Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
* Ideally, Tyshawn and Thomas would be playing 32-33 minutes per game. Something in that area.
* They've taken the last two days off completely. So Tyshawn is 100-percent now. Batteries are recharged, and they'll practice hard today and tomorrow to get ready to play.
* Despite the grueling Big 12 schedule and the team's comparative lack of depth, they haven't really structured practices any differently. They don't practice that long, but do practice hard.
* Jeff Withey was a really highly-recruited kid. He wasn't a McDonald's All-American, but he was a guy that certainly was in everybody's Top 50 or 70. The rankings are important, but really you should look at them 3-4 years later to see where they develop. And in his class, at this point in time you would think he'd certainly be a guy who would be worthy of McDonald's status in retrospect. He's come out of left field by playing the way he has in the last three games, but he should be getting 9 points and 7 rebounds or so naturally. His play has taken the team to a new level.
* Jeff is probably the tallest player he has ever had shoot technical foul shots. His foul shooting ability makes it easier on the team in late game situations, because he doesn't need to be subbed out if teams are fouling. Thomas has shot very well down the stretch, too.
* Thomas' production hasn't been better since Jeff has emerged so strongly, but the game is easier for him. K-State did a great job of surrounding him with defenders, but to Self he's passed the ball better and been more unselfish. It's been good for Thomas. And if Jeff keeps this up, it will make opposing teams think twice about doubling Thomas and leaving Jeff open.
* Jeff is working harder. He's played great, but in the last three games he's made an awful lot of layups. Which is the way they want to try and design things, to get easy baskets. But he's not catching it eight feet out, backing a guy down and shaking him. He's making the easy plays and guys are doing a good job getting him the ball. Jeff is impacting the game more so than with his offense by going after the ball. Getting a block, running the floor and getting a dunk, those are unbelievable plays. He's put himself in a position to score and be in the game because he's so much more aggressive and going after the ball. He didn't become a better shooter in the last three games.
* They talk about the conference standings all the time. They have a board in their film room with up-to-date standings. Self, personally, takes it a week at a time, looking at two games and how they need to prepare. They're getting down to crunch time. Everybody has five games left. If you make a mistake now, there may not be time to come back.
* To Self, the post-season is the most important season. And the media has made it that way. "Road to the Final Four" is what we hear publicized all the time. You've got guys that have become nationwide names, because they seed people for the tournament. Which is great, it adds energy and interest, but what gets lost in the equation sometimes is your body of work. Did the Giants have a better year than the Packers? They didn't have a better year, they had a better three weeks. But that's what it all comes down to, because there's only one left standing. When he was in the Big 10, winning it was a huge deal because if you won the league you were automatically one of the best teams in the country. It's the exact same thing in the Big 12. They've had pretty good success in the tournament, but it hasn't been good compared to what the expectations and hopes were. Self totally agrees they've underachieved in the tournament. Playing poorly one day is awful, but playing well for several months carries a lot of value.
* There aren't a lot of coaches out there who want to play more than eight players. Self thinks eight is the perfect number, personally. He thinks they're fine with depth, they've just got to figure out a way to stay fresh.
* Elijah is doing fine. He's not making shots like he can. He's done a really nice job defensively, particularly versus Baylor and Kansas State recently. He's done some good things. Elijah isn't concerned at all about scoring or that kind of stuff, he just wants to win and takes pride in doing the little things. Self is still waiting for the hot streak from him. Every player has one, and Self knows it's coming from him. He's excited. Jeff is in the streak right now. Travis was in it earlier this year. Travis and EJ just have to be more consistent.
* It's tough starting out at a new program like Billy Gillispie is at Texas Tech. He didn't really get a chance to recruit, but Self isn't worried about Billy. He'll get better players and they're going to get better. They're better now than they were the first time they played.
* If Self had to describe Tyshawn's career, he'd say 'inconsistent, but for the most part terrific.' He's been one of the best point guards in Kansas basketball history by the numbers. He's averaging 18 ppg in conference play for Kansas, after being the fourth leading scorer on his high school team. He's emotional, and that's both a strength and a weakness. It makes him a better player, but sometimes he can get emotional in a situation where he shouldn't. They've lost 11 games in the three years he's been a starter.
* Self loves Tyshawn. He likes kids with personality, but when you have those kids it creates confrontation. He'd rather have a guy have confrontation than a guy who is soft and backs away. Self likes those guys. He doesn't know if he can enjoy coaching a kid more than he's enjoyed coaching Tyshawn the past couple of months.
* Self doesn't worry about free throws. He never has. He worries about turnovers and that kind of stuff. They can simulate that a little bit. Tyshawn needs to have some courage, confidence and faith late. He's got to step up and make them. That's what good players do. But as far as improvement in that area, Self isn't going to do anything. Ty is one of those guys who isn't going to be an 85-percent free throw shooter. But he is a guy who should make them when it counts, because he's a winner.
* When Ty shoots it less times, they're a better team. And when he shoots it more it's because they're running crap offense and he feels like he has to do it on his own. 19 shots versus KSU is too many, but he also made three plays where if he doesn't they don't win. Sherron was the same way. Ty is the one guy on the team who can get his own shot.
* Ty is unique, when looking at all the point guards Self as coached, because he's never coached anyone that tall, that long and that fast. But he doesn't think the game like Derron Williams or Aaron Miles. He doesn't have the energy of Dee Brown. he doesn't have the ability to make shots consistently like Sherron did. But none of them had the speed he has, or the courage to get in there and make plays. But has he ever had a player who has played better over a six week period - a guard - than Tyshawn has? Nope.
* Self thinks Thomas is the Big 12 Player of the Year. You could make a case for Ty and a case for Marcus Denmon. In his opinion, those three have distanced themselves from the other really good players in the league for the chance to be POY. But a guy who has a chance to be National POY is a safer bet to win the award in the league. But Ty has been as good as anyone during league play, and Denmon has had a fantastic year.
* They expect Texas Tech to muddy it up, just as they did the first time they met.
* There was a period of time in Wichita when the city was producing some really good players. But this Wichita Heights team has to go down as one of the premiere teams in the history of Kansas high school basketball (They recently broke the consecutive win streak record). What Perry Ellis has done under pressure and with the expectations on him is pretty remarkable. And he's done it with class. He's a great student, and it's remarkable the career he's had.
* Self is most excited to coach Ellis' athleticism. He's skilled, but he can really run and jump. He wants to see if he can guard a two or a five. His athleticism gives him a chance to be a truly great player.