Self Welcomes Media for First Weekly Presser
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the 2014-15 exhibition season just days away, Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self met with the media Friday afternoon for his first press conference of the year. No. 5 Kansas is slated to host Washburn in an exhibition contest in Allen Fieldhouse on Monday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m.
Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self
Q. I guess we have some breaking news today. What about Conner Frankamp, and did he tell you yesterday?
BILL SELF: Yeah. I met with Conner — he and his father requested a meeting on Wednesday, and I met with them Wednesday afternoon before practice. Then he came in yesterday to inform me that he would be transferring at the end of the first semester.
We weren’t going to release it until this morning due to the fact that we wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to go over the release with Chris (Theisen) and his staff, and he was able to do that this morning, and then we released it before the press conference today.
But he will be not playing, no longer be a part of the team. Like the release said, (he will) still be a part of the receiving academic assistance, and then he’ll make a decision where to attend (school) in the spring semester.
Q. Was it about playing time?
BILL SELF: You read the release, and the release pretty much speaks for itself. You know, it wasn’t anything that we wanted to have happen, just like I said. He was part of our future plans, and certainly we anticipated him playing a much, much, much larger role this year. But still, this early in the season, it’s yet to be determined what role everybody is going to have. But we knew that he would definitely be part of our rotation and certainly be playing significant minutes.
But he and his family felt like it was in his best interest to pursue other options for reasons that I’m sure were very true and very valid to them.
Q. Can you explain, it said two and a half (years of eligibility remaining) in the release. Did the clock start when he enrolled this semester?
BILL SELF: See, he would have to sit a year and a half to get three back, so if he were to transfer at Christmas and you set a year, he’s already played one, and he’d be missing half of next year. So basically — he’d be missing a third of next year. So really he’s going to get about two and two-thirds as far as number of games played, if he becomes eligible next year right after the fall semester is over. In order for him to get the full three, he’d have to sit a year and a half. I don’t want to speak for his family, but they told me that was definitely not going to be the case.
Q. How does this affect other guys having to step up?
BILL SELF: You know what? Somebody was going to get left out. We’ve got seven good perimeter players, and really to be quite candid with you, there hasn’t been a lot of separation. Sometimes you hope there’s separation, so we definitely know they’re our three best perimeter players and we definitely know these are the two best guys off the bench, and there hasn’t been that yet.
I was going into it thinking we had to find out a lot about our team and find out which five to seven would probably be in our serious rotation, and Conner, as of today, would have definitely been in that, without question. But we also don’t know about our team. We don’t know how Kelly (Oubre, Jr.) is going to come along, Devonte’ (Graham) and how Svi (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) is going to come along and things like that. There’s a lot of unknowns on the perimeter.
We lost a good player; we lost a fine young man. We’ve lost obviously a very good shooter, but we may have also gained some chemistry issues. Now I think guys will be more locked in and more able to probably figure out what their role will be because they’ll definitely be anywhere between 10 and 20 or 10 or 23, whatever minutes there would be to go around, amongst the other guys.
Q. During the regular season you talked about your staff and how they scout games and how you get scouting reports and stuff. How do you guys get ready for exhibition games? Is there a difference?
BILL SELF: Well, this is no disrespect to Washburn — and I’m sure it’s the same way with them on us — is that there’s not a scouting report. We can watch the end of last year’s season games to find out what’s going on, but I don’t know what Bob (Chipman, Washburn head coach) is going to do. And to be quite candid with you, Bob doesn’t know what we’re going to do. He has a pretty good idea because we don’t change that much from year to year, and to be honest with you, they haven’t really changed that much, either.
So we’ll have a general feel, but I would say most of the scouting reports would be more personnel related because you can watch the players that were here last year and (their) tendencies. But that’s not something that we’re going to — just like they’re not, either. They’re not going to spend a ton of time on us right now.
One of the advantages you have if you don’t play at a place like ours, where you don’t play two exhibition games, you can actually go scrimmage another team, a high major team or whatever, mid-major team and spend all day in the gym. You can do it for six hours and go over situations and things like this. Even though this will be a game situation, but it will also be more of a practice-type situation than it actually is a game, I bet, for both teams, wanting to look at different combinations and how to maybe experiment with some different things.
