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Breaking Down Bill

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This week kicks of the weekly press conference with Coach Bill Self and like we've done with Turner Gill we'll aim to put a few thoughts with some of the more meaningful or non-meaningful quotes as we see fit.

Breaking Down Bill is the segment, unless anyone has another exciting/more appropriate headline.  I'm open to suggestions on this one. 

Bill Self Weekly Press Conference

 On what he will look for from his team in the second exhibition game:

"I'd like to see our post defense improve, and I would really like to see us shoot it better - but to me, that's something that is uncontrollable at times, as long as you get good shots. I would like to see us be more aggressive on all fronts; I don't think we were as aggressive as we should have been in the first game. In all honesty, we didn't play great the first game, but I wasn't the least bit discouraged by that, I thought we did some good things and moved the ball well - hopefully our execution will be a little better."

Interior D and outside shooting were commonly referenced as two of the biggest concerns on here following the win over Washburn.  I think Coach Self does hit the nail on the head though when he says you can't always control it.  The team was getting good looks, it was just a matter of the guys you expect to make those shots not getting them to fall.  Plain and simple, Tyrel Reed isn't normally going to shoot that poorly. 

On another note, I'm glad he didn't feel like it was that great a game, because for whatever reason I thought it was a pretty decent opener.  It could be the way we never quite felt in sync last year or it could be that I was searching for anything positive given the way this fall has gone.  Either way, we set the bar high for basketball and I always like the matter of fact, honest way that Coach Self accomplishes that.

On if he liked the team's attack at the beginning of the game against Washburn:

"Yeah, I thought we did pretty well - teams always look better when your opposition doesn't score. We were able to get some easy baskets off of (Washburn turnovers). Our guys have to get the mindset that, it doesn't depend on if the shot goes in or not - it depends on if we defended them the right way.  A good shot or bad shot isn't determined a failure or a success if it goes in or not, it depends on what happens when it leaves your hand. Defensively, we have to think the same thing, too."

Bill Self goes all philosophical on this one, but it's impossible to disagree.  '07-'08 was fun to watch because our team was just obnoxious defensively.  I'll take that style any day of the week.  As the saying goes, great defense doesn't take a night off.

On what the adjustment defensively has been since Cole Aldrich left for the NBA:

"It hasn't been too much of an adjustment; we will pressure more than we did last year, which will force the action into our big guys more than it did last year. I don't think any of our guys have thought it will be bad that we don't have Cole down low anymore. Plus, all guys think they block shots just as well, or better than the guy before them; you'd be disappointed if they didn't feel that way. I do think that when (Jeff Withey) gets back, that will be a bonus for us in that particular element, because, when we do make a mistake he will be able to cover better than our other guys."

Let's be honest, there has to be some amount of adjusting when a player like Cole leaves.  He owned the middle of the paint last year for Kansas.  He was talented and he had earned a little leeway with officials as well.  All in all it made for a force underneath. The Missouri game last year is one I would point to that you just can't replicate.  All that said, this is once again Bill Self not accepting any excuses.

On the timetable for Jeff Withey's return:

"He actually went up and down the court for the first time yesterday, about four or five possessions - baby steps though. I don't see how he can play (Tuesday vs. Emporia State), but if he did, it would just be two or three minutes. Hopefully he can get some action by Friday. I'm hopeful, but I wouldn't bank on it. He's probably a week or two away."

"We have tried to make it more miserable on him to watch practice, than it would be to actually participate. I do think there is some incentive on him coming back as quickly as he can, because he has been busting it on the bike with (strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy), he has really been getting after it. Hopefully, when he does come back, he will be in better shape to play, as opposed to if he went at it a little bit slower."

Good news..that is all.

On if Elijah Johnson has been getting more reps with the first team this week:

"Maybe a little bit more; Elijah had a very good day in practice yesterday. The thing that concerns me about Elijah is that he is so careless with the ball, either we need to get him off the ball, or he needs to take better care of it. He's not a point guard, he's a combo guard, which is good, but I really wish there would be somebody who is more of a consistent ball-handler.

Right now we have too many guys that think they need to be the one who makes the play, as opposed to just being a ball mover. When he understands that and picks his spots better he will become a much better half-court player. Right now he is playing well, but he is just careless with the ball, and I think you can say that about our entire roster."

Maybe I didn't watch the right game last week, maybe I had the blinders on, or maybe this is just another example of the way Coach Self manages and coaches his team.  The challenge has been issued E.J.

On if he likes `splitting' his defense this year:

"We like to extend as much as we can based on personnel. To me, and I've said this many times, there is a difference between pressing and pressuring. I'm a big pressuring guy. In a perfect world, as a defense, we want to make the offense feel us every possession, so that they are never 100-percent comfortable. We want to extend as far as our athletic ability and depth will allow us to do, and last year we weren't very good at that, and we didn't do that as much, because we thought it was better if we didn't do that. You will see us out in the passing lanes, making it uncomfortable for the other team."

I think this confirms what many of us suspected.  We weren't a Bill Self caliber defensive team a year ago.  Some of that was alleviated by having Cole Aldrich in the paint, but we needed to be better at forcing the issue on the perimeter.  Again, I think the majority feel that we have the opportunity to be much better in this area headed into this season and obviously Coach Self thinks so too, or at least he's going to try.

On whether Marcus and Markieff Morris can develop into 30-minute per game players:

"It all comes down to conditioning because when you get tired you foul. If they are in great shape, they will be able to play that many minutes. Tired players commit careless plays. They have to be in great shape in order to play 30 minutes because we're going to need them in the game."

If we are to believe the work ethic these two have apparently shown in summer workouts then it's possible.  At the same time I think this only happens if Withey and Robinson fail to develop which I don't see as a good thing.  Marcus I can understand the 30 minute player talk, with Markieff I don't know that we've seen enough yet to want to go there. 

On how Selby has been handling the uncertainty:

"He's been great but he's very, very frustrated. It's the unknown. When there's a resolution to it he'll be more comfortable immediately. His attitude has been good but it is frustrating to him. It's not like a redshirt or a guy that's hurt where you know you're out. He has to day-by-day figure out what's going on. He'll be happy when this is behind him, but he's handled it very well."

Just my daily rant that the NCAA is garbage. One way or the other this should be resolved. I'm not even saying he should be cleared, I don't know that...all I'm saying is that they're holding him hostage right now and it's absurd. They've been reviewing for the better part of four months that we are aware of.

On Markieff's development:

"Markieff's good. He's better than what any of us have seen him play his first two years just because he will have more opportunities. We're going to see a big jump in him. If you're going to vote on a guy to have the most improvement this year from an appearance standpoint, it would be Markieff."

Go back and review the entire presser.  Not a single time does Bill Self shower this much praise on any one player.  I take this as a good sign. 

On how Danny Manning helps the development of the big guys:

"Our guys are fortunate to get a chance to work with him. We have the advantage of having a guy that has done everything that these guys dream about doing, and he's done it after having three (torn) ACL's. He can teach it in a way that some people can't teach it because he doesn't tell them `Do it the way I did it.' He had to adjust (after he was hurt). He can teach those guys how to read and how to adjust. That's a huge advantage for us."

I just put this up in case any 5* power forwards or centers are reading the site. 

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