Press Conference: Bill Self previews Texas Tech
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Bill Self met with members of the media inside the Allen Fieldhouse Media Room to preview this weekend’s matchup at Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m., ESPN).
Q. What do you think now about the Frank Mason III hustle play?
BILL SELF: (It was the) Best play that we’ve had here in a long time. You know, Jamari’s (Traylor) play last year in Austin was an unbelievable play. It ended up being a better play because we scored off of it. Of course, it would have saved Frank a lot of fatigue if he would have just deflected it out of bounds. But to see the dive and to see him pop back over the table and then run back in and not know who’s he’s guarding and find the open man and then go steal the pass and dribble down and dribble it off his leg out of bounds, you know, kind of negated the hustle. But if he’d have finished that play, that would go down as the best hustle play in college basketball this year.
Q. How much do you marvel not just at the hustle but knowing where to go, the rotation and just being in the right spot at the right time?
BILL SELF: I would say if he can count to nine — so when you run on the court, you can see where — there’s got to be some guy open. He deserves credit for that, but every point guard should be able to see that. I thought to have the presence of mind to get to the open guy was great, but that wasn’t what made the play.
What made the play, to me, was the between the legs, the two-head dive over the table. Somebody said they saw him fall that was close, and I think he fell and hurt himself a little bit. I know he definitely complained of all the soreness after that on his side. Then to get up and go make that play I thought was pretty incredible.
I never do this, but we called timeout and actually took a full (timeout) right there just so he could try to get his wind.
Q. About 75 percent of the games you’ve played this year have been decided by a single digit. Does it seem like everything is tighter this year for some reason?
BILL SELF: It is tighter. I think sometimes fans equate parity or closeness to not playing well, and that’s not been the case at all. I think any win is a good win regardless of where you play. Look at Baylor-Oklahoma State last night. That was another great game that came down to the last possession.
Our (Big 12 Conference) record is 9-2, and I think we’ve been behind at least eight points in five of our wins, and behind double figures at least in four of our wins.
I don’t think that in the past years when we’ve gone 14-4 or 15-3 or whatever, I don’t think that you would have said that. (It’s) Very competitive.
Q. Does overcoming the deficits tell you anything about your team’s resilience?
BILL SELF: Maybe a little bit, but first-half deficits aren’t the biggest thing in the world. It just makes your margin of error a little bit smaller, obviously, that you can’t let 10 become 18. But I think our guys have showed some toughness. Last time I said we were a pretty tough team, we gave up 18 threes (to Iowa State), so I’m not going to give them that much credit at all, other than the fact that I do think that they showed stretches where they’ve been pretty tough.
Q. Do you see any difference in Texas Tech, with (head coach Chris) Beard going through it for that first time and how they’ve progressed over the conference?
BILL SELF: From the tapes that I’ve seen, it looks like they’re still trying to do the same stuff. He’s tinkered with his lineup some and (they are) playing a little bit bigger. They were playing two small guards early on, and they still are some, but not as much.
But I think it’s pretty much the same team in what they’re trying to accomplish, run motion and give the defense a chance to break down.
Q. Twenty-four games into the season, I’m sure you’ve got a pretty good feel about where this team is at. How do they compare, how are they similar, how are they different, than some of your great teams in the past?
BILL SELF: Well, I actually think that we’re better on the perimeter than some of those great teams that we’ve had as far as guys being able to get their own shot and make plays. But you know, you go back and you think, well, Tyshawn (Taylor), Elijah (Johnson) and Travis (Releford). Sherron (Collins), Russell (Robinson), Mario (Chalmers) and Brandon (Rush). We’ve had some pretty good squads. I’d say the biggest difference is just style of play. We’re going to play four guards basically – it may fluctuate a little bit, but we’re going to play four guards 160 minutes — excuse me, five guards 160 minutes. We’ve never done that before.
And our inside depth, obviously, hasn’t been what it has been on some past teams.
So situations become more important this year as far as (committing) two fouls in the first 12 minutes can be a big thing, whereas in the past it was never that big a thing because we’ve always had guys that could come in and (we would) not take a step backwards, maybe a step sideways. I think those are the biggest things. But it’s nice to have the ball in those guys’ hands late (in the) game. I think that’s a big advantage.
Q. You’ve still got work to do, obviously, to win the league and win your games remaining, but do you start looking at what you want to fine tune and things like that over the next seven games to be ready for the postseason? Or is that an every game sort of thing?
BILL SELF: I think that’s more of an every game sort of thing. We don’t need to get ahead of ourselves at all, but one thing about our league that I’m sure you agree with, (is that) you get different styles. Baylor (is) more of a grind-it-out zone; K-State has their own style; West Virginia is a totally different style; Oklahoma State is a totally different style than that; Texas Tech is more conventional, but they play motion which is a totally different style than 90 percent of the teams in the country play. I don’t think you have to worry as much about thinking way ahead because I think the teams right in front of you probably prepare you as well as anything else.
Q. You talked about liking some of the things you did defensively, like at K-State. Did you see guys make some progress there on Monday?
BILL SELF: I thought we were a lot better Monday than we were Saturday. I thought our energy was a lot better. Our first-shot defense was really good. We didn’t rebound the ball as well as we’d like to, but I actually thought we competed hard defensively. Even though it may seem like a minor thing, our defense and our hands (created) some steals that led to four, six or eight points, which are points you don’t have to earn when you’re playing against a pretty solid defensive team, so that was pretty big for us.
Q. Do you think Carlton Bragg Jr., had fresh legs? What do you expect from him?
BILL SELF: I don’t know why he wouldn’t have had fresh legs. He’s been practicing with us, but he hasn’t been traveling and playing in the games. I thought Frank looked like he had fresh legs. I thought Devonte’ (Graham) did. Late in the game, when we got tired, of course you don’t have the same bounce and energy. But when a guy is only playing 15 minutes a game and he’s had a little bit of a break here of late, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have had fresh legs. I think he was pretty bouncy.
Q. Is his ankle okay?
BILL SELF: I think so, yeah. He practiced yesterday. We shot yesterday, and then the guys that hadn’t played a ton of minutes practiced. So hopefully we’ve got kind of a combination of having a workout in and keeping guys off their feet for the most part, as well.
Q. We just got to talk to Devonte’; what’s your evaluation of where he’s at right now?
BILL SELF: I think he’s played well. He probably hasn’t stood out in large part because Frank has probably had the ball more. But he’s been solid. He’s been rock solid. He’s shooting a pretty decent percentage beyond the arc. He’s had some great defensive moments for us, some not so great, but I think he’s certainly gaining on that. But he’s averaging 13 (points) a game and shooting a pretty good percentage and being solid and kind of being the Robin as opposed to Batman, which I think is pretty solid. I think he’s had a really good year, but probably not the year that you would maybe think (he’d have) after the way he finished last year because he was the best player in the Big 12 tournament and then he played well in the NCAA Tournament. So there may be the appearance that he may go to a whole other level. I think he has really improved. I just think that the way the ball is being distributed now, he probably hasn’t had as many chances.
Q. You guys win Big Monday so often, it kind of feels like it’s almost every week. Is there a bigger benefit to get the five days (off) in between?
BILL SELF: I was asked that question earlier. I, personally, am not crazy about Big Monday games because it is such a quick turnaround, and the prep time (is less). I think every coach would like to have another day to prep.
But the only way you can get two days off in a week is to play Saturday-Monday. In this situation, late in the season, it may be a blessing. If you win Monday, you can take off Tuesday and go ridiculously light or off Wednesday, and you still get your two prep days. Whereas if it’s any other time, you’re just going to get your one day off. There’s no way around it.
I think it’s good if you win. If you don’t win, I don’t think it’s very good. All the Big Monday games are the toughest games because that’s the way they set it up. And they should set it up that way, at least on paper. So I think we’ve got only one game left that’s not a Big Monday, finishing the season in the last three weeks, and that’s TCU. If I’m not mistaken, I believe OU and West Virginia are (Big Monday games), so we’re going to have to enjoy them, regardless.
Q. Without really getting into politics with you, but with the scheduling thing in California, does that change things for you guys scheduling wise? Do you worry about the future and some of the options you’ll have?
BILL SELF: I could be wrong on this because I’m not sure how that law is written — if it affects Stanford. It’s (affecting) public schools. But you look at it, if I’m not mistaken, isn’t UCLA public? Isn’t California public? Isn’t San Diego State public? There are a lot of things going on, if I’m not mistaken on that. Those are schools that we’d like to schedule, and of course we were going to schedule Cal, or at least planning to, in a home-and-home.
Yeah, I think it’s going to impact us. Larry (Keating) could probably answer that better than me since he handles our scheduling, but it’s certainly not a positive thing moving forward. I know the issues out there are far greater than men’s basketball scheduling. I don’t think any legislators are really thinking about that as far as reasons why they do or don’t (support the California laws), but certainly we’re going to be impacted somewhat. I just don’t know how much.
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