Q. What can you accomplish out of an exhibition game? Is there anything going in as you get set for the game?
BILL SELF: Oh, yeah, there’s a lot: lights, situations, playing with the clock. Even though we play with it (the clock) in practice, and don’t take that like we don’t do that. We play with it in practice, but it’s not as much under game situations; meaning like when we play, usually we’re able to get a shot quicker, you don’t feel pressure of a situation, getting the ball inbounds in different areas of the court, teams switching defenses, how you respond if they’re trapping the post or if they’re not or this or that. There’s a lot of different things that obviously we can work on to get better at without question.
I think in the years past, and hopefully it’ll be the same this year, I think we’ve benefitted from our exhibition games. I know Washburn almost beat us. We were preseason No. 2 in the country and they played us to six (points) one year. Bob always has a competitive team, so I anticipate this being a competitive game and one in which I’d like to see how our guys react to the lights, to be real candid.
You know, in practice, we haven’t put in a lot of stuff yet, but whoever is guarding the person knows exactly what the guy is supposed to do with the stuff that we do have put in. It would be nice to be able to see how it kind of works with somebody that maybe hasn’t scouted us as well as what the guys guarding each other do in practice every day.
Q. It might have been the case anyway, but you’re going to need Devonte’ Graham from the start of the season, right?
BILL SELF: Devonte’ is going to be a guy that’s going to challenge for a starting spot. I’ve said that all along. I don’t know that Devonte’ is quite ready for that yet, but I think that he could be a guy to challenge for a starting spot. That doesn’t mean he will, but he’s going to be in the mix.
But certainly now you’re looking at (a different situation). In my opinion, Devonte’ is probably the purest point, Frank (Mason III) is kind of a scoring point, Conner is kind of a shooting point, but neither Frank nor Conner are true points. They’re one-and-a-halves or whatever. Devonte’ is probably the truest point, and I’d say we’re going to play two little guards the majority of the time. Well, it may not be the majority of the time now. It’ll be some of the time they’ll play together, but obviously you can’t play them together all of the time because we only have two little guards. I think Wayne Selden can become our third point guard, though.
Q. Is Frank Mason III noticeably better?
BILL SELF: Frank Mason? Oh, yeah, he’s a lot better. All the guys have gotten better. That doesn’t mean we’re going to play better together early on, but yeah, they’ve all improved individually, quite a bit.
Q. What do you like about Frank?
BILL SELF: I think Frank understands a little better. He’s probably playing with a little bit more freedom, not thinking as much, which in this particular case, that’s a good thing. We want him to think, but we don’t want him to slow down thinking and sometimes that’s the case. But I think Frank is much more aggressive. He puts pressure on people.
Q. How do you see the potential of this team to measure up to your defensive standards?
BILL SELF: I thought going into the season we’d have a chance to be a terrific defensive team if we could just defend the rim because we don’t have a shot blocker like we’ve had in years past. I haven’t quite seen it yet. I haven’t quite seen us being good defensively yet. I think that we’re going to be okay. I think that we have potential to become very good, but three weeks into practice, I would say that we’re not where we need to be yet in that area. We have potential to be a much better defensive team than last year, but we had a guy last year that could erase mistakes. This year we don’t have a guy that can erase mistakes like that, so even though we could be much better defensively when breakdowns do occur, it could probably put us more in jeopardy than what it did last year because of Joel (Embiid), but I do think we’ll be better than we were last year, but to me that’s not saying a lot.
I thought last year’s defensive team was soft, and by previous teams’ standards, didn’t match up very well at all.
Q. How has Wayne Selden, Jr., improved since last season?
BILL SELF: I think he’s in better shape. I think he’s healthy, he’s got more bounce. He’s definitely much more aggressive. Even though Perry (Ellis) is the biggest veteran we have and even though Jamari (Traylor) is a year older, Wayne feels like this is his team more than anybody else’s, which is a good thing. I think his leadership role is much more advanced since last year. Where last year he was just kind of fitting in, this year I think he’s taken more of a leadership role.
Q. This team still has a lot of depth. Do you envision a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes?
BILL SELF: Well, we’ve only got 11 on scholarship. That’s the least we’ve had that I can remember in a while. Maybe when Ben (McLemore) and Jamari sat out, maybe we only had 11. I can’t remember. But we’ve got 11 good players still.
Q. Is that one of the benefits to the exhibition games?
BILL SELF: Well, we’re going to try to win, but I hope it’s a situation where everybody can get some minutes, where we can actually look at some different combinations. Yeah, that would be the goal.
Q. Can you remember having so many options at each position? I feel like you’re pretty much deep everywhere you look.
BILL SELF: Well, you know, there are a lot of times coaches go into the season thinking they’re really deep, and then after the games start you realize, whoa, we’re a lot better if this guy stays in a lot longer than putting that guy in.
I thought that there have been years that we were really, really deep and ended up only playing seven or eight for the majority of the minutes. I don’t know how it’ll play out this year. I still predict that eight will play the majority of the minutes and then you’ll have a ninth and 10th as fill-ins, but who those eight are may change from time to time.
I do think, at least that I can remember, it’s the deepest team that we’ve had. I think if you’re going to rank our players 1 through 11, I don’t know if we’ve ever had a situation where we had players in the 9, 10 and 11 spots, regardless of who they are — I don’t think we’ve had teams where those guys are better players at those respective spots than what we have now. I think this is as many good players as we’ve ever had on our team. I just don’t think we’re top heavy with the so-called nationally-acclaimed players like we’ve had in the past.
Q. As far as the perimeter, what do you think about Brannen Greene and Svi’s chances of impact time?
BILL SELF: I’m telling you, on the perimeter, we’ve got six perimeter guys now and there are going to be sometimes where Kelly or Wayne are going to play the 4. We’ve said that all along. That may be adjusted a little bit now, so I think we’ve got 120 minutes to go around amongst those guys. Some guys are going to play more minutes, but I see them all having an opportunity to play ample minutes. I do.
Q. Do you have starters yet for Monday’s exhibition versus Washburn?
BILL SELF: No, I don’t know. I actually did know until yesterday. But I don’t know right now.
Q. Usually the freshmen say they’re nervous, even for exhibitions. Was a guy like Andrew Wiggins even nervous?
BILL SELF: Oh, yeah, Andrew was really nervous. Of course, Andrew was nervous at Late Night. He said that was the most nervous (then) he’s ever been until probably opening night two nights ago. But yeah, all the guys will be nervous and hopefully it’ll be a great crowd. I’m sure there will be, and I think it’ll be great to see how the guys react.
Some guys are gamers. Some guys we don’t know how they’re going to react. Some guys are great practice players but when they get in the games, maybe they get tight. Some guys don’t practice that well, but when they get in the games — wow, I haven’t seen that the whole time in practice. So you want everybody to play like you practice, but every coach knows that’s a perfect world. That doesn’t always play out that way.
I’m excited to see how these guys react.
Q. From the outside looking in, people expect a lot out of this freshman class. But is it nice to maybe not have kind of the attention or expectations that your freshmen had last year?
BILL SELF: This freshman class could be really, really, really good. I mean, really good. You know, in the same realm as Mario (Chalmers), Brandon (Rush), Micah (Downs) and Julian (Wright). We could be that way. But if you remember that freshman class, Mario and Julian didn’t play until after Christmas. Micah transferred at Christmas. Brandon was the only one that played a lot early. Even great recruiting classes like that take time.
I think that this class may take some time, but I do think that it’s going to be a really good class.
Q. Do you coach the individual players differently knowing guys like Andrew Wiggins are only going to be around for one season compared to other players?
BILL SELF: I talk to them differently as far as, hey, this is what you want; well, if this is what you want, we have to do certain things to get you prepared for what you want, whereas maybe other guys you go a little slower. But it’s not from what we teach them; it’s more from a mindset standpoint.
You know, taking a guy that is a terrific talent but he’s never had to carry the load or be the alpha dog and things like that, there’s things that you have to try to encourage them and force them to do that may be a little different than somebody that you think, okay, being the seventh or eighth man this year, that’s perfect, and then you’re going to grow and you can step in and have a bigger role next year. But it’s more mental than it is actually what we do with them.
Q. Is Wayne Selden, Jr., the alpha dog of this team?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think so, and Frank and Jamari. I think those three would be the three biggest alpha dogs we have, and coincidentally, they’re probably our three most aggressive guys. Then Devonte’ has potential to be a great leader, which I guess you can make an alpha dog out of him — at least say he is — but I haven’t quite seen that aspect yet. But I do think from a communication standpoint, he’s very good for a young kid.
Q. Is there anything at practices so far that you’ve seen that you might say, I didn’t see that coming?
BILL SELF: I’d say we’re a little behind right now, three weeks in. Of course, maybe all coaches say that. Plus, the way the rules are now, we start earlier but we’ve got to take days off. It seems like every other day (we’ve got to take off) to make sure we get enough days off before the first game.
I think our retention is average. I think our athletic ability is very, very good. I think our length is very good. I think we shoot it better than we have, even though that always remains to be seen.
But there’s a couple of things that I think we struggle with in that we don’t make the game easy right now. We make the game harder than what it is. Some guys are driving it when they should be passing it, some guys are shooting it when they should be driving it. We’re just not quite on the same page yet. I think all teams are probably like that for the most part this early.
But we play like we’ve only been practicing for three weeks, where most teams you have, if you have substantial returning guys — that team that we had in ’08, they’d been together for two years. They could run practice the first two or three weeks and we’d be better off. But this team is a ways away from that. Of course, I thought last year’s team stunk starting the season, and then we go play pretty good early on against Duke, so you don’t ever know.
But certainly this team has got a little ways to go before we’re ready to play UC Santa Barbara for sure.
Q. Is it still whoever gets it brings it up?
BILL SELF: Yeah, that’s how we’ve always played. Well, that’s not how we’ve always played; that’s not how we played last year. But this year, whoever gets it brings it.
Q. In the past you’ve had some great point guards, dating back to Illinois and everywhere. Do you feel like those two guys are going to have some of those qualities?
BILL SELF: Oh, yeah. Devonte’ reminds me of Aaron Miles, and Frank is — I don’t know if anybody reminds me of Frank. He’s unique. But he is certainly aggressive. Frank is as good a scorer as we’ve had back there probably. Maybe kind of a Dee Brown type maybe. But I certainly think that those two guys will be very good. But it (Conner Frankamp leaving) does hurt our depth at the point. If one guy were to go down or get in foul trouble or something like that, then obviously we’d have to adjust how we play.
Q. Where is Cliff Alexander right now? What areas would he need to make the biggest improvements?
BILL SELF: I think Cliff has done great. I just think he needs a lot of reps. Him being out the whole summer didn’t help him at all, and so he’s a little bit behind just with simple things, whether it be pivoting or being able to fan the ball out of the post, just things that he’s never had to do because he just caught it and just mauled people in high school, and you can’t do that obviously at this level. I’m worried about Cliff because I think there’s a chance that he could surpass Jeff Graves in the quickest five fouls in the history of KU basketball, or whoever one of our biggest foulers were. Or Tarik (Black). Tarik last year would be a great example. Tarik averaged more fouls than rebounds and points there until Christmas, and Cliff has that same potential to do that. But when he gets it, he’s going to be really good.
Q. What about Kelly Oubre, Jr.?
BILL SELF: Kelly is just experience away. Kelly can do some things you can’t coach and then do some things that you think, oh, my God, Kelly, stay between your man and the basket. He can play great defense and get a steal and a run-out, and then the next time when the shot clock is running down to three, he’ll go gamble and miss and give a guy a wide-open shot. He’s just got to kind of figure it out. But certainly, he’s a talented kid.
Q. With Washburn just down the road, do you just like the fact that you have a good relationship with head coach Bob Chipman and all the camps?
BILL SELF: Yeah, Chip is great. Is this his 30th or — 36th year? So obviously he’s old. Chip is really old. (Laughter).
But no, Chip is great. We have a very good relationship. He’s been very good to our players over time, and he always represents the school and everything in a first-class way. He is very thankful that — as the other schools are, too – that they have a relationship with Kansas so that we do this every other year with every school in the state. Chip is great, and certainly I hope this helps his team, too. He had a very good team last year. (They went) 17-10 last year and I think they have four starters back or three-and-a-half back, something like that. I haven’t got into all the scouting report stuff yet, but I certainly totally respect Chip. I think he’s a terrific coach.
