Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
On the game overall:
"They did a great job offensively using the clock and we weren't able to guard under 10 (seconds on the shot clock). That's not a sign of a good defensive team being able to finish possessions. They played well the first half. Travis (Releford) gave us a great spark the second half and played really well.
We made some shots the second half even though we didn't shoot the ball well from the perimeter. Elijah (Johnson) made some shots. That was good. We didn't play very well. The last possession summed up our team. We just let them shoot an uncontested basket and score points on us because the game is over in our mind. That's not the right mindset.
We've been talking about this, but it's going to hurt us in a big, big way soon as competition gets stiffer. Fortunately tonight we got a win and I'm happy about that, but I don't think we got any better."
It's always interesting to get Self's take on things. It's not often that you find things sugarcoated, we all watched and the frustration was there despite an easy win. That's supported by the comments and the concerns are more or less confirmed by the man in charge.
I think Self's last two sentences sums it all up. No one was concerned about Kansas losing to UT Arlington, they aren't a good team. It's the manner by which Kansas took care of business that is concerning when looking toward the future. The conference is tough and winning six to close out the year is even tougher. You can't accomplish that if you don't set out with the right mentality every single night.
On the play of Thomas Robinson:
"Thomas at halftime had five offensive rebounds and the rest of our team had two. That just tells you where the twins (Marcus and Markieff Morris) are because they are not rebounding the ball like they are capable of rebounding.
Thomas did a really nice job on the glass. In the second half our other players started rebounding the basketball. We did a good job on the glass overall; we were plus 16.
We took care of the basketball the second half too. We only had three turnovers going into the last three minutes which was good. We did some good things. They played a funky matchup-a switch and man deal. All we had to do was be patient to get the ball inside every possession, but instead we clip off 24 threes instead. We'll get better from it. I really thought we'd play well based on our practice sessions, but we didn't play very well tonight."
No doubt Thomas Robinson played well and it presents an opportunity to issue a challenge to the Morri(the twins as Self like to call them). If you want praise for a player, Self will give you a little, but he's also going to tell you every thing the TEAM as a whole did wrong in the process. I just hope he can reach this group because it has as much talent and athleticism as anyone in the country if they can put the pieces together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
On getting better over winter break:
"All teams should get better now, but the thing is, you don't get better unless everybody is in one accord and one mindset about what is important. We don't get that. Josh (Selby) didn't shoot the ball at all tonight, which is fine, but still the majority of the time the ball is not in his hands so you have to play other parts.
Whether we make shots or not affects how we play. Whether another player elbows us affects how we play. Fans can wonder, ‘Why would you take guys out when they have two fouls in the first half?' You have to be able to trust your players to play smart. There are so many things that are disappointing to me with our team because our team could be really good, but we don't have the mindset of playing a style that gives us the best chance to win against good competition. That has to change and that has to change fast."
He said it all right there. The question was asked or implied as to whether Kansas fan expectations are too high. I'd say those expectations start with the man making the statement above.
On the finding the right mix of players:
"You look at it right now, and we'll talk about this as a staff, who are our best players? Do we really know who our best players are? Elijah Johnson without question tonight was one of our five best players. Thomas Robinson is playing better than any big guy right now. We don't even know who our best players are. That's frustrating because you need to have some rhythm and have roles to find and all that stuff. It's great to have different guys every night, but when you don't make shots, you should still be one of our best players regardless if the shot goes in or not if you are (one of our best players)."
"It's hard for me to pick out. You can put any of nine guys out there right now and it doesn't make any difference. That's one thing that is frustrating. We need to have some guys separate themselves because you can't go in to a game not knowing what you want to do as far as who is going to play the most minutes. It's great to have depth, but you want certain guys to know how many minutes they are going to get and this is how we play and that they are going to be a guy's sub. You get a rotation going. Of course I started four new guys tonight, but to be honest, some of those guys are better than our starters that have been starting and were certainly more productive. Practice hasn't been interesting, but it's about to get a lot more interesting."
Practice is about to get a lot more interesting. This is where the shortening of the bench is going to happen. Elijah and Thomas Robinson were given an opportunity last night and both took full advantage. Travis Releford reinserted his name in the conversation. This is where coach Self traditionally starts to widdle down a rotation and he has plenty to chew on at the moment when thinking that through. Unfortunately it isn't an easy task this year and as he said, it's not entirely for the right reasons.