Kansas Men’s Basketball Conducts Media Day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball held its media day Thursday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. A team photo started the afternoon before head coach Bill Self took to the podium for his first press conference of the year. All 16 Jayhawks were interviewed on the floor following the presser to close out the off-season as practice officially begins on Friday.
Self’s press conference transcription was provided by FastScripts by ASAP Sports.Armed with 10-straight Big 12 titles, head coach
Bill Self begins his 12th season in 2014-15.COACH SELF: Nice of everybody to show up considering there’s nothing else in the sport world going on in Kansas City today.
Q. You’ve got three shorter guards. Would you expect the norm to be two of those guys on the floor at the same time or one?
COACH SELF: I don’t know what the norm is going to be yet, but I would say in a perfect world, we need more ball handling. We need more play-making.
Last year our assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t what we hoped. We didn’t handle pressure as well as we hoped, probably didn’t feed the post as well as we hoped. So getting your better ball handlers and passers out there, you would think would help you do so.
I can see a scenario where Wayne (Selden, Jr.) plays point with two big wings, and I can see a scenario where Frank (Mason III) and Devonte’ (Graham) or Frank and Conner (Frankamp), whoever it is, is in the game at the same times. I don’t see many scenarios where all three will be in the game together, but I think we can definitely play small. Frank is tough enough, he allows us to play small because I think he can guard a bigger guard.
Q. Do you like having the versatility?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. Last year we were probably more versatile than what I thought we were, or allowed us to be, because we were pretty locked in that we were going to play Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) at the three and Wayne at the two, or vice versa. And when we did that, we really took away some play making and some perimeter ball handling and passing I think. Not that Wayne is not a good passer. But he’s probably not, you know, the play maker last year that Frank could be this year.
So I see us being small a lot. But when I say being small, I can see us playing Wayne at the four, Kelly Oubre at the four, Brannen Greene at the four, to make us — even though standing height will be about the same, but a much more perimeter-oriented team.
Q. Hunter Mickelson is the one guy with a history of blocking shots.
COACH SELF: Hunter, he’s a prototypical four man. He’s a face-up guy. I think the challenge for him is to play bigger than what he is or what has been, because, you know, I could be wrong, but I can’t see anybody beating Perry (Ellis) out.
So what is best for the team, if Perry is on the court would be to have somebody that can keep him from defending the five, somebody that can keep him from having to be the primary rebounder all the time, somebody that can keep him from having to play on the post because another guy can get angles and get easy baskets.
The reality is, Hunter, with his skill set, will probably have to do some more things in order to see playing time just because of what our needs are based on our other personnel. But you’re right, he’s our best shot-blocker. Cliff (Alexander) is going to be a good one, but Hunter is a guy that people don’t realize this, Hunter blocked more shots his last year at Arkansas than Joel (Embiid) did last year, in less minutes. So he’s naturally a pretty good shot-blocker.
Q. What do you need to see from Perry in terms of his leadership? He’s such a quiet guy; do you want to see some maturation in those areas?
COACH SELF: I would like for him to be a little bit more vocal but I don’t think we’re going to change Perry on who he is. I like who he is, and I think in the past I’ve done a poor job with some of the guys getting them outside their comfort zone so much that they forgot about playing.
I think I did that with Frank last year, wanting to be a true point guard and be a leader and understand and this and that, I think I took away some aggressiveness because he was always thinking.
With Perry, he’s never going to be your vocal leader. I mean, he’s not going to be. And leaders by example, as we learned with the Marines the other day, I’m not sure that’s a fair term. Because leaders by example, basically meaning they work hard, they are on time and they are responsible and that kind of stuff; meaning they just do their job. That’s what a leader by example does; his job. I don’t think he should get bonus points for doing your job.
But I do think that they can be recognized in a way that definitely give our team the best chance to be good and Perry is one of those guys that if he can just add a little bit of the leadership things vocally to his repertoire, then I think it will make our team a lot better.
But I’m not looking to have Perry be the vocal guy, game point where he’s telling everybody what to do. I want Perry to go score. That’s who he is, he’s a scorer. So let’s him go be who he is and just improve in those other areas a little bit.
Q. How has Brannen Greene improved?
COACH SELF: He’s really improved. Of course, last year he was one of our most talented guys and didn’t play much. This year he’s in a dogfight for playing time because that’s a loaded house, crowded house, back there with Wayne and with Kelly (Oubre, Jr.) and Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) and with Brannen. That’s four really good, tall perimeter players.
So, Brannen is going to have to do some more things on the defensive end and learn how to make others better. But Brannen Greene is a very talented guy. I mean, he’s arguably as good a shooter as we have. He can run all day, he can do a lot of different things athletically, he’s gotten stronger, but he’s still got to buy into guarding on the other end.
Q. How has Svi handled the transition here?
COACH SELF: So far, great. He doesn’t speak the language as well as he understands it. You know, Joel understood it perfectly, but he always acted like he didn’t. He was a master of that.
Svi isn’t as bright as Joel in that regard, as far as being a con. Joel was great at it. You know, when things are going good, Joel understood every word. When things were going bad, “Oh, Coach, I don’t understand at all.” (Speaking with heavy accent inflection).
But Svi isn’t like that. I think Svi gets it and he understands. But he’s a really talented guy. You’ll see how impressive he is athletically, with his skill set and all those things. The only knock on him right now is he’s young. He should be a high school junior or senior, as opposed to a college freshman. But he’s going to be really good.
Q. As young as he is, is that a factor in how much he’ll play?
COACH SELF: Could be. Everybody says strength. I’m not sure it’s strength as much. I like his body. I think he’ll get stronger.
But I still think a guy could knock him off his line pretty easy, being physical with him. He’s going to have to learn how to become more physical.
One thing about him, we haven’t been in a practice situation yet but when you stop and think about who has played against the best competition? He may have. And who has played against the strongest men? He may have.
So we talk about the things he may be lacking because of his age. Well, he’s the only one that’s been out there playing against 28- and 30-year-olds consistently. So it may not be as much of a factor as we might think.
Q. Cliff Alexander is more physically developed than most guys that age and comes from a physical league. Is he a real physical player?
COACH SELF: I think Cliff can be a physical player. I’m not sure that he knows how yet because his idea of being physical would be getting three fouls in the first five minutes. So he’s going to have to learn how to guard and move his feet and pick his spots, that kind of stuff.
But I see some similarities with Cliff and Thomas (Robinson). Cliff is probably a little bigger at the same stage, about the same athletically. Offensively, about the same. There’s a lot of similarities in him. Cliff has to get where he goes after every ball, and he did that in high school, so hopefully that will translate to college.
But I think he, without question, if he were to play his best and everybody else would play their best, I think that he would be our most physical player, though.
Q. What do you see in Devonte’ (Graham), and does there have to be some kind of natural progression for him?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think there needs to be, but I’ll be honest with you; without seeing him really go up and down a lot, he’s going to be a hard guy to keep out of the lineup. He’s a little bit older. He’s a great leader. He’s probably as popular as any student is on campus. I mean, everybody knows him. Everybody likes him. He’s got potential to be a great leader, and he’s really a good basketball player.
So he’ll definitely fight for starting minutes, there’s no question about that. And I mean from day one.
Q. How much do those qualities help you as a point guard?
COACH SELF: To me, Devonte’ reminds me of Aaron Miles. You know, just a guy that would do whatever it takes to give the team the best chance and be a good leader in all areas. You know, he can make a shot, too.
So I think that his intangibles will probably allow him to play more early on because if you look at our team, that’s what our team needs as much as anything else are those intangibles.
Q. Were you impressed that the Marines named Graham the best teammate?
COACH SELF: Named him the best leader, yeah, leader/teammate. But no, not really. There were three guys it came down to. It was Kelly and Wayne and Devonte’, and those guys picked Devonte’, which I think was pretty good for a freshman.
You know, Kelly Oubre, Jr., is going to be a good leader, too. Those three are probably our most three natural leaders, I would think.
Q. Do you think this will be a better defensive team than last year?
COACH SELF: I hope so, because we stunk last year defensively.
We didn’t put pressure on the ball. We never cut the head off. Teams got comfortable. When I say we stunk; we were probably still the best or second best defensive team in our league, but that’s not who we’ve been for years, and we’ve been better than that.
And so we don’t have a shot-blocker behind us — if it were not for Joel last year, there’s no telling how bad we looked at times defensively, because people got the ball where they wanted to get it, and he covered up mistakes.
This year, we don’t have a seven-foot tall guy to cover mistakes like that. But I do think we are going to be able to pressure the ball, deny one pass away, and I think you’re going to see a pretty good defensive team.
Q. How are the new locker rooms?
COACH SELF: The new locker room? It’s awesome. We had a nice locker room before, but what’s been done here recently is tremendous.
Dimensional Innovations did a great job coming in. They took our ideas and incorporated their own and kept the history intact and yet still added some modern amenities. Hopefully it will help recruiting.
We’ve got a lot of stuff going on now with the DeBruce Center and McCarthy Hall and Late Night is coming up. You have the 60th year anniversary, which, to me, will be arguably as cool a non-basketball event that the building has had, bringing back (former KU coaches) Roy (Williams) and Larry (Brown) and Ted (Owens) and players from each era. I think that will be something that every fan that’s a true fan would want to be a part of. So there are a lot of neat things going on right now.
Q. When you have the locker room, do you decide who sits where? How much thought goes into that?
COACH SELF: No. I don’t have as much say-so on stuff like that.
I used to be a micromanager when I was young and I would spend more time worrying about stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with whether we won or lost and I think coaches do that when they are young. When they get a little bit more experienced, they realize, does it really matter if a guy sits to your left or to your right, or things like that?
The players pick that stuff out. But if somebody is being a jerk and that particular day they were forced to not be a part of an activity, then I let everybody else pick and they just take what’s left – that’s happened before. We’ve had a couple of really key players have the worst seating locations possible in large part just because that particular day, maybe they had some outside assignments they were doing.
Q. Talk about pressuring defensively, who are some guys you are looking forward to seeing get out and guard people like that?
COACH SELF: Frank can guard. Devonte’ can really pressure. Kelly Oubre, Jr., is so long; he can get out. You’ll be advised, Svi maybe slides his feet as well as anybody we have. He’s a terrific, quick athlete.
Mike Fratello called me after he had him with the Ukraine National Team, and he said, “Bill, this may seem kind of weird but he would be great in a full court pressing defense,” because he anticipates so well and he’s so quick and athletic. And of course Jamari (Traylor) showed glimpses last year of being able to do some things in transition defense or pressing that nobody else can do.
So I think that we could put a pretty good defensive team out there.
Q. Is pressing an option then?
COACH SELF: Pressure is an option. But pressing could be, too. I’m not a big press guy, as you guys know, because I think you can win games when you have superior talent a lot of times against teams.
But Coach (Eddie) Sutton (at Oklahoma State) always taught me or told me: So we can beat a team 70-59, or somebody else could beat them 105-70, so who is better? And the answer is, who knows?
You play a style that gives you the best chance to win in the postseason because that’s when you’ll be playing against good guards. And a lot of times good guards love it when teams press.
So I don’t want to be a pressing team against certain teams and a non-pressing team against the really good teams. I want to develop an identity that “this is who we are and it will work against whoever we are playing against.” And that doesn’t mean you can’t press some. And certainly, I would anticipate us doing so, but I don’t think it will be a staple of everything that we do defensively.
Q. What do you expect out of Landen Lucas?
COACH SELF: Landen? Landen may have had the best spring and summer of anybody. He’s had a good fall, too. He’s going to play. He’s fighting for major minutes. He and Cliff are probably right now based on what I’ve seen going to head-to-head for a lot of major minutes.
Q. Conner was an incredible shooter in high school. Do you think some of the struggle (he experienced last year) is making the transition to this level and maybe not being so strong against stronger guys?
COACH SELF: I think in high school, every high school kid that’s a good player is basically a volume shooter. I mean, you can shoot 30 times and make 15 or 13 or 17 or whatever. When you get to college — it’s the same thing if you’re an unbelievable player in college and you get to the next level — you go from being a volume shooter to okay, now I’m going to get three looks or two looks and I’ve got to make one.
And with the minutes that he played, the minimal minutes that he played last year, it probably wasn’t fair to him to put a great shooter out there knowing that every time it left (his hands), everybody hoped it went in. His whole play was based on whether he made a shot or not, rather than based on if he was actually playing the game.
So I think he’s a better player. I think he’s a terrific shooter. I do think strength has been a factor with him some, and bigger guards and things like that, getting it (his shot) off.
I think that he can help the team in many ways other than just shooting the ball. I ask him this all the time; is that what you want to be known as, as a shooter? Or do you want to be known as a player? And hopefully if he gets enough minutes this year, he’ll feel more comfortable shooting the ball.
But that’s a lot of pressure: Hey, get in the game; if you make a shot, you stay, and if you don’t make a shot, you come out. Although that was never said to him, that was kind of the unknown, the message or the silent message, that he received from us because that’s basically honestly how it kind of played out. And we need to give him more of an opportunity to give him more minutes, so he’ll become a better shooter because he’ll be more comfortable with less pressure.
Q. What has Conner been working on in the off-season?
COACH SELF: He’s got to get stronger, he’s got to. And the thing about it is, as good a shooter as he is, he’s not good enough. And as strong as Wayne is, he’s not strong enough.
Everybody has got something they can get better at but the way that he could really help the team as much as possible is obviously with his strength and with his shooting ability.
So I think that those are the things that, to me, are still the key to him becoming a great college basketball player.
Q. Talking about Perry being who he is, is that something you learned last year?
COACH SELF: I think I learned something through the program we just had, too. We had a lot of counseling sessions with those Marines and how their platoon leaders handled each of their prospects and that kind of stuff.
The whole thing is, we have some guys that are really good at what they do. We don’t want to take away from that by making them be something that they are not comfortable being. But on the flip side, they need to get out of their comfort zone some, but probably not to the point that I wanted Frank to be out of his last year.
I don’t think it was much of a factor with Perry, but with Frank I do. Is Perry going to be the leader because he’s obviously the most experienced guy? Well, yeah, he’s a leader but he’s not going be the vocal guy. He’s not going to be the guy that people turn to and say, “What do we do?” (He’s just) Not going to be that kind of guy.
But he can certainly be more of a guy that makes more of a role with that, but we really need Wayne and Devonte’, to be candid with you, to step up and be a lot more of that. And Jamari is good at it, too.
Q. What do you look for in Wayne Selden Jr.,’s shooting?
COACH SELF: Last year, he was great at times and last year he was obviously very streaky at times. I would love for him to become more consistent. That would be the thing. He didn’t have to shoot 40 percent from three but if he can get that above 35 (percent) that would do wonders to help our team.
Q. You mentioned Kelly Oubre, Jr., too. What are your expectations for him?
COACH SELF: He’s probably the guy that it’s harder for me to make a true evaluation on right now because the guy is really good. He’s good enough that he’s not going to be at Kansas for a long time.
But we’ve got to be able to plug him in to take advantage of what he does. He can score the ball but he’s so good around the rim, he’s so good defensive getting out in passing lanes, he’s such a good offensive rebounder. There are a lot of things they can do well that are not your typical two or three-guard type things.
So we have to find a way to post him and do some stuff like that that’s a little bit different than what we’ve been doing. But he’s a talented player.
Q. Have you thought about a starting five at this point possibly? I know it’s only October.
COACH SELF: I guess you could say you always think about it. But whether or not I’ll tell you, that’s a different story.
But yeah, I thought about some things, what I think will be best for our team. What I think will be best for our team won’t be who we start with to start the season, because guys have to learn and get comfortable and things like that.
But by conference play, I think in my mind, I have a team in mind that I would like to see kind of become that. But a lot depends on how quick the young kids pick stuff up, though.
Q. Top to bottom, how would you assess the talent of this team compared to your other teams?
COACH SELF: I will say that it reminds me a little bit of the 2008 team. You know, on the 2008 team, our best player was Brandon Rush. Obviously, he went in the lottery. Mario (Chalmers) was a second-round pick. Shady (Darrell Arthur) was a 27 pick. Sherron (Collins) was undrafted. Cole (Aldrich) ended up going 12 or 13 I guess. Sasha (Kaun) went like 39. Darnell (Jackson) went like 42 or whatever it was.
But this is a team like that in that there’s not a first, second or third pick, right now. I mean, I’m not saying somebody couldn’t become that eventually but right now there’s not, I wouldn’t think. But we’ve got a whole bunch of good players and I’m excited about that because we do have good basketball players. We’ve got depth. We don’t have much size.
But we are pretty deep and pretty skilled at most of the positions and whether or not that translates to better teams, because a lot of teams, they give me two studs and three average guys and we’ll go play anybody, and I’m not sure we’re quite like that. I think we’ve got a whole bunch of really good players, a lot of balance.
