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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 21, 2014


Bill Self


Q.  What was your basic approach in practice Wednesday after the game Tuesday night?
COACH SELF:  Well, we didn't practice Wednesday.

Q.  Well, let's say that you did.  What was your basic approach?
COACH SELF:  You know, I think a lot of times coaches go through different moods where they're mad.  Usually mad doesn't help you win.  What you’ve got to do (is that) you’ve got to get better and correct (the mistakes).
But as you do get better and correct, usually you become more mad going through that.
What we did Wednesday, because we didn't get in until 7 or 8 in the morning, is we took Wednesday off.  We met as a team and talked ‑‑ it was our day off, so couldn't really talk basketball stuff and we didn't.
We had a team meeting about some different things, and then we practiced yesterday.  Yesterday's practice did not go well.  Not because of anything other than the fact I thought there was very little sense of urgency compared to what I thought we should have had because of way we performed on Tuesday.
So we practiced this morning at 6 a.m., and we'll practice again this afternoon.  Not as punishment.  We’ve got to get better.  Hopefully that will be the case.
It's a long season, too long of a season to put too much stock in a game that obviously was an opportunity for us to look better than we did.
Let's tell it like it is:  we weren't ready to play that game.  That was a much more experienced, bigger, longer team that had had many more practices than us because of their trip.
And that's not an excuse.  Then, on top of that, we lay an egg.  So I don't think that was great game for us other than the fact it exposed us, and now hopefully we can get better.

Q.  How was the 6 a.m. practice?
COACH SELF:  Yeah, we had good practice this morning.  Yesterday's wasn't very good but today's was, and I'm sure this afternoon's will be good.  (The) Guys' attitudes are good.
(It’s) Such a long season, we won't even remember the Kentucky game two weeks from now.  Or until after we get back from Orlando we won't remember it again.  That's the way it works with everybody.
Syracuse won't remember last night's game against Cal three weeks from now if they continue to get better.
I hate to say this, but I would much rather look bad now than look bad in conference play.  It was kind of a panic mode last year.  You lose the game before conference play with San Diego State, and a couple years ago it was Davidson, if I'm not mistaken, in Kansas City.  That team went on to go to the national championship game.
So there have been some teams recover from a disappointing performance throughout time.  Hopefully we'll be one of them.

Q.  Was today’s 6 a.m., practice previously scheduled?
COACH SELF:  No, no.  We didn't get a lot done yesterday, so we had to finish up today.  We had to finish up today what we didn't get done yesterday.

Q.  Are you at all concerned about the players' confidence going forward after a game like that?
COACH SELF: I guess that's a fair question.  But, gosh, if you lose your confidence over one game, how soft are you?
If every time in sports that you had to worry about confidence because you played bad in a 40‑game season for one game, just think of a baseball player if he goes 0‑4 one game.  All the sudden he's not ready to play the next day?
Or if a pitcher has a bad outing.
LeBron (James) goes 4‑18 (one game), does that mean he's not going to be confident the next game?  You know, it could be little bit of that because we were definitely shaken in how we played when they really punched us in the mouth.  I don't think that will be the case.

Q.  You said after the game the other night you were still trying to figure out who your best players are.
COACH SELF:  Yeah, I don't know. You don't either.  (I) Guarantee you guys couldn't come to the same assumption.  Is that discouraging?

Q.  Is it discouraging for some of your older players on the team?
COACH SELF:  You know I think it's probably discouraging for Wayne (Selden, Jr.) and Perry (Ellis) because they should be two of our better players, without question.  They should be our two best players and they haven't played better than any of the other guys so far.
Now, I believe they will really soon, beginning next game, and they have in practice since then.  But Mari (Jamari Traylor) plays his butt off and goes 0‑6 (from the field vs. Kentucky) and plays his tail off.  It’s a little bit different scoring over 6'6", 6'7" guys, as opposed to 7' when you're only 6'6".
What happed the other night isn't a shock to us.  That's what we've seen in practice and what we knew could be the possible shortcomings of our team, at least early on.
There hasn't been a lot of separation.  I really wish that a couple guys would establish themselves as our best.  And our three most talented kids right now at this stage would be Franck (Mason III) and Wayne and Perry, but they haven’t really statistically played very well yet.
I know they're going to (play better) so I'm not worried about that.  But I do think the young kids need to have some veterans play good for them.  We don't need to be depending on the young kids to carry us.  They're not ready to do that.
We’ve got really good, young players that are going to be good, but we don't have Joel (Embiid) and Andrew (Wiggins).  That's a different level.
But these guys are going to be good and they are going to be terrific college players and have a chance to play after college, but that's putting too much on those guys right now.

Q.  Do you have a scout on Rider?
COACH SELF:  Not really.  I know they're 1‑1 and they play Lehigh tonight.  I know they were 9‑11 in their league least year. 
But to actually break them down, I haven’t that done yet.  That'll be my assignment beginning today.

Q.  Will you have to get up early tomorrow to do that?
COACH SELF:  No, I can stay up late just as easy as I can get up early.  One thing about 6 a.m., practices that I failed to realize, is it sucks for the guys, but I think it actually works for the coaches.
That may be something I want to adjust moving forward.

Q.  The other night Frank was really able to get into the lane whenever he wanted to.  Is decision-making something he needs to work on?
COACH SELF:  We talk so much about ‘drive it, drive it, drive it,’ so he drove it.  We talk about driving to pass as opposed to driving to score, especially on the first side or second side against length.  The way they played, they didn't care if they got to beat, because they funneled you to the bigs, and then they didn't help off the perimeter very much.
It's a pretty good way to play.  He's got to be able to drive in there to make something happen for other people.  We didn't do a good job of that.  He didn't do a good job, but nobody did a good job of that.  Wayne and Devonte' (Graham) were bad at it, and those were the three guys that probably are the most equipped to get in there and create havoc.
So that's something that we got to improve.  At least we got in there.  There was no intimidation factor at all of us getting in there.  We just couldn't do much when we did.

Q.  The Champions Classic is now four years old.  Was the Kentucky team you guys played Tuesday night the best team yet?
COACH SELF:  I don't know.  You know, we've gotten pretty lucky in the deal.  We played Kentucky when they were the unanimous No. 1 and won the national championship; this year they are the unanimous No. 1 and predicted to win the championship.
Last year I think Duke was No. 4, something like that, and Michigan State was ranked pretty high when played them.  Of course, all the teams are going to be ranked pretty high.
That (Kentucky) team the other night was as impressive a performance as we've had against us.  I think it still remains to be seen if they're better than that 2012 team.  Certainly, they have the pieces to be better if they continue to get better.

Q.  Did you talk to your team about the 2012 National Championship match-up versus Kentucky?
COACH SELF:  Well, we went over some things.  The thing about it is Kentucky, when they beat us in the Garden (Madison Square Garden) and in the National Championship game, if you go down the Kentucky roster (that season, now they’ve got a long list of players in the NBA): Anthony Davis, MVP candidate; Michael Gilchrist, starter for the Charlotte; Terrence Jones was starting for the Rockets; Marquis Teague is in the league as back up; Darius Miller is in the league.
Our team that we had there (2012 NCAA Championship game) is combined for anywhere between eight to 10 minutes a game, combined, in the NBA.
So it just goes to show that even though there is unbelievable talent, you can still have teams where the best players don't guarantee wins.  The teams that play the best together give you the best chance to win.
Of course, talent is a huge part of that, but we've got good enough players to have a great season.  I told our guys that.  Who would've thought that team that played them early when we couldn't get a shot and we just relied on Tyshawn (Taylor) to go one-on-one the whole second half and get fouled?
Who would have thought that that team would play them for a national championship and was a two‑possession game with two minutes left?
There is certainly optimism in that.  I think this team can be is as talented as the team we had in '12.  No question.  I don't know if we're going to play together as well.  That remains to be seen.
Of course, that team didn't play great until we got to conference play, to be real honest.

Q. How did Cliff Alexander’s transition to the college game change after playing against Kentucky?
COACH SELF:  The whole thing is Cliff is a good player, but Cliff is 6'8", and 6'8" struggles scoring over 7'. 
That was the thing about it.  It's one thing when your skillset is like Cliff's; in order to maul people in the post and post strong and score close to the basket, you’ve got to learn to score before you catch as opposed to relying on a skillset to score after you catch.
That didn't work very well the other night, even though he did some good things.  I think Cliff, as much as anything, was like, “I know now what I need to do more than I ever knew.”  Of course it takes a long time to go and do that.
But hopefully through much practice and him understanding that better, I think it will help him quite a bit.

Q.  You mentioned Perry and Wayne earlier.  What do you want to see from them?
COACH SELF:  Productivity, leadership, calming influence, intelligence.  There are a lot of things I think we need to see from those guys.  That'll definitely filter down to the rest of the guys.

Q.  What improvements do you want to see on offense?
COACH SELF:  Well, I would like to score more than 40 (points), I think that would be a huge improvement.  We need to shoot free throws better.  You know, 40 points wasn't really who we were, based on how we play.
We played bad, obviously, but watching the tape, we played better than the score. We didn't play good enough (for it) to be a three‑point game, but we played better than the score.  For the majority of the time we couldn't make a shot and we couldn't score over length, and I think that messed with our heads.  We started playing individually as opposed to a team when the team stuff didn't work.
But we never gave the team stuff a chance.  We never ran offense one time the way we're supposed to in order to give it a chance.
I would like to see us be able to learn how to score through what we run.  We run good stuff, and I really feel like when guys really understand how you score out of what we run, we'll be able to play and be much more efficient offensively, because we certainly weren't the other day.
It would be like a quarterback; if a play is designed for a three‑step drop and he takes five steps, the timing is off.  It's all screwed up.
And that's where we were the whole time.  We never caught the ball in the right spot; our screened angles weren't correct; we bounced it one too many times; didn't drive to pass.
There were a lot of things we didn't do very well that I think we can correct, but it'll take more time.

Q.  Are you concerned about assist numbers?
COACH SELF:  When you have 11 field goals, you're not going to have a lot of assists.  Okay?  You're not going to set any records on assists when you have 11 filed goals.
So that's a little bit misleading on assist numbers.  But, yeah, we’ve got to do better job of feeding the post without question.

Q.  How did Kelly Oubre, Jr., play?
COACH SELF:  I thought that Kelly did some positive things, without question.  Let's not get carried away.  You're not going to take any positives from the (Kentucky) game from an individual standpoint.  I don't think anybody stood out. You look at him and say, ‘Wow, he really played well.’  I don't think that was one of those games.
What happens when you play as individuals and you play against some really, really, really good individuals that play as a unit, then you don't look very good individually.
That's kind of what we did.  I thought Kelly did some good things.  He put the ball down a couple times and got in there nicely. He made a nice three.
But one of the big keys to that game, and seems like a minor key, was how their three-man kept every ball alive on the glass.  Every ball, (Alex) Poythress and (Trey) Lyles kept every ball alive on the glass.
Our three-man did a really poor job of creating any type of block out or opportunities for us through them crashing or through us getting to the offensive glass.
That was a total domination in how they dominated the glass.  The end boards ended up being 22‑20.  It was offensive to offensive or something, and they only out‑rebound us five.
But that's the biggest misleading stat in the world.  I mean, they dominated the glass.  We made the rebound marks interesting because we got better, but that was basically after the game was already over.
So we’ve got to do a better job, all five guys.  When your big guys are 6'6" and 6'7" and you're blocking out 7', you know, it's hard enough just to block out.  Somebody has got to be able to go get the ball.
Our guards, our one and two and our threes, did a really poor job of helping those guys.  That was disappointing.  I thought there were times our big guys battled pretty hard in there.

Q.  What do you think of the Orlando Classic?  This game (Monday vs. Rider) counts as one of those games.
COACH SELF:  I think the Classic will be hard.  There are good teams in the field and we certainly need to get off to a good start in playing Rider.  We'll look forward to going down to Orlando just like we did Atlantis last year.
I'm hopeful that we leave Orlando a heck of a lot better than we left Atlantis last year, because we left out of Atlantis a bad team.  We weren't very god when we left there.
We beat Duke; that's great.  We were much worse a week later.  We’ve got to just get better and just grind and build on it. I think we're going to be just fine.

Q.  Do you like the Orlando Classic field?
COACH SELF:  Yeah, I love the field.  No, the field is good.  We get a chance to play Rider, and then obviously Rhode Island.  They're good.  They'll give us everything we want and more.
Then Tennessee or Santa Clara.  Then on the other side, you’ve got good teams, highlighted by Michigan State.
But with Marquette and Georgia Tech, it'll be a very competitive field.  A very good field.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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