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October 1, 2015

Bill Self

Lawrence, Kansas

BILL SELF: Hi, all. We'll start with questions.

Q. Do you like the new dorms or the new facility you've got in there, and what's that going to be like?
BILL SELF: I've actually been in the new dormitories or apartments probably a minimum of 100 times in the last year since they've broken ground. They're fantastic. You know, so there's a lot going on on our campus with DeBruce Center, obviously with the business school, and with McCarthy Hall right here on Naismith Drive that's going to change the look of this side of campus.

I don't know if you guys know the other student housing projects that they've done on campus. It's a pretty exciting time with all the growth that's going on. It's a great time to be a student here and our players are certainly going to benefit from the efforts of many that went before them to generate the interest level to do something like what we've been able to do.

It's fabulous, and we should move in the middle of next week. We're very excited about it.

Q. Being there 100 times, does that make you a micromanager?
BILL SELF: Well, I don't tell anybody what to do. I think a micromanager would be somebody that would look over somebody's shoulder and tell them what they're doing wrong. I'm just impressed every time I go over there. You know, it's hard for me because I don't have the vision that an architect or a builder would have to look at something that's in its infant stages and see an end result, but now you can, without question. Every day it changes. Obviously we hired the right architect, we hired the right builder, and they've both done a great job, and actually done a good job of getting us in in basically less than a year's time.

Q. What do you expect of Perry this year?
BILL SELF: I expect him to be as good as or better than any player in the league. I expect him to play to an All-American type level. I think he's capable of doing that. I thought last year before he got hurt, there was about a six-game stretch where I think he was playing to an All-American level.

He seems to be in the best shape of his life. He's stronger. I don't mean from a weight standpoint, but you can just tell the way he carries himself, he's stronger and more confident. I expect him to have a big year, and when I say that, I expect other players to have comparable type years to Perry.

Even Wayne has teased us and shown us what he could do because he was by far the best player in the tournament in South Korea, in the entire tournament this past summer, and then Frank to me has shown that he's very capable of taking the next step.

And we've got other guys, too, but those three I hope all play to an all-league type level.

Q. Svi came over here at 17, kind of didn't know anybody, didn't know the coach, but now a year later a lot of that has changed. What are your expectations for him this year?
BILL SELF: Well, you know, we've kind of got a crowded house back there. We've got some good players. But Svi potentially, I think from what NBA people think, they think he's probably as good a prospect as we have in the backcourt, and I do think he can be that, too. You're hitting it on the head. He's so much stronger. He's a different guy from a maturity and from a confidence standpoint, so I expect him -- it's hard to say you expect certain guys to do certain things if, in fact, they may not be starters, but I expect Svi to challenge for a starting position and be, without question, if he doesn't start, be as good as any reserve in the country.

But he's a guy that's got -- he's pretty good at -- he was pretty good when he got here, and then didn't have an unbelievable year. I think a lot of that was just maturity, strength. He's a really good player now, and he's going to be a better player moving forward. Few guys have a bigger upside than what Svi does.

Q. I know there are limitations on what Aaron Miles can do, but just in terms of talking with Devonte' Graham, would you expect that to be a good thing?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think so. You know, Aaron's presence, even from not a basketball standpoint, just from a leadership standpoint, is going to be good for Devonte', and it's going to be really good for Frank. You know, we hated it when Aaron got hurt, but certainly I've said all along that when he was done that I would want to bring him back in some capacity, and this may be just a short-term deal. If he gets healthy, he should go play as long as he can.

But for this year it's going to be great to have he and Mikki and their family part of our family, and I know that our players certainly respect him, and he'll be nothing but a huge asset for us.

Q. Wayne's extremes have been like quite a variance there. Do you see that leveling out maybe some, and especially after the way he played in Korea?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think so. You know, the thing about it is with Wayne, Wayne to me -- I even looked at our Korean stats this year, this summer, and he played really, really well, and he actually shot the ball no better from three than what he did last year. But what he did was he drove the ball. He got fouled. He forced help, and he played to his athletic ability and his strength. That's what I think.

It mainly lies on being a jump shooter who plays -- he's going to be inconsistent. Most players are. But if he relies on his athletic ability and is aggressive enough to play to his athletic ability, I think consistency will come, but I think he can impact us in a much bigger way than what he has the first two years.

Q. We've asked you a lot about Cheick in the off-season, but how can he make you guys better just on the floor?
BILL SELF: Well, he's an athlete. I don't know if you guys -- I don't know if you took any pictures of him, but from a length standpoint, he's 7'5" with length, and there's not too many guys out there +8 from height to his actually length, so he's +8 inches, and he's an athlete. He has good twitch. He's got a motor. But he doesn't know how to play yet. He'll give us things from an intangible standpoint. He'll change the culture of practice because he'll play so hard. He'll keep balls alive that maybe we didn't keep balls alive in past years. He'll do things that won't show up in the stats sheet that we think, why did we just have a great possession there, and it's basically because he kept two balls alive or he ran so hard that it forced help, or he sprinted to a ball screen and it was a loose hedge. There's going to be so many things that he can do from an energy standpoint that will make us better, and he should be a good rim guy. I haven't seen it yet because he hasn't been out there. He was just cleared to practice yesterday, but I haven't seen it yet, but hopefully he'll be a great rim protector.

