Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 2/28/13
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self says he's interested in which teams might be No. 1 seeds at the end of the year. He doesn't check Joe Lunardi on ESPN every day, but he's still interested. This is probably too early to start looking too closely at those sorts of things, though.
• KU agreed with adidas several months ago to sport a camo uniform as part of adidas's marketing campaign in the Big 12 tournament. How much KU wears it in the Big 12 tourney will depend on how KU plays in the uniforms. Self says KU's history and tradition should be what is promoted in its look, but this change will be a one-game exception done for adidas. Self hasn't seen the uniforms for a while, and he probably doesn't like them as much as the normal white uniforms. But for a game or two, it's not that big of a deal in the Big 12 tournament. Sometimes, you have to be a team player. adidas has helped KU quite a bit, so KU will do this to help the company. Those uniforms won't go past the Big 12 tournament.
• Self thinks a season could be a success without winning a Big 12 league title. But he wouldn't feel that way about this year's team if it failed to win the Big 12 title because the team started 7-0 in league play. Self doesn't think you can have a special season unless you do well in the NCAA Tournament. KU had 35- and 33-win seasons that weren't special because those teams didn't win as many games in the tourney as maybe they should have. Last year's season was a special year, mostly because of the NCAA Tournament run. This has been a good year no matter how anybody wants to look at it. KU is competing for a conference championship and is ranked high nationally. If fans looked at it before the season, they would have taken —with three games left — the chance for KU to control its own destiny in the league race along with a chance at a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
• Self says that tiebreakers shouldn't determine conference champions. A split title is the correct way to do it. Self doesn't want to share a conference title, but if two teams have the same record, they should share it.
• KU senior Travis Releford has been even better than Self thought he would be. He's been the glue to the team. He gives KU an element of toughness. He's as important as anybody.
• Self is aware of the racist and threatening tweets that were sent by Iowa State students after the game to Elijah Johnson. Self thinks there's no place for that, but Self doesn't think Johnson and Self are going to dwell on it. Self and Johnson talked about it this morning. The Iowa State student body responded in a way to leave no doubt as to where it stood on the issue. That's good enough for Self. That was an unbelievable basketball game with the best performance by an individual since Self got here. The postgame stuff shouldn't take away from that. Unfortunately, there are idiots around in all different areas. That shouldn't take away from 13,000 people at the game that cheered their team on. Self has always enjoyed going to ISU, and these idiots won't change that. Self is excited that Johnson has his mojo back.
• Self has not been contacted by the Big 12 to be told what the errors were at the end of the KU-ISU game. Self thinks we're on the verge of crossing the line that isn't good. KU benefited from a no-call. There have been many times teams have benefited from a no-call. There were other plays in the game, too. This no-call has been under the spotlight because it was at game-point. Self is concerned the league is opening a Pandora's box to have to comment on every controversial call. It's up to the Big 12. Self isn't saying the league is right, wrong or indifferent. He just thinks the league is opening itself up to a lot of different things. Self thinks the response seemed stern based on how it had been handled in the past. Other issues were handled privately, and this was handled publicly.
• Self thinks it would be best if all referees were under one umbrella instead of being overseen by each conference. It's human nature, but referees get used to certain leagues and certain types of play. Self would like to see KU get officials from other conferences, because in the NCAA Tournament, you end up getting two or three guys a game that have not seen you all year. Sometimes, you can get too comfortable with a certain style of play through the regular season. Geography comes into play when assigning officials, but guys in North Carolina do call games in Lubbock, Texas, and guys in Spokane, Wash., sometimes call games in Lawrence.
• Johnson got no easy points against ISU. He made plays. If he doesn't make every play down the stretch, then KU loses the game. He did it for five or six straight plays when the stakes were the absolute highest. Johnson playing like that for KU the rest of the way is imperative. ISU made 17 threes and goes 29 of 34 from the line, has seven turnovers and Ben McLemore scores 7 points. How do you win that game? Self said you have different guys step up. Self didn't realize how much the guys respected Johnson until after the game. He's never seen a group of guys more happy for someone than when he saw Johnson's teammates after the ISU game.
• Teams have guarded Ben McLemore a certain way through league play. He's had his ups and downs. He's just a young kid that's still learning. Self thinks McLemore will be a better player moving forward after experiencing the struggles in the ISU game.
• KU's young guys love the seniors. Self thinks it's cool to have guys that bust their butts for four or five years then just want to end at the end of their careers, even if that means deferring at times to a freshman like McLemore.
• KU played great early in the first West Virginia then puttered around after that. WVU's pressure bothered KU.
• WVU coach Bob Huggins is a great coach. He's a hall of fame coach. His kids play as hard as any kids in the country. He's as good as college basketball has as far as a complete package in coaching goes.
• Self has heard from a lot of players after winning No. 500. Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar texted Self yesterday. It's unbelievable the run KU has had of late. Self is not that sentimental, but looking back, he thinks it's pretty cool how many people played a role in 500 wins. The players deserve all the credit. Self said he doesn't anticipate getting another 500 wins, because he'd have to coach for a long time to get that.