Coach Self on the NCAA Tourney

Quotes from Kansas head coach Bill Self on the upcoming NCAA Tournament game with Bradley, and Kansas' winning the Big 12 Championship.

On keeping a young team loose:
"This team is pretty loose. A lot of that is youth. We have a bunch of young guys out there, and they don't know any better. Even when we're not playing well, they seem to enjoy playing with each other. We think that one of the reasons that we have become so much better is because we've become a better practice team."

On the statistical category that the team can least afford to be poor at:
"With us, you always have to look at rebounding and taking care of the ball. We're not always going to shoot it well -- no team always shoots it well. You can control a lot of other things easier than you can control shots going in. Stealing extra possessions and not giving away possessions will probably be the stat that enables us to play well."

On the defensive success:
"I think we had to buy into defense because we weren't that good offensively. If we were going to win games, we were going to have to become really good defensively. What's amazing to me is that our defense is the reason we got better offensively. It allowed us to get easy baskets which leads to confidence. It lets you think that you don't have to execute perfectly every possession in order to score. Looking at our team, Brandon (Rush) and Mario (Chalmers) are the only two we have on the team you could consider scorers coming in. Russell (Robinson) was an energy, defensive guy. Darnell (Jackson), Sasha (Kaun), C.J. (Giles), Julian (Wright) -- those guys didn't score in high school. I think Julian may have been the highest averaging scorer coming in, and he only averaged about 14."

On raising expectations:
"I think as it gets closer to a championship, your goal will always become to win that if you have a chance. Even the first day of practice, we said our goal was to win the league. Even though that was a goal and we all maybe didn't really have that it was attainable, our goal has never changed. Fact of the matter is, these guys just somehow rallied around it and just played fabulous ball down the stretch. To win 15 of their last 16 games in a league like this, with eight of those wins away from home, I didn't think that could occur on January 1. We did adjust our goals internally, but outwardly they were always the same."

On tournament preparations:
"Every team I've been on, we've done it the same way. As a staff, preparation for Bradley will probably be done today or early tomorrow morning at the latest. Kent State and Pittsburgh will be done before we leave tomorrow. From my standpoint, I'll put all my attention on Bradley. We may spend 15 minutes a day on it if Kent State or Bradley does something funky. We might say to them, 'This is their triangle-and-two or don't be surprised if somebody plays this against us.' For the most part, I think the focus is on getting your team better as opposed to worrying so much about the other team. Bradley has had two weeks since they've played, so they could put in something that we haven't seen. Our focus is what we do and then what we know Bradley does, and if we sprinkle anything else in it will probably be done by today or tomorrow at the latest. I think most coaches approach it the same way. With only one day in between games, you aren't going to spend a lot of time on the court going full speed. It's one at a time. Our players' focus is strictly on the Braves right now."

On the Oakland regional:
"I know who's in our bracket. I could really care less. I'm concerned about Bradley, and hopefully if we play well enough we'll play another game. It's a two-game tournament, that's how we're looking at it."

On Bradley's inside play:
"(Patrick) O'Bryant may be bigger than LaMarcus Aldridge. He's a big guy. He's agile, and he can move. He's also an excellent shot blocker and has good timing. He's definitely a very good NBA prospect. They do have size. They also can create some mismatch problems because they can play (Marcellus) Sommerville anywhere. He's a great scorer. He's a great shooter, and he can also play on the block. They can play big or not so big. That's a concern, but their perimeter defense is something that they're doing as well as anything right now. They're really getting after it."

On KU's big guys matching up against Bradley center Patrick O'Bryant:
"I think C.J. and Sasha both played really well in Dallas. C.J.'s stats didn't show it as much because he was limited with his groin. I thought he played great, and Sasha maybe as good of games as he has played all year back-to-back-to-back. I'm very happy with them, and then Darnell gave us a huge lift off the bench. Our bigs played well down there. They produced and rebounded the ball fairly well. Julian played fabulously."

On Bradley's layoff:
"They played really well in their tournament, and I'm sure they were sitting on the edge of their seats all week. They deserved what they got. They deserved to get in, no question. They could have been a better seed in my opinion. I don't know if their layoff helps or hurts. I bet there's a lot of energy in Peoria right now. I imagine those players are on cloud nine right now."

On Bradley's perimeter play:
"I think there are some similarities. We tried to guard in a similar fashion. They remind me a lot of the Oklahoma State on the perimeter defensively, and we all know they gave us some problems."

On the seniors accepting their roles:
"That's one of the biggest reasons we've played well -- Jeff (Hawkins), Stephen (Vinson) and Christian (Moody) have all accepted their roles and have been great seniors. You can have great senior players that aren't great in the locker room, and that kind of balances things out. Or you can have seniors that maybe don't get all the glamour or score all the points, but they allow others to be as good as they can be. Thats what we have in our locker room right now. These guys have been fabulous. I think they all enjoy their role. I think Jeff likes coming off the bench and try to beat people up. He's played very well for us off the bench."

"I think their biggest contribution is just wanting to be a part of something that's bigger than themselves. They're seeing this as 'our year.' That makes a big difference because they don't see everything through their own eyes. They see it through the team's eyes."

On his favorite part of this time of year:
"The freshness of the new season and the anticipation of what's going to happen. We've had some teams play well and some teams play not so well. It's an honor to be in the tournament. It's an exciting time -- the best against the best. It's as competitive as its ever going to be and the stakes are as high as they're ever going to be."

On Mario being the MOP of the Big 12 Championship:
"Mario played great. In my opinion, he was the best player down there and probably did as much to help his team advance and win as anyone. He made big plays at big times. He has a penchant for doing that. Certainly, I think he played very well, but I thought our whole team played very well."

Quotes courtesy: KUAC


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