And the other thing that he can do that has been surprisingly good for us is that he's a good shooter. The knock on him is that he wasn't really skilled, and he's much more skilled than what a lot of people give him credit for. So that's exciting for us moving forward.

Q. Last year you guys sort of struggled with the interior scoring. Are there solutions there, internal improvement, or just personnel?
BILL SELF: You know, I think it's a combination. I think that I've got to do a better job of making our guys and teaching our guys how to do positioning, and the other thing is we've got to do a much better job on the perimeter of being able to feed our folks. You know, you look at it the last two years, we've played with more guard, and that seems kind of weird, but Wayne coming in was a -- he's a prototypical 2 guard, but when he got here, he was really a 3; Wiggs was a 3; Kelly Oubre was a 3, and these guys weren't natural as far as just being able to feed the post and play the angles and things like that. So I think we'll be much better at that this year, and I think we'll be a much better passing team, especially because we'll play two little guards a lot together.

Q. It seems like Carlton, true freshman coming in, he might be a big change right now; do you almost feel like he's older because of what he does for you?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think so. I think him and Gerald are definitely a lot better off having made the trip and worked out with us over the summer, not that we put in a ton of stuff and not that that's the tell-all by any means, but just from a culture standpoint, I think that they're much more equipped to be able to contribute their freshman year because they know what we expect, and Carlton is one of the most talented big guys we've had since I've been here. Offensively obviously a Marcus Morris type guy; he's one of those guys that has that type of skill, and it's going to take time, but certainly I think he has a chance to be a special guy.

Q. Is there anything to be said for the intangibles of learning how to finish off tournaments, how to win it, after the grueling grind you went through in Korea against some good teams and they actually not only just played well but won the gold medal?
BILL SELF: Is there --

Q. Learning how to win as a team, finish it off?
BILL SELF: Yeah, that's one thing that we've actually done a great job of is over the years we've won -- we've really won a lot of close games. You know, last year the way our season ended, it didn't have anything to do with us not knowing how. It was something to do with the other team being better than us on that particular day, without question. But I do think there's a -- if you look at Korea and you count the games in the Sprint Center, the 10 games we played, there were eight of them that were decided in the last couple minutes, so learning how to win close games is good, but I don't know if it's so much the tactical stuff of learning how to win close games as having the mental toughness knowing you're going to make plays when you have to in close games.

Q. You've had a lot of complementary teams. Does this one have an opportunity to do that, size, shooting? Seems like there's a lot of different parts.
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think we're deeper than what we have been. You know, you can look at teams and say, well, they look really deep, and then as you get into the season, they may only play seven or eight and you're really not quite as deep as what you thought originally you would be. It's going to be hard this year figuring out who to play, and that's what I tried to explain to our players yesterday.

You know, we've got -- obviously Dwight is not part of it this year, and with his injuries, he wouldn't be anyway, but certainly redshirting he's not part of it. We've got 12 pretty good guys, and 12 is not going to play. 10 may not play. I do think that we have some nice pieces, but the thing I like about it as much as anything is if somebody is not doing what they can do to help our team win, it's not going to be that difficult to try to give somebody else an opportunity to do that.

With that being said, hopefully we'll be much better defensively and we'll play a style that will give us a better chance to be more complete, a little tougher, things like that, because it's okay to put Brannen in. It's okay to put Svi in. It's okay to put Hunter in or Jamari in or Landen in. That's okay to do that. Those are good players that's proven that they can do good things when they're in there.

So I think it's pretty exciting, and the guys know that there's going to be more competition in the gym during our practice sessions than what we've had in a while.

Q. I asked Mickelson what he did to earn more playing time in Korea, and he said he had better energy. What's the difference between energy and hustle? Does it mean the same thing?
BILL SELF: Well, I think it's kind of the same thing. A lot of people think they compete if they try real hard. Trying hard does not mean you compete. Trying hard is the baseline; everybody should do that. But having -- competing is playing each possession to win. Obviously thinking is a huge part of competing, and whether it be -- it could be anything from a screen angle to carrying out assignments. You can play hard and not do those things, but when you're competing you're focusing on doing those things, and I think Hunter has learned how to compete more, and also energy is contagious. It's one thing to play hard, but it's another thing to play hard in a manner which uplifts your teammates, and I think -- like to me Frank can do that, but sometimes Frank doesn't always do that.

But you can really tell somebody that's valuable to a team if they're an energy giver, and I do think that we have some guys, and every team does, that try real hard that really aren't energy givers. But guys that are real energy givers, it's amazing, just everybody seems to be loud and on their feet when they're around, and I think Hunter is learning how to do that.

Q. What does Vick do well, and what are the chances that he would redshirt?
BILL SELF: Oh, I don't even know. We haven't even talked about that as of now.

Q. What can he do well?
BILL SELF: He's a -- he can make his shots without question, but he's a slasher, an athlete, quick-twitch kid. He's going to be really good, but he's got a lot of stuff to learn. He's got some experience ahead of him. But in general he could be a great defender if he can figure it out. He could be as good a defender as we have.

Q. What are you looking forward to about Late Night?
BILL SELF: What are we looking forward to?

Q. Yeah, there's going to be a check, I understand?
BILL SELF: Yeah, can't wait. We're actually -- I don't know if you guys -- did we put a release out about that? So we're doing that, and if you're picked, you know, everybody is going to get a chance at -- every guy and lady will get a chance. If you're picked, you can pick anybody in the gym or yourself to shoot two half-court shots with the exception of our present team and our recruits, so Brennan Bechard could shoot it for you or Aaron Miles could shoot it for you or whatever.

Q. Or Gurley?
BILL SELF: Well, he'd take 10 minutes to get to half court. But whoever could shoot it, and whether you make one or two, we're going to scribble off a $2,000 check. So both a guy and a gal. So they will have a chance. That should be fun, and certainly -- but the biggest thing is for us is obviously our guys have gotten to the point where it's something they look forward to each and every year, and it's a great way to kick off our season, and also from a fan standpoint, and there's a chance I'm sure we'll have a recruit in the audience, it's a fun night for them to get a feel what Kansas basketball can actually be like.

Q. Since Cheick has been cleared to practice, does that mean he's been cleared to play Late Night, as well?
BILL SELF: Yeah, Late Night is practice, so yeah, that's absolutely no problem. I'm sure you guys have asked Cheick, but Cheick's situation is -- it's really not complicated. He's been cleared to practice pending the -- whatever they decide and whatever we present to the NCAA, whatever the decision is on that. So it doesn't mean that it's permanent, it doesn't mean anything other than the fact that we still have to do our job and they have to give a ruling on where they stand on the situation, and that hasn't happened yet. We're excited that he's not going to be behind from a practice standpoint because he is going to be allowed to go, and he obviously needs that because he missed the summer, and then he's missed the last three weeks, as well.

Q. Did they give you any sense of a timeline at all?
BILL SELF: No, no, not really, but it's not a negative thing because part of the sense is we're still gathering and presenting stuff to him. Can't really give a decision if you don't have the information in front of you. We hope it's sooner rather than later. I've said that all along. But I don't know that there's any indication that there will be an exact timeline other than the fact I'm sure it will be done before the season starts.

Q. Each situation is different, but you've had to kind of deal with these kinds of things. Does it get frustrating?
BILL SELF: Yeah, yeah, it gets very frustrating.

Q. Time-consuming and everything?
BILL SELF: Yeah, it's time-consuming, and it is frustrating. But it's not as much frustration for us as it is for the individual, the kid. I mean, you stop and think about an 18-year-old kid that he comes from Africa and been here for three and a half years and does what he's asked to do, and all of a sudden he's got goals, he's got dreams, he's got all these things that are hinging on this, and find out that that may not be -- ever come to be.

There's a lot of stress involved, a lot of stress, and sure, we want to win games, but that's not more important than what's in the best interest of the young man.

We've had other cases where this has happened, where it didn't work out great for us or the youngster, i.e. Ben and Jamari, and then we've had other cases where it has worked out good for us and the student-athlete, and this one is one that we're hopeful, obviously, but we'll get a fair ruling on it. But this one is a little unique in its own way because it's a very unique situation when you're dealing with someone like Cheick that's basically totally naïve to everything going on around him, and all he's done is just do what people have told him to do and what he needed to do. It's a little bit hard for him to understand exactly what's going on.

But everybody is on top of it. Everybody is doing exactly what they should do. We understand it takes time, and nobody is complaining about that.

Q. When you do have Late Night, are you kind of making an appeal to the fans telling them that they're going to be able to get --
BILL SELF: Well, I think it's always been good, but we've got a problem -- you guys know two years ago when Wiggs was a freshman, we turned away about 5,000, so they kind of changed how they handled things, and I think that scared people from coming last year and we had bad weather and we had an accident I believe on K10 that kind of slowed some things down. But everything has been rectified. It's basically back to the way it used to be, and going to have better security to make sure that there's not cutting in line and things like that that there was a couple years ago. Yeah, I would appeal to everyone just to say don't assume that you can't get in, assume that you can and you will because you will be able to, and it should be a very fun night.

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