Kansas Weekly Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 21, 2006


Kansas Basketball Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bill Self

On Boston College forward Jared Dudley:
“He’s one of the best players in America. He’s going to be a strong candidate for ACC Player of the Year. I think he made first team last year. He’s a good shooter, he has great size and the game is in slow-motion for him. The longer you play the game, the slower it comes to you.”

On what makes Dudley hard to defend:
“I think he’s a tough guy to defend for a lot of reasons, primarily because of his height. His height and his strength enables him to post you. He’s probably the best post player that we’ve played against this year. (Oral Roberts’) Caleb Green was a great post player and of course Florida had a couple of guys who weren’t bad. But really, he is a true post player who is a three-man (small forward) and he’s shooting 42 percent from three right now.”

On if Brandon Rush will primarily guard Dudley:
“(He will) some. Since we’ve had Sasha (Kaun) back, we’ve been practicing big some, so Julian (Wright) could be the guy too. We haven’t done that a lot, we haven’t done it in a game obviously, because we haven’t had all of our pieces to practice except for Winston-Salem State, but against a big team, I think we could do that if they give us problems.”

On Brandon Rush’s defensive ability:
“Brandon is a very sound defensive player. He’s really got a pretty good concept of how to guard. But as you can tell with Mario (Chalmers) and Russell (Robinson), they’ll foul more because they’ll reach more and gamble more. Brandon is more of a position guy as evidenced by his steal numbers. He’s not a guy who takes a lot of chances, but as a one-on-one defender he’s probably the best we have as far as making sure his guy doesn’t score.”

On how Brandon Rush performs in big games:
“I haven’t really thought about Brandon in big games much. I thought he was fabulous last year against Kentucky and I thought at Texas last year he probably struggled a little bit and I thought he was pretty good in the final game against Texas. But I think he will rise to the occasion. Last year, in all honesty, after the start of the season we didn’t play that many games that people would consider big games. Even though they were great wins to go on the road and win six out of eight in the league, they weren’t against the caliber of competition that will present itself Saturday. This will be a good test for all of our guys.”

On practices being the favorite part of the game for coaches:
“I think if you practice really good, there’s a lot better chance you’re going to enjoy the games. If you practice a certain way, you’re going to enjoy the games more because you know what to expect. It’s hard to really enjoy something if you don’t know what to expect. Practice to me is more important than games. You obviously have to produce on game night. But I enjoy the games. I think back and the younger I was, I think I was more patient; the older I’ve gotten, the less patient I’ve become. Maybe over time I’ve realized that you don’t coach on game night. Coaching takes place up until the games. If you feel like your team is prepared up to the game, it seems like coaching the game is so enjoyable because everything falls into place, except for late in the game. I enjoy them both. I would say I enjoy the games more if I know our team is prepared.”

On his expectations of Sasha Kaun:
“I think he’s going to surpass where he was last year. I see him as a guy who is going to play 20 minutes a game and he is our best low post defender and he is a presence. He’s not going to be our leading scorer, but he can still score with angles; he’s not doing that yet, he’s still rushing his shot. But I see a guy who can draw fouls and give the other team something to guard whether it be guarding him on the post or guarding him after he has the ball. My expectations of Sasha far exceed where he was last year. And he’ll get there.”

On the progress of Darrell Arthur:
“Darrell in all honesty is not a low post player. He’s not a five-man (center) yet. Darrell may be closer to a three (small forward) than a five by who he should defend to be most effective against. My deal with him is that sometimes when he’s forced to defend the five, he gets a couple of careless fouls which are reach-in fouls that he would never get if maybe someone else was guarding the low post.”

On if he’s surprised at Darrell’s impact this year:
“No, I’m not surprised. I didn’t think he’d be our leading scorer right now, but I knew he was going to be a high impact guy. He’s done just about everything well. If you look at (Darrell’s) statistics really the biggest negative with him is his assist-turnover ratio isn’t very good. But he’s a good passer and he’s getting better every day and he’s going to keep getting better.”

On what has made practices better the last couple of weeks:
“I really don’t know. It’s not a team meeting; it’s not guys getting together and saying ‘ok, now’s the time for us to get going.’ I think we were a little stale (earlier in the year) and I think the end of the semester had as much to do with it than anything. Since we got to finals week, even though finals week is a grind, it’s not a grind from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., for most guys. Most guys had their finals done by Tuesday or Wednesday so it’s like a lot of them had a free mind.”

On what makes a good practice:
“I think the energy, talking and enthusiasm (make it better). When you have a loose ball at practice and you have three diving for it, it’s contagious. Concentration is a big part of it. Some guys take the approach of ‘hey, let’s just get through it,’ where other guys ‘hey, let’s be competitive and let’s go kick the other team’s butt.’ If everybody is on the same page, then you don’t have to practice for very long. When I was at Tulsa, we would literally practice for an hour and 15 minutes a day. And we couldn’t practice longer than that because somebody would get hurt. Those weren’t all my teams at Tulsa, but it happened to be our best team. Coincidentally, your best practice team turns out to be your best team. We don’t need to practice long, but we need to get something out of it. One time, the day before a Sweet 16 game at Illinois, we had one loose ball and six guys, including four starters, on the floor after the same loose ball. And practice was over, because we can’t get better than that. Because you know guys get so much confidence from playing tough and getting after it like that. To me, that’s what constitutes a great practice, because when you get that kind of effort in practice, you know you’re going to get it in the games too.”

On having to deal with fights in practice:
“I think that if you don’t have a couple of skirmishes, guys probably aren’t getting after it. Guys are competitive by nature and sometimes those things happen. But never a fight. It’s more of a competitive deal where ‘hey, you got me there, I’m going to get you back.’ That’s when we have to step in and say ‘none of that crap’ or you put them on the same team so that doesn’t happen. But we haven’t had too many issues like that.”

On if this season has been similar to last season:
“I would say a little bit. But this team is quite a bit better than last year’s team at this stage. We’re not playing quite as well consistently as last year’s team did at the end. I’d say there are similarities, but this is a better team than last year’s team.”

On Mario Chalmers’ shooting in the second half of the season:
“I think we have good shooters. We’re going to make shots. I look at Mario (Chalmers) and Brandon (Rush) individually, and one of them is shooting 36 (percent) and the other is 35 (percent). And that’s not bad, but they’re both better shooters than that. They should both be above 40 (percent). I think when the season’s over, they’ll both get above 40, and if that’s the case then they’re going to have to shoot above 40 the rest of the way. We need everybody (to shoot better). Russell (Robinson) is a 33 percent three-point shooter and he’s shooting 25 right now. I think all of those guys’ percentages will go up.”

On the team’s strengths/weaknesses:
“I think our strengths are that we’re pretty fast. We’ve got really good individual players and we’re playing better as a unit. I think our first shot defense has been good, and even rebounding the ball has been above average. Our weaknesses, we haven’t shot the ball like we’re capable of shooting and we’re too careless with the ball. We have too many unforced errors. I think a lot of teams have some strengths and weaknesses right now, but those are two things we can tighten up and I think we can play more physical.”

On playing Boston College:
“(We’re playing) against an opponent who can play a lot of different styles, they can play fast or they can grind it out. They can press or they can switch defenses, so I think this is going to be a great test for us. I think their whole team is pretty underrated.”

On what it will take to beat Boston College:
“I think the biggest thing we need to do is to keep doing what we have been doing the last couple of weeks. (We need) good focus and concentration and great effort in practice. We’ve never given bad effort, but we haven’t given the type of effort you need to get better each day (earlier in the season). We’ve been doing that as of late, so hopefully that will translate to good performances. But I’m totally comfortable with our guys, because I know it will (get better) over time. I know that if we stay on the same path, we’re going to get to where we need to be.”

On match up problems center Sean Williams poses:
“He’s a great shot blocker. I think he’s averaging about six per game. But he’s long, he’s got great balance and he’s great at blocking the guys he’s not guarding’s shots. He’ll block his own man’s shots some, but I’d say a majority of his blocks come from rotation and helping. If you go to the hole on him, you have to go strong. That’s how you should play everyday.”

On Darrell Arthur’s improvements:
“Defensively, I think he’s become a smarter defender. The whole thing about defense is playing your man before he catches it. If you play him before he catches it, it’s a lot easier to guard him once he’s got it. When you let him catch it where he wants to, now you’re on defense, on defense. He’s doing a lot better job of adjusting and getting to the spots he needs to be. It’s different (than high school). It used to be just stay behind, don’t foul and block every shot. It’s not like that in college.”

On Arthur’s approach to the game:
“I think that’s great. I don’t think there’s anything different to his approach to the game. His approach is ‘teach me’. He’s a guy who really hates to mess up. He’s teaching himself and he’s getting it. He’s going to become a very smart basketball player really soon. He’s on the way, because once he studies it, he really gets it.”

Kansas Player Quotes

Freshman forward Darrell Arthur
On the team’s progress:

“Chemistry-wise, I think our team is getting better. We are all playing together and playing as a team. We putting a lot of work into practice right now in an effort to continue to improve.”

On this week’s practices:
“Practice is going very well. We are all working hard and helping each other the entire time. We have really stressed getting better execution on our offensive plays.”

On playing against teams who can block shots:
We’ve had a hard time getting the other team in foul trouble the last couple of games, so we’re going to try and attack on Saturday. I think that’s how teams have been game-planning against us as well. To be an effective shot-blocker, I have to move my feet and reach (for the ball). I have been doing a better job of moving my feet and playing defense.”

On the importance of rebounding Saturday:
“Me, Julian, Sasha and Darnell are going to have to attack the glass, especially offensively. We really want to get in there and pull down some offensive boards. It’s going to be a rebounding-type game. We’ve got to find a way to get in there and then buckle-down. Whoever wins on the boards is probably going to win the game.”

On Sasha Kaun and Sean Williams:
“Sasha is a great player and he takes up a lot of space. The battle between he and Sean Williams is going to be a good one. Both of those dudes play a similar game, but Shawn is more explosive at some things. Sasha gets in there and blocks a lot of shots and makes it difficult for the other team’s offense because he changes so many shots.”

Sophomore guard Brandon Rush
On the last couple of days:

“Yesterday we had a pretty sluggish practice, but today we came in, practiced hard and got a lot of things done. I am pretty happy with the way I’m playing right now. I think I am playing a little better and making a few more baskets.”

On Jared Dudley:
“I watched him one game and he had like 30 (points). He can play inside and out. The other thing I know about him is that he’s a great shooter. He’s a physical player, similar to a P.J. Tucker (Texas) but with more of an outside game.”

On the Boston College game:
This is a big challenge for us, because they are as long and athletic as we are. They have some taller guys on the perimeter and that’s going to be a challenge as well. Mario and Russ are going to have to guard some 6-6 and 6-4 guards.”

Sophomore forward Julian Wright
On rebounding leading to quick scores:

“We have to go into attack mode when rebounding the ball. We have to get it every time a shot goes up. Our team is finely tuned on the fast break when we rebound, turn and run the floor and get easy baskets.”

Junior center Sasha Kaun
On Boston College:

“Boston College is a great team and will pose a nice challenge. They have some great individual players who play as a team. They are physical, long and athletic.”