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NCAA Tournament Wrap Up: Kansas Jayhawk Presser

COACH SELF: Well, first of all, congratulations to VCU. I thought they played great, obviously. In the first half they had us on our heels the entire first half. And then we mounted a good comeback and fought hard and just couldn't get the ball to go in the basket.

I know all coaches say this, and cliches or whatever, but this team has been through a lot, a lot. And they stuck together. When we recruited these guys four or five years ago, we had no idea the impact they'd have on our program. And certainly really proud of our team. They've had a great year.

In sports it's such a microcosm of life because when you care so much you certainly put yourself out there that you can be disappointed real easy. These guys have put themselves out there and I'm really proud of that and very respectful of their effort. Not just these two, but our entire team.

It's a disappointing day, obviously. We're crushed. But also I think at the end of the day we tried real hard and just came up empty against a team that was better than us today.

Q. Just one of those games where the ball wouldn't go down for you guys. Had a lot of good looks. Did you guys feel like that? Was it their defense or what would you attribute your guys shooting woes to?

TYREL REED: Yeah, it was just one of those days. I mean probably one of the poorest shooting nights we've had as a team. But credit to VCU. Our shots just weren't falling. When your shots aren't falling you have to defend and have something to fall back on. We didn't do the best job in the first half and dug ourselves a hole. But I'm proud of this team and the way they fought back and just never quit and never gave up, but just came up short.

Q. You kind of knew the path ahead of you, the last No. 1 seed. You hadn't really been tested that much to this point, based on the seeds of the other teams. Is there any chance you all were looking ahead or were overconfident?

BRADY MORNINGSTAR: No, I think we understood this year, you couldn't look ahead. You saw the roll that VCU was on, and they continued their roll by hitting shots. And when teams hit like that you've got to defend. When you don't defend you dig yourself a hole and you have to try to make a comeback. It's a lot easier to play with the lead than without the lead. The first half was the key to them winning this game.

Q. Brady, can you just talk about the ups and downs? Two days ago you had such a great game individually. The team played so well, particularly the first half, and to come out today and not have your best effort.

BRADY MORNINGSTAR: When we win together -- we're not worried about a couple of days ago how we played. We're worried about today, just regroup and then you gotta give credit to VCU, they had an incredible game. I wish them luck next weekend. As a team we didn't perform as well as we could have and as well as we should have and that's why we're going home.

Q. You guys have both mentioned defense. In the first half, what were you guys not getting done? Were you trying to help out on penetration and not getting out on shooters or what did you guys not get accomplished defensively?

TYREL REED: You know, it was a combination of things. I think there was times we didn't, myself, we just didn't play the scouting report. We gave open looks. They're a great three-point shooting team, and you can't let them get on a roll. We didn't defend the three point line like we should have. Give credit to them, they were knocking them down. But it was a poor performance by us guarding the three. That was basically it.

Q. Guys, 2-21 on threes today. I don't know how you explain that. Were you defending them well? Even so you had some open looks. That's got to be a season low. Tell me what was going through your head when they kept missing, even free throws weren't going in, is there a point you thought this isn't our day or what the heck is going on here?

BRADY MORNINGSTAR: It happens. When teams miss shots you've got to find another way to stay in the game. The ball didn't go in today. It's tough to win when you're not making the shots, when a team is on a roll like that. And the first half, it's very tough to get back in the game. We were fortunate enough to get within two, but they had some more shots down the stretch. They played a heck of a game, you've got to give them credit.

TYREL REED: Same thing, I mean, I don't think we've shot that bad from the three point line, and from the field. We had good looks, I thought. We got some open shots and down low, the ball wouldn't fall in as well. I don't think we ever lost confidence that we weren't going to make shots. And we kept shooting them, but they just didn't go in.

Q. From the perspective of both of you, you had a run in the second half. Their coach got a technical foul. It started to look like maybe they were starting to lose composure and maybe even doubting themselves. From your perspective, what happened after that?

TYREL REED: You know, yeah, we got back in the game and it was a big technical. I felt like the momentum was shifting in our direction, but we just -- we had looks. We had opportunities, we just couldn't quite get over the hump. And VCU, they kept making plays, they kept knocking down shots and attacking. We just didn't quite have it today.

Q. Coach, could you tell us your perspective on the offensive woes today and the thing that jumps out at me is free throw shooting, when you miss 13 in the game, that obviously hurts.

COACH SELF: As poorly as we played the first half, you know, if we make some layups and free throws, we're behind, but it's probably a 7 point game instead of a 14 point game or something like that. We shot it miserably. I think defense has a lot to do with that as far as maybe speeding you up a bit and maybe not letting you get into a rhythm. I thought their defense was very good. They're very quick and athletic, and especially on the perimeter.
But the thing about it is with the way that we've stressed it, I don't usually talk to guys about making shots or missing shots. I talk to them about doing the other things. And seems like to me you shoot better when you concentrate on other things, to help make winning plays. No matter what we said, that basket really opened up for them the first half and whatever the legal diameter of a basket is, 18 inches or whatever, probably looked like it was 24. And our guys may have thought they were shooting at the fair because it was a tight basket, you know.

But we just didn't make shots. You look at it and say, Why did you take 21 threes? A lot of those were late, best shooters shooting them. The guys go one for ten or finish first and third in our league for field goal percentages. You play to your law of averages a lot of times and it just didn't work out today.

