March 19, 2017
Kansas - 90, Michigan State - 70
COACH SELF: Well, obviously, you know, the final margin didn't dictate what a hard game it was. I thought both teams tried real hard. I thought we tried too hard at times. Shot selection wasn't great. But when they cut it to one, that's when we played our best ball. And that was fun to see and certainly it was good to see our guys get in a nice rhythm.
Q. Josh, a lot's been made about you growing up with Cassius and growing up around Miles. Can you kind of talk about tonight's game and what that meant to you to be a Michigan kid to beat Michigan State like that in the NCAA tournament?
JOSH JACKSON: I feel like we're all competitors. I've been knowing those guys for a long time, and one thing that I do know about both of them is they both really like to win. So I knew it was going to be a fun game before it even started. So it was just really fun to be able to go out there and play against those guys and really proud to see them here and having success.
Q. Frank, what did Dwight Coleby give you guys today?
FRANK MASON, III: He gave us the spark we needed. Landen got in foul trouble, and he came in prepared and ready to play. We're going to need that moving forward because you never know who's going to get in foul trouble or injury or anything like that. So you just gotta stay ready when your number is called, and that's what he did.
Q. Josh, can you just elaborate a little bit more on your emotions facing such a good friend in Bridges and just what that was like going against him?
JOSH JACKSON: One thing the coaching staff told me before the game was just to make sure I didn't come out too excited, and I tried to keep that in my head. And I came out and was still just a little too excited. I tried to force stuff a little bit.
But as the game went on, I felt like the game started slowing down, it came to me a little bit more. And I just had to realize it was just another game, and it was about Kansas basketball versus Michigan State, and it wasn't about me versus Miles.
Q. Josh, did that game start slowing down for you in the second half? They cut it to one, and I think that's when you got the three-point play and then a couple of steps later a step-back three from the corner. What do you remember about those moments?
JOSH JACKSON: I just felt like after seeing a few shots go in, I felt like I could make a couple more. I felt like I made some tough shots today, but hopefully I can keep doing that through the rest of this tournament. Hopefully I don't have to, though. But it was just a real fun game and I was just happy to be out there.
Q. Josh, it looked like several players as well as Coach Izzo spoke with you during the handshake line afterward. What was the message?
JOSH JACKSON: Couple guys told me just to go ahead and win the tournament, just wishing us good luck and telling me that they were proud of me. I know a couple more guys on the coaching staff, couple more guys on the team who don't really play. And like I said, I was just really happy to see everybody there, and it was just really fun.
Q. Devonte', the way you guys finished that game, is that about as well and as fast as you guys have played all year?
DEVONTE' GRAHAM: I think once it got to that one point, once we were up one, we really focused in and started getting stops and making easy baskets, couple and-ones.
And like Frank said, Dwight was the spark, really the MVP of the second half for us. And I felt like we really did play our best ball.
Q. Coach, I'm just curious from a coaching perspective, because this game was so electric to watch, and like you said, the score is kind of misleading of how hard everybody played. What was it like being out there on the floor and actually coaching through this game?
COACH SELF: I don't know how Tom felt, but it was a hard game to coach, in large part, because nobody listened to me (laughter). And they were shooting too fast and the pace was too fast and everything, but we're better when we have pace. And certainly these guys have all been there before, but I think they'd be the first to tell you it was a fun game. It was a fast-paced game. The pace was faster than the final score indicated even in number of points. And they go downhill when they get possession as well as anybody. But we did a good enough job in transition defense, and then we did a great job defensive rebounding and to me having guys make hard shots. We extended our lead by step-back threes, and-ones. They were hard plays. Certainly that's a tribute to the skill set over here.
Q. Bill, I take it that the kind of assertiveness that Josh gave you is what a coach wants in this tournament for a player with his ability to be a difference maker?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I think so. But we've got three or four guys that can all do that, you know. And Josh deserves a ton of credit. He was great. Frank had 20 and 5 and no turnovers and Devonte' seemed like he made most things he looked at. And Landen had a double double, and I thought Lagerald and Svee were both good. So it was a good team effort.
But you're right. I do think in the tournament it's so nice to have a player or two or three that when things don't look good they can go score six points in three possessions when you really run bad offense. And that kind of happened with us tonight. We made some hard shots.
Q. Frank, is there a toughness about this team? I don't want to say that wasn't here before. But what's this level of toughness on this team?
FRANK MASON, III: I think we all play with a lot of pride. We all believe in each other, and I think it starts with Coach. He really gets on to us in practice and he make us compete. And you know, it just carries on to the games. And just proud of the way my teammates played and the great job that my coaches did.
Q. Bill, you were talking about these three guys. There are a lot of big threes in college basketball that have been talked about. These three guys, how do you feel that they played together this weekend and how do you feel about the way they're playing going into the Sweet 16?
COACH SELF: You're right. There's been some great performances so far in the tournament, individual performances and certainly -- you know, I think our team is pretty balanced. So we don't have very often where -- I think Josh has got 30 once and Frank a couple of times. But we don't have very often where guys go out and have to carry us, so to speak, but we've had numerous stretches where guys have carried us for a four or five-minute period.
And I do, I think all three of these guys played great. They shot it fairly well, but they competed and they defended and they cared about the right things and certainly played unselfish and still got numbers. I haven't seen everybody play, but they're obviously playing very well.
Q. Bill, part of the identity of the team is playing closer than expected, having to rally back against some of these teams. You lose to TCU. How do you think that would translate going into the tournament?
COACH SELF: A loss?
Q. No. Just your identity, the way you played.
COACH SELF: I do think the one thing -- you know, our league is really good and when you play good teams in your league, you're naturally going to play close games, especially away from home. You play at Kentucky, it's going to be close. You play Duke, it's going to be close. You play Indiana, it's going to be close. We've played in a lot of close games maybe more so than a what a lot of people think we should have. But I also think those moments have helped define who we are have an execution and toughness standpoint when the game is on the line on both ends.
Q. Devonte' and Frank, just your thoughts of going back to Kansas City, getting another shot at the Sprint Center?
DEVONTE' GRAHAM: Well, I'm excited. Why wouldn't we be excited to play in our hometown, in our own state in front of the best fans in the world. So I'm excited to get back and redeem myself in the Sprint Center, I guess you could say.
FRANK MASON, III: It doesn't really matter where we play, but it's Kansas basketball. And we get a chance to play 35 miles away from Lawrence, and I think it's just great for the fans and for us to get a chance to play there for the Sweet 16. So we're all excited.
Q. Coach, when you put in Coleby, what was the message to him and was that kind of the defense you expected him to play against ward?
COACH SELF: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly what we knew. But we went with Carlton early and Carlton had a hard time with him from a size standpoint. So we went with Dwight when Landen picked up his third, and we probably should have done it sooner. But I don't know that -- one thing about Dwight, he's not that tall, but he is strong and can hold his position. And I thought he did a really nice job of holding his position. And also, his ball screen defense was super, probably as good as any big guy we had today.
Q. Bill, it's a little bit rare that two coaches with National Championship pedigrees meet before a regional final. You've done pretty well in those games as well, your record before the Final Four. What are your thoughts on just facing Tom Izzo in this situation, in this setting, with a chance to go to Kansas City?
COACH SELF: Well, it was -- you know, there's a lot of guys out there that I think are hard to beat, and he's at the top of the list. I do think that they're hard to beat, and they run a ton of stuff. And they obviously are tough and don't give up easy baskets. You gotta earn everything. And typical Big Ten, you know.
But, you know, I enjoy and I'm sure he feels the same way of having Michigan State and Kansas compete against each other. It's kind of grown into a little nice rivalry. You know, they beat us in the Sweet 16 a few years ago when they came from behind to get it. But I have the utmost respect for him. You know, there's a lot of great guys that do it the right way in our business, but he's certainly one of them.
Q. Coach, speaking of typical Big Ten, for your trouble, now you get Purdue. Can you comment on just initial thoughts on what's awaiting? Did playing Michigan State help prepare you for that?
COACH SELF: We watched it. I don't know, did you guys watch most of it last night? But we watched it, and I probably saw 80 percent of it last night. I was really impressed because, you know, when you think of it right now going into it, I mean, they've got some guys that we haven't seen down low yet. We haven't gone against an inside presence scoring like Caleb and of course the big fellow off the bench. We recruited him, and he's a load.
So we gotta come up with a way to eliminate post touches and easy and still get to their shooters because they can stretch it from all the spots to the perimeter. And I could be wrong, but I thought I heard 27 assists on 31 baskets yesterday. So if that's true, you know, there's nobody that would execute in the half court or share the ball any better than that. So obviously we gotta do a great job getting the shooters.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports