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March 20, 2009

Cole Aldrich

Sherron Collins

Bill Self


Kansas – 84
North Dakota State - 74

MODERATOR: We are joined on the dais by Kansas student-athletes Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, Head Coach Bill Self. We will begin the press conference with an opening statement by Coach Self followed by questions for the student-athletes.
COACH SELF: Well, I think obviously, two good teams played together. North Dakota State, they gave us all we wanted. And I thought they were terrific and just the way that we expected them to be.
And I thought we played very well, especially on the offensive end, very efficiently. And of course these two guys carried us down the stretch.

Q. This question is first for Cole. Cole, can you talk about why and how Sherron was so effective today? And then, Sherron, can you talk about the same for Cole, why he was so effective down there?
COLE ALDRICH: I think we really set him up for good shots. That's the one thing that Sherron can really do, is get in the lane and set other guys up. But, you know, we really set some good picks on him and freed him up. And you know, he's unreal with his handles. And he can really get into the paint.
SHERRON COLLINS: And how Cole was effective, they had a sag in defense where they had a lot of size, so we couldn't feed him the ball the way we normally do. So we had ran some sets for him and got him the ball inside.
But he just went and got some rebounded and made some plays. And he made some tough catches that other people won't go get, so he finished at the rim as well.

Q. It almost looked like a mini duel between you and Woodside at times. Can you describe what it was like being out there with you making a bucket, and he would come back and vice versa?
SHERRON COLLINS: I was tired. It was tough. He had good play, one of the best guards I played all year.
Coach explained how good he was and I didn't know he was that good. But he's tough. And I just think, you know, I didn't take it as a duel, I just try to do something, you know, to make a play scoring or get somebody else involved, just to keep the lead.
Because, you know, with him, now they was knocking at the door. They could make a run at any time. I just wanted to keep the lead.

Q. Cole, did you ever dream of playing here in the Metrodome in an NCAA basketball tournament in a Kansas uniform?
COLE ALDRICH: Well, you know, I came here I think my junior year to watch a few teams when they had the Regional with I think it was Florida, Boston College, Villanova and another team, you know. And I was just a huge basketball fan back then. And, you know, I had committed already, and that's kind of one of my dreams is just to come back home and play, you know.
The state of Minnesota has been great to me and the state of Kansas and all the Kansas fans have been phenomenal. Really opened their arms to me and my family, and I'm just glad to be home and playing well.

Q. Sherron, when did you feel like you guys got the handle on this team, North Dakota State, today?
SHERRON COLLINS: Probably late in the second half. There were times in the first half I thought we could crack them, but we just didn't take care of the ball, took a bad shot maybe.
Like I said, didn't take care of the ball. Late in the second half we went on a little run and got up by double figures and I think we controlled the game from then on out. And I thought Tyshawn did a good job late on Woodside, getting over the screen and containing him. He was able to give us and me a breather, too. I think it was late in the second half.

Q. For both of you guys, in the second half there it seemed that every time that North Dakota State would pull within three or four points, either one of you would have a big bucket on the offensive end. Can you talk about that. And I guess just the flow of the game during that five-minute stretch or so.
SHERRON COLLINS: It was a fun game to me. I like those fast-paced games. You know, get them down the floor. And every time they scored, you know, like I said, just trying to come back and, you know, get it back on the other end. Whether it was throwing it to Cole or me getting a shot or setting somebody else up.
Like I say, I just wanted to keep the lead. Keep the lead and maybe, you know, get away with this one. But we were able to make the stops late in the game, so we came away with it.

Q. Sherron, can you talk about what you and Woodside -- you spoke briefly after the game when you were congratulating them and they to you. What did you say to one another?
SHERRON COLLINS: He told me to keep it going and go as far as we could, and I told him I respected him and he's a good player, one of the toughest players I guarded all year, keep his head high. And he is real talented and probably can do some things with it.

Q. Cole, did you find yourself having to exhibit some patience in terms of getting the ball and getting some touches tonight? And, also, were you nervous at all playing in front of home-town fans?
COLE ALDRICH: I wouldn't say I was nervous at all. There might have been just a tiny bit of it just because we're playing our first round in the NCAA tournament. You know, it's not because we're playing at home.
But, you know, I think one thing we kind of struggled at the very beginning just to throw the ball inside. And Coach said at one point, hey, we have got to get the big fella some touches down there. And then from there on it was, you know, they'd throw the ball up and I was able to keep it up and go or dunk it and throw it up and Sherron can hit shots like that.

Q. Cole, how about a comment from you on Woodside. It looked like you guys -- I think I counted four different players trying to defend him today. You know, just a comment from you on Woodside's performance.
COLE ALDRICH: He's so good. You know, he's got -- they run the high little pick-and-roll which I struggled to guard it. Many times. Coach would definitely tell you that.
COACH SELF: I agree.
COLE ALDRICH: You know, I struggled at times because he's deceptively quick. You know, he's kind of got that little hesitation and think that he's going to pull back and he just throws it into all high gears and just gets around you.
You know, I can see why he and scored 60 in a game. He had 37 against us. Anybody that can do that in the first round or any game is really good.

Q. Cole, we had you for eight dunks. Have you ever had that many in a game before? And to follow with that, your eighth and final dunk, the 3-point follow, did you sense that was the one that finally got you the win or sealed it?
COLE ALDRICH: I think my record for dunks is probably 12. I think I had that in high school sometime, 12 or 13. You know, the follow-up dunk was just, you know, one of those things where I was just going to crash the board because I thought there might be a chance that, you know, we would miss it.
And, fortunate enough, you know, it came off right and I just took it and threw it down. I didn't even know that they called it a 3-point play until Sherron and the other guys were, yeah, you got to shoot a free throw and whatnot. It's just kind of one of those energy plays that really hurts another team. And really helped us.

Q. Just a comment, Cole, on the crowd. Obviously a large North Dakota State University contingent, fun atmosphere, what was your comment?
COLE ALDRICH: It was a great atmosphere. You know, it was I'd say three-fourths NDSU, but they definitely brought their crowd. Because this is their first time in the NCAA tournament. And, you know, everybody from the whole state of North Dakota was probably there tonight (laughter).
COACH SELF: He said it, not me. Make sure you get that.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We excuse them back to the locker room.

Q. If you'd known that Sherron gets 32-and-8 and Cole 23-and-13, those are the kind of games that you usually blow teams out. What does it say about the resiliency of North Dakota State?
COACH SELF: We needed them all. And, you know, we got the draw and started watching tape, I knew this was going to be not a 3 versus 4 team, they're good. And if they get comfortable shooting the basketball, which they did early in the game, you know, they can look very, very good. Especially offensively.
You know, we executed good. Very well offensively. We didn't stop them. And, of course, Woodside went nuts against us. But they're tough. They're good. They had, you know -- I am leaving out of here thinking we had to get tougher today to win. And so that's a good thing.

Q. Bill, Sherron was -- played very well yet they kind of neutralized one another, he and Woodside. Then can you talk about the significance of Cole and eight dunks, that's quite a bit?
COACH SELF: Yeah, and he ain't got 12 or 15 in a college game, I promise you.
But I thought that, I thought Sherron made shots early and was really, you know, if you look at it, we have no offense early other than Sherron. We were tight offensively, and he kind of took the pressure off of everybody by shouldering the whole load early.
And, of course, Woodside got on a roll and he's good. Of course we had three or four, five different guys guard him from time to time. He's terrific. And I am sure he had one of the best games he has had in his career.
But really down the stretch, probably the difference in the game was us being able to get easy baskets in tight. And I'm looking at this thing now, you know, we scored 21 baskets it says here in the paint. And if he can get 42 points, you know, and that's not counting fouls, but if he can get 42 points in any game in the paint, you probably have a chance to be successful.
Of course Cole is the biggest reason for that. But the other guys made some plays to get easy shoots, too.

Q. Bill, does Cole exert patience when he's not getting the ball? Does he have to do that? Or does he have to be more assertive?
COACH SELF: I think a little bit of both. You have to be patient. Sometimes teams can do some things to keep you from getting the ball. And their weak side help was -- they played a sagging man and they put the weak side guy behind him or fronted him or three-quartered him.
And I thought that sometimes when we make shots we forget about throwing it inside, too. But the second half we did a great job of getting him involved. Did a great job. And he finished strong. And we ran a few little set plays to play two-man game with he and Sherron and that worked out really well for us.

Q. Sherron Collins has had an unbelievable year, and I think much of the attention in the Big 12 went to Blake Griffin because of the year he had. Where does Sherron rank in terms of the point guards that you probably coached in your college career?
COACH SELF: Well, I think that while I was actually coaching them, I would put him at the top of the list. While I was actually coaching them. Of course I just had Deron one year and he was the best defender in the Big Ten in my opinion as a freshman, but he hadn't developed his stroke yet like he did later on.
Now, without question I would say that Deron Williams is the best guard I've ever coached, you know, obviously. But I've had some good ones. And I had some good ones last year.
And you go back to Deron and D and Frank Williams, and, you know, Aaron Miles and guys that we've had recently, but nobody that I've coached impacts a college game more than Sherron. While I was actually coaching him, nobody.

