Press Conference Wrap-Up: Coach Self

Kansas head coach Bill Self met with the media Friday afternoon, to preview Saturday's highly-touted match-up with the Texas Longhorns. Phog.net was on hand as he discussed the difficulty of guarding Jordan Hamilton, attaining the perfect combination of focus and energy level and the gauntlet that is the Big 12.

* Coach Self hasn't really thought about it, but there probably isn't a tougher match-up in the Big 12 for Kansas than Texas, mostly because KU is pretty undersized.

* What stands out about them is that they guard. They're really good defensively and "the pieces fit."

* Self liked their guards last year, but he didn't think they had a glue guy. He thinks Cory Joseph is that guy this year, allowing all the other players in the backcourt to be themselves. He is there because he can stretch it with his shooting, he can play the point. He's big and strong enough to do a lot of things.

* Last year KU played great the first half, but Texas defended them really well. This year they're quite a bit better defensively than they were last year. You've got to figure out how to attack them, because they'll be tougher to attack than anyone they play.

* Rick Barnes is a really good coach. What it tells you when you can get freshmen to guard like they have is that everyone has bought in.

* Travis Releford is probably at about 70-percent health. He'll be available to play absolutely.

* Self doesn't think the team will be too amped up because of the hype around the match-up. They'll be excited to play, but the Baylor game was a perfect example of what happens when energy and concentration mesh perfectly. They need to hit that point again.

* That magic mark happens maybe 30-percent of the time – as much as 50-percent – at the start of the game. Self hasn't really thought about it. For this team, it's been more about focus than energy.

* The first half against Baylor was one of the best halves of basketball his teams have played. That was the best they've played offensively in a really, really long time.

* Team doesn't think about home court winning streak. They know it's there in the back of their mind, and it's a source of pride, but they're not hoping to beat Texas so they can maintain the winning streak. They just want to win the game, and that's all they ever talk about.

* The road to the Big 12 title through the Big 12 North is really tough this year. Self thinks anyone in the league can beat anyone else on a given night. He doesn't buy that the South is typically tougher than the North, he just thinks leagues are cyclical. Both divisions have had three teams make the Elite Eight in recent years.

* Nebraska guarded Kansas as hard as anyone has guarded them, and they did it man to man, which is how Texas wants to play. Self definitely thinks that type of game will help them, even though they didn't play well in it. They have to defend, rebound and not give up extra possessions, because that's how games like this are typically won.

* Self was a little surprised at how well the team responded against the zone versus Baylor. He said the team hasn't realized that when you get a good shot every possession, you have a better chance to score.

* Jordan Hamilton can get a shot whenever he wants to. You can do a really good job defending him, and he'll still find a way to score. He's a tough matchup because you've got a 6-foot-2 guy guarding him, at least the way KU starts out.

* Texas' new $300 million television deal should get the rest of the conference to be proactive about getting more money for itself. Self thinks there's a window right now. There's money out there to be had, and instead of whining about Texas doing its job, everyone should be doing what they can to help the respective member schools get their share.


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