Self previews rematch with Villanova at weekly press conference

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Bill Self discussed his squad’s upcoming game against No. 17/16 Villanova during his weekly press conference Thursday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse. Self talked on the Wildcats’ success over recent years, as well as the two teams’ last meeting at the Final Four last March in San Antonio.
A video of the press conference is available on ESPN+ and a full transcript is below.
Head Coach Bill Self
On Villanova and whether the game Saturday has a ‘big fight feel’:
“Oh yeah I would think so, I have never heard it be called a big fight feel, but yeah I think it should. It is an early game, I think Nova tomorrow morning is practicing at eight and then we are practicing right after they practice and so it is a little bit different probably for both teams having to play a game that early. But, it is also good preparation because everybody could possibly get a game later on in the season at the same time so it will be a good atmosphere. I would think it would be exceptional and I’m sure the best one we have played in front of this year.”
On the similarities between the Kansas and Villanova rosters:
“There are some similarities in that they lost so much but they still return two very, very key starters. And you could say the same about us. We lost so much and you know we returned Lagerald (Vick) and Udoka (Azubuike) but we don’t have (Udoka), so there are some similarities there. I was reading some stat that they return 92 minutes of the game that was played last year and we returned 50. So we lost a lot but they obviously lost a lot, too. It is two different teams and they are going to be terrific before it is all said and done and hopefully we will continue to get better and work our way towards that as well. But it should be a fun atmosphere.”
On the match-up with Villanova forward Eric Paschall:
“Well it is a hard match-up because he was probably the best player for them against us last year and they had several. He was the best of the best last year against us, he was 4-of-5 from 3 and dominated us on the glass and the thing that he can do is he can post but he can post from 15-feet and back his way down and get to the basket and do a lot of things. But still, the way that they score a ton of their points are off of that but off of drive-and-kick. They are averaging 30 threes a game and I think one game, if I am not mistaken, they shot 43. And against us last year they were 18-of-40, so you know obviously we have got to defend the arc. If you shoot 30 threes and you know you make 10, that means someone else has to make 15 to 30 from two to tie you, which is hard to do against a good defensive team. So we have got to do a much better job at defending the arc than what we have done so far.”
On former KU big man Landon Lucas begin in Lawrence and him instructing the KU big men:
“Instruction may be a little strong, but it was good to certainly have him back. You know the thing about it is, Landon, whether he has or hasn’t I don’t know, to offer things as a “team thing”, as in what wins. That is the kind of instruction he is giving them, that kind of stuff I think is good. He has only been here for what, two days, so it is not like he has been around much, but it is certainly always nice to see those guys come back.”
On Villanova head coach Jay Wright and his recruiting strategies:
“You are going to have to ask Jay. I would say they have done an unbelievable job of getting good players that have been developed and gotten a lot better after they have been there. You know they have won a couple of national championships and they have had McDonald’s All-Americans don’t get me wrong, but the vast majority of their success has come from guys that have been in the program three, four or five years that maybe weren’t as heralded coming out but turned out to be fabulous. That was certainly the case last year, you know Jalen Brunson was on everybody’s list coming out but he got so much better after coming to school. I don’t remember (Mikal) Bridges or (Donte) DiVincenzo or those guys were maybe not as highly recruited as some of the best players in their respected class but they turned out being better than those guys and that is a tribute to their staff. They do a really good job coaching them. And they do a great job of getting them to play tough and hard.”
On the traits that have made Villanova successful:
“First of all, the run that they have been on… We had a great run here, I think we won like 132 games in five years here, something like that, ridiculous. I think they won like 134 or 135 — the most ever in a five-year period. So they have been on an unparalleled run, which the most of all-time in a five-year strand and we were the second of all time. I think they are the most of all time now. It’s really the thing that would stick out the most to me is that they play ridiculously hard and they play ridiculously tough. And they have got good players. If you have those three things you are going to obviously have success and they are very disciplined on both ways when they play.”
On his team playing in close games this season:
“We have actually recently had a lot of games like this. This isn’t the first year that we have had to come from behind in several games. I think I said yesterday, I think it was last year there were 10 or 12 games that we came behind that we were down double figures in the second half. So this is kind of par for the course stuff as far as digging a hole and trying to crawl our way out of it. It would be nice not to do that, but the thing about it is, when you play good teams, that happens. It’s not that complicated, you play good teams you run good offense you go 5-of-15. You play a good team, they run good offense you guard them well, but they make hard shots, they are 9-for-15. Two of them hit threes, that’s 10 points, you are behind and you haven’t played poorly. But over a course of 40 minutes you want to be able to negate that or have things balance out and that is what has happened for us so far this year.”
On RS-Junior forward Dedric Lawson and how he tries to keep him engaged:
“Without (Azubuike) being there, I don’t know if you watched his play, but we try to throw the ball to him every time. So I don’t know if you have really followed us closely, but if you have you know that when (Azubuike) is not in the game we try to play through Dedric on almost every possession. I would say a lot of it is on him, but you know guys can certainly be better passers and guys can do some different things but I do think a lot of it is on Dedric. We try to dissect things and make it more complicated than what it is. But yeah he needs to be more aggressive, all of our guys do during all segments of the game, not just the end or the beginning.”
On how he coaches young players through tough times, like what Quentin Grimes is going through:
“They just need to have fun and play, play as if it is a shirts and skins game. And that is not easy to do sometimes but all athletes go through it at some point in time and he will get through it, I am not concerned about that from a long-term standpoint, but obviously we want everybody to be aggressive and confident right from the get-go in all aspects. It never happened that way until you get a chance to get late in the season. And sometimes the end of that doesn’t happen that way, but he will be fine. He is too good of a player.”
On senior guard Lagerald Vick and his performance vs. Villanova in the Final Four:
“He played 32 minutes in the game last year. Nobody played particularly well for us, but he didn’t play poorly by any stretch, (Villanova) was just better. I watched the game again this morning, I couldn’t believe how hard we played. You would think we played awful, we did not play awful, they played great. We guarded them right, they made shots. We did exactly the game planned for the most part and they just out-performed us in most areas and things like that. And I am talking strictly from a defensive end standpoint. But yeah we need Lagerald to be the No. 1 offensive player from the perimeter and in order to do that he has got to maintain his aggressiveness which he can do at times which we’ve seen. There are times where he defers a little but as well, but we need him to be a primary No. 1 option at least from the perimeter game in and game out.”
On if he’s watched the full Kansas-Villanova Final Four game since it was played:
“I have seen enough of it, bits and pieces. To be honest with you, I hadn’t watched it until the scout and we have had a week so you know I have tinkered with it and watched it enough until I got sick and then I put it away. But I actually watched it in its entirety every possession again this morning. You look at it from a critical standpoint you say ‘well, they just made a play’ or ‘they did this’, ‘they did that’, I thought our ball screen defense was good. We took away the role man. We built out quick. Bottom line is they got guys who can make plays and that is what happened last year. We did not play great by any stretch, but it wasn’t us playing poorly as much as it was them playing very well. At least I didn’t think so.”



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