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Cliff's Notes version: Bill Self press conference, 10/15/09
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at media day today.
• This year's team is not quite as athletic and fast as the 2007-08 team, but it is probably bigger and deeper. Deeper isn't always a positive because you can only play so many guys. The depth could help overcome a key injury, though. This team could not beat the 2007-08 team at this point. This team also will have to rely on newcomers, whereas the the 2007-08 team did not.
• Self only wants to play nine players, maybe 10 early. Four bigs and five guards would be ideal.
• Guys on the bench should want to be out there. Redshirts are possible on two or three guys, too. Self hasn't talked to one guy about red-shirting yet. Once practice starts, the minutes have a way of figuring themselves out.
• Self feels his players are unselfish on the basketball court. The coach also is happy with his team's athleticism. He doesn't know how tough his team is, but he thinks his team can get there.
• Thomas Robinson brings the team a motor. Robinson will force the Morris twins to be more consistent.
• Xavier Henry and Robinson are different because they have the bodies of 22-year-old men. Robinson might be the best-looking physical body of an incoming freshman that Self has had since he's been at KU.
• Xavier Henry is a natural scorer. He's going to have good and bad times, because he's still figuring things out.
• Without hesitation, Self likes the preseason No. 1 national ranking. The advantages far outweigh the negatives. You're not going to be ranked high if you don't have good guys. A target on your back is a good thing. It forces a team to be more battle-tested. KU is going to get everyone's best shot. Self thinks that is healthy for a ballclub, especially when one game can mean the end of your season in March.
• Sherron Collins will still have a lot of freedom this year. Self believes Collins is a guy that doesn't care who shoots it in the first 30 minutes, but he wants to take shots in the final 10 minutes. He doesn't envision Collins putting up enough shots to average 20 points per game this year.
• The key to this year's team is Collins and Cole Aldrich being as good or better than they were last year. Aldrich amazed Self last year with his improvement.
• Last year was Sherron's team. This year, Sherron will welcome it to be Sherron and Cole's team. Sherron will be the most vocal, but Cole is becoming more of a leader.
• Distributing minutes could be a challenge, but Self has never been worried about that aspect going into a season. The bigger issue will be getting a rotation down and having everyone know their role.
• Marcus and Markieff's bodies have improved. They've both gotten stronger. Marcus is a talented guy. He's a skilled four-man, or a big three. Self could see putting a big team out there with Marcus at the three, or small team with Markieff at the four.
• C.J. has already impacted the team from a leadership standpoint because he's not scared of his voice. He's not scared about what he says. He's got talent. He's still not in 100-percent shape health-wise.
• Self told the team to shave all facial hair today to look sharp for media day.
• The hits are legitimate from the last few weeks. They've gotten more attention than they would have at a lot of places. It hasn't affected Self except from a disappointment standpoint. It's the same thing with your own children. Just because you are disappointed in them doesn't mean you care about them any less. There's no excuse for the guys making poor decisions and being in bad situations, but the team has faced up to it and moved on. The team can learn from this.
• Brady Morningstar would probably have been in the rotation early without the suspension. The team has other guys that are pretty good, though, that might take advantage of an opportunity.
• The team's most talented guys are the old guys and the foundation are the old guys. There is no doubt as to who the players will look to as leaders. That wasn't the case with the 2008 team, where the most talented players were the young guys. Self thinks this group has some program guys like Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun as well.
• The veterans have an advantage early in the season, because they know how Self likes to play defense. You don't always play the best players early, you play the guys that give you the best chance to win.
• The basketball practice facility is the nicest that Self has been in. A court and a half is perfect. Self said the team has no excuse if it can't attract and train players.
• Mario Little is like C.J. Henry regarding injuries. Self has seen C.J. play more than Mario, just because he saw some of C.J.'s games early in his career. Self thinks Little will find his way. He's going to finally be healthy. Self thinks playing Little last year was absolutely the right decision. He was able to test to see if he could play at this level and also helped KU win games. If Little isn't healthy, he could still redshirt this year.
• KU's situation is unique because a lot of players don't come from a driving distance, so they can't get home in a car. The players' strongest support should come from teammates. Self said he hasn't had one player say he didn't enjoy playing at KU during his time here.
• Self does not talk about minutes with players' parents. He'll talk about anything else regarding the player, though.
• Travis Releford has improved a lot. Self thinks he's going to be a good player. But you can only play so many guys, and if he's better than those in his position, he'll play. Releford has had a great offseason, and Self thinks he could score 1,000 points before his career is over.
• Playing with Team USA gave Tyshawn Taylor a lot of confidence. The trip gave him confidence that he was one of the best players out there.