Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews
Bill Self's March 6 weekly press conference
KU coach Bill Self met with the media Thursday afternoon to discuss again the emotionally-charged weekend that was for his team and took a look ahead at Saturday's regular season finale at Texas A&M. The Aggies are coached by former Jayhawk guard Mark Turgeon, who was a junior on the 1985-86 squad which not only went to the Final Four, but had Self as a graduate assistant.
Trivia, Texas A&M and testy fans
As KU gets set to wrap up Big 12 regular season play, the guys discuss whether a weekend of home cookin' really shook the Jayhawks of their February funk. Also, a look inside this weekend's game in College Station, some trivia (with prizes) and a gander at just what has gotten into fans recently. Preachin' in this episode: Ryan Greene, Kevin Romary, Ryan Wood and D.J. Whetter.
Darrell Arthur ordered hot wings off the menu at Henry T's Bar and Grill.
Sherron Collins selected the turkey club sandwich.
"My teammates would never let me eat hot wings ... you know, the weight (issue)," the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Collins said with a smile.
Russell Robinson chose the shrimp basket, while Sasha Kaun just sipped on water.
"I wasn't hungry. I already had a late lunch. This was an early dinner," Kaun said.
Thirteen additional Kansas University basketball players also chowed on a variety of dishes at the Sixth Street restaurant on Feb. 24 - the day after KU's disappointing 61-60 loss at Oklahoma State.
No coaches were invited to the impromptu, players-only meeting that had some patrons of the establishment wondering what was going on.
"It was crazy. People were coming up and saying, 'You guys can get back on track,'" sophomore guard Collins said. "It was a good meeting. Everybody got what they had to off their chest. We are brothers. It brought us together."
The dinner meeting, which Collins said addressed the need for the Jayhawks to "play with more energy, show more effort and make coach happy," produced immediate results.
KU snapped a two-game road losing streak, 75-64, three days later at Iowa State, then claimed home victories over Kansas State and Texas Tech to improve to 27-3 overall and 12-3 in the Big 12 entering Saturday's 3 p.m. game at Texas A&M (22-8, 8-7).
"The seniors spoke up a lot - Darnell (Jackson), Russell, (Jeremy) Case," sophomore forward Arthur said.
"They said it's their last time. They want to go out with a bang.
"It was serious, but we were joking some too," Arthur added. "We were talking like we do in the locker room about what we need to do to win."
It's the second straight year a team meeting appears to have helped the Jayhawks. The players gathered in a hallway of the team hotel after a sluggish first-round Las Vegas Invitational victory over Ball State last November.
KU downed defending national champion Florida in overtime the following night.
"It does help you re-focus," senior guard Robinson said of players-only meetings. "The big thing is everyone has input, you get everybody's thoughts and feelings out there in an open forum. We figured we had to do something after that game. The main thing was to focus and pay attention to detail, and we've done that lately. We have to keep it up."
KU coach Bill Self said he and his assistants "encouraged them to get together," the day after the OSU loss. "It's up to players to police themselves and hold themselves accountable."
He isn't ready to credit the meeting solely for the Jayhawks' improved performance of late.
"I don't know why it's changed. I've noticed more energy in the building. The glass seems to be half full again as opposed to half empty," Self said. "We just went through a funk. It's a long season. It was not the most opportune time to go through that with the league race and everything. Every team needs to go through stuff to find out who you are, to fight through some things. That (OSU loss) was our adversity we faced that we had to fight through."
¢ Collins feeling better: Sherron Collins said Thursday he feels "90 percent" recovered from his various injuries which included a stress fracture in his left foot, bruised right knee as well as an injury he never mentioned to the media in January - a chipped bone in his right foot.
"I'm pain free," Collins said.
¢ Going for the title: A victory Saturday would assure KU a tie for its fourth consecutive regular-season league championship. Texas, also 12-3 in the league, closes at home Sunday versus Oklahoma State.
"This is the championship game for us. If we win, we become conference champs no matter what Texas does," senior Sasha Kaun said. "Things are definitely going to be a lot higher with emotions."
Self said: "I think our locker room will be pretty juiced going out. It should be the most competitive feel all year long going into the game."
¢ Self lauds Turgeon: A&M is coached by former KU player and assistant coach Mark Turgeon. Turgeon played point guard, while Self worked as a graduate assistant on KU's 1986 Final Four team.
"He's a great guy, as most everybody around here knows," Self said. "He's very knowledgeable, very competitive, certainly an important figure in KU's success in the time he was here. 'Turg' probably remembers me like I remember him, fun guy, nice to be around and very competitive. We're not 'close, close' because we weren't together that long."
¢ Academic honorees: KU seniors Sasha Kaun, Jeremy Case and Russell Robinson are among the 20 players named to the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Men's Basketball Team. Kaun and Case earned first-team honors; Robinson second team.
Kaun is a first-team honoree for the third time. Case has made the team twice. First-teamers have maintained a 3.2 or better GPA. Second-teamers have GPAs between 3.0 and 3.19.