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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 12/6/12
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self said this year's Colorado team is probably the best one that coach Tad Boyle has had there. Andre Roberson has emerged as one the most elite 4 men in the country. Boyle has a really nice team.
• Self said this home-and-home series with Colorado was set up mostly to help out those fans in western Kansas so they can get an opportunity to see KU play in Boulder. Self isn't mad at Colorado for leaving the conference, as it did what it had to do. With the league potentially breaking up, Colorado had to jump and take what was available.
• KU hasn't played with a true point guard for a while. Whoever got the ball in the past brought it up the court. This year, Elijah Johnson is having to bring it up. There's no complementary player with him. That's put pressure on him. He's played OK, but he hasn't played great yet. Self believes he will take the next step soon. Johnson is not as aggressive trying to score the ball because he's trying to get everyone else involved. That will come. Self says the big thing for Johnson is he has to increase his free throw attempts. Johnson took a hard fall last game and bruised his hand. Self didn't know about the hand bruise at the time. Johnson has played better the last two games.
• Most teams don't score out of offense. They score out of loose balls or bad close outs or beating a man off the bounce or things similar to that. That's not designing anything. KU has suffered in that area this year without guys that can force help and create for others.
• Self says bad teams can guard the first 15 seconds. Average ones can guard the first 22 seconds. Really good teams can defend the whole time. Like baseball, good pitching will beat good hitting. Good defense will beat good offense in basketball. But if a defense is really sound and can defend your actions, that's when you need someone to make a play.
• KU practiced Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. KU has gotten a lot of stuff in, but it also should be well-rested. Self says practices have gone OK. The guys are trying hard, but they don't always bring the same intensity every day. Right now, KU's players go harder in practice than they do in games.
• Jeff Withey's timing on blocking shots is unbelievable. It's unheard of that a guy could be that good at blocking shots without fouling. Withey's a pretty good rebounder, but he could be better. Self says he should be better at offensive rebounding. Self almost hopes his rebounding numbers on the defensive end go down a bit if that means other guys step up. Jamari Traylor, Perry Ellis and Travis Releford need to be better defensive rebounders.
• KU is not pressuring defensively with its guards and it's still getting beat off the dribble. Self thinks you can pressure more if you have a shot-blocker like Withey in the back.
• Self says the team is looking at options. Maybe Rio Adams can play, and to take pressure off, you put Travis Releford at the point. KU still hasn't found Johnson's backup. KU tried Kevin Young bringing it up in practice, though that only lasted about 10 minutes. The coaches are trying some things.
• KU has looked at some different things defensively this week with zone defenses.
• The Big 12 has not gotten off to a good start. If you don't play good in November and December, then the perception is your league isn't going to be looked at favorably. The Big 12 still has a chance to be a top-three RPI team, but it needs some big wins soon.
• Self thinks Releford should be penciled in as a double-digit scorer. It does help KU when he makes shots. Self said Releford needs to become a better defender, and he'd be the first to tell you that. He needs to be a great lockdown defender. If Releford gets back to guarding like he did last year, KU's defense will be improved.