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Cliff's Notes: Bill Self press conference, 3/27/12


Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

The team always hopes and dreams at the beginning of the season that it can make the Final Four. When KU started this year, the reality was that KU hoped it would be good enough to get in the NCAA Tournament. The players have developed this year, which had to happen for KU to be good.

Self left out of the road Missouri game thinking KU was pretty good. Then, KU played really well at Baylor that same week. Self realized then this team could play at an elite level.

Self didn't change his team's approach this NCAA Tournament. It was the same routine as the regular season.

Self says people should talk more about Kevin Young. The last three weeks, he's pursuing the ball as well as anyone in the program. He's been terrific. Self has total confidence in going to him off the bench. There's no problem going to him in any situation. When he came to KU, the coaches thought he potentially might be the best loose ball guy that the team had. And he's become that. He's active. He's almost like a kamikaze guy, as when he comes in, he's going to make an impact, whether it's positive or negative. Young played great against Ohio State in the teams' first game.

Ohio State's team has gotten better since the teams' first game. People should talk about Jared Sullinger. He's an All-American. But OSU's other players are pretty good, too. They're not a one-man band by any stretch.

More than likely, Robinson will not guard Sullinger. Jeff Withey will. But Robinson and Sullinger will match up at times on Saturday.

OSU's Deshaun Thomas is more of an inside-outside post, while Purdue's Robbie Hummel was more of a fixture on the perimeter.

Self is happy for Frank Martin. He spoke to him after KSU's run in the NCAA Tournament. Martin told Self that the South Carolina opening was a possibility. It must be a great situation if Martin left. KU has been down there, and South Carolina has a great location and facility. The Big 12 will miss Martin. He's been great for the league.

Jeff Withey is a guy that coaches constantly have to challenge. He's a great kid, but he's laid-back. Self doesn't think he realizes sometimes how important he is to KU.

The '08 KU Final Four team would be favored over the '12 KU Final Four team. But the '12 Final Four team wouldn't buy into that. It's amazing to Self how much this team likes competing. This is a close team. Self has had close teams in the past, but he doesn't know if he's had a team this close. There's something about this team, how they ride each other and get on each other. Unless you love the brother you're next to, you're not going to jump his butt. If you don't love the guy, you might be more likely to just go with the flow.

Thomas Robinson is a guy that's handled all the situations remarkably well, considering the situation he's in. He's been an absolute treat, though he and Self still sometimes have their moments.

A huge play in the North Carolina game was when Elijah Johnson stole the ball from Harrison Barnes to get a layup at the end of the first half. Guys this year just have a timing to make plays. Withey had a block and tap late. The timing has just been right for this team to make good plays at opportune times.

This Final Four is a heavyweight group. It's a great field — one KU is proud to be a part of.

• Self wasn't surprised that Robinson was a unanimous first-team All-American. Self thought it was just as cool that Tyshawn Taylor made third-team All-American. That's like first team for him.

Self isn't sure that losing in the Big 12 tournament was a bad thing for KU. At the time, the loss stunk, but it might have been the best thing for KU.

• To Self, a lot of times the challenging coaching jobs are when you have to manage egos and playing time. In that way, this has been one of Self's easiest coaching jobs, because all the guys have bought in. It might have been harder to get wins, but it was easier to get players to do what Self wants them to do.

The KU coaches have learned over time that Taylor is one of those kids he wants all the responsibility, and at times earlier in his career, he couldn't handle that. Taylor wanted for this to be his team, and he relishes in that role. That gives him unbelievable confidence. Self is going to live with Taylor's decisions no matter what.

OSU guard Aaron Craft can slide well defensively, but he's unbelievable at raking the ball from bigs. He's unbelievably bright, knowing angles and positioning. His hands are what make him great defensively.

Self hasn't been back to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Bourbon Street is fun. Self can't imagine a better site for these four teams in the Final Four. Self could envision the Superdome filling up, no matter how many people it seats.

This is the best shape the KU athletic department has been since 2008, and it's only going to get better. Self was a fan of Lew Perkins, but Self understands sometimes changes need to be made for whatever reasons. Athletic director Sheahon Zenger has been great since arriving at KU.


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