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March 24, 2013
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Kansas Â– 70
North Carolina Â– 58
THE MODERATOR:Â We're joined by Kansas head coach Bill Self and student‑athletes.Â We'll start with an opening comment by Coach Self and then go to questions.
COACH SELF:Â Well, we're excited.Â We played miserably the first half.Â They took us out of everything.Â We were so rushed and sped up and played nervous, everything.
Then second half, we came out, our guys competed.Â We were great on the glass.Â Of course, we had to have some individuals step up.Â Of course, Travis was terrific.Â Jeff was equally good.
It was a great win for our team, our program, and certainly very excited about advancing and very proud of my guys.
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions, please.
Q.Â Bill, I'm wondering what the halftime was like.Â You shot 25%, hadn't made a jump shot.Â What can you say?
COACH SELF:Â I told them, If we just keep doing what we're doing, we'll be fine (laughter).
I wasn't happy with 'em.Â These guys will agree with me, I believe.Â It's okay not to play your best, but at least don't play your best when you're being yourself.Â We weren't ourself at all the first half.Â We were sped up and played nervous and timid, and everything.
They beat us to loose balls.Â I thought they totally controlled the first half.Â Then our IQ, basketball IQ the first half was not very high also.Â We did some things that weren't very smart to let them get a nine‑point lead.
Kind of like the Ohio State game last year.Â We putter around, get a big play by Travis to go in, down 9 as opposed to 11, that's what happened with the goaltending call late.
Second half, even when we didn't score, we got what we wanted.Â I thought the second half we played really, really well.
Q.Â Can you talk about the contribution that Naadir gave you off the bench and was it tough at all to sit Ben as much as you did the second half?
COACH SELF:Â Ben labored this weekend.Â He's still our leading scorer.Â We're going to go right back to him.Â There's not going to be a situation with that.
But Naadir came in, we were a better team.Â We got the ball moving.Â He made four big shots, was able to handle pressure a little bit better.Â Probably better for us in the second half.
Also it allowed Elijah to bump off and guard.Â They play two point guards a lot.Â We were able to play them with two point guards as opposed to a 3‑man and a point.
It wasn't hard not to play him because he's the best teammate on our team.Â These guys will tell.Â He's just happy to win.
We'll get him right going into Arlington.
Q.Â Travis, you've had big games here at the Sprint Center for the past couple years.Â How nice was it to be at home?Â You seemed to relax and hit some shots.Â And, Jeff, how big a contribution was Travis?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:Â Well, I think the key is it's close to Lawrence.Â Our fans come here, they give us a lot of energy.Â When we go down, I felt like the game's not over at any point.Â With them cheering us on, giving us that energy, helps us a lot.
JEFF WITHEY:Â Travis always guards the toughest defender.Â He put the team on his back tonight for sure.Â He played great defense.Â Offensively he was a stud.Â He got a lot of and‑ones.Â Was tough.Â Hit a three, the first one of the tournament for us.
It was awesome to see him do that.Â This is his hometown.Â It's great to see him do that in front of everybody that's watched him for years now.
Q.Â Going back to what coach was saying about the team's basketball IQ taking a nosedive the first half, were there specific moments that you can think of that you thought this was not smart basketball, and the second half would you say this is smart basketball?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:Â Well, the first half we just let those guys get whatever they want.Â In transition they was getting a lot of easy baskets.Â I think the key to the second half, we got out and defended them a lot better than we did the first half.Â I think that was the key.
JEFF WITHEY:Â Yeah, the first half we made some bonehead plays, especially me.Â I had six turnovers myself.Â A lot of that was just throwing it right to the defender.
But second half, we kind of got a better feel for them, knew what they were going to do.Â We knew they were trying to gamble and trying to steal the ball every time.Â So we just played to that.
Q.Â Travis, could you take us through that shot that you hit two minutes into the second half, the three‑pointer.Â Were you thinking at that point that you had to hit something from outside?Â And, Jeff, if he doesn't hit that shot, is it conceivable that you don't get on a roll in the second half?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:Â At the time I was wide open.Â Who passed me the ball?Â I don't remember.Â I was wide open, stepped up, took the shot.Â I wasn't thinking, We need the shot, need to make it.Â I just focused on the time right then.
