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September 25, 2013

Media Day Q&A with Bill Self

On Wednesday afternoon, Bill Self the possibility exists that a player could potentially redshirt this season.

Self on the hype for this year's Late Night in the Phog:

"From what I can tell this is the most anticipated start of the season that we've had since I've been here. But I'm not sure that's 100 percent reliable because I don't talk to a great portion of the fan base. But based on what people have told me there seems to be no shortage of anticipation."

Self on what he thinks of the team:

"I think this team is different than most the teams we've had here if not all the teams we've had here. We are as deep as we've ever been. We've had as many good players in the gym as we've ever had. And we certainly are long and can play with five or six bigs where in years past we have been a little limited in doing so. It really doesn't make a huge difference except in practice unless injuries occur and foul trouble occurs. We have had success playing primarily six guys and we've had success playing nine or 10 guys. I do think it's a team that can play with more reckless abandon especially defensively because foul problems hopefully won't be as big a concern as it has been in years past. I'm excited, we are talented, but by no means do we know how to play and by no means are we ready to play."


Self on Joel Embiid's athleticism:

"(Joel) Embiid's got the best feet. When you guys watch Joel play, you will say that he's got great feet. He moves like a six-footer with the things he can do with his feet. He reminds me a little bit of (Hakeem) Olajuwon early in his career. Some similarities when he was real young and real raw. He was light on his feet and very quick on his feet and I think Joel is the same way. He's got a long way to go from a toughness standpoint to be able to play a ton of minutes his rookie season. He can do some things and move in a way that very few guys in the past have been able to move."

Self on Andrew Wiggins and what committing to the program means to him:

"Getting Andrew is something that made people, maybe even nationally, look at us in a different light. We've recruited a lot of good players but we haven't really had a ton of success recruiting the top three or four players in their respective classes in the country. He obviously has that distinction. I think from a standpoint of other recruits it brings instant attention to our program. But after he gets here none of that matters anymore. He's very talented and has a ton of potential, but he's just a freshman. He's going to find his way like everyone else. The expectation that have been put on him by outside factors or media members comparing him to this person or that person are really not fair at all. He has a chance to become a great player. I would not say he's a great player yet but is a great prospect. And hopefully he will develop in a way where he can become a great player quickly."

Self on Growing pains he expects from Conner Frankamp:

"I would say all freshmen go through growing pains. The one thing with Conner is he is a shooter and a scorer, but probably a shooter before a scorer. With that you get to the college level and you have bigger guys closing out at you and the games a little faster. You need to learn to get your shot off a little faster and sometimes you see guys really labor to shoot the ball with the same consistency they did in high school. And that to me, won't be a concern because he will have the green light with us, is what I would say he has to grow through."

Self on what Wiggins adjustments are:

"I thing with Andrew (Wiggins) is, he showed flashed of dominance in high school but he didn't do it on a consistent basis. He's a guy that relies on athletic ability and turning it on when it needs to be turned on. But when you get to this level and even at a very high level of high quality ball you have a lot of guys who play that way and you will never get it turned on. And so he has to become a consistent guy who needs to impact every possession in whatever way shape or form he can. He's got to learn to compete in order to win every possession in the game."

Self on Wiggins coach-ability:

"He's a 10. All of our young kids have been 10s. This has been a great group to work with and if there is stubbornness it has been strictly from a competitive standpoint, which I find to be pretty attractive. There hasn't been any stubbornness from a wanting to learn standpoint."

Self on moving the start of the season up:

"I'm in favor of it this year. If we have a lot of guys return I would be against it next year. So I do think the season is too long. But the way they have done it in a way where you don't have so much stuff to cram in so fast. You can take your time and be a better teacher. Also you don't have to wear the guy's body out so much because you can be a day on and two days off until you get your body in shape to practice. Right now there won't be one team in America from a conditioning standpoint that is prepared to practice for a November first time practice. It's going to be a situation where we will work them hard but there is no reason to have a three and half hour practice this early. We will probably have a hard day followed by a teaching day and so forth."

Self on Frank Mason being able to play right away:

"There is no question Frank (Mason) can push Naadir Tharpe and Naadir knows that. Frank is talented, he's tough and he's a pit bull, probably as tough as anybody we have. But does he know how to lead, that's the questions that need to be answered. He can certainly learn from Naadir and he has been every day. He's in a battle for playing time with Naadir. But he still has a long way to go from knowing how to run a team."

