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February 12, 2013

Hawk Talk Recap

On Tuesday night, Kansas coach Bill Self had his weekly radio show Hawk Talk with host Bob Davis. Here are some highlights of what he said.

Self on last night's win against K-State.

We played a lot better last night with great energy and a lot of enthusiasm and the crowd was terrific. The fans really rallied around the team last night. It was definitely the sixth man and our guys played very well.

When we play well we play really well. When we lose that edge we get average pretty quick. This past week we went eight days, it seemed like a month and a half where we didn't play well and we didn't have that balance or personality. We got average real quick and poor in some instances. Going into last night we only got one day to prepare so there isn't a lot of practice time and guys come back out and had a different balance and feel. It looked like a real good team last night.

Self's evaluation on K-State …

K-State is good. They are well drilled and very deserving of where they are right now. They earned it. We put ourselves behind the eight ball with having to win yesterday and now we are in the game. We don't need help but neither does K-State or Oklahoma State. You got a couple of teams that are on the heels with four losses as well. It's going to be an unbelievable conference race down the stretch.

Self on Naadir Tharpe's performance against K-State…

He is arguably as good of a player as we had. Ben and Jeff were unbelievable but Naadir played unbelievable the first half. He had the defense on their heels, drove the ball and got us easy baskets. It's probably the best half of basketball he has played since he had been here. He doesn't have to shoot the ball well to play well. He is a good shooter. I was really happy and proud for him because he has been on the cusp of having a good game like that.

Self on Jeff Withey's defense against K-State …

He almost looked scary a couple of times. I said almost. He was great and defended the rim so well. K-State has the reputation, and they are, of being a very good rebounding team. For us to limit them to six offensive rebounds is great because that's an area we struggled in this year. To win the battle of the glass 41 to 23 I think was probably as good as an effort we have had on the glass in quite some time.

Self on the progress of Ben McLemore …

He only had 13 shots. I don't know if fans know he was looking to shoot the basketball last night. His release was quicker. His first shot from 40 feet and it went for about 45 feet, but then he got in a zone and I was happy for him. Our whole team has been laboring a bit, Ben's been scoring but he has been laboring too. He was in a little funk and it was great to see him come out of that.

Self on hearing others outside the team criticizing his players …

I can say what I want to my players about how I feel, but when someone else does that it ticks you off because that's family. I tell my guys to have a tight circle and really they shouldn't be listening to what other people say but it's easy to do. It's easy to lose confidence when people are ragging on you especially if you have had too much when people are praising you. The best ones are the ones who don't know if they are praising you or ragging on you because they don't pay attention. It is human nature and the thing I would say is it could put you in an us verses the world mentality. I think teams are better when they operate that way.

Self on if he does anything special for a players birthday …

We used to do cakes for every birthday but the NCAA said that was illegal. We don't really do anything and while it's a special day for that individual as a coach we don't get too hung up on that. It was cool to see a Ben score 30 on 13 shots and have 16,000 people sing happy birthday to him. I have never seen that before. He had a lot of family and friends in. They spent the night on Sunday night and had a little party for him and went home this morning. Certainly it was a big night for Ben.

Self on what to do to get Elijah scoring more …

We don't have a number for how many times we want him to shoot. We don't have that with anybody. I still feel good when the ball leaves Elijah's hand. He hasn't shot it well. That isn't a secret but if you discourage him from shooting that is telling him you don't have any confidence or trust in him and we don't feel that way at all. For us to be a great team Elijah has to be good. I watched him in practice and he came in on his own to shoot today. He works at it and I watched him shoot 25 threes and he made 20. There is no defense but he was going full speed.

I am not a big believer that during the season if you change a guy's shot. If you are going to change a guy's shot then you should redshirt a guy because it would take that long. You don't change your putting stroke in the middle of a tournament. He was this way last year too and he came on and I know he will do it this year too. I feel bad for Elijah because all he has done since he has been here is win a lot of games. He has had his ups and downs like anybody else. If you can picture anybody, let's say one year you are a defense attorney and then the next year you are a tax attorney. It's still law but it's a different deal. He goes from a two guard to a point guard, and while it's still a guard it's a totally different deal. He has to be that but even when people say that Naadir can be out there too, but if Naadir plays 20 minutes then somebody else has to play 20 minutes. I believe in him and he is going to finish strong.

Elijah hasn't ever once said one word to me or anybody complaining about his health. Here's the deal he knows if he is healthy or not he has got to perform. If you can't perform and take yourself out then you are hurt. If you are out there you have to perform and that's the way it is. He had knee surgery and he hasn't had all of his pop back and it's affecting him but I see things where I think he is starting to take some steps.

The thing I noticed, and this happens when you get older but your body won't cooperate and won't do what the brain tells it to do. Elijah is used to being more athletic than everybody so he is used to hitting a seam and getting through it. Now he is hitting it but not getting through it. It would be like a running back seeing that crease and trying to get there but a shade off. That's kind of the stuff he is going through. The only way for us to be a good team is for him to get through that. Statistics show that it takes a while to get that pop back. I see some things he is doing in practice and he is going to have a great last six weeks. I believe it, you should believe and the most important thing is he should believe and I think he will be confident moving forward.

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