Bill Self Previews Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Bill Self addressed members of the media on Thursday to preview the Jayhawks’ game against Texas on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m., ESPN) in Allen Fieldhouse.
No. 3 Kansas (15-3, 4-2 Big 12), winners of 33-straight in Allen Fieldhouse, is currently in a four-way tie for second-place in the Big 12 standings with Texas, No. 1 Oklahoma, and No. 6 West Virginia.
Entering Saturday with just nine losses in Allen Fieldhouse through 13 seasons, Self has the opportunity to win his 200th game on KU’s home court with a win against the Longhorns.
Read the complete transcript below or follow the link to watch video of the press conference.
Q. What was the most important thing you wanted to get across to your guys after Tuesday’s game?
COACH SELF: I think there were several things, but I think that the big thing is you don’t go from being a really good team to a bad team overnight. You have bad days.
But certainly, the biggest thing is, we have prepared to not be as successful here of late because we haven’t practiced very well. And that was the big thing is the intangible aspect of it. You’re never going to look good on what you run or whatever, if you don’t have energy and certain intangibles.
And we, like against Oklahoma State I know people may disagree; it was much better at West Virginia. We just missed free throws. We missed shots. And they made shots. They made the same shots we missed. Of course, that’s basketball.
But there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to tighten up and pay attention to detail. And playing together, we did so well early on, but I feel like the ball’s sticking a little bit now. We’re not sharing it quite as well as we did earlier.
Q. Speak on the characteristic of the Big 12 this season. There are a lot of good players and a lot of good juniors and good seniors in this league – a little different than what we’ve seen in past years.
COACH SELF: You go back to our league and with the (Kevin) Durant’s and the (Michael) Beasley’s and the (Blake) Griffin’s and the (Andrew) Wiggins’ and (Joel) Embiid’s – when you look at guys and you say, well, they are for sure going to be successful later on. I don’t know that you can positively say that about all our guys in our league.
But I think we’ll have a lot of guys in our league make rosters, which — and a lot of times, better ball translates to experience, and I do think there’s been some better games this year in large part because you’re playing with upperclassmen.
You know Texas positively has a pro, and they probably have multiple pros that are just young, but they positively have one. Oklahoma State positively has one; he’s just young. Iowa State, you know, of course Georges (Niang) is probably as tough a matchup as there is.
But people that I differ with think that Monté Morris could be as good as any true point guard in the country, and there’s other players like this. But you don’t have, with the exception of Buddy (Hield) this year — and possibly Georges. Georges has had a great year but you don’t have those guys you look at and say, you know, First Team All-American national Player of the Year. But you have a lot of guys that I think are guys that actually produce more than with the exception of the Durant’s, Beasley’s, Griffin’s and whatnot, produce more than the majority of those one-and-done type kids.
Q. Does that balance create a situation where you’re going to have teams closer together, maybe be a little bunched?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. I also think this: We can say what we want to, and the reasons for it, but you know, you’ve got — seems like to me, everybody in our league has gotten better. The standard has been set pretty high but everybody has the gotten better.
That’s one thing that I think is going to make it very difficult for whoever wins the league is that you’re going to have to go through every game. I mean, every game is going to be a war. But the reality of it is, you’ve got six teams in our league that can win the league. I mean, not go to the NCAA Tournament; win the league.
And you may have more than that, but I’m talking about, you know, if you get off to a rough start, sometimes it’s hard to overcome that. How many leagues in a country, 60 percent of the teams in the league, you could go to Las Vegas right now and there would be people that would be wagering on them to win the league.
So I think that that’s very unique that you have this much top-heavy teams. I remember 1990 when OU, Kansas and Missouri were ranked one, two, and three and flip-flopped. But it was a top-heavy league. There wasn’t as much power in the other spots.
This year it’s ridiculous. Our first-place team could easily lost last night at home to K-State. I mean, K-State played their tails off and could have won that game. And then you see a team that obviously handled us easily; and then you’ve got a team that we’re playing Saturday, go out there and controlled the game from start to finish (Texas defeating West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va.). So it’s going to be a wild, wild year, probably wilder than it’s ever been I would think.
