So much for a boring Friday afternoon press conference to ease everyone in to the first exhibition of Kansas University’s men’s basketball season.
Bill Self, the plan was, would come in and talk about some big-picture themes for the Jayhawks, who play host to Washburn Monday at 7 p.m.
Instead, Self learned Thursday freshman guard Conner Frankamp will transfer from the program at the semester’s end — as first reported by KUsports.com's Gary Bedore.
Here are some of the highlights from the Q&A:
• Conner Frankamp and his father requested a meeting on Wednesday and Self met with him that afternoon before practice. Frankamp came the next day to tell Self he would be leaving KU at the end of this semester.
• Frankamp will not play or be a part of the team the next couple of months. He’ll continue receiving academic assistance and will make a decision on where he will attend in the spring semester.
• This wasn’t something KU wanted to happen. They anticipated him playing a much larger role this year. This early in the season, you still have to determine what role everyone will have but Frankamp was going to be in the rotation and playing significant minutes.
• Frankamp just decided it was in his best interest to transfer. There were reasons Self is sure were very valid to Frankamp and his family.
• Frankamp should become eligible to play at his next school as soon as the fall 2015 semester concludes there. The family told Self he doesn’t want to sit all of 2015-16, which would have given him three complete years of eligibility.
• Somebody was going to get left out. KU had seven good perimeter players with Frankamp. There hasn’t been a lot of separation, like you hope for, at practices so far. Self thought they still needed to find out which five of the seven perimeter players were going to be the best options for the rotation.
• Frankamp definitely would have been in the top five guards, as of today. But they don’t know how Kelly Oubre and Devonté Graham are going to develop and things like that.
• KU lost “a good player,” “a fine young man” and “a very good shooter” with this move. But the Jayhawks might be more locked in and able to figure out what their role will be now.
• Graham is going to be a player who will challenge for a starting spot at PG. He might not be quite ready for that yet. He will be in the mix at point guard, and he is KU's purest point. Frank Mason is a scoring point and Frankamp was a shooting point. But neither Mason nor Frankamp were pure points.
• Wayne Selden Jr. could become KU’s third point guard.
• Mason understands the game a little better now that he’s a sophomore. He probably feels a little more freedom and isn’t thinking as much. Mason is aggressive. He puts pressure on people.
• Selden feels like this is his team more than anybody else’s. That is a good thing. Last year he was fitting in and now he’s taking more of a leadership role.
• KU only has 11 players on scholarship right now. But Kansas has 11 good players still. Self hopes everyone will get minutes in the exhibition vs. Washburn so the coaches can look at different combinations. That’s the goal.
• There are a lot of times when coaches think they’re really deep and once the games come they realize they are better off if certain players stay in a lot longer. He doesn’t know how it will play out. He predicts eight guys will play the majority of the minutes.
• This could be the deepest team Self has had at KU. The ninth, 10th and 11th players for Kansas right now are better than guys in those slots in the past. Kansas just isn’t top-heavy with nationally acclaimed players.
• Now that Kansas has six perimeter guys, there will be times when Selden or Oubre will play inside. All six guards will have ample time to play.
• Self had a starting five for Monday’s exhibition. Frankamp would’ve started. But as of Friday afternoon he hadn’t decided on the starting five versus Washburn.
— Listen to everything Self had to say at his press conference: Bill Self discusses Conner Frankamp's decision to transfer from Kansas
Thursday marked the very unofficial start of the college basketball season at Kansas University, where Bill Self and the Jayhawks went through media day at Allen Fieldhouse.
Self provided some insight on what’s to come in the months ahead for KU, as well as some of the shortcomings that impacted last season, and what he, the coaching staff and the players learned from those experiences.
• KU has three smaller point guards. He doesn’t know yet what the norm will be. Kansas needs more ball-handling and play-making from its lead guards. That position didn’t play as he hoped in 2013-14. Wayne Selden, a bigger option, could play point with two big wings or Frank Mason or Conner Frankamp or Devonté Graham could be out there running things.
• The Jayhawks could be very versatile this season. Self sees them playing small a lot, but could play Kelly Oubre or a bigger wing player at the power forward.
• Junior forward Hunter Mickelson is a “prototypical” four-man. He faces up. The challenge will be for him to play bigger than he is. Self can’t see anybody beating Perry Ellis out for power forward minutes. With Mickelson’s skills, he’ll have to do some more things to see playing time. He is the team’s best shot-blocker. Mickelson blocked more shots than Joel Embiid did last year in his last season at Arkansas.
• Self likes who Ellis is. He doesn’t want to get him too much out of his comfort zone in some aspects. Ellis won’t be a vocal leader. Leading by example involves doing your job. If Ellis adds a little leadership to his repertoire, it will make KU a lot better. Self wants Ellis to go score. That’s who he is.
• Brannen Greene has really improved. He was very talented last year, too, and didn’t play much. He is in a loaded position, with Selden and Oubre and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Greene is arguably as good a shooter as Kansas has. He still has to buy into guarding on the other end.
• So far Mykhailiuk is transitioning great. "Svi" understands the language maybe less than Joel Embiid did when he first arrived. The only knock on Svi is he is young. He is going to be really good. His youth could be a factor in how much he plays. A defender could knock him off his line pretty quickly. He may have played against the strongest competition, among current KU players, in his international experience.
• Alexander can be a physical player. He will have to learn how to guard and pick his spots. Self sees some similarities with Thomas Robinson and Alexander. Alexander has to get where he goes after every ball. If he plays his best and everyone else does, too, Alexander should be their most physical player.
• Without seeing this team going up and down a lot yet, Self doesn’t know for sure what the team and some young individuals will look like. But Devonté Graham is a well liked guy that pushes the ball up the floor and is certainly capable of challenging for starting minutes. Graham reminds him of Aaron Miles. He is a leader and can make a shot. His intangibles will probably allow him to play more immediately. The Marines who worked with the Jayhawks picked Graham as the best leader. But Oubre and Selden will be leaders, too.
• The Jayhawks need to be better defensively than last year. They “stunk” last season on defense. Embiid could cover up mistakes. They don’t have that this year. But Self expects KU to be better defensively.
• KU has a lot of things that will be good for recruiting, with the DeBruce Center and McCarthy apartments and new locker room renovations.
• Self used to do more micro-managing when he was young. Now that he is older he doesn’t think as much about things that don’t impact wins and losses, such as where guys sit in a locker room and things like that.
• Mason didn’t guard last year like he can. Graham can pressure the ball. Svi can slide his feet and anticipate defensively, he is so quick and athletic. Jamari Traylor does some things with pressure and running the floor, as well. Self isn’t a big press-defense advocate. You play a style that gives you the best chance to win in the postseason. When you play good teams they have good guards, and good guards often love to see a press. Full-court pressure won’t be a staple.
• Landen Lucas might have had as good an offseason as anyone. He is fighting for major minutes.
• Frankamp, in high school, was a volume shooter, as most high school stars are. Then he only got a few looks as a freshman and he felt like he had to make them. His whole play was based on whether he made a shot. Strength has been a factor for him some in the past, but he can help the team in other ways, besides shooting the ball. He had to make shots for minutes the way it played out last season. … Frankamp has to get stronger. Everybody has something they have to get better at. Strength and shooting are key for Frankamp becoming great.
• Self learned something through “The Program” they went through with Marines. KU has some guys who are really good at what they do and they don’t want to take away from who they are. Kansas needs Graham and Selden to be leaders.
• Selden, Self thinks, needs to play more consistently and knock down more shots from three-point range.
• It is hard for Self to make a complete evaluation of Oubre yet. And Oubre is good enough that he won’t be at KU very long. He can do some things that a lot of wings don’t typically do. He is a talented player.
• You always think about a starting five before the season begins. Whether he will tell anybody publicly right now is another thing. Guys have to earn it. By Big 12 play, Self has a team in mind but a lot has to do with how fast the young guys pick stuff up.
• Top to bottom, this Kansas team reminds him a little bit of the 2008 team. That team’s best player was Brandon Rush and he went in the NBA lottery. That team had pros. This is a team like that, there isn’t a top-three pick right now, but KU has a whole bunch of good players and depth. There isn’t much size, but they are skilled and deep. A lot of balance.
• There isn’t hoopla this year like they had with Andrew Wiggins, who handled it well. But KU has players that will be as good at the college level as Wiggins and Embiid. Kansas has more guys who can impact the college game this year.
• Self doesn’t know who would be a candidate to red-shirt this season. Right now he doesn’t think it will be a possibility.
• Late Night is always big for recruiting. It is big for the players, too. Guys look forward to it. Last year there were some issues with getting people in and those have been resolved. Only twice has KU had to turn people away, Self’s first year and last season.
• Self may talk about last year’s NCAA Tournament performance with this year's players. But that team wasn’t truly who the Jayhawks were. That team on the floor wasn’t a No. 2 seed. They didn’t have Embiid. That could be their motivation, to not let that happen again this coming postseason. But sometimes unexpected things just happen in sports. They didn’t have a lot of margin for error last season.
• Looking at the All-Big 12 preseason team, Self was surprised that not one of KU’s players got a vote other than Ellis. “That may be something that we tell our guys.”
• KU might be picked to win the Big 12 when those predictions come out. But Texas could be a top-5 team nationally and plenty of other teams appear to have top-25 talent.
• With the personnel KU had last year, the Jayhawks weren’t as tough as a typical Kansas team. The staff didn’t do a good enough job fixing that. Coaches will emphasize toughness this year. Personalities and youth probably had a lot to do with that last season.
• Just a bit off topic, on the Kansas City Royals… It’s awfully cool to watch. It’s fun to see guys having the time of their lives. They had the fastest guy in baseball (Jarrod Dyson) dancing at third base in extra innings on Tuesday and he hadn’t even scored yet. That’s cool. Self gets a kick out of all the strategy, too. The Royals are really good.
— Listen to the complete press conference: Self talks 2014-15 expectations at media day
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self had his weekly press conference Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse, two days before the No. 7 Jayhawks (18-6 overall, 9-2 Big 12) play host to TCU (9-14, 0-11).
The Jayhawks rolled past the Horned Frogs, 91-69, on Jan. 25.
Here are the bullet-point highlights from Self's Q & A with the media.
• Joel Embiid's status: No update at this point. The freshman center feels better. The MRIs and things like that have been done, and they show that his injuries should get better quickly. A lot of his availability for Saturday depends upon whether he can practice on Friday. You think about it longterm, and they're not gonna do anything to jeopardize his health down the road. A lot of times there is no reason to hold guys out if they're healthy. Embiid's not doing anything at practice. Just dressed out for practice on Wednesday. No activity. Didn't even shoot free throws. He looks a little different — not exploding, not as likely to initiate contact. The big man just hasn't looked like himself.
• On Jamari Traylor, who didn't play against Kansas State due to disciplinary reasons: Self will visit with Traylor today and hold off on a decision until after they visit, but he anticipates that visit going well.
• KU's dribble-penetration defense: If you look at KU against K-State, the Jayhawks scored "all their points" on dribble penetration. It's the hardest thing to guard. In that particular game, KU didn't defend the rim "worth a flip" and allowed K-State to get inside off the bounce. Sometimes it is a matter of pride and want-to. Players have to be tough and mentally into it. On Monday, the Jayhawks didn't have that type of mindset.
• KU's ball-screen defense: There is a toughness element in fighting through it. K-State probably scored five baskets off ball-screen offense against Kansas. Three of those, KU's players probably weren't in tune to what they should have been doing.
• Self doesn't know what the players have learned from the K-State overtime loss, because they haven't played yet and have only had one 75-minute practice since then (the team had Tuesday off). Syracuse and Wichita State are the only teams that haven't had tough losses. KU is playing in the best conference in America and is 9-2. The Jayhawks aren't doing badly. But KU needs to be better at making other teams play poorly. They didn't do that at K-State.
• Brannen Greene was a spark against K-State. He was good late and helped KU's comeback to force overtime.
• You only play roughly 35 games in a season, so players should be excited every time they play. There are dog days in baseball, football can become more of a grind late in the season. The key in basketball is how does a player's body feel. A lot of guys are sore but they're not hurt. That's natural at this time of year.
• On Conner Frankamp playing well in limited minutes: All the role players have done well but they haven't had the same opportunities as their starters. All the players have done well, and that's great for the team moving forward, even into next year as guys who are coming back will be chomping at the bit to play a bigger role.
• TCU is winless but they'll get one before the year is over. It's just a matter of time. They were actually close in the second half at Iowa State, and Melvin Ejim scored 48.
• SMU emerging under Larry Brown and Tim Jankovic: To see the interest level and the new arena and brining college basketball excitement back to the Metroplex is very cool to see. They probably did that faster than a lot of people thought.
• Saturday, Monday format of the Big 12 is great preparation for the NCAA Tournament.
• Several former players have said they will be back for this weekend with the NBA All-Star break. Self probably won't find out until about 5 p.m. Friday that they need tickets. "That's kind of how my guys operate."
— Click here for complete audio from the press conference.
— Hear from freshman Brannen Greene and senior Tarik Black by clicking here.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self met with the media Friday afternoon to talk about the Jayhawks' upcoming home game against West Virginia, as well as a variety of other topics.
