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Cliff's Notes: Bill Self press conference, 3/1/12
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• Self's relationship with Tyshawn Taylor has been good. He can frustrate you, but Self is sure he frustrated his mother and father. He's meant about as much to KU's program as anybody who's been here four years. He's one of the premier players in America. He deserves All-American consideration. He needs nine hours to graduate, so he'll walk in May. He's emotional, sometimes too emotional, but that's one of his biggest assets as well. He means a lot to Self personally. Self usually doesn't get emotional about certain things, but he can see himself get emotional about him because of how far he's come. For him to improve as much as he has is pretty good. He's felt the weight of the KU fans, and sometimes rightfully so, but Self thinks Taylor's turned everyone with his play this year.
• Tyshawn's gone through a lot, too. He hasn't had it easy by any stretch. He's overcome a lot. He had great mentoring growing up. Since he's been here, he's done what you hope every kid would do. He's given himself to this place. He's had a great career; he just hasn't always been smooth getting to the end result. It's been pretty amazing to Self.
• Tyshawn always wanted for a team to be his team. He always wanted to have a bigger role, but that was sometimes tough with all the great players KU had in years past. He's embraced the leadership role this year. Self believes the more he's been given freedom and the more he's been given a role, the more he's embraced it and the more unselfish he's become in the helping of others.
• The only time Taylor could have considered going pro was after his freshman year, and that would have been a bonehead move. The decision would have been made before he played USA Basketball that summer, where he played well and led the team in scoring. Because of that, in his mind, he had been anointed a bigger role than what he had, and Self thinks that's why he struggled sophomore year. No matter how you looked at it, Taylor was KU's fifth-best offensive option that year. The way they system is set up has benefited Taylor the way it was intended to benefit him. You get better every year; you have a bigger role every year; then when you leave, you're as prepared as you can be. Self doesn't think Taylor could leave out of here being more prepared than he is to take the next step.
• Self thinks national player of the year is a two-horse race, and both horses are good. You could make a strong case for Thomas Robinson, but Self thinks you could make a great argument for Kentucky's Anthony Davis as well. One difference is that defenses focus in to stop Robinson, whereas Kentucky is more balanced, so defenses aren't designed to stop Davis. Davis will be the No. 1 pick. But Self believes as a college player this year, Robinson has had the best year.
• Self says Taylor not being on the 30-person Naismith list is a snub. If Taylor isn't one of the best 15 players in the country, it would be unbelievable to Self.
• Self said it would be a coin flip as to whether Taylor or Robinson is more valuable to KU. You could make a case that Taylor has had every bit the conference season that Robinson has had. For the whole season, Robinson has been better. Self wouldn't mind co-players of the year. Missouri's Marcus Denmon deserves to be in the conversation, too. Self thinks those three should finish 1, 2 and 3. If you just look at the conference season, though, Taylor and Robinson have been equally important to KU.
• Self says he appreciates three conference championships the most while at KU. The first was when KU started 1-2 in the conference and tied for the title (2005-06). That's one Self will always remember. The second is 2008-09 after KU lost all its players from the title year. This one being a round-robin and talking about how much more difficult this one will be to win a round-robin, Self thinks this title equals those previous two, and maybe is worth even more.
• Self says the new format made the conference championship more difficult. KU might have benefited from having an 18-game schedule because the Big 12 North was so good this year. KU has gotten some breaks this year, but Self also noted that only two of KU's Big 12 wins have been by less than five points. KU's guys have done a good job from start to finish.
• Texas can beat KU. The Longhorns could easily come in and rock KU's world. You look at Senior night around the country, sometimes guys are nervous about postgame speeches and other things. Texas could get KU, and it would be a nice resume-builder for them. J'Covan Brown always goes nuts against KU as well.
• Brown is going to get points. KU did a pretty good job defensively on him, and he still put up numbers. KU has to eliminate transition. Self's never been one to say, "Let's stop him." He's been more a coach to say, "Let's stop them." Lots of guys have scored high-point totals against KU, but KU has still been able to beat that player's team many times.
• Conner Teahan has similar value to everyone else on the team. He's a threat. You have to guard him. Self had a recruit tell him after the Missouri game that every time Robinson had a good shot on the block, Teahan was on his side, because MU had to respect that he could shoot it. That's smart for a recruit to figure out. The value isn't just Teahan making shots. The value is him being on the court. Self thinks he holds great value.