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Bill Self Weekly Press Conference

As we jump into conference play and the schedule becomes more predictable, these tend to become a little more regular than they are during the non-con.  For now, your second presser w/Bill Self for the week.

Kansas head coach Bill Self

On the performance of sophomore guard Elijah Johnson:

"He's played well. He's shot it really well and he's confident with his stroke. He hasn't had a ton of assists, but he doesn't turn it over, so he's really done a good job taking care of the basketball. I've said all along that I think Elijah is a good basketball player. He's probably playing about as consistently as he has since he's been here."

On whether Johnson is part of the regular rotation:

"Yeah, he's going to play. He's going to be part of our rotation and I don't see that changing at all. I don't see him as a starter right now, but that doesn't mean that he couldn't become that. I definitely see him as a guy that will play his certain number of minutes off the bench."

On how many will be involved in his rotation:

"I think nine probably, but that doesn't mean there couldn't be a 10th or 11th player playing in a game. I don't see 10 or 11 guys playing double-figure minutes. I see nine guys playing double-figure minutes. As the season goes on, all coaches shorten their bench. One advantage we do have, we have a lot of good guys, but we're not going to get guys in the game just to get them in the game. My teams at Illinois, we played nine; my teams at Tulsa, we played eight and the best team we had here, we played seven with Cole (Aldrich) being our eighth. I think what's best for this team, considering our foul problems, we need to play four bigs and five perimeter players."

The depth of the rotation is quickly replacing the starting lineup as the area fans and media seemed most concerned with.  The thing with his last team to play 9, which was Illinois, is that they had a plethora of bigs.  They'd throw hockey line changes out and push you around. 

This group goes 9 deep but it will be primarily due to guard depth. From that standpoint I think the final number does end up at 10 because as he's says, we'll need four bigs and I can't see him keeping it at five perimeter players.  Who sits?  Selby, Taylor, Reed, Johnson, Releford, Morningstar?  I think we all know the answer, but do you really see that happening?


On whether any players are starting to separate themselves in his eyes:

"I don't know if I'd go that strong. I think one of the good things about not having separation is that it doesn't matter who's out there; results will hopefully be similar. I would like to be able to have some separation. When we won the National Championship in 2008, we didn't have any separation within our top seven. We had seven starters. I don't know if I feel quite as strongly right now, but I really believe that Thomas (Robinson) could be a starter very easily here and Brady (Morningstar) has been a starter and could be a starter here. I could see us not really mattering who we put out there to start a game."

Back to the question of starters.  If I recall correctly Sasha Kaun was a starter at the beginning of 2008 and he gradually shifted to the back of the rotation but still provided a couple huge lifts at key times with. It will be interesting to watch this lineup and the rotation evolve.


On whether senior guard Mario Little will be rejoining the rotation:

"There is a chance. I don't know positively yet. I want what is best for us more than anything, but I want what's best for him too, and hopefully that is in conjunction with what's best for us. I've got information and I need to make a decision pretty soon, but I'm holding off on doing that just yet. I would say that in the relatively near future, we'll probably have a more definitive plan on what his role will be."

And here's how the rotation goes to 11. 


On any surprises so far this season:

"We pressed pretty well the other day. It was a soft press, but we still did some good things with that. I still think that we make the extra pass about as well as anybody I've seen. Guys will pass up a good look to get a great look, and I think that is a good sign. We don't do a lot of things great, but we do a lot of things really, really well. Making the extra pass is one thing that I have been really pleased with."


On Johnson, sophomore Tyshawn Taylor and freshman Josh Selby playing together:

"They will be out there some together like that, but that's not going to be our core group that's out there all the time. I think there's going to be a lot of times, just like there were when (former guard) Brandon (Rush) wasn't in the game, we had to play three little guys together. There are going to be times when the three little guys are out there together, too. It just so happens we have four little guys because Tyrel (Reed) is certainly one of those guys also.  When you look at it, we're playing so little right now. You've got Tyrel starting at the three (position), Josh starting at the two and Ty (Tyshawn) at the one. I don't think we can really play much smaller than we're playing. With Elijah out there, it gives us a lot of extra bounce. We've got some guys with some good bounce out there on the perimeter."

That's a freakishly athletic group on both ends of the court.  Especially if you throw Thomas Robinson and Marcus Morris in that mix.  Watch out. 


On the team's outside shooting:

"Brady lead the league in three-point field goal percentage--if I'm not mistaken--his sophomore season. So Brady hasn't made shots and Tyrel hasn't made shots like he can make. So for us to still be shooting over 40 (percent) from three is pretty good. Travis (Releford) has done a good job and Elijah has done a good job. Josh has shot it really well so far. Any time you can shoot about 40 (percent) from three, you're shooting the ball pretty well. Most coaches would probably sell out for 37 or 38 (percent), so I'm pleased with that."

I guess if he's says it, it must have happened but I can't think of a time where I've thought Brady was a good shooter in some time.  He's dependable, but an outside threat?  Beyond him I think this has gone from an area of concern to one where we can be pretty good.  Going back to Bill Self's comment about making the extra pass, this team does seem to get very good looks from outside and there are enough weapons between Reed, Releford, Johnson and of course Selby, to make it work.