Q. Bill, you were 12 down pretty early in the second half. Did you feel pretty good about how you turned it around and were playing and then if that run maybe took a lot of energy out of you?

COACH SELF: It might have. I don't think so. To me it was -- there was a lot of stoppage in play, especially the second half. I don't think that took that much out of us, I don't know. Maybe emotionally a little bit, but I don't think physically. If I'm not mistaken, we cut it to two and then we don't hedge the ball screen, they get a dunk and we throw the ball in the corner and get trapped and turn it over, I don't know what happened. And next thing you know two becomes seven or two becomes six. We just didn't have it where we kept putting pressure on them. We kept saying the pressure would shift to them with the lead, if we can keep it within distance, and they did a great job keeping us at that four to six to seven point range.

Sometimes in sports the harder you try the worse you play. Our guys tried hard. And usually with this team it's been my thinking with them whenever they try really hard and cares a lot that we usually perform better. This is one of those games where I think they tried really hard and obviously care so much and it may have taken away from our performance because, you know, the ball didn't go in, but the harder they tried to go get the rebound and put it up and just not go in again. And free throw shooting I think is something that kind of can stem rolls when over teams get on them. We were 5-12 the first half, missed four in a row. Our missed free throws lead to three on the other end and that's tough to overcome.

Q. What does it say about the college game in the bigger picture that VCU and Butler can get to the national semifinals?

COACH SELF: Well, I think we've said all along this year that there appear to be more parity than maybe what there has been in years past. And I think that's true. But VCU and Butler have good players. You can usually tell who can really recruit, what programs do the best jobs recruiting because they're playing with the guys that you look at them when they're juniors and seniors and think how in the world did they get them? And so VCU's program has done that, Butler's program has done that. There's others out there.
I think what it does as much as anything it just puts a spin on the NCAA tournament. It's wild. It's wild and a lot of people have said that we caught breaks. I don't know if we caught any breaks or not, I didn't feel like we caught any breaks. Because seeds are so overrated, it's about match-ups. And their players could play for us any day. If we played shirts and skins today you wouldn't have much of a difference on players or how they look. They've got some good looking kids. They got what they deserved today. They certainly outplayed us.

Q. When you guys did get it to two there was a play where it was called a block when it might have been a charge, instead of you guys getting the ball coming down with a chance to tie, they ended up getting two free throws.

COACH SELF: I thought that was when Kieff was playing post defense, I could be wrong. But that was an A-10 crew out there today working, no question about that. Whenever things don't go your way, you always think the calls don't go your way. When you're playing better, it seems like you get more calls. That's not the reality of it, that's just how people feel and coaches feel. If I watch the tape, I don't know if I will, I'm sure there will be some things that happened that you could say that could go this way or that way, but that's not what it was. What it was is they had us on our heels early. They made some hard shots. I mean good, gosh, give them some credit. They made some hard shots. We contributed to the nine threes they made, we probably contributed a great deal to four or five of them. But some were hard shots, guys jumping up with confidence and knocking them down.

Q. How shocked were you? It seemed like a lot of their -- I know you knew they were a three-point shooting team, especially that first half they had a lot of open looks, what were you not doing, just reacting the ball, the ball screens or what?

COACH SELF: I'm not sure how many wide open looks they got. You know, we actually defended the ball screen, we actually defended the roll and replace, which was what was effective against Florida State. We did some good things in that regard. I think what hurt us more than anything in the first half is transition defense. You look at the stat sheet and at halftime had zero points in transition, and by our stats they had 14. Because getting out and running and forcing help and making one or two passes and then it becomes half court offense, but it's not, it's still transition. I thought that's where they got three or four of their threes is off transition. We didn't do a good job on transition defense at all during the stretches in the first half.

Q. I wanted to ask you about that, it seemed a lot like you guys were helping off more than you wanted.

COACH SELF: No. I know of two particular plays for sure that happened when we helped when we shouldn't have helped, scout report plays. But for the most part we stayed with our men. We guarded the ball screen a certain way for Rodriguez so they couldn't run the roll and replace and they get threes out of that.
For the most part we did a pretty good job. But they can kind of mess with you. Skeen is a really good player, but he doesn't make three threes in a half. But still we didn't do a good job of getting him. That's as aggressive I've seen a 6'9" five-man shoot the three. And we obviously did a poor job of that. He had 15 points the first half and didn't score inside the arc. And that's tough. That's tough.

Q. You mentioned that you may or may not look at the tape of this game. What goes into that decision-making process, and how quickly do you want to get away from a game like this emotionally?

COACH SELF: Well, of course I wish that you could let it go now, but you're not going to. You're going to hang on to it for a year or at least until you start playing in October. The thing about it is with the tournament, the finality of it, if we're watching it, we're watching on what can we do to prepare differently if we're in the same position next year. It's not to get our team better for now, it's over.

But all losses linger. There's only one time in my coaching career where the wins have felt as good as the losses feel bad. And that's one time. And that's probably the way it will probably always be. I told our team maybe a month from now or two weeks from now, depending -- kids get over it faster than adults.

We'll look back, 35-3. We won the league seven years in a row, we did a lot of good things this year. But we didn't accomplish what we set out to accomplish. So it's hard for me to say it's a special year, even though the kids did great. But this one will sting for quite some time. But it won't sting from lack of trying or lack of effort. It will sting because these opportunities -- I wish they came yearly, but they don't come yearly. And you've got to make the most of opportunities when you get them and we didn't do that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports