Weekly Men's Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 8, 2005

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

Head Coach Bill Self

On the team’s close losses:
“I still think there are a lot of encouraging things happening. These guys have performed pretty well under the circumstances, considering they’ve never played under these conditions before. A lot of the sophomores haven’t been in these situations either. I think it’s encouraging though to look out there on the court and see three or four freshman out there during crunch time. I don’t think the freshmen are scared by any means. I think they’ve gotten past that point. I do think that we’re not as aggressive nor as confident as we should be. Knowing that we aren’t those things, but that we’re still playing well against good teams could be considered somewhat encouraging as well. From my perspective, we have to get a lot more aggressive. When young players lose their confidence, they sometimes start to play timid and try not to mess up. When they have their confidence, they can play off the charts because they don’t know any better. We have to get them to that point. The only way I know how to do that is through repetition in practice.”

On free throws:
“We need to hit free throws. We were shooting 72 percent going into that game, but yet we lost two games because we didn’t make them. There were some other things that we didn’t do as well either that didn’t enable us to win the game.”

On Cal’s Leon Powe:
“He’s not pretty good, he’s great. He definitely forces help. He’s scoring about every way imaginable right now. He’s very active, but can also catch it on the perimeter and drive it. He does some of everything. He’s a prototypical power forward that can put the ball down and force help. He’s probably the best low-post player that we’ll see this year.”

On Cal’s Omar Wilkes:
“Omar is off to a real good start. He’s averaging double figures and starting. He’s a terrific kid. I’m sure this will be a big game for Omar. I’m very proud of him. He’s doing well, and I think he’s going to have a good career there.”

On Cal:
“I think they’re the most talented team that we’ve played. I think they are more talented than Arizona. They’ve got perimeter shooters. They have a guy who is shooting it like (Chet) Stachitas (Saint Joseph’s guard). They’ve got great point guard play with a guy who is shooting the heck out of the ball, and they have the best front line that we’ve gone against by far.”

On matching up with Powe:
“We don’t know exactly how we are going to match up yet, but Sasha (Kaun) and C.J. (Giles) are going to have to do a good job on him.”

On Darnell Jackson:
“I think he has responded okay. It’s tough because since he has been ineligible to play, he probably hasn’t been with us 50 percent of the days. In Maui he was off a week from practicing. Then you go to St. Joseph’s and there’s another two days that are gone. So he has probably only spent 50 percent of the time getting the same reps that the other guys have. He’s doing fine, but he will have to work really hard over the next 10 days to make sure he is in game shape whenever he gets eligible. I think we missed him a lot. He is without question the most imposing guy we have physically. He likes contact, and he was playing really well. I am not going to use that as an excuse as to why we lost, but I think he could have certainly helped our ball club.”

On Kansas’ guards and perimeter shooting:
“We shot the ball a lot better the other night. Nobody’s played great. We didn’t coach great. We aren’t a high octane team thus far. Hawk (Jeff Hawkins) knocking down some shots, Russell (Robinson) going 2-for-5 from three, Brandonn (Rush) making some shots and Micah (Downs) making some shots–I think that’s good. But just because you make shots doesn’t mean you play well. Sometimes you can play well and not make shots. At this level, making free throws and knocking down open looks is part of the equation of playing well, but it’s not everything. The thing that has bothered me about our perimeter so far is that we miss guys on the post too much. We have to do a better job about feeding the guys in the post and playing through those guys. But our post guys have to do better, too. We just haven’t been in-sync yet, and hopefully that’s going to happen real soon. We got off to a good start against Saint Joseph’s primarily because we made shots.”

On Julian Wright:
“Julian had the one tough game and Idaho State wasn’t a great game for him, but other than that he has been a pretty good performer. He is getting better. He has played better when he hasn’t had to defend the low post, and against Nevada he had to defend the low post. He has to get better at that. I have been real pleased with him. His confidence level seems to be pretty high, he’s active and he’s doing some good things. He was probably our best performer in the game the other day.”

On finding the right lineups:
“We tried a lot of different lineups. Some because you have to, and some because you want to experiment. But the thing that can be somewhat frustrating is that our best offensive team is our worst defensive team, and our best defensive team is our worst offensive team. I know in my heart the way we are going to win games is defensively. We have to get those guys who are some of the better defensive players to the point where they understand guarding. On the flip side, the other guys need to understand ball movement and putting pressure on people by driving. We have been decent at that at times, but not near as good as we should be.”

On the impatience of fans affecting the confidence of the team:
“I don’t think there is any question whether fans are really educated to a subject or whether coaches are really educated to a subject, we all want immediate results. We can’t use youth or inexperience as an excuse. But this should not be a surprise to people that we are going through a rough stretch. It can be surprising to people and surprising to us that we haven’t had more success than we have had so far. We expected to be up and down early and we picked a difficult schedule to be up and down with. The bottom line is we have gotten better, and this team is going to be a good basketball team. There is no doubt or hesitation with me about that at all. We all want them to be really good right now, and that’s natural. But I also think fans should be patient, because the kids are trying. We aren’t missing free throws on purpose to prove a point. It’s just the fact of the matter that we are asking some guys to do some things that, to be honest with you, they have never done before. So it’s just a different thing that they are going to have to get used to and get comfortable with. We need to help them and not be frustrated with them. If we do that we will all be happy in the end. Certainly we have put ourselves in a position where, in some fans’ minds, they are thinking it’s awful early to be struggling this much. The team was 3-3 three years ago and went to the National Championship too, so there’s still a lot that can happen. The schedule tips to our favor as far as home games, but we need to be patient and understand that it’s a marathon and right now we are a little bit behind because we got off to a bad start. That doesn’t mean that we can’t kick it in and finish very strong.”

On his frustration:
“It’s frustrating for me because I haven’t been through this in a long time. You can’t blame guys for not knowing some things. That is understandable. The thing that is bothersome to me more than anything is the fact that since we have been back from Maui, there hasn’t been that youthful enthusiasm, that high energy that we have to play with to have a chance to have a good team. We are going to make some mistakes that you can overcome with energy and enthusiasm. I feel like they have been deflated some over the lack of success we have had recently. We have to make sure we play at a high energy level, and to me that’s more important than anything else.”