Kansas Basketball 2012: Bill Self Previews 2012-2013 Season

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Kansas head coach Bill Self met with the media on Thursday ahead of Late Night in the Phog to kick off the 2012-2013 basketball season.

Kansas head coach Bill Self met with the media on Thursday as part of Kansas basketball's media day kickoff. The Jayhawks will take to the court in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time tonight during Late Night in the Phog.

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self On young talent that might make an impact this season...

"Well, I do think we are talented and I think our young kids are going to be good. I believe that the most heralded one is Ben (McLemore), without question, because he have not seen Ben play and he is talented, but he just has to learn how to plug himself in the game and be aggressive at all times. But just from an athlete, shooting, length, slide, rebounding - he can do about as many things as we have had here. He reminds me a lot of Brandon (Rush) in that regard, but we struggled with Brandon being aggressive if you guys remember. So that is one thing that Ben is going to have to be good at and then the next most heralded guy would be Perry (Ellis) obviously.

"Perry has a knack for getting the ball in the basket, but he needs to become more aggressive too. He's playing against 21 year olds at age 18 and he has to understand that this is different than high school ball where he can score high school points. You have to score over the length and that kind of stuff where he was always the biggest guy. I think Jamari (Traylor) is going to be good. I think they all are going to be good, but one guy that will surprise you a little bit if you have not seen him play before is Andrew White. To me he has been about as pleasant a surprise that we have had, because he can shoot the basketball and he has great size."

On coaching his son, Tyler Self...

"Well, he played 35 seconds (in Europe), so he was not really out there that long. It may have been a minute and a half, I think his mother told me it was a minute and a half. But I think it is going to be great. The reason I am so excited for Tyler being around...I think it is twofold. I think that he is going to be a good teammate. I think he will get it and he will make the other guys more comfortable or better in some way shape or form. He can tell the guys, you think he is nuts, but I have been living with the man for 18 years. He is going to be one of those guys that, I think the players will like. It is not going to be, I am going to go easier on him or anything like it, if anything I will probably be tougher on him.

"But the thing that I am most excited about is, I get a chance to see him every day and I think so many times we take things like that for granted and here he is almost grown, or he is in college, and I feel like I have cheated myself and him many opportunities to spend time together, because we are busy doing our job. Now I get a chance to do my job and spend time with him. So I am really, really, really excited about that. That has probably got me as about excited to coach this team as anything and got my batteries charged, because I get a chance to hang out with my son."

On his expectations for Jeff Withey this season...

"Well, I want Jeff to be an All-American type guy. I don't think that is that big of a reach. I think he is the best defensive big guy in the country and he may have been that last year if you eliminate Anthony Davis - I would think you could make a strong case that he was. But he has got to develop offensively where he is more of a producer, because he had Thomas (Robinson) playing on the other side, so that made it a little bit easier for him. But if he can just get a little bit more aggressive and consistent offensively, I think he can definitely be an all-league type player, which he was voted preseason. Not that, that means much, but I do think he is very capable of playing to a high level and doing those things and if he can just not wear down. Last year he played a ton of minutes and he did not wear down and this year he is going to have to play a ton of minutes and hopefully that will be the case again that he will not wear down."

On the different mindset with freshman entering a program now compared to early in his career...

"Well, I think that the really, really good ones it has changed. But you go back and look at it, even Julian (Wright) and Mario (Chalmers). I mean, these guys are really, really good players and they could not start until January on a team that was struggling. I mean, that was a team that was 10-6 before we started starting those guys. And so, I do think they expect to come in and play and I think the one thing that is water in the face so to speak is the fact that, it is harder than what it looks. I gave a guy an example the other day, I said, what do you think of one of our players on our team watching him on TV or watching him out there and he said, I think he is okay. He is a pretty good player. And I said, so you think you can play with him? He said, oh yeah, I can play with him. He is good Coach, but come on. And I said, just so you know, if he guarded you, you would never ever score a basket, you are not even close. So in freshman's minds, they are coming in thinking that they can do this and then the reality of it is, it is harder than what they think. And then when they figure it out it gets easier for them.

"But I like the ones that think that they should be able to come in and dominate or to come in and compete at a high level or come in and be a difference maker and that is what we have to have Ben and Perry and Andrew probably more so than the other guys. But those three for sure thinking that they can come in and do that, because we need them to deliver. We will not have any depth if you do not count on your freshman, so we need those guys to have a confident attitude.

On Elijah Johnson taking his leadership role very seriously...

