Bill Self previews Vermont

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self held his first weekly press conference of the season Friday, previewing the Monday, Nov. 12, game against Vermont. Below is the transcript from his press conference.
Bill Self Weekly Press Conference

On what he learned about closing games out by watching Tuesday’s game film:
“First of all, you can’t blame the guys. That is more on us (the coaches) because we haven’t practiced those situations. But if you go back and watch the tape, we didn’t make some free throws, we didn’t turn the ball over. They made some hard shots. Learning how to defend in late game situations, we were so lackadaisical on our switches, that we decided not to do that and that probably cost us a couple of baskets there in late-game situations. Those are things we can certainly improve on. I didn’t think we did a poor job of closing it out, except just miss free throws. I think we were two for our last six down (the stretch at) the line and that made it harder for us.”
On Kansas’ success over elite teams:
“I don’t know if I will totally buy that. I think there is one school out there that can say we haven’t had any advantage (on), and that would be Villanova. I think Jay (Wright) and them have beat us three straight times. We’ve had a good run of games against some of the other Blue Bloods, a really good run. Hopefully, that can continue moving forward. Right now, I’m excited about our team, in large part, because I saw a lot of unknowns transpire right before our eyes on Tuesday (vs. Michigan State) that gives me a lot of hope that we can improve on and get better. But there is still a lot of work to be done. It’s nice to see those young kids get out and play at a level that they played at when you haven’t ever seen them in that situation before. That shows me Q (Quentin Grimes) and Devon (Dotson) are ‘gamers,’ at least I think they are.”
Other unknowns he saw Tuesday:
“How you react when the lights come on, shooting the ball under pressure, being able to handle the media hype around the game, things like that. There are little things, when you see, ‘celebrities’ may be too strong (of a word), have, Joel Embiid at the game. You have GMs (general managers) from professional organizations that are very well known sitting on the front row. You have the media attention that goes along with it and then you still have to be focused and concentrate on the job at hand. I thought our young guys did a good job with that.”
On Quentin Grimes’ 3-point shooting:
“He’s shown that at times, he’s been really streaky though. He had one scrimmage where he was 9-of-13 from three and he’s had some where he was 1-of-5 or 1-of-6. It was nice to see him get that first basket down. Even though it may not seem like much, he made a drive layup early and then after that, he felt it. It didn’t look good, it looked great, when it left his hands. Even the one he missed, I thought was right on.”
On Grimes being more engaged consistently:
“I would like to say ‘yes,’ but I don’t know if I can do that yet because even in practice yesterday I had to get on him. You set a ball screen for him, you’re not setting a ball screen to come off an not do anything, we’re setting it for him to go make a play for himself or for somebody else. I still think it is going to take some time to get him aggressive like that. But certainly, him catching the ball and shooting it off the catch I thought looked really, really good.”
On is it a formula for success if Dedric Lawson leads the team in assists:
“I never looked at it like that. I haven’t even looked at who needs to lead us in scoring for us to have the most success or anything like that. But if he leads our team in assists, that means you have a big guy averaging at least five (assists per game). I think that would bode well for us. I don’t know if that is the true standard of what would be successful for us or give us the best chance. You would think those guards, between them, would average 10 assists a game. So if that’s true, then with him (Dedric Lawson) getting five himself would be a big bonus. We haven’t had that (in the past).”
On the luxury of bench depth on Tuesday:
“Even though the depth (players) may not have played as much late game, it won the game for us. Mitch (Lightfoot) gets two in the first three minutes he is in. David McCormack comes in and does great. K.J. (Lawson) came in and made a big three and got us six rebounds in limited minutes. Charlie (Moore) didn’t have one of his better games by any stretch, but if you don’t have Charlie, then Devon (Dotson) is not nearly as effective because you couldn’t rest him. Marcus Garrett got in foul trouble. It wasn’t (typical) Marcus and what he can do, but still, those 11 or 12 minutes he gave us allowed other guys to rest. I think the depth played a huge factor in us winning the game. We played all 10 guys and all 10 guys contributed in a favorable way. It was obviously important but I can’t see us doing that as much (moving forward) unless foul problems create that and that was the case the other night.”
On if he’s determined the playing rotation:
“I think it is not as difficult right now because you know that Marcus (Garrett) and Charlie (Moore) are going to play. I think where it becomes difficult is if you don’t have foul problems, how do you play all four and play K.J. (Lawson)? That’s what I’m looking at. Do you play K.J. as a sixth perimeter player or do you play him as your fourth big? Depending on who we’re playing against, whether they play two bigs or play a pick-and-pop four or things like that would probably give us a better feel on that. Can you play 10? We did the other night. But without foul trouble Doke (Udoka Azubuike) would have played 30 (minutes) instead of 20. We don’t need Dedric (Lawson) playing 38 either. He needs to be a 30 minute a game guy. Obviously, somebody can get those minutes. You look at it and people may say, ‘Why don’t you just play David (McCormack)?’ Well David deserves to play but if Doke is in the game, it’s hard for David and Doke to play together; it’s too crowded (of) a floor. We probably want to play K.J. or Mitch (Lightfoot) with them if Dedric is not in the game. The answer is would you rather play four around one or three around two. Those are some things we still need to work out.”
On the Silvio De Sousa was eligible, Mitch Lightfoot would have considered redshirting:
“Yeah, he could have. It’s a hypothetical that we didn’t have the luxury to deal with. That could have been a thought.”
On Vermont:
“They’ve played two exhibition games and they play tonight. I didn’t realize this but I was reading the game notes and I knew they gave Kentucky all they wanted last year. It was a four-point game in Rupp (Arena). And I knew they had a great year. But I did not realize that since Coach (John) Becker has been the head coach there, they have won the second-most games in all of the northeast behind only UConn (Connecticut). You talk about all the schools back east and they are the second-winningest program in the entire region. He’s done a great job and they are going to be really good this year. How many teams are you going to play that have three brothers on the same team and none of them are twins or triplets or whatever? (Anthony) Lamb is a terrific player. He was a guy who got hurt last year but he can score in and out. They’ve got a good team and obviously they are very well coached. They’ll run a lot of set plays, similar to what Michigan State did.”
On if Vermont’s accolades help get the attention of the KU team:
 “I would think that would be more of a struggle if we played Vermont tonight (Friday) because it would be soon after playing Michigan State. But playing them six days later, surely you’re going to be excited with your first regular-season home game. We’ll cover all those things and show them clips of how they’ve been really good against really good teams. I still think we should be motivated, regardless.”
On having Vermont on the schedule and the nonconference schedule overall this season:
“The guy to your right (Larry Keating) is responsible for that stuff. It’s ridiculous. All 13 teams that we are scheduled to play, 10 are preseason picks to win their league and two are picked second and the reason they are picked second was because we are playing the other team that was picked first. You can’t pick them both first. I don’t know if we have ever played a schedule like that, where you’re looking at playing a nonconference schedule where every team is a postseason team. Going into the season, we have as tough (of) a nonconference schedule as there is in the country. But what makes our nonconference schedule the hardest is that the games that are even the ‘bye’ games are games you are going to have to sweat to win. You would think that may not be the best formula with young kids, but you could also flip it and say, ‘How better (of) a way to (is there to) get them prepared than to have to play every minute of every game as opposed to your mistakes not being magnified?’ It is a hard schedule.”
On turnovers being less and better versus Michigan State than in the two exhibition games:
“I thought we did a lot better. We averaged 22 or something in our exhibition games and probably that many in our intrasquad scrimmages and the other night we had 11. Of the 11, the bigs only had just a few and Devon (Dotson) had three or four on his own when he was just driving in there (into the lane), out of control. I think we can correct those (errors) too. I thought that was a real bonus for us.”
On Dotson and Grimes drawing more contact to get to the free throw line:
“I haven’t seen it yet. We went through it last night (at practice). If you think about this, our starting guards combined for four free throws (Tuesday). And they were both when they (Michigan State) had to foul with under a minute left. So they drew zero fouls getting to the line, our starting three guards. Marcus (Garrett) shot two and K.J. (Lawson) shot two on a marginal call. Other than that, we did nothing to get to the line. So that meant our bigs shot the other 31 free throws or whatever it was. That’s a positive that we got the ball inside, but it’s not positive that we didn’t draw contact like we’re so used to seeing with our guards like Frank (Mason III) and Devonte’ (Graham). I don’t think that they can do it like those two, yet. I don’t think they will know how, yet. But I certainly know we have to do a better job a drawing fouls with those guys.”
On if knowing he has backups inside allows Udoka Azubuike to play freer:
“I think so. Doke, his first foul was a cheap one. He got caught in a little bit of a wrestling match with (Nick) Ward, which is easy to do. Ward is a big dude. But then right after that, (Udoka) make an unbelievable block when (Aaron) Henry went up to try to score, that led to a layup for us. I’m not sure he would have gone after that ball last year. To your point, I thought that was very positive. He’s got to play smarter but to your point, he played much more aggressive.”
On if the Duke vs. Kentucky score at the Champions Classic surprised him:
“It did surprise me, how could it not surprise anybody that they could hang 118 (points)? I mean, 118 are a lot of points regardless of who you are playing, especially somebody that we know is traditionally terrific defensively. That tells you how good they are and the potential they have. I told our guys yesterday, we did nothing to take away from what people thought about us from a preseason standpoint. But Duke added to a lot of what people thought about them as a preseason team. So, that’s fine. It’s a long season but certainly, what they did was impressive. That would get anybody’s attention.”
On if he has talked with David Beaty:
“We have talked, we’ve texted back and forth, several times. I know he is really excited for the game this weekend (at Kansas State Saturday), he’s made that very clear to me. I’m hoping the players rally around this situation and perform at a level that gives us a great opportunity to win an in-state rivalry game. David has been great. I think you can tell a lot about people when they are going through tough times. (In) A lot of times, tough decisions are made that put people in those (difficult) situations but sometimes they are made for the betterment of the big picture. I don’t think anybody around here would say David Beaty is anything less than a true pro in how he has handled everything.”
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