Self Covers Wide Variety at Weekly Presser
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In the middle of a grueling stretch of schedule, No. 10/10 Kansas will travel to Georgetown for a midweek meeting before returning to the Midwest for a top-15 matchup with Utah at Sprint Center. Head coach Bill Self addressed the strength of the Jayhawks’ non-conference slate, how the Florida game was good for his team and his excitement about new Kansas football coach David Beaty in Monday’s weekly press conference.
Kansas (6-1) travels to the nation’s capital to take on Georgetown on Dec. 10 on Fox Sports 1, before returning to defend Kansas City’s Sprint Center against Utah in the KC Shootout presented by Aetna, Saturday, Dec. 13.
Q. What is Jamari Traylor’s status coming up on Wednesday?
COACH SELF: Jamari and I have talked. I’m going to hold him out of the game Wednesday against Georgetown. He’s going to travel with us.
Hopefully that will be a situation in which we can put it behind us, even though he’s still got some legal obligations ahead of him.
I know that hindsight being 20/20, he realizes he should have handled the situation differently. But he’s a good kid who made a bad choice. (It) Certainly brought some negative attention on him and our program.
But he will not play against Georgetown.
Q. You’ve been pretty fortunate not having players on that side of the ledger. What is your approach when they have situations come up?
COACH SELF: Well, each case is obviously individual. This is a particular instance in which, when you deal with youngsters, especially dealing with them in numbers, obviously there’s going to be some times when you have to deal with situations. That’s the way it is in every family.
Certainly this is one that could have easily been avoided because he wasn’t a part of anything going on there. He was just there.
Of course, you guys have read the report. You know about as much as I do. (He) Just didn’t handle it very well when he was asked to do something.
He understands. ‘Mari (Jamari Traylor) gets it. Certainly after the initial thing (situation), realization of the ramifications and something being made out of something so small — he realizes he was wrong.
But we’ll deal with it, just like we would with anybody. He feels bad about what happened and certainly understands why he won’t play.
But he has got to somehow take this and learn from it and be stronger for it; identify any reasons on why it occurred, eliminate that from his thought process moving forward, become a better man because of it.
Certainly it’s a great learning lesson to our other guys, as well.
Q. A few days removed from the Florida game, what do you hope your team took out of it?
COACH SELF: We could take a lot out of it. We can take how not to be and we can take how to be.
‘Not ready to play’, I don’t know if that’s a fair thing. We were ready. We got off to a good start. Guys seemed to be getting in-tune. When things got fragmented, we got selfish — not selfish from an obvious standpoint — but the ball started sticking. Kind of a little bit like the Kentucky game, to be honest with you, for about a 10-minute stretch in the first half.
But the good thing about it, (was) we were able to respond. Guys rallied around it. The second half we looked like a totally different team. We played much tougher and were much more cohesive and organized.
I think they’ll draw from that. We’re going to have to win some games where we don’t play great. Every athletic team, in all sports, has to do that. Basically, that was a Missouri game from a few years back, or an Oklahoma game from several years back, where you’re down 17 with eight minutes left and have to come back.
I think we’ll dwell more on the positives that occurred than the negatives. That will give our guys confidence. But we also understand why we put ourselves in that position.
Q. How do you prepare your team to play against Georgetown’s Josh Smith (senior, center, 6-10, 350 lbs.)?
COACH SELF: The only way I know is if you (Shay Wildeboor, Rivals.com) came out and practiced with us or (Greg) Gurley practiced with us. That would be the only way I would know [laughter].
I don’t think you can prepare for Josh. He’s huge. He’s got great feet. He’s got soft hands. He’s a good passer.
He wore us out when he played for UCLA his freshman year. Then we played against him in Maui as a sophomore. Then we played against him last year, when he was at Georgetown as a junior. We’ll be one of the few schools that played him all four years.
To me, he looks like he’s in very good shape. They’re playing through him more. He’s a good passer. I think he’s averaging about 13 (points) a game. His production per minute is off the charts.
We’re going to have to limit his good touches and allow him not to get to his spot on the block quite as easily.
Q. Georgetown is known for having physical teams.
COACH SELF: I think Georgetown is physical. They play differently offensively because J.T. III (head coach John Thompson III) played at Princeton, played for Coach (Pete) Carril, has kind of taken a modified version, I think, to Georgetown with that particular style.
Defensively, I see a lot of similarities. When Coach Thompson was there in the heyday during the ’80s — when they were the best, most dominant program in the country — seems to me like he ran three seven-footers at you every night. Georgetown doesn’t have that presently, but they do play a physical style of ball.
Q. Georgetown played Sunday. You haven’t played since Friday. At this point in the season, would you rather have games more frequently or more time to practice between games?
COACH SELF: Good question. I think it all depends on where your day off falls. If we would have played Saturday, we would have had to take Sunday off. Because of the NCAA rules, you have to take a day off each week. A lot depends on where your day (off) falls.
At this particular time, I still think practice is pretty important. Once we get into conference play, all the guys will tell you they hate the Saturday/Monday deals or the bye week deal because now you have to practice for a whole week without playing.
At this time of year, we’ve got so much stuff to get in, we need to get some guys that haven’t played as much playing better, being more comfortable. I actually think the practice time is good for us. I may not feel that way a month from now, but right now I feel that way.
Q. Cliff Alexander seems to embrace contact. Does his physicality help him get to the free throw line?
COACH SELF: Cliff embraces contact, there’s no question about that. When he and Josh (Smith of Georgetown) are guarding each other, there will be some banging going on in that regard.
But I think Cliff has done a really good job. I didn’t think he was very good the first half at all against Florida, but he was tuned in the second half. I thought he played great, played with energy.
He’s, without question, and Landen (Lucas) — he’s physical, too — but they are, without question, our most physical guys.
Q. Alexander been impressive the minutes he’s been out there. Are there still areas that the numbers don’t tell exactly how well he’s playing?
COACH SELF: I think sometimes when guys play less minutes, they’re obviously going to be more productive per minute. That’s kind of a proven fact.
I think that he’s probably played as well as any inside player we’ve had this year. In all honesty, Perry (Ellis) has played well, but a lot of Perry’s stuff is done on the perimeter, too.
When you look at inside guys, Cliff has probably played as well as anybody. But I do think he will emerge as a guy that we can play through.
His passing has improved dramatically. His rebounding outside the area has improved dramatically. He’s getting a better understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively, whereas early on he was just out there. Now he’s actually out there with a purpose.
So I’ve been really pleased with him.
Q. Is Alexander coachable?
COACH SELF: Yeah, Cliff is as coachable as anybody we’ve had here. He’s trying to be a sponge. Some guys, because of backgrounds or whatever, where they played before, it’s just natural for them to instantly you show them one move and they pick it up. Joel (Embiid) was one of those guys. Nobody is going to be like Joel ever again. He’s smarter than the coaches. Joel gets it.
Joel was Danny (Manning). Danny had that same type of mindset. Some guys it takes a little bit longer and they learn through repetition, they learn through being visual or whatnot. Cliff is one of those guys that’s going to learn through repetition. Once he gets enough reps, he’s going to be fabulous.
Q. Tennessee, Florida, Michigan State, now Georgetown. Talk about this schedule.
COACH SELF: I think it’s going to be good for us. You bring up a good point. Rhode Island, Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown, Utah, that’s a pretty tough stretch. There’s not probably out there anybody playing a tougher stretch back-to-back-to-back-to-back, whatever it is.
I do think it will be good for us. To me, this is obviously the toughest non-conference week we have. You go to Georgetown, then you play a team that’s a top-25 team (Utah). We know how good Utah is, obviously, with their most recent win, (versus Wichita State).
This will be a tough week. We’ll be definitely challenged. But the way I see it, and we’ve scheduled hard. The thing that makes our schedule hard is that we haven’t played ‘gimme’s.’ There are some games you are favored to win, but you have to play to win. Some people are playing games they’ll win regardless of how they play. I think that’s been good for us.
I can tell you in most games, most timeouts, maybe with the exception of one game, (that I’ve said) ‘Hey, guys, this is good for us. We’re going to be in this situation again.’
Santa Barbara was good for us. You look at it, Rhode Island was good for us. Tennessee, a tied game with six minutes left, was good for us. Michigan State was good for us. Florida, being down 18, was good for us, even though we didn’t like it.
There’s been something we can draw from. Of course, it was good for us to get handled easily, too, because we learned how, when we come fragmented, we’re not a unit at all and we’re not talented enough to play individually.
Our schedule has made us potentially a much better team going into conference play, I do believe that.
Q. What are your thoughts on the four teams selected to play in the College Football Playoffs?
COACH SELF: I’m a Big 12 guy personally. I don’t see how you can argue with what happened. I thought it was very interesting, though. I’m sure, just like you guys, I was tuned in to watch it. I thought what happened was going to happen based on all the expert talk. But still I was holding out hope that one of our teams would get in there.
You could certainly see why they could have, and you can certainly see why we wouldn’t have. But both Baylor and TCU should be congratulated on having unbelievable years.
Q. The conference expansion talk came up again with this football thing. I know you’ve been in favor of being able to play all the teams. If football drives it, would you be up for it?
COACH SELF: I’m fine with whatever. I will say this, and I’m not in the meetings, but the football coaches, based on what I was told when we went to 10, were quite happy that we did not have a playoff game. That was also based before we went to the football playoff. So that may drive a different deal moving forward.
I know that everybody was totally content the way it was before we went to the four-team playoff. Now the way it played out, it ended up probably not helping us.
But I don’t understand the One True Champion deal and how people use that as a negative against us, just because they play one more game. So basically if Missouri had beaten Alabama in their playoff game, then they would be the one true champion. But theoretically, a team going 8-0, another team goes 6-2, and the 8-0 team is not the champion?
I don’t know if it really holds water the way everybody was petitioning that because it’s very possible that there could be teams that tie for your conference championship that play in the playoff due to a tiebreaker. I just don’t know how you could say that they weren’t a co-champion or a champion. So I don’t know if I totally buy into that argument at all.
Did that make any sense at all? When I said it initially, I thought it did. After doing that, I don’t know [laughter].
Q. When you played Florida, what is the value of the Florida-Georgetown game tape?
COACH SELF: Of course, we study that. The Florida team that we played was a different Florida team that has played a majority of their games. I mean, they were really good for the first 25 minutes of that game, I mean really good. The thing about it is, we know how good Florida is, and they lost to Georgetown.
Obviously they’ll have our respect, that kind of stuff. But Georgetown plays different. They play the Princeton style. Basically what you do is you tell your team, ‘Okay, now, this is how we taught you to play, but for three days forget what we taught you. We’re going to guard them, then we’ll go back to playing how we taught you.’ Which is true. You can’t give up threes or layups. Their whole offense is designed to basically take advantage of your unsoundness defensively.
We’ll try to do some things to combat that. So that’s a little bit different.
Q. Can it help your team’s focus?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. I think it can help your focus.
They’ll make us look bad at times, though, there’s no question about that. Hopefully we’ll defend them pretty well.
Q. You were able to get Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III in together versus Florida. Is that something you’ll do more?
COACH SELF: Now Frank is not healthy, obviously. But he’s hopefully going to be able to do some limited things today and hopefully be able to practice tomorrow.
But, yeah, those guys need to play together some, there’s no question about that. I don’t know how you guys felt, but just watching the game, we put so much more pressure on the defense when those guys were in there together as opposed to when just one of them was in the game.
Q. What is Wayne Selden, Jr.’s potential? How good can he be?
COACH SELF: I think Wayne could be an NBA player. He’s got all the physical attributes. His big, strong, explosive. He works hard. He hasn’t shot the ball consistently well, but he’s a good shooter. That will come. He’s got vision. He’s got some things. He’s tough. He’s got some things that could allow him to be not only a good college player but play well beyond here.
Q. Have you talked to David Beaty (Kansas’ new head football coach) much?
COACH SELF: I haven’t had a chance to talk to him a lot. I know he’s a night owl, texting me at midnight, waking me up.
But I can tell he’s excited. I heard the press conference today went well. I’m sure it did. It’s nice to see guys with energy. I’m sure that will feed off on many others.
I’m happy for him. Like I said before, I’m happy for Clint (Bowen). Clint did a great job. (I’m) Happy for him, that he’s going to be a part of us moving forward. He’s obviously a big part of Kansas football.
I think it’s a great situation and (I’m) certainly very happy.
Q. Do you remember your introductory press conference at Kansas?
COACH SELF: Yes, I practiced my introductory statement many times. No, I’m just joking [laughter].
No, I don’t remember a lot of it. If David was like me, it’s kind of a fog. The stuff with me happened so fast. I came in on Sunday, they announced me Monday. Sometimes you think, ‘What have I just done? I’ve just taken a job.’
But, no, it was a nice reception for me, just as I’m sure as it was for David today.
You know, it’s nice to have a nice good press conference. Those things are all great, gives you momentum. It’s also nice to get this fluff out of the way so now we can go to work. I’m sure that’s exactly how he (Beaty) feels, too.
Q. Other than being a football fan, a teammate as part of the same athletic department, how does it help you if Kansas does become a good football program?
COACH SELF: First of all, it helps financially big-time. There’s a lot of pressure on men’s basketball to be good, which it should be at Kansas, to generate a lot of revenue. But it does help so much when football is doing well and also putting butts in the seats, attracting television games, things like that. It brings unbelievable exposure to us.
When we recruit, it’s nice that the name ‘Kansas’ is out there, period. It doesn’t have to be Kansas basketball, we want to be Kansas. Athletics, in many people’s minds, can be the front porch of what’s going on in the university.
A lot of people wake up to read the sports page. Certainly anything that’s going on positively with our athletic program is positive for us. Of course, football potentially, with us, is the most visible of the two programs.
We need them to be good. We want to bring recruits in where there’s energy on campus. To me, there’s nothing that sets the tone for an academic year like football being good. It brings energy and enthusiasm. We want them to be good. We want to share the spotlight with football. That’s positive for everybody.
I think we’ll be on our way. It’s a process and it takes time. Basketball is so much easier to turn it because you can go recruit two new studs, all of a sudden that’s 40% of your starting lineup. For football, you recruit five studs, they’re freshmen, they’ve got to beat out guys that have been in the weight room. It takes a while in football.
I think that we need to be patient, but also I think you’ll see a staff that really gets after it.
Q. Does having an unusual mascot, such as the Jayhawk, does that help in a way with recruiting?
COACH SELF: I think our school does a good job of promoting our mascot. To be honest, there’s not too many bigger birds in the world than what we have on the court out there. Every time you turn on one of our games, that’s what you see. You don’t see us playing, you see the Jayhawk. I think we’ve done a really good job branding that.
But I think it is good to be a little different. It is good to be recognizable. Something that seems very, very minor. You walk through an airport, (you hear) ‘Rock Chalk.’ You walk through an airport in Alabama, (you hear) ‘Roll Tide.’ It’s nice to have something that you can hang your hat on that’s identifiable and people can relate to.
Whoever came up with the Rock Chalk and that chant, it does as much as anything because that’s recognizable to every sports fan from coast-to-coast.
Q. Do you expect another good KU turnout in Washington?
COACH SELF: I hope so. I don’t know what the ticket situation is. I don’t ever worry about that or think about that. I would assume that we have many alums in the area. Of course, not being on a weekend, may hurt a little bit.
It will be a big deal to (Frank) Mason, and (Devonte’) Graham, those guys that live fairly close because they’ll have a lot of family members get to see them play.
Q. The pace of play in basketball this year is apparently slower than years. There’s been games where teams are scoring 30, 45 points. Have you noticed that?
COACH SELF: I don’t think there’s as much open-court stuff maybe as in the past. I haven’t studied the pace.
I looked at our stats. If you look at our stats within the Big 12 (Conference), the other teams, ours are awful. We’re between 7th and 10th in just about every statistical category.
But also it’s not real, though. It’s hard to tell what’s real and not real until everybody is playing the same people. I’ve always thought you’ve got to play 10 to 15 games, get into conference play, before you can actually go by stats.
But I know with us, we’ve done a much poorer job this year of getting easy baskets. That can also be caused by defense. You send two instead of three to the glass, you send three instead of four to the glass. That kind of stuff.
I think there is a strategy to combat that, the free-flowing pace. But certainly in our particular situation, until we start making shots consistently from the perimeter, it’s going to look a little convoluted. He’s not going to look near as good. That’s something we have to do.
But you’re right on points. Even the game the other night against Florida, what did we score, 71? I bet you 15 of the points that we scored were in the last four or five minutes on clock stoppage because of fouls. To me, that doesn’t really add to the pace.
You can usually tell what kind of pace a game has in 30 minutes because the last 10 minutes it varies all the time on what your pace is.
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.