JEFF WITHEY:Â I'm glad that he made it.Â I wouldn't say that was the play of the game, you know what I mean?Â If he wouldn't have made it that we would have lost or anything like that.
Travis, you know, he can shoot.Â But, I don't know, I just wouldn't say that that was that important at the time.Â I think we were just starting to get on our run and that just helped us get over the hump and go even deeper in the run.
Q.Â Travis, you're known as a defensive stopper.Â Kevin was on P.J. Hairston, which is a different kind of cover for him.Â What kind of job did he do?Â Bill, could you talk about the job Kevin did on Hairston and why you decided to go that way.
TRAVIS RELEFORD:Â I think Kev did a great job out there.Â He knew he was going to be the key to our defense by being vocal, letting guys know when the screens coming and stuff like that.Â With him just out there and bringing the energy on the defensive end helped us a lot.
COACH SELF:Â Kev was good.Â In our league, most of the teams are more traditional than what Carolina is, so he had to guard a guard.
But one thing we had to do was make sure we did a great job on Hairston, which he did.Â He had to take some shots.Â We had to do a great job on Bullock.Â I believe he was 1‑7.Â Travis had him the majority of the time.
I would say if you're going to see our perimeter defense was keyed by Travis and Kevin, then it's awful nice, too, when we have breakdowns, they have to drive it into Jeff.
I really thought defensively the second half that we guarded them very well.
Q.Â You mentioned that Travis, you thought this was best game that he played.Â And could you comment on Jeff's shiner?
COACH SELF:Â May get some pity loving for him.Â Somebody might feel sorry for him (smiling).
Travis, you know, he's had a lot of big games for us.Â When you look at the whole picture, if I'm not mistaken, the guy that he's checking who is right there as their leading scorer, he gets 5 and Travis gets 22.Â Of course, he's so steady and he's a rock.
The other thing I think that's nice about Travis, he doesn't get tired.Â He can play all day.Â I thought that was a big key for us late.Â I thought we benefited from the game being in Kansas City, no question about that.Â That was important for us to be a top 4 seed so we could get the benefit of that.
First half, we didn't utilize the benefit at all.Â The second half I thought we really did.Â We gave the crowd a chance to be a factor.
Of course, Travis keyed that as much as anybody.
Q.Â If there's anybody on the all‑time blocks list, Tim Duncan.Â What are your feelings about that since you set the record last year?
JEFF WITHEY:Â I'm obviously blessed to be in that situation.Â Hopefully we can keep on winning games so I can keep on blocking shots.Â Hopefully I can pass him.
It's a great honor obviously to be behind somebody like Tim Duncan.Â He's a great player, a great All‑Star, one of the best that's ever played my position.Â It's an honor.Â But hopefully I can pass him.
Q.Â Bill, one more on Naadir.Â The lane violation he had wasn't that severe.Â Can you talk about that, and the teaching moments you still have with him.
COACH SELF:Â I called Elijah over.Â It wasn't just Naadir.Â His partner joined him in the violation.Â I said, There's a new rule, when a guy is at the free‑throw line you can't stand in the jump circle with him when he's getting ready to shoot a free throw.Â I couldn't believe it.Â I've seen lane violations.Â I've never seen that before.
Of course, Naadir had an answer.Â They passed it to him too quickly, the official did.Â Still that didn't explain why he would be in there talking to Elijah.
That's part of the learning process that sometimes as a coach you just kind of, Wow!Â Everybody knows that.Â He knows that.Â He just made a bonehead play there.
Fortunately for us, it wasn't a big factor.
Q.Â Bill, you mentioned Ben had kind of a rough game today and you need to get him right for Arlington.Â Can you walk us through that process? Â Is that more sort of mental, emotional, strategic?
COACH SELF:Â When I say 'get right,' I'm talking about getting his confidence back.Â He had some pretty good looks today, but it wasn't his day.Â When we run the lob play for him the second half, uncontested, miss‑times it or fumbles it.Â It wasn't his day.Â He knows that.
