Media Day: Bill Self

Coach Self speaks on change, starting spots, and his players.

Opening comment:

"First of all I have never seen as many people at a media day before so obviously you guys thought there was a free lunch involved. I appreciate everyone coming out. This is the largest turnout I have ever been a part of. I am a little overwhelmed and a bit shocked to be honest. We are very excited about the upcoming year. It seems like it has been a long time getting to this point. When I first got the job at Kansas I said that from late April until October 17th it's a pretty good job. You are undefeated and everybody likes you. Now it's time for us to go to work and prove our worth."

"We are excited and have a relatively healthy bunch. We have no major problems or issues right now. We have good players. Kansas math is unbelievable. You lose two lottery picks and a lot of people think you are supposed to get better. I really feel we have good enough players to play at the very highest level and to compete with everyone nationally. We are excited to be here. It's going to be an exciting year. I'll be glad when today is over because there is a lot going on and you have a lot of worries on your mind that don't have anything to do with winning or losing games, which is most important. I will be happy when we can devote all of our attention to that, from this point on, opposed to having things spread so many different ways."

On being the new coach:

"I am a big believer in the fact that my way is the only way. I don't think that Coach Williams way is the only way. There are a lot of great coaches out there that do it their way. I will say our profession is a lot about give and take. I am not the kind of guy who walks in and demands that things should be done this way and this way only. The bottom line of business is to get the job done. I will show guys exactly how we want to do things. We will demand certain things. If I want them to close with two hands up and they have been taught to close with one hand up -- we will change that. The big thing is just to do the job. Take away the initial pass to the post. That's how I look at it so we will teach them our way but I am not going to get hung up on anything if they do it right and their technique is different than the way I teach it. The bottom line is just to get the job done."

On comfort zone and change:

"We haven't really had a chance to work the guys that much. I am a big believer in things such as footwork and we will change things if they are not consistent with the way we teach it. Guys usually don't like change because it takes them out of their comfort zone but that doesn't last very long."

On biggest change so far:

"I am not sure I have made a huge change in the players minds. We all have philosophies and I think when you look at Coach Williams' philosophy and my philosophy -- it is probably very similar. We are going to try and get one or more shots on offense and give up one or less shots on defense. We will tweak things differently than the way they have done it but I haven't really noticed that I am treating them in a way that is a lot different than the way they have been treated in the past. We are going to be very demanding but I will tell you we are going to have a lot of fun along the way."

On historical perspective of Kansas basketball:

"When I say Kansas basketball is bigger than an individual I mean it historically and traditionally. Everyone that has coached here has etched their mark in some fashion that is historical. To me it's big shoes to live in but I don't feel like I am walking into someone else's shoes. I feel like I am walking into a situation bigger than what I am or any individual is."

On Late Night:

"I am a little nervous. I am anxious and the reason I am probably nervous is the guys are going to try and do everything they can to get me to dance. As a basketball coach I am not sure dancing should be your number one concern. I am excited about it and I think late night is one of the fabulous traditions that exists here. I didn't get into work until late this morning and they told me students had been camping out since 6 a.m. I went down and talked to them earlier and asked why they were camping out if we were kicking everyone out of the building at 5:30 p.m. The students told me when they get booted out they will still be at the front of the line. I just think that is great and tonight will be a lot of fun. The biggest thing about tonight is not about our players or coaches. I think it's about the 1988 team coming back and the sacrifices so many of those guys have made to get back here tonight. It's going to be a lot of fun and the fans will enjoy it. The most memorable thing about tonight will be those who have supported Kansas basketball over time."

On the relief of practice starting:

"It's amazing. I don't know if it's the many months we have been talking about it or the months we haven't been able to talk about it because we have so many other things going on. Anytime there is transition--you are behind. You are playing catch-up the whole time and it's to the point where we are caught up. Now it's time for us to do our job. I have done more speaking in the last six months than I may do ever again. I think it's important we hit the ground running and strike while the iron is hot. From this point forward I will be able to focus in. I know where I am going to be everyday and I know I'm not going to be out of town. I am going to be with our guys and there will be total focus on getting our guys better. I think our guys are relieved to get to that stage."

On Wayne Simien:

"I don't see treating Wayne different than we would if he had never been injured. I think most injuries occur the more you talk about injuries, the more you try and protect yourself and keep yourself from getting hurt. When you are worried about someone and put an emphasis on someone--the tendency is to always think about it. Wayne has done a great job physically and his shoulder is terrific. He has done a great job emotionally and mentally to get his mind right into thinking his body can go full speed. He's not quite there yet but he is close. When things are bothering him or anyone else, we will cut back and give him time off. Right now he feels very strong."

On young players contributing right away:

"I think they are going to have to help in order for us to be good. I don't think we are going into it thinking they have to average 15 points or 10 rebounds a game for us to be good. I do think, with our depth situation, David Padgett and JR Giddens will have to have big years for us. I think the table is set and there are definitely minutes to be fought for by Omar Wilkes and Jeremy Case. I would anticipate three of the four having an excellent chance to be in our eight or nine-man rotation."

On starting spots:

"Going into it I think Wayne Simian, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles have a pretty good chance. If those guys are healthy and they respond to what we are trying to do, then they will have a great chance to start. Jeff Graves is a guy who is a senior and has come back in great shape. He's coming off a great finish last year. There are some young guys who aren't just going to give anything away. I anticipate a very competitive slot to play inside and I also anticipate a competitive battle between Michael Lee, JR Giddens, Jeff Hawkins and Jeremy Case for the other inside spot."

On a backup point guard:

"Aaron is the one guy we can not afford to lose. We are certainly limited with our depth situation and I could tell you right now I have no idea who the backup could be. The way we play positions is interchangeable so we may have a time where we don't use a point guard."

On style of play:

"I think you will see a style that is not quite as fast. I am not sure Coach Williams and his staff could have played as fast this year. I think we could be a team that scores in the 80's. Last year Kansas averaged almost 83 points a game and I can't see we consistently, over time, be a team that scores in the same range."

On playing through the big guys:

"We play through our big guys in the way we play. If they can position themselves to make a lot of easy baskets they will have a chance to be successful. Usually strong bodies and good feet give you the best chance to do that. I think Jeff Graves will be great for what we want to accomplish."

On the first practice and first game:

"I will probably be thinking more about the first game than the first practice. I haven't had the chance to slow down and reflect on things like that. I'm really looking forward to this first practice and then I will look forward to the second practice. I am really looking forward to practicing more than I am playing the games because I know we have a long way to go before we are ready to play. There is nothing like playing games once we start playing them."

On coach Larry Brown and the 1988 team coming back:

"It means something to me because he gave me my first opportunity. I coached against all of those guys when I coached at Oklahoma State. It's not just coach Brown. R.C. Buford and I were in each others wedding and he is the general manager of the Spurs. Alvin Gentry has been the head coach of three NBA teams. Ed Manning has done so well and he is with the Grizzlies now. You have Mark Turgeon down the road at Wichita State and John Robic at Youngstown State. They really want to be here. In coach Brown's case, he has never had the opportunity to really thank the Kansas fans for everything they have done for him. This will be a great opportunity for him to do that as well."

On experience and getting back to the Final Four:

"The more you get the more you want. I think once you taste it you want more. I would say from a confidence standpoint, a toughness standpoint and from a what it takes to get there standpoint -- those are all huge bonuses. I think if they feel that they have arrived, it could become a negative. These guys are hungry and they still haven't accomplished what they want. If these four juniors are hungry, like I think they are, then I think we are going to have a great chance to be successful."

On Moulaye Niang:

"Moulaye is a guy who can help us win some games this year. He must get stronger and do some other things but he has made great strides in that area. He is a guy we should be able to put in the low post. He can run the floor and do some things that will give us the chance to be a lot better."

On Aaron Miles:

"I think the point guard needs to be an extension of the head coach. That's what I want Aaron to become. I want him to think like me and I want to be able to think like him. I want to be able to read his body language and know if anything is bothering him. If Aaron cares as much as I think he cares, he will handle problems before they become problems. He will address things before they even get to me. I want that type of relationship. He's better offensively. There is only one statistic that matters when you are a point guard and that's wins and losses. I think that is where he excels."

On seniors:

"You are only going to be as good as seniors allow you to be. Seniors don't have to score the most points but teams are as good as their seniors allow them to be. I talked to the seniors and told them they could be leaders but it's easier to be a leader when you are out there the majority of the time. These guys need to lead by example. These guys could be great leaders for us but usually the guys who score the most points and do the most things will be considered leaders. They have to understand that, and going into this season they haven't done that yet. I think they have accepted that and I think they are hungry."

On the rotation:

"In a perfect world, nine. We would play four big guys and five perimeter players."

On getting to know the players:

"I have been gone a lot but I see them everyday I am here. We have had more meetings than what I have ever had. I try and make the most out of the opportunities if I can't see everybody. I have gotten to know them pretty well. I don't know how well they have gotten to know about me but I think I have a pretty good handle on their personalities and how guys react to criticism as well as praise."

On JR Giddens:

"It's a huge transition to go from high school to college. JR is always in the game and has all of the physical attributes. He doesn't really know how to play yet. It's just going to take awhile and the speed of the game is always different. It will be different for him. He just wants to be a player and I anticipate him having a pretty good transition."

On similarities between JR Giddens and Keith Langford:

"I don't think there is much similarity at all. I would say that JR is an open court finisher like Keith. Keith is a guy who has a lot of savvy and will get the ball down and get around you to get to the hole. JR is more of a catch-and-shoot guy right now."

On Bryant Nash:

"I want Bryant to just go play. I want him to go to the glass with reckless abandon. If he is a perimeter player I want him to be a guy that tries to slash and get to the hole. I don't want him to be a deep thinker and have him worry about making mistakes. He is so quick and so athletic, so we would be making a huge mistake with him if we tried to limit what he could and could not do. I just want him to make athletic plays. He makes the type of plays that you can't coach. A new coach gets everyone back on a level playing field. That's one advantage a new coach has. He has everyone on the same playing field. I think Bryant probably feels he has a new lease on playing time."

On players handling change:

"I think our players have handled change great. The players are hung up on who your coaches are, the style and how you are treated. Change has been good for the entire athletic department. I feel much better about being at Kansas today than I did when I took the job. I know what direction we are headed and it's the same as the direction I was hoping we were headed in. From our standpoint I think the players have adjusted great. The one thing about these players is they want to win." Top Stories