Q. In visiting with the KU students yesterday for an hour, did you learn anything?
BILL SELF: Did I learn anything visiting with students for an hour taking selfies? I didn’t learn a lot.
Q. Did they tell you anything that was interesting?
BILL SELF: Well, I didn’t talk to them that much, but they were really nice and friendly and the more often we purchased their lunch, the friendlier they got. I can’t imagine them being that way at all, but no, they were great. They were great. That’s the first time I’ve been to the Underground up there on campus, and it was a happening place there for a while. I met a kid from the Ukraine that Svi didn’t know and he didn’t know Svi yet, so maybe I can forge a relationship there.
It was nice to hang out with the students, though. They seem excited for basketball season.
Q. What’s been the feedback about Monday night, nationally and local?
BILL SELF: I don’t hear (a lot), so based on the little bit that I’ve read, it’s been nothing but positive. Based on the calls that the administration has received, from what I’ve heard, it’s been nothing but positive. Everything is thumbs up.
I don’t know how other people viewed it, but everybody that I’ve talked to (thought it was great). I went to a couple Royals games and it seemed like there were a thousand people at the Royals game that actually came up and said what a great event it was, and I think that people felt good about it.
One thing that I was remiss in saying is it’s pretty cool of our administration to allow us to do that. You stop and think about it; that was a very time-consuming thing for our administration, whether it be through Mike Lickert’s Rock Chalk Video department, through Jen Allee’s marketing and fan experience department, through the ticket office people or through Sean (Lester, Deputy Athletics Director) and Sheahon Zenger (Athletics Director) and whoever (else was directly involved). That was a time-consuming thing, and to think that there’s actually no financial benefit to doing something like that, I think, speaks volumes of our administration to allow us to do something that was able to create goodwill, and of course significant dollars for various charities.
I’m very appreciative of that. I thought it was first-class. I don’t know that I’ve been around anything cooler than that. You know, our reunions that we have are unbelievable, the 115-year, the 110-year, the 105-year that I’ve been a part of. I would say that the other night may have topped anything that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here.
Q. Coach Williams personally thanked you for the way you handled that event, and he brought all his assistants. Could you tell it was a big night for him?
BILL SELF: Oh, yeah, it was a big night, it certainly was. But you know what? Rightfully so because Roy’s first time back people focused on him. But it wasn’t a bigger night for him than it was for Ted (Owens) and it wasn’t a bigger night for Ted than it was for Larry (Brown). It was a big night for everybody. It was a big night for me to be a part of something that’s bigger than what any of us are as individuals. To me, that was the thing about it — it was humbling. That first video; that was a pretty humbling video. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything better. But to speak specifically to Roy, I think that he was overwhelmed and very, very good about what had happened.
He received so much attention because of the first thing, but trust me, it meant a lot to all those guys that came back. I think it meant something to the assistant coaches that came back as well to the ex-players. I mean, everybody was a part of it. It wasn’t a night for individuals; it was a night to be a part of something that’s huge. The night was about Allen Fieldhouse, to me and in my estimation, more so than it was anything else.
Q. Could you comment on the run that the Royals had, and as a sports fan yourself, the ability to have that reminder of the ability for the team to kind of unite the community?
BILL SELF: It was awesome. I think about this all the time because I went to several of the games late, went over to several playoff games; there’s no Missouri fans and there’s no KU fans and there’s no K-State fans, there’s just Royals fans. I think the Chiefs would be the exact same way, and to me that’s what was cool. I actually took several pictures with Mizzou people. I didn’t want to, but everybody was pulling the rope in the same direction. I think it did galvanize the city, the community and the outlying community.
And I also think this, and not being an expert in another sport, but could a bunch of young kids have represented their city or play any harder or have more fun doing it than what those guys did? They ran up against one guy that’s really good, he may be the best that postseason has ever seen. But those guys were great. It’s heartbreaking to think that you’re 90 feet away from tying a game, but I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if there’s anybody that didn’t feel like they got their money’s worth supporting that group of guys.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.###