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Originally published March 25, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated March 25, 2009 at 04:59p.m.

One-on-one challenge

Self holds individual talks with Taylor, Morris twins

Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self talks about the upcoming Sweet 16 game against Michigan State during a news conference on Tuesday at Hadl Auditorium.

Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self talks about the upcoming Sweet 16 game against Michigan State during a news conference on Tuesday at Hadl Auditorium.

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KU vs. Michigan State

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Complete coverage of KU's third NCAA match-up of 2009.

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self summoned three Jayhawks to his office on Monday afternoon.

His message to Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris during one-on-one chit-chats?

That they ought to be loose, carefree and primed to produce top-quality minutes in Friday’s Sweet 16 battle against Michigan State (approximately 8:37 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis).

“I told them, ‘No one can take away the fact we won the league. Nobody can take away the fact we are in the Sweet 16,’’’ Self said, adding, “‘If they can’t take that away from you, there’s no reason to try to hold onto it. All you can do is add to it. You’ve got to let it go.’

“We need the twins and Tyshawn to be aggressive at all times.”

Self sensed some nervousness in his newcomers during last weekend’s victories over North Dakota State and Dayton in Minneapolis.

He’s seeking some help for Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, who had 38 points against Dayton. KU’s other three starters scored just three points total.

“I’m not asking them to do that much. I’m asking them to be aggressive and guard, make sure we get a shot every possession,” Self said. “When you worry about the intangibles, scoring happens.

“I asked Tyshawn, ‘Were you worried about scoring against Oklahoma when you had 26 (points)?’ He said, ‘No I was worried about guarding so-and-so.’ I said, ‘Exactly right. If you focus on the right things, scoring happens naturally.’’’

He’s confident things will improve for the three, who combined for five points with seven turnovers against Dayton.

“They are not going to play bad. I’ve already decided ... they are not going to play bad,” Self added with a laugh, referring to all of KU’s first-year players.

Taylor said the meeting with Self has indeed fired him up heading into a week of practice for Michigan State.

“Coach told me I had a great season so far, but it’s not over,” Taylor said. “He said nobody can take my season away from me, that I’ve already proven myself a little bit.

“I can’t really hurt myself. All I can do is make myself better and he told me that. A lot of the pressure is not on me. It’s really on Cole and Sherron, so I should just hoop.”

Aldrich and Collins, of course, are willing to shoulder the pressure.

“If we lose, they (observers) are not going to look at me and say, ‘We lost because of Tyshawn,’’’ Taylor said. “It’s bad to say, but they are going to look at Sherron and Cole first. They are our best players. They are going to take it when it’s good. They are gonna take it when it’s bad. I’ve just got to play.

“I want to help the team the best way I know how, by playing hard. That’s what I’ll do,” Taylor said.

Marcus Morris was visiting with some of KU’s assistant coaches on the Jayhawks’ off day Monday when Self called for him.

“He was seeing where we are at, if our mind is right for this game, if we are prepared for what we are about to play in,” Morris said of the KU rookies in the Sweet 16. “That was the major part, about us being aggressive. He said that’s what we needed to be, not just in the game, but practice too.”

Morris said KU’s newcomers have huddled amongst themselves this postseason.

“We talk about it every night,” Morris said. “Before the North Dakota State game we were talking about how different it felt. How the other media was and how everybody dreams for this time and now it’s here. I think we’re definitely more comfortable now. I would say I’m more hungry because we lost to Michigan State before (75-62 on Jan. 10 in East Lansing) and nobody expects us to beat them.”

Kansas junior guard Sherron Collins is confident KU’s supporting cast will come to play.

“The young fellas, and Brady and Tyrel (Reed) ... we’ll get them the ball when they are open and they’ll knock down shots like they always do,” Collins said. “We’ll be ready to play.”

Comments

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

This would be a great time for Mario Little to have his breakout game, too. There was a lot of talk about whether he should redshirt or not, and the reason he didn't is for the game we're playing Friday. He is completely under the radar going into this one and can really come up big for us.

Don Everett 10 years, 10 months ago

I believe Sherron is a Junior, not a Senior. Hope I'm correct!!!!!!

