Self previews contest with Cowboys at weekly presser
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Bill Self met with members of the media Thursday for his weekly press conference inside Allen Fieldhouse. Self discussed his team’s crucial upcoming road swing against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as well as the Jayhawks’ resilience this season when facing adversity.
A video of the press conference is available on ESPN+ and a full transcript is below.
HEAD COACH BILL SELF
On if Oklahoma State’s overtime loss at Texas Tech Wednesday got his team’s attention:
“I hope that’s not the only reason that they would have our attention. Hopefully the magnitude of the game for us (has our attention). Every game is a big game in a league race. We need to be successful there (Stillwater). We haven’t been successful there very often, it doesn’t seem like. The way they played last night, I didn’t see all the game yet, but I saw the last 15 minutes live. They (Oklahoma State) played great and to see them be in that game and have a chance to win it, I think they had the ball down two and missed a three in regulation, with about 20 seconds left. But to see how they competed and then to think back three days ago, we weren’t even in the game (at Texas Tech). We know it will be a tough challenge for us.”
On if this team has potential to be one of his best defensively:
“I think in time it will. We’ve been pretty good on that end the vast majority of my years here. If you go back to the early years, we were arguably as good a defensive team as there was in the country, year-in and year-out for the most part. This team is not there yet. Now if we continue to get better and they stay together and all those things, we can do that. When you’re playing that many young guys, it’s probably not as realistic to think they could be like Tyshawn (Taylor) as a senior and Jeff Withey as a senior and those sorts of things. But certainly, we are heading in a positive direction.”
On individuals that have ascended the most defensively:
“If you have Marcus (Garrett) and Devon (Dotson) out there, you’re going to have two of the three best perimeter defenders in our league every night; if you have those two out there together. I don’t think anybody can deny that, and that’s a healthy Marcus. I would say Devon, as far as understanding, spacing, angles and all those things, he’s probably ascended the most.”
On if Marcus Garrett is back to 100 percent after his ankle injury on Feb. 1:
“No. He may be 85 or 90 (percent). He still can’t jump off his left leg and he’s a left-leg jumper. He plays everything off his left leg for the most part. His injury may not be 100 percent before the season is over but he’s out there and trying.”
On Garrett’s toughness:
“He’s one of the toughest kids we have. Everybody would agree with that within our program. He tried to come back faster than what he did (from his ankle injury), he just couldn’t do it. I’m not saying we could have won the game without him on Monday (vs. Kansas State) but it would have been very difficult to win that game without him. Just his presence and the 22 or 27 minutes, whatever it was he gave us, certainly enhanced our positioning.”
On monitoring Marcus Garrett’s minutes:
“There’s no monitoring. If anything, maybe conditioning. But there is no monitoring at all.”
On if Garrett is recovering well after games:
“He’s sore after everything but I think it is getting a little bit better as time passes.”
On Devon Dotson slowing down, hitting a freshman wall, but now turning it back on:
“I don’t think Devon has hit a wall, unless you equate ‘the wall’ with maybe not as good of a performance or something like that. I haven’t seen him slow down at all, and he certainly hasn’t in practice. He spends as much time in the gym on his own as anybody has in a long time around here.”
On the keys to getting a better performance on the road (at Oklahoma State):
“There are a lot of keys. The 11 a.m. start, energy and being awake will probably be very important. We can’t let those shooters that they have get naked looks because they’re going to make them if they get them. (Cameron) McGriff has always played great against us and we need a way to offset him and his play on the glass and things like that. We have to attack different defenses. There are a lot of keys but just in general, if you’re talking intangibles, I’d say being awake and having team energy comparable to what we had the other night (vs. Kansas State), even though that hasn’t gone on the road this year. We were good at Baylor, to be up 20 with four minutes left. That was good, then we puttered around late. There were some good things that happened there. And (at) TCU, our energy was better and that kind of stuff. Still yet, it wasn’t comparable energy to what we had the other night. It was more of a workman-type energy and we executed a little better. So we’re going to have to do that.”
On if the ‘back-against-the-wall’ mentality could bring out more energy:
Maybe. We haven’t really talked about that a lot, but our back is against the wall. It will be against the wall until the regular season is over, and everybody’s back is against the wall on the postseason because it is potentially one and done. I would say, if anything, is should bring out a sense of urgency that hasn’t been very consistent, for the most part during conference play.
On if he saw urgency against Kansas State on Feb. 25:
“Oh god, I saw a ton of it. Everybody that watched saw that definitely a different energetic-type team. It didn’t matter that it looked like we played well, when we really didn’t play that well. It was we just made them not play well at all, offensively. That’s the key right there. It shows up more on the defensive end than anything else. K-State takes great pride in doing that to people. We knew they would be a hard team to score 75 against, regardless, so you’re going to have to really lock down and guard. They guarded us well, we got just enough offense because our defense was pretty good.”
