Press Conference Wrap-Up: Coach Self

Kansas head coach Bill Self met with the media Thursday afternoon to talk Elijah Johnson, the progress of Thomas Robinson, absorbing injuries and the Oklahoma Sooners.

* Elijah will start Saturday, absolutely. He's going to be starting in the backcourt with Tyrel and Brady.

* They've been able to dodge some bullets with having guys out and having some guys step up and play well. They wouldn't have been able to do that if Brady and Tyrel were two of the components that were gone. They've been steadying, calming influences - particularly in conference play. The Twins are fantastic right now as well, so they would definitely be missed if they were out.

* A lot of it with Brady and Tyrel is experience. Their personalities are such that they allow the other players to be the best they can be with no ego. That stuff doesn't even register with them. It makes no difference how many shots they take. Whatever is best for the team.

* They've got great players, but this year has surpassed record-wise what he thought it could be. He didn't anticipate this, losing two lottery picks and their best leader and still performing this way. The disappointing thing to him is that they lost a tough game to Texas, and that affected the league race more than anything. The loss at home is something that doesn't happen very often if you're going to give yourself the best chance to win the league race.

* Thomas is doing great. He's an amazing guy. He set him out the last 15 minutes of practice yesterday to shoot free throws. Thomas is mentally pretty close to 100-percent, but health-wise he's probably 90-percent. He's got a little ways to go before he has his old explosion all the way back. He'll play more minutes this weekend, and gradually increase them going forward.

* With Tyshawn not playing, Elijah knows he's gonna play, and Self thinks that helped EJ a lot - knowing he doesn't have to look over his shoulder. EJ is a bench watcher, more than Self would like. He played with more of a free mind Monday night. It helps when you make all your shots, but to Self, he thought EJ just focused in on what they wanted him to do, which was lock-down Keiton Page. And he did a fabulous job, with just two screwups in 30 minutes of play. He made shots because he wasn't worried about making shots. He was worried about guarding Page and being solid defensively, and if you worry about the right things good things happen in other areas.

* Regardless of what happens, KU has proven they can take some hits personnel-wise and keep moving forward. Individually, there are only four guys who have had great seasons - the Twins, Brady and Tyrel. Everyone else has been solid and good in spurts. Very rarely do you have a situation where everyone plays their best all the time. Guys like Mario, Travis, Elijah, Josh and Withey have stepped up when they needed them to step up.

* You need to be playing your best ball in February and March, which isn't anything new, but so much of that is health. You've gotta have your full complement of players. This year, they were pretty good in February with the exception of one ball game. He does think there's still another step they can take when they get all their players playing like he knows they're capable of playing. Right before Josh got hurt, he was showing signs of playing at a very high level. Getting Thomas healthy will change the team. When Tyshawn comes back, will he be a hungry guy wanting to help the team, or will he be a guy who wants to show everyone what they've been missing? If he's that, they won't get better. But there's still a coming together that still has a possibility to take place, that will make them a better team going forward.

* He doesn't think Tyshawn will play this weekend. He cares and knows he screwed up. He's handling the suspension fine.

* Seeing Oklahoma early in the season to where they are now, Jeff Capel has done a great job. He's done a great job and they're certainly a different team than they were when the season started. The record is not an indication of their quality. Their losses have been, for the most part, pretty close losses.

* When he was in college, Oklahoma was the team he hated the most. It's hard to grow up in a state where you go to a rival school and not feel that way. He grew up feeling the same way about the Sooners as people here feel about the Tigers or the Wildcats. He wasn't recruited by Oklahoma. He liked Billy Tubbs a lot, but he didn't think he fit his athletic pressing scheme.

* He loves Cade Davis. He creates some match-up problems and can really get on a roll and make shots. Fitzgerald has become a great back to the basket guy. They mix their defenses and don't give up easy baskets. He thinks they're good defensively.


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