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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 1, 2016
Q. Talk about Lagerald Vick and how he's played.
BILL SELF: You know, he's played well. He didn't play as well early when he wasn't making shots, but it wasn't because he wasn't making shots, he probably just wasn't as aggressive as he is right now, but he's played super, and certainly getting that production out of him is -- it's not that we didn't go into the season believing it couldn't happen, but for him to this early in the season be basically -- I don't know what it was, but he gave us like 38 points the last two games, something like that. It's something that is a bonus that we probably didn't expect.
Q. Lagerald said the other day that he thought Frank is more aggressive this year than maybe he was last year. Do you think that's true, and did you think that was even possible?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think Frank has been more aggressive up until the last game. I didn't think he was very aggressive the last game. But yeah, he's been -- and Lagerald I'm sure said that I'm sure before the last game. But yeah, I think Frank has been more aggressive. I think he's looking for his shot more, which is something that -- last year he shot the ball probably a comparable amount, but a lot of times he shot it late clock and that stuff. I think he's looking for his own shot earlier in the clock, which is good.
Q. Josh and Udoka talked about Frank kind of pulling them aside and talking to them before their starts. Have you seen Frank emerge as more of a vocal leader this year?
BILL SELF: At times yes and at times no. I think that -- I think Frank has had probably as good a start to the season as anybody in college basketball has had, but I do think that there's times where he can be much more vocal. If you look at it from a coach's perspective, and you have he and Devonte' out there together, then it seems like to me it's pretty ridiculous if the other three guys don't know what we're trying to accomplish and do because it's their responsibility to make sure they do know. So I do think they can talk better. I think Frank is much improved in that area because he's not a natural talker, but I do think he can become more vocal.
Q. The last couple of games Frank has only played 28 minutes. What's the value long-term in being able to conserve some minutes now?
BILL SELF: You know what, they talk about that. I don't know in a 22 year old what the value is playing 28 instead of 32. I think there's other values that may be a little bit not thought about. I think during every scouting report setting them down. I think -- stop and think about it, the last two scouting reports, every team over 35 games, that's 70 scouting reports, so maybe some people have their guys on their legs an extra 35 to 50 hours, where I don't allow my guys to stand during scouting report.
Things like that I think are -- maybe reducing practice time or reducing his reps in practice. I actually think that is probably as important as the number of minutes, but last year we rode him pretty hard, and as everybody knows, I do think he wore out a little bit by the end of the year. He still played well, but I don't think he was quite as effective at the end, I think a little bit because he wouldn't admit it, but maybe he was a little worn.
The thing about it is, if you really look at it, if you play four guards, he's going to play 35 minutes. He's going to. If you play three guards the majority of the time, he's going to play 32, 30 minutes, which would probably be better for him over time, but it's hard to take him out if you only have one guard sub over there. Even if everybody played equal minutes and you play four guards, you're dividing 160 by five. I don't know what that exactly equates to, but that's 32 minutes per person. So that's just average, if you play small the whole time. That's why it's so important that we get our bigs going and we're able to play big more.
Q. How did you get Vick in recruiting? I don't remember that recruitment.
BILL SELF: You should be more on top of your job. That's your job, to know what goes on with us. (Laughter.)
He was ranked, but he reclassified. So everybody thought that Lagerald would be a 2016 grad, and he reclassified to 2015 after his senior season was over, so we were fortunate. You look at how -- recruiting is inexact science and everything, so you've got all these recruiting experts, which there's numerous ones in this particular room, as well, but you have guys that -- we take Frank and Devonte' and Lagerald, and those guys were not at that time considered to be blue chip five-star type recruits, and they turned out to be pretty good. You just never know.
But the thing about Lagerald, you knew he was a great athlete. You knew he had great instincts, and you knew he had great size for a guard. But I will tell you this: He's improved at such an accelerated rate, I don't think I could have anticipated this when he first got here.
Q. With things going as well for him as they have so far, would you think Memphis could become a place you could keep going back to, or does it not work that way?
BILL SELF: I think it does. I think it does. Recruiting is -- we can talk about it from a city standpoint or a community standpoint. Then you can even get more specific and talk about from a program standpoint. I think a lot of times you get a kid from Chicago or Memphis or Dallas or wherever, and yeah, those are such big areas, it's hard to say one guy is just going to allow you to positively get back in there and be involved with every other good kid, although that could potentially happen.
But within that program, I would think your chances are really good that that could happen again when you have a kid that experiences a great success from certain AAU programs or whatnot, and certainly he came from obviously a very, very good program.
Q. Tarik also?
BILL SELF: Yeah, Tarik, so there's two right there that you would think maybe allows us to get back in there. Memphis isn't an easy nut to crack, though, recruiting-wise. But I've spent a lot of time down there and come up empty quite a bit. But we did get pretty fortunate with those two. I mean, to see what Tarik has done and how this place has impacted him and his future and to see how Lagerald has kind of exploded on the scene, I would hope that would open some doors.
Q. Do you anticipate getting Landen back, or is he going to get some more time?
BILL SELF: I don't know yet. He will not practice today, and then we'll see if he can go tomorrow. I still think he's a day-to-day guy, but I don't know what his availability will be against Stanford.
Q. How important was that second half the other night for Carlton just to be able to stay on the floor more and kind of see the ball go in the basket?
BILL SELF: I think those things are important. I really do. He's a great, great, great kid, and he's gone through a little bit of stuff that I don't know if it's stuff that's really started out small and somehow got a little bit bigger or if confidence is involved or whatnot, but he made some good plays the second half that certainly I think should give him some confidence, and they were real plays. I mean, it wasn't like he lucked into plays. He did a great job on the glass. He made a couple of face-up shots, which is what he does best. I thought he did some really nice things.
Q. Do you think he's kept an upbeat attitude starting games?
BILL SELF: I mean, he smiles all the time, so you don't know if that's good or bad. Frank doesn't smile; is he happy or sad? Carlton smiles; is he happy or sad, because he smiles. I think sometimes it's a little misleading to say that a kid is down if he doesn't smile and a little bit misleading to say he's really happy if he does because a lot of that's just a natural reaction to how they've reacted their whole lives to whatever the situation is.
Q. What's your scout on Stanford?
BILL SELF: Well, I think they're good. They lost last night to St. Mary's, and St. Mary's could beat anybody, any time, anywhere. Randy has got one of his best teams. But Jerod has a really good team. They've got a great player inside, and certainly they haven't scored a lot of points if you look at their stats. They're averaging about 66 or 67 a game, but a lot of that is due to the pace that he's playing, which is a great pace for them.
But their opponents are shooting a miserable percentage behind the arc. They're not shooting a great percentage from two, and they're really good on the glass. They do some things defensively that we haven't seen yet, so we'll have to work on those the next two days. But I think he's got a nice team. I think Jerod -- and he's obviously done a good job, but they run great stuff, and I think he's got a really nice team.
Q. When you go up against a team that has a quality big, knowing the makeup of the guys that you have, how do they respond to what's ahead of them?
BILL SELF: I think they'll respond favorably. You know, everybody that you play that's good has quality bigs. You know, people that play us now, they would still say, well, we've got to stop them inside first. I guarantee people would still say that, even though that hasn't been how we've been scoring as consistently, and one reason why our bigs didn't score much against Long Beach State is they made sure our bigs didn't score much and that's one reason we got a lot of perimeter shots.
But I think our guys will take to the challenge.
Q. One of the biggest differences for Frank is finishing at the rim. How important has that been for you guys considering the scoring troubles you've had?
BILL SELF: Well, he's always been a good finisher. Frank has always been a guy that could finish inside.
You know, and let's not get this too screwed up. You know, when they look at points in the paint, things like that, they're looking at all points in the paint, they're not just looking at your center's points in the paint.
That's the objective is to be able to score close to the basket, so sometimes people design things for guards are the ones that have opportunities to get in there and maybe bigs don't as much. We've always been a team up until last year that played inside out, and the last two years we've obviously played outside in, and a little bit more so this year because that's probably the strength of our team. But part of the things, Josh and Frank and Devonte' and Lagerald are getting to the basket, those are still points in the paint. Those are still inside points.
When I talk about our bigs, and I'm talking about more of an inside presence. If they force a double-team and somebody else gets a basket, they did their job. That's a good thing.
You know, I mean, nose guards, did they ever make any tackles? No, because they get double teamed every snap. But if they can take on two people, isn't that right, then that opens up other people in the lanes to make tackles. I was always amazed by that; guys make the Pro Bowl and they have 27 tackles for the season. But they cause total disruption, and I think big guys can do that, too, by forcing double teams, by being great sealers, by -- if you seal strong, then you force weak side help and then somebody else gets a shot because you force weak side help, and I don't think that we're doing those things as consistently as what we can. We always look at points and rebounds, which, I mean, granted, are a big part of the game, but there's a lot more that goes into it, as well.
Q. Frank didn't get out of first gear Tuesday, yet you win by 30. Do you need him to play in fifth gear for the duration of the season?
BILL SELF: I don't know that we need him to play every game at fifth gear to win, but I know that you usually play over time like you prepare to play and that in order to be good teams consistently, he has to be in fifth gear. Now, you can be in fifth gear and not have good game, but you can be totally engaged defensively and doing some things that I didn't feel like he was the other night, which is the first time this year, so I'm not -- don't blast him for that, but I do think that there's obviously a consistency and a value that is put on playing at a pace that was faster than what he played at the other night for us to be as good as we could be.
Q. Ordinarily visiting coaches get booed out of here pretty quick. What do you expect the reaction to be from the folks here on Saturday night?
BILL SELF: Well, unfortunately the reaction will be he'll be the most loved head coach in the building, so that'll suck. (Laughter.) But for -- and he deserves that. He deserves that. He was a tremendous player and popular player here when he played, and then of course helped recruit some really good teams after he played, and he's done a really good job after he left here to go to Carolina and UAB and now Stanford. Whatever ovation or response that Jerod gets from a positive standpoint is one which he richly deserves, and I would hope that our fans do treat him right before the game, and then let's not get carried away after the game starts.
But before the game, I hope that he's treated like he deserves, and I think it would be really cool for his players to see how well he's been received. I think that would be pretty cool for him.
Q. I know this is big picture, but you talked about before the season started your four-guard offense, trying to figure out what you guys wanted to do with it. What goes into the discussions? What are you guys trying to create with the four-guard offense?
BILL SELF: Movement, how do we get to the offensive glass out of four guards, which we're not doing at all. When we run our so-called fifth series or whatnot or two game or whatever we run, you have specific roles, and when we've got to our four-out game, understanding exactly what those roles are, where it can be still yet some freelance but also some set rules.
I think it could be a plethora of things, but certainly understanding ball and body movement and how to attack different situations I think we're still trying to figure out.
Q. You're still kind of tweaking with that?
BILL SELF: Oh, God, yeah. That's just something to get us through right now. I think we've done some pretty neat stuff, but we haven't done anything that I feel like right now that consistently -- that this is how we're going to play in March. I still think we're tweaking and trying to figure it out.
Q. You guys are hitting 59 percent of your free throws. It's early, but is that troublesome?
BILL SELF: Yeah, we've been awful from the line, and if you look at it, I hate to say this, but if you look at our freshmen from the line, I don't know what they are, but if you would just look at the freshmen, other than that, we're probably shooting 75 percent from the line. I could be off on that a little bit. I think Josh is shooting 50 something -- 54, and Udoka is shooting 33, and Mitch is shooting 0. So when you stop and think -- now, if you were to remove those three guys, I don't know that it's that bad, but still can get better. So I think as a team, and those three are obviously an important part of our team, I think that's probably the bigger concern is getting those guys making them consistently.
Q. You talked about keeping those guys off their feet during scouting reports. Is that something you've always done?
BILL SELF: No, learned it from Rick Majerus.
Q. How long ago?
BILL SELF: 10 years.
Q. You didn't do it at Illinois or anything?
BILL SELF: Yeah, we did, but even more so. I've always thought scouting reports should be a classroom setting where they sit down and you show them and then you ask questions and guys have to have answers and that kind of stuff. That's what I've always thought. I've never thought scouting report was a time where you actually defend their actions. I always thought you did that in drills during practice and that kind of stuff. That's what I'm talking about. You're going to defend their actions, but you may do it in a three-minute segment during practice or a five-minute segment during practice. But a lot of people practice, and then when they do scout, then they actually guard it.
