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Bill Self press conference notes: Jan. 16


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self spoke with the media at Allen Fieldhouse today about No. 15 Kansas' upcoming showdown — 3 p.m. Saturday — against No. 9 Oklahoma State.

Self broke down the Cowboys' team and talked about last year's home loss to OSU.

Here's a brief look as well as links to the complete audio:

Bill Self

Andrew Wiggins

Wayne Selden

• Self says Oklahoma State's Le'Bryan Nash's decision to try to get more into the 15-18 foot range to score instead of relying on the three-point shot has made Nash a more dangerous player and made a positive impact on OSU's entire offense.

• Regarding OSU's dribble penetration, Self says it's critical to be good guarding the ball. He says KU cannot be tempted to play off of point guard Marcus Smart and fade toward OSU's perimeter shooters and adds that the key is to get good help and make Smart feel like he's got one and a half guys guarding him on every possession no matter which way he goes when screens come.

• Self said Smart has not hurt himself at all by staying in college and he's had a good year. It was probably a good decision for him to come back and I know it's been great for their program.

• Self on whether Smart's backflips last year bothered him: What bothered me is that we played like crap. If we'd have played better, that wouldn't have happened. Of the flip: I thought it was beautiful form, I thought he tucked just at the right time and got full extension. I thought it was very impressive.

• Self said the 3-0 start in Big 12 play was big for this team because two of them came on the road. Self said the team needed confidence because it did not get much of it during the non-conference schedule and added that the team is probably as confident as it has been all year right now.

• Self said Andrew Wiggins has played most of his best games in the team's biggest games of the season. From his point of view, that's probably what the NBA scouts want to see from him — how does he play against the best of the best?

• Self said if Wiggins had made more layups this year he probably would be averaging 20 points per game. Says the misses may have been because of avoiding contact early but he's finishing better now and not worrying about contact.

• Self said Joel Embiid is probably not as impressed and surprised about his success as everybody else. One thing that's so great about Embiid is how honest he is and how high of a standard he sets for himself. Self said that's a real rarity for players.

• Self said he's not worried at all about Embiid's technical fouls during each of the last two games. The one at Iowa State was not a big deal. Only was called a technical because of the way the rules are written about dead ball contact fouls. When that occurs, they have to call it a technical.

• Self said Embiid has a chance to be an NBA All-Star. Five or 10 years from now he could be in that elite group of being considered one of the 24 best players in the world. But he's not anywhere close to that yet and has a lot of work ahead of him to get there.

• Self said it's way too early to be talking about his players' upcoming NBA decisions, but he can't see telling 'em to return. What he would tell 'em is to do what's best for their lives and weigh the pros and cons and act on that. Says he wouldn't hold his breath if he were a Kansas fan.

• Self said Embiid has become more physical and has already gotten stronger. He said he doesn't know if Embiid enjoys the contact but he's gotten to the point where he doesn't mind it.

• As for handling the fiery nature of some of these guys, Self said he'd much rather calm a guy down than turn a guy up.

• Self said the non-conference schedule doesn't matter any more. Might have helped KU win a couple of games on the road early in conference play, but now it's those conference games that will prepare KU for the rest of conference play.

• Self said he'd like to see Naadir Tharpe shoot more when he's open. Also said he's been playing at a really high level lately and has been a great leader, a rock out there, for the young guys.

• As for reaching this level and playing with confidence, Self said Tharpe probably needed to know again that Self liked him. Self added that he loves him and Tharpe knows that.


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