Self Previews Massachusetts at Weekly Press Conference

Dec. 10, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. —Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self met with the media Wednesday afternoon in Hadl Auditorium to discuss his team’s performance thus far this season and to preview Saturday’s game against Massachusetts at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Men’s Basketball Press Conference
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

Head Coach Bill Self Quotes

On the freshmen contributing defensively:
“I think they’re doing fine. Tyshawn (Taylor) obviously has made the most impact so far. I think the twins are starting to make significant strides. Quintrell (Thomas), in the opportunities that he’s gotten, has been good in the games. Travis, to me, is a guy that we have to find more minutes for. That’s on me and the staff to take advantage of the things he does well. He can give us extra depth. He’s an athletic guy with good size. As a group they have done pretty well. Still, from my vantage point, we need to keep moving in a very positive direction because I don’t think they have come close to what they can be or our team can be when they get totally comfortable and playing at a high level.”

On the play of Brady Morningstar:
“I think Brady is playing great. He is playing pretty close to the level I thought he could play at. We need him to be for us what Brandon (Rush) was last year. He’s not physically as tall or as big, but he can be active, he can run, he can slide, he can shoot the basketball. I think Brady has been a good performer for us thus far. And that’s from a guy who redshirted last year but played as a freshman. I’m really pleased with his performance.

On the Morris twins stepping up their play as of late:
“I talked to the twins this morning, and I think the last four or five days have been some of their best days. I thought they were good in the game (Jackson State), and the last two practices have been two of the best they’ve had all year. I think they are starting to get it.”

On the differences/similarities between the Morris twins:
“I don’t think Marcus is quite there yet, but he’s kind of a Julian (Wright) type guy. He doesn’t have the same quickness or explosiveness as Julian, but he’s a skilled guy like Julian. He shoots a lot better than Julian. He’s really kind of more of a perimeter player, a face-up guy. Markieff (Morris) is really a three-point shooter or back-to-the-basket guy. But I see a lot of similarities in them. They both have good touch and they both can really pass the basketball. They think the game right offensively. There are a lot of similarities, but they are different. And they need to be a little bit different, so that way they can compliment each other.”

On if he can tell the twins apart yet:
“I watch them practice and it’s easy because they have different numbers. Now if they swapped jerseys they could mess with me a little bit. I think facially, once you really study them, they look different to me. Markieff looks younger to me. Marcus (Morris) looks older. And he probably is, six or eight minutes.”

On what kind of impact Mario Little can make when he returns:
“I think it would be easy for him to be in the rotation. But I do think Mario is one of those guys who needs a lot of reps. He doesn’t have any confidence in doing what we’re doing because he hasn’t done any of it yet. He will come in and impact the program once he starts playing, but it won’t be in a big way initially. I don’t think it’s fair to expect that, because it’s going to take a little time.”

On the play of Sherron Collins:
“I think he’s been a great leader, and I think he has played pretty well. He didn’t shoot the ball well against Jackson State, but for the most part he’s shooting a good percentage. Any time you’re a guy who needs to make shots and shoot 39 percent from three, I’ll take that and go to the house. He has to take some shots that are guarded from time to time. He’s shooting 48 percent on the year. That’s pretty good for a guy who takes some hard shots. I think he could do better, but I certainly won’t knock his performance.”

On Collins and Cole Aldrich adjusting to being the leaders of the team:
“It’s part of the natural process. That’s the way it is every program in the country. I think that’s just a natural thing as you get older. I don’t think Sherron would want it any other way. It is a process. I think the toughest thing you have to answer is how do you go from being the fourth or fifth option to where now every defense is designed to stop you. To me, I think he has handled it pretty well. For the most part he’s been pretty patient. He hasn’t taken a lot of bad shots. He does what we ask him to do. The same goes for Cole. Cole may not have even made other teams’ scouting reports last year. Teams weren’t worried about Cole because he didn’t get a chance to play much. With Cole and Sherron, you have two kids that are statistically, one’s the fourth-leading scorer in the league and the fifth-leading guy in assists and the other one is averaging 14-plus a game and is second in the league and rebounds. Those guys have adjusted beautifully so far. I think they have both done a good job.”

On statistics that he is pleased and not pleased with thus far:
“There are two misleading numbers that we shouldn’t feel good about. Our field goal percentage defense is at .361, and it’s not that good. And the other thing is we’re leading the league in rebounding and it’s not that good. Those are two things that I think we have to get better at. I think our field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage are both very favorable, especially shooting the ball beyond the arc. I also think our free throw percentage is very good. I think from a steals standpoint and assists standpoint, I think it’s pretty good. If I was going to pick three things, I would be pleased with field goal percentage which means our shot selection is pretty good, three-point field goal percentage, and we shot free throws pretty well. Three things that I think we can get better at would be field goal percentage defensive, rebounding, and we waste too many possessions. We’re averaging 14.3 turnovers a game, which doesn’t sound like much, but this team needs to average 12 turnovers a game, and if we do that we’ll score a few more points a game and look a lot better.”

His thoughts on Massachusetts:
“They do play a lot like Memphis. There are definitely some similarities in how they play based on the dribble-drive motion, they set more ball screens. They do some things differently, but there are some similarities. They have four guys that can really score. They have a guy who is averaging 21 who can make shots, and they have probably as active a big man as we’ve played against who is good on the glass and can step out away. They are fast. Their record is remarkable to me because they are better than their record indicates. There’s no doubt about that. They’ve played a tough schedule.”