"Well, I think he has to have a big year. To me seeing how he played the last third of the season, or the last quarter of the season probably, and in the biggest games of the season - hey, there are not many more all-around good guards out there. If you stop and think about it, he's got size, he's strong, he he's range, he's got bounce, he can put it down and he has good vision. He can do a lot of things and so, the added thing he has got to be is, he has to understand that his words and his attitude and his approach will probably have as much to do with us winning as his actual play. And so, he is working at it. We have to teach him, but he is trying hard and certainly I definitely expect him to have a big year.

On Elijah Johnson learning (what not to do) from past team leaders...

"Did he say anything positive about anybody? Isn't it amazing about life? You learn what not to do as much as you learn what to do. And Tyshawn (Taylor) was never a bad texter, it was tweeting that we had an issue with. And Sherron (Collins), he would upset me from time to time, but I knew at 7 p.m. on game night he would not for the most part. But I think Elijah is right...it is kind of a unique group. You have four seniors and basically you have seven freshman and the only other players in between if I am not mistaken are Naadir and Justin. And so, it is one of those things that I am going to hold Elijah responsible for how the freshman perform. And if he wants to be a leader, he is going to have to make sure those guys' heads are right to give us the best chance."

On Elijah Johnson becoming the primarily ballhandler and concerns with that move...

"Well, I think what happens is, if you look at us putting our most talented guys on the floor right now if I was going to look at our most talented - I am not saying they are going to start, but the most talented guys on the perimeter, you would probably have Travis (Releford), Ben (McLemore) and Elijah (Johnson). Well, you have basically two wings and a combo guard and in the past we have always played with - whether it would be Sherron (Collins), Russell (Robinson) and Mario (Chalmers) or whatever, but this probably more of a lineup if you go back to when we had Aaron (Miles) and Keith (Langford) and JR (Giddens), because you just do not have the same ball handling skills. So we are going to rely on keeping the ball in Elijah's hands probably more so than we even did last year with Ty (Taylor). The thing about Tyshawn last year, he had the ball in his hands at game point for important possessions most of the time, but still though, Elijah could take pressure off of him. But this year we are going to have to do a good job of developing some other guys and getting Travis and Ben more comfortable with the ball in their hands and basically being smart on how we play Elijah and rest him to make sure he is fresh going down the stretch."

On the stock put into being selected a unanimous No. 1 in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll...

"None, none. I was probably more surprised with that, us being picked first this year than I was us being picked not first in the past, because we returned some guys, but we lost three of our top six and two of them were pretty good. Those two guys combined for 36-plus points a game in league play. I mean, they scored half our points. So we lost a lot and everybody is going to have a new role, but I do think we have a chance to be good by the end. But our league will be good and Baylor's loaded and I think that Oklahoma State in my opinion may be the sleeper team of them all. I love their talent level and their roster, but it is going to be a really good league. K-State to me, they returned really good players and two real good players and Texas...what was Texas fifth and West Virginia sixth and these are really good teams. Then there are other teams that will be much improved. I think that was a little high for us, but hey, we will welcome it and our guys will take pride in that."

On any surprises for Late Night in the Phog...

"I know a little bit about the 30 for 30 film. They interviewed me. I hope I made the cut. I don't know if I made the cut or not. I think that is coming out next week, if I am not mistaken. It is all about David Booth and his wife Suzanne purchasing the original rules, if I am not mistaken. I know a little bit about that. Hopefully that will be a great plug for our university and our program. The Late Night deal, no. I think it would be fun. I guess I had better ask marketing what they want me to do. It is tomorrow. I have not really given it that much thought, to be honest with you."

On the importance of the Europe trip to this team's growth...

"I don't know if the Europe trip helped us as much as I would have hoped, from a basketball standpoint. I think it helped us more from a mental standpoint. I will be honest with you, I think we were kind of humbled over there. I think we went over there thinking we were pretty good. Then we had even our upperclassmen, Elijah, Jeff, Kevin and Travis play at a level that was just good enough to get beat. That's not all bad. I thought we got something out of it from that standpoint. I do think it has helped. I do think getting the few things in, and we do not have a lot, but getting a few things in where the guys have at least a little bit of knowledge will give us a better chance to be better by Thanksgiving. I am not sure that European trip is going to help us in January. I do think it may give us a better chance to be better early. There is no guarantee. I hope that is the case."

On whether or not Ben McLemore was ready to play last year...

"It was hard for me because I thought that he should have been playing last year, he and Jamari both. We can say what we want to. I can complain and all of this and that. Both of those kids have above a 3.0. They took a negative and spun it into a positive. It is really not bad for their life at all. It turned out to be pretty good. They are more mature now. I think that Ben could have been a difference maker. We line up against Kentucky with Ben and now we match up with them on the perimeter better and that kind of stuff. That does not mean that our team would have been as good. Maybe the chemistry would not have been as good or whatnot. I do think he has a chance to be one of the special ones that have come through."

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