Weekly Presser: Bill Self

Quotes from Coach Self on the team, toughness, and Keith's journalism career.

On how Tuesday's exhibition game will be treated:

"I think when you know what you have -- you treat them like practice. I think we will treat this game a little bit differently. I am interested to see who can play in front of the lights and people. I want to see where we are at. I think we have made a lot of improvements the last three or four days. The next two games are a pretty good gauge of what we should be doing the first two or three weeks of the season. Looking at the first few weeks of the season -- we are playing some quality opponents. We will take this game seriously. It will be treated more seriously than in years past."

On first impressions:

"I like my players as people first of all. I think they are a great group of guys. Their heads and their hearts are in the right place. For the most part we are pretty unselfish. Sometimes you can be selfish with your thoughts and we haven't had a problem with that either. I think they are certainly adjusting to me. We are certainly not a well oiled machine as of yet. I think that very few people out there will have three better big men than us. We have two gifted and talented perimeter players returning. The question is who will step up in those other slots because we have a lot of depth but someone has to emerge. Right now that could be Bryant (Nash), Michael (Lee) or one of the young guys. Nobody has separated themselves away from the pack. It makes me a little nervous. We are tough but not as tough as we need to be. We guard but don't guard as well as we should."

On the starting five:

"I think it would be a long-shot if you saw the same starting five on both exhibition nights. This is so I can see who plays well off the bench and who is better in a starting position. I don't want to start a different team based on a scouting report. I want to get a starting lineup and go with it. I couldn't tell you right now who the five would be. In order to be competitive you need to know who your starters are. The best thing about chemistry is that the bench guys know who the starters are. Sometimes when the bench guys feel like they should be starters -- there isn't a good chemistry. There is a lot of thought that goes into who your starting lineup is. Some people may be better coming off the bench. Sometimes teams need scoring and stability off the bench. Sometimes teams need energy off the bench. We are just trying to figure that out."

On KU's frontcourt:

"(Jeff Graves and David Padgett) have both done very well. That's why I feel good about those three guys. Moulaye (Niang) is just as improved as anyone. Those other three are playing at a high level. I really believe it's a coin flip on who we will start next to Wayne (Simien)."

On Wayne Simien:

"He has not sit out of one drill yet. He hasn't backed away from any lifting. He hasn't shied away from any contact. He may not be 100% mentally but I think he's really close if he's not."

"I think Wayne could be as good of a power forward as there is in America. I also think he is not there yet. The way we play is a little bit different and he has to get better at defending and post defense. If we don't get better in that area then we will have to play six big guys because they are all going to foul out. He can shoot and score at an angle. He's a very good rebounder and I think he has a chance to be great."

On the game plan for Tuesday's game:

"Right now we have three entries into offense. We are just trying to get the nuts and bolts stuff down. We may run a certain play to get a guy a look but we will run our offense behind that certain play. Right now we don't have any plays in. Tomorrow night you won't see any plays. You will just see our meat and potatoes stuff. From the scouting standpoint I don't think we want to do a lot of things during an exhibition so everybody sees things before we play them early in the season."

On being nervous during his first game:

"I probably will be. I don't think I will be overly nervous. I probably be a little uptight. I doubt it will be like Michigan State or Chattanooga. I imagine the butterflies will be flowing tomorrow."

On the EA Sports All-Stars:

"This team we are playing (Tuesday) had Wyoming down 15-points in the altitude on Saturday. I doubt they have been through three-a-days to try and get ready. They will be rested for our game because they wouldn't have played since Saturday. I would just like for us to go out and play hard and play well. I would like to see EA Sports play well. That will give us a better gauge of where we are."

On Jeff Graves:

"I don't want to come out and say any of our guys are playing at an unbelievable level. The unbelievable level should be the standard. It should be what everybody does everyday. I don't think guys should be applauded because they work hard in practice. It is their job to work hard in practice. (Jeff) has certainly been a guy that has worked very hard. I will be the first to say I am proud of Jeff. He needs to be pushed everyday. He still has a lot more in him which he can give. I have been real pleased with his efforts."

On the team:

"It is not so much pushing one guy but pushing the collective group. I haven't been on Jeff (Graves) to the point where he doesn't want to go. I do think if guys don't give 100 percent effort then they deserve to be gotten onto. As a coach you can't accept anything less than their best. If they give their best then we have a chance to be pretty good. If we don't give our best consistently then we will be disappointed real quick. I think I owe to them to be honest and applaud them when they do well and correct them when they don't. Working hard is a habit. For the most part these guys have pretty good work habits. I still think they can get better."

"Each team is different. You may adjust what you think is important. If a team lacks rebounding you may adjust in practice what you think is important. If your team is a great perimeter shooting team with no low-post game then you may become more of a finesse team. I don't think this team has found its identity yet. I think one of the things we hang our hat on every night is toughness. There are some things about this team that can be deficiencies. We can compensate for that with some intangible things. "

"Toughness isn't necessarily playing tougher. Toughness is being first to the ball. Toughness is going after every loose ball with two hands. Toughness is picking up fumbles instead of dribbling them. Toughness is having a guy light you up two possessions in a row and now you are hunkering down and there is now way he can touch you third possession. Toughness is when a guy is a terrific offensive player but for this particular night he is going to have to change his mindset to make sure his man doesn't catch it. Can he do that and still be a good offensive player. That to me is what toughness is. Toughness isn't about running through guys. Toughness is about the mental part of the game. I think we can always get better in that."

On Keith Langford writing for the campus newspaper:

"I have only read one of his columns. The first one I read was 'no cliches from me, you are going to get the scoop on everything,' I said 'hold on a second bud. You can tell the truth but don't give anybody lockerroom material.' I think it is great. He wrote one column on the way to Dallas (Big 12 Media Day). The guy can write, he is pretty good."

On any surprises during the preseason:

"The most pleasant surprise has been (David) Padgett. He only knows one speed and he has it in fifth gear every possession. When things break down Keith (Langford) can go get a shot. That is always nice to have a guy that you don't have to run offense to get a shot. When teams are guarding well he can go and create for others. There hasn't been many surprises for me. I think we know what we are dealing with. The guys want to win. They are trying real hard to buy in. I think we will have a chance to be very good because they want it bad enough."

On giving a redshirt this season:

"I don't know who we would (redshirt). If a guy can help you win some games this year then I don't see why you would redshirt them. Unless their fifth year is going to be so much better than their first or second year. We have some guys that when the light comes on they can be impact guys for us. Now the question is does the light come on in December, January or February. We will probably play everybody."

On the 2003-04 schedule:

"I think it is a good schedule to get us ready for conference play. I think the games we play non-conference are much tougher than what a lot of people will assume. Going to Nevada will be a hornet's nest. It's a huge game and (Nevada) is preseason picked to win their conference and the best team in the WAC (Western Athletic Conference) is usually pretty good and can knock off some people. Playing Tennessee-Chattanooga the first game, a team which changes defenses every possession every game -- that will be challenge because we may not have all our stuff in. Then to play Michigan State right off the bat. That game will be one on who gets on the loose balls. I think it is a good schedule to prepare you for the league. In the future, I hope we play more home games."

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