No. 8 KU (17-5 overall, 8-1 Big 12) plays host to the Mountaineers (14-9, 6-4) at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Here are the highlights from Self's comments in bullet-point form:
- On West Virginia: They're obviously playing well (won three in a row, four of five), have some good wins (Oklahoma and Kansas State) and had close losses. They could've beat Oklahoma State twice. Probably have as good a pair of guards as there is in the league.
- On WVU junior guard Juwan Staten (18.1 points, 6.0 rebounds): He never comes out. It's hard to average more than 40 minutes a game. Strong for his size. He has a great opportunity to be first-team all-league.
- KU's defense: Self is more critical than most coaches might be about this team. He is used to better defense. KU didn't guard at Texas and did better at Baylor. He wouldn't put this team in the same group as past teams he has had at KU, but this group will get better.
- On Naadir Tharpe: He's shot the ball well and doing a better job of being more vocal and being a better leader on the team. He has improved 70 or 80 percent since early in the season when Self wasn't happy with him.
- The Big 12 race: A lot of times when you have everybody in the league with losses it gives a sense of mediocrity. But it's the same way in the Big 10… Sometimes when there are three teams in the top 10 of the rankings from the same league, it's because the bottom of the league isn't capable of beating the elite teams. That isn't the case in the Big 12 this season. The race is still wide open… Self didn't see there being this much balance before the season began. Oklahoma and West Virginia lost key players and have improved through the season. Texas lost a lot of players and got a lot better. That's what makes the Big 12 so good.
- On Joel Embiid: It's easy for him to pick up scouting reports and the feel for the game. He's a bright guy and he knows where everyone on the floor is supposed to be on a play. … He needs to get stronger, especially in his lower body. Sometimes Embiid defers too much on offense. He can improve in anything. He's just scratching the surface.
- Players leaving early or not: KU has had kids say one thing and end up doing something else. It shouldn't have any bearing on how the staff prepares from a recruiting standpoint. The coaches need to have players ready to bring in. Self likes all the guys they have that are coming back, regardless of who stays or doesn't stay. Coaches hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The one-and-done guys are the easiest to replace. The hard ones are the ones that come out of nowhere and end up leaving early, such as Ben McLemore last year. Self doesn't know if KU would've got Andrew Wiggins if McLemore came back. High-level guys know your roster.
- At this time of year, sometimes players start looking ahead. Self doesn't think it is the players as much as the people around them who are thinking about NBA potential at this point of the season. It doesn't help them make more money to be thinking about leaving early in January or February. It's important for the players to realize there is no reason to listen to that talk right now. The best thing possible is to focus on the season, what is going on.
- On Wayne Selden guarding Heslip at Baylor: He totally gave himself up for the betterment of the team. Looked a lot like Travis Releford. Self was proud of Selden.
- This time of year, guys should have a pretty good idea what Self wants defensively. It's not from a lack of trying, but sometimes they are less enthusiastic about doing that job.
- On Conner Frankamp: He's done fine. He and Brannen Greene kind of drew the short straw on minutes, been the odd men out. He's healthy.
- KU's confidence: Coming off a good road win, they're pretty confident. KU got in a situation where maybe the Jayhawks lost their edge a little bit at Texas. This is a team that Self wants them to believe they're good, but he might compliment them a little too much when things went well. He can't allow them to get soft by praising them too much. "We better get better or it's (the season) gonna end sad."
- The difficulty of going unbeaten in a regular season: To Self, that was never a realistic thing for any of his teams. With Wichita State and Syracuse, he wouldn't think about running the table. He'd think about winning the next game and where the team is at right now. In Self's opinion, it's hard to be great "unless you go through some crap." Still, a coach is going to coach every game to win, obviously.
- Scouting an opponent: The majority of the focus is "How do we stop them?" The second time you play a team in league play or again in conference tournament, it gets even tougher to execute against them because of the familiarity.
- West Virginia doesn't turn the ball over (9.8 giveaways a game in Big 12 play). They really added a lot of perimeter shooting since last year, too. They will be a real challenge to guard. WVU will pressure KU. Self thinks Bob Huggins will have his guys trying to create take-aways.
- Who is the best dunker Self ever coached? "Wiggs could be if he wanted to be. I'm not sure it interests him that much. It takes energy to do that." Probably Ben McLemore. JR Giddens was a great dunker. Those guys are probably the best, and McLemore liked to show off how athletic he was more than any other guy they've had. He'll do something funky in the dunk contest at All-Star Weekend.
— For complete audio from the press conference, click here: Self press conference.
— Hear from sophomore Perry Ellis and freshman Frank Mason by clicking here: Player media session.