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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 3/7/13
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self wants his guys to play with a free mind against Baylor. He doesn't want his players to burn any energy worrying about what Kansas State does earlier in its game at Oklahoma State. It's hard to not get emotionally invested in that. If Self had the choice, he'd probably rather play the earlier game. But he doesn't think it makes much difference. Self hasn't talked with his staff about whether they'll allow the guys to watch the KSU-Oklahoma State game earlier in the day.
• KU guard Elijah Johnson was the best athlete around when he first got to KU. He had some good moments early in his career. Self has always liked Elijah. He's a very analytical guy. He has been a treat to coach. Self likes to be around him. He's pumping energy into the team. Last year, Tyshawn Taylor took the pressure off everybody else by taking criticism. Good players do that. Johnson had to be that player for KU this year. Johnson did a good job of accepting that and letting it roll off his back. Once he did, it's hardened him and made him better.
• If KU wins Saturday, this will be as cool as any league title Self has won. A lot of people thought before the season it was KU and everybody else in the league race, and that didn't turn out to be the case because the Big 12 has good teams. After KU's rough stretch this year, winning the league would be a great accomplishment. KU still has work to do, but Self is looking forward to Saturday.
• Self says it's tough to play well for four straight months. Usually, teams have to go through crap during the season.
• Baylor still has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. KU knows it will get a great effort from BU on Saturday.
• Self says no one likes sharing titles. He thinks sharing would be great if you're behind a game in the standings going into the final game. Whether the league title is shared or outright, Self knows you get a ring. If you don't share the title, you don't get a ring.
• What Andrea Hudy does with the guys is more than just helping them gain weight. She also helps with their confidence and flexibility. She's done a great job with Withey, but she's done an exceptional job with all of KU's guys.
• Self believes four guys should be in the discussion for Big 12 player of the year race: Kansas State's Rodney McGruder, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Ben McLemore and Withey. Self doesn't want to say who he thinks deserves it, especially with the season not over. From Self's biased perspective, though, he thinks it's one of his two players. Guys can split the vote in these things, though, and that might come into play.
• Self said he would vote for KSU coach Bruce Weber for Big 12 coach of the year. The Wildcats have been as consistent as anyone in the league. Oklahoma State's Travis Ford and Oklahoma's Lon Kruger also have had good years. One thing KSU does really well is find ways to win coin-flip games.
• Self says Baylor ranks toward the very top of the league in terms of talent. Self picked BU to win the league in the preseason. Pierre Jackson is as talented as any guard in the country. Isaiah Austin is a lottery pick. There are a lot of teams in the country that don't have that.