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Cliff's Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/28/11
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• Regarding the red mark over Self's left eye: The coach had pre-cancer spots, and the doctor said that they needed to get rid of them. He tried to get time it so he could get them removed during a down period. Wednesday was his last day of medicine. He's been taking it for three weeks. He'll be back to normal in a couple days, the doctors said.
• Self practice squad is decent — pretty good. Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor have given KU some energy and athleticism since being allowed to join the practice squad at semester. Self wishes KU could play them now, because they'd help this year's team. Practices have been better with them. It's much more competitive out there.
• Out of Ben and Jamari, one has a 3.3 grade-point average and another has a 3.2. Both did great in that aspect. Self was proud of them. The NCAA put pretty strict stipulations on them, and they both blew those away.
• Self likes his guys' attitude. He thinks the team is pretty good when it plays with energy and passion. KU played like duds against Davidson. Self thinks energy is correctable.
• Self thinks all his guys in some respect are tough. But KU wasn't tough against Davidson. A lot of teams don't appear mentally tough until they need to be in a game. KU just didn't close against Davidson. The team didn't get stops when it needed stops or execute on offense when it really needed to. People think that Thomas Robinson is tough, but there are times when he isn't. Same for Tyshawn Taylor. Same for Elijah Johnson and a lot of the guys. Toughness is when you miss four shots in a row and you want the fifth one. Statistically, KU has actually done well in toughness stats.
• Self likes his guys, but he can't coach them and let things he feels go unsaid. Self has to say it. On Monday, the team had a meeting after practice. The thing that Self told them on Monday is that he's had a chance to self-evaluate, and KU isn't that far off. But if KU doesn't bring it on any night, it gets average quickly. But if KU brings it, it can play with anybody. He told players they can't afford to not have possessions without energy and emotion. Self wants KU to play with more energy and passion.
• KU's bench isn't where Self would like it to be. Not yet, at least. KU's schedule is part of the reason for that. The Jayhawks haven't had a lot of time to get the minutes to get some bench guys confidence. Self still knows that isn't a total excuse. Guys have a chance to impress the coaches every day in practice.
• The success that Baylor and Missouri has had has been eye-opening to Self. The team that has been the most pleasant surprise in the league has been Kansas State, with Missouri second.