I'm expecting everyone to come out fired up and looking for revenge. This team has grown so much since that early January loss. This is neutral territory, so much different than a home court advantage. Win or tie the rebound battle and KU marches on the the Elite 8.

The Big 10 is nothing compared to the BIG 12.

RCJHGOKU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gotta go take a tiger and wipe my wildcat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 10 months ago

Little contributed Sunday more than anybody else.

However, he needs to continue to do well.

I think it is great Self is being the pscyhological doctor with these guys.

John Mueller 10 years, 10 months ago

ditto on Little. It would be nice to see 6-7 of those nice mid range jumpers go in the hole. The fact that he hasn't been able to consistently show his talents just goes to show how difficult the transition is from juco to the show.

Bill Self is just a great coach and a terrific mentor / leader. He deserves every single bit of the praise and recognition.

win or lose Friday, a terrific job by this coaching staff and these kids!!

But now that we're here......why not win this weekend's tourney as well?

RCJH!

PS I am sure pulling for Brady to knock down his first shot as well. It would be nice to see him have some success Friday in the spotlight. He is just a hard worker, a consistent effort guy and a model student athlete from what I can tell.

Matt Kenton 10 years, 10 months ago

This article and your comments just got me fired up!!!

Rock Chalk!!!

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 10 months ago

ALL of the "other" guys need to be more aggressive....everyone that steps on the floor.

this is the sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament....this is the absolute best time of the year. we are the University of Kansas, fresh off last year's national title....we have absolutely nothing to lose. Just go play, play hard, and have fun....and leave nothing on the floor.

kurocker154325 10 years, 10 months ago

This article says all that need to be said.

Brady need to start hitting though. Hasnt gotten much lately.

Ed Fox 10 years, 10 months ago

I have to say, this article reminds me of all the reasons why we have the best coach in America. The man knows how to work with these guys, knows what's going on in their heads, and knows how to get the best out of them. I also think that winning the NC last year has done amazing things for his confidence and taking pressure off. This team doesn't need to do anything more. Anyone who comes here and complains when and if they lose their next game should be shouted off the board - it's been a great season and it's just bonus from this point forward.

KANSTUCKY 10 years, 10 months ago

Brady's D will be the stimulus package we need. The shots will fall if we keep our nose on the ball. Make those center court seats worth every penny! Rock Chalk!

DocBean 10 years, 10 months ago

How often do we say "This team scares me, they have nothing to lose..." well, now we're the team with nothing to lose. We're better this year then anyone expected, we've already gotten blown out by Michigan State, no one expects us to win. I'm sure Michigan State fans are sick to their stomach right about now.

We're the underdog this time. That makes us VERY dangerous.

KGphoto 10 years, 10 months ago

‘Were you worried about scoring against Oklahoma when you had 26 (points)?’ He said, ‘No I was worried about guarding so-and-so.’ I said, ‘Exactly right. If you focus on the right things, scoring happens naturally.’’’

I'm glad we aren't talking about any specific Spartan. Only about how we need to play our own game. We talked about Morgan before the last match-up. We talked about Chase before the Arizona loss.

Focus is the key. Listen to your Self. Believe in your Self.

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

enjoy the ride.....there is a reason we call today, the present, as it is a present.

Just hoop.........mighty proud to be a JayHawk....I saw KU destroy the Spartans at Kemper to get to a final four Danny's soph year...and then lose to Duke in Dallas final four...when Archie went down with knee injury..it was the Louisville Pervis Ellison championship year....

KUPROUD 10 years, 10 months ago

Lighthawk, that was a great team with a real chance before Archie's injury.

Keeping it real as well as positive, Michigan State is a very good team that is playing well at this time. I believe we will win, but I also believe it will take our best defensive effort so far this season. If the team has fully bought what Coach Self has been trying to sell them all year, they will be aggressive from the opening tip and leave it all on the floor. If that's enough to win, great. If it's not enough this time, we'll celebrate the effort and the season, and eagerly anticipate late night in October. Rock Chalk.

