Self talks NIT Season Tip-Off at weekly press conference

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Prior to his team’s trip to the northeast this week, Kansas head coach Bill Self previewed his team’s upcoming contests in the NIT Season Tip-Off during his weekly press conference Monday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. Self opened with his thoughts on Kansas football’s new head coach, Les Miles, before discussing the Jayhawks’ match-up with the Marquette Golden Eagles Wednesday.
A video of the press conference is available on ESPN+ and a full transcript is below.
On talking to new head coach Les Miles:
“I met him and his family yesterday. I’m excited. I think that everyone that supports us should be excited. It’s kind of a very happy thing, but also bitter for a guy and a staff that I have come to know well over the last four years. Hard decisions have to be made in this profession. Certainly, it’s not a good choice, it’s a homerun hire.”
On what feels different about this hire compared to others:
“I don’t know what feels different. Maybe with Charlie, there was maybe a credibility from a name standpoint, but it’s hard. I’ve been a first-time head coach or coming from Oral Roberts to Tulsa, like Turner came from Buffalo to here if I’m not mistaken. With David it was his first opportunity, even though Charlie had been in the business along time, he hadn’t been a head coach for very long. Les’ credentials are off the chart. This guy was competing against Alabama each year for the right to play for a SEC championship and have a right to go to the CFP. I think that is terrific. He’s brought home the gold before. There’s not many guys out there that get to play for a national championship winning coach. I don’t know how many there are in football, but there can’t be more than 10 or 12 I wouldn’t think at the most, maybe not even that many. I think that it is a great hire and it will definitely energize our university and our fan base.”
On Vick continuing to provide presence on the court:
“If you look at him from the last game to the last two, his energy level is different. It’s a scientific fact that when you make shots it definitely pumps energy into you. That’s been studied everywhere and been proven, but the reality is that he is playing with more energy defensively. He’s got more juice. He’s talking more. He’s showing more emotion and having fun. Granted, it’s always more fun when things are going well. That’s contagious, so I’m thinking that he can raise the other guy’s level. Nobody expects him to go 15 out of 20 from three with every 20 shots he takes. He’s certainly improved a ton with his ability to knock down shots and play. I don’t know if he could have gotten off to a better start for us. The last two games we have played, we’ve played high level mid-major teams, that without him would have taken us right to the limits. He just has to keep worrying about intangibles and the right things and your play will obviously go up.”
On what he has seen from his team that will translate will into NIT:
“There’s not a lot of things that I love right now. I think defensively we are not very good. We are last in the Big 12 in most every defensive category, whether it be field goal percentage or three point field goal percentage. Rebound margin we are not and some other things that are important, but when you look at those two things, I think opponents are shooting 39 percent from three and 43 or 42.6 percent overall. These are numbers we have never put up. I think that I can help them more because I think we are in a little bit of a confused state on how we want to guard defensively. In theory, this looks really good, but does the personnel fit that theory. Maybe it doesn’t fit quite as good as we thought it would this season. We are going to need to make some adjustments on that, but also the commitment has to come from the players as well. I think how we guard ball screens has got to improve. Even though in theory this is what I would like to do, but the reality of it is it’s hard to do some of the things that I thought would be much easier. We’ll adjust on that. Then offensively, we’re not going to be a great offensive team until Quentin and Dedric get aggressive. They don’t need to play at the highest level all the time. We have a legitimate knock down shooter and a legitimate big guy to throw it to, but those two guys are the keys as far as stretching the defensive and making plays for others. I’m really looking forward to them to continue to get more aggressive.”
On the defense being bad luck or small samples of what’s to come:
“Whenever you’ve only played three games, it’s always small sample size. I’ve said this all along, forget about non-conference stats. When you think within your league, what your non-conference stats are is totally irrelevant because not everyone places the same people. The relevance will start taking place three or four games into your conference season and then you can start to tell if there’s a sample size of who you are. We’ve always been better in conference within the conference ratings rather than outside of it because we always play such a tough non-conference schedule. I think that attention to detail and activity, more active hands and deflections. More things that are created by guys are playing with activity would help us a lot.”
On teaching aggressiveness:
“I think that it can be improved. They say can a guy become a leader if he hadn’t been that leader the whole time. I think that you can be taught to do some things. I really believe that’s the coach’s job to try to instill some things to get them better at that. Now, Josh Jackson was no issue with things like that. If you go back and look, I don’t think that Devonte had the same aggressiveness as a young kid than he did at the end of his career and Svi for that matter. Even Malik to start a season and by the end of the season. I know that it can all be improved, but those two for this year’s team it’s evident that we will be looking at those guys to be making plays. When I say make plays, I’m not talking about shooting the ball, but to make plays for themselves or others and not be so content about being out there. They have to impact the possessions on both ends. We know they can because we’ve seen it, but it’s been small sample sizes. We’re going to know a lot more about our team after this week. Michigan State was too early to play even though we did pretty well. The last two games were probably not a true indication even though we won. That was exactly what we needed was to grind a little bit. Playing Marquette and then either Louisville or Tennessee in a three-day window, that will tell us a lot more about who we are.”
On coach Wojciechowski coaching style:
“You mean, does he run up and down the sideline and slap the floor in a stance? I would say that he probably does not. I know Steve, but I don’t know him well. We’ve all seen him play while he was at Duke, he was certainly a guy who got the most out of what he had and was a great leader for them. As far as his mindset and philosophy, they’re much improved defensively, but they are ultra-aggressive and shoot that ball offensively. I’d say there’s some similarities with that and how Duke played.” 
On Marquette’s players:
“Markus Howard is probably as good of a scorer as there is in the country. He puts up numbers. I don’t know exactly what he’s averaging right now. He’s going to average more than 20 on the year. He’s a prolific scorer. The Hauser brothers are both tall, combo forwards that can pick and pop or catch and drive it. Really good players and they’ve got a team of really good players. They’re got a guy capable of getting 35 or 40 any night. He makes guarded shots and sometimes all you can do it defend him and get a hand up. He makes a lot of bad shots to be honest with you he’s that talented. They’ve got good personnel. They can always put four around a guy and really shoot it. They can put five guys out there and really stretch it. They’re a really good time. There’s a reason they’re pre-season top 25 for sure.”
On which of his guys takes on his personality the most:
“I don’t know, I don’t know that there are that many sweet and innocent guys out there. I would say Marcus Garrett, maybe. But I don’t know, I will say one thing about Marcus, I asked our guys yesterday when we were watching tape, I told them all of the background on Les and all of that stuff. Marcus follows sports more than anybody else on our team, he has a better feel for it than anybody, and I said ‘what do you think Garrett’, and he goes, ‘love it, we all should love it’, so that right there is about as good of an endorsement as a guy could get when Marcus says that. But I would say Marcus probably more so than anybody.”
On Friday’s potential match-up vs. Louisville and Tennessee:
“I can tell you this, obviously (Louisville head coach) Chris (Mack) is new and they just played Vermont and beat Vermont and (KU assistant coach) Norm (Roberts) saw the Vermont staff recruiting this past weekend and they were so impressed with how hard they played and everything, I haven’t studied them yet. I have watched Tennessee a little bit just because they played Louisiana right before we played them, but either one of those teams are capable. And Tennessee is a team that legitimately has a shot to win the National Championship, we are going to be playing a top three to five team in the country. If we get an opportunity to play Tennessee and if we don’t we are going to play a team that we will probably play as hard as anybody that we have played all year long and Louisville is always going to have guys.”
On Dedric Lawson’s confidence after this last week:
“The shots he made the other day he saw a couple go down that were face up, 12 footers, or whatever, but for the most part they were moneys that he made. And he missed some moneys that he had so I don’t think that even he would say that he saw the ball really go through the hole. It is hard to get a lot of confidence by making a shot when you are sitting down and he obviously did that. But I am not worried about Dedric in scoring or anything like that I just want him to be more aggressive and play probably a little bit more to his athletic ability. I don’t think he has really played to the point where he put himself in great positions to score because he hadn’t used his body to shield defenders and things like that and I think that is all a form of aggressiveness.”
On this year’s NIT field:
“Well it is a great field. You look at this field and I would think that you also have three of the four teams, well two teams that were ranked in the pre-season top-five of six and another in the top 25. A coach is generating a ton of excitement at his respective school I would think that this would be one of the best field that any of the early-season tournaments have and three of the teams winning national championships speaks to history more so than it does the present. But, the present is still very good.”
If he has ever met former Marquette coach Al McGuire:
“I have met All McGuire. He did our game when I was at Oklahoma State and I was an assistant. We had big Country, we were in the media room and he is staring at me and I was wondering why he was. He walked up to me and looked me dead square in the eye and he just put his hands on my shoulders, and I was thinking, ‘this is Al McGire, wow,’ and just stared at me for 10 seconds. And the camera man behind me that I couldn’t see said ‘got it!’ and he just turned around and walked off. So he didn’t speak to me, but he was a legend obviously and quite a character.”



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