Mar 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self sends in a play against Texas A&M Aggies during the first half of the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Kansas defeated Texas A&M 83-66. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
Following the game Bill Self met with the media to talk about Elijah Johnson's big game, how they approached A&M, tomorrow's matchup with Baylor and even further ahead to a potential matchup with Missouri.
Q. Bill, about Elijah's game, could you talk about the ball movement that led to those two 3s that got you going?
COACH SELF: You know, his first two shots he took were right after the whistle blew, he made both of those. He really had a chance to have a monster game.
But I thought that after we were stale early offensively obviously, but I thought after we kind of -- the 12-minute timeout or something like that, I thought the ball moved pretty well. And the way they played, they trapped off different people, but a lot of times they came off of a guard to trap and we were able to make some extra passes. And I don't know if he benefited from that as much. But certainly they played to make us beat them from the perimeter, and he was able to do that.
Q. Can you kind of let us in on what you talked to him about before the game? And with a streaky shooter like that, do you have to pick your moment to have that kind of conversation?
COACH SELF: No, not really. What he's talking about, his uncle passed middle of last week and services were Tuesday. So his family wanted him home. So he left Sunday and came back Tuesday night late. So he was away from the team for three days.
And so we -- that's what he was talking about. But yesterday when I was watching him practice, I felt like it looked as pure as it looked all year long to me. I told him that. But that -- trust me, that didn't have anything to do with him making shots today.
But I think he was very confident today, kind of like he was last time we played in College Station.
Q. Do you feel like the way that they played you packing the paint and wanting you to beat them from the perimeter, is that the way you think a lot of teams will play you in the postseason?
COACH SELF: It depends on who we play and how they play. I think it's good -- this was an interesting deal for us today. It's very minor, but they started small. So in the NCAA Tournament you're going to play -- like tomorrow we'll play against two bigs, but in the NCAA Tournament, the first-round game for sure, you're going to play against a perimeter 4-man. They started Middleton at the 4. That was good for us. Made me nervous, but it was good for us.
And kind of us adjusting to how we play that way. But I don't think teams this point moving forward -- I don't think that teams necessarily change who they are just for scout reports. They may double off a guy or something like that, but I think teams are going to play the way they played all year long for the most part.
Q. You shot 61 percent. Was it something you saw in their defense, the scouting report, or your team just had an abnormal great shooting night?
COACH SELF: Well, don't call it abnormal. We've actually made shots before. But going 10 of 15 from 3 -- you know, there's been numerous times we've shot a high percentage, but we get a lot of layups. Today we got a lot of open looks from D.
But I don't think there was anything -- A&M statistically is as good as any team in our league defensively. And they don't give up points.
Rather than us talking about our shooting percentage, the most amazing thing is we got 83 on them when we didn't get off to a good start at all.
But there's nothing that was -- one thing that's helped us is Loubeau gets two fouls and plays five minutes the first half. That changes the whole complexion of their team. I don't know if it was anything we saw but we benefited that, obviously.
Q. A&M kind of threw the first punch, are they a tougher team to play than their record would suggest?
COACH SELF: I think they're pretty good. I do. I think if Billy and his staff have had their full complement of players the whole year, that would be a NCAA Tournament team, no question.
I thought yesterday they played well, and I thought that they played better than the score indicated. When you have Turner and Loubeau and Middleton and the other Turner, Elston, out there, you've got four guys that can score. And that's one thing they've labored with all year long is scoring, because they haven't had all their parts.
So I think they're harder for us to play against, plus my old assistant, he knows our stuff better than I do. So I'm sure that he puts a lot of emphasis on the scouts to take away some things.
Q. I know this is looking ahead probably a little too far than you like. How special would it be if the title game would be you and Mizzou?
COACH SELF: It would be special. That means we win tomorrow. That's all I'm thinking about. We got our hands full big time tomorrow.
I kind of like what Elijah said the question about beating a team the third time. It's true, I think it's hardest to beat a team the third time, because sometimes I think the psychological advantage goes to the team that you've beaten, but maybe it's with you if you handle things right and that kind of stuff.
But we played pretty good against Baylor both games. But we haven't got their best shot yet. And I anticipate getting their best shot tomorrow. Because they're really -- they're so talented, it's a joke. And Pierre is as good as any guard around.
So it will be an interesting next 24 hours trying to get ready.
Q. Bill, they mentioned that your guys took a pretty good shot there early from A&M and they put a real nice run together, and you got the lead and got that timeout. You looked like you were having a real good time out there, and I've seen that a few times this year. Is there something about this season or this bunch of guys that you're just particularly enjoying this year?
COACH SELF: I'm a good actor. But I think they like each other. And one thing that -- if you -- this is a minor thing -- but if you really watch our team when we play our best, the ball really moves.
And Tyshawn made two 3s in a row, comes down, takes an awful shot. What does Thomas do? Takes an awful shot after Ty's shot. Everything we do is contagious. So when we're on a roll, we're fun to watch. When we're not, then we're not very fun to watch.
But I think that's the thing I'd like most about them is for the most part they're pretty selfless.
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