Blake Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

Nothing beats making shots. When we are on, we are tough to beat by anybody. Having said that, against Michigan State, we need to hit the boards big time. That is their forte and we need to take that away from them. Although it takes a team total commitment in this area, this is where the twins and Mario come in especially to help Cole. They have to block out, something they are not consistent at doing. BTW, anyone notice how Tyshawn boards? He gets up there with the best of them.

soapboxstew 10 years, 10 months ago

Self has solved 3/5ths of the problem. He also has to bring in Mario and Brady. Especially Brady. Brady has become such a liability on offense over the past 7 games that his D has become irrelevant. He is shooting a ghawd awful % and he is turning it over (over the past 7); and he never was much of a rebounder. Now we are going to ask him to cover 6-7 Raymar Morgan, and consequentially, Ray-Ray will guard him on the other side of the floor for what is effectively a day off on the D end. We also need our 3 to rebound against the best rebounding team in the nation. I say that we start Mario Little at the 3 for this game. His size, athletic ability, offensive/defensive rebounding, ability to post-up, and his ability to score inside and out is much better suited for this game. Especially against Ray-Ray.

If we are somehow able to beat MSU, our next opponent will be Louisville with Terrence Williams at the 3. Brady cannot cover all 6-8, 225lbs of that man-child. We will need Mario at the 3 now if we are to 'survive and advance'. He is ready...

ShawHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Does anybody know where Sherron stands in terms of being the all-time winningest Jayhawk? I believe we won 33 games his freshman year, 37 his sophomore year, and 27 so far his junior year, which would give him at least 97 going into his senior year (hopefully). You'd have to figure he'd be in the 120s by the time it was over averaging 30+ wins a season. I would think that would have to place him pretty high on the list. Anybody have any idea if there's a list out there?

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Strikewso,

I agree. Little has to produce, when the call comes.

springtxhawk,

Frankly, I don't want him shooting the mid range create, even though he's so good at it. If he does, it means our down the middle game is not working. It has to work. It is what we do. We can alternate between inside and outside, but the mid range is a no man's land that wrecks the inside out game. The only other thing we can do is run and you can't run on a zone and rebound team very much. When Little is in, I want him guarding the tall three, crashing the boards, going to the rim and picking up garbage baskets. It means Marcus has to be on the floor a lot. If we can get 8-10 points out of Little on garbage from the wing (drives and rebound put backs) and related free throws we can win this game. If we start seeing a lot of jumpers from him we are cooked. If we see him playing a lot of 4 we are cooked. Little at the 4 means Marcus can't handle Morgan and he will destroy us.

KU has to shoot a high percentage vs. MSU and MSU has to shoot a low percentage, and KU has to crash the offensive boards. If this happens, we win, if not we lose. Its as simple as that.

To shoot an exceptionally high FG percentage, Sherron has to get to the rim a lot! And he has to make the threes he takes. Tyshawn has to get to the rim and finish. Cole has to get a lot of touches on the block and make 50-60%. Marcus and Kieff and Little have to get to the rim, rather than diddle around shooting little jumpers. On the perimeter, KU has to shoot 40%, preferably 45%, from three, on about 15 threes. It has to get some fast break baskets too. The rest of the time, this game has to be about close in, hand to hand combat and free throw shooting and we have to make the free throws.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

MSU is not going to give us the running game; i.e., they are going to go big and use rebounding to keep us from running. They are going to give us the grind it out game. KU has to be able to switch between grinding it out and long passing off the rebound to catch an occassional fast break. It is very tough for a young team without a bonfide big three to do against an experienced, deep team like MSU, but that is the job ahead of them.

On defense, they just can't give any uncontested looks in half court. And they are going to have to play some zone. I don't know if they need to got to triangle and two, or not, but its maybe worth showing it.

One obvious thing to do against a three-big team is to zone press. Three big teams are not great ball handling teams against a zone press. A zone press that forces the ball out of Kalin Lucas' hands as often as possible and into the hands of the big three is bound to create TOs and force Ratso Izzo to go small. When he does, KU falls back out of its zone press and plays Self Defense half court.

If ever there were a game where being a hard nosed Self Defense team were crucial, this would be that game.

To summarize, Self Defense must create a low FG percentage. It must deny offensive rebounding and stick backs. The offense must shoot a high FG percentage. If it turns into a game of KU's offense creating rebounding opportunities for MSU, we're cooked, because that is there game.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

ShawHawk,

Great Q, but I don't know the answer. I hope someone does.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

ShawHawk,

I would have to guess Matt Kleinmann might hold the distinction of winningest Jayhawk of all time.

Theutus 10 years, 10 months ago

I think it's terrible that we rely so much on the outside game... I'll take Mario Little's reliable jumper over Sherron launching 3's any day. Any team that relies so heavily on the 3 game is going to be inconsistent.

Not only is Little high percentage, but if Collins is shooting a 3, it's usually because Cole has stepped out to set a screen, therefore we lose him on the offensive boards.

And lets be honest jaybate, our "inside out" game hasn't been there all season. We've spent far too possessions simply kicking the ball back and forth around the perimeter without it ever breaking the plane of the arch... Thats sad, but true. In my opinion we need to feed the ball down low on every possession, and work from the inside out. If Little has a good look, let him shoot. Those are high percentage shots.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 10 months ago

They are going to pack it in around Aldrich in an effort to neutralize him. I think the inside game is going to be very difficult. As for Little, he hasn't been all that consistent with this shot. Started out great, and then it went away. Seems to be coming back a little, but I'd call his shot anything but high percentage. With any luck that will change for this game because you're right saying we will need his scoring.

Theutus 10 years, 10 months ago

oldalum, Little is shooting over 50% from the field... Collins is in the 30's from 3. Add on to that the fact that Aldrich is usually out of rebounding position on a Collins "3", and we are usually in good rebounding position if little takes a jumper....

Plus with a 3 you face long boards which can lead to transition buckets for the other team, jumpers not so often... It's just a safer bet all around in my opinion. Granted it's hard to turn down good looks at a 3 if someone is on fire....

Here's a good article on Collins I found at ESPN just now btw: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/ncaatourney09/news/story?id=4013964

nobodylikesmizzou 10 years, 10 months ago

jaybate

Interesting about Kleinmann...He's certianly right up there if he is not the top...At first, I didn't think a players win total would include those gathered while wearing the ol' camisa roja, but if he got a ring, I suppose the wins counted too...Would be interesting to find out

nobodylikesmizzou 10 years, 10 months ago

jaybate

Interesting about Kleinmann...He's certainly right up there if he is not the top...At first, I didn't think a players win total would include those gathered while wearing the ol' camisa roja, but if he got a ring, I suppose the wins counted too...Would be interesting to find out

jchawkfan 10 years, 10 months ago

I don't care what anybody says about Collins. He can flat out play some ball and thats all there is to it. We are damn lucky to have him. Keep it up Collins, lead on my friend.

easyfive 10 years, 10 months ago

Taylor need to think W.Warren is on the other side!
That was his best game of the year. He kind of reminds me of B.Rush passing the ball instead of playing ball. Bill needs to make him run like he did with Rush. Taylor looks like he is happy to be a slacker.
One fan wrote, he is a turnover waiting to happen.
Bill is trying to talk him out of it.
Run the piss out of him, until he gets "his mind right." Because, Bill is the bball whisper!!!! I think Brady is looking a lot better. He is starting to shoot when he is open again... It is your role, remember?

JJHawq 10 years, 10 months ago

the quotes from self to the players reminds me of his memphis pre-game talk in the finals last year...

"you've already won - you have nothing to lose - no pressure"

keith horinek 10 years, 10 months ago

This stuff is what seperates HCBS from other coaches. He relates to the players on several levels. In the long run, his players know what to expect from him and he doesn't talk down to them, rather he builds them up to succeed.

Max Ledom 10 years, 10 months ago

Theatus and Jaybate,

Its good to see you guys not fighting. Its getting annoying.

Also Little is my favorite player. He showed us what he can do in big games because of what he to Dayton. We need his production.

Secondly,

Tyrel and Brady need to hit threes. they missed 8 out of 9 the other night. Awful. We were first in the Big 12 for threes, it would be nice to see Brady do something good like that. Tyrel has been our spark but lets hope we don't need 1 Friday.

Tyshawn absolutely needs to step up. 6 turnovers? Everytime he got the ball it was a bad decision. We know what Tyshawn can do so step up big man!

Marcus and Markieff, We need you down low. Badly. Cole can't keep being superman. The twins did terrible the last couple games. And they are starting to look really good. We need there production down low.

