Head Coach Bill Self
On his thoughts about the team through non-conference play:
"I think we've been really good at times and I think we've been below average at times. Obviously we're happy with the record. The first season is important but not near as important as the second season, that's conference play. We're going to have to play better than what we've played at a consistent level to have a chance, especially when we're away from home against league play. Starting tomorrow it's going to be a really juiced atmosphere. It was great we were able to play a road game at Michigan to get us a little acclimated to that."
"Below average". Such a way with words. Seems that what we know today is that we really don't know anything. Things are about to get tough and below average games will come back to bite you. That can start in Ames just as easily as it could anywhere else.
On what the team needs to do to be successful in conference play:
"Get a little bit better in all areas. I would say we have made some improvements in some things that are important to us but we still don't take care of the basketball very well. It's one thing to get a turnover when the other teams forces you to turn it over. We just turn it over when the other team doesn't force us to. And so much of basketball, just like all sports, is not so much beating your opponent, it's not beating yourself. We need to be in attack mode but we need to be sure we don't put ourselves in the situation where basically we create our own problems and that has happened way too often."
The last sentence is right on point. This team needs to keep the foot on the gas and in doing so they have to avoid mistakes that allow teams to creep back in it. We've been able to blow out the weakest opponents on the schedule, but against better competition this team often lets teams stick around. It's "nitpicky", but it's the area that this team can improve on to make life easier. Especially on the fans.
On how he rates his team's defense:
"I think we're playing better. Statistically, we've been really good defensively but sometimes stats lie obviously. But I do think that we're getting better in that area which, to me, is real important. But now that we're getting better there, we're not scoring near as easy and we still need to improve there, too."
100% agree with this. Since the break it seems this team has improved their play on the defensive end. That's huge because Bill Self's philosophy would seem to center on that. At the same time I find it interesting that he wants to get back to scoring in a little easier manner. I'm sure all coaches think it, but it doesn't seem like something you hear all that often.
On what kind of defense Iowa State runs:
"They do play some zone and kind of a matchup 2-3-type look. And they may throw some stuff at us that we haven't seen based on some recent games that we've played. They could throw in something that maybe they haven't done much of but who knows. The one thing about coaching is this, you'd rather do what you do rather than always basing it off of what somebody else does."
Matchup 2-3? I'm not liking the sound of that. Flashes of Syracuse running through my mind.
On what the team needs to do to put teams away:
"We've actually done a decent job in some areas of putting some people away but you don't put people away on the road in the first half. So you get sort of a false sense (of security). Where we screwed up the other day was not being ahead 15 at halftime, because we should have been. Seven is not a big number but it's a totally different game at seven than 15 and we just didn't play well the last four minutes. What we have to do, in my opinion, is play the last four minutes of each half better. And the first four minutes of the second half better and that should take care of a lot of things."
Last four minutes. Let's refer to the chart.
On clearing Mario Little for competition:
"It wasn't an easy decision but I really believe 100 percent in my heart it's the right decision. I tried to look at it as if he was my own child. I also let the legal system play out. We're certainly not going to make light of anything that happened. Any time you're dealing with the law it's all serious. He has two misdemeanor battery charges. He has done a lot of things through us and I had thought that holding him out six games and bringing him back for conference would be the time to do it. He's handled this as well as you can considering how much it hurt him.
A big part of his life is wrapped up in what happens here in his life as a Kansas basketball player. And five minutes of whatever happened, and who knows exactly what happened, but we know something did and it was wrong. But the five minutes to me, to totally affect his opportunity to play overseas, his opportunity to go ahead and finish in uniform and have a good experience, that would be a springboard for the rest of his life and I thought that was too severe to take from him.
I want to do what is best for our program first and foremost. I think this is what's best for our program. Sometimes coaches have to do things and make decisions that sometimes are popular and sometimes aren't very popular, but I feel like I would seriously be letting him down as his coach, somebody that said would always look out for him and have his back. In this particular situation, because I believe that he has done what he should have done, and certainly the remorse I know he feels. It wasn't an easy decision but something I feel is the right decision."