On what it takes to bring that energetic level consistently on defense:
“It would be easier if it was at home all the time because you can feed off the crowd. It is a workman-like attitude, this is who we are, this is what we do. You can’t get gitty because you did it one game in a row. You’ve got to string a series of games in a row to say that you’re actually becoming elite defensively. We’re not close to being there yet, but I do think the sense of urgency, the backs are against the wall and the understanding that the road hasn’t been good to us this year, we’ve got to be different than what we have been.”
On who should win Big 12 Player of the Year:
“My personal opinion, in this year, is that the team that wins it should get the award. The player should get the award from the team that wins it. I don’t think anybody has separated themselves. Like last year, Trae (Young) and Devontae’ (Graham) separated themselves. They were two First-Team All-Americans. This year, we’re not going to have that in our league. You’re not going to have multiple First-Team All-Americans even though you’ve had four guys that have had unbelievable seasons. To me, the separation is less than what it has been.”
On if he misses not getting to play great players from the past on other teams:
“No, not at all. I’m joking I think there are certain guys that play for other teams that you enjoy the competitiveness between them. Georges Niang and Monte Morris (of Iowa State), I loved playing against them. They would always talk smack and all that stuff. But there aren’t many guys in the league that I do that with personally. When Blake (Griffin) and Kevin (Durant) and Michael (Beasley) all left, you miss the opportunity to go against those guys each and every year, even though the reality of it is the reason why we miss their competiveness is that they were the best our sport had to offer. I don’t think I’m going to miss Dean (Wade) and Barry (Brown) and (Kamau) Stokes that much. They’ve been really good players for K-State and they’ve represented their school in a tremendous way, and all those things, but I don’t think anybody in our league missed Perry (Ellis) when he left. People were glad it was his time to go, even though he was here like 17 years, I think.”
On Lagerald Vick’s status:
“There’s been no change.”
On this team’s resemblance to the 2010-11 team:
“I think there are a couple similarities. Except this year — it’s happened twice, if I’m not mistaken, where we’ve been behind a game with three games left — this one’s a little bit different because you have two teams ahead of you, so you need to have good fortune, you have to win yourself and then you have to have things happen with two teams, not just one, so this one is a longer shot without question. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though.”
On the changes the team has made this season:
“Last year, we started the season with seven guys on scholarship. We had three guys sitting out, we had a couple guys ineligible guys, Sam (Cunliffe) wasn’t eligible yet, Silivo (De Sousa) wasn’t here yet, and Billy (Preston) wasn’t playing. That was challenging knowing we only had seven guys for a long time. We were also fortunate because we didn’t get hurt last year.
Losing Doke (Azubuike) is a blow, and everybody talks about losing guys. Udoka was the best back-to-the-basket force in college basketball. It can be disputed, but I think he would win out if there was a dispute on that. We’re talking back-to-the-basket, true five, back-to-the-basket. There’s not as many of those now. You base your stuff on him and then you base your stuff on Dedric (Lawson) being our best passer. Of course, Doke can catch lobs and do some things, so that’s a big part of what we did. We did have to change how we played. And then we got him back, we changed back. We lose him again, then we change back. Then we got depleted at the guard spot and then we changed back again.
We’ve had a few changes this year, but our kids have been resilient through it. I think they’ve done a nice job. It’s been a frustrating year at times, but I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t been frustrated at all here of late. I wasn’t frustrated at (Texas) Tech, and I know fans may not want to hear that, but I thought we tried and I thought when we got punched in the mouth we didn’t react great. (Texas Tech’s players) were all so great. Give them credit. Even though I was disappointed, it wasn’t because of preparation or anything like that, it was because they were just a lot better than particular day, a lot better.
How they responded on Monday with short rest, I couldn’t be more proud of our guys for where they’re at. We’re counting on guys that we didn’t have much expectations for going into the season. I think they’ve held their own pretty good, but certainly, whoever’s out there has to deliver. There’s no excuses, no matter who’s not playing, who is playing, who’s nicked up or who’s not, you’ve got to deliver when you’re out there. That’s been a challenge for this group, but I don’t think they’ve made excuses. I think they’ve handled it pretty well.”
On what has led to the team shooting more three-point shots:
“I think teams are guarding us in a way that makes us shoot threes. I think teams are really trying to clog the lane and try to do some different things. In order for us to get a good look, a lot of the possessions, I think that is our best opportunity. I do think we’re playing with more freedom, and Quentin (Grimes) is playing with more freedom offensively, and Ochai (Agbaji) is not bashful. Devon (Dotson) doesn’t take many, but he’s pretty selective. For Dedric (Lawson), the difference between taking one per game and five per game is pretty significant in terms of percentages and I think he’s been a big reason why, too. I do think teams are packing the lane against us.”
On if freshman guard Devon Dotson should take more three-point shots:
“I think Devon is playing like a guard should play. The way the game is meant to be played is you move it, you pass it and you shoot open shots. He’s doing as good of a job as anybody doing that.”
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