Self on Defensive Reckless abandonment:

"I don't want to compromise being sound to showcase length or speed. But I do think we can be sound and if we can be then we will be able to extend and do things some of our past teams weren't able to do much of. We can pressure in ways we haven't done in the past. We will be able to make mistakes and recover if we are extending our defense. "

Self on Perry Ellis:

"Perry easily could be our leading scorer this season or he could be our fourth leading scorer. But he certainly is talented enough to be our leading scorer, he's been great. He had a great last third of the season last year. He had a really good spring and a great summer. But I think Perry will be able to take the next step."

Self on whom vocal leaders of the team:

"Probably Naadir. Naadir and Tarik Black are the best candidates to be the vocal leaders. Everyone can put their vocal leadership to use in a way that fits their personality and still benefit the team but there are some that have to get outside their comfort zone to become a great leader."

Self on Wayne Selden:

"Wayne is a guard that probably can play in at least two maybe three spots. He can be an emergency one and he's quick and strong enough to defend the four. He's probably as versatile as anyone we have on the team. The big thing is with freshmen that are used to being able to go around guys and now they can put their forearm on you and hold you that makes it difficult to makes it difficult for guys who aren't that strong to adapt. Wayne won't have that problem. Wayne is a guy that physically that can use his own strength to offset his opponent's strength."

Self on if it is complicated to deal with the hype that some of the players have received, maybe Andrew (Wiggins) specifically, and still get across expectations:

"This year may be a little bit different because people are saying so many good things about a group of kids that have done absolutely nothing, from a collegiate standpoint. In their minds they think they are ready, but even in the short time they have been here they realize that this is a little bit different than what they had anticipated. I don't think it will be a huge problem but certainly it's going to be one that we have to talk about a lot and if we can focus in on us being good, it will work. If we focus in on the individuals being good it won't work, because if we are good that means the individuals have played very, very well themselves individually. You can have a guy play well and our team stink but it would be hard for our team to be really good and not look at our team and say 'Hey, that kid preformed pretty well.'"

Self on if he feels any extra pressure to turn the highly-touted recruits into good basketball players quickly:

"Since I have been here I have never felt any pressure. I think there is pressure being a coach at a high-profile place all the time. But is there extra pressure? No. I think that my staff has done pretty good job in developing guys and certainly a lot of it falls on me, I know, but we aren't going to please everybody. Certainly we are going to go through ups and downs where people think we shouldn't be going through downs, but usually the downs are what allow us to be good in the end. So we won't get hung up on that, but is there pressure for us to be good? There is every year. But the ultimate responsibility still falls, if you're talking about developing individuals, on the individuals and we've got to put them in the right spots and certainly allow them to utilize their skill set and motivate them a certain way, but still they've got to want to work. If wanting to work is not part of the equation, then the individuals will never live up to the hype. But if this group wants to work, I do think there is a chance they could all be pretty pleased in the end."

Self on what he hopes to get out of senior transfer forward Tarik Black this season:

"I think Tarik will have a great chance to play as much as he wants. He will have a great chance to start. Not very often do you recruit a senior that has already started three years and have him come in and be as well respected and basically be the leader of our big guys already, so I am expecting him to have a big year and he has prepared himself to have a big year because he has worked very, very hard."

Self on how the ceiling of the 2013-14 team compares to some of the other great KU teams of the past:

"We have had some pretty good teams; you stop and think about the last seven years, I think our teams have averaged 33 wins a year. If this team got to 33 wins, it would be an unbelievable year considering how difficult the schedule is. So I would say if you are talking about the ceiling, if everything fell right come March, I would think that this team's ceiling would be very high. But I don't think we are anywhere close to being compared to any of the great teams that have come through here yet. Not even close. We have a lot of unanswered questions, but if guys develop and mature, things fall right and (the players) stay healthy and things like that, then there is no reason why this team cannot be a team that could be very tough to deal with by the end."

Self the tough competition early on in the schedule this season:

"I think maybe this year we overextended ourselves a little bit; I think we go Duke, three games in Atlantis, at Florida, Georgetown, San Diego State and New Mexico. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I don't know if there is any team in America that would be doing anything like that. But I do like the fact that we are playing a hard schedule. But hard schedules expose yourself, what your true weaknesses are. So it's not camouflaged by maybe playing some opponents that you can get by with some things. In the end it will help us playing a hard schedule, there is no question about that."

Self on what areas of sophomore forward Perry Ellis' game can be improved:

"Basically, confidence and having the confidence to make plays like he did toward the end of the season last year. I think last year he was trying to fit in and be one of many (leaders on the team). This year he has got to have more of a hungry attitude, which I do think he has."

