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March 28, 2008

Sasha Kaun

Brandon Rush

Bill Self


THE MODERATOR: We'll start questions with the student-athletes for Kansas.

Q. Brandon, the alley-oop off the backboard, were you expecting that? Did you see that coming?
BRANDON RUSH: No, I wasn't expecting that. Rush just gave me a bad pass. I still managed to catch it with my hands and dunk it somehow. Not expected.

Q. Can both players discuss the atmosphere. Did you feel this was a big-time college atmosphere or not?
SASHA KAUN: Definitely, it was defense was pretty good and stuff, kind of first time for me, I'm sure for Brandon, playing in a dome atmosphere. It was pretty cool.
It was definitely good game. Villanova is really good. It was just a good game.
BRANDON RUSH: The atmosphere was pretty great. There was a lot of empty seats, though. It's not the like the Field House. But it was pretty good. The dome atmosphere, I thought it was great.

Q. Obviously, it's a chance to go to the Final Four. How do you avoid any potential to think Davidson, small school, mid-major?
BRANDON RUSH: We just got to stay focused. Two of their great players, Stephen Curry and Richards, one of their point guards. He's playing pretty great, too. We just got to worry about them, not let them get off. That's what we're going to try to do Sunday.
SASHA KAUN: You can watch how they played the last couple games, unbelievable. Curry is unbelievable. He's on a run right now. I know he's scoring 30 points a game and stuff. Just have to kind of contain, play D, do kind of what we did today, play as a team, you know, play good D.

Q. Brandon, I wanted to hear you talk about Stephen Curry. What have you seen of him, what do you think?
BRANDON RUSH: I think he's great. He can score in any kind of way, take it to the rack, get to the free-throw line. He's a tremendous three-point shooter. I think he's one of the best players I've seen in a while.

Q. Were you happy with the way you finished the game, the last 10 minutes? Seemed like it got a little sloppy.
SASHA KAUN: I mean, definitely, you know, we got a little sloppy at the end, you know. But I don't think, you know, we happy about it. We just need to, you know, kind of learn how to finish the games better and stuff and just play smart at the end. It was definitely, you know, something we need to work on.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll have Coach Self give a quick synopsis of the game, then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH SELF: Well, obviously we're very happy with the outcome. I think Villanova is a fine team. We did a pretty good job defensively on them. We made shots early.
But I think Wendell's question bodes correctly. We didn't finish the game the way we hoped. I didn't think the second half we had much rhythm, in large part due to fouls, substitutions, some other things.
Certainly excited to be playing on Sunday against a very fine Davidson team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.

Q. How weird was it to be coaching on the raised floor and sitting on a stool?
COACH SELF: You know, I like to sit when I coach. So Jay stands the whole time. It's new to me. But it was okay. It was okay. The worst thing from my perspective was, you know, your assistant coaches can't get to you as easy. I probably need to do a better job with that on Sunday.
But I didn't think it was a major deal. I didn't fall.

Q. Can you talk about the job you did defensively holding Scottie Reynolds to four of 13 shooting.
COACH SELF: I thought Russell was the player of the game, he and Sasha. But I thought Russell, he made shots early, which is always a bonus when Russell does that. I thought he was very good offensively for us. But defensively he did a fabulous job on Scottie.
You know, he knows those guys on Villanova's team from way back, at least some of them. I know it was a big game from him. I could just tell going into the game, he was probably as focused as I'd seen him in a long, long time - maybe as I've ever seen him. I was really happy for him.

