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March 23, 2018

Bill Self

Malik Newman

Devonte' Graham

Omaha, Nebraska

Kansas - 80, Clemson - 76

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Kansas head Coach Bill Self and student-athletes Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH SELF: We're very excited and ecstatic that we were able to win a Sweet 16 game. I thought for 30 minutes, I thought we played very well, and -- considering playing out of some foul issues. But we just kind of played not to lose down the stretch and allowed them to put some game pressure on us.

But they say this time of year is survive and advance, and we were able to do that. And certainly very happy about getting a chance to play in the biggest game of our season thus far Sunday.


Q. When Udoka played the way he's played, and he obviously looks healthy now, how does that change things for you guys, especially the guards? You guys outplayed them in the paint and you're obviously known as a perimeter team.
DEVONTE' GRAHAM: He makes everything easier for us. You know, we get to play off of him. We always say throw the ball inside, play around Doke cuz it's hard to guard him inside and he can get angles easily. And he opens up shots for us and driving lanes.

MALIK NEWMAN: I mean, basically piggybacking off what Devonte' said, he's a guy we can throw the ball into and he can go get a basket. Like I said earlier to the media, I think his passing is underrated. That's another big key for him. When we're able to throw it in and the defense collapses on him, he is able to kick it out and find an open shooter. It just opens up the whole game for us.

Q. Malik, ever since March began you've turned over a new leaf and gotten on a new level. What's changed in you to elevate your play like it has?
MALIK NEWMAN: My confidence is sky high. I'm not really out there thinking anymore, just playing, doing what Coach asked me to do and just trying to make plays, winning plays for the team to win. I mean, I just credit it to my teammates and the coaches.

Q. Devonte', what did you think of the last couple minutes as the lead was starting to shrink away and how you guys played down the stretch?
DEVONTE' GRAHAM: We could have executed a lot better. I don't know why we do that when we have a lead, we start to relaxing, and then they get the momentum and come back. But I was just thinking take care of the ball. I knew we were going to have to make free throws to win it, and just trying to get open and knock down the free throws.

Q. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure you looked down at the box score and went whoa -- just now -- no?
COACH SELF: No. You may be right. I don't know that I went "whoa." But I was looking at free throws, and Devonte' said make our free throws and we're 14 and 22. We certainly have to do a better job of closing the game out.

But the box score, you know, looks pretty good. We said we couldn't let two of three guards have huge games and only one of them did. And if a second one had we wouldn't have had enough, so we did just enough.

Q. Devonte', you've played in the Elite Eight the last two years and you guys have fallen short. Just will you think about those games at all the next two days and how much -- last year you didn't have Udoka there; you didn't have that low post dimension. To have him, how much different do you think that could make Sunday compared to last year?
DEVONTE' GRAHAM: I mean, I think about it all the time. I just told the guys in the locker room, I've been here the last two years and this year we gotta get over that hump. So Udoka is going to make a huge difference. When he's in there, like I said, his presence is you can't duplicate it and he's a big factor to our team.

Q. Bill, your thoughts on Sunday, looking ahead, going up against two Hall of Fame coaches, two iconic programs and two schools that Kansas actually played in the national championship games?
COACH SELF: I hadn't thought about that, but certainly on the first two, you know, blue bloods and unbelievable coaches and whoever we play obviously will be a challenge. If there is a positive about whoever we play, we know what they're probably going to do defensively.

We were able to practice against the zone -- it's hard to simulate theirs -- but practice against a spread-wide, relatively long zone on Tuesday this past week. But whoever it is, we know that we're going to have to execute a heck of a lot better against the zone than what we did when Clemson went zone tonight.

Q. Like I asked Devonte', not having Udoka last year, you guys obviously had a great year without them since when he got hurt. But how much of a difference could it make to have that low-post threat where maybe if the 3s aren't falling you have another avenue to go?
COACH SELF: I think it would help. Last year we also had Landen Lucas that was a really good 5 man for us, but probably not the scorer, as what you're referring to probably. And we had a guy that was really good inside. Josh Jackson kind of as a kind of a swing guy.