The great thing about Ben, he cares about winning.Â He puts that ahead of everything else.Â He's happy for these guys.Â For us to be good, to have a chance to advance, we need all our players playing much closer to their ceiling.Â I think with Ben, it's just through repetition.Â He just needs to see the ball go through the hole this week in practice.
Q.Â After halftime of a game, you can make adjustments defensively, but offensively when you're struggling like you were, is there anything you can really do other than like what you said, We're doing fine?
COACH SELF:Â I was joking about that.
We can yell louder.Â A lot of people think when you're coaching hard, that means you're yelling loud.Â That's not necessarily the case.
I really think drive pressure and throw it inside.Â It's not that complicated.Â In the first half, we got away from that.Â We didn't drive pressure, the ball stuck in our hands, make the defense go from first, second, third side ever.Â It was just poor.
Also when we did get in tight, they were great at raking the ball out of our hands.Â I bet you of Jeff's turnovers the first half, five of them, I bet you four of them were just on them breaking the ball out of his hands.
We knew that going in, but we didn't play to that very well.Â Second half that wasn't as big a factor.
The big thing is we were down 9.Â Don't let 9 become 13 or 15.Â Let's just go win the first four minutes.Â We had actually tied it within the first four minutes, so that was big for us.
Q.Â Bill, talking about the first half, would you say the shooting from the field or would you say taking care of the basketball is something that makes your blood pressure go up a little bit more at halftime?
COACH SELF:Â Yes (smiling).
Q.Â All of the above?
COACH SELF:Â All of the above.
You can miss shots.Â But our shots were rushed.Â The only difference in the first half, they got 42 attempts and we got 28.Â Both pitiful on the shooting percentages, but that was the biggest difference in the first half.Â And we turned it over.Â On multiple occasions, our offense led to their scoring.Â I would say I'm much more frustrated by that than I am missing shots.
But, you know, last year in the tournament, the first week in, we played the exact same way.Â I mean, weren't very good against Purdue.Â Had to tough that one out.Â Didn't have a lot of rhythm, but figured it out late.Â Today was kind of the same thing.
The big advantage we had was that we were playing in Kansas City.
Q.Â Coach Self, how important was it that when you did have your struggles tonight, you had seniors and experience, and when they hit their bad spot, they didn't have nearly as much as the guys that have been through the battles like you have?
COACH SELF:Â I thought experience was important.Â I don't think we demonstrated experience much during the first half.Â I thought our leadership wasn't as good as what it should have been on the court.
Second half, seemed like we communicated more, more energy.Â We came in the game ready to play.Â We came in the game playing with energy.Â We came in the game with the right mindset.Â But when things didn't go well, kind of got away from us.
Second half, after the game settled down, I just thought we got pretty good.Â Of course, the seniors were the huge reason why.
Q.Â You've had a lot of success with Roy, particularly in the tournament, even when you were at Illinois.Â Is there anything to it, the styles, the matchups that you have had over the years?
COACH SELF:Â No.Â I mean, he's had as good of players as anybody has had for the most part.Â We've had our fair share of good players, too.Â So when we've met, even when we were at Illinois, I mean, it was two good teams playing each other.
We've been fortunate.Â We've been fortunate the three times we played them since I've been at KU.Â Last year was a coin‑flip game that we made all the plays in the last four minutes.Â One‑point game.Â We watched it today.Â Of course, we played great in '08.Â Today was not one of those games.
I don't think it's Coach Williams at all.Â I think it would be anybody that's on the other team, coaching the other team.Â When things don't go well, you can't allow other teams to play good.Â I thought that's what happened tonight.
Even though we played miserably the first half, I thought they could have played a lot better, too.Â At least we kept ourselves within striking distance.
Q.Â Travis, yesterday Bill called you one of the most competitive guys.Â How much do you channel that defensively matching up with a guy like P.J. or Bullock?
TRAVIS RELEFORD:Â I don't know.Â Growing up I always took it personal when guys scored on me.Â I guess that just stuck with me throughout my career.
I take pride in guarding the other team's best player.Â I think that's the key.
THE MODERATOR:Â Gentlemen, thank you very much.Â Congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports