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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 3/11/13
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self said KU didn't play well Saturday, but KU could have played well Saturday and still come up short. Baylor was really good. It was a six-point game with six minutes left, so the final score was worse than what the game actually was. BU still controlled it from start to finish. Self thinks he'll have his team's attention after the loss. KU didn't play poorly because it wasn't prepared or excited. KU didn't play well because it didn't play well.
• On Monday, KU will spend some time preparing for Iowa State or Oklahoma. Both teams did things to KU that hurt the Jayhawks. KU does the same kind of prep for the NCAA Tournament, preparing for the second game early in the week before preparing for the first game. On Tuesday, KU will start preparing for its first-round opponents. That's not being cocky, Self says. Self doesn't think any coach practices four days for one opponent when that team knows it could play a different team the next day.
• Lots of people have reached out to Self saying, "Congratulations, but it sucks how you won the league title." Self says that's not true. It doesn't stink. He's proud of his guys. Once KU was 7-3 in conference, it wasn't in charge of the league race. KU had to do what it did, and it didn't get much help from other schools knocking off the other top teams. KU did earn its share of the Big 12 title. Self says KU isn't going to apologize for sharing it at all. K-State deserves a share of it, too, because it had a great year. After you spend 2 1/2 months trying to win a league championship, you shouldn't discredit it even if you tie. Self is proud of his guys. To get a piece of nine in a row is cool. Every player in the locker room is maxed out on Big 12 championship rings. Self hopes that streak continues.
• Self has never seen the league better with more teams that can win the conference tournament than what the Big 12 has right now. Not very often can you go in and say that six teams can positively win three games in a row. That's not counting Texas with guard Myck Kabongo back or West Virginia and Texas Tech, who are playing better now. TCU also beat two NCAA Tournament teams. There are six teams that can win three games in a row, and no one would think of it as an upset.
• Self says Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson is a first-team all-leaguer in his mind. KU saw him when he was pretty good. So much of postseason accolades are based on numbers and how your team does. If there was a year when six players should have been on the first team, Self said this was the year.
• KU hasn't celebrated its Big 12 championship yet. The team did talk on the bus some. Self is proud of his guys. This team isn't finished yet, but Self's guys did some special things. It's never great losing the last game of the regular season, but the body of work for KU since Jan. 10 has been pretty impressive. The team will talk about the championship, but Self doesn't think KU should be giddy or excited about the way it played. KU has to get its killer instinct back. KU didn't do anything to make Baylor play poorly. The Bears were comfortable the whole game.
• Elijah Johnson can do a better job of "putting himself in the game." Tyshawn Taylor loved being the guy. So much of Johnson's criticism has been from him not making shots. Taylor didn't make shots in last year's NCAA Tournament, but everyone still credited him for playing great. Johnson has to make sure he impacts as many possessions as he can down the stretch.
• Having assistant coach Doc Sadler on the bench gives KU a different perspective. Self thinks Sadler's been good for him to get that differing point-of-view.
• Self thought forward Perry Ellis was KU's best player against Baylor, hands-down. He was aggressive. It tells you what he's capable of. It also shows how valuable Kevin Young is, because when he's playing well and Ellis is playing aggressively, KU's front line totally changes. Self was excited about Ellis, but the team needs everybody to contribute at a high level.
• Self thinks No. 1 seeds are overrated. He said he still told his guys, "Do you deserve a No. 1 seed if you don't win the Big 12 Tournament? The answer is no." Self is not hung up on a No. 1 seed, though. The NCAA Tournament is all about matchups. Self would like to be as high of a seed as possible because that helps guarantee his team plays close to home.