But Doke gives us something that a lot of teams make it hard, makes it hard for anybody to guard. And when you can stretch the court with four shooters and play around a big guy that can score on the post. And so we obviously are going to have to play through him some without question.

But the biggest thing is just his presence in the game, I think, gives us something from a defensive and rebounding perspective we were definitely missing when he was out.

Q. Coach, were you happy with the patience and shot selection from your guys at least for the first 30 minutes?
COACH SELF: I thought the first 30 we played pretty well. I thought we had a chance -- we got up 20 and they cut it to, like, 13 or whatever, or 14, and then we got it back to 20. And I really felt like the first 30 minutes we looked like a really good basketball team.

And the last 10, I didn't think we played very well at all. But we were playing not to lose down the stretch as opposed to trying to close them out. But we did enough.

And certainly nobody can say that we played our best game yet, that we haven't played our best game yet. Hopefully that will come Sunday.

Q. What did you think of Silvio tonight? Seemed like he had a good game?
MALIK NEWMAN: I think he had a good game, looking at it, he had, what, nine and six -- 13 minutes, so that was great production, I mean, in the short amount of time he was in. He was able to give the big fellow a rest.

I thought he did a good job. When he got in nothing dropped off. I think everything either stayed the same or picked up.

Q. Devonte' talked about he thinks about those Elite Eight games a lot the last two years. How do you make sure your guys are loose for Sunday after you've obviously waited a full calendar year to get back to this point?
COACH SELF: I can't speak for our players, but I would think Devonte' would agree with me: I don't think tightness was our problem last year. I just don't think we played very well. We have played almost three perfect games going into that game and pretty much laid an egg against Oregon.

But I'm so proud of our team because I think of all the teams that we've had here, this would be the team that everyone would have thought would not be in this game. And so, hey, we're in this game. We've got a legitimate shot to go to San Antonio.

I told the guys after the game it's not a guarantee. You prepare the whole year to play in this game. So I think we'll play with no what-ifs. I think we'll let it go. I think we'll be as loose as we can be and still you've got to make shots.

But I think about it all the time. Devonte's not won the last two, but there's seven that I haven't won when I've been the head coach. Certainly it's etched in the back of my brain, and I'd like nothing more than to take my team this year to San Antonio and let them experience what the best of the best is in college basketball.

Q. Why do you think this team, you said like for this team to be in the game it's like it's pretty unlikely, why do you feel that way?
COACH SELF: When you're going through the season and you lose arguably your most talented guy that never suited up for you, as far as raw talent, and you play small all year long and I never played like this. I never played where you play four little guards around one big. And it just goes against the grain from the teams that we've had in the past.

But these guys have figured it out. And they've learned how to play through it, and we've had unbelievable guard play and unbelievable leadership from our vets, and had some guys have some outstanding seasons.

But it doesn't take much to know. And guys would agree our margin for error isn't as great as it has been when you can run out 6-9 -- we've had teams here when Cole Aldrich was here, Thomas Robinson was here, Marcus Morris was here, Markieff Morris was here, and Jeff Withey is your fifth, your big guy.

And it's totally different than what we're doing now because now if Doke gets two fouls early it's, like, oh, my gosh can we fill the void. I think there's less margin for error but these guys have certainly rallied around that.

Q. Players, this has been kind of a crazy year for March Madness, a lot of upsets and everything maybe on the other side of the bracket. But has that kind of helped keep you guys stay focused a little bit, going up against some teams that you might overlook at some point?
DEVONTE' GRAHAM: I definitely think that's one of the things. But also we just know we've got to be focused. If we slip up and don't come prepared, it's going to be the end of the season. And we all love each other, want to be with each other for like as long as we can, especially the seniors -- me and Svi and Clay, we want this to last as long as possible, because we know there's no tomorrow and there's no turning back if we lose.

Q. Malik, you redshirted last year. How much are you looking forward to playing in the Elite Eight?
MALIK NEWMAN: I'm very excited about it. This is what you come to Kansas for to, like Coach said, experience the best. So Sunday I'll be excited. I mean, that's really all I can say about it. I'll just be excited about it.


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