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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/31/13
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self says he thinks there are lower scores in college basketball this year partly because of greater physicality in college basketball. The officials are calling it just fine, but there's more contact than there used to be. Self thinks across America there are more good defensive teams than offensive teams. National scoring averages being down a point per game is a pretty big number, but Self isn't as concerned with that number being down as some others are.
• Self believes Travis Releford might do as much as anyone in the country as far as helping a team win. He's great with intangibles. Releford is shooting well in Big 12 play, and part of that is because he shoots a lot of layups. Self wants him to be aggressive offensively, though that doesn't always means shoot more.
• Self thinks Ben McLemore and Releford ... those wings go from defense to offense better than any other wings in the country.
• Releford is smart defensively. He's a bright kid and knows how to play the scouting report well. Self gets upset when Releford makes a mental mistake, because he doesn't think that should happen with him.
• Self believed before the year that his team had the potential to be great defensively. Self thinks his team can still improve in some areas. Not many teams have Releford- and Jeff Withey-type defensive players. Self says this team is good defensively, but the 2007-08 team was his best defensively. That team had a lot of pieces. It didn't help the helper defensively; it helped the helper's helper. Self hopes this year's defense can get to that level.
• Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart has good size. What Self likes most is how he has changed OSU's personality as a program. He's going to be a pro.
• Oklahoma State made a lot of plays late to beat Iowa State on Wednesday. Self also saw that OSU scored easy late. That doesn't normally happen in late-game situations, where it's usually tougher to get easy shots.
• Self says OSU has four guys that can "go off" on any night offensively: Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash, Phil Forte and Smart. Self picked OSU second in the league. From a talent standpoint, OSU might be the best team in the league. It also probably is the most athletic team in the league.
• Ballhandling is a concern for Self. He even joked later, saying, "Hell yes," it was a concern. Self thinks his team sometimes is just careless and lazy. KU has to handle trapping situations better. KU has always been a team that has wanted teams to press it, because it had good guards in the past that loved to break that to get numbers on the other end. To be fair, Self said KU doesn't have the number of ballhandlers this year as it's had in the past. KU needs to a better job of relieving pressure with its bigs. Everyone also needs to be less careless moving forward.
• Self hasn't mentioned the 18-game win streak to the guys. He mentioned the team's national ranking to the guys the other day, telling them to not try to go into protect mode because of it.
• Self is believing that Jeff Withey is starting to get the national attention he deserves. KU has two players at their respective positions (Withey and McLemore) that are playing as well as any players in the country at their positions. One reason Withey's block numbers are going down is because teams aren't attacking him. Teams are taking longer shots, which is fine with Self.
• Self said you have to respect what Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder has done. He's happy that Snyder picked up a five-year contract extension. Snyder's getting stronger as he goes. He's better now than he ever has been.
• The Big Ten is great this year. Self says that league has five of the top 15 teams or so. Self thinks Michigan has been the most impressive team to date. Indiana has had great stretches as well. You're going to lose games in that league because of the competition in that conference. Self thinks there are a lot more really good teams overall in college basketball than maybe we thought a month ago.
• Self doesn't buy into the Big 12 being down. He thinks the league had some bad non-conference losses. Conference RPI ranking is determined only in non-conference play. In Big 12 play, it's hard to win on the road. Self thinks the Big 12 does a great job of preparing its teams for postseason play.
• Self doesn't keep track of his team's win streak. He says he would love for KU to get to a 23-game win streak, which would break the school record. But he wants that because it would mean that his team has improved to 12-0 in the league.