Sherron, He has had 2 great games. But he needs to stop trying to do too much. Thats why we need our young players to step up so he doesn't have to feel like hedoes have to do it all.

I think we will come out fired up and ready to go. Bill will do a great job so will everyone else. But we need big games from Sherron and Cole. Lets see what they can do.

The Spartys may think the game is already won because of last time. There wrong. It will be a slap in the face on Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

jncarlsbad 10 years, 10 months ago

Two people need to step up more than usual for us to win and it can't be Collins or Cole. I don't care who it is and I hope all of them are on for REVENGE. If our defense is ON I like our shot. Go Arizona, I want a piece of them too. They sure don't want to face KU either.

Benjamin Simon 10 years, 10 months ago

i dig the black adidas windshirt HCBS is wearing. anyone know where i can find one?

Rodney Stice 10 years, 10 months ago

Waiting for game day is torture. Can't wait to watch this game.

100 10 years, 10 months ago

To add to KU players' insult, Gary Parrish, of CBS sports, has MSU cleaning Kansas' clock...

buckleyhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

KUMatt2001...I echo your sentiments. This really fired me up. I'm not sure why (though I will chalk it up to Self), but it did.

KU was a completely different team the first time they played Mich St, as everybody knows. This will be a barn-burner...can't wait.

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Theutus, good to see your negative nature hath returned. I nearly soiled myself Sunday or Monday when you had good things to report on Collins- not so much.

Self is a masterful genius and one hell of a motivational speaker. Nice insight to hear how The Coach is moving the young players in a positive direction. This will be a good weekend.

BCRavenJHawkfan 10 years, 10 months ago

Things I would like yo see in this game:

Fewer team turnovers. Fewer turnovers helps make up for deficiencies in other areas should they happen. Shorten passing lanes in transition. To many fastbreak transition opportunities are bungled because the pass was too long. Let's see some scoring on backdoor cuts to the rim! Those rim rocking in-your-face dunks can have great psychological effect on a neutral court. Grand theft. More steals would help with item two.

I could go on but we all have our personal wich lists.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Theutus,

We agree Little should get whatever points he gets inside.

But I would rather eat lint than watch him shoot 12-15 footers.

Our inside out game has been good for 26 wins, a conference ring, and a Sweet 16.

Theutus, how far does this team have to go for you to admit it plays effectively with the material present? Elite Eight? Final Four? National Champion? Olympic Gold Medal? Beat the NBA Champion? Where does this end, fella? :-)

For what its worth, I'm fearing MSU and I am concerned that KU just has no answer for a six big man rotation at 3,4 and 5 spots no matter how good KU plays...unless MSU really blows cold. So: consider this preemption on Sherron having a bad day and losing. Even if he has a good day, KU hasn't got the numbers to get it done...unless Coach Self can pull another strategic rabbit out of his hat.

I'll tell you what. I sure as heck am hoping Coach Self has had some phone time with Eddie Sutton. No one Okie Baller can figure out how to beat this MSU bunch. Its gonna take the whole Okie Baller Mafia kibitzing and its going to take some deep insight from the Okie Baller wizard himself, Eddie. Maybe even a bit of channelling with Hank.

How do you play 70 point take what they give us with a team with a +11 rebounding advantage?

Eddie? Hank? Phog? Somebody give Bill a hand with this. Even a great coach like Self needs some helpful hints!

Mike Young 10 years, 10 months ago

Morningstar, Reed and Taylor are "killing" Collins' assists. Just imagine his stat line if they could make 50% of their open shots.

Dub_D 10 years, 10 months ago

Mario is the X factor and Brady is the W factor.

Theutus 10 years, 9 months ago

jaybate there is no doubt that we have done well this season... But a lot of it has been a gamble, and some luck. We've played a lot of teams this season that simply played terrible against us (un-forced).

Thing is, as long as we rely so heavily on Collins launching 3's from 8 feet behind the arch... We're going to be inconsistent. On any day we could get beat by the last place team in the conference. If we played a more rounded out offense, which I believe we have plenty of talent to play, we'd be more consistent. I wouldn't go into every game with fingers crossed, wondering if Collins is going to be cold, and still launch 30 shots.

I'm not saying I think we should change our entire gameplan, but I still maintain that the fact we don't get Cole more touches is downright ridiculous.

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