Q. Given all the hoopla you had last year with Andrew Wiggins, I know he handled it well.
COACH SELF: He was great. He was great how he handled it. We don’t have anybody like Wiggs or Joel, but we’ve got guys that may end up being as good of college players as those guys.
When you talk about Wiggs and Joel, what everybody talked about was their upside more so than what they actually did in the college game because they weren’t there long enough. I mean, Joel only played like 25 games.
But I think we have more players that can impact the college game than what we had last year, which to me is exciting. Now, do we have anybody that can get 41 at West Virginia? I don’t know about that. But I think we’ve got some guys that are all capable of going out and getting 15 to 25 in a college game this year.
Q. Do you ever go into the season with guys in mind possibly sitting out the year?
COACH SELF: Redshirts? I don’t know would be a candidate this year. Landen is not a candidate obviously. Hunter is not a candidate obviously. Jamari is not a candidate, obviously, because they have already sat out years. So I don’t know who else would be a candidate right now.
That’s one question you guys can remove from your list because I don’t think redshirting will be a possibility with anybody.
Q. How big is Late Night for recruiting this year compared to others?
COACH SELF: Late Night’s always big. I can’t talk about specific recruits, but it’s not only big from a recruiting standpoint, it’s big from our players’ standpoint. A lot of our players that we signed come to Late Night and then that’s something that they always look forward to, would be being a part of this.
And so we actually look forward to it and hopefully our fans will continue to support it. I know last year we had a few issues on getting people in and those issues have been resolved.
So anybody that wants to come, they can get in. They just need to make sure they get here in the time slot allotted — you know, before the fire marshal closes the door, and we hope that’s the case. We hope that’s a problem. But there’s only been two years we had an issue.
My first year here, we had to turn some people away and last year we had to turn some people away. Every other year, everyone has gotten in the building. So I certainly hope that doesn’t deter anybody from coming.
Q. In a program with such high expectations that center on the NCAA Tournament, does last year’s disappointment have any influence on what happens this year? Do you want your players to use that as motivation or just let it go?
COACH SELF: We may talk about it. I’m not going to defend last year’s exit. But, that wasn’t our team out there playing last year, either. That team that was out there at the end last year was not a 2-seed. We didn’t have Joel.
Joel was the best big man in the country, and you take the best big man in the country off any team, your team is not going to be as good. And we played a team in a game in which we didn’t play well; they played better than us, they were bigger, their size bothered us, stuff like that.
So I think it can be motivation that, hey, we don’t want to allow that to happen again, but sometimes in sports, stuff just happens. Some things you just can’t control.
Could we have won that game easily? Absolutely. Could we have advanced and possibly have played Florida in the Elite 8 game or whatever it would be? Absolutely. I mean, we were in the game and we were good enough to do that but we didn’t have near as much margin for error last year as what a lot of people thought.
I thought, to be candid with you, up until Joel got hurt, I thought that team did a great job. I thought we won a lot of games with a bunch of young kids, and they kind of figured it out as they went. But obviously after he went down, we weren’t the same team after that.
Q. Do you have any surprises on the all Big 12 team? Are you surprised Wayne didn’t make it?
COACH SELF: No, I’m not surprised. The way they do the league selections with the coaches, which is fine, is you can’t vote for your own guys. So the one thing I was really surprised at is not one of our players got a vote, a vote, other than Perry. I mean, we didn’t even have an honorable mention guy other than Perry, who made First Team. So that may be something that we tell our guys. Because we have got plenty of good enough players that could at least receive some consideration, I think.
I haven’t seen the polls. But certainly, we may be picked to win it, we may not. I’ve seen several magazine things and some people have us in the Top-Five. Others have Texas in the Top-Five.
People have Iowa State in the Top-10. (There’s) No question about that. And of course OU is well thought of. I saw Dick Vitale still had them as high as 19, I believe. K-State is right around the Top-25. So this year on paper, if last year was the best year the league ever had, this year on paper it appears to be just as good. It will be tough to win the league. Whoever wins it will deserve it.
Q. You mentioned trying to take some guys out their comfort zone last year. Do you feel you got out of your comfort zone at all? Maybe changing some styles?
COACH SELF: Probably not. I think that, if anything, last year with the type of team and with the personnel that we had, the one thing I would tell you is: I don’t think we were as hard and as tough as what a Kansas team typically is.
So we didn’t do enough job as a staff of getting them that way. And that’s something that, you know, we may not play very well this year but that will be a point of emphasis with our staff each and every day to make sure that that does not happen again. Now, that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, but we’re going to definitely emphasize it that it won’t.
Q. Why was that?
COACH SELF: I think personalities. Young, youth; I think there’s a lot of reasons, without going into much detail. But I don’t think we were as tough and as hard as what our other teams have been, and I think we have recruited some tough, hard kids now.
Q. Any motivational words for the Royals?
COACH SELF: I’m sure they are all listening. Eric Hosmer is thinking right now: I wonder what’s going on at the KU basketball press conference. (Laughs).
No, I think those guys are doing great on their own and it’s awfully cool to watch. I’m a big fan, I don’t go to near as many games as I should — to me, it’s so cool to see a bunch of young kids out there that are men having the time of their life. I mean, they are down — if I’m not mistaken, 8-7 with two outs in the bottom of the 12th, and they have a pinch runner in the game that’s the fastest guy in baseball — is that is right? And he’s dancing at third base and he hasn’t even scored yet. You just don’t see that with other teams — I mean, to me, that’s cool. I think it’s great.
And I don’t understand — this is something else, and not that I understand this, but basketball coaches, obviously, their work could be dissected, a lot but baseball is a lot easy to dissect because there’s a strategy on every pitch. Every pitch there’s a strategy. It blows my mind that in baseball you could put up a poor hitter to pinch-hit for a guy and the opposing pitcher throws a bad ball over the plate, and he hits it to left for a single.
The same pitcher throws a perfect pitch to your best hitter and strikes him out and all of a sudden the manager is an idiot — it’s unbelievable. It’s all about where the pitcher throws the ball and I don’t think a manager can control that, that’s on the other team.
I get such a kick out of it because there’s so much strategy involved and everybody thinks it’s so easy. But that guy over there has done an unbelievable job. And the other thing that amazes me is that they have to manufacture runs because they don’t have power hitters, where everybody else, you get two people on, you play for a big inning or whatever and we play every inning trying to get one run for the most part.
I think it’s pretty cool. It’s so cool to see what those guys have done because they are really good. They are really good.
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Sophomore guard Wayne Selden, Jr.
On how boot camp went for the team this year:
“It was intense to say the least. It was two weeks compared to one week last year, and it was a lot harder.”
On how Svi (Mykhailiuk) has transitioned since his arrival in Lawrence:
“He has transitioned really well. To see how he came from the Ukraine and right into boot camp – that’s no easy task.”
On his health:
“I feel good, 100 percent. I am happy and we are working hard.”
On whether he can see himself playing the 1, 2 or 3 position:
“We’re going to look at it as all of the guards can bring the ball up. Devonte’ (Graham), Frank (Mason) or Conner (Frankamp) or myself can be all point guards at any time.”
On what he can build on going into this year as one of the veterans:
“Really just to work on the standard we have set here. We had a long season last season. We didn’t end up where we wanted to end up and if we can just take the good things from our season and leave out the negatives, then we can build from there.”
On the incoming freshman class:
“Oh it’s great, these young guys really work hard and they really bring something different to the table.”
Freshman forward Cliff Alexander
On his comparison to Thomas Robinson:
“I watched him his last year here at KU. He was phenomenal and had a great season. He went top-five in the NBA Draft and just shows what Coach Self does with his bigs and how he develops his players.”
On if what Thomas Robinson accomplished at KU played a role in his decision to come to Kansas:
“It influenced me a lot to know that he was the same kind of guy. (He is) my size and does what I do, pretty much, on the floor. He blocked shots and dunked everything. That, and it just felt like home when I came here.”
On being named Co Big-12 Freshman of the Year with Myles Turner:
“I really don’t pay any attention to it. Coach Self told me yesterday not to pay any mind to it, so that’s what I’m going to do. I haven’t even played a game in the Big 12 yet.”
On the type of personality this team will take on:
“We have a great group of guys here. Guys that like to learn and get out and run. We have great shooters and great post players. I think we can really do great things this year.”
On why he picked KU:
“They’ve been recruiting me since my sophomore year when (Assistant) Coach (Kurtis) Townsend started. (Assistant) Coach (Jerrance) Howard then came in and started recruiting me. I chose KU because of Coach Self’s history with developing his players and getting them to the pro’s. It felt like family when I came here for late night and I love it.”
Junior forward Jamari Traylor
On being one of the oldest players on roster:
“I just want to come out here and help these young guys learn. I’ve got to step up and be a bigger leader this year. I’m looking forward to doing that and stepping up to the challenge. We’re still a pretty young team, for the most part, and I’m definitely going to do my best to help the young guys out.”
On how to replace Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid:
“That’s tough to say. They are pretty tremendous talents. Like I said, it’s a long season and everybody is going to have to step up to the occasion. Some games, one guy is going to have a good game, then it’s going to be another guy who steps up in the next game. We’re pretty talented, so it could be anybody.”
On waiting his turn:
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable and definitely looking forward to playing this year. I feel like I’ve been waiting behind guys since I’ve been here, but I’m just going to go out there and play the best I can. The rest will take care of itself.”
On his advice to Cliff Alexander about adjusting to KU:
“It’s a learning experience. I know he’s had a couple big games, but he’s never played in an atmosphere like this. He’s got to keep his head screwed on tight, that’s pretty much it.”
On Svi’s arrival:
“He’s really impressive, he looks really good. He’s pretty athletic, more athletic than I thought he was. I was pretty surprised at boot camp. I was concerned about him making his times, but he’s actually in pretty good shape. He’s played against guys in the NBA so he should be ready for college. He’s played against professionals, so he probably has more experience than us.”
Freshman guard Devonte’ Graham
On Coach Self wanting to work on this team’s toughness:
“I can’t speak for last year’s team, but I think this year’s team is going to be a real tough team. Coach has been telling us that we have to be tough this year, so that is one of the things we have been working on.”
On some of the things the team can do to get tougher:
“We just have to be competitive in practice. We can’t just go through the motions, everyone has to be 100 percent at all times.”
On boot camp:
“Now that I look back at it, it was pretty good. There was a lot of endurance in boot camp. It was one of the toughest things I have done.”
On almost going to Appalachian State to now being at Kansas:
“At first it was so real, that I couldn’t believe it. It is an amazing place. I am glad I have the opportunity to be here and glad I chose this school.”
On what he is most looking forward to on game day in Allen Fieldhouse:
“The fans – I heard it is crazy in here. I have never been in Allen Fieldhouse when it is packed, so my first time will be Late Night.”
Freshman forward Kelly Oubre, Jr.
On the hardest and most difficult challenge adjusting from high school basketball to college basketball:
“There’s millions of dollars into this school. Coach Self gets paid a lot, just being great at coaching. Listening to him and buying into his system is going to get me far and we are going to be great because he is going to lead to be great. I just can’t wait to start practice tomorrow, learn a lot more and to put this jersey on for real.”
On if there is pressure to live up to the expectations at Kansas:
“Pressure, no. Comfort, yes. I see all the guys around the locker room, the tradition and all the guys that came before me. They’ve paved the way for me to be here right now to be successful. I thank those guys and I’m here to carry the torch, like they left for us, to be great this year. I can’t wait to start.”
On how he would compare himself and Cliff Alexander to (Andrew) Wiggins and (Joel) Embiid:
“There is no comparison to what those guys did. They are still growing and learning – and they’re in the NBA right now. They were here last year and did a great job last year helping the team. Me and Cliff, we’re here to help this team get as far as we can get them. Any individual accolades that may come along the way, let those come but right now we’re focusing on the team. I just can’t wait to put this jersey on for real and give it a go to show the world what we can do.”
Junior forward Perry Ellis
On if the program with the marines helped his leadership:
“I definitely think it did. It showed all of us how we can lead and what situations we can lead in. It was very different than what we’re used to. I overall think it was a great experience for all of us.”
On Coach Self saying last year’s team maybe didn’t have the toughness like other Kansas teams and if that is something that was empathized this summer:
“This summer we were going at it. Overall this summer, with all of us competing, we did a lot of competitive stuff that I think is going to help us later on.”
On the newcomers:
“This group is competitive. The first day they came in, they didn’t back down to any of the older guys and I think that’s great because it makes us all better. That’s the thing I really see, they’re all competitive and they just want to get better.”
Kansas will ceremoniously tip off the 2014-15 seasons at the 30th annual Late Night in the Phog Friday, Oct. 10, in Allen Fieldhouse. Doors open at 3:00 p.m. and the event will begin at 6:30 p.m.
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