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Big 12 Media Day: Everything Bill Self said at the podium

BILL SELF: Well, I'm happy to be here in T-Mobile. The last time we played here I was unable to attend, so this is good for me to be back in your guys' presence because you guys know I love the media and have missed the media.

I'm real excited about this year. I think we've got a roster that has a chance. I think we have a real chance, and I know nothing is guaranteed and we've got a lot, a lot of work ahead of us to become what I think we can potentially be, but I do like our roster and I think it should be a fun year for us as long as we can stay healthy.

Q. Coach, we heard you might have opened the season on the injured list. Did you have a minor injury or bust up some ribs, and what happened?

BILL SELF: I don't think broken ribs is minor, but I actually broke two ribs the other day chasing my five-year-old and my three-year-old granddaughter around Allen Fieldhouse Court right before late night. One of the least athletic moves of my life, and certainly the definition of feeling old.

But I'm doing fine.

Q. I know you guys don't put too much stock in these things and you've been ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls in previous years. How do you feel like the expectations this year compare to what you may have faced in years past?

BILL SELF: Well, I actually looked at that the other day because I didn't even know when we had been ranked preseason 1. But in the years that we had, we've had good years, but they haven't finished great.

I'm certainly hopeful that we can change that trend.

I really don't know that it adds a lot of pressure. I don't. I think the expectations are that we should be pretty good, and I do think we're fairly talented. I'd just as soon be ranked there than not ranked there.

It makes for energy, and it makes for maybe hopefully some recruiting positive mailouts and those sorts of things. But you said it, it means absolutely nothing. It will have no bearing on how good a team we have this year.

Q. Hunter Dickinson kind of a larger-than-life presence, especially after his recruitment saga. After having coached him and been around him every day, something you have learned about him that maybe the general public doesn't know.

BILL SELF: First of all, the recruiting saga was exactly the way recruiting should go. You recruit him hard and hope for the best. To me, it's always hard getting great prospects because the competition is always stiff. But that was nothing. There was no saga from my vantage point whatsoever.

We've recruited kids with sagas, and he certainly wasn't one of them.

I think the thing that you'll be surprised about Hunter is just what a great teammate and how unselfish he is, and certainly he's loved by his brothers in the locker room. He is, I would say, the most skilled and most talented offensive player that I've had from a center-type standpoint offensively.

There's a lot of things he's got to get a lot better at defensively and guarding ball screens and protecting the rim or the paint and a lot of other things. He's got to become much better to become whole.

But from a shooting, aggressiveness, passing, playing out of doubles, he probably is as advanced as anybody I've ever been around, and he is without question the most equipped to have a big year for a first-year player.

But he's also a fourth-year player, but as a first-year player we've never had a freshman or anybody come in and have the same type of I think potential to impact us as much as what he does.

Q. Do you get a sense of what this league is going to be like? You've got Houston, got some teams that have been on the national stage. Maybe they're not as afraid of you as some of the teams that have been in this league have been beaten by you for so many years.

BILL SELF: Well, I don't think anybody will be afraid of anybody. The league is great.

It got better when Houston came in it. There's no question, from a team that could win a National Championship. I'm not saying the other three can't, but we know Houston can.

Of course everybody respects what Kelvin has been able to do over time and certainly in recent memory.

But I think BYU, Cincinnati, and Central Florida are also great adds.

It's going to be unique in that I think our league is in the best position in large part due to leadership, in the best position we could be in, period, in today's landscape of college athletics.

But I think from the purity of the league and crowning a true champion, playing each other twice, the round robin and things like that, I think we have lost a little bit in that regard in natural rivals that we play home and home.

But I'm real excited about where the league is, and we'll probably be even more excited moving forward next year.

Q. During your tenure as coach at Kansas, one of the signature aspects of some of your best teams has been veteran leadership. This year with only a handful of guys who have contributed significant minutes coming back, how do you establish the trademark Kansas culture to a group of players who might be new to your program?

BILL SELF: You know, that's a great question, but I think you kind of answered your own question. KJ Adams, Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar, and even though Hunter is new, he's as experienced as any college player in America for the most part, so I do think we have the veteran leadership without question.

I think when you think of it and you see a Russell Robinson or to me that's a Dajuan Harris, and you see the Mario Chalmers. Well, to me that's a Kevin McCullar. I do think we have the pieces in place to give us great leadership.

But we have three returnees and six newcomers. That's it. So with only nine guys on scholarship that will play this year, because we still plan on redshirting Zach, it does leave a lot less margin for error as in years past.

Q. For the first time ever UConn is entering Lawrence. With them being defending national champions, is this a game that you already have a lot of anticipation for, and how do you plan on showing Connecticut what Allen Fieldhouse will bring to the matchup?

BILL SELF: I'll be honest, I haven't really thought a lot about what we're going to show Connecticut. We've got a couple of people we play before them.

But to think that the last three national champions are going to play on our court this year, you know, Baylor, ourselves, and Connecticut, I think is pretty cool. Certainly with what Danny and that group did last year and what they've done in the short time they've been there is remarkable, and they'll have a chance to win it all again.

I hope that that game and others like that prepare us for what will be as difficult a league as what we've seen since I've been at KU.

Q. How would you best describe the competition between Nick Timberlake and Elmarko Jackson for the No. 2 spot?

BILL SELF: I think that both have been competitive. It's a little bit different. When you only have nine guys, everyone is going to play. When you have 13 guys, four of them aren't. So sometimes the competition is a little bit different in those situations.

But both guys have been very competitive, and you can throw Johnny Furphy in that mix, too. And Jamari McDowell.

But the bottom line is I don't think either one of them are quite ready at this state to let it go because I don't think they're quite yet comfortable.

As talented or as competitive as we envision them being, I think there's a whole 'nother step they're going to get to, a whole 'nother level they're going to get to whenever they kind of figure it out as opposed to thinking all the time.

Q. Getting to the new additions, what does a program like Cincinnati bring to the league?

BILL SELF: Well, I think it obviously brings a rich basketball heritage and tradition. When you talk about the most traditional teams in our league, Cincinnati has got to be at the top. Oscar played there, national champions, and then of course everything that -- what Huggs did there, and then of course with what Wes will do there. And I think Cincinnati is an unbelievable sports town, so I think it's a great addition to us.

If I was in the fan base of any of the four schools coming into the league, I'd be real excited about the potential that exists and the opportunities that exist for each and every one of them.