Bill Self looking forward to Senior Night
With the Allen Fieldhouse season finale coming up Wednesday night for the No. 8-ranked Kansas University men's basketball team, coach Bill Self met with the media Tuesday afternoon to talk about the game against Texas Tech.
The 7 p.m. matchup with the Red Raiders (13-16 overall, 5-11 Big 12) will double as Senior Night for the regular-season Big 12 champions. KU seniors are Tarik Black, Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley, who will start the game.
Kansas (22-7, 13-3) had won four straight before falling at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
KU escaped with a 64-63 win at Texas Tech on Feb. 18.
The Jayhawks have won 30 consecutive home finales.
Here are the highlights from Self's Q & A, in bullet-point form:
• On KU's three seniors: Tarik Black will be remembered as an unbelievable teammate and great leader, who has impacted KU's ability to win in his one season here. He's ultra-positive and is always trying to make other players better.
Self has known Niko Roberts since he was a small child. He has helped the program on the scout team and been a great ambassador.
Justin Wesley may be the coolest kid on the team. He was the first big off the bench a couple years back and played in the national title game in 2012, but now he barely plays.
All three have played a role in Self's personal happiness in their time here.
• On Tarik Black starting: Jayhawks won't emphasize that they don't have Joel Embiid. They are fortunate to have a three-year major college starter in Tarik Black to step in. When your number is called, guys need to be ready. KU won't talk about what it doesn't have, but what it does have.
• On home finales with underclassmen expected to leave early: This is not Freshman, Sophomore or Junior Night. It's Senior Night. Other programs might do it differently, but that's now how they'll do it at Kansas. Self might recognize someone but he doesn't want anything taken away from the seniors, who are graduating.
• On scheduling/quality RPI: Special assistant to the athletics director Larry Keating does a great job working with Self on KU's scheduling, to put together a strong schedule that will help the Jayhawks' RPI. Some of it is luck, with the way it plays out. The Big 12 is good enough to get KU a good RPI, but the only reason Kansas is No. 1 in the RPI is the non-conference schedule. No way they would be No. 1 with seven losses otherwise.
• Tubby Smith has done a great job at Texas Tech. They guard, they milk the clock. They shoot it with under seven seconds on the shot clock many possessions. And the Red Raiders are a great offensive rebounding team.
• The Big 12 title is all wrapped up. It's a little different having that done with two games left. Winning the league was the goal and they've completed that. Now what they're playing for is potential seeding and having momentum. The guys should be enjoying playing. They have played with passion, and Self doesn't see that changing. They need to play just as hard moving forward.
• On potential to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament: You see the losses at seven, but you see that schedule and say a lot of teams would've lost seven. Then you look at their Big 12 record and they must be good. If KU doesn't play that well going forward, they don't deserve to be in that discussion. … Self thinks Wichita State, Arizona and Florida are locks for No. 1 seeds.
• The Jayhawks haven't celebrated too much about their Big 12 title. They high-fived after the Oklahoma game. They won it outright and then got beat at Oklahoma State. They won't celebrate too much, even if they beat Texas Tech.
• Brannen Greene hasn't had a chance to play a lot, but it's because he has some guys in front of him and maybe gets in his own way sometimes. He will be an NBA player. He doesn't guard anybody yet, but he is a talented kid.
• Naadir Tharpe seems to be doing better with his injured thumb. He will practice today and be able to play. … How Tharpe goes dictates how well KU plays. He has been really solid and is probably as responsible for KU winning the league as any player.
• On alcohol being available at the BIg 12 Tournament: It won't affect KU at all. But Self could have used some help in that department in the final minutes at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
— Listen to the complete press conference by clicking here: Self discusses wrapping up the Big 12, KU's RPI
— Hear from KU's three seniors: Black, Roberts, Welsey discuss time at KU