Q. Coach, one of -- I believe it was one if not the last timeout, can you tell us what you were telling your players? Because it seemed like your team really picked it up defensively the final three, four minutes.
COACH SELF: I don't know -- that may not have been the very last one, but that's what we talked about is we're going to win the game on the defensive end as opposed to the offensive end. You're up seven or six or whatever it was with 3:30 left the game is still in question. There is no doubt about that.
But we had great offensive possessions down the stretch. And then defensively, we did defend better, although they still scored. But at least we made them use 15 or 20 seconds to score.
But, I mean, I'm not going to sit here and brag about our defense tonight. That's obviously not the deal. Because I thought our offense was better than our defense and carried us tonight or today.

Q. Bill, I don't remember Cole's non-dunk. I thought he had nine dunks. Do you remember his non-dunk? And were you surprised at all? And obviously philosophically they don't play zone, but I was a little surprised they didn't try some zone. Sherron was getting into the paint so easy and Cole was dunking the ball so often, were you surprised?
COACH SELF: Not really, because we watched a lot of tape, and they don't play zone. I mean, I think they have a 2-3 which is brought out of the archives about as much as our 2-3 is. We almost went zone because we couldn't guard them there for a good stretch. But that didn't really surprise me, because that's not who they are.
I really think when you're playing and the game's magnified and possessions really matter, if you're going to go down, you're going to go down doing what you have the most confidence in. And certainly I made some serious coaching mistakes trying to do something that we don't hang our hat on, and they obviously hang their hat on their man defense, so I don't see any surprise in that at all.

Q. I believe the five turnovers by the team is by far a season low.

Q. How important was that in today's win?
COACH SELF: You know, if you look at it, if we have 12 turnovers, you take seven possessions away, the game could be different. So it was very important.
You know, whenever the ball is in 2 guard's hands as much as it was, you probably are not going to have as many turnovers. And today I thought we played with the ball through Sherron's hands more than we did most games, and he was on. And the flip side they played the whole game through Woodside's hands. And I don't think there are going to be as many turnovers when there is not equal opportunity, so to speak. So that was important for us.

Q. Bill, at the end of the game you put your arm around Woodside. Can you share maybe what you said to him and just your impressions of a kid getting one shot to play in the tournament and the performance he had?
COACH SELF: You know, I don't know him at all. But, their whole team seems class to me. And I know their staff is. And their fans seem to be. And I thought it was, you know, from an objective perspective, although I didn't feel this during the game, I thought it was pretty cool, the setting for them today. And all I did is tell him he is the best guard we play, and Sherron said one of the best. And we haven't played anybody harder to guard than him. And that's basically what I told him. I think he is a terrific talent.

Q. On the Woodside thing, you didn't really have an answer for them defensively the entire game --
COACH SELF: We allowed him 37 (laughter). What do you guys want?

Q. I think you did try four or five guys, you tried to switch out on him?
COACH SELF: That's not really -- we played Sherron on him, Tyrone on him, Tyshawn on him we played Tyrel on him. Put all of our Ty's on him. And even Brady guarded him a couple of possessions. Sometimes that happens in the course of the game, you get switches and things like that.
We tried different guys. The biggest reason we tried different guys is because of Sherron, not wearing him out. That's the biggest reason we tried different guys.

Q. Coach, was there a point down the stretch where you started feeling comfortable? I mean, was there a point, was there a series of plays or plays that you thought okay, we've got this one finally?
COACH SELF: I can't remember exactly. I have a hard time doing that until I watch the tape. But if I am not mistaken, we were up 8, maybe under 4, and Woodside -- and we played great defense and there is 13 on the shot clock after a timeout. And he makes a step-back 18-footer going to his right, which is really a hard shot. And then I'm thinking it is 6, and then after that I think we played really well offensively. We used the entire clock and got exactly what we wanted late. That was a big key for us.

Q. Coach, is there anything that you take from this game, learning from this game, that you take into the game on Sunday?
COACH SELF: You know, I'm sure there is some things. I think the one thing that is really positive for us is this was a harder game from an emotional standpoint than I think maybe outside people think, because you talk about their experience. And they are experienced, but this is their first deal. But still they had a free shot today. And that's the way it should be. And that's why upsets occur.
So our guys in the back of their mind they know that. And other than two guys, that's the first time anybody has played in a tournament game. So if anything, I take from it that, you know, we should be able to breathe a little bit. And I don't mean that from a playing standpoint, I just mean like we should be able to exhale a little bit because I think our guys, especially other than Cole and Sherron, they may not admit to it, but that was a relatively tight group.
So hopefully they will understand, hey, we can play at a pretty high level in this situation, which hopefully will bode well for the next game.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
COACH SELF: Thank you guys.

End of FastScripts

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