; in Maui I think I did a better job of rebounding, but I need to keep building off that. I just need to be aggressive. There are a lot of things I need to work on like getting in better shape as well. It’s a long season and Maui was a good tournament for us and we can definitely build off it.”

On if he’s been working on going straight up with the ball and not bringing it down:
“Definitely. That’s something myself and all the other bigs have to work on. If you get a rebound, just go straight up and not put it on the floor to where the guards can get it. That’s another area that has a lot to do with strength.”

On how important it is when the coaches have confidence in you:
“It’s really important because it is great when you know the head coach is behind you and supporting you. I’m just going to keep going out there and playing like I know I can. Coach Self is a great motivator and I think the sky is the limit for our team.”