Self on Ellis' personality:

"His personality is very quiet and (he gives off) the appearance of being laid back, but he is also a guy that was the (Kansas) state player of the year four times in a row and won four state championships, so the fire burns, there is no question (about that). I think that sometimes he, as a young kid - no matter how much you try to stress it - they still want to please the older kids. We are so young this year that (now) he is one of the 'older' kids. So I don't think he will have a problem with that at all."

Self on if Ellis and Wiggins have similar, quiet, personalities:

"Perry is a whole different level of quiet; you could be in a room with Perry and neither person speak for 24 hours. Andrew's not like that at all. But Andrew does take a kind of laid-back approach, so they are similar in that regard."

Self on if he has tried to persuade Ellis and Wiggins to be more vocal:

"We have different ways to get them to talk, absolutely. We will work on that and get better at that. We are four weeks into school starting so we haven't converted everyone to change their personalities in four weeks, but they will grow into what role they will be. Everybody has got to become a better communicator."

Self on if he can easily communicate with Ellis:

"Perry is much more comfortable with me. He will come into the office and we will have a 30-40 second conversation, which is much better than it was when he first got here. He is a lot more comfortable. He is a terrific kid and has grown a lot in that (regard)."

Self on if he foresees asking anyone to redshirt with so many newcomers, in addition to numerous talented veterans, on this year's team:

"I don't know about being asked to redshirt; I foresee us talking about it with a couple of guys. The possibilities of who could do such a thing is limited because we have already had some guys transfer or redshirt and that kind of stuff. So I wouldn't be surprised if one guy redshirted and things like that. It won't be because we asked them to, but because they, and their family, think it is best for their career. I still - after seeing Travis (Releford) and Jeff Withey (go through the redshirt year) - I can't understand if you're not in the mix and top nine or something like that, why you wouldn't consider that (a redshirt season) because if you just follow what they did, those guys had unbelievable careers and that's because they were patient. So sometimes I think that's something that kids need to look at, but I don't know who that would be right now. It depends how things play out during practice sessions."

Self on the biggest thing forward Landen Lucas got out of his redshirt year in 2012-13:

"I think he has become a lot more confident, he's obviously more explosive and has more of a scorer's mentality and he's very bright. He gets what we are doing. He is one of those guys that over time is going to be a really good player for Kansas. He is just starting to scratch the surface and get it. I could not be more pleased at where he is at this stage in his career compared to where I thought he would be when we first recruited him. He's far ahead of schedule, from my perspective."

Self on other players, who maybe aren't getting the attention because of Wiggins' hype:

"Wayne Selden, you guys will see, he's prepared. A large part of that is because physically he is prepared. Brannen Greene is a talented player. Conner Frankamp, if there is somebody that can shoot better, I would like to see it because he can shoot it maybe as well as anyone we have had here. (If he) can he do it under game conditions remains to be seen, but we certainly think he can. I think Tarik Black may have been the big steal of any recruiting class in America because here is a guy that is a potential draft pick. You get all the maturity and he already knows how to work; coming in for one year, he knows it has to be a banner season for him otherwise the transfer wasn't worth it. He's hungry. Joel (Embiid) is probably as talented big kid as we have had because he's so good on his feet. There are a lot of guys who have the potential tag around their neck but haven't done anything yet. Frank Mason, he's a guy that went to prep school and we were begging him to come here; you guys will understand why once you see him play. We are excited about our entire class. Andrew (Wiggins) was the icing on the cake but this class would have been one of the better classes even if Andrew hadn't have come."

Self on if having so many highly-touted recruits in this year's class helps Kansas' recruiting in the future:

"Yes, I think so. The more kids you sign that advance and go on to play the next level is the best for recruiting, but there is no question that kids want to go where other good players are playing. There are many other schools that can stake that claim but we are certainly one of them."

Self on Brannen Greene's skill set:

"He's big, he's 6'7 with great range and vision and good ball skills. He's got to tighten a lot of things up. In any other recruiting class he would be a headliner. He's a good player."

Self on how deep he believes the team could go:

"It doesn't really matter because we will probably only play nine, but it could be a different nine. I think it's one of those teams that could be a different nine depending on who's playing well. It is a team where we play a solid nine in every big game, which we probably haven't done in years past."

Self on if this the best recruiting class ever for him:

"Yeah this is the most talented class we have ever signed. You know Julian (Wright), Brandon (Rush), Mario (Chalmers) and Micah Downs (in 2005) that was pretty good. You got three McDonalds All-Americans plus Brandon who would have made it but he wasn't eligible for it. So I don't know if when you talk about four quality guys, we have any guys with more quality than that, but we do have more. When you talk about a class of eight there are eight pretty good players. So it's without a question the deepest class we've had. Of course it remains to be seen if it's the best one, but I certainly think it has potential to be the best."





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