Q. How has Texas adjusted without injured center Cameron Ridley?
COACH SELF: Well, Cameron was having a great year. I think they are obviously playing a little smaller. They still have two bigs that they throw at you that are legitimate fives. So instead of having three, now they have two. (Prince) Ibeh is as good a defensive presence as we have in our league, and then they are playing — although (Connor) Lammert is a big guy, but they play small with him because he shoots so many threes. And (Tevin) Mack is a guy that comes in and is smaller, and he’s a perimeter player playing the four.
I do think in some ways, when you play with a stretch-four, you become harder to guard. And although Texas was doing that with Cameron, also, I do think it will make it harder to guard. But defensively, they picked up their pressure because Ibeh can get out there and trap balls and do things that maybe Cameron wasn’t quite as good at.
Q. Common themes with your defensive performances the last few games, any specific break downs?
COACH SELF: Well, I think guarding the ball would be the biggest thing that I think had been the biggest weakness that we’ve had of late, and our two losses, we didn’t rebound the ball great. Although the rebound stats can sometimes get a little skewed because of free throws.
But I think obviously against West Virginia, we didn’t guard the ball, and against Oklahoma State, we didn’t handle a large portion of the ball screens very well.
So those would be the biggest things for the most part. But you know, our — I haven’t looked at it today, but going into the Oklahoma State game, we were No. 1 in the conference in field goal percentage defense. The thing that we haven’t done very well is we haven’t defended the three very well in the league. I think we are like sixth or seventh in the league in three-point field goal percentage defense.
Q. A couple weeks ago, you mentioned that maybe Texas was the sleeping giant. What was it back then that you kind of saw that maybe they are doing now?
COACH SELF: Players, athletes. We talk about teams that are athletic. They may have the best athlete in college basketball in (Kerwin) Roach. He may be as good an athlete as there is in college basketball for his size. You know, (Isaiah) Taylor is a jet. I think (Javan) Felix has had a great year, too. I think he’s making shots and been a calming influence for them.
They are athletic and they are aggressive, and they have a rim protector. I think they have the pieces to really, you know, make a serious dent in this thing. But I think every coach in our league thought that before the season started, too. No question that they have got great pieces.
Q. How has Shaka Smart made an imprint on Texas in his first year as head coach there?
COACH SELF: I’m not there every day, but I would say from my standpoint, they enjoy playing for him. I think they play very, very hard. I think the one thing that they have done a ton of that’s a little different than Rick (Barnes) is switch defenses. They will switch all the time doing things differently, they’ll down ball screens and next time-out they are trapping off ball screens. They do a good job of keeping you off-balance, and certainly pressure more. They are pressuring more now in the full court.
But you know, to me, putting your handprint on a program is more from a personality standpoint and a recruiting standpoint. And from what everybody tells me, he’s well-liked in the state and the staff works hard, and it’s definitely a very positive feel from what I hear.
Q. Do you have time to follow those guys as they come up through the ranks, even from a distance, Shaka, guys like that?
COACH SELF: We knew Shaka obviously because we played him. But follow them is probably too strong, but you look at (his former school) VCU and they are in the tournament every year. So obviously you follow that.
And then of course, you know, there’s other guys, too. Coach (Mike) White at Florida would be a guy I always was totally impressed by what he did at Louisiana Tech because I played against La. Tech and been there, and I thought he was very impressive, what he did. And of course what Coach (Archie) iller is doing at Dayton I think is very impressive, and there’s others. But certainly Shaka is one of the more gifted guys we have in our profession.
Q. You said the other night that Frank was healthy and maybe he’s a little sore, but is he the type of guy that if he was battling something, he might not even tell you, just because his personality?
COACH SELF: Well, I would hope that he would. But the reality is, is that he wouldn’t. Now, if he’s got an injury, yeah, that would be a different deal. He would get with Bill and they would work on that.
But as far as something bothering him or feels tired or whatnot, no, he would never say a word; I’m fine, Coach. That’s just kind of how Frank is.
Q. Do you feel like there’s nothing serious bothering him the last couple weeks?
COACH SELF: Since the OU game, I don’t feel like he’s played with near the energy that he did in that particular game. I mean, we talked about that, he totally gave himself up for us that particular night.
And since then, it almost seems like he’s been worn out a little bit from that. And I don’t know if that’s true or not; it could be a coincidence. But he’s got to get it back, but you can’t put it on Frank. I think the whole team looks that way. I think we look pretty lethargic right now. Well, I think we did look lethargic.
Right now, I think moving forward I’m very positive, I think we’re, you know, addressing those issues and we’ll be much better moving forward.
Q. Would you say this group is not a great body language team?
COACH SELF: Well, I don’t think it ever has been. I don’t think this — watch Frank in introductions. Sometimes I think you’ve got to nudge him to wake him up to get him out there. Perry is not exactly Mr. Personality when you talk about showing emotion like that. And Wayne’s got some of that in him but the reality of it is, that’s not who we – for the most part – who we are.
But when we are that way, which we have been that way, it’s amazing how it picks everybody else up. It’s contagious. So we talk about that, and showing emotion in that kind of stuff. Someone texted me, ‘hey, your guys act like they don’t care.’ That’s the biggest crock of bull ever. They care a lot. But I think sometimes stress and things like that probably keep you from probably being the way that you want to be all the time.
For us to have a chance to have a great season, you know, I do think that’s an area that we have to improve and that’s something we certainly identified to get out of your comfort zone to give yourself up, go show emotion. If Perry were to do that, it would be so contagious, but it’s just in his DNA right now to do that.
Q. You said you’re encouraged it’s going to get better —
COACH SELF: Because it’s a new day. I was actually — I felt pretty good with our guys after we talked to them yesterday. You know, the thing about it is, and you guys know this, the Chiefs, did they get off to a bad start? I can’t remember, okay (sarcastic). And I’m sure there are a lot of people saying, it’s over.
I remember one of the media members last year saying, the Royals were the biggest disappointments ever and it’s ruined his life, his adult life, because they have not done anything. And I looked at the standings and they were 21-22. And I’m thinking, this is a real journalist? Not present, by the way. (Laughter) And they go win the World Series. Everybody goes through funks like this. I mean, Royals won the World Series. Didn’t they have a crappy end of August and early September? That’s what happens in sports. And you can go through it.
Didn’t the Chiefs beat the Patriots like 45-10 last year, and the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl. So this is nothing unusual. You know, the last two years, unfortunately for us, we lost to West Virginia, who wasn’t as good as they are now, and we lost to Oklahoma State on the road and somehow still turned out okay.
It’s not time to say, oh my God, but it is time to understand, we’ve got to negate the negative momentum and get moving back in the right direction.
Q. Can you talk a little about your non-conference schedule comparted to how strong the Big 12 is?
COACH SELF: I think going into the Oklahoma State game, we played the third-hardest schedule in the country. So there were some things about our schedule that wasn’t like last year, or the last three years or whatever it was. But thank goodness it wasn’t, because, I mean, how can you play 18 wars plus Kentucky during your conference season plus everything else. That would be too much.
I think the way that it was scheduled, I think we did a pretty good job in that area.
Q. This weekend with John Hadl being recognized — did you enjoy getting to know him and do you remember him as a player?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I actually remembered John pretty well as a player. He wore that stylish facemask that was pretty cool back in the day.
I’ve known John a while. John was a big reason why I came to Kansas, when the job opened. He basically called and said, ‘now, listen here, this is what we’re going to do and this is what you’re going to do.’ But you know, personality; has had more experiences than just about any male that I know as far as you talk about hanging out with (Joe) Namath or (Lance) Alworth or whomever, and being in San Diego and L.A. I mean, great stories.
But more importantly than all that, John Hadl is a great guy. He’s a guy’s guy. He cares about people. He’s so impressed by other people’s successes, but he never talks about himself, when he’s done more than all of us combined in his lifetime, what he’s done.
And you really break it down — and of course I’m not an expert. This guy at one time was like one of the five or ten leading yardage passers in the NFL — AFL, he didn’t play quarterback in college until he was a senior, isn’t that right? He’s a running back. Think about that.
And the stuff that he’s done and the punishment that his body’s taken over time and was able to basically for the most part play a fairly injury-free-type professional career. He’s been really good for Kansas and a great ambassador. Crappy golfer, though. Never was any good at golf (Laughter). But for the most part, yeah, he’s great.
Q. What did you think of Cheick’s start? Do you think they will go that way again?
COACH SELF: Probably. I don’t know. We’ll see how practice goes. But he did okay. Nobody turned it out. He wasn’t a big reason why things went well but he certainly wasn’t the reason why when things didn’t go well. So yeah, I don’t think it was a marquee-type performance, but I don’t think you could really say that about anybody on our team that particular night.
Q. When you look at the last couple losses, how much is missing inside — momentum, harder when you’re on the road?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. We missed some against Oklahoma State. That’s not the reason why we lost, but we did miss some.
I think something that’s really hurt us in both those occasions is we shot free throws horribly. You actually get to the line more than Oki State. You’re in the bonus earlier; you’re doing some good things to do that and to get there. And then I don’t know how many front ends we missed, but 13 to 24 in multiple front ends, and it’s deflating when you’re behind six or eight points and you go to the line and come up empty.
And that’s what happened also at West Virginia. I mean, that’s not a reason why, but it contributes to it. I think you can play better defense and certainly get more 50/50 balls, which I think is vitally important, and those things, but the bottom line is, you’ve still got to make shots.
And the team that makes the shots, you know, people talk about that, which team has the advantage in the NCAA Tournament? The team that makes shots. That’s kinds of how it works, the team that gets hot and makes shots. We’ve got to get better at that.
And if you look at the games in which we lost, even though we made perimeter shots against West Virginia, we missed so many inside. But the last two games, I think — I could be wrong, I think we are 11 of 41 or 42 from three. And you’re not going to look good when that’s the case. So we’ve got to do a better job of stepping up and making shots. But better ball movement would also help with that.
Q. Do you expect to have Brannen Greene back?
COACH SELF: According to (Associate Director of Sports Medicine) Bill Cowgill, he should practice today. But I haven’t — yesterday he felt a lot better, but I haven’t talked to him today since he’s got a couple treatments. But Bill feels like today he should be able to practice.
Q. Are you surprised by Jeff Withey’s success in the NBA?
COACH SELF: Well, yeah, I didn’t know it when he first got here. Give Jeff props, because when he – during his first year of eligibility, he was our sixth big guy. He never played, never. But look who he had in front of him. But he hung in there.
Actually, you guys — I’ll remember, but he had a goose egg at Missouri and we lost the game on the last possession. And came back and I was upset, he was upset, and the players were upset. I remember him the next day in practice, the day before we played Baylor, all he did was just run around the field house, the whole practice. And then he goes down to Baylor and, if I’m not mistaken, scored 25 or 27 points and took off from there.
I mean, it was great to see because I think at that moment, he fell in love with ball. And I could be wrong. And then, of course, his senior year was off the charts. His junior year was, too. He was great. He’s got more blocked shots than anybody in the history of the NCAA Tournament, other than Tim Duncan, and Tim leads him by one. That’s pretty remarkable, you only play in two NCAA Tournaments.
Q. Wild question: But did you see the guys riding the hover boards before the game; are you worried about those? A couple coaches have started banning them.
COACH SELF: We haven’t done that yet. There’s been like 30 schools across the country that have banned them.
You know, sometimes, I don’t know if you want to have a lot of rules (for your student-athletes) that you can’t really monitor all the time.
We do not have rules about them using them here, and maybe that will be something that transpires. We talk about Frank’s fatigue: So look, guys, we’re helping him out. It’s basically strategy to keep our guys more rested (Laughter).
Q. Have you ever ridden one?
COACH SELF: I got on one. I don’t know if you call it ride when you’re doing that, but I actually did get on one to see what it was like. I was pretty nervous getting off of it. I think getting on it is the easy part. I think getting off it is where you could really mess yourself up.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports