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March 18, 2016

Bill Self

Des Moines, Iowa

THE MODERATOR: Coach Self, welcome back. We will have an opening statement then take questions from the media.

BILL SELF: We're happy to spend a couple more days in Des Moines and certainly know that we got our hands full moving forward in playing a talented and well-coached UConn team, but excited about it.

Q. Coach, as one coach watching another what are the things that impress you or that are unique about Kevin Ollie and the way he coaches his team?
BILL SELF: Well, obviously he's got great poise on the sideline or they wouldn't experience the success that they've already experienced in his short tenure there. Seems like to me that his players really care about each other and he has a good relationship with his players, I think that's pretty evident. But not one in which -- friendly, I think he does a great job of getting after them and drilling them and really pushing them.

You know, most teams that are successful, you know, the foundation is they guard and I think they're really good defensively and he gives his players a lot of freedom offensively.

Q. Bill, I think yesterday you alluded to this that you've been making a conscious effort to try to just loosen up a little bit with the guys and if I understood that correctly, is that how you see it? If so, what might you be doing that reflects that?
BILL SELF: I don't think that I'm doing anything consciously. I just think I'm always loose. No, I'm joking. I said this yesterday, I don't know who it was to, but I think it's said a lot that teams take on the personality of the head coach. I think sometimes the coach can take on the personality of the team, and in our particular situation these guys over an extended period of time have played a certain way and they have given us all confidence on how they played.

So I don't think it's anything that I'm consciously trying to do different. I think these guys have kinda brought that out in me as much as me doing anything to try to be different.

Q. Coach, couple of your players talked about how losing in the second round the last couple of years has motivated them. Is that something you have used to remind them or motivate them?
BILL SELF: No, no. We're not going to run from it. We have lost in the second round the last two years. But certainly I'm not going to use that as motivation, dwelling on the negative. I do think that, you know, when you get to the second round everybody is capable of beating everybody without question.

But last two years we haven't been whole going into the tournament, obviously and when you're losing starters and things like that, after you played a certain way all year long, a lot of times you're not the same team that you were the vast majority of the season. And I really think that was the case with us. Not an excuse, but it's the reality of it. This year, I mean, knock on wood, we've been healthier. We're more whole. Roles are defined. When you got a guy hurt going into the tournament, roles are changed. So I think the guys are more confident the way we've been doing it this year in large part because we haven't had to change midstream.

Q. Can you put into words what Perry has meant to your team, and a lot of times it seems like he might get overshadowed by your younger players. But can you imagine where you would be without him?
BILL SELF: Oh, yeah, we couldn't be anywhere close. Perry is maybe as consistent of a performer that we have ever had since I've been coaching there. Sometimes with consistency comes boredom, though, you know, because at least with what expectations are. You can just pencil Perry in for this. Sometimes Perry hasn't had a 33 against Kentucky or some of the other big games that some of our other players have had.

But if you look at it over time he's probably about as efficient as anybody that we've had there, at least since I've been there. He's a rock. He is a guy that we look to score when we're struggling. He certainly plays a much bigger role than what I think a lot of people give him credit for nationally. I think within our league he's very well respected, but I think nationally he probably doesn't get the recognition that he's deserved over time.

Q. You have seen UConn yesterday and in the last few games that ratcheted the pressure up as the game went along maybe because they got behind a little bit. How does their pressure compare with others that you have seen, say like West Virginia?
BILL SELF: I think it's different than West Virginia's pressure. I think with West Virginia they go trap a rebound. I think that UConn does it differently. But I also think that they do it soundly, too. I don't think they give up a lot of easy baskets by their pressure. So not that West Virginia did, but it was just a totally different mind-set.

I think UConn's half court defense is really good and their stats back it up, their field goal percentage defense and everything backs it up. But they've got some guys and especially Daniel Hamilton, his arms are so long and, you know, as far as seems like to me they pick somebody every game.

Yesterday, you know, in that game, I don't want to say Colorado had control but, you know, it turned on a dime when the pressure was ratcheted up. So we certainly have to be prepared for that.

Q. Bill, when you face a team that shoots free throws as good as Connecticut does, does that change your defensive philosophy at all? Or not?
BILL SELF: Well, based on how we fouled yesterday, that wouldn't bode well tomorrow for success. We fouled 27 times yesterday, and certainly when you foul a team that shoots -- I could be off a little bit. But I think they have six guys out of their top seven scorers that all shoot above 80% and some of them are well above 80%. We gotta play good defensive. We gotta play aggressive, but we've got to play with our head and our feet and keep 'em off the free throw line.

Certainly we know that's a big part of their offense because they do drive it as well as anybody probably we played against all year. West Virginia would probably be a comparable type team to look at when you look at their perimeter players and how well they drove it, and I think UConn's players does the same thing.

Q. Seems like Carlton has played his best basketball these last couple weeks. How encouraging is it for you to see that when a freshman turns it on this time of year?
BILL SELF: I think it bodes well for the future but certainly you're right, Carlton had a really, really good Big 12 Tournament, and yesterday I didn't think he was quite as good, he wasn't as active defensively.

But he's confident right now, scoring the ball and I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. You know, to me, he's just strength away and a little bit of experience away from being one of the better big guys that we've had at Kansas.

Q. Coach, as a guy who's always trying to convince his players that they can give more, how is vi's performance yesterday a teachable example of that for your guys?
BILL SELF: Well, you know, we've had different guys step up at different moments. But I think in his case yesterday, the guys know how hard he prepares in practice. They know how hard he works, and they all have so much respect for him, knowing that it's just a smart of time when things do click for him.

I think as much as anything, it's a prime example of keep grinding. You keep grinding, you don't know when your number will be called, and although his number is called every game, but that could have been a totally different feeling game if he hadn't played like he played.

So I think if there is a lesson to be learned, it's stay positive, keep grinding and when the opportunity knocks you gotta be ready to take advantage of it.

Q. Bill, can you talk about Aaron Miles, kinda when he's contributed to you guys being on the staff this year? Does it seem like sometimes you have to restrain him from going on the court?
BILL SELF: I haven't noticed that, maybe I should start noticing. I know he gets excited, but Aaron, if you guys don't know was one of the best guards that played at Kansas, I think he's 9th all time in the NCAA history in assists and big-time winner and he tore his labrum in his hip this past year, and we brought him on to let him do rehab and to kinda learn what coaching is all about.

He's great. He's strictly in an administrative role, but certainly I think having him around has been good with our players just from an approach standpoint. He's not a coach, but certainly from an approach standpoint and things of that nature, I think that he's been really, really good with helping guys kinda understand, you know, from a mind-set what it takes to be a really good player at this level.

Q. Coach, back to Svi, could you offer insight into how he's done these last few years, so far from home, whole new culture, his English sounded excellent last night. Talk about how he's doing at the personal level?
BILL SELF: We think he's doing great. We think he loves it here. He tells us he does. All indications are that he's very, very happy. I think frustration does set in when you don't play as much as you want to or play as well as you know you can, when you get opportunities.

For the most part, I think he's -- he's the youngest player on our team and I think he's the second youngest player in the Big 12 and he's a sophomore. So when you evaluate him, you should evaluate him as a freshman out there. He came when he was 16 years old, so you should evaluate him as a freshman and if you're able to do that, then you say, wow!

At times he can look a certain way and look great, but he's been a little bit inconsistent. I think that's pretty apparent, but I think a lot that's just youth.

Q. I'm going to ask you to go way back, so I hope you don't mind your time at Illinois. Obviously that program has had struggles maintaining success, you had great success there, you might have a unique perspective on this. What were your keys to finding success there? What's the potential of the program and maybe even the challenges there?
BILL SELF: Well, I'm not an expert on anybody else's program, so not claiming to be. I know when I was there, maybe times are different, it was so important that we were able to develop, maintain relationships in the city area and certainly be able to recruit, whether there is six high major guys in the state to be able to get two or three of those guys every year. We didn't always get the blue chip, blue chip guys, but we got a lot of guys that turned out to be blue chip players. I don't think it's a good job. I think it's a great job.

I'm sure moving forward, they will get back to the level that they're accustom to. I'm a fan of John, so I don't want to say anything remotely negative or hint that at all. But I don't think they've caught many breaks in the last couple years as well.

Q. The rule change that's allowing under classmen to declare for the draft and pull their names back after the scouting combine, do you like that rule? Do you think that's good for the players, and how do you think that's going to impact hurting and not knowing if and when you're not going to get guys back?
BILL SELF: I was actually part of the talks with the NBA with that, and it's not perfect. We were told it was a really good first step, to getting to an end result that would be one in which everybody, NBA and college would be more pleased.

I'm going to hold my opinion until after this year, because we may be a team that's affected by that as much as anybody in the country. We have a lot of good players, but we don't have the high lottery picks, the lottery picks are going to go anyway, 19 out of 20 or 9 out of 10. It's the ones that are mid-second round or maybe projected not to get drafted. We put our name in and then how do we approach it after we put our name in?

I think in theory it's good because it gives the players and family more accurate information to make a decision based on what they're hearing from NBA people as opposed to what they're hearing from people that maybe aren't connected to the NBA, whether it be agents or whoever, or third parties. I think in theory it's good. I think it remains to be seen how it plays out, the effectiveness of it. I hope it is good for our game. This is a weird year to have that be the first year because everybody is saying the draft isn't as strong this year.

So there will be more kids that make an attempt to probably look into it and when you look -- the key is it's okay to look, but when you look, do you jeopardize your amateurism? And if kids are smart and families are smart enough to stay on campus and be not joepardize your amateurism, then I think it could be a good rule.

But if you have all these kids that apply for the draft thinking they're going to be one in the combine or one of the 60 that are going to be drafted or whatnot and they give up their chance to come back to school. In theory great, I just hope as it plays out. I hope that people use the rule to their advantage as opposed to using the rule as an opportunity to let's investigate more with really no solid game plan, in that it's just an investigation, and by the investigation we'll determine what we do. I'm just nervous kids are going to eliminate the opportunity to come back if they're not smart.

Q. There is probably a tendency to overestimate the impact of meetings and there is probably a lot of meetings that we don't hear about that are ineffective, but I wonder if you look back at your season how significant, how pivotal it might have been that when you sort of pushed Devonté to become the personality of the team more, if -- what the emphasis was for that the way you guys were playing at the time?
BILL SELF: I mean, I get a kick out of every time something goes bad we had a closed door, private team meeting, players only. They could be talking about, who knows? But in this particular situation it was a meeting that I called with just our four leading scorers and because, you know, when you're playing a situation when everybody deserves to play, there is not one guy on our team that doesn't deserve opportunity.

But we have six big guys, and Perry is the one big guy that's gotta be out there 30 minutes. So there is fifty minutes you're splitting up between five guys and it's not fair to them and it's certainly not fair to the guys that play with them because you get in a rhythm in playing with certain guys so depth is great.

But in this situation we needed to cut it back. I just asked for input from them on what they thought gave us the best chance to win. Didn't have anything to do with raw talent. Doesn't have anything to do with where you project them out, but what gives our team the best chance to win and certainly since that meeting it may be coincidental or not, we've gotten quite a bit better.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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