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NCAA Sweet 16 Press Conference Transcript: Kansas (March 26, 2009)

Thursday, March 26, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:12 PM, under , ,

Athens, GA (Mar 26, 2009) -The Sweet 16 Teams are getting ready for their games over the next two days. Part of that preparation is sitting down with the media. Here is the transcript of the University of Kansas press conference, as provided by the NCAA.

BILL BENNER: We're joined by Coach Bill Self, University of Kansas.
We'll take questions for Coach Self.

Q. I wanted to ask you a little bit about the game in '86 when you
were a grad assistant, the last time you played Michigan State. What
do you remember about that game? It's always called the clock game,
things of that nature. Have you talked to Tom Izzo ever about that?

COACH SELF: No, I don't think so. I think in that particular evening
or afternoon, I was probably sitting about 20 rows up, worrying about
the concession stand or whatever. I didn't have many responsibilities
back then.

But I do remember the clock 'malfunction' whatever it was. I
remember Coach Heathcote not being very pleased during that stretch.

But the thing about Michigan State that I most remember is they had
a guy, Skiles, that was Scott was unbelievable, hard to guard. We were
very fortunate to win that game. They were really good.

Q. Can you talk about Cole, usually true 7 footers are, in his case,
he hasn't measured himself in a couple years, true 6 foot 11s take a
while to develop. Are you surprised with his development? Can you
compare him to other seven footers?

COACH SELF: I can't compare him to anybody I've coached. I had a guy
at Illinois that Michigan State fans will remember, not an
unbelievable college player, Robert Archibald, that really progressed.
Being a double figure scorer for us, really had a great junior and
senior year.

But I haven't had anybody like Cole that's come this far this fast.
The thing about Cole is, he's not even strong yet. He still needs a
ton of lower body leg strength. He's just developing. His offensive
repertoire, his game. He hasn't come close to reaching his ceiling.
It's exciting. I've only been around one other true big guy, true big
guy, that could impact the college game like him, and that was Big
Country at Oklahoma State. Certainly he was a fabulous college player.

But Cole has a chance to be the best big guy I've ever been around
that it is a true center.

Q. Can you talk about the level of play fans will see over this
weekend, eight championships, 30 something Final Fours among all the
four teams.

COACH SELF: Yeah, I hadn't thought about it like that. But when you
talk about the four teams that are here, the history and tradition of
all of them, it's pretty remarkable.

I think the level of play will continually get better and better in
all the regionals. Guys, players, just have a knack for raising their
level of play the more it matters. Of course, we're at the stage now
where it matters as much as it possibly could, except for next

I know with our team last year, our team probably performed as well
in the Final Four and in the regional. We didn't play great against
Davidson, but even the regional against Villanova, we played at a
level consistently we haven't played all year long. I hope that's the
thing with one team, the team that has Kansas on their chests.

Q. Last year's team was so balanced, you never knew who was going to
step up. This one seems to be pretty top heavy. Which style fits you
better? Is this a team that's more dangerous?

COACH SELF: You know, last year, knock on us, if we had a knock, was
we didn't have a true go to guy. This year we need more go to guys
because we show Sherron or Cole is going to take the majority of shots
for us.

I would say you're hard to guard if you have to really equally
concentrate on all five spots. I've always thought that. I think
balance is good. And when we're playing our best ball, we are pretty
balanced. Sherron doesn't have to score 20, or Cole scored 20 when
we're playing our best ball. In Minneapolis we leaned on those guys
pretty heavily because we didn't have great balance. It's going to be
very important for any success that we have here in Indianapolis that
we get production out of our other guys so that we do become harder to

Q. Last week USC was fairly effective on keeping some Michigan State
guys in check. Then a guy like Travis Walton comes up and burns them.
What do you tell your kids about who to stop or what to watch with
Michigan State?

COACH SELF: Well, I think going back to the previous question, I
think they're a team that has balance. Lucas obviously led them in
scoring this year. But how do you not worry about Suton or Morgan or
Walton or whoever? I mean, they got guys they can put out there that
can get production. Even if guys don't get 18, they've got several
guys that can get 8 to 12 in a game. And that's how you separate
yourself from your opponent, with that kind of balance, a lot like we
had last year.

I've never been one to say, against a team like Michigan State,
okay, we got to stop him, we got to stop him. I've been one, This is
how we guard their team. We'll have a strategy on how we're going to
guard their team. But none of it's gonna be, we're going to let guys
shoot. We don't play like that. And you certainly can't play like that
with them. If you give guys open looks, they're going to make you pay,
as Walton did last week. That shouldn't come to a surprise to people
who follow Michigan State because he's always been a great midrange
shooter. Some games they need that and some games they don't.

Q. You played in January. How has your team progressed and developed
since then? When you look at film of Michigan State, how might they be

COACH SELF: Well, I think speaking of Michigan State, I can't speak
for their team because I don't know their team in and out, but it's
hard to play your best when continuity does not exist. We played them
the first time, if I remember right, they were a pretty healthy
ballclub. Suton had come back, gotten into rhythm, Raymar had not
gotten sick yet. So now they're getting to that point where they're
healthy again, all those things.

I'll say that from a chemistry standpoint, continuity, we're going
to play a similar type team we played in January. Back when we played
them in January, we weren't quite whole yet. Mario Little was just
getting back in the fray, it was his first or second game back. We
were just kind of growing into our roles and things like that.

So I think you're gonna see two relatively healthy ball clubs that
are probably playing the best ball they played. I hope we're playing
the best ball we played all year this weekend 'cause it will certainly
take that. I would think that Michigan State, based on how they played
against SC, they were really good against a good SC team. I say
they're playing well right now in large part because they got all
their pieces back together.

Q. At Illinois and Kansas, you're 16 4 in games that you play
against a team you lost to earlier in the year. Talk about what the
dynamics are of playing a team a second time in a year, especially if
they've beaten you.

COACH SELF: Never thought about that. Usually, at least in our
situation, if you lost to a team that you're gonna play twice that
year, it's usually happened because you played in their building and
the return game is in your building, so you should have an advantage.

But I don't know. There's not gonna be anything that we do with
Michigan State that's going to, Well, they came up with something out
of the blue. I mean, that's not who we are. We're not going to change
how we play, just like Michigan State I don't think will in a three
day practice week. We're not going to change how we play. We'll
approach things the same way. We may do ball screenings differently,
guard the post a little bit definitely, but it will all be within the
scheme of what we're trying to do. I'm sure Tom will do the exact same

What we need to do is execute better and certainly we got to rebound
the basketball. That was something that they whipped us pretty good on
the first time.

Q. The last couple weeks you've said a lot that one of Sherron's
best qualities is whenever you challenge him or tell him he can't do
something, that's when he does it. Is there an example that
illustrates that best in your mind?

COACH SELF: I think the best illustration I have is last year when
we were playing Memphis. The day before we played Memphis. I asked
Sherron, who can guard him. Who can guard Rose. He said, I can. I
said, No, you're too little. He'll post you. He said, No, I can guard
him. I said, We're going to have to probably put somebody a little
bigger, stronger, tougher on him. He said, Watch, just put me on him.
That's kind of how he operates.

He actually defended him pretty well. Didn't shut him out, but
certainly for 30 minutes he defended him very, very well.

Q. With so much turnover that you had, do you view it that you are
defending a National Championship?

COACH SELF: No, huh uh. I would say I haven't really thought of it
that way, but I've been asked that a lot in the last two weeks. So I
guess maybe there's a part of me that thinks that. But I have never
thought that we were trying to defend anything this entire year. And
in large part because I think when you say 'defend' I think you're
talking about protecting or you're on the defensive as opposed to
taking. And our mindset is, you got to go be aggressive, you've got to
take what you think is yours.

Really Sherron, Cole played a role in a couple games, but Sherron is
really the only one you could say that about, that would be trying to
do that. So this has been a whole fresh outlook and a new thought
process that we hadn't even thought about that. Maybe we should. Maybe
I should use that as part of my pregame talk. But certainly that
hasn't been anything that's come up with our guys.

Q. You mentioned rebounding a little bit. Michigan State leads the
nation in rebounding margin with just over 10. What makes them so good at getting to the glass and how do you avoid it? Is it as as I
remember as boxing out?

COACH SELF: No, no. The boxing out is, I think, if you're gonna
value what is important in rebounding, boxing out is definitely, you
know, a 25 to 50% part of it. The other part is having guys that are
relentless on the glass, want to, not allowing yourself to get blocked
out and hitting somebody, going after every ball with two hands.

Tom over time has done the best job in America of coaching
rebounding, and their stats back it up. They are relentless on the
glass. We're plus seven for the year, something like that. But I
still, with them, you can't let balls come to you, you have to go
attack the ball. You got to hit and go get as opposed to hit and wait.
And they're very, very good in not allowing themselves to be blocked
off, keeping balls alive.

A lot of rebounding is fundamental. Most of it's want to, though.

Q. Coach Pitino, because of the allegations with UConn, was asked
what needs to be done with this day of texting. He said the NCAA is
too understaffed. It's up to you the coaches and the schools to do a
better job of patrolling.

COACH SELF: I don't know everything that's going on with that
situation. I do think what he's saying is true. With the way things
have happened late with some rule changes since these supposed
allegations have come out, you've eliminated texting, you've
eliminated some things you couldn't do.

But I think the NCAA is trying to get their arms around it. There
are a lot of things going on in college basketball recruiting that
isn't necessarily university related. I mean, there's guys trying to
get their hands on kids when they're in ninth and 10th grade.
Sometimes they've known these kids far longer than universities have
when it comes to recruiting them. It's going to be something that is
going to be very difficult to get your arms around.

I'm not sure it's 100% correctible. I think the thing that, like
Rick said, at least based on what you said, I think coaches have to do
a good job of policing each other. I'm not saying ratting each other
out, but there's got to be some understandings that this is how we do
things, even if it's not by the letter of the law. There's rules and
there's also gray area issues. A lot of times we do ourself a
disservice by not breaking rules, but give the appearance that there's
things going on.

I would bet that when this thing came out or whatever, there's
numerous times that it looks bad, but you when you really get down to
it, there's some things that happen where individuals made poor
choices, not at the university's direction. That's hard to monitor,
and it is in every sport.

Q. You're close to Billy Gillespie. A lot of rumors flying around
about his job security. What does it say about the profession when
after two years somebody can be on the hot seat like that?

COACH SELF: You know, I don't think it's fair. Nobody cares what I
think. You know, you've had a lot of coaches out there in time, over
time, that struggled in their first few years on a job. One of 'em
lives and resides in Durham, North Carolina. You know, 10 Final Fours
later and three national championships later they're probably glad
they didn't move on that. I think Billy is the same way. Billy, given
time, he'll have Kentucky competing for championships again.

But obviously in today's time, patience is not one of our society's
virtues. It's win and win now. It's a quick fix on everything. Players
want it when they go to schools. I want to play immediately. Fans want
it. We want to give to schools, win immediately. Sometimes I think you
got to step back and think big picture, what would be best over time.
There's no doubt in my mind they got the right guy at the helm. But
he's going to need a little bit of time.

BILL BENNER: Thank you, coach. We're joined by the Kansas student
athletes. We'll open it up for questions.

Q. How are you different as a team since the trip to East Lansing?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I think we're more mature as a team. When we played
Michigan State earlier this year, it was our second away game for the
season. I think we were like 11, 10 games in, still young, still going
through some things, growing pains like a young team doe
Bolds. I feel like we're March mature. Been through a bunch of battles since then. I feel
we're going to handle the situation a little bit better than last
time. Their pressure routed us. I think we're better.

BRADY MORNINGSTAR: I think we've grown as a team. Conference play
puts a lot of experience in us. You just learn how to play on the road
against tougher teams. I think it's helped us to come to this point.

Q. After being out there, the vastness of the arena, the size out
there, does it affect your shooting at all?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I think we'll be able to adjust fine. It's different
playing in this big arena. Higher level, all the different seats. It's
a basketball court. Got two rims. Same length as any other basketball
court. We'll be able to adjust fine.

BRADY MORNINGSTAR: I feel like playing in Detroit last year, at
least being on the bench, it's the same type of setup as it was. I've
seen it before. But I haven't played on it. I feel if you're a
shooter, just like he said, it's two rims, you just got to put the
ball in the hole, go out there and play.

Q. Tyshawn, what kind of challenges do you face given that Michigan
State is so deep? Who will you be aware of most?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I mean, I don't know. That's a tough question. Like
you said, they a deep team. They got great players, a great coach. I
mean, we just gonna have to I don't think we should I don't think we
can worry about like what they got. We just got to worry about what we
got to do. I think if we execute like we're supposed to execute, we'll
be fine.

Q. Tyshawn, elaborating more on the topic of Michigan State having
five scorers on the court at one time. Coach Izzo said if he was going
to try to box and one, triangle two this team, he wouldn't know who to
box. USC tried to do it and didn't have much success because Walton
came out of nowhere. Does that worry you? How do you address that?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: Coach Izzo, I mean, he knows what he's talking
about. If he don't know who we box and one on the team and triangle
and two, Coach Self probably won't. No, I'm just playing.

We practice the box and one, we practice the triangle and two. Like
I said, I think if we execute and handle the situation like we got to
do it, I think we'll be fine. They do have great players. They have
players that can step up like Walton, against USC. Kalin Lucas is a
great player, good scorer. They got guys that can score. I mean, it's
gonna be tough. I don't think nobody think it's going to be easy. It's
definitely going to be tough. If we do what we got to do, we should be

Q. You answered what's different about your team this time. What do
you see that's different maybe from film about Michigan State since
that last meeting?

TYSHAWN TAYLOR: I mean, we watch film, but the tape was kind of the
same. Only thing different we watched was the USC game.

I think what's different between them and now is I think Walton
stepped up, he played good. I mean, he's an older guy. He's a senior.
So, I mean, I think it was only a matter of time before he did. They
got guys that's been playing. What was the one kid that been sick?


TYSHAWN TAYLOR: He hasn't been playing. He's getting healthy now. I
mean, they're a good team. They got guys that can score. They got a
bunch of guys that can score 20 points any day. So we got to be aware
of that.

BRADY MORNINGSTAR: Just going off of what he said. Yeah, I mean,
Walton stepped up. He's one of the better 18 foot jump shooters in the
country, as shown against SC. He's knocking down shots, which is huge.
We just got to come out there and play ball and hopefully we're

BILL BENNER: Thank you, gentlemen.

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