Q. With all the upsets in your bracket, you're going to face a 16, 8, 12, and 10. Does that add any pressure to Sunday's game, to make it to the Final Four, when everyone says you have a cakewalk to the Final Four?
COACH SELF: I don't think everybody would say that. You may say that, but I don't think everybody will.
A 1 seed plays a 16. A 1 seed plays the winner of the 8 and 9. We played a team today that, I think you guys would agree, wasn't a 12 seed. They were a 12 seed because the Big East is a monster. But they're better than that. And certainly I think Davidson can play with anybody.
But whether it's extra pressure, I mean, people will paint whatever picture they want to paint. I just see it two teams playing against each other. And they're probably playing as well -- they're certainly playing as well as anybody in our region, and they may be playing as well just about as anybody in the country. Beating Wisconsin like that, I mean, I was in the Big-10 against Wisconsin, you just don't do that. You don't beat Wisconsin by that many points. They just don't allow that to happen.
Then, of course, the two great wins they had last week. They're as hot as anybody right now.

Q. The atmosphere in this building, was it good, bad, indifferent?
COACH SELF: No, I would never say bad. But I would say pretty indifferent. The fans are so far away. I mean, away. It seemed like our fans were even further away. I don't think we had the rows right behind our bench.
But, you know, I didn't think it was poor by any means. But it is an awfully big building. I would say, you know, if it was full or close to full, it would probably be a very good atmosphere. But, you know, when teams lose that first game, fans always leave. So you can announce 55,000 or whatever, but there couldn't have been more than, you know, 30,000, I would think, watching our game, or 35. That's still a great number. But when it's less than 50% full, I don't think you have that intimate feel like you have if you're playing in a smaller venue.

Q. I apologize if I don't phrase this perfectly, but is there anything subtly psychologically that you have to say to your team, if they're going to look at Davidson and not see a Big East school, Big-10, Big 12? Is there anything you have to say to them?
COACH SELF: You know, I will say stuff, but it won't be -- it won't be because of the size of their school or the conference they play in. I'll say stuff in regards to how they play and their talent level and who's playing well. We've got enough tape on them. It's already been done, the scout. Our players will be very impressed with how they play.
But, you know, we've knocked on the door a few times. We've been real close. I don't think it would matter to us who we're playing in the Elite 8 game. I think it will be a focused effort. I've said this before: if we do not perform well, which I don't believe will happen, I think we'll play well, but if something happened that we didn't, it would not be because of the name of their school; it would be because they whipped us or forced us to get out of character. But it won't be because of lack of preparation or lack of respect.

Q. The first half you had 16 field goals, I think seven were layups or dunks, the others were for three-pointers. When your offense is going like that, is that pretty much close to perfect?
COACH SELF: Well, no, because we had careless turnovers the first half. We had 18 turnovers. Villanova is a very good team defensively, but many of those were unforced, really silly turnovers. The second half, we really had some bad turnovers.
But I thought that we did a good job with the exception of one thing the first half: we did not have post guys score with their back to the basket, in large part because they fronted and did a really good job for weak side help whenever we did get the ball down there. They seemed to knock every ball out of our hands. That's something I certainly hope we can do better on Sunday.
But when you make shots, all offense looks good. We did execute pretty well for a stretch in the first half. In the second half, we really didn't. We kind of hung on after we played out of the foul situation with Mario and Brandon.

Q. I believe this is your fifth Elite 8 team. Are there applicable lessons from the first four as you move into Sunday?
COACH SELF: Well, I think one thing that I would say is fresh minds and fresh legs are more important than anything else going on. This sounds silly, but whether or not we get down at 3:30 tonight or 1:30 or 2 is important. I mean, those things are important. Whether we do a good job as a staff making it a condensed, thorough scouting report where the guys don't wear themselves out tomorrow doing this.
It's not easy playing the late game. Theoretically, we'll have dinner at 2:00 tonight, then guys have to unwind. So it could be 4 a.m. before guys get down. Then the day still starts tomorrow.
So I think the biggest thing -- fortunately tonight we didn't play guys a ton of minutes. I think the biggest thing that I've learned is you really have to manage Saturday and their sleep as well as you can, to make sure we're as fresh as we can be on Sunday, which I think we'll be. I think I've worked guys too hard in the past on the off day.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH SELF: Thank you.

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