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Cliff's Notes: Bill Self press conference, 3/5/12


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 ball moves on offense much better for KU compared to earlier in the season. Guys also trust each other more and have become more comfortable with their roles. Also, players have gotten better individually.

• Self thinks it's probably a good point that KU's players had to learn to become starters. Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey were ready to be starters because they had gotten better and paid their dues at KU. A lot people say they want to have a greater role, but they have to prove from their actions that they're ready for it. A lot of backup quarterbacks want to be the signal-callers until it's fourth quarter, and you have to go the length of the field and they're rushing six on you. It's something you have to go through and get used to.

Self doesn't think Thomas Robinson has a huge repertoire of post moves, and KU doesn't teach him a ton. You need to be able to score over your left shoulder and right shoulder, and you need to have a counter to both of those. Self doesn't think there's an important reason to teach a post guy 14 moves. But footwork is different — catching and feeling comfortable with your footwork. Self doesn't think that coaches should cloud young kids' minds with a lot of moves.

Robinson has always had the moves he's had this year in his bag, but he's just never been able to use them. One thing that is good about Thomas: He can shoot it, but he also can drive it and catch you leaning, and if you are leaning, he can make a move off your lean. Danny Manning is good at working with those guy on certain things. You don't need a ton of moves, though; just be good at what you do. NBA players keep it simple as well in the post.

Self says that KU can be as good on the perimeter defensively as it's ever been during his tenure here. Releford, Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor all have the potential to be lockdown defenders. KU just doesn't play that way all the time. It's not something you just do. Self gets a kick out of coaches that say, 'We're not guarding very good, so we're going to practice defense this week and get great.' It doesn't work that way. It's a mind-set.

Withey's sweeping hook developed at KU. Sometimes, though, Withey takes himself out of a better shot because he moves himself further away from the basket when he shoots the hook. But Self does think that's an effective move for Withey. He thinks he should probably try to shoot that every game.

Self says he doesn't care about the Big 12 coach of the year voting. Self says he voted for Missouri's Frank Haith to be conference coach of the year, because he thought he deserved it. Though Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg did a remarkable job as well. Having three different Big 12 coaches of the year this season is a tribute to the coaches in the league. There have been four teams in the league (KU, MU, Iowa State, Baylor) that far surpassed what their expectations were. You could make a case for a lot of different guys. That doesn't bother Self at all, and it's probably good for the league.

Self didn't guess Withey would be Big 12 defensive player of the year, but he did predict that Withey would lead the conference in blocks before this season started. Withey deserves defensive Big 12 player of the year. Self doesn't think anyone one blocks or alters shots better than him in the conference. Withey has been consistent on the defensive end. One reason Robinson has had such a great year is because Withey defends the other team's best post player to keep Robinson from fouls. Withey has been great for KU. He's had a terrific year.

Self thinks it's time for Releford to get back to being a defensive stopper. He can get it back through practice and his mind-set. The best way to keep a player from scoring is to not let him shoot it. But that's something that Releford and Johnson can do a better job of. Self is sure that Releford's foot is fine from his injury earlier this year. Self hasn't even thought about that. Self hasn't heard one complaint. He's not getting treatment for it.

• Self thinks distractions have more to do with winning and losing at this time of year than anything else. Some people say, "How can there be distractions?" Self thinks, "How could you not be distracted?" when there are so many things going on with family and people in your ear, including runners, who tell players what they need to show people to increase their stock. If you have 100-percent trust, you have fewer distractions. If a player thinks that people on the outside know more than the people on the inside, you're going to have major distractions.

Mature guys basically cut everybody off. Mature coaches cut everybody off. That's not easy to do at all. Those are the things that Self worries about as much as anything else. Before the VCU game last year, Self has never had a team any looser. It was perfect. Then you go into it, and it just has a different feel to it. Who knows how KU will react, but Self thinks the team will be prepared to react well.

Manning has been an unbelievable influence for KU. He's been a great role model. He's a great teacher, and the guys respect him. Self can't imagine KU having a better guy coaching big men than Manning. He gets a lot of credit for KU's big men, but Joe Dooley and Kurtis Townsend are great with the guards, too.

• Self thinks that this year's team is a relatively mature group. His team isn't overly mature. KU still blows leads and things like that, but when the going gets tough, KU's guys hunker down pretty well.

Oklahoma led KU at halftime in Norman, Okla. Texas A&M led KU at home in the second half. A&M plays more like KU, with a lot of man-to-man. KU will work against 3-2 zone in practice just in case it plays OU. The round-robin is good in that it's an easier scout for these other teams, as you've played every Big 12 team recently.

Self doesn't think offense will be at a premium in the Big 12 tournament. It seems to Self like the second time you play a team in conference, the offense usually isn't as good, because people scout you. Everybody in the league knows all the calls and the tendencies.

Self says it would be great to play Missouri in the final, because that means KU has won two games in the Big 12 tournament. It would also be fantastic to play Iowa State or Texas, because KU would have won two games.

Self doesn't know enough about the process to know what KU needs to do to earn a No. 1 seed. To Self, Kentucky and Syracuse are No. 1 seeds on matter what. Also, Self thinks one No. 1 seed will be from the ACC. Maybe one can emerge from the Big Ten. Then Missouri and KU would still be in the running. Self thinks some weird things would have to happen for the winner of the Big 12 to not have a great chance at a No. 1 seed.


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