Self previews Stanford at weekly press conference

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Bill Self discussed his team’s upcoming contest with the Stanford Cardinal during his weekly press conference Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. Self reviewed his squad’s status following the first month of the season before analyzing the NCAA’s new NET rankings and the metrics behind it.
A video of the press conference is available on ESPN+ and a full transcript is below.
On if it feels like a long break between games:
“It doesn’t yet. It probably will. It doesn’t seem like we played on Friday because we didn’t get home until Sunday night so it seems like the break was from Sunday to now, but I guess it wasn’t. I guess eight days is a long time this time of year.”
On getting the team where he wants them to be:
“We may not ever get to where we want them to be, I don’t know that every team does that consistently, but, I don’t think that this has been a very good practice team, especially as of late. I thought early in our practice sessions that this teamed liked to practice, they had energy, stuff like that, and I think this week, even last week, maybe just not playing with the passion or the energy in practice. We don’t practice long, that’s the thing, I used to practice long, ex-players would say ‘Coach we went three hours every day’, now we very rarely go over two, ever. So I don’t know what it’s been but I feel like there hasn’t been near the focus or the energy in practice that good teams have.”
On if there’s one guy stepping up and setting the pace for everyone:
“Last week, I thought that was the problem, this week I don’t think it is. We’ve had some guys step up and the thing about it is with athletics, you can try hard and still look like crap. There’s definitely a difference between competing and trying hard. Anybody can try hard, you don’t shoot and get a ribbon for that, but that’s the baseline. Competing is focus and concentration and listening, there’s a lot of other intangibles that go with competing and I don’t think we’ve been very good at that in practice of late. But you look at us against Tennessee with one-day scout and a 30-minute practice, that’s about as good as carrying out the defensive game plan as we can do. I know we got it in us, I just don’t think the focus has been quite as good as what it should be.”
On Lagerald Vick making the most of his senior season:
“I just see somebody that always had talent. He’s had some games in the past; even going back to his sophomore year, you think he’s the best player on the floor. Last year, he was the best player on our team for almost the first month of the season, and the most consistent, so you know what he’s got inside of him but maybe the intangibles that I was referring to earlier are more prevalent now than they were last year; voice, talking. He knows that it’s his show now, compared to the past where he knew it was Devonte’ (Graham)’s, Svi (Mykhailiuk)’s, or Malik (Newman)’s. Even going the year before that, Josh (Jackson)’s, or Landen (Lucas)’s or Frank (Mason)’s, he knows now that this is more his deal and I just think there’s an energized focus he has, maybe in large part due to that.
On whose role has changed the most from last season:
“Of our returning guys, I don’t know that, maybe Lagerald’s, but I don’t know. You can’t say Devon (Dotson) or Quentin (Grimes). Marcus (Garrett)’s hasn’t really changed a ton, Mitch (Lightfoot)’s hasn’t really changed a ton, (Udoka Azubuike’s) hasn’t changed a ton. You could say that, primarily, the difference is that you just have new guys that have never done it here at Kansas that have very prominent roles. From an individual’s standpoint, I would say Lagerald has probably been the biggest change from a role standpoint, over everybody else. We don’t really have that many returning guys that played.”
On Devon Dotson’s performance five games in:
“I would say the thing I like the most is that he likes to compete. He does have some Frank (Mason) in him, that way. Frank, visibly, you could see when he was really going after someone. Devon, you can’t see it quite as visible, but you look at it and study it over time. The dude likes to compete and I would say that is the biggest thing. It’s got me excited because if he can contain the other team’s initiator or point guard, then that’s where every offense starts on every team. I really, really, like that. That’s got me excited about him, as much as anything.”
On Dotson being at the level he is, five games in:
“I thought he could get to this level, maybe before the conference, but five games in, he’s competed at a pretty consistent level.”
