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March 10, 2007

Mario Chalmers

Bill Self

Julian Wright


CHARLIE FISS: Now joined by the Kansas Jayhawks. Coach Bill Self and his two student athletes, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright.
Coach, your thoughts on today's victory.
COACH BILL SELF: Well, I thought it was a hard-fought, grind-it-out game. I thought K-State was great early. I thought we were great late in the first half. In the second half we struggled finding some rhythm offensively but they did a good job of attacking the glass and coming back on us.
It was the type of game that you need to play and it was good for us to play another game like this and win it because it was a grind-it-out, possession-type game late.

Q. To both players, do you feel you deserve a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament no matter what happens tomorrow?
JULIAN WRIGHT: I don't know. We are just trying to take it a game at a time. We are focused on tomorrow's game and we let the seeding take care of itself.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what it is like to play in this kind of a grind-it-out game? You guys would rather be out there running and pressing and doing all those sorts of things. Talk about what it is like to play in a game like this.
MARIO CHALMERS: I think it is good for us right now because this type of game, you are going to have in the NCAA tournament. It is good for us to get one underneath our belt right now and fight it out and finish with a victory.
JULIAN WRIGHT: Same thing really. We always have a style tempo we want to play. But whatever the mode of the game is, we have to be able to make adjustments in tournament games. You got to feel out the situation and just try to, you know, execute, especially down the stretch.

Q. Julian, does Kansas State have the look of a NCAA tournament team to you?
JULIAN WRIGHT: I believe so. They are a squad that's really, you know, tough. They have three guys that are really capable of scoring, getting 20 every night. They are good coaching. We know every time we are going to play them it will be a tough game. Hopefully they do make the tournament. I know playing in the Big 12, they'll be ready.

Q. Could you just talk about -- you played this rivalry game in Manhattan and Lawrence. Did it feel different today? Did it feel like a rivalry still?
MARIO CHALMERS: It felt kind of different just because you weren't in front of your home crowd. But I think both teams had equal support, and it was just a good game.

Q. Bill, I wonder if you think Kansas State looks like a NCAA team to you.
COACH BILL SELF: Absolutely. I think -- you know, I'm not an expert and I'm not Joe Lunardi. But after studying it pretty hard, I feel like that you got three teams in our league that are going to be a top 4 seed, maybe a couple of them a top 2 seed. Texas may sneak in there and be a 2, 3 seed.
And then to have the team that finishes fourth in your league, to be considered a bubble team I think is ridiculous. Because you look across America, there's -- the other leagues aren't considered that way at all. I think they're in.
I think they deserve to be in. I believe the win at Texas and USC has proven to be a great win. I think those will hold a lot of water with the committee.

Q. Bill, not to be a smart-aleck, but for K-State to get in according to Lunardi or whoever, someone has to come out. So can you tell us why K-State is better than Texas Tech or Drexel or Old Dominion or whoever?
COACH BILL SELF: No, I can't tell you specifics, specifics.
But I can tell you without going -- the teams that you're reading about on the bubble, Purdue, Illinois, A.C.C. schools, whether they be Florida State -- I'm thinking off the top of my head and not prepared, S.E.C., whether it is Alabama or Arkansas can play its way in.
I don't even include Texas Tech. I think they're in, too. They got three wins against the Top 10. So I just feel like when you add those up, to me the win at Texas is different than what those other teams have done.
Who else who is considered a bubble team has gone and beat a top 4, top 3 seed on the road that you are considering a bubble team? You also take into consideration they are prepared to play with Walker and then prepared without Walker and I'm sure that took time, too. And the committee needs to be understanding to the point it should be the best teams in the country of their body of work.
If anything -- if it is close, it should be the best teams playing the best at the end of the season. They made some great adjustments to get where they are. They started 0-2 in the league and go 10-4 in the next games because Walker wasn't playing. I think that right there bodies pretty well with them. If I am not mistaken, didn't they start 0-2?

Q. You pretty much killed them on the boards in the first half and they got you in the second.
COACH BILL SELF: They killed us.

Q. What was the difference?
COACH BILL SELF: Well, I don't know. We were 21-8 at half time. I told our guys we are doing a decent job on the glass, thinking if we rebound the ball like this, we will be in great shape.
Second half, I really don't know. I don't know if -- it seemed like to me they were getting every loose ball for a five- or seven-minute stretch. So much rebounding is not blocking out, it's chasing down loose balls and just being active.
I just thought they were more active the second half. We got to rebound better. We were tied with Oklahoma yesterday, and we were only plus three today and we should be a better rebounding team than that.

Q. Bill, again, not being a smart aleck, but playing the best at the end of the season, having to adjust without Walker, I think that contributed maybe to their poor performance against Texas Tech early on. Shouldn't K-State go in ahead of Texas Tech? Maybe they should both go in. But if one got in first, shouldn't K-State go in ahead of Texas Tech?
COACH BILL SELF: I don't know. Tech beat them at K-State. K-State has one more win in conference. I think Tech's résumé is more impressive with the three wins they have. I'm not going to get into that on who deserves it more than the other because I think they both do.

Q. With the athletes you have and the depth you have, do you think this team is ready to play this kind of grind-it-out in the tournament? How much would you like the tempo to be up a little bit?
COACH BILL SELF: I thought the game was really only really well played for stretches in the first half.
There were a lot of stoppages in play today. Not saying good. Not saying bad. There were just stoppages in play that neither team got rhythm offensively.
But I do think this, we know we can play when we're able to do this. For us to not get a lot of easy baskets and have to grind it out, even though it wasn't artistic, it was good for us to play in this game.
I think we're becoming a team that can play whatever the game is. Now, they may play a funky zone or they may do something that hurts us, but I don't think it will be because we don't have guys that can grind it out or have guys that can get up and down.

Q. Coach, can you just talk about what it means for your team to be back defending Big 12 tournament title and what it is going to mean to play tomorrow?
COACH BILL SELF: You know, today had a different feel to it to me. Today was -- it wasn't as much as a rivalry game as it was a game where two teams had goals and they are trying to reach them.
I mean it wasn't a hatred-type game today. And like Mario said, large part, it is at a neutral site. There is not as much energy in the building.
But I think our guys, they weren't ecstatic after the game. They were very businesslike. We came down here with the idea that we have a chance to win another championship. And I think their focus is that.
I don't think we are too hung up or too excited about what took place. I think we are excited about what hopefully can take place tomorrow if we really play well.

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