Press Conference Wrap-Up

The media gathered at Allen Fieldhouse on Monday afternoon for Kansas head coach Bill Self's weekly press conference. Phog.net was on hand as the head honcho of the Jayhawks touched on topics such as newly-minted Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Morris, the health of his team and the upcoming Big 12 tournament.

* Marcus deserves Big 12 POY. You can make cases for a couple of other players, but his consistency put him in a position where he certainly deserves the award. He's proud of him, and though he doesn't make a big deal about individual awards Self will make a big deal about it today. Marcus knows his teammates put him in a good position.

* Last season was when he knew Marcus could become this kind of player. He may not have been the leading scorer or the best performer, you knew what you were getting with him night in and night out.

* Any time you can play you might as well play to win. Self doesn't get why the conference tourneys wouldn't be important. Coaches are good about spinning wins and losses however they need to spin it to try and make the most out of a situation. But KU is playing in KC, against rivals who would like nothing more than to beat them to enhance their own situation. Their goal is to win the tournament, and going into the NCAA tournament they want to get a little bit better.

* These last two games have helped prepare them for the tournament. They didn't play well in either game, but these are the games you play in the NCAA tourney. Those were Big 10 type games, and he likes those kind of games. He likes making shots, but that's fool's gold sometimes and in those two games they did things other than make shots that allowed them to win.

* Team definitely wants another shot at Kansas State and Texas. The flip side is that Nebraska and Oklahoma State would like another shot at Kansas, too.

* Elijah has been really good, particularly defensively. He's become the team's best on ball defender in the past couple of weeks. Self is really proud of him, and EJ is building confidence. The PG position as a whole was pretty good against Missouri, turning it over only one time.

* Self doesn't know if EJ's emergence is the cause of the team playing better defense as a whole. He's a big reason why, but he doesn't know if it's the sole reason. Other guys are defending better, too.

* Of course you'd like to see Josh build confidence in the next couple of games heading into the NCAAs. But this is a hard time of year to let guys play through mistakes. The whole team works hard to get here, and one or two possessions can mean the difference between a win or a loss. Josh has practiced well, and Self is just looking at it as he needs to continue to grind and have a good attitude. He could still be a guy this year that is the Sasha Kaun of the Elite 8 game, or the Cole Aldrich of the Final Four game. He's still potentially that guy, he's just gotta have more confidence.

* Josh wears a brace, an orthotic on his foot, that wraps all the way around it. Totally uncomfortable. Can't cut, can't move. With that being said, other people play with it. You've just gotta adjust. But he's not moving at 100-percent right now. The injury has frustrated him.

* Self doesn't think Josh has struggled to fit in. He doesn't think the offense takes away from his abilities. But the more you play not to screw up, the more you screw up. He's gotta let it go, because he's still capable of playing great down the stretch.

* Josh practices full time. Tyrel just practices the day before games. He'll need surgery as soon as the season is over on his foot. He may shoot two days before a game, but they won't allow him to do more than that. His injury is a minor deal, but it's enough to bug you.

* Josh's toughness can't be questioned. He's playing through this. The staff knows he's not comfortable.

* The injuries are a concern when facing the possibility of playing three games in three days in the Big 12 tourney for Tyrel. Not for Josh. But the team has played a lot of Saturday-Monday games, and Tyrel has had the same thing.

* No preference as to whether he'd rather play Oklahoma State or Nebraska. Self has never really been in the habit of hoping for something, because usually what you hope for and think is the best thing really isn't.

* KU will work on themselves in practice. They might work on a little bit of each NU and OSU tomorrow. Nothing fancy, just meat and potatoes - how they guard the post, how they guard the ball screen. Wednesday by the time they finish practice they won't know the winner. So that night they'll focus in on whoever wins the game. They'll have a coach scouting that match-up.

* His favorite part of the Big 12 tournament is that they'll have their "fair majority" of fans in attendance, so that's pretty good. But he loves that this is a big deal to Kansas City. If last year's event is any indication, they'll have unbelievable crowds, and as long as KU, KSU or MU is playing, it's going to be packed.

* He did not know Pat Knight was fired this morning. He feels that administrators have to have reasons for what they do, but as to why they couldn't have waited a couple of days to let Pat and the staff know – he has no idea. He likes Pat a lot, and he likes his staff a lot. They're good people.

* Self heard they're 62-5 over the last two years, and they haven't celebrated that success yet. This year was a really big deal with the way they won it. One thing where he's done a very poor job with his team is his insistence on thinking about the next game. They take that to heart, and that's good in an NBA season, but in a college season you've gotta enjoy a championship. They need to enjoy their success more moving forward. These guys just think "That's what we're supposed to do." They did their job, but they need to hear about how well they've done from him more.

* You've gotta be able to blow off steam. In baseball, a pitcher throws a no-hitter and everyone mobs him. They've had none of that here at KU recently, despite the success. Self believes he has to do a better job of showing his guys how much he appreciates their efforts, because their effort has been unbelievable. They've been remarkable, and they've accomplished some things here he never thought they could. It's staggering how much these guys have won, and not to celebrate that is doing them a disservice.

* They didn't cut the nets down in Kansas City last year, because Self didn't let them. They had bigger fish to fry. He doesn't know if he regrets it, but it's a big deal to win your conference tournament. If they're fortunate enough to get in that position again, they may handle it differently. But that's the kind of thing he's talking about. They haven't cut down any nets in two years.

* They lost two lotto picks and their best player, and their No. 1 recruit was uncertain heading into the season. Records are a little overrated because the non-con doesn't mean much, but Self didn't think they'd ever go 14-2 in the conference season.

* The two titles that stand out are Mario, Julian and Brandon's freshman season - after they started the league 1-2 - and then in 2009. You lose seven players and five pros, and next thing you know you return two guys who even made a basket the year before. And you've got a couple of guys from Philly who you're not even sure can make it up and down the court a few times without passing out; a point guard from Newark who was the fourth-leading scorer on his high school team, and you say "Go win the league." Those guys responded. Those two stick out the most.

* Self doesn't follow the national coverage. But he has been told the streak of seven titles is the longest BCS streak since UCLA's epic run under John Wooden, which is pretty good. But that's an incredible accomplishment for these kids.

* He thinks the conference titles show they've been the model of consistency. They've been fortunate in some of the years, but it's been a pretty good run. He's really proud of the run, both at Kansas and going back to Illinois. He doesn't do a good enough job expressing to the players how proud his is of it and them, but they've done what they've done in good leagues.

* Self doesn't think he's unique in his view of the game. What coach wouldn't have the goal to win the league? The only coaches that wouldn't have that as a goal are the ones who say they can't win it. Everybody has the same goal going in. He doesn't think he puts more emphasis on it than anyone else. He knows it's not the most important part of the season, but you can't put your whole season on March. You're working toward that, but when you're working toward those things you have certain things you have to accomplish on the way. And you have to enjoy those accomplishments as you attain them.


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