On what he wants to see from Udoka Azubuike moving forward:
“I think that Udoka has actually gotten off to a fair start. I think that if you watched the game the other day, he got a very marginal whistle, at best. That happens sometimes when you have a reputation and the reputation he has is pushing off and doing some different things. How many fouls does Udoka make that’s not a turnover? He very rarely fouls on defense, most of his fouls come on offense. That’s one thing I would like to see him improve on. The other thing is, I’d like to see where he plays to his strengths a little bit better. Sometimes when he doesn’t feel as though he is given enough touches or whatever, he tries to do something that is a hard play for him whereas, during the season, those aren’t the times to do that as much. I would like to see him doing a great job working on position, scoring every time he gets the ball in position to score but if it’s not there, I would like to see him become a passer, those sorts of things. Those are easy to fix but I could also say the same things about our guys on the perimeter. If you don’t have it and you don’t drive it, then pass it, rather than hold it to let the defense re-shift and get back to where you’re playing 5-on-5. We do that too much as well. Everybody, I’d like to see, become a better ball mover. He (Azubuike) knows we’re going to throw it to him, we try to throw it to him every possession, but sometimes I think that when he does catch it, and he’s not in position, those are the times that we don’t need to waste the possession.”
On being simpler on defense:
“I thought against Marquette we were terrific the first half of doing that. We have been better doing that, nothing complicated, simple, basic. Let’s just figure out who we are and what we do and let’s just do that, rather than change so much.”
On the better defense being guys picking things up or on what the coaches have asked of them:
“I think the sample size is too small. The teams we’ve had the most trouble with are the teams that shot the three well and therefore it stretches you, and they can drive, and things like that. Tennessee, that wasn’t what they played to so maybe that was easier for us, to at least stay in the right spots, but I was most encouraged by the second half against Marquette. That was the hardest team for us to guard because we’re playing big and they’re playing small and then we were still able to get the shooters and keep the ball in front of us. That to me is the most positive thing. Whether or not we can continue that, who knows but that’s certainly been an emphasis.”
On Lagerald Vick’s confidence leading to his success:
“Who doesn’t play better if they have confidence and swagger? In any sport, at any time. I like that, I like that a lot. The thing about it is, that confidence has also given him energy to play better defensively as well.”
On playing Stanford without Reid Travis:
“Last year, they had Reid and they had (Michael) Humphrey, the last two years. Reid had a big game but I think Humphrey had a big game, maybe when they played here, also. Now, they’re longer, leaner, have more slashers, things like that. They’ve got good players, they’re 4-3 and they played a really good schedule, look at a couple of their losses and they’re really good teams, and they’ve been away from home. They have good, young players that are going to be really good. They’re young, they have some young guys out there competing for you and of course you’re going to go through ups and downs when that’s the case, but if you look at the most amazing stat with them, opponents have made 25 threes against them, for the year. So that’s 3.5 a game. Think about that. They’re getting out and they’re guarding the arch and with their length, they can do that. That has been a big part of our offense so I’d say that’s something that’s pretty impressive. “
On Stanford head coach and former KU guard Jerod Haase’s return:
“I hope right up until tipoff he is walking around, talking to people in the stands. That would be great. He’ll come focused and there will be incentive for them to play well here, like there was I’m sure when he went back to Carolina and played earlier in the year. Every time he comes back, anybody that has obviously given this university a lot, I certainly hope the fans do pay them the respect that they deserve, which I’m sure they will.”
On K.J. Lawson’s performance against Tennessee:
“You could say ‘would he have gotten those minutes if (Udoka Azubuike) hadn’t been in foul trouble?’ But the bottom line is, would we have won the game if he didn’t get those minutes? And the answer may be no. So, we have to find a way to work (K.J.) in. I do think there are a couple of substitutions that we do have that are situational type subs. This is one thing that I really believe – and it is probably why Mitch (Lightfoot) and David (McCormack) haven’t played as much – when we are struggling to score, we need to play through Dedric (Lawson), and that is pretty apparent to everybody. But he needs space. And if we have another big guy in the game then there is no space. K.J. can kind of stretch the floor and allow Dedric to be inside and play one-on-one.”
On if Marcus Garrett’s status has improved:
“I think so. Marcus practiced the day before yesterday and had no problems, so we think he is.”
On if he feels like they are playing at the fastest pace and the metrics of the NET rankings: 
“No. No, not at all. I can’t imagine that we are playing faster than when we had Josh (Jackson), Frank (Mason III) and Devonte’ (Graham). And some of those analytics and things, it is so bogus. There is such a small sample sizes at this time. A guy from CBS told me after the Marquette game that we are fourth in the nation in defensive efficiency. Do you believe that? So sometimes the numbers don’t tell the truth. They said we are second on offense and fourth on defense and I have a hard time buying that based on numbers. I do think we want to play fast, but I personally don’t think that we are getting many lay-ups. Teams that play fast get more layups and I don’t feel like we are getting that many. The one thing I will say – and I do believe this when you have a small sample size – they are all skewed because you don’t play the same people. It is like the NET if I am not mistaken. A NET caps it at 10 points but it also takes into consideration your OER (Offensive Efficiency) and DER (Defensive Efficiency). Well if it caps it at 10 points but you beat someone by 50, then it still skews it because your OER and DER are based on your point differential in your wins. So you have part of it that says if you win by 10 that maxes it out. But when they look at the OER and DER it takes into account the scores. So, you can’t cap that at 10. You could beat somebody 100 to 30 and lose the next game 50 to 40 and you are going to rate out really high because your OER could be 1.4 for one game and 0.9 for the next which balances out to be 1.15. Whereas if you just win each game by a little bit because you’re playing good opponents then your OER won’t be near as high and your DER won’t be as low. So I think you have to have a bigger sample size to really understand and grasp that. I was a little bit shocked when I saw the NET come out and we were 11th. Not that there is anything wrong with being 11th, we have been 50th at this time of year before and it isn’t a big deal at all. But the reasons we were 11 were probably based on our offensive efficiency and our defensive efficiency whereas in the past the RPI wouldn’t take that into account at all. So, over 35 games or so that should balance out.”
On if the NET rankings reward a team for beating a worse team by a lot versus playing a good team close:
“See you just contradicted what it is supposed to do. The appearance now is that it could be, but the reality is you base your quadrant wins on where people are rated within that. But people are going to be rated within that by the net as opposed to by the RPI. So, I think right now it is too early to tell but I do think it is a little skewed. You are supposed to be rewarded for playing good teams and beating them not for playing teams and winning by a large margin.”
On Quentin Grimes’ performance since the season-opener:
“He hasn’t put up numbers like he did in the first game. He needs to be more aggressive. And even in the first game, he made shots. I’m not sure he got to the paint and did some things that he is really good at. He is really good at using his vision and making passes to finish plays. He hasn’t been consistent doing that because he hasn’t forced help as much and it is hard to make a great place when you don’t force the help. He is going to be fine. He is still further along than some of the really good freshman that we have had. But a lot of the good freshman that we have had haven’t been forced to play so many minutes. We are in a situation where he needs to play, and I want him to become more aggressive, but I also know that it is a process.”
On how Silvio De Sousa is handling the NCAA review process for the second year in a row:
“Well, that is not true because he had to wait last year but that was no fault of anybody. He got here at a certain time, and he had to get cleared and it took like four games for him to get cleared. And it could seem like that is frustrating, but he wasn’t ready to help us a week after he got here anyway so that wasn’t as a big a deal. This is a big deal. But his attitude has been terrific. He has stayed positive and he is working his tail off and he is doing it playing on the second unit because you can’t give him all the reps on the first unit because we don’t know what is going to happen. He has been engaged.”
On if there is any new news on De Sousa’s status:
“No, I don’t. I don’t have anything new to report on that at all.”



@KUHoops The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.