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Kansas Vs. Illinois Postgame Presser

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We're really excited. I thought we played extremely well. Even though we were behind -- even though they cut the lead from 12 to 4 in the first half, I still felt like we had control of the game it really hurt us when Tyshawn got his second foul.

But I thought Elijah did a great job on Demetri in his absence. Then in the second half we kind of got it going and played through these two guys. Obviously, they delivered.

Q. Could you kind of talk about the role that the two senior starters play on this team?


They're our guys that are our shooters and more as team leaders. They're definitely our team leaders, and they're the people we look to to make the big shots and Tyrel, we call him Squeeze as a nickname, he shoots. That's what he does. We tell him to stay confident at times.

And Brady is just the old man of our team. He's been there for 7 or 8 years. So he knows everything. He knows the ins and outs of everything. They're just our two guys.

Q. Sometimes sibling rivalry can be difficult. Did it ever matter to you guys growing up who scored the most points? If it did, when did you get past it?


It never mattered. It never mattered. We feel like if one does good, the other does good. We've always been grouped together so we take it as if he does good, I do good, and if I do good he does good. Never really looked at it like that.

Q. Could you comment on an analysis of your brother's dunks tonight, and how they may have energized the team and broken it open a little bit?


It definitely energized the team. To me, Kieff is the best thing that we have on the team. A lot of people look to me as a leader, but I look to Kieff as a leader. The things he does on the court definitely changes games and it opens it up for a lot of people.

I feel like if you put it up there, he's going to go get it, except for the one he missed of mine when I gave it to him. But other than that, I feel like you throw it anywhere, and he's going to go get it.


Q. Were you just talking about the play off the backboard?


Yeah, that was a pass. That wasn't a shot.


Q. Right. Was that a called play? I've never seen anything like that in the half court.


No, it wasn't a called play (laughing).


No, it wasn't called. We kind of did it in practice when coach wasn't looking, so we said we'd do it in the game, because they both bit on our fade screen perfectly, it just slipped off Kieff's hand when's he missed it. But I had to take the blame for it.


Q. How good does it feel to get to the Sweet 16 after what happened in the Northern Iowa game last year?


It feels good. It feels like we've got a lot of pressure off our shoulders. Feels good to go to San Antonio and it feels good to get better this next week that's coming up. I just feel like now that we've gotten past this weekend, we got over the hump, and we're ready for next weekend.


Yeah, it definitely takes a lot of pressure off our shoulders knowing we've gotten past the first weekend now. Just trying to build off of these two games and trying to do the same thing next weekend. We're playing against a good Richmond team that beat two great teams.

So it's definitely time to get back in the gym. We'll take a day off, and it's right back to work.


Q. You guys obviously wanted to win for all the normal reasons. Did it come up among the players at all that Coach Self had coached at Illinois and you want to bring your A-game for that reason?


Yeah, when we first came out to break the huddle I told the guys that we needed to do it for coach. That was his old school. When we went to Philly, he told the guys that they needed to do it for us when we played against Temple. So I just felt like we needed to return the favor.

Just to get our emotions going that coach would beat his old school.


I think, yeah, like Marcus said, we definitely did that for coach. We just wanted to play hard and try to win the game, what we did, and just get that win for coach.


Q. Could you take us through that dunk that you had where Brady, I think it was, came through on the baseline and it seemed like the lane was wide open? Could you see what was developing in front of your eyes on that play?


Yeah, I did. I knew Brady drives baseline really well and he's a great passer. I knew if I put myself in the position that I did, that he was going to pass it, and I finished it.


Q. What kind of responsibilities do you put on your two senior starters being that it's a fairly young team?


I think I put a lot on them. This hasn't been talked about at all. I didn't bring it up to our guys until after the game. But Brady won't get credit for this because he red shirted, but they were here the same time, same years.

But Tyrel, he passed Sherron. He's the winningest player in the history of the school. He's a pretty big deal. I want to say they're 131-16, something like that, which is pretty good. They're a huge reason why we're successful. They're rocks. They're anchors. They make the game easier for everybody else. Tyrel more with his shooting, and Brady more with his play-making and defense. They're both terrific players.

Basketball early in the season, coaches feel a certain way feeling things out. But as you get into conference play and move forward, you develop an element of trust. There is nobody I trust more than those two guys having them out there.


Q. Not to get hung up on this, but can you tell us what was going through your head? Walk us through that play off the backboard the alley-oop?


I didn't know what he was doing. I mean, we run a play and we just put it in for him, and he's wide open. That was one of those deals that they've laid around talking and figured out that would be a highlight play, I think. I'll go back and watch it. I don't agree with Marcus, he said it was a good pass and Kieff just missed it. I thought it was a crap pass, and nobody could have caught it. We'll talk about that when moving forward.

But those guys are pretty creative. They are great passers. But that wasn't the time or place to try that one, I didn't think.


Q. Until the very end of the second half, Marcus and Markieff had scored basically all your points. At halftime was it as simple as you've got these two big guys, get them the ball?


No, I didn't think so. I thought the first half not having Tyshawn in the game hurt us if you really studied it, because no other guard drove their pressure. We hadn't had anybody driving their pressure. Everything we got was off the catch or backing guys down, and that's not how we run good offense. We've got to get paint touches by driving it as well as passing it.

Our whole deal was drive it, drive it, drive it, which forced help and allowed those guys to get touches. So I think the guards deserve as much credit as those two playing through them, because they're the ones that forced help.


Q. I was right behind your bench, and your guys who were young, even though you have the two seniors, were so calm. Even when Illinois made runs, they were so calm. Are those two seniors that calm? Is this just that kind of bunch and are they the kind that responds that way?


I think there have been times when we didn't respond very well. Obviously at K-State, which was probably a good lesson for us to learn. Texas at home, that was kind of a weird day, so I don't put much stock in that one. But we didn't respond well the second half there.

But we've been in quite a few close games. A lot of people have questioned -- I shouldn't say a lot, a lot of people question you're winning, but you're not winning by enough or not winning pretty or whatever. But sometimes those are the best games to win because it forces guys to play through pressure.

We're going to play through pressure again. There will be pressure on Friday. If we're fortunate enough to win, there will be pressure on Sunday. But Tyrel and Brady have been around a lot. And having anchors and guys you trust like that are so positive for your ballclub.

I thought Elijah showed a lot of poise. I thought Thomas showed a lot of poise. We didn't play a lot of guys today. Josh showed a lot of poise. I thought our bench, though the numbers weren't terrific, they didn't make mistakes.

So much of basketball is about not beating yourself, and we did a good job of being aggressive and also being patient. That's a hard come face a lot combination a lot of times.


Q. You and the players talk a lot this time of year that games are generally won with defense. Could you comment on the job your guards did on McCamey?


Hey, our guards were great. Defensively we were really, really good. Richardson got away from us a few times, obviously, but the job that Elijah and Tyshawn -- and Tyshawn did a great job on him, but Elijah guarded him 13 minutes in the first half and didn't make a point, didn't score a point. So that was a big bonus for us.

But we did a good job on a good player, and our ball screen defense was better than what it's been, which was credit to our bigs because they did a good job helping him.

Q. Elijah and Tyshawn both mentioned you cut the head off and the body will follow. Was that a mantra in practice that you knew? You shut down McCamey?


We practiced for 40 minutes, so it wasn't a point of emphasis. I believe when the other team's best player or maybe not even best player, but key player as a point guard, you've got to do a great job on him. Those guys did a great job on him. I think he still had 7 assists if I'm not mistaken, and they're undefeated this year when he's had 7 assists or more I read.

But those two guys were terrific. We didn't gamble, we were solid and kept him in front of us. Got up underneath him to the point where he couldn't get off open looks, which was a lot different than what it looked on Friday. On Friday he was just amazing against UNLV.


Q. I know you said this wouldn't be a milestone win because you have higher aspirations. But can you put to bed what happened last year? Also do you have any thoughts on looks like you're going to have a bracket with double digit seeds.


We've said this and everybody says it all along, it's not as much seeds as players. Davidson was a double digit seed too, and they had the best player in the tournament that year. They were one basket away from beating us. So I don't put much stock in that.

But there was a little bit of extra pressure today. I think in large part you've got the same exact record as last year. You go in as a 1 seed, and last year's team didn't get it done. This year's team had an opportunity to do something that last year's team didn't do. I think maybe a little bit of pressure on that.

But to me it was kind of a weird day. Playing back in Tulsa, and we really haven't played well in this state.
You have going against Illinois for obvious reasons, and then what happened last year. But those guys have been reminded of Northern Iowa every day for the last 365 days. So it was good to get that monkey off our back, so to speak, but there are bigger fish to fry. Now it's time to go play.


Q. Now that it's behind you, you've won a lot of these games in the tournament. But is it special to advance out of Tulsa where you have a history?


Absolutely. This was cool for me. I didn't make a point to spend any time with friends or anything like that, but I had some ex-players come to our practice. I was able to get a couple of guys, a few ex-players tickets and things like that. That to me makes it special.

Fortunately my friends knew they needed to get their tickets on their own, and I think they did a pretty good job with that. But Tulsa, the city has been very, very good to myself and my family. There are so many people here that have looked out for us and taken care of us, that I really did want to play well this week. I really did. It wasn't a distraction, but it was a big bonus.


Q. You'd already had a No. 1 seed or seen a No. 1 seed fall in Pitt, and then Duke struggles today. Do you bring that up to your guys as a 1 seed at all or are they watching?


They watch it. They watch it. We didn't talk about Michigan-Duke. Our guys watched the game. It was right around pre-game when it was on, so we watched the end of it together. Pittsburgh, I don't even know if that ever came up. What a fabulous game that was with the weird ending last night.

We can't worry so much about what other people are doing, we just need to take care of ourselves. That first day so many close games maybe got guys attention, but after that I think it doesn't really matter.


Q. You mentioned the memories you have here. Obviously this next site has a lot of history for you in San Antonio with Mario's shot and everything. Is that something you're thinking about going forward?


Probably not. I mean, we'll be reminded of it and think of it that way. But Conner, Brady and Tyrel were the only ones around when that happened, and it was a special, special weekend. I mean, unbelievable weekend.
I love San Antonio, and our players will too. It's a fabulous host season the way they set it up and the river walk and all that stuff. But it is a business trip. We'll be reminded of it. It will bring pleasant memories to us, but we've got to go make new memories.



FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports