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NCAA MEN'S REGIONAL SEMIFINALS AND FINALS: KANSAS CITY


March 23, 2017


Bill Self

Frank Mason III

Devonte' Graham


Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas - 98, Purdue - 66

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the University of Kansas head Coach, Bill Self. His student-athletes with us are Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham. Coach, we will ask you for an opening statement.

BILL SELF: Well, you know, I thought it was one of the best games we played all year, and I thought Purdue was great early obviously and had us on our heels and we knocked down some shots to get us the lead at halftime. But the second half I thought we were great on both ends, shot the ball extremely well, but our activity defensively was what spurred us.

Q. Coach, the game was supposed to be their bigs against your guards and you outrebounded them by seven.
BILL SELF: We did a good job on the glass. I didn't think we did a very good job on Isaac, obviously the fist half, and he got where he wanted to, getting over his left shoulder. But second half we did a better job and got him off the block a little bit and I thought we did a good job on Caleb for the most part the entire game.

Those guys, especially Caleb on the glass it's hard to keep 'em off. If you look at Landen's stats he only got 4 rebounds, but the story is Caleb only got 7. And if you had told this before the game that would be the give and take I would have sold out for that because he does a really good job of making sure neither one of them got it for the most part.

Q. Devonte' and Frank, couple of minutes ago you said during the television interview that the team started out tight. When did you sense that the guys started playing looser and with a free mind to use one of Coach's pat expressions?
DEVONT√É‚Äį GRAHAM: I think we were just excited to be playing in the game against them, at first, and we came out and I took a bad shot to start the game. We were real anxious and they had us on our heels. They were making shots early and I think under maybe like the 10-minute mark or so we started loosening up and getting into a rhythm.

FRANK MASON III: I agree with Devonté. On the 10-minute mark we started to slow down and play our style of basketball and we started to get rolling and driving the ball downhill more and being aggressive on both sides of the ball and that's what led to us getting the lead.

Q. You're obviously an outstanding guard duo, but did it feel more special tonight? The rhythm you had, the chemistry, the way you guys were in sync did it seem even more special?
FRANK MASON III: It was special to see the guys off the bench come in and -- oh, just me and Devonté? Well, it was great to see Devonté do the things he did. He was great out there, probably one of the best games I've seen him play and I'm just happy for him and hopefully he can continue that in the next game.

DEVONT√É‚Äį GRAHAM: He is never going to talk about himself, but he played a great game, too. I think the game slowed down for us, and, you know, we were being aggressive, just taking the open shots that they were giving us, and Coach always tells us to be aggressive, drive it downhill. So we were getting to the free throw line, making shots and just shooting in rhythm.

Q. It's a reward for having such an outstanding season, but can you talk about playing in front of such a partisan crowd?
DEVONT√É‚Äį GRAHAM: It's unbelievable. You know, playing here in KC is great! The crowd behind us and they give us so much momentum and energy throughout the game. It's just great to be here.

FRANK MASON III: 35 miles away from Lawrence. It's basically in our backyard and we're just thankful that we had the opportunity to play here and we wanted to take advantage of it and the fans brought unbelievable energy and so thankful to have great fans.

Q. Bill, I wonder if you could elaborate on what the guys were trying to talk about, the chemistry between them, how you've seen it evolve. You've talked about this before, but what sort of advantage it gives you to know you have two combo guys like that?
BILL SELF: Yeah, we have two point guards and Frank is on the ball probably 65, 70% of the time, but Devonté, we saw tonight, that he's awfully good on the ball, too, coming off ball screens and things.

We're spoiled. We're spoiled because our situation inside, if Landen were to get in foul trouble it could make you nervous. A situation on the perimeter you've always got, in my opinion, an All-American-type guard to be the leader and run your team. To have two guys out there playing like they're playing, I think just gives everybody confidence and it can help totally control the pace of the game.

Q. Devonté, would you take us through that play that Lagerald engineered there coming down the right side and finishing off the half with that lob?
DEVONT√É‚Äį GRAHAM: It was an exciting play. I didn't see him shooting the passing lane. It was a good rebound to get the steal and I could kind of tell he was getting ready to do something fancy the way he was gathering himself, but I'm just glad he finished it.

Q. Bill, Devonté said Frank is never going to talk about himself, so I gotta ask you. What's the biggest change you've seen from him in terms of his play?
BILL SELF: You know what, I don't know that I -- last year he was tough. He played well for us last year. This year, sophomore year he did. He's been great since he's been here. I think the biggest difference is he's looking to score more. He's always been a guy when we were struggling we relied on him to go get it for us, and now I think he's putting himself in a position to make more plays for himself and for others. He's a total guard.

He scored 26 tonight on 11 shots, 7 assists and 7 rebounds, if I'm not mistaken. That's a pretty good stat line. He had to rebound the ball well because his compadre here didn't get any rebounds! (Chuckles.) But, no, it was two complete games by both guards.

The thing about it is when you look at stats, those are offensive numbers, but the job that these guys did defensively I think helped create the pace we needed to cause some havoc.

Q. Quick thoughts, Bill, on Oregon?
BILL SELF: Well, I have known Dana a long time. He's a terrific coach. They've got an athletic, terrific team.

Obviously Dorsey, we tried to recruit and I'm thinking it came down to us and Oregon maybe, maybe one other school. But for the most part there wasn't a lot of competition in recruiting the same guys. We're familiar with their guys but not in a way that we would be playing some other teams because geographically we don't recruit the same areas that much.

But ton of respect. Unbelievably athletic. They're like us, they're going to play small a lot of the time because they will play Dylan at the 4 like we play Josh and then play the best defender in the Pac-12, Defensive Player of the Year around the middle, kind of like we do Landen. So I think it will be two teams that at least match-up with each other pretty well.

Q. What did you think about the minutes that Coleby gave you when you had to get Lucas out?
DEVONT√É‚Äį GRAHAM: He was huge! We have been telling him, be ready when your number is called and he's been doing a great job in practice. He's been looking ready since the tournament started and we're going to need him to keep playing like that.

FRANK MASON III: I think he did a fantastic job. He was ready when his number was called and I think that's key for our team. We never know when guys are going to get in foul trouble or something like that, so they have to be ready and he did a great job of coming in and being confident and being ready to play.

BILL SELF: Obviously, Dwight bought us a ton of minutes whenever Landen was in foul trouble. But I thought Carlton came in and did a good job, too. You add those guys together you get 23 key minutes out of that position when Landen can't be in the game. So I think they both kind of bailed us out.

Q. Bill, I wonder what you thought of Vick's acrobatic dunk and the way you guys played in the second half, 51 points?
BILL SELF: Our defense and rebounding and everything was good the second half and of course we made a ton of shots and that always helped. Lagerald is very athletic and that was a very athletic play. I'm just glad he made it because that would have been a sore spot if he hadn't. He's so athletic he can do things like that.

Q. Coach, do you think it was just the excitement of the game that had the guys coming out playing a little bit tight like Devonté said, or do you think it was something else?
BILL SELF: Yeah, I think Purdue was really good. When you play teams in the tournament and get this deep, the team you're playing is really good. They started out -- I could be wrong, but I think they made three of the first four threes they looked at and was able to play through Caleb early on and I think -- I don't think we played well.

I think defensively they had us spread out pretty good but I don't think it was that -- we may have been a little tight, but a lot of it was they were just better than us early and I don't think that's unusual to go through different phases of a game where the other team plays very, very well because they certainly did.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, Devonté, and Frank, we'll let you go back to the locker room. Congratulations. We will see you tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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