Which there's nothing wrong with that, but that's just something that we don't do.
Q. If you're late in the year in the tournament and guys have to play 38 minutes certain games, isn't it good that they've been through that?
BILL SELF: I think so, absolutely, yeah. The tournament is a little bit different, at least in my mindset, in that it seems like guys get less tired in the tournament, and it may be because the timeouts are so long, and there's an extra time-out each half. If there's a three-minute time-out, let's say a three-minute break, that's 12 minutes during the first half, plus the mandatory three minutes that get now in the first half that you don't get during the regular season, and then the second half is the same way, so that's 30 minutes they're sitting down, which guy can play four minutes and usually recover pretty easy.
I think in the tournament, it's more of a foul situation that hurts you more than fatigue when you talk about depth. But I do agree. Guys are young. I mean, you look, Monte Morris for Iowa State has averaged 38 minutes a game for the last two or three years. He looks fine to me, and there's other players that do that. But the way that we play and everything, I still think the optimum number would be in that 32 to 34. The guys could still feel very fresh late game if you're able to get them out and get them little blows here and there.
Q. What was your message to the team after 19 turnovers Tuesday?
BILL SELF: Well, I haven't seen the team. We signed basketballs yesterday, autographed basketballs, but I haven't talked to the team as a group. Today will be the first day.
I probably won't even bring up 19 turnovers. I think there's many other things that we can bring up that -- my son had three of them, so I don't even know that I'll bring that up with the team even though they know we've got to take better care of the ball.
Q. Does Lagerald's explosiveness early in the season give Josh some room to grow into his role without feeling like he has to do more than he needs to right now?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I don't think kids think of it like that. I think that Josh thinks of it like I want to get as good as fast as I can. I thought -- I think he's shown unbelievable improvement. I'm sure you guys have, too, since the season started. And he didn't have a bad game against Indiana. He had nine points in the game in which he fouled out and probably played 16 minutes. I mean, that's not a bad game. But certainly he's been much better since then.
But I don't think that Josh looks at it that way remotely. I'm glad everybody else is playing good, so that takes some pressure off of me. I think those kids look at it like I want all the pressure on me now.
But it is an advantage to be able to have five guards out there that are all very capable and making plays and making shots.
Q. He's been pretty good from the three-point range. Is he doing basically what you want him to do offensively, or do you want him to do more?
BILL SELF: I think he's fine. I mean, it's hard for me to say. You get such a false sense of -- if you look at the Long Beach State or the Asheville game, you get a false sense of what you want your guys to do because you would say Devonte' needs to do more. Well, Devonte' is going to do more in games that are tight. That's kind of how it works, and Devonte', what did he take, four shots against Asheville? Well, he can't take four shots in a tight game. He needs to be more aggressive than that. But I think Svi has played very well on the offensive end.
Q. You mentioned a while back that Dwight, while he may be technically healthy, isn't quite up in his explosiveness as before the injury. Have you seen that kind of improve?
BILL SELF: I still feel the same way, and I think he would tell you the same thing if he was honest. He may not say that because he doesn't want to have that be a crutch, but I think Dwight has been fine in the minutes that he's gotten. But I don't think that he's at the point from an explosion standpoint that he was before he got injured.
Q. What more can you ask from Carlton year one to year two?
BILL SELF: What more can we ask of him?
Q. Explain what his role is this year compared to what it was last year.
BILL SELF: You know what, I don't know that we've actually tried to differentiate. I'd love for him to be a guy -- I told him, I envision 12 and 7, but his role is being a defensive presence, blocking our altering, being a great defensive rebounder, active on the glass, playing smart. I don't think I ever said that you have to make shots for you to play well, and he doesn't. He doesn't have to make -- if he worries about the right things, which he will, then he'll play better and be more effective because he's kind of like Lagerald. He'll get some junk just because he's in the right place at the right time, and that gives you confidence.
But I am -- I'm not concerned about him or Landen from a standpoint, or Udoka being more efficient or being more of a presence. I think we'll get there. But I think the reality is that up until this point we haven't gotten there, but I know they're more than capable of doing that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports