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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE


February 13, 2014


Bill Self


Q.  Any update on Joel for this weekend?
COACH SELF:  No, not really.  He feels better.  You know, he's had, let's see, Tuesday, Wednesday and today, Thursday, off, and he feels better.  And like I said before, you know, the MRIs and things like that have been done tell us that there's a good chance he's going to get better quickly, that it's not something that should linger too long, if, in fact, we treat it and rest it appropriately now.
A lot will depend on how he feels 24 hours from now, if he's able to practice.  And if he's able to practice then he'll play, and if he's not able to practice then I would say he would not play.

Q.¬† When you're making that decision, do you think long‑term and maybe just better to sit him for a game?
COACH SELF:¬† I think that's kind of a‑‑ of course you think long‑term, but also, you also know that he'll have a better chance to perform in games in the future the less time he's off now, too.¬† We're not going to do anything to jeopardize him at all, but based on the doctors and the trainers, they'll make the call along with Joe on him being honest with us and how he's feeling.¬† A lot of times there's no reason to hold guys out if they're healthy, too.¬† We'll make that determination in the next few days.

Q.  Is he just shooting?
COACH SELF:  He's not doing anything.  He dressed out for practice yesterday and actually did absolutely nothing.  Dressed out, so I guess like he felt like he was still part of the team.  I don't think he even shot free throws yesterday.

Q.  Were there signs that he didn't look like himself the last couple games?
COACH SELF:  Well, he's landing on one foot.  He's not exploding.  He's looking around to see if he's going to get hit as opposed to initiating contact because he's sore and hurts in different areas, and so, yeah, I think there's certainly some signs that he hasn't been himself.  But like I said before, it would be like to me if you're running back and your high ankle sprain hadn't totally healed but you could be out there but you're still not going to be near as effective, and that's kind of where Joe is right now.

Q.  Any update on Jamari?  Do you know if he's going to be back or not?
COACH SELF:  Jamari and I are going to visit today, and I'll hold off on that until after we visit today.  But I certainly anticipate that visit going well.

Q.  With dribble penetration, at this late point in the year, is that something you can still improve on or work around it?
COACH SELF:¬† That's a great question.¬† The thing about it is, if you look at us against K‑State, how did we score all our points?¬† Dribble penetration.¬† It's the hardest thing to guard.¬† The ball is the hardest thing to guard.¬† So they hurt us on dribble penetration a lot, and they definitely hurt us on ball screen defense, more so than we hurt them on ball screen defense.
But in this particular game, we did not defend the rim worth a flip, and we certainly allowed the ball to get in too tight off the bounce.
I do think that you can get better doing it, but I also think there comes a point in time where it's pride, also, and just not allowing it to happen.¬† And I thought that there were some times where we've done a really good job with it, with the exact same players and exact same skill set, as the times that we haven't done as good a job with it, and I think a lot of it is just want‑to and being tougher and being mentally into it.
We've had guys totally sacrifice their offense to guard the other team's best player and things like that, and the other night we didn't have that type of mindset.
I certainly think that we can get better at it, but I don't know if it's as much technique as it is wanting to really get better at it.

Q.  Talk about the screen ball defense.  Is there a toughness element to that?
COACH SELF:¬† Well, yeah, getting through it, obviously, but like Joe didn't move very well, so Joe didn't move very well and he didn't get back to his man a couple times.¬† I think a little bit of it is breakdowns.¬† They probably scored five baskets off ball screen defense where they got a pick‑and‑roll or something like that.¬† I'd say two of them were probably plays we just didn't make, and three of them were probably breakdowns and not being as attune to what we should be doing.

Q.¬† Since you've been here and more specifically I guess this year, how much emphasis do you put on winning the Big 12 versus some of the other big‑picture goals for your team?
COACH SELF:¬† It's the same every year.¬† It's the same emphasis every year.¬† If you're the best team in this league, there's a great chance you're going to have an opportunity to play for the highest of stakes in March, and that's been the case.¬† I guess there's been two years since we've won the league that we did not make it to the second weekend out of the nine or whatever.¬† But other than that, it's‑‑ when you get into the Sweet 16‑type games, those are the games that are coin‑flip games and those are games that can certainly go either way, and those are the games that are the highest of stakes, from the Sweet 16 game on.¬† We've been in seven of the last nine of those, I think, in large part because if you're the best team in your league you should be competing in those games.¬† I think they kind of go hand in hand to be honest with you.

Q.¬† When teams go through tough losses like that, do you find out things about your team?¬† What did you find out about your team after the loss to K‑State?
COACH SELF:¬† I don't know yet.¬† We haven't played since.¬† We've only had one 75‑minute practice because we had to take Tuesday off.¬† I know they care.¬† I knew that beforehand.
And you say tough losses.  And yeah, to me it was a tough loss because it's a game that obviously you're ahead in overtime a couple times and you've got to be able to close out games better, but the reality of it is across America, everybody has tough losses.  I mean, everybody does.  Syracuse is the one team that hasn't had a tough loss yet.  And I guess Wichita State.  But Syracuse, how would they have bounced back if the shot didn't go in from 40 feet last night?
I think when you compete in the best league in America I think by most everybody's judgment and you're 9‑2 after 11 games and you played six of the games on the road and you play good competition, I don't think that's doing bad.
I think what we should learn, if we've learned anything, which I hope we have, is that if we can't make other teams play bad, especially away from home, then your chances of success aren't very good, and we didn't do anything to make K‑State play poorly I didn't think the other night.

Q.¬† I thought one of your big‑picture goals was lowering turnovers.¬† Seems like lately you've done a pretty good job of that.
COACH SELF:¬† Yeah, we had 11 the other night in 45 minutes, and the last time we played K‑State we had zero at halftime and I think like 10 for the game, so we've done a good job against them taking care of the ball.
I think certain type of teams probably give us more of a problem in taking care of the ball than others, but I think we were decent against West Virginia, too.  Maybe we're on an uptick there as far as limiting our bad possessions offensively.

Q.  How do you think Brannen played during the comeback?
COACH SELF:  I thought he did good.  Yeah, I thought he was a spark.  I thought he played with more energy.  I thought he was definitely one of our better performers without question, but especially there late.  He was good.

Q.¬† Is this the time of year, is it naturally like the toughest part of the year to get guys energized and motivated, this kind of mid‑February period where March is still kind of far off?
COACH SELF:¬† You know, I guess.¬† I never look at it like that.¬† I don't see how‑‑ you only play 35 games.¬† I don't see how you can't be excited every game.
But I think if it was baseball and you get to August or whatever, those are probably dog days, and I'm sure football season is the same way, that you get late in the season that it becomes more of a grind.
The thing about it is, this time of year more than anything, it's not so much if you get yourself energized as much as how does your body feel.  There's a lot of bodies across America right now.  There's a lot of guys that have got a lot of nicks and a lot of guys that are playing with turned ankles or this or that and they're sore but they're not hurt and things like that, and I do think that's natural this time of year.

Q.  Talk about Conner's progress.
COACH SELF:  I thought Conner has done well, too.  I get asked questions like this all the time, whether it be Conner, whether it be Brannen, whether it be Landen Lucas, whatever it is.  The thing about it is they've all done well, it's just they haven't had the same opportunities as some of the other guys have because if you were to ask me how has Selden been or how has Wiggins been or how has Mason been at times, you could make a strong case that those guys have been pretty good.
But they've all done well, and that's one of the great things about our team moving forward even into next year is that I think we've got a lot of guys that will be chomping at the bit to get minutes that maybe they didn't get the opportunity to earn near as many this year.

Q.  What do you think about TCU?  They still haven't got a win.
COACH SELF:  No, they haven't got a win.  They're going to beat somebody, and I honestly believe that.  They're much improved over last year.  Last year they beat us and beat Oklahoma both handily.  They'll get one, and certainly they'll come in and they'll play man, they'll play zone, and you've got to execute.
But if you look at their scores and things like that, even Iowa State, Ejim goes for 48; still it's a nine‑point game late or whatever at Ames.¬† And that's with a guy getting 48.
It's just a matter of time before they bust through.

Q.  What do you think of the emergence of SMU under Larry?
COACH SELF:  I think it's awesome.  Under Larry and Jank.  Let's give Jank a little credit.  Of course Jerrance would want half the credit, too.  I think it's awesome, to see where they've been and to see the interest level and the new arena and bringing kind of college basketball excitement back to the metroplex I think is really cool.  And to be ranked and everything, that's quite an accomplishment in a short amount of time.
Of course everybody that knows him knows that it would happen.  It's probably happened sooner than what most people thought, but it's very cool to see.

Q.¬† You talked about some guys kind of being beat up; you guys play so many of those Monday games.¬† Does the Saturday‑Monday schedule have anything to do with that at all?
COACH SELF:  No, I don't think so.

Q.¬† Would it make a difference to play Saturday‑Wednesday every week?
COACH SELF:¬† Oh, yeah, sure it would, but that's not the way it is.¬† We probably play more one‑game turnarounds than most teams, but everybody you play on Monday also played on Saturday, too, so everybody has got the same thing going.¬† But I do think the Saturday‑Monday is great preparation for the NCAA Tournament because that Sunday is what it's going to be like on the Saturday between Friday and Sunday during the tournament.¬† If that made any sense at all.
But I think it's good.  I'd much rather be playing in those games than not be playing in them.

Q.¬† Do you think any guys will be back from the NBA All‑Star break?
COACH SELF:  I don't know who all is coming back.  We've got several that have told us they're coming back.  I don't have the definite list.  Most my guys have operated in the past, we probably won't know until about 5:00 p.m. tomorrow that they're in town and need tickets.  So that's kind of how my guys operate.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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