NCAA Tournament: Kansas Preps for Stanford on Off Day
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Second-seeded Kansas used its off day to meet with the media and hold a closed practice to prepare for 10th-seeded Stanford in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional Saturday afternoon.
Kansas (25-9, 14-4 Big 12) advanced in the NCAA Tournament with an 80-69 win against No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky March 21. The Jayhawks will face No. 10 seed Stanford (22-12, 10-8 Pac-12) on Sunday, March 23, at 11:15 a.m. on CBS. Stanford defeated No. 7 seed New Mexico, 58-53, on March 21 to advance to the Round of 32 against Kansas.
Head coach Bill Self along with freshmen guards Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, Jr. spoke at the off-day press conference before the team headed off for practice.
Q. Do you recall playing against or knowing either of the two Stanford guys from Ontario, Dwight Powell or Stefan Nastic? Dwight said he remembered playing a pick-up game with you one time when you were like in the 8th grade.
ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, I played AAU on the same like organization. I played like one game with them, just to see how I would play with the older guys. And I played against Stefan in elementary school.
Q. What do you think you were doing yesterday that maybe Coach Self saw you being productive that allowed you to play the entire second half?
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: Just probably defending – getting up and pressuring the ball. We had good help defensively in the second half. We were able to come together on the defensive end.
Q. What would you say has been the biggest thing that you have improved on over the course of this season since you have entered college?
ANDREW WIGGINS: Just playing at a slower pace and letting the game come to me. That and staying aggressive throughout the whole game.
Q. What do you know about Stanford that you didn’t know at the end of your game yesterday? Can each of you address how Chasson Randle will factor in your plans?
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: We know that they’re big. They’re a big team, and we know that they want to take their time on offense and get the shot they want to get. But we just have to play more pressure defense and contain defense.
ANDREW WIGGINS: I would say we just have to take them out of their comfort zone. They play more like stationary offense, and we just have to kind of play high on the floor with them, make them pass the ball where they don’t want to catch it.
Q. Guys, congratulations on your win yesterday and I realize that both of you played in the NCAA Tournament for the very first time. Your first game yesterday. I am wondering now that you played the game, had a few moments, a few hours to think about it, maybe your impressions of what the NCAA format was like. And also, do you feel like you have one under your belt and maybe you guys can settle in? There was the thought because of the large number of turnovers that perhaps you were jittery and nervous.
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: You know, we came out with a little bit of nerves. We weren’t really too pressured. I think it was us putting pressure on ourselves, and we let the other team beat us. After we got comfortable, I felt like we played better.
ANDREW WIGGINS: We had teams beat us up at first and then after a couple of time-outs we got more focused. We let the game come to us and we focused in on defense and tried to get stops. That’s what we did in the second half, not make turnovers and make smart decisions.
Q. Wayne, is there almost a luxury for being the second or third option offensively where you can establish your own flow and maybe try to get involved in other ways?
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: I feel like there are other ways that we all can impact the team because every game someone else is going to step up, like as you have seen yesterday as Jamari (Traylor) and Conner (Frankamp) played fantastic games. You never know who’s going to play good in any of these games and it was great to have them step up yesterday.
Q. What are your guys’ thoughts for the second game against Stanford? They are a big team. What do you need to do without Joel Embiid? Jamari Traylor really contributed, your thoughts on that?
ANDREW WIGGINS: Again, we just have to play aggressive, play smart. Try to keep playing — make good decisions and keep them out of their comfort zone. Stay high on the floor and try to get them to catch the ball where they don’t want to catch it.
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: I agree. (We need to) play a little faster than we did yesterday. We let Eastern Kentucky beat us up rather than playing our tempo. We want to play a little faster tomorrow.
Q. Andrew, as you know, a lot of people are anticipating that you will be in the next NCAA draft. But whether or not that happens, do you think that your career at Kansas is going to be judged on how your team does in this tournament?
ANDREW WIGGINS: I think it will be better, you know, if we won this tournament, but we still had a good year either way. Even though we won one of the toughest conferences in college basketball and no one can take a good year away from us.
Q. Andrew, yesterday after the game that you said you played well, but you think you could be more aggressive. What are some of the things that you’re going to try and I guess correct to bring that aggression out a little bit more like you said?
