Jayhawks prep for Seton Hall on practice day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – As Kansas prepares for Saturday’s round of 32 match-up with the Seton Hall Pirates, head coach Bill Self and players met with members of the media to discuss the contest Thursday inside INTRUST Bank Arena.
From the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional, No. 1 seed Kansas (28-7, 13-5 Big 12) will take on No. 8 seed Seton Hall (22-10, 10-8 Big East) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. Sunday’s game will start at 6:10 p.m. (Central) and will be televised on TBS.
Kansas advanced with a 76-60 win against No. 16 seed Penn on March 15. Seton Hall won its first game of the event with a 94-83 victory against No. 9 seed NC State. Following a closed practice session on Friday afternoon, Kansas head coach Bill Self, senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot represented KU at the NCAA press conference.
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Head Coach Bill Self
Q. Could you just talk about tomorrow’s opponent, Seton Hall.
COACH SELF: Well, they’re good, and certainly we saw that yesterday against NC State, and they can score the ball. They got four guys, I guess, averaging between, what is it, 13 and 18, and you know, have probably the best rebounder in the country in addition. So they’re really good. They’re very well coached and come from a terrific league in which they play the best of the best multiple times this year. So we know they’ll be very prepared.
Q. You have a very physical great offensive rebounding team which at times this year has caused us problems. Can you talk about that?
COACH SELF: Yeah. That’s obviously going to be one of the keys to us have some success is being able to neutralize them on the glass, because they are a terrific, terrific, rebounding team on both ends, but we haven’t been a great defensive rebounding team for the most part the vast majority of the year. So that’ll be a big key in trying to neutralize them, because on paper that would obviously be a strength for them.
Q. Could we have our daily Doke update?
COACH SELF: He practiced today. We went for an hour, and he was out there the majority of the minutes and actually looked pretty good. Timing may be off a little bit and conditioning, but we certainly — unless there’s some form of setback, we certainly anticipate him being available tomorrow in a way that you can actually play him to try to win the game. It may not be 25 or 30, but we should get some competitive minutes out of him that hopefully will definitely help our team.
Q. You mentioned Delgado. He has 21 double doubles on the season. What threat does he pose to your team?
COACH SELF: Well, he can put — another reason why Dok’s important is because he can put the, you know, an entire team in foul trouble. You go from 10 to 15 fouls, if we’re able to play our full complement of guys. But you know, he can shoot. He’s a terrific passer.
He’s one of the best passing bigs we’ve gone against all year. And he’s a work horse. I mean he never quits trying to wedge or get position for rebounds, and he certainly — you know, he’s a professional rebounder.
He knows how to read a ball coming off a rim. He knows how to wedge. He knows how to create space. And few, if any, that do it any better than him. So he’d pose a problem for anybody.
Q. Malik in the locker room compared Seton Hall to West Virginia. Is that a comparable team matchup for you guys?
COACH SELF: Probably of the teams that we’ve played, yeah, maybe from a physicality standpoint. You know, you look at Delgado. Could he be comparable to Konate, ^ even though they’re different skill sets and everything, but inside presence. And their guards are very physical, much like Carter and Miles. So I’d say that’s fair. The way they go about doing their business is different. But I think from a physical standpoint they certainly kind of look that role.
Q. In looking at the path that it took to get here, in a way do you feel that there’s something in common between KU and Seton Hall because of the leagues that you play in and the schedules that you play in a 10-team league?
COACH SELF: You know. I hadn’t thought about that, but I bet you could ask Kevin and he’d tell them that their league — I mean think about that. They played — I don’t know about the tournament. Did they play five games or four games against — four games against No. 1 seeds. I mean, that’s more than we’ve done. And our league was a gauntlet and their league’s obviously a gauntlet. And how many Big East teams got in? Six. Six out of 10, and we got 7 out of 10. So yeah, I would say it’s very comparable. You know, I look at them and compare them to teams that we’ve played, and if you look at them in our league, they would fare very well in our league without question.
And the way that we won the league this year, there were so many close games that came down to one or two possessions. I mean, Seton Hall would be a team that could easily compete for our championship in our league.
Q. Mitch had a good game yesterday. Coming up against Delgado, how do you see him being able to affect the game compared to Delgado’s size?
COACH SELF: Well, he’s not going to based on size. I mean, he’s going to have to play smart, play him before he catches it. You know, Mitch is a really good athlete, and he’s a quick-twitch athlete and he’s going to have to be really bouncy and energetic and play very smart. And you know, just do what — Mitch doesn’t have to — the way that — the best chance for us to win is not for Mitch to have more points and rebounds than Delgado. That won’t be our game plan. That’s not how we play. But if he can just not allow him to have big night, a big day or a big night in the time that he’s in there, that would be a huge bonus for us.
Q. Bill, I’m sorry if you got asked this already. What’s the status of Udoka and he played three minutes if the first half. What can you expect out of him tomorrow?
COACH SELF: He practiced today and he went 80, 90 percent of the time in our one hour of practice. And unless there’s some setback, we’re anticipating using him and having him be part of the game plan. Whether or not he can play more than three minutes at a time from a conditioning standpoint, we think that barring any unforeseen things happening, that he could be a guy that could be out there 15 or 20 minutes tomorrow.
Q. Coach, back to Mitch real quick, could you just comment on what he’s meant for you and this team over the course of the season with a lot of fluctuation at the big spot and his steady work there, his attitude?
COACH SELF: Well, his attitude is a 10. And he works
his tail off. But the thing about it is that Mitch is the type of guy that all good teams have that give them a chance to win because he hasn’t played his natural position one possession this year. He’s not a five man. He’s a prototypical four man. That’s what we recruited him as and here we are asking a guy that weighs 210 pounds to be our anchor, especially when Dok’s out and that kind of stuff. So he’s handled everything great, considering that he hasn’t probably been utilized in a manner that would benefit him the most.
Q. Just talking to the players, several of them referenced West Virginia in regards to Seton Hall. Is that a comparison you would make? In the context of what we’re asking about, Seton Hall has good size across the board. They’re a physical team. So how would you assess them?
COACH SELF: I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. I don’t think their styles are exactly the same obviously, but you talk about physical guards, they both have it.
You talk about an anchor five man that’s physical, both have that. So I think there are some similarities with that. I really believe that Seton Hall guards, you know, when you look at it, that they’re — even though, you know, West Virginia shot the ball unbelievably great in the tournament and terrific against us, their guards did. But I mean, these guys, you know, you got — you’ll have three out there at all times that can stretch it at any point in time, which makes them pretty skilled.
Q. Bill, your senior guards have been consistent throughout most of the year and now Lagerald and Malik seem to be on an uptick. Can you just talk about how that makes it different for teams to stop you having four guards that are playing like that?
COACH SELF: You know, early in the season we were better offensively than we were the vast majority of it. I mean, the ball was moving and we had four guys shooting above 40 percent from three probably up until Christmas, or close to it. So we’re much harder to guard when it’s equal opportunity. And I felt like during league play we had a couple individuals not play quite as well, so Devonte’ took more shots, more low- percentage shots, end-of-clock plays and things like that that probably gave us the best chance to win, but wasn’t good for, you know, visibly for the eye as far as are we playing as well as we possibly can. And Dok’s gotten better. So I do agree with you. We got four guys that can stretch it, and when Dok’s healthy, you got a big guy you can play around and certainly isolate him on the post, which makes us a hard guard.
Here of late, the big, the guards really have had to play well because we haven’t had a big guy we can throw it to and isolate in the post. Even when Silvio got 16 against West Virginia, they were off angles, they were off tip-ins. They were off plays that others made. So certainly our guards have had to step up during that time.
Q. Coach, for last night’s performance at least we saw a little less of Malik than we did in the Big 12 tournament. What would you like to see him do more to kind of get back to those performances?
COACH SELF: Yeah, we saw — what did he do, go 0 for 2 from three. Penn does a good job. We only took 17 threes, and I know at halftime I think Evan asked me about all the threes that we were taking and the poor shots. They were. But we didn’t take that many of them. We just didn’t get very many good looks. So I bet Malik only got one good look yesterday.
I believe that, you know, he also played out of foul trouble, only played 28 minutes, still got double figures. So yeah, we can’t expect him to get 20 every night.
But I thought he was pretty effective. I don’t think anything happened yesterday to certainly take away any confidence or anything like that.
Q. Aside from Delgado, when you look at the film, what other players at Seton Hall jump out at you as difference makers?
COACH SELF: Well, all their starters are really good. But when you got, you know, Carrington, Rodriguez and Powell that can all stretch it like they can, and you know, they can score in other ways. Rodriguez can be a power player at post. We haven’t gone against very many guards that can do that. And Carrington is so fast. He can get the ball downhill really well. And Powell to me is like instant offensive. He can make four and five-minute stretch and totally change the whole complexion of the game. So I really like their personnel and they’re experienced and they’ve been there and they’ve done it and they’ve been through a lot together. They seem to be very tough and connected. So their perimeter is very good. And then of course they’re playing around arguably as good a rebounder and one of the best low-post players in the country.
Q. Mitch obviously played quite a few minutes in the game, and Silvio didn’t play as much. Is this the type of matchup that maybe doesn’t fit Mitch as many with the physicality?
COACH SELF: You know, I don’t know, Danny. You could say that. You could say on the surface, like West Virginia, I thought Silvio was definitely a better matchup with Konate. So you could say that on the surface. But Seton Hall will also sub a pick and pop guy. And so there’s going to be opportunities for them both to be out there. I really just felt like that Mitch was better yesterday and gave us the best chance than Silvio did the vast majority of the minutes, but it wasn’t that Silvio did anything wrong. I just thought Mitch played better just like I thought Silvio played better in the Big 12 tournament.
Q. Obviously you’ve been, because of circumstances, caught in a numbers game with your bench. As you get deeper in the tournament, how much is the bench a concern?
COACH SELF: It’s not. If we’re healthy, it’s not. There’s a lot of people that like to go 8 deep. And with the emergence of Silvio, I feel like we can. And so you know, even though — the one thing with our bench that we haven’t been able to do, we haven’t been able to play different ways. We haven’t been able to play small and big because we haven’t had time to practice and all these things. So we are who we are. We’re not going to change from this point forward. But I do think the emergence of Marcus and certainly the emergence of Silvio with the healthy Dok, I think there’s a lot of teams out there that would like to have a rotation of 8, and I think that’s plenty this time of year as long as injuries or foul problems don’t creep up.
Q. Coach, last night you became the winningest coach in Kansas history in the tournament, tying Roy Williams. Just wanted to ask if you could comment on that accomplishment, what it means for you.
COACH SELF: Well, I’m glad you brought that up because I did not even remotely know that. So I don’t really — you know, you coach at a place as long as I have, 15 years — and I think Roy was here 15 years, too. And you have as many good players as what we’ve had and as many good teams, you should win some games. And so I don’t look at that as a monumental thing at all. I hope by 8:30 tomorrow night we would have passed him. But to me that doesn’t even register on the care meter at all.
Mitch Lightfoot and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
Q. When you look at Seton Hall on film, what players jump out as you as priorities for you guys to defend?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: For the big guys I think Delgado and the other front men. They’re very active and they’re good on the block, so we gotta figure out a game plan for them.
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: Like Mitch said, Delgado and all their guards are really good players. I think all of them average from 14 to 18 points a game and everybody can shoot, and I would say it’s going to be hard to guard them.
Q. Svi, this team is very physical. These kind of teams have caused problems from time to time throughout the year. Can you just talk about being ready to take on a physical team that gets on the offensive glass?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: I think it just starts on defense. Gotta lock in on defense, understand the scouting report. The coaches give us a great plan on how to defend them and how to guard them. Just gotta come out there, be confident. It’s kind of like a West Virginia team where they’re really physical. They get after you on defense. Gotta be under control and know what to do and when to do it.
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: Yeah, definitely gotta be ready on the defensive end, especially on the boards. So we gotta just come prepared for the game, be tough and just show what we can do.
Q. For both of you guys, Seton Hall talked about how they’ve seen a lot of your guys on TV. Some of them even said they sort of had a scouting report on you guys before they got here. I’m just curious how much you knew about Seton Hall before you got here, and if you had seen them on television?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: Yeah. I’ve seen them before. They played Tech. I’ve seen that game and they played Villanova. They played both those games very well, beat Tech, and we’re watching a lot of film with the coaches right now and becoming even more familiar with them. So that’s a priority of ours.
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: Yeah, like Mitch said, they beat Tech early in the year and I think they lost to Villanova in overtime. So we’ve been watching the games, and especially the game they played yesterday. So they’re a really good team. And during the year we watched some games on TV. It’s not like we don’t really know who they are. Like we know, but —
Q. Mitch, yesterday in the second half you really seemed to go after it on the glass. Can you just talk a little bit about what was going through your mind and maybe what led to that?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: I think we just needed that presence the first half. I didn’t do it as well as I wanted to. So I got out there, realized every ball that comes off the rim is an opportunity for me to get it. So tried to get as many as I could and help us win.
Q. Mitch, on the same thing, can we pull back just a little bit and look at the larger picture. And would you tell us about what you’ve faced this season, perhaps unexpected responsibilities at times with roster situations and late with an injury? What have you dealt with and what’s your self- assessment about how you’ve done it?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: I think it’s been a blessing in disguise for me, opportunity for me to come into a bigger role and play a bigger part of this team. Helping out replace Dok, obviously being the only one two bigs there for a little bit until we got Silvio. So it was a big opportunity and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of embracing it.
Q. Mitch, without the obvious physical presence of Dok in for all but three minutes yesterday, you’ve played four games now without him, how much is KU a different team without him?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: Obviously he’s a huge part of our team. It’s a different look when he’s not out there.
He’s a low post presence. He’s a beast. So having him in there more is obviously a priority of ours. I know he’s working super hard to get back as fast as he can. But when he’s not out there, we try to set more ball screens and get our guards going downhill, and me and Silvio try to clean up the glass and get easy points here and there.
Q. Svi, can I ask to follow up on the question that I asked Mitch about his assessment, what’s his teammates’ assessment? Would you guys be in this position if he hadn’t stepped up like he did when you guys needed him to?
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: He did great especially in the Big 12 tournament. Him and Villanova came up really big and helped us win games. Like you say, it’s different without Dok. But we just have to adjust and right now I think we’re playing pretty good. Like all the guards are aggressive and I think it’s pretty hard to guard if all the guards are aggressive and we just move the ball pretty fast, get open shots.
Q. What do you think about Seton Hall makes them dangerous and what makes them a threat to you guys tomorrow?
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: I would say they’re shooting the ball pretty good. And like I say all, the starting five average from like 13 to 18 points. So definitely everybody can score. And everybody can shoot, all the guards. So I would say they’re kind of like us, like all the guards can shoot, all the guards are aggressive and it’s going to be a pretty fun matchup for us.
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: Like Svi said, they have great guard play and they also have great big guys. So it’s a combination. We gotta really lock in and understand the scouting report because they’re a great team.
Q. Svi, you and Devonte’ have been pretty consistent hitting the three-point shot, but recently Lagerald and Malik have really come along. Can you just talk about potentially how good that can make you and what it’s like when you have those other guys joining in with you and Devonte’ knocking them down?
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: I would say just making the game easier, because if everybody can shoot on the floor, we just need to beat our own man and try to find the open man, because when you beat your man, you pass it to an open guy and they gotta help. So we just gotta move the ball to the open man. If everybody shoot like everybody’s shooting right now, it’s going to be really hard to guard, because you gotta help. And he’s going to be an open shot no matter what.
Q. With their offensive rebounding, how much of a focus is that for you guys, and do they remind you of any other team you’ve faced in that regard?
SVIATOSLAV MYKHAILIUK: I think Mitch was saying earlier that they remind us of West Virginia and they really rebound the ball really good. They have a big guy, I think he averages like 13 rebounds. So we just gotta show how tough we are and box out every time. And like the guards gotta help Mitch and Silvio and just to box out because I don’t think everybody’s on the glass like the point guards, so they just gotta come inside and just help him to rebound.
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: Yeah, West Virginia. They do a great job getting to the glass, and that’s a focus of ours. Everyone’s gotta box out. We just gotta find a guy to box out. And I think if we do that, we can do pretty good on the boards.
Q. Mitch, you and Dok and Silvio seem to really cheer for one another, which isn’t that uncommon, but you seem to have a genuine, you know, supporting cast with each other. Can you just talk about that?
MITCH LIGHTFOOT: I think with us three it’s not who does good, but if we do good as big guys, I think we each want to see each other do well. When you see Silvio do so good against West Virginia in the tournament game, me and Dok sitting there cheering him on, and then I played pretty good last night, and they were both sitting there cheering me on. And I think we all really care about each other and want to see each other do well. So if the big guys are doing good, the Jayhawks are winning and we’re all happy.
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