home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 31, 2008

Bill Self

THE MODERATOR: We'll turn the call over to Coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks, the champions of the Midwest Regional.

Q. Just curious, how relieved you are to be there the day after and your thoughts on four No. 1s getting there, and almost as a fan of the sport as well, anticipating what this means to have pretty much the four elite teams getting there?
COACH SELF: Well, I'm relieved that we're there. But relief was probably more yesterday. I'm really getting excited. And I know our players will, too. We need to rest today. But I'm really fired up to have the opportunity.
And I don't know all the statistics like you do on the number of No. 1s that have gone. But I know it's a first and certainly you've got four high, high level teams. Although all the teams are great once you get there. But you've got four teams that had done it basically since the beginning of November all the way through and have maintained a pretty high level of play and I can't imagine there being a more exciting scenario going in at least for the -- not only for college basketball fans but for the respective fans of each program.

Q. In that respect, is that kind of tough for one of these teams to portray itself as an underdog this week?
COACH SELF: You know, it may be. I don't know. I guess we can be the underdogs since we're the fourth No. 1 seed. I guess that would be us. And Carolina would be the favorites, the overall No. 1 seed. But I really think in this situation there's not much difference between any of the teams from a performance standpoint.
All the teams played differently and take pride in doing different things, but certainly you're going to have four premiere teams out there.

Q. Obviously the game has special meaning because of Roy's time in Lawrence. How big of a deal is he still there, and do you already get the sense that the fans are going to make this a big deal?
COACH SELF: Well, you know, it is a big deal. But I don't think it's near as big a deal because Roy's coaching against Kansas, I think it's a much bigger deal to me personally because our team is participating in it. But fans will make a big deal out of it. And I said this yesterday, when people are upset that you leave -- and I've gone through this myself and of course he went through it at a very high level -- it's a bag-handed compliment because they didn't want you to.
I'm sure he knows that and understands that and that's the nature of the business. But, you know, at the core of all Kansas fans -- and I'm not in touch with everybody, but at the core I would think everybody's very proud of the time he spent here because he gave this place 15 years of excellence.
So I don't think that -- although I think feelings were hurt initially and all those things, but I think five years is enough time for people to let a few things go. And I think that's certainly been the case here.

Q. You've talked often during the year about Brandon's need to be more aggressive. Has he adopted that policy and where have you seen him become more mature as a player?
COACH SELF: I didn't think he was as aggressive as he could have been yesterday. I think he's made some aggressive moves and he hadn't finished his moves aggressively and that happened multiple times yesterday. But for the most part he's getting the ball to the paint better and forcing contact and getting to the free throw line a little bit more.
And I think when you look at it, coming off an ACL, still only been about 10 months or nine months coming off an ACL and here we are expecting him to be in the attack mode all the time. We know from a medical standpoint it's going to take a year for him to get back to being where he was or at that level.
And we think he's been able to accomplish that in about seven months. So I do think there was a mental thing that he had to work through. And I think he's worked through it and I don't think he thinks about that leg one time right now.

Q. Just getting to your first Final Four and everything. In the back of your mind, you're thinking now I've got to do five days of Roy Williams questions; you can't catch a break?
COACH SELF: I'll deal with anything getting there. So you could put me answering questions in a dark room with the bright light shining on me for eight hours a day and I'd still love every second of it.
But there will be a lot of Roy questions, obviously. And I said this, usually when a coach leaves and you leave a high level place to go at a high level place, you know, five years is a pretty long time that the teams hadn't matched up or that Kansas and Illinois hasn't matched up.
So we probably dodged some bullets in large part because the only time we were seeded together in the tournament, I think, that we obviously made an early exit. So this could have happened before now. But I do think that if it is going to happen, it's great to happen on a big stage and certainly this will be the biggest of stages.

Q. Was wondering if you could tell me, just looking back at the Davidson game, if you can talk about the job that they did to take you to the end there?
COACH SELF: I think Davidson is good. They played Carolina very, very well first game. They had UCLA down 32-14 in the first half out there before UCLA put it together and ended up winning by 10 or 12. Duke played them. They played Duke to a six-point game in Charlotte.
So we knew they were good. But I think they've got even better as the season has gone on. I'll be the first to tell you I don't think we played our best. I think offensively we were pretty stale. But that was because they did a really good job of taking us out of what we want to do and got us to standing as opposed to attacking. And that's a credit to them and of course a credit to their staff.
But they're a very well-coached team. I felt like that neither team really got control of the game. But late we had control of the game and then free throw block-out and going under our screen on Curry, and the next thing you know it's a two-point game with 50 seconds left.
Of course we played pretty good defense the last possession. But didn't like seeing it come down to the last possession but certainly liked the result.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the combination of excitement and heartbreak you had in leaving Illinois in 2003 and then two years later in '05 when you saw that group that you left have the season they had, what your thoughts were during that run?
COACH SELF: Well, I've said all along, the reason we left was not to switch teams. If that had been the case, we would have definitely stayed with the kids we knew and kids we loved and a talented group. We had that team coming back plus Charlie Villanueva committed.
So you can imagine the talent level on that team. That was a hard thing to do. But we did it over time. And I certainly know, although Roy leaving here has garnered more national attention, me leaving Illinois was a big, big deal there.
And it's an emotional time. The thing about it is you want the timing to be right on those sorts of things but the timing's never right. And it was tough. And watching that team perform at the level they performed at was not something that was unexpected.
I expected that to happen. I really thought that that team had a chance to be special. That group of players and turned out five of those guys all played in the NBA. But it was tough watching them play because I know I could have been a part of that. But it was also rewarding knowing you brought those guys in and that they've thrived in a new system and performed very well.
I just kept telling myself: Hey, we did it for the long run and this is the long run. We knew the first, following a guy that had as much success as Roy, we knew the first couple of years were going to be years that there would be comparisons and be tough to live up to a guy that goes to back-to-back Final Fours and wins 80 percent of his games.
But, certainly, I think we've gotten past that and certainly enjoying our time here.

Q. You mentioned before about it's kind of the four teams that have done it all the way. You four teams are actually ranked one through four at the start of the year. Not only as a coach but as kind of an observer, how incredible is that for the teams that started the year to end the year like that, too?
COACH SELF: I thought Memphis and Carolina, more so than us and UCLA, I thought were more consistent performers. How about this: We're both 35-3, I think, and we haven't performed as consistently as the other two because their records are better.
So I would say Memphis and Carolina has always been in that top four or five from day one. And Memphis obviously in the top two or three from day one.
But over time, in my opinion, watching all the teams play, you can throw three or four other teams in there, but then there would be maybe they would lose a couple of games and you have a new hot team but they would lose a couple of games and there were hot teams that come in and out of there. But there were four constants.
So I think it's remarkable that you have the consistency that the top four preseason rated teams in the country played with all year long. You have to get lucky to do that. You have to dodge some bullets and all four teams have been able to do that.

Q. Coming into this week, you guys obviously have to put a lot of focus on Tyler Hansbrough. But which of the other guys, Ellington and Lawson and Danny Green, which stands out to you the most to do damage this weekend?
COACH SELF: We've got to try to figure out a way to guard them all. You put so much focus on Tyler, he still gets 20 and everybody else has big nights.
But the thing that I would say, rather than focus on how do you stop individuals, it would be how to slow down their team. Because they're so good as everybody knows in transition that they can just go get easy points that basically they don't have to go against your defense and we have to make them go against our defense.
I don't know, our focus will not be on we just have to do this or that with one player. Our focus will be don't let them be who they want to be. I think in order to do that you have to defend all five spots.

Q. I know you've talked about this before. Now that you're through it, just how hard is it emotionally to lose an Elite Eight game when most of the times you still end up going to the Final Four a couple days later as a spectator?
COACH SELF: That stinks. Coach Sutton used to say this: That there's so much hype on the Final Four now, that from a hype standpoint and an interest standpoint, it means almost as much as winning a national championship 25 or 30 years ago, because everything you hear about through the media outlets is not road to the championship, it's road to the Final Four. So obviously losing the first round stinks.
And we've done that twice. Winning the second round, at least you won a game in the tournament. You lose in the Sweet Sixteen, or if you lose in the second round at least you win a game; you lose in the Sweet Sixteen, at least we made it to the second weekend. Because really the second weekend is when you start reaping the benefits of the tournament because you get more exposure recruiting and everything because the pool has been dwindled.
Then you lose in the first round of the Final Four it's a crusher. But at least you made it to the Final Four. So next to losing the national championship game -- and I haven't experienced a first round game in the Final Four -- but next to losing the championship game, I can't imagine there's a tougher game to lose than the Elite Eight game because a successful season in so many ways is envisioned by getting to the Final Four.

Q. You mentioned earlier talking about the long run and building your program there, that it might be difficult for the first year following Roy. Were those first two years difficult or were they not as difficult as you thought they might be?
COACH SELF: When I say difficult, I'm putting your own stamp on it. I felt like from day one it was our team. I really did. And I loved coaching the players that were here before. But it's different when you walk into a situation saying, okay, guys, this is how we're going to play and it works, and you haven't won as much as a guy that played differently that was in there before you. So the players would maybe say: Why do we want to play that way? We know this other way works.
So that right there was to me the challenge getting everyone to buy into that this was best for us. And although the kids, they tried. I mean they did a good job with it and everything. But still they've heard two voices. And one voice was very, very successful. So I do think, you know, consciously or whatever, they didn't do it consciously but subconsciously they could still hear those two voices.
Whereas, when you recruit your own players and you get them in there and get a chance to coach them they've only heard one voice, so this is the way they think it should be done. So I do think for any coach taking over, unless you're going to a situation that has really good players and they haven't been as good is a difficult transition.

Q. Injury-wise, you all okay?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. We worry about Sherron day to day, because of his knee situation. But health-wise, knock on wood, we got past a little flu bug this past week and weekend. So I think that we'll be as close to whole as you can be this time of year. Everybody is nicked up, but I think we'll be fine.

Q. Talk a little bit -- I think in a sense Howland with UCLA has dealt with it a little bit. When you're playing a team who is so devastating in transition, how do you sell your team, who in best world, possible worlds, every player would like to play at break-neck speed? How do you tell your players, as much as we like to play fast and get out and go offensively, for our best opportunity to win this game we're going to have to ratchet it down a little bit to keep this team from doing what they do best?
COACH SELF: I don't know if you do. Our philosophy all year long is to run. I mean it's not like we walk it up the floor. We're scoring 81 a game or whatever. But we want to run.
That won't change, us wanting to run. What we have to do is keep them from running. So, you know, sometimes I guess early shots in the clock or early misses would lend the other team an opportunity to run. But we're not going to change who we are going into this. We know the way we play gives us the best chance to score easy baskets and those sorts of things and that's very important to our success. And what we have to do is make sure that Carolina doesn't do that.
So I'm not going to tell our guys let's ratchet it down. We've got to play. We just can't let them play the way they want to play. But we still have to play the way we want to.

Q. Wonder if you can talk about Sasha a little bit and what it's like the way he's reacted to going back to the bench and coming off the bench as opposed to starting, and also just the last month the way he's asserted himself? And I guess the third part of that is: How much do you think he has benefited just skill-wise working with Danny?
COACH SELF: I think anybody would benefit from a skill standpoint working for Danny. Danny is one of the unique, great, great players that it didn't come easy for him especially after he had a three ACL. So this is a guy that had to learn shortcuts. And it's easier for him to teach guys because he had to figure out ways to get it done, not based on athletic ability. So he's been great for all our guys.
He's only been working with them now for nine months, or I guess technically much less than that. So they're going to benefit from his tutelage the longer he works with them. But Sasha has been great. He's been much improved. And whether he starts or comes off the bench, that's not even something that would register with him.
He's a great teammate and he just wants us to do well and he feels that if we do well, the pie is big enough for everybody. So he's been a perfect teammate and a great guy to coach.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

End of FastScripts

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297