Postgame Quotes

Dec. 31, 2011

Recap | Final Stats | Notes |

Kansas 84, North Dakota 58
December 31, 2011
Postgame Quotes

Kansas head coach Bill Self
On Thomas Robinson’s play:
“He played great. He is so unselfish, and he didn’t force one shot. He passed the ball and should have had six or seven assists, because we shot the ball so bad today. Still, he was so good, he went after the ball. He needed to have that happen. This is a tough time of the year for him for a lot of reasons, with the anniversaries and everything and it is so good to see him come out and play. He played with joy today, the first time I think he has played with joy in awhile. I thought [Tyshawn Taylor] and Elijah [Johnson] did some good things, but we can’t go 6-for-27 from three, that is ridiculous. We have better shooters than that, but our two best ones go 3-for-16. We will do better than that, but we did some good things today and I thought the guys that I played the majority of the minutes did some really good things offensively. I thought the guys that I didn’t play much, I thought they didn’t deserve to play as much as they did, but those other guys did a pretty good job.”

On the team overall after the end of non-conference play:
“Our record isn’t quite what I wanted, I was really hopeful we could get through non-conference with a couple of losses. After we beat Ohio State I said we have a chance to have two losses, and if we had two losses we would be in the top ten in the country right now. Not that we deserve that, but that’s the way it works. The thing that concerns me is how soft we are. Everybody sees it. You have balls hitting guys in the hands and they don’t come away with it and we are getting ready to play big-boy ball starting Wednesday. I am really concerned with our big guys because other than Thomas [Robinson] I don’t think we have a big guy that can get a rebound in traffic against men. That would be my biggest concern right now.”

On starting conference play on Wednesday:
“Everybody jumps right into it. You could say that were playing K-State right off the bat and they are good and tough, but everybody’s got hard games right off the bat, because our league is so good. Certainly, to put yourself in a good position to win the league, even though we won it last year, you need to hold serve at home. We didn’t do that last year. We had a loss. We need to come out and play well. It is such a long grind and league is not going to be won or lost in the first week, but certainly you have to take advantage of every opportunity. We have two great opportunities this week and we just need to go play.”

Kansas junior Thomas Robinson
On if scoring 30 points and collecting 21 rebounds feels the same as scoring 10 points and collecting 10 rebounds:
“I wouldn’t say it’s the same as 10 (points) and 10 (rebounds). Once I get to a certain amount of points and a certain amount of rebounds, I look at the time and see there are 15 minutes left and I just try to beat that. I kind of play against myself from there.”

On how it felt to set a career-high for points and rebounds:
“It definitely was a great accomplishment to get that. (Kansas head coach Bill Self)’s biggest thing before the game was to get momentum going into conference (play). All I wanted to do tonight was to send a message and get a full head of steam going into conference.”

On what allowed him to score 30 points while being double teamed for much of the first half:
“That’s a testament to my guards getting shots and me passing out of the double team. In the second half they had to back off of me a little bit and that opened up my offensive game.”

On how his game has improved in the last year:
“I can’t even put it into words. I know I’m a better basketball player. I’m more patient. I know more about the game and it’s all about having more experience on the floor. I think I’m still getting better as a player.”

Kansas senior Tyshawn Taylor
On if where he would rank Thomas Robinson among previous Kansas big men:
“Right up there. The summer before the twins’ (Marcus and Markieff Morris) sophomore year, the way they were in the gym—I had never seen anyone work that hard. They were in the gym more than anybody. Thomas was the same way. This summer he was working harder than everybody and it’s showing. He was a beast today and has been playing like a beast for us. I hope he can get a couple more of these 30 (points) and 20 (rebounds) and hit a couple more threes.”

On how Thomas Robinson helped facilitate Kansas’ offense:
“He did a good job fanning it out. That’s one of the things that (head coach Bill Self) stresses to T-Rob. Our offense is going to run through him so he doesn’t really have to force it too much. When they trap him and he passes it back and we swing it a couple more times, he’s going to have an opportunity to be one-on-one in the post and that’s how we want it. He did a really good job today and had a career high in assists today. That just shows he was passing it out, being patient and letting the game come to him. That just goes to show how much he has improved as a player and that he has a better understanding of the game.”

On Kansas’ upcoming game against Kansas State:
“This has been one of the best rivalries I’ve played in since I’ve been here. I think sometimes the K-State rivalry is underplayed because (the rivalry with) Missouri is so big, but I enjoy K-State a little bit more. This is going to be a fun game. I’m excited for it. I’m excited to get conference (play) started and get this thing on the road. They are going to come in here without a lot of energy and play hard. They are well coached. We just have to come in and play hard and rebound better than we have been. I think that’s going to be a big key against them.”

Kansas junior Travis Releford
On if there was any awareness by the team that this was the last non-conference game of the season:
“There was a bunch of awareness. When we came into this game (head coach Bill Self) was saying that we need get momentum going into conference (play) and that’s what we tried to do.”

North Dakota Head Coach Brian Jones
Opening statement:
“This opportunity for us was a big one. This is the first time we have been on an ESPN game, so this is a big deal for us. I was really proud of our effort and resiliency against a team that is talented in many ways. Offensively, they do a great job of covering up some mistakes because of their over-pressure offense and through guard play. They got off to a slow start, but they stayed within themselves, which they do. They never stray. Good programs do that, and (Kansas head) coach (Bill) Self programs have always done that. They continuously impose their will on you with their types of bodies and size. I thought we did a good job in the half-court defending them, but we struggled in transition, which is their strength. We tried to take that away, but we struggled doing that. We really struggled finishing a stop with a defensive rebound. That’s where they showed their separation. They were able to get a lot of easy ones and they were able to get second opportunities. We weren’t able to rebound and stay the course that way.”

On Kansas junior Thomas Robinson:
“I’ve guarded this as an assistant prepping for Coach Self when he was at Illinois. They want you to front and get caught on an angle so that they can just catch and dunk or lay it in. Teams who have had success are able to shrink different areas and force him (Robinson) to get off the block to where he has to face up a little bit. I think, because of his sheer size, tape and DVDs do that young man no justice with the size of his body and strength. He is so patient down there. He lets the game come to him. You just have to keep mixing up your coverages on him. He’s a tough matchup because he can handle it out on the floor, he scores in the open floor, he goes on the backboard and he’s just so patient down there. Then, when they’re struggling, they’re just going to throw it up to the rim to him and he’s going to go get an easy one.”

On if he was pleased with his team’s first half performance:
“I was. Our goal at the first media was to be 7-6, down one, and dictate tempo. Where they really jump on opponents like ourselves is when teams quick shoot. Then they come out and next thing you know, it’s 14-2. We wanted to have long possessions, take care of the basketball, and really make them earn shots instead of just letting them get easy ones. We were fortunate early because we had a lot of turnovers, but they were dead ball turnovers and it didn’t allow them to get out on the open floor.”

On the second half:
“We have a young team that was pressing. They love this environment, but when you’re down a certain amount of point, my team is confident, but still learning how to be smart and get quality possessions. You can’t do that against a team like this because with their ‘spurt-ability.’ Next thing you know, they’re up 25 because they’re out getting easy ones.”

On if the nickname change held any significance:
“It does. I talked to them about it before we went out because it’s the last day of the year, the last day of our logo scenario, so it was special to us. That’s why I talked about going out and representing, not only our program and your families, but representing our former athletes and former student bodies and alumni who have a lot of passion for this. It’s special. We’re playing on New Year’s Eve for a reason, so go out there and embrace it. Lay it all out there and understand that when you walk off that floor, there are a lot of people you’re representing. Don’t let it own you, but understand there has been a lot of tradition behind that. We just wanted to go out and represent our community, our university and our first opportunity on national TV in a proud way. The score was big, but we really played hard. We played together and we played within ourselves, which we really wanted to do.”

North Dakota junior Jordan Allard
On if this being the final game as the Fighting Sioux has been a distraction:
“It’s been getting brought up for awhile now. We have a great community up there that has been behind that name for a while, but if it causes issues with anybody that will affect our program, we’ll be all right without it. We’ll continue to go in the right direction.”

North Dakota sophomore Aaron Anderson
On how the team will build on this game moving forward:
“We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game. We just had to stay the course and try not to let the game get out of hand right from the jump. We did that. Now we just have to take this and continue down the stretch with the other schools we have to play.”