ANDREW WIGGINS: Just staying more engaged with everything and not always on the offensive end, more on defense. Try to get my man before he catches the ball, stay high on the floor, rebound more and just help my team in more ways.
Q. Andrew, there is so much focus on you and your brother (Nick Wiggins, Wichita State) playing under one roof. But do you ever think back to the childhood memories or do you ever miss those times when it was just you and him playing one-on-one?
ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, everyone misses their childhood memories with their older brothers. I have two older brothers and a father who all played basketball, so I played a lot with them. It was always competitive. I always learned a lot from them.
Q. Do you remember the last time you played one-on-one? And who won?
ANDREW WIGGINS: I think last summer, me and my brothers. I think it was — we all won, because we played a lot of different games.
Q. Have have you seen tape of Chasson Randle? Have you seen anything out of him? Or any impressions from what you have seen?
ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, we just have to play team defense. Not focus on one person because, when we do that, we let the other guy go off and he is someone we don’t want having control of the game.
Q. How difficult was it for you guys to adjust to Eastern Kentucky? And will this be more of a standard game? Or do you look for something completely different with Stanford as well?
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: Definitely completely different. Eastern Kentucky was a small, fast-paced team, and we let them speed us up. Stanford, they are a lot bigger and they are not as fast as Eastern Kentucky. But they might be more productive in the half court, so we have to be able to play high on the floor.
Q. Coach Self talked about how Conner Frankamp is going to be the first guard off the bench after showing in practice. Have you seen that a lot in practice, mainly in March?
ANDREW WIGGINS: Yeah, he has been stepping up a lot, making big plays in practice on offense and defense. He is making his teammates better and just playing hard. He played every minute at practice. He is making us better and that’s what we are supposed to do. He is becoming a leader vocally and just by example.
Q. Andrew, this one’s for you. I was just curious with all of the spotlight and fanfare surrounding your season, especially at the beginning and again now. Was there a time in the middle where all of that subsided and you felt like you were able to go out there and play natural and have fun without all of the outside spotlight and pressure?
ANDREW WIGGINS: I would say after my first college game I just felt more relaxed because the first college game I was fighting nerves a lot, but I never felt as much nerves as I did the first game, so it has all cooled down now.
Q. This is for both players. Have you played a lot of games this early in the day? What do you think of that?
WAYNE SELDEN, JR.: Yeah, we’ve had games early in the day where we have played great and others that we haven’t played our best. Thinking back to even the Georgetown game, it was awhile ago, we played at 11:00 a.m. We played pretty good. And it is just a point of waking up. Getting up early, getting a good breakfast in you and just playing basketball, because that’s what we love to do.
ANDREW WIGGINS: I think we’re used to it. Sometimes we practice early. We had a couple of early games this year. So like Wayne said, we just have to have a good breakfast, get a lot of sleep the night before and just be ready to play early.
Head coach Bill Self Opening Statement
I am very happy to be here on Saturday. The way we played early in the game yesterday I am not sure that was going to be possible, but happy to be here.
We just started, although our staff has studied tape on Stanford, we certainly watched a lot of tape last night and were very impressed with how they do things and how sound they are. And, obviously, how big and long they are. So we know it will be a very tough challenge for our guys, but certainly one we’re looking forward to.
Q. Tarik Black transfers to Kansas as a senior. What were your expectations for him at the beginning of the season? What do you think his expectations were and have those been met?
COACH SELF: I would say they’re being met. I don’t know if they have been met the whole year. I think his expectations were that he would come in and probably have more of an impact from a minute standpoint, production standpoint. Not that he would play all the time, but we probably anticipated him being a starter for us.
But when the young guy comes around like he did, there are not too many guys in America that would have beaten him out. So he became the best teammate and the best first guy off the bench guy that we feel like there is in the country. We think he’s been terrific. And he prepares every day the right way. Certainly it’s no surprise to me since Joel (Embiid)’s been out. We obviously miss somebody with that length, but we haven’t missed what a lot of people thought we would because he played so well. I thought he was really good yesterday.
Q. With all due respect, several questions were asked to your players about Chasson Randle and they seemed to not be quite sure who he was. Is that because they don’t know numbers?
