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Cliff's Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/8/11
Before we get to the Cliff's Notes, here is a quick Cliff's Notes version on the status of Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger (back spasms) for Saturday's game against Kansas from Ohio State coach Thad Matta.
• It will probably be Saturday when a decision will come on whether Sullinger will play. OSU is taking it day by day and trying to get a gauge for how Sullinger feels. Sullinger's doing a little more every day with back spasms. Saturday is not the most important thing in Matta's mind for Sullinger. OSU definitely wants him out there. Matta thinks he's the best player in college basketball, but he wants to make sure the team does what's right by him as well.
Now, here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• Self is looking forward to seeing KU playing Ohio State more than individual matchups. On paper, you could say Sullinger-Robinson and Craft-Taylor would be great matchups. With Sullinger and Robinson, you have two of the premier players in America going at each other.
• KU won't prepare any differently with Sullinger's injury status. Self hopes Sullinger does play. He hopes both teams are healthy and everybody plays. If Self was a betting man, he'd say Thad's not a very good poker player. Self is guessing Sullinger will play on Saturday.
• Self has seen Sullinger play for a long time. He was one of the most sought-after players in recruiting. It seems to Self, Sullinger is a better person than he is player. If you look at stats, Sullinger is only taking about 10 shots per game. He's very unselfish. He's very impressive to Self. Sullinger also has changed his body. He can play inside and outside now.
• Unless something unforeseen happens, Tyshawn Taylor will start on Saturday.
• KU needs to try to clean up turnovers regardless of opponent. Self is as impressed with Ohio State's defense as he is anything else. Craft is a good defender. A lot of KU's turnovers aren't opponent-related; they are KU-related. Kentucky and Long Beach State's best offense was KU's turnovers.
• It won't be one guy guarding Sullinger. KU has to help from the right spots. Self doesn't know how KU will match up with OSU yet defensively, as far as individual matchups go.
• KU is pretty consistent with its sloppy passing, in practice and in games. Self thinks a majority of KU's sloppiness comes at the end of games. When KU has gotten tired, it has gotten careless.
• The reason KU was up 19 against Long Beach State was because it made shots. The reason LBSU came back was because it made shots as well. The first half, KU had 12 assists and six turnovers. The second half, it was four assists and 16 turnovers. Self doesn't think that has to do with killer instinct — that has to do with poor play.
• OSU's guards have 90 assists and 34 turnovers this year. KU is not close to that. Self looks at that stat all the time. If you're going to have a goal offensively, it would be for KU to have one or more shots every possession. KU's carelessness is not allowing the team to do that.
• KU has a chance to make a statement for this year's team against Ohio State. KU has a chance to do something that would be really good for its confidence. Self thought KU had the national stage in Maui and had the national stage in Madison Square Garden. But this will be the biggest stage KU has had a chance to be a part of this year.
• OSU guard William Buford is a big-time challenge. Self recruited him a little bit. He went to his high school and watch him play. If Self isn't mistaken, Buford could end as OSU's leading all-time scorer.
• Self thinks Conner Teahan's defense is getting better. He moved his feet better against LBSU.
• Self didn't think Elijah Johnson played very well against LBSU. Self told him on the bench, "We need you in the game. With your fourth foul, how could you do that?" The fouls overshadowed some of the good things he did. Johnson was the point guard when KU took its big lead. But when KU needed him to be the quarterback at the end, he wasn't available.