Feb. 15, 2006 Weekly Men's Basketball Press Conference Quotes
Head Coach Bill Self
On Missouri guard Thomas Gardner: "We have to guard Gardner this time. Last time he only got about three or four good looks that he made, and the other times we were there. He just played unbelievably well. I'm not sure we'll change a lot. I think we'll try to force him to take bad shots and limit his touches. Hopefully, we'll do a better job collectively on him than we did last time. Last game, he was as good as anyone in America that particular night." On the importance of making your first shot in a game: "I think that's a little overrated. I bet Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have had big games when they've missed their first shot. I think that with guys who are struggling with confidence or role player type guys it becomes a little bit more important than with guys who are going to shoot the ball regardless of whether or not the ball goes in early."
On the different directions Missouri and Kansas have taken since their last game: "I can't comment on Mizzou. I don't know their situation other than them having gone through a lot lately with off the court type things. Our team played well over there. We didn't lose our confidence even though we lost in terrible fashion. We feel like we got better playing at Mizzou. The guys really rallied around each other and have gotten pretty tough. They've really learned to enjoy each other and play together even more than they were before that game."
"You don't want to say losing helps. I do believe that at a time when a loss could have hurt us and done more damage than just that one game, the guys didn't allow that to happen."
If he expects different looks under Missouri coach Melvin Watkins: "Yes I do. They probably didn't have much time against Kansas State to do a lot of different things, but I expect Melvin to put his twist on things. Based on what I have heard, Quin (Snyder) and Melvin have had a strong relationship through this, and I'm sure Melvin will do the majority of the things that they've been working on all year long. Everybody has their own style and he'll put his own twist on the team, which will make it more difficult for us."
On the coaching fraternity: "Firing a coach affects more than just that particular person. You're talking about families, kids in school, relocation, assistant coaches and their families -- one thing about our profession is that it's a tough profession, but you don't ever wish ill will on anyone. You want to beat them on the court or field, but after that there is a strong fraternity of guys that bond together and look out for the betterment of all coaches. I would honestly say that no one in our profession that's worth a salt would enjoy see someone else and someone else's family suffer due to a termination. I think that a lot of people will rally around Quin and other coaches in the profession because that's the nature of the business."
On the Kansas-Missouri rivalry: "Our young guys could not have grasped any more how important the Missouri rivalry is today than they did the last game. They knew that, understood it, respected it and played like it."
On their ranking: "If you're at Kansas, you're a pretty big game in most people's gym night in and night out, regardless of what number a team has next to it. Our guys probably enjoy being ranked, but the biggest reason being ranked is good is because it gives you exposure for recruiting. The teams that have been ranked all year have an advantage over teams that haven't because they haven't gotten as much attention nationally with recruiting. So if anything, it helps recruiting, but that's about it."
On Christian Moody: "Christian's a great kid. I think his spirits are good, and I think he'll be looking forward to the game on Saturday. I don't want to say that the first game has affected him negatively, but I do think that at least initially, it hurt and it hurt bad. Hopefully he's worked his way through that, but I'm sure he thinks about it everyday. How could you not? He's a mature kid, he's tough and he's handled it well. His teammates and other people that he cares about have rallied around him. He's fine. It's more of a coincidence than anything else that his role has diminished. It's not because of the Missouri game but because Darnell (Jackson) and Julian (Wright) have been playing pretty well."
On Mario Chalmers: "Since Christmas, he's been pretty good. We knew he had talent all along, but he wasn't playing to his talent level because he was too busy thinking too much. He played slow because I think his mind was cluttered. I think he's been really good the past month or month and a half. He's going to continue to get better and better as he gets more sound."
On Julian Wright: "At this point in time of his career, Julian is not going to statistically lead your team in scoring over a season. That's not what he does. Julian is a playmaker that makes others better. He is playing with a lot more confidence, his defense has gotten better and he is playing more physical and to his size. Everyone talks about Mario, and Mario has been terrific, but Julian has come about as far as Mario has but in a shorter amount of time."
On the Big 12 race: "Our goal is to win the league. Every day there will be some mention of the league race, and it will be that way everyday that we coach here. Until it's done or until we're eliminated, that will still remain our goal and we will talk about it in some form or fashion. There will be some focus on the league race each and every day."
On Brandon Rush: "I thought Brandon had one of his poorest games against Oklahoma State, and he still got 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals. If that's a poor game for a guard, that's still pretty good. The light is shining pretty bright for all three of our freshmen right now. They're starting to get it, and they're starting to get it in ways that don't necessarily involve them scoring. The guys are all sharing the ball and really understanding their roles."
On how the season has played out: "We haven't done anything yet, but it's been one of the more rewarding times I've had as a coach. It's easy to do it when things are easy and you win based on talent and everyone is patting you on the back. The real fun times are when you turn the negatives into positives. You can learn through that and become a better ball club through those things. It's been an enjoyable ride in that regard."