March 12, 2005
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
COACH BILL SELF: I thought it was a fabulous game. I thought both teams played very well. We defended them great early and probably played better going down one at half-time than the score indicated because I thought we really defended well for the majority of the first half, but they have got balance and they are hard to guard and certainly did a very good job executing, but it was one of the best games of the season that I have been a part of and isn't that far behind the first game three weeks ago.
Q. Aaron, did you all have options on that last shot or was that what you were looking for?
AARON MILES: We had options. We had just ran the same play previously. J.R. got the shot and this time we just tried to a different option for Alex to get the shot. He had a good look at it. It was a good shot.
Q. Can you guys just talk about what it was like not having Keith here today and how much that affected the outcome?
AARON MILES: Obviously Keith is a big part of this team. When the offense gets stagnant he can always go make a play, get a basket for us, that's something we miss. But I think other people on this team stepped up and did different things, you know, which helped us out. Not having Keith is not the reason why we lost, but I think that if we did have Keith the game would have been different.
Q. Wayne, would you kind of sum up the end of your season and what you expect now in the tournament, how you all are going into it mentally and where you feel your seeding may fall?
WAYNE SIMIEN: As far as the seeding standpoint, you know, it's really no telling, you know, brackets, or anything like that, you just have to wait and see tomorrow. I think we picked up a little bit of momentum these last two games. Even though a loss is a loss, I thought that we played hard tonight and did some things well. But there's still a few things that we need to tweak and tune to make sure that we're prepared for next weekend and the weeks to come.
Q. Wayne, can you talk about you guys came close but didn't get a Big 12 tournament. Talk about how that feels and possibly how it shapes your mindset going into the NCAA tournament?
WAYNE SIMIEN: It's tough winning the Big 12 tournaments, was one of the goals that we had set for ourselves the beginning of the year. Being a senior, not being able to cut down nets here in Dallas is something that we would have liked to have been a part of but once again, not winning those tournaments but still being successful in the tournament, you know, we know that this tournament here doesn't shape our future and next week's tournament we're going to go into next week with a positive mindset and with the goal in our mindset of winning that one.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Self now.
Q. When Oklahoma State made sort of the second second half run, the one after Bobik hit the threes when Graham started to get his own shot -- is the fact that he's such a difficult match-up, how much of a factor was that?
COACH BILL SELF: He was their best offense obviously, for a four-, five-minute period. They had great balance but he took the game over from an offensive standpoint for them during that stretch. He's a tough match-up for anybody because he's a legitimate 2, 3 at 6'7", and can really handle and can shoot and you got to put a big guy on him. So at least we feel like you do. I think he certainly played really big during that stretch. Christian, I thought did probably a little bit better job defending him at Lawrence than we did today. C.J. obviously was our best defender on him because of his length. But he was terrific. You had two fabulous players playing today, I mean, both teams got really good players but two players played to their level today.
Q. Your options, your thoughts on the last shot. Obviously J.R. hit a big one to keep you all in it. What were you look --
COACH BILL SELF: It's the same exact play, so we run a hand-off into a stagger for J.V. then a pin-in for Alex. We weren't going to get J.R. again. So they made the right play throwing it to the Alex. Alex is a terrific shooter. He got a great look. I mean with ten seconds left you got to go full court. You can get off a good look like that, that was pretty well executed; the ball just didn't go in.
Q. You guys have kind of brought out the best in each other these last two weeks, you and Oklahoma State; what is it about? Is it a match-up deal or why do you guys play so well and execute so well against each other?
COACH BILL SELF: I should ask Coach Sutton why they play so well against us. (Laughter) He told me after the game, he said, this is, you know, these two games is probably as well as they played all year, and I feel the same way too. I don't know. I don't know what it is. Our strength in some ways is their weakness, you know, and their strength in some ways is our weakness, you know, with their perimeter quickness, things like that. Plus they have as tough a match-up as there is in college basketball. So both teams are stubborn and play man-to-man and, you know, in that respect. I mean we're going to play man the majority of time. Of course coach is going to play man the majority of the time. So you get a chance to play the way that you practice each and every day. But I mean, it was -- they bring out, I mean I don't know about bringing out the best in each other, but certainly the level of play has been awfully high when these two teams get together.
Q. Can you talk about JamesOn Curry and how much he's come on and how difficult he is to defend?
COACH BILL SELF: I think JamesOn has an unbelievably bright future. He's terrific. There's a lot of freshman in our league that have got some exposure going into the season that are really good players. This league has got some great freshman. I don't talk to the NBA people but I would think from a prospect future he has got height, he has got quickness, strength, he's explosive, and of course he's one of the few guys he can get it off the catch and off the bounce. I think -- from my personal opinion they are much harder to guard when he's in the game playing three guards with Joey at the four then maybe playing three big guys.
Q. I know you never want to lose, but can losing a game like this and an extra days rest come out and help you?
COACH BILL SELF: That's what we will tell our guys. Whether we believe it or not, that's what we will tell them. I do think this: Each time is different. Sometimes going into a tournament a loss sometimes gets attention, not that we need to have our -- we haven't played unbelievably well of late so we kind of had their attention, but I think in some ways we road Wayne pretty hard these two games and whether or not he would even be able to bounce back and play a third game like that, so an extra day I know will benefit him. But an extra day also would have been good for Keith to get him out there and play because I don't have any hesitation that he -- I mean, he would have played tomorrow for sure. So he's going to go work out tonight when we get back. But I don't know if it's positive, negative. I would have rather win and have a chance to cut down nets tomorrow than obviously go home on Saturday. This is important. There's no doubt about that but this isn't as important as next week. Anything to get you better prepared next week is the most important thing and winning sometimes has a lot to do with being prepared.
Q. Michael and Aaron, one, is there anymore you could have asked from Michael than what you got last two days?
COACH BILL SELF: No, Mike was fabulous. Mike can do that. He's playing with a free mind and he was really good yesterday and today he was good in different ways, he made some shots and attacked the basket. I thought he was great. I think one thing that we did do, I think one thing that we did do very well the last two days is we played through our best player more and our best player made the other players around him better, more so than what we have normally in the past. I thought Wayne passed the ball very well, I didn't think he forced things. Of course I thought he was, fabulous, but I think that if we learned anything the more Wayne touches it good things will happen because a lot of times we played -- guys benefited from playing off of him but Mike was great.
Q. I was shocked that Aaron didn't score as much, especially as compared to what he did yesterday. Do you need him to score more or because Wayne got so many touches it really is a moot point?
COACH BILL SELF: Well, I think this: You score 75 points you should win. So it wasn't that we didn't score. It is that we didn't get stops. We didn't rebound -- and the big thing is we had to score from the field because we didn't get to the free-throw line much. Oklahoma State did a better job of getting to the free-throw line obviously. But Aaron is going to take what the defense gives him. They put certain guys on certain people for reasons. I thought that Aaron played well. I thought he played well.
End of FastScripts...