COACH SELF: That’s not true, but we haven’t gone over personnel with our guys yet. We are going to wait and do it at practice. Our meetings and everything start after that.
Yeah, that’s not fair to our guys to ask something that we haven’t passed out scout reports and things like that on yet. We know he’s good, of course, he is averaging 18.9 a game.
If you want to know anything about him you can probably ask me. I think he is 18.9 and overall an 18.7 in league play and the kid can do a lot of things. And (Dwight) Powell is 14.9 overall, 14.1 in league. So our guys will be very, very aware of them. But for them to know every individual, especially someone they are not going to be guarding, I think it is a little unfair because we haven’t gone over personnel yet.
Q. Jamari Traylor has come a long way and obviously had a great game yesterday. What made you take a chance on him a few years ago? When did you find out about his back story? And he also said two times earlier in the year you used what he has gone through to motivate some of the guys.
COACH SELF: Well, we didn’t know, we were recruiting another young man out of IMG in Florida and we go down there and (assistant) coach (Kurtis) Townsend was a point man on it, but we are watching him work out and seeing Jamari work out. And well, who is this kid? Not a great offensive player by any means, but a guy with energy and balance and attitude and all of the things you want. And after starting to recruit him, and knowing that we wanted him, you get to study and get to understand the past.
Of course, he has a remarkable story. I mean that’s one great thing about this tournament, it brings out so many neat stories and Jamari certainly has one of them. For the young man to go through a situation in his life when he was a little younger in high school and to be homeless for almost a year, and live in abandoned homes and cars and shelters, and still find some way to make it. He’s willed himself to do it.
He and his family are very close and have gotten that way. Nobody could be more proud of him than, obviously his mother, but for what we are of him at Kansas. It has been a remarkable story and he is a great role model for everyone else. The kid doesn’t have bad days. He had a lot of bad days, he doesn’t have bad days now.
Q. Coach, do you see an offensive awareness in Wayne Selden, Jr. where he doesn’t force things but when he is shooting well he looks for his shot more and maybe plays more aggressively offensively?
COACH SELF: I think so. I think that Wayne has been pretty consistent in doing the things that he needs to do to give us the best chance to win. He’s given himself up a lot of times offensively to make sure he used all of his energies on the defensive end and that was his focus.
We need him to be a threat from the perimeter and last night obviously nobody on our team was. We didn’t stretch at it at all – didn’t make any shots from outside of the arc. We need him to be able to do that. He is also a guy that can attack the basket and get to the free-throw line. For a young kid, he’s had a great year, but certainly him being more aggressive tomorrow and if we’re fortunate to play after tomorrow it will be something that’s real important to any success we have.
Q. Your answer to the question about the scouting changes is what I was going to ask you. I was going to ask you if there’s more awareness by your players for teams that maybe they see on television more, like a Stanford versus an Eastern Kentucky. But I am just wondering if maybe it is less awareness when you get to this time of year about certain teams? Do you try to keep your kids sort of, not in the dark, but do you want to shape the way that they approach teams and their awareness of teams?
COACH SELF: I don’t think so. I think the teams that play on television a lot, you know, obviously your kids are more familiar with. This isn’t a negative against Eastern Kentucky, but they wouldn’t know — a lot of our players wouldn’t know their personnel if it wasn’t through scouting reports. Because maybe on the circuit they didn’t play against each other as much or that stuff. Everybody’s got players that can play in the tournament and we found that out last night.
But I would say, you know, if you’re watching a Michigan State or, you know, a Duke or somebody like that that we get all the time on TV, guys are more familiar with those teams. I would say Stanford, from our standpoint, would not be the team that we would be most familiar with. That’s not a knock to them, we don’t see them like teams on the West Coast see them if you are just flipping channels. But, you know, they have been on, but not as much for us as probably a lot of teams moving east.
We made a decision not to throw too much at them yesterday because of the fact that we thought rest was more important. We gave them some things to digest, such as how they run their triangle offense and that kind of stuff. Then we’ll get into personnel today at the end of practice and then all night tonight.
Q. With Conner Frankamp playing the way that he played yesterday, how much easier is it for you to go to him a lot earlier in the game if things aren’t going right right away?
COACH SELF: Players need confidence, but coaches need confidence, too. I get a kick out of that a lot of times, ‘Well, Coach, I need you to give me confidence.’ And I said, ‘My job is not to give it to you, your job is to give me confidence to play you.’
Conner performing like he did yesterday and being a solid guy for us, basically calming our team some, I think gives me a lot of confidence to go with him earlier. And he certainly will be part of our rotation.
Q. For those of us on the West Coast have only seen your team maybe only in bits and pieces over the course of the season, how would you describe Andrew Wiggins’ progress as a player from the time he came in to this point right now?
COACH SELF: Statistically, there hasn’t been a huge jump. He’s gone from averaging 16 a game to probably averaging 18 or 19 a game the last eight or nine games of the season. So, that’s a small jump.
He is much more comfortable with what he’s doing. He is much more confident and certainly when teams are designed to key on him he’s been very poised in learning how to play out of that and not get frustrated. I think as much as anything, he’s become more of a complete player. He’s a guy that can do a lot of different things and certainly if he gets an opportunity to play to his athletic ability, you know, he’s probably about as athletic as anybody in the country. And there are a lot of great athletes out there, but he is certainly one of them.
Q. As a follow-up to that question, how much better could he be with another year at Kansas?
COACH SELF: Oh, I think he should definitely come back, there’s no doubt about that. (Laughter.) I think that obviously he would be a lot better a year from now regardless of where he was playing. And certainly I say that jokingly.
You know, that’s not anything we’re going to hold out hope for at all. What I’d like to see him do, on the biggest stage that college basketball has to offer, is play very, very well to give him confidence and help springboard what his next step is, whatever that is. A lot of kids leave because the opportunity or the timing appears right. It doesn’t mean it’s always the greatest choice for their development. But in this particular case he will develop wherever he goes or whatever he does.
Q. Coach, last night and then again today Andrew Wiggins mentioned he hasn’t really felt nerves since his first college game, saying that was sort of the end of the nerves. Is that something you noticed as well and did you notice them back before the season started?
COACH SELF: The first exhibition game was a big one. I remember him saying how nervous he was then. I still think they get butterflies. Whatever a guy says that he’s calm and doesn’t feel certain things, I don’t know if I totally buy into it.
I don’t think that maybe nervousness is maybe what they feel as much as anxiousness or butterflies. He certainly feels that, but he’s been pretty remarkable on how even-keeled he has been. The highs not too high and the lows don’t ever get too low. He has been very steady.
Q. My question for you is about Johnny Dawkins, basketball star of the ‘1980s like yourself.
COACH SELF: Yeah, we were right on the same level. (Laughter.)
Q. Your thoughts about him and because of his coaching background, do you immediately know what to expect? Or has he kind of gone his own way with what he does?
COACH SELF: I can’t speak to all of that accurately. From my opinion, I think he is one of the classiest people that we have in our profession, whether it be a head coach, assistant coach, athletic director, trainer, academic person. You know, he epitomizes class. He conducts himself in that way and he always has.
I think it’s really cool, and of course, we have one in Danny (Manning), also, but I think they did some study, didn’t they do some poll that Danny was the best player that is coaching in the tournament and Johnny was the second-best player that is coaching in the tournament?
This guy was national Player of the Year and led Duke to the Final Four before Duke was going to Final Fours. And to see a guy that experienced, with that much success on the hardwood, then to come basically do the things that assistant coaches have to do, like Danny did as well, and to be totally humble in how you conduct your business, when certainly you don’t have to do that unless you are in the business of helping kids, I think is pretty cool. He was a great hire that Stanford made and he’s going to continue to do well. And everybody in our business that knows Johnny is happy for him.
I just don’t want him to benefit from it on our expense. But certainly he’s been great for our game.
Q. What, if anything, changes about your approach with the early start? And is there an advantage over a West Coast team?
COACH SELF: I was thinking about that. When they told me 11:15, I thought, ‘Damn.’ because I know our players would. But then I thought, Well, what is Johnny (Dawkins, Stanford head coach) saying?’ You know, they will have pregame meal at 5:15 a.m. their time, but they have been over here (in central time) long enough. I thought against New Mexico was a pretty early start and they played their best right out of the chute, so I don’t think it matters either way. I think both teams will be awake, alert and ready to go.
Q. This was a long time ago, but I believe your fourth game as head coach at Kansas was against Stanford.
COACH SELF: They beat us, yeah.
Q. What do you remember about that?
COACH SELF: You are bringing up a lot of good things. I remember Mike Montgomery was the coach and we go out there for the Wooden Classic, if I am not mistaken. I think Kentucky and UCLA was on the other half? I am pretty sure. And the final score was like 67-61 or something like that and they controlled the game from start to finish. I believe Childress was on that team, if I am not mistaken. So it was the year that Mike and them were No. 1 seed and had a great year.
But, you know, they’ve always had good players and always had good teams and always had size it seems like. And certainly this year is no exception.
Q. You said earlier about developing confidence from a coaching standpoint in a player. How long does it normally take to develop coaching confidence in a player?
COACH SELF: Oh, it is through practice, through having some success in the game. You know, the thing about it is with guys like Conner, it is not so much that they have to play great, but they need to perform well enough that the team doesn’t take a step backwards. He’s done that for the most part all year long. I said that jokingly, but it is true. Coaches have to get confidence in guys, and certainly we have confidence in Conner to come in and do the job.
Q. At this stage of a season, how much can a freshman catch up to veteran players and not be susceptible to something, savviness or that sort of thing?
COACH SELF: Well, I think I am hopeful that freshmen can do it, and I know you’re faithful are even more hopeful since you are playing with even more freshmen than what we are.
By this time of year, if you have been a contributor the whole year, it’s not like it used to be where, the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. It’s almost like, you’re a sophomore by the time conference play starts with all of the things that these guys have experienced before getting to school and him being thrown in the fire right when they get there. So I do think talent will trump experience in a lot of ways, but certainly experience can play havoc on young talent. At this point in time freshmen should be able to handle it.
The pressures are a little bit different in the NCAA Tournament than what they may be during the regular season, and mistakes are more magnified and things like that because there is not another game if you don’t play well. I think these young kids will handle it very well for the most part, because you see experienced guys not handling it well sometimes under the same circumstances.
Q. We talked a lot about Conner Frankamp. I’ve said he is one of the greatest shooters I’ve ever seen. You said the same thing. Why has he not been a good shooter this year?
COACH SELF: You know what? I don’t know if I’ll go that far. I think statistically it says he hasn’t been as good of a shooter as what he is, but it is hard shooting, you know. If you’re out there, if you make it you stay in, if you don’t make it, you may come out. And unfortunately that’s sometimes the reality of it or the appearance of the reality of it.
So you put so much pressure on yourself, I have to do this or I have to do that. The bottom line is he didn’t have to do anything except try really hard. When you think about the right things, usually you shoot the ball better. And I think he’ll do that. Just like last night, got two wide-open looks that normally 1-of-2 would be a bad shooting night for him on those and neither of those go down. But I know they’re going to and he believes they’re going to, I am not worried about that.
Q. I am wondering, I know you had your own pregame routine. Did you see, your staff, did your team see any of the game, the Stanford game, in person? Or did that confirm any impressions of yours, your teams?
COACH SELF: Yeah, our team, we watched in the locker room and we watched until we left the game. And so no question that our focus yesterday was beating Eastern Kentucky, our focus was not watching Stanford-New Mexico.
So the games were obviously on in the rooms before we left and we had the game on the whole time until we started stretching in our locker room, so yeah, they had a chance to see.
Q. I know you’re concentrating on your game, but as a basketball fan, do you feel like you might want to peek in on that Wichita State-Kentucky game after your game?
COACH SELF: If we win. I won’t be the least bit interested in that outcome at all if we’re not successful. We’ll be thinking about other things.
It’s an interesting scenario. You have Wichita State, who has had the year. Nobody can deny that. They had as good a year that college basketball has seen in recent memory. And then you have one of the truest blue bloods that has the reputation and all those sorts of things in young talent, that they will be battling each other. And it should be a fun game. I think it will be a fun game to watch.
If I do watch any of it, I will watch it strictly as a neutral observer and enjoy every moment. Because it could be very cool. But our focus isn’t thinking about that. We’ve got our own business, what we need to tend to and hopefully tend to very well.
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