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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 12, 2017
Q. What is your initial reaction to the Midwest Region?
BILL SELF: It's the same reaction I have every year, like, are you kidding me? That's what I initially thought.
Obviously, I think it's very difficult. But you look at it, I think everybody in the tournament could probably say the same thing, that it's very difficult. It's been my experiences in all the years, when you think you've kind of figured something out, it never plays out that way. So I'm not going to fret or be disappointed at all because I think everybody in the field, all the 1 seeds, would probably say, Villanova? Are you kidding me? Look who we've got to go against or whoever.
So, we're happy we're a 1 seed. I'm not sure that's a huge advantage. We're obviously happy that we get to stay fairly regional with our travel, especially going down to Tulsa in the first weekend. Hopefully play well and win a four-team tournament, really it's five team right now, but it will be a four-team tournament. So that's our only focus. I'm sure that's the focus of everybody in the field.
Q. Did your assistants go scout live in Dayton?
BILL SELF: No, no, no, no, no. The they don't allow you to do that anymore. I'd have to double cheek to see if you can. Because in conference tournaments -- that's a great question, and I do not know the answer.
But in conference tournaments or in tournament you're allowed to scout, be there the game before and certainly in the NCAA Tournament you're allowed to do that as well. But I don't know about traveling. I'm not sure about that, because they eliminated travel to scouts several years ago, many years ago. So that's something that we'll look into.
I'm glad you brought that up. Josh, that's the smartest thing you've ever asked in all the time that I've known you (laughing).
Q. What do you think of being the No. 2 overall and Villanova No. 1?
BILL SELF: I didn't really pick that up. Did they say that we were the No. 2? I didn't watch the show after our deal came out. So that's true? You know, I think that's good. I'm not sure what it means now. But the guys certainly played at a high level for the most part all year long. Of course, we didn't play particularly well in our last game and didn't guard. I'm not sure that that's the worst thing that happened to us either. Because it's been my experiences sometimes it's not a bad thing to be able to refocus your guys going into the tournament.
Q. Landen said you guys got better the last couple days?
BILL SELF: I hope so. I hope so. When the coach acts like a maniac, you know you'll probably try a little harder or what not. I do thing think there are some things that we have to tighten up. Our ball screen defense was bad against TCU, and obviously rebounding.
When you play four little guys like we did against TCU, you know, it's an excuse if somebody outrebounds you. It's never an excuse. You've got to be tougher and more competitive, and certainly defensive rebounding and ball screen defense is probably about the two most important things we have to get better at going into the tournament.
Q. DevontÃ©, no problems in practice?
BILL SELF: Yeah, he practiced yesterday and today. Yeah, absolutely no problems. I can't comment to it if he's sore at all, but no limitations at all.
Q. What do you know about your two possible opponents?
BILL SELF: Not much. I know Jim, obviously, from going way back. Then of course he had probably one of the biggest wins of his coaching career against us when he coached Bradley, and he beat us in the opening round in Detroit, if I'm not mistaken.
Is that right, Larry? Was it Detroit? I think it was.
So obviously they had a great year and won a huge game last night. I watched North Carolina Central play earlier in the year, and just flipping channels, and I could be wrong on this, I think it was Ohio State. I haven't studied their schedule. And I'm thinking, gosh dang, they're going to win this game at Ohio State, unless I'm totally screwed up, and I could be, so it may have been somebody else.
But I've watched them play, and I've got to go back or we've got to go back and really study them hard. You know, I do think it's a little bit of a disadvantage not knowing who you're going to play the first game. But obviously, the other teams have to do the same thing as well.
Q. Does it help them -- I mean, obviously none of these teams have won, but does it help the winner to have played the game? It seems to help the 11 seeds and the 12 seeds?
A. I actually think that's a pretty good point. I actually think in conference tournaments it helps too. Sometimes you come out, and -- it didn't really hurt us against TCU because we came out and we shot the ball real well early and got a double digit lead, so that wasn't it in that particular game. But I do think sometimes having a win under your belt sometimes takes the pressure off a little bit.
BILL SELF: I was really, really surprised. Not saying wrong, but I was really, really, really surprised that they put -- not that they put Iowa State in with us. I think that's fine. But they did it if both teams advanced that it could happen in the Sweet Sixteen rather than later on. So that surprised me.
But they changed the format, if I'm not mistaken, and Larry knows better than me, the format now is they're going to keep conference teams away from each other until the Sweet Sixteen. So they followed their guidelines. But that one was a little bit of a surprise to me. Of course both teams have to play well the first week to even have a chance to play each other. But I thought that was kind of different.
Q. Is that about what you thought of the Big 12?
BILL SELF: Getting six in? Yeah, I was happy. I was pleasantly happy, not surprised at all. But the K-State situation, when USC got in, I thought, oh, my gosh, somebody is getting left out and I thought it could potentially be K-State, because I thought Syracuse would get in. That's going by what the pundits have all said.
So I was really happy to see, and I know you play may not believe this, but I was actually to see our league get another team. And the fact that he gets, you know, Bruce gets a chance to play Danny I think makes for an interesting twist as well in that play-in game.
Q. Landen said he was kind of going back and watching some old games. He said something he need noticed with the '08 teams that when everyone checked into the game, they were really play ready to play at that moment. Is that something you noticed about your better tournament teams?
BILL SELF: First of all, we subbed a lot more back then. So there were a lot of opportunities to look ready to play. When guys are playing 35 minutes, you only take them out once a game. So that may be something.
You know, that may be true. When I watch old footage, I usually don't watch how the body language is when we check in. That's not my focus from 2008. But Landen's ahead of the curve, so that may be something he studies.
Q. When you see a program like Syracuse out of the tournament or Michigan State playing an 8-9 game, does it provide more of a context about how consistent your team has been at being a high seed?
BILL SELF: You know, probably, it probably does. But we've been a high seed, and we've also not taken advantage of being a high seed too. So then you look in that potential match-up if you advance past the first game of Miami and Michigan State, and you say, well, didn't Miami beat Duke? Then you look at Michigan State and say hasn't he been to seven or eight Final Fours or whatever?
So I personally didn't feel a ton of comfort or warm feelings by seeing that, because I think either way it's a hard first weekend without question.
Q. You had that last year with UCONN too. Landen said he thought it helped. It was good for your guys.
BILL SELF: You know what? One thing that I do think is good, and not that it will play out this way throughout the bracket if we're fortunate enough to advance, but what is immediately in front of us are Power Five conference teams. If you look back at our -- we've obviously lost different ways in the tournament. But you think about it, and you say, well, Missouri Valley has been a thorn in your side or Bucknell. The fact of the matter is that it's going to be -- the first game isn't as well-known game, obviously. But if you're fortunate enough to advance, you're going to be playing people that obviously are well known, and players will recognize names on the other teams and that kind of stuff.
BILL SELF: We actually had a lot more coaches that were head coaches ten years ago and not as many now. But it's exciting to me, because I think all of those guys have a serious chance to advance. I thought Jake really got a disservice by being a 6 seed. I think they're a lot better than that. I watched them play and it's hard for me to see how a team that's ranked 12th in the country could be a 6 seed. It was very similar when we played Northern Iowa many years ago. I think they were 28-1 or 28-2 and they're in the 8-9 game, and they're ranked 13th in the country or whatever.
So I don't think -- I don't know who they could potentially play. I think it's Baylor, if I'm not mistaken, if they both win their first round game. That's two top-15 teams in the country playing each other in the opening weekend.
Q. Has Danny Manning been in touch with you in the last hour about K-State?
BILL SELF: We text back and forth, but not details. No, we text back and forth about congratulations and I'm happy for you and all those things. It's pretty remarkable.
You know, it's one thing when you go into a league that the program is down, and in order to get in the NCAA Tournament, you're going to have to win some games against Duke or Louisville or Syracuse or North Carolina or whoever it is, Florida State, in order to have a chance to play in it. And in three short years they've been able to do that, so their staff has done a great job.
Q. Any thought about the streak of 28 straight berths?
BILL SELF: No, I haven't thought of that. But Danny that may have been something he was colluding to a little bit, the consistency of having your team in the mix. There's no guarantee you're ever going to play well. There's no guarantee you're for sure going to advance. There are no guarantees. But it is nice to know you're going to be in the game, and that's something this program has been able to do consistently for a long time. Well before me.
Q. Have you ever been not taken it for granted, getting that NCAA Tournament berth?
BILL SELF: I'd say you take for granted sometimes if you know you're getting in, but you don't take for granted the rush, you don't take for granted being excited about the seed or match-ups or who you're going to play. We probably knew that we were going to be in the tournament by mid February, I would think. There would have to be a lot of things not happen well if you win your league not to get in.
So I think getting in sometimes you may assume if you have a good year, but you don't ever assume or take anything for granted after that. It's a special time.
I told our guys, I think this is the 7th time in 11 years we've been a 1 seed, if I'm not mistaken. Is that right? And the other three of the four we were a 2, and the crappy year we were a 3. That's pretty consistent. That's pretty consistent. But still it doesn't -- all you do, you bust your butt for months to put yourself in a position to maybe play to a little bit of what is perceived to be a competitive advantage. But the reality of it is it doesn't ever play out that way.
There is not a competitive advantage. It's all about match-ups. It's all about lining up and outplaying the guy across from you, and certainly we know we have our hands full without question, but we're excited to be in the mix. We are every year.
Q. Any extra special for you to be going back to Tulsa?
BILL SELF: No, I love Tulsa. But I've been to Oklahoma enough. I love my parents and everything, but to me all that means is more ticket requests and -- I will tell you this. I'd much rather be in Tulsa than Oklahoma City, because we haven't played very well in Oklahoma City. We actually played well in Tulsa last time we were there.
Q. What's the team's schedule like for the next week?
BILL SELF: Well, we practiced. We were off. We had the opportunity to take a day off a little sooner than expected this past week. So we were off Friday. We practiced pretty hard yesterday and today, and tomorrow we'll go light, light. Then Tuesday, I don't know what we'll do yet, but will be something but probably not too strenuous. Then we'll get right back into it on Wednesday.
We're going to practice, but I just don't know if it will be knockdown, drag-out-type practices. Probably till Wednesday.
Q. You've got some veterans, guys that were on that doorstep last year at the Elite Eight that kind of use that as motivation all the way back to Big 12 Media Day. Does that add anything to this run or what you're preparing to do knowing those are the leaders of this team?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think so. I think will help. It can't hurt. We do have good leadership, and certainly everybody that's going to play significant minutes has at least been through it a little bit with the exception of Josh.
I think this will be new for job shall Josh, too, being able to put himself in a position where, you know, here's the reality of the tournament is you've got to have fun, you've got to play loose, and sometimes that's difficult to do if you know that it's a one and done type scenario. So the teams that are able to balance that to be intent, competitive, loose, fresh, still play with a purpose, those are the teams that usually play the best.
Last year we actually did a great job in the NCAA Tournament. We didn't play well in our last game, but the first three games, I thought we really handled it well.
Q. What kind of response do you expect from Josh?
BILL SELF: Oh, I think he'll respond favorably. He was down, obviously, and he understood. I mean, he's a smart kid without question. I think he'll respond very favorably moving forward.
Q. Was there some reassurance from the fact that in some big games like against Kentucky that he has shown?
BILL SELF: Yeah, yeah. I mean, hey, Josh Jackson has probably played about as consistently as any player in the country, I would say, the last two months. If I'm not -- I could be wrong on this. But I think 17 out of 19 games or 18 out of 20, he scored 14 or more points, and that's not what he does. What he does is all the other things, and then the points come as he does all the other things. So, yeah, I have every reason to believe that he'll handle everything very well.
Q. Were you joking about being a maniac?
BILL SELF: No, I was semi. I was joking a little bit. I think the last two practices I've been pretty intense, probably the most intense practices we've had probably in the last month or so.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports