Bill Self: Weekly Press Conference

Coach's weekly press conference quotes, addressing the upcoming Nebraska game, team "hunger" and some nagging injuries.

On Nebraska:
“Their three-point shooting is a huge concern -- look what they did to Missouri. They are tall and all of their tall guys can make three’s.  They are quick too.  Their 1’s and 2’s are really quick.  They have a nice team and the teams that have traditionally been giving us problems have been teams that have perimeter 4 men -- guys who can step away from the basket and make shots.  They are a tough matchup for anybody.  This will be a tough matchup for us, but we just have to go guard them and if we play with energy it will certainly help our chances.
“I think they are 11-2 at home and their road record is not that bad. I would venture to guess that they are a better home team than road team. I would also tell you that Kansas is a better home team than road team. You could go right down the line in that regard.  They are pretty good and had a huge win at Texas A&M last night.”
“If we want to win the league, I would have to say that this is as close to a must win as a team could have.”
On feeding off the home crowd:
“I think we play with more energy at home.  I think when you look at it across the board we haven’t been a team that plays with high energy consistently.  I’m not sure if we played with intensity against Texas Tech or if we just made shots.  That’s been a concern of ours and is the most important thing you can do.  I think we have been all right in a lot of our games -- I just think it’s been inconsistent. Playing home and away may have something to do with it, but I have noticed it home and away.”
On being a high energy team:
“I’m not sure if we totally understand or have bought into the fact that this team has to be a great defensive team and rebounding team in order to give us our best chance night in and night out.  I still think we want to win games by offensive execution and making shots -- whatever it is.  This team has been improving over time.  We are at our best when we rebound and defend. If you look at the games where we haven’t shot the ball great and we still rebounded and defended -- we were still able to win.  We have to become great defensively and rebound the ball. There have been times we have been great defensivley and there have been times when we have rebounded the ball great -- we are just not consistent. To me, that’s where you notice energy -- your defensive and rebounding stats.  Against Oklahoma State we got beat physically -- 43 to 26 (rebounds) on the glass.  They missed 28 shots and got 15 of them back and we missed 30 and got seven back -- that was the difference of the basketball game -- regardless of shooting percentages or anything else.  This team has to come to grips with that’s who we are. I think they want to believe that, but I don’t know if they are buying that deep down in their heart. It doesn’t have anything to do with transition -- it’s just who we are.”
On playing hungry consistently:
“I don’t think this team plays hungry consistently.  I have said that all along. We are going to be a good team when things are going well.  The problem is that when things haven’t gone well we haven’t remained a good team.  You can still be a good team and win games against quality opponents when you don’t make shots. I don’t think we play with the hunger or energy during those type of situations -- consistently like we should. I think that’s exactly what happened at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State whipped us, but instead of 28-6 it should have been 20-12 -- then it would have at least been a game. They made some shots early that they just threw in -- they scored easy the other times they made shots.  Even with that being said, we should have found a way to change the momentum or do whatever to get some stops -- we didn’t do that.”
“Why do you ever need an incentive to be hungry? I don’t think that you should ever have an incentive if this is who we are and this is how we play. I would think that would summarize our hunger level,  but I am not positive. The guys are going to have to play the game the way it’s meant to be played in order to give us the best chance. I’m not a big gimmick guy.  You would think that playing in Stillwater with both teams being 7-1 for sole possession of first place -- that should be an incentive to be pretty hungry.”
On Keith Langford:
“Against Texas Tech he didn’t have a chance to play -- he was in foul trouble. I can’t say I am more concerned about Keith (Langford) than anyone else on the team. If you watch the tape I don’t think anyone really stood out.  Wayne (Simien) made shots but that was a pretty poor performance across the board (Oklahoma State) -- not just one player.”
On last year’s team vs. this year’s:
“You should never make excuses and we have good enough players to play better than we did on Monday night. This is not remotely close to the same team personel-wise as it was last year.  We have to find other ways to do things -- it’s just who we are. We can still accomplish similar things if we do the things that I feel we could do and believe in those things.  Not having Nick (Collison) or Kirk (Hinrich) in an environment like that was probably worth a little more than a few points because they brought intangibles to the table.  We have enough veterans and should have performed better than we did.”
On the time off before the next game:
“I think playing Monday-Saturday is enough time off -- it’s probably a good time. We just came off playing two of our best games of the year and then laid an egg in Stillwater. I am not trying to make excuses for Monday, but this is not a good Saturday-Monday team for health reasons. When you play and then practice on Sunday and have key players who couldn’t practice the day before a game -- it’s not good. I do think this is a team that is better when it has multiple days to prepare. It would be a concern for the tournament.”
On J.R. Giddens:
“He has a sore foot and is trying to immobilize it -- to take the pressure off.   We hope that he can practice today but I wouldn’t be surprised to see J.R. (Giddens) wearing a boot around a lot.  He had some foot problems in the past and we just want to keep him off of it as much as possible. He didn’t practice yesterday but should practice today.”
On the practice schedule between games:
“Wayne (Simien) doesn’t go but two days at a time -- that includes games. Yesterday Wayne (Simien) was off and he will practice today and then be off again tomorrow.  He will practice Saturday and then play Sunday and will have to take Monday off, practice Tuesday and play Wednesday -- that’s the routine that we are sticking to.  We are not the deepest team in the world. Yesterday is the first day that David (Padgett) has practiced since our game and J.R. (Giddens) and Wayne (Simien) didn’t practice -- we had 40 percent of our starters out of practice yesterday.  Those are things we will have to deal with all year long.”
On correctable mistakes:
“You can watch any game across the country and people in February still mistakes.  The rebound differential, energy level and other things like that -- those aren’t things that you should be talking about correcting.  You should talk about correcting X’s and O’s.  The biggest correction is for us to understand and play with unbelievable energy and toughness each and every night. If we do those things, then the other things will take care of themselves -- I honestly believe that and don’t feel like we do that.  The players will probably tell you that we don’t do that -- consistently.  We have done it at times, but not consistently. We didn’t do it against Iowa State in the second half or in Stillwater on Monday.”
On going through phases of energy level:
“I think everybody goes though phases where their energy level is better than other times. It better improve a lot and if it doesn’t then this team will not have the chance to accomplish anything close to what the expectations are if our energy level doesn’t improve -- I believe it will on a consistent basis.  It’s been good at times,  but has also been poor at times -- certainly Monday is a case when it was very poor.”
On improving the energy level:
“I think we can have more leadership from our upperclassmen.  I think we can play tougher.  I think the biggest thing is to understand how this team can win games away from home.  We aren’t going to go into places and just outscore people.  The game against Texas Tech was a great game and a fun game, but it was not the way we were going to win in Stillwater -- we played like we were surprised with the intensity and their pressure.  Against Texas Tech, we made shots and things came easy -- we knew that would be the case there. When you play on the road the pressure is much better than when you play at home. When Texas Tech came here to play us they did not have the same pressure as we faced against Oklahoma State. When you play at Texas Tech their pressure might be as great as Oklahoma State’s was.  I think we got a false feeling that we would be able to pass, catch and get open in the scoring area -- things like that.  I knew for a fact that we wouldn’t be able to do that against Oklahoma State when we played them at home.”
On who has taken the leadership role:
“I don’t think there is any question that Keith (Langford) is our best leader as far as people feeding off of him.  When he has that high energy -- people can feed off of him.  He can control a practice just by his energy level.  Aaron (Miles) has done the most consistent job all year long as being our vocal leader -- he’s had a great season.  Wayne (Simien) has done the best job for us in terms of leading by example. All three are leaders in their own right, but I do think that those three have to take more ownership with what’s going on. It’s one thing for David (Padgett) and J.R. (Giddens) to go in there and be a little surprised by the atmosphere and their pressure -- things like that.  It should never happen with the other three because they have been there and those three need to take a little more ownership in leadership and what’s going on.”
On the three upperclassmen having to play well on the road:
“I would think they would have a much better chance if all three played well. I’m not sure if you have to have individuals playing great to win.  When you aren’t playing well you have to find a better way to manufacture in other areas.  Everybody knows that we are going to go as those three go nine out of 10 times.”
On attitude:
“Attitude, energy level and mindset -- those are the things that concern me the most. We have some guys that are better rebounders than they are rebounding.  We are slow-minded -- we think about blocking out after the offensive player already hit us. We have to get better in that regard.”
On hunger level at practice:
“I thought that yesterday was one of our best practices.  We never did play offense yesterday.  Practice started out slow and by the end of practice they understood that they were never going to get the ball.  They really enjoyed the way I wanted them to play yesterday.  I thought that was a real positive. We have to balance, but I think it all begins with defense and rebounding the ball.  I thought yesterday’s practice was good because Wayne (Simien) and J.R. (Giddens) didn’t practice -- the other guys had to step up.”
On a consistent mindset:
“There have been times when we have been good in certain areas and times where we have stunk.  They are going to do it right to prove that they can do it and then after that they are going to play they way they want to play. I’m not saying that’s how the players feel. I’m just saying that when you look at it from the outside looking in and you are obviously not in their minds thinking what they are thinking. I don’t think they are doing this intentionaly -- I just think it’s the mindset right now. Our mindset has to change in order to win games consistently. I thought the Missouri game and the Michigan State are how you are supposed to play the game.  We won at Kansas State because we made shots. We beat Texas Tech because we made shots.  When you make shots you still have to do all of the other things. I just don’t think we have done the other things consistently.”
On putting together a series of good games:
“You can play great and still get beat -- that goes without saying.  You can go across the board anywhere and if you catch a team on the wrong night and they are just a little better than you -- you still get beat.  We haven’t put together a series of games like we are going to have to put together to entertain any thoughts of winning the league.”
On coaching evaluations:
“I personally believe that coaches should be evaluated on how unselfish and how hard their team plays.  I have to take ownership and say that we haven’t been able to get them to do it consistently -- there is no question about that.  We talk about it and preach it everyday but it hasn’t happened.  If you look at Syracuse last year compared to this year -- I don’t think they are playing with the same hunger level this year.  These guys have experienced a lot of success and a lot of people have told them how good they are all the time.  I’m used to coaching guys that haven’t had any success and can’t wait to play a team that has been told that they are good all of the time. In order to stay up there -- you have to be hungry.  That hunger starts in May and all the way through you have to be a hungry cat because there are a lot of teams out there that are very hungry.  When we are hungry like I hope -- I think we are a very good basketball team.  When we are very good we are going to play other teams that are very good.  If we were really hungry would that mean we would win in Stillwater -- no, but it means we would have a chance.  We didn’t have a chance on Monday.” Top Stories