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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self media day press conference, 10/11/12
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas basketball coach Bill Self's comments at the KU basketball media day press conference today.
• Self thinks KU is talented. He thinks the young kids will be good. Self thinks Ben McLemore is the most talented. He can do about as many things as any player KU has had under Self. The next-most heralded young guy would be Perry Ellis. He has a knack for getting the ball in the basket, but he needs to be more aggressive, too. Self thinks Jamari Traylor is going to be good. Self thinks they'll all be good, but he says Andrew White has been the biggest surprise. He has length, and he can shoot.
• Self is excited for his son Tyler because he thinks he'll be a good teammate. The players will like him. Coach Self said, if anything, he will be tougher on Tyler. Self is also excited because he gets to see him everyday. Self sometimes feels like he's cheated Tyler and hasn't spent as much time with him as he wanted to growing up. Being able to be with his son every day might be recharging Self's batteries for this year more than anything.
• Self thinks Jeff Withey can be an All-America type guy. It's not a stretch to say he could be the best defender in the country. He just needs to be a little more consistent offensively, and he needs to not wear down.
• Self likes freshmen that come in and think that they can dominate. KU needs Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis and Andrew White especially to come in with a confident attitude.
• Self thinks Elijah Johnson has to have a big year. Self said seeing how Johnson played in the last third of last season ... there's not many guards better than him around. The added thing he's got to understand is that his words and attitude and approach will have as much impact on KU winning as his play. He's getting better with that. Self is definitely expecting a big year from Johnson.
• Self would say his most talented guys on the perimeter right now would be Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis and Elijah Johnson. That's two wings and a combo guard. This is more of a lineup like Self had with Keith Langford, J.R. Giddens and Aaron Miles. Tyshawn Taylor had the ball in his hands during game point most of the time last year, but Elijah Johnson could take pressure off him ball-handling-wise. KU has to develop some help in that aspect for Johnson this year.
• Self was more surprised KU being picked first this year in the Big 12 than not being picked first in the past. KU lost a lot with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Self thinks his team could be good by the end. Baylor will be good, and Self thinks Oklahoma State could be the sleeper team in the league. Kansas State and Texas both return good teams. Other teams will be much improved. Self thinks that his team's ranking might be a little bit high, but his team will embrace it.
• Self says the Zach Peters injury deal has him confused. He was doing well, then complained of shoulder problems. KU tried to give him time off, but it didn't work. KU tried some rehab, but it didn't work. Peters plays a certain way, and he has to be healthy to play that way. Rest and rehab should be able to take care of the injury, but there's still the possibility it could be a long period of time before he's back. Self says, right now, KU is probably looking at 4-6 weeks. Peters was one of the better players in Europe, so Self thinks this team needs him. He's not even thinking about at a potential red shirt at this point.
• Self says he wasn't sure the Europe trip helped his team basketball-wise as much as he thought it might. The guys got humbled, though, and that includes the older guys. They played just good enough to get beat.
• KU has to get the young guys to buy in to understanding that the team has to get a shot each possession. Self would say his team's greatest weakness, right now, is valuing the ball. That usually happens with younger teams.
• Jamari Traylor is going to be good. He's never played. He's 19 and played one year a little bit in high school. That's it for his life. Even in Europe ... he looked good in practice before that, but he struggled in games. It's going to take time with him.
• Thomas Robinson gave KU an air of toughness that made others believe they were tough as well. This team has to be great at stealing possessions. Self thinks he has competitive guys this year, too.
• Self says last year was hard for him, because he thought McLemore and Traylor both should be playing. It ended up being a good thing for their lives, though. They took a negative and turned it to a positive by both posting 3.0 GPAs last year. Self says McLemore has a chance to be one of the special ones to come through here. He's not there yet.
• Self says there's a difference playing under the lights. Late Night will be nerve-wracking for a lot of the young guys. Some of them haven't played in front more than 1,000 people. There's a lot of pressure playing here, which is part of the reason guys come here. Guys have to learn to play in those situations through experience.
• Self didn't feel like last year's team felt much pressure. Once the team got on a roll, it was like KU was playing with house money. So much of it for Self is learning how to close. The games are going to be close. KU's record was 32-7 last year, and it easily could have been 25-12 if it didn't show toughness at the end of games. This team will have to play with that sort of toughness.
• Self think Naadir Tharpe has gotten better. Rio Adams is a talent. Evan Manning is a pretty good player, but Self says hopefully he's a guy KU doesn't have to rely on. Self hopes Tharpe and Adams are able to fill in that backup point-guard role.
• Self thinks KU will have more balance scoring, but this team needs two guys to step up and score 15 points per game.
• Perry Ellis is quiet. Self joked that if Ellis had his way, he might go through a whole day without talking. The coaches have to get him to where he's more comfortable talking. Self likes his talent, though.
• Self felt like he had decent security before signing his new extension, as he still had six years left on his contract. Through security, Self says, in general, perhaps a coach could be more inclined to do what's best for his program over time instead of going for a quick fix.