Monday is a day off and Wednesday is senior night. Bill Self takes some time to reflect on the seniors that are departing, talks about the opportunity in front of Kansas in terms of the league title and answers the ever pressing question regarding Tyshawn's reinstatement.
Head Coach Bill Self:
On what seniors Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed have meant to the program:
"They've been great. (Brady) has basically been, even though he has been a sixth man, a three year starter for us. He started all the games as a sophomore and some as a junior and senior, so he's been great. Tyrel was pretty highly recruited. He had offers from Missouri, K-State, and Oklahoma. We kind of hesitated and finally said, `Hey, that kid is such a great kid. He would be great for our program.'
Not only have those two (Morningstar and Reed) been great for our program they've been to the point where if they don't perform well, we don't win. There have been huge improvements in their developments since they got here."
Couldn't agree more. Two great program players and the type of player that helps bridge the gap when you're dabbling in the world of one and done. Interesting tidbit regarding Tyrel's recruitment. It's one of those situations that he was either playing at Kansas or playing against Kansas and the reality is he always wanted to play at Kansas. Looking back we can all be thankful that Self made the right call.
On what he will remember most about seniors Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, and Mario Little:
"I think with Mario, this guy came in as a very heralded player. Then he had to have a rod put in his leg and fight through injuries and some obstacles. He's a team guy. He's my kind of guy. Mario is a tough winner. Certainly, he'd be great for any team. He's going to graduate. He only needs three hours this semester and that's it.
Of course Brady and Tyrel, you could almost group them together in my opinion. Tyrel came in as a nervous kid. Really nervous around me and didn't get me at all for awhile. As he's matured and developed I think he's one of the most fun kids to be around. I'll miss Brady a ton because he's as much as the personality of the team as anyone is."
On his thoughts of Senior Night at KU:
"To me Senior Night is a celebration of three guy's careers. One game does not capture what their careers have been. At Kansas that's one of the great things we have here and one of the great things we do tradition-wise. There will be a time when Senior Night does not go as scripted. I certainly hope and wish it's not immediately. That will happen and you have to adjust, I have to adjust in life no matter what. We're not going to look at it negatively, we're going to look at it as, `Senior Night is going to give us an extra boost,' rather than let it take away from anything."
On Mario Little's role on the team:
"Mario's role is to give us a boost off the bench, and to score if need be. He will certainly try his hardest to oblige. He also give us an element of toughness too."
Some teams talk about the 6th man. I vote we start a 8th, 9th or 10th man award. Probably varies depending on the year but it's the last man off the bench that provides that big time lift. Little and Releford have to be in the conversation if that one existed.
On KU's new position atop the Big 12 standings:
"There are obviously four huge games left. They've got two huge ones; Baylor and K-State. We've got two; Texas A&M and Missouri. It is nice to be in the situation if we do what we hope to do then we can control our own destiny. You win two and you're guaranteed a piece of it. Our two games, it may be the toughest week we've had all year playing the third place team in our league and the fourth place team in our league. Those are hard games. Considering how we dropped the ball against Texas at home, it's pretty good to be in this position."
Without question it's a tough week but senior night against an A&M team that Kansas should matchup well against shouldn't be that difficult. Playing in Columbia on their senior night with the Tigers having the opportunity to play spoiler. That's a different story.
On the Kansas' next opponent, Texas A&M:
"They're well coached. (Mark Turgeon) has done a great job. He and his staff have done a great job. They don't beat themselves. They don't give up easy baskets. They've had a couple players really mature and become terrific players. I think (David) Loubeau may have a chance to be an All-League player, and (Khris) Middleton may have a chance to be an all-league player this year, and that's just as a sophomore. Those two are terrific."
On who he is most comfortable with playing point guard:
"I'm comfortable with a lot of them. To me Brady (Morningstar) is as good as anybody that we have as far as taking care of the ball. I think that Tyshawn (Taylor), when he's playing, is potentially the best we have at that. I think Elijah (Johnson), all he's done since he's been back is go five for six from three and not turn it over. That's pretty good. He probably won't start on Senior Day because we'll probably start our seniors, but Elijah will be our first guard off the bench. In my mind, if we were going to play an NCAA tournament game tomorrow, Elijah Johnson would be our starting point guard."
Very interesting comments related to Johnson. Tough to say if this statement will hold through two more weeks but I think it's clear that Self's confidence in Johnson has increased and in all reality it might have been as much about Elijah's confidence in himself improving as anything.
On the Morris twins leadership the past three games:
"They've done a good job. Everything they do is magnified and we've gone over that a hundred times. One screws up it's always the twins, and if one does great it's always the twins. In this particular situation they've both done good. They've both been vocal. They've both been leaders. They've both played at an extremely high level. Terrific."