Kansas Previews Michigan Game

Dec. 18, 2009

Top-ranked Kansas will face Michigan on Saturday in an 11 a.m. contest at Allen Fieldhouse, which can be seen on ESPN. KU head coach Bill Self held a press conference on Friday to preview the game, while seniors Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins also met with media members to talk about the upcoming contest.

Head coach Bill Self

On Michigan:

“Well they have lost a couple of tough games, but I would say they are definitely a team that has a chance to be in the top 25, they were preseason ranked. They are positively an NCAA tournament team. They have arguably a first-team All-American on their squad. He [Manny Harris] has probably played as well as any guard in the country. Everybody talks about other guards, but I have not heard too many people nationally talk about him or give him the respect that he probably deserves averaging that many points and doing a lot of everything on the court. They are good and they are very well coached. They play different, though, so this week we tried to practice on how to guard Michigan, as opposed to how we normally guard, because they are different in that they rely so much on a variation of a Princeton style with a lot of back-cutting.”

On what kind of defense Michigan will likely play:

“I am sure they will play some zone. They will play 1-3-1, 2-3, man. They will do some different things and guard ball screens differently. They will play 1-3-1 though, that’s been a staple of his (Michigan coach John Beilein) for quite some time.”

On if Brady Morningstar and Jeff Withey will play:

“Brady is going to play. Jeff, I don’t know. It is not a knock on Jeff. I just don’t feel comfortable putting guys out there that haven’t been out there. He is behind six weeks because he has not been able to practice. He started this week and wasn’t able to go everyday this week so he’s still a month away from really impacting this team. But that’s not a knock on him, that is just the way it is. I don’t know any coach that would put a guy out there that hasn’t practiced yet.”

On how Morningstar’s suspension has helped him:

“I think he has grown up a lot. I think he understands, as all our players do, that the consequences of our actions are magnified 10 times by playing at Kansas. This has been an embarrassing, disappointing and humiliating experience that I think he has handled beautifully. I think he has taken a negative and certainly has done his part in having the right mindset to not only help himself, but help others. It is tough when both your parents are very prominent in the community and his dad was a great player here. They hear a lot more than parents who live in California. But Brady is a winner. The punishment was pretty stiff, I think, but it came at a time when we couldn’t afford for something like this to occur. I think he will be a better man because of it. If that turns out to be true, then it wasn’t wasted.”

On what special things the team has planned during the holiday season:

“Last night we got together and through the generosity of some individuals, raised some funds to go provide Christmas for some families. The players, through the Morningstar’s organization, they’ve done it for 16 consecutive years, got a wish list from some families. The guys take great pride in that.”

On what he would like to see at the game Saturday:

“I think, from our standpoint and from the fans’ standpoint, this is our first real home game. The building should be juiced. I would love to see a lot of energy. I would love to see our guys play at that magical level but still be poised. I would love to see them execute in situations that matter as opposed to when the game is lopsided and there is no pressure to execute. There are a lot of things I think we could try to do to become better as a basketball team tomorrow.”

Senior Sherron Collins

On Michigan”

“They are better than what they have shown. They are just not playing too good right now. We can’t overlook these guys at all. They could be a top 10 team by the end of the season. They have a great player in Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, which is a matchup problem for our bigs.”

On being 0-5 all-time versus Michigan:

“It sounds weird because of all the good teams we have had in the past. It is hard to believe we’ve never beat them, but hopefully that can change tomorrow.”

On having Brady Morningstar back:

“He makes a lot of things easier. He puts a lot of pressure on the ball. Defensively he makes things easier. Offensively, he makes a lot of things easier because he knows how to move the ball and can find the open man.”

Senior Center Cole Aldrich

On playing Michigan Saturday morning:

“It’s going to be an early wake up call, but the fun thing is the Fieldhouse is going to be packed. It’s going to be a warm morning, but it’s going to be one of those fun ones where you really look forward to waking up.”

On Michigan:

“They’re good. (Michigan junior) Manny Harris is a heck of a player. He’s got more offensive rebounds than anybody else in the Big Ten; he’s leading the Big Ten in scoring. He’s going to be a challenge, but then they also have some other guys in (DeShawn) Sims and some other guys who are really going to be tough to guard.”

On getting Brady Morningstar and Jeff Withey in the lineup for this weekend:

“Brady (Morningstar), in practice, is kind of a goofy guy, because he brings so much energy. That’s one thing that we’ve missed for the few months he’s been out. We’re excited for him to come back. We’re even more excited to see what (Jeff) Withey can do on the court. He’s been doing some great things in practice. Now he can show everybody what he can do.”

On what Jeff Withey will bring to the lineup:
“Defense. He is all of seven-foot and he has long arms and is really athletic. He really challenges me (in practice), and I love it, because most of the time you don’t get to go against another tall, big shot blocker like that. He makes our team better.”