Bill Self Previews TCU
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Bill Self addressed members of the media on Thursday to preview top-ranked Jayhawks’ game against TCU on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m., ESPN) in Allen Fieldhouse.
No. 1 Kansas (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) enters Saturday’s game with a 32-game home winning streak inside Allen Fieldhouse and one of the most productive offenses in the nation, which ranks fourth in scoring (86.8 ppg) and first in 3-point field goal percentage (.462).
Self addressed the need to bounce-back after the first conference loss of the season at No. 11 West Virginia, KU’s hot hand from 3-point range, and recent NCAA legislation changes related to the NBA Draft, among other topics. Read the complete transcript below or follow the link to watch video of the press conference.
Q. Did you learn anything more about the West Virginia game by looking at the tape?
BILL SELF: Yeah, we watched the tape yesterday as a team. We’d watched it before that as a staff but watched it yesterday as a team, and I think there are a lot of things that were pretty apparent. I think that emotionally, we weren’t into it as much for whatever reason, and I think that was pretty evident by our body language and energy level.
I think that they sped us up and sped our minds up, and we didn’t attack them very well at all.
In the full court press we turned it over three or four times, but it wasn’t what bothered us, it was after we got into the half court and then made so many careless mistakes. Now, they did do some things in the full court press that bothered us in stretches, but we didn’t attack their pressure very well to score, and certainly we’ll have to do a much better job next time we play them to have a good chance.
Q. When you watch something like that, whether it’s live or on film, and you see that lack of engagement, does it surprise you with a bunch of veterans?
BILL SELF: No. It’s sports. I mean, the (New England) Patriots do it. Golden State (Warriors) did it last night. It happens a lot of times. And sometimes talent still prevails, but when you play a team that’s as talented and as good as West Virginia, that’s not going to work.
Even with all that being said, it’s a six-point game. We’re shooting front ends with eight minutes left and don’t convert. But it’s almost like we looked tired to me. And even some of the players, not all of them, said afterward that it just had a little bit different feel than the other games we played as of late.
Q. Even though it’s usually a worse way to get defensive rebounds to throw a zone in there, did you discuss that at all, the possibility?
BILL SELF: You know what, we could have. They shot 33 percent, and so that wasn’t what killed us. Even though the rebound margin, they got 15 — they ended up plus-2 on the glass, which for a team that leads the country in rebounding, it’s the best — it wasn’t just horribly bad. What was horribly bad to me was during the teeth of the game is when they got control of it, is early on it’s even, late in the game it’s even or we have an advantage, but during the teeth of the game is where they really established themselves on the glass.
We talked as a staff afterward, and asked if we should have played our crappy 2-3 zone for a brief minute. We obviously wanted to win the game, but if it’s the last game of the season, then maybe you do that, but I really didn’t want to bail our players out by telling them, okay, let’s try something different. I wanted them to have to guard their guards and keep the ball in front of them, and we couldn’t do it.
Hindsight, yeah, we maybe could have done that and forced them to be a total perimeter shooting team and make them make shots as opposed to driving the ball, but when you look at it — I don’t know what the final score was, I think we got 63 and they got — what did they get, 74? Maybe that was it. During the teeth of the game until we just gave them 14 free points late by fouling in the last three minutes, it was a 61-49 type game.
Our offense was so inept. You go on the road and you play a top-10 team and you hang 49 on them the first 36 minutes of a game or 35 minutes, I mean, it doesn’t matter what you do defensively, you’re not going to win because you didn’t score the ball.
Q. If you do bail them out and go to zone, does that put a seed in their minds in the future?
BILL SELF: You know what? It might if you stop them. But the whole thing is our defense has been so much better the last three weeks or so, maybe four weeks, and I’ve never been that way. It would be like, to me, a relief pitcher or pitcher is out there and he walks the bases loaded and then they pull him out. I would think a pitching coach would say, ‘No, you got us into this, now figure a way to get us out of it.’ That’s kind of how I feel about things like that. And maybe it’s stubbornness. I mean, obviously we need to, but our defense has gotten better and we haven’t spent any time on zone the last two or three weeks, so I just didn’t feel comfortable going to it. I thought our best chance was still to guard them and our best chance to rebound obviously was playing man, and then I thought that gave us the best chance.
Q. For up-and-down speed you’re as good as anybody in the league, but are there a few teams who are every bit as quick as you?
BILL SELF: I don’t think that we’re as quick as West Virginia, and I’m not sure that we’re as quick as Oklahoma on the perimeter. And when I look at quickness, it’s the first two steps, obviously, going forward, but it’s also those first steps sliding sideways, and to me that’s where we got beat the other night more than anything else — and a lot of it was our offense off the ball defense. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do to support the guy guarding the ball. But I thought our lateral quickness was really exposed. And so we’re going to have to get a lot better guarding the ball.
People look at us and say — I know fans do — so quick, so this, because we can get up and down the floor really well, but you take away transition and then it becomes a half-court game, and quickness is more defined on what you can do sliding laterally as it is to what you can do running up and down the floor.
Q. You said somewhere that Perry Ellis should have gotten the ball a lot more. Is that the kind of game he could have really dominated?
BILL SELF: When you say he should have gotten the ball a lot more, when we go on our little 9-0 runs, Perry is the main reason offensively why we do that. So I don’t understand why we go away from that, even if it’s makeshift, even if it’s not very artistic, you just get the ball to him and make him go play a play. That’s what West Virginia did; they just kind of moved the ball around a little bit and then just say, ‘Okay, play, take them.’ We could have done that with Perry some, also.
I don’t know what Perry ended up with, 21 or 22, whatever it was, but it wasn’t like we didn’t throw it to him, but we probably could have done a better job of trying to throw it to him more.
Q. Does he seem more comfortable to take over in those situations when he’s got that kind of advantage?
BILL SELF: Is Perry? I think so. I think like most players, he goes through phases where sometimes he’s feeling this would be a game that he can do those things, and sometimes maybe not, depending on how they’re guarding him. But I felt like the other night it was a game in which he felt like he could be effective offensively.
Q. You’ve talked a lot about wanting a guy you can throw it to and get buckets inside. How has Perry graded out just in terms of scoring?
BILL SELF: I thought early in the season he would not grade out well at all, and I really feel like since Big 12 started he’s graded out very well. I think even against Oklahoma, he got up 28 shots, and although he didn’t make an unbelievable percentage for him, because he’s a 55-60 percent shooter, he was aggressive enough to get up 28 and our best offense was having him attack the basket, and I thought that was the same way the other night.
I think he’s graded out very well in since the league started as far as getting the ball in tight and being aggressive to score.
Q. In terms of getting more easy buckets next to the hoop, where do you kind of see this team’s ceiling is at this point in the season as far as being able to get more easy shots?
BILL SELF: Well, against West Virginia it wasn’t very good because what West Virginia did — they had us on our heels so much that we didn’t even attack the basket in transition — and we certainly didn’t get numbers.
A big key to beating teams at press, in my opinion, is you’ve got to make them pay for pressing you. If you are settling for just getting across half court, then what have they lost? You know you’re going to turn it over some. That’s a given. You’re going to turn it over 15 times, so how are you going to attack to make them pay for their pressure? We didn’t do that very well the other night at all. But I don’t think easy baskets have been nearly as easy because I don’t think that we’ve done a real good job on the offensive glass, which creates easy baskets, and I don’t think we scored in transition nearly enough at home. We’ve done a much better job at home scoring in transition than what we have on the road.
Q. This ruling from the NCAA, the rules changes looking at testing for the NBA, that’s going to really change how everything works that time of year, isn’t it?
BILL SELF: Yeah, well, everyone is hopeful that it does. I think if kids and their families are smart, which this is — they’re going to get accurate information. I’m not positive if the number of invites to the combine is 60 or 75, whatever it is, if you’re not invited to the combine, then obviously you’re not on anyone’s radar regardless of what agents are telling you or what other people are telling you. And then the other thing is if you are invited, what it allows us to do is have time to train them so they don’t feel like they have to leave campus to go get trained. So that’s a positive.
So a young man would not jeopardize his collegiate eligibility if things don’t work out for him. The way it has read in the past, you’ve got to make a decision by a certain time, and then if you don’t take your name out by a certain time, you’re automatically in, but no NBA teams have had a chance to talk to you, it’s only the information that we have gathered for them. Now it’s a situation that if they’re invited to the combine, they’re going to get within one week exactly where they grade out at the combine, and if NBA teams, if 30 NBA teams are saying, ‘Hey, at best you’re a late second-round draft pick and probably not draftable,’ then that would still give a young man a chance to come back to school.
It’s not 100 percent positive, though, because it could put the schools in jeopardy of not knowing what your roster will be for next year. (They could think) Well, we think he’ll come back and then he ends up leaving late and there’s nobody left to sign.
So from a school standpoint you could make a case that it kind of puts you more in jeopardy for next year’s roster, but if you’re looking at it for the best interest of the kids, at least now they can rely on information from the NBA as opposed to third parties giving them information, and that was the goal of the rule.
Q. What are your impressions of TCU?
BILL SELF: Better. I just watched last year’s game from the Big 12 Tournament. I don’t know if you guys remember, but Kelly (Oubre Jr.) made like 17 free throws; I think he was like 17-of-25 from the line and we ended up winning a real close game. That game came down to the last minute or two.
But they’re better this year, and they can score the ball. (Chauncey) Collins can really score the ball. He’s kind of an instant offense guy, and I think that it’ll be a game in which — for whatever reason, we’ve played well at times against TCU but not consistently well. They’ve done some things to kind of mess with us defensively. Certainly, it’ll be a good ballgame, but you look around the league, they’re all good games right now.
I mean, home wins aren’t locks. We’re anticipating a very good game.
Q. Are you surprised by some of the outcomes in the league? Like how Iowa State has already lost three times?
BILL SELF: Yeah, that one surprises me a lot because they’re obviously a terrific team and their talent level is really high, but look at their losses. You lose on the last possession when you play great at OU. If I’m not mistaken, against Baylor you’ve got a 12-point lead in the second half so you think you’re probably going to win that game at home. Then Texas is a one-possession game late. There are a lot of teams that would be happy to be able to flip a coin going on the road saying we’ve got a 50/50 chance to win, and they just haven’t — they’ve just come up short on two last-possession games against OU and Texas.
But that’s surprising. I don’t know if there’s been a lot of other surprises. I think what is surprising is the competitive nature of all our games. I mean, all the games are going to be very, very close for the most part. Even our game against West Virginia the other night, we didn’t play well at all, they had a ton to do with that, but still, it’s a six-point game with eight minutes left on the road against a top-10 team. So it’s not like we never had a chance, although we never put ourselves in a position to put a lot of game pressure on them.
Q. We asked you a lot about this last year, but you guys are shooting around 31 percent of your shots from three, which is about where you guys normally are, maybe a little bit more. But with the way you guys shooting from outside, as a staff, have you thought about should that number go up?
BILL SELF: Yeah, but don’t you think teams defend us in a way to make us throw it inside more, too? I don’t disagree with what you’re saying at all, but I think that people are running it at us and forcing us off the line or to make plays off the bounce. The other night against West Virginia we shot 20 out of 49 in that particular area. I think the stats are a little bit skewed. You should probably look at the stats and the games that are last-minute games and the percentage we shoot as opposed to games where you control the game from start to finish and you can throw it inside and score at will.
But I could be wrong on that. Against OU, of course there were so many shots, I think we shot 23 or 24 threes, something like that, and against West Virginia 40 percent of our shots were threes, which that number is pretty high. But I do think teams are trying to run us off the line, without question.
Q. Do you think that number would be higher in the games that are closer?
BILL SELF: Yes, I do, because it’s scramble mode, especially in games where you’re behind, where you’re trying to come back. But yeah, I think the numbers would be higher in games that are close.
Q. How important, or how beneficial, is it after a road loss to now come home, get back into routine?
BILL SELF: I think it’s really important because we only get the one home game, and then we go back out (on the road). What is it, TCU, then at Okie (Oklahoma) State, and we all saw what they almost did last night. They had a freshman go for 42. I mean, we talk about Buddy’s (Hield’s) 46? That was in 55 (minutes). This kid had like 42 in 40 minutes, and the amazing stat about that is that he made two threes and four free throws.
So he made 16 field goals inside the arc and you’re a six-foot guard. That’s hard to do. So that obviously will be very difficult.
Then we come back home against Texas. I think Texas could be one of those teams that could definitely turn the corner and have a great conference season.
And then you go to Ames.
Then we get a little break from conference play to play Kentucky — I don’t mean a break, I mean a break from conference play — but these next four games leading into the Kentucky game are probably about as important a stretch as we’ve had.
Q. You talked about teams running you off the line. What’s the counter to that?
BILL SELF: I think drive it. I think being able to put your head down and drive it and force help. The other night we were actually 10-of-15 when Lagerald (Vick) goes 1-for-2, so that was late, but B.G. (Brannen Greene) and Svi (Sviotoslav Mykhailiuk) were 0-for-5, so that’s 1-for-7. So theoretically, what does that make us, 9-for-14, 9-for-13, something like that, all the other guys from behind the arc? But West Virginia does such a good job of pressuring, there are not open looks. There are not as many open looks. They make you go make plays.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports