With the college basketball season mere weeks away, Kansas, Kansas State and their conference counterparts filled the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday for the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tipoff.
Kansas coach Bill Self received the most attention and the most questions at this year’s event, many dealing with the NCAA’s notice of allegations against KU and the impact that’s had on the program in multiple ways. Self said answers to those questions would be provided at at the “appropriate time.”
Beyond the off-court issues facing the team, Self discussed the what the Jayhawks’ rotations may look like and how often they may play with four guards, the importance of a healthy season for Udoka Azubuike and more. Kansas will plays its first exhibition on Thursday night against Fort Hays State.
Kansas State’s Bruce Weber was the first coach at the dais on Wednesday and talked all about the next chapter for the Wildcats after losing Dean Wade, Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes to graduation. Weber said this year’s group will be both interesting and fun, but that K-State needs to work out exactly who will in the roles that trio vacated.
Weber spoke about being picked to finish ninth in the Big 12 in the preseason coaches poll, saying that while it can look bad from the outside, there are examples of teams like Texas Tech last year who aren’t thought highly of before the season and go on to big things. He also spoke about Xavier Sneed and what he went through with the NBA draft process.
Check out key quotes from each Big 12 coach and hear the full press conferences below.
Kansas coach Bill Self
*On addressing the NCAA investigation in Kansas: “The message … was one in which I made the statement, then I also said that we cannot comment to any details of anything going on with the allegations due to the NCAA process. I’m going to follow that. I’m going to stick to that. Certainly the things that you just asked will be things that will be answered at the appropriate time, whenever it can be answered. Certainly this is not the time for that.”
*On questions about his job status: “I’m really not concerned about that, the job status you mentioned. I know that our chancellor and our athletic director, the basketball program, are totally aligned in this … I do believe there could be a positive that comes out of that. That’s certainly one of them. But as far as my legacy or whatever, that doesn’t even register with me.”
*On recruiting during the issues with the NCAA: “Recruiting is hard regardless. When you’re recruiting at an elite level, you have obstacles each and every year that may be a little bit different to try to recruit. It’s something that we certainly explain out and are very transparent with everything going on. There’s not anybody that we recruit that we don’t tell them how it is, at least the way we know it to be.”
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber
*On coming in ninth in the preseason Big 12 poll: “Obviously it’s not great for your fans and selling tickets. At the same, time, for us, it doesn’t matter. Every year there’s somebody that’s picked eighth or ninth, seventh, that ends up, like Texas Tech, playing for a national championship.”
*On Xavier Sneed and the NBA draft process: “I think it is a stressful situation. I kept talking to Xavier about just smiling, enjoying the process, enjoying college. He has a chance to get a business degree, and leave a legacy at K-State. At the same time, I know what his dreams and goals are, like a lot of the guys. You hope you get good feedback.”
*Weber on coaching Team USA’s U19 team to a gold medal: “I was pretty happy and pleased, obviously not only won a gold, we won by a big margin, if you look at the plus-minus. Somebody asked me this a while ago. What we do is good, and it works. I think the thing I learned, you’re always learning as a coach, trying to figure out roles. We had to do this in two weeks, get them to not only figure out a role, take pride in the role and make the most of that. It wasn’t easy.”
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard
*On major roster turnover: “Me personally, I’ve been here before. Coaching in junior college, Division II, two stints of professional basketball, your rosters change not only from season to season, but even during the season sometimes. Our staff has some experience, some past work with putting together teams quickly. This year will be no different.”
*On early success with a young team: “I think success is always important. You have to validate what you’re doing. I said that year one when we got to Tech. We were doing some things a little bit differently, than Coach Smith had done. You have to have some success. Certainly with this year, with a young team, 10 new players, seven freshmen, it will be a key part of our journey.”
Beard also revealed that since reaching the national championship game a year ago he now gets free salsa when he goes out to get breakfast burritos.
— Matt Galloway (@themattgalloway) October 23, 2019
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton
*On establishing a culture at OSU: “I don’t know if it was ever necessarily about me or my anything. In my mind, I have a responsibility as the head coach at Oklahoma State to hold the program’s standards, to protect the integrity of the people who have basically come before us, who are very proud to know that Oklahoma State has been a great program over the course of its time. Maybe had a tough up-and- down stretch the last decade or so, but a program that they should be proud of.”
*On the Cowboys’ veteran players: “I can’t say enough about what Cam McGriff, Lindy Waters and Thomas Dziagwa mean to me personally. I’ll speak more to about what they mean to our program.” Boynton discussed those three players’ journey from being recruited by Travis Ford to a year under Brad Underwood to where they are now.
*On young players and roster turnover: “I’m excited about the whole group. How much they all will play as freshmen, I probably couldn’t tell you today or a month from now. Once we get to Big 12 play, it’s a different story. I’m excited about the whole group. Got a good group of hard-working young men.”
Iowa State coach Steve Prohm
*On Maize native Caleb Grill: “He’s a guy that really competes. He’s probably too hard on himself at times. But his character is off the charts. His work ethic is terrific, he competes every day. The thing that he brings to the table right away as a freshman [is] his ability to space the floor and spread you out.”
*On the NBA hype around sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton: “I think he’s handled it great. I think on thing I’ve done different than last year, I already met with him and his family, we’ve gone over that, the good, the bad and the ugly involved with that. I think we have a great plan going forward to where we can leave him alone, he can be right where his feet are, and that’s Ames, Iowa.”
*On Iowa State’s front court: “The biggest thing, strength of our team, a little bit different than in years past, our most experience comes from our three big guys, Mike Jacobson, George (Conditt) and Soloman Young.”
TCU coach Jamie Dixon
*On preseason expectations and being picked last in the Big 12: “Obviously we don’t have a lot of guys returning. Two very good players returning in Desmond Bane and Kevin Samuel. After that, we don’t have much. Obviously we’re not picked very high. I’ve seen is eight, nine, 10 out of 10. That’s to be expected when you return so few guys.”
*On roster movement: “[I]t is what it is. I’ve embraced it. We’re going to have transfers. When you make it easier, the rules, the grad transfers, the waivers, it’s got everybody talking about every kid transfers thinking they’re going to be eligible right away. That’s how guys are being recruited, kids are being moved. AAU guys, you’ll be eligible right away. It is the environment. There’s no surprises by it.”
*On TCU’s most impressive freshman: “[T]he one that’s probably been the biggest surprise, I guess you can say, we knew he was going to be good, but is Diante Smith. He’s probably more so physical, he’s tougher, better feel, a little bit more versatile than maybe I thought. I knew he was very talented, but really understands the game, has a real good demeanor at the same time. He’s got the ability to be a little bit more physical than I would have anticipated.”
Baylor coach Scott Drew
*On losing Mario Kegler this offseason: “I think first as a coach you always hate to lose anybody. When you lose somebody, it’s tough, it takes some adjustment time for everyone. Mario was going to be a big piece to our team this year. He had three 20-plus games in the Big 12, fourth-year college guy. It definitely hurts.”
*On being picked to finish second in the Big 12 and the conference’s depth: “I think, first, you’d always rather be picked higher than lower because it means people think you have some talent, some things to work with. At the same time every coach will tell you exactly the same thing: what makes our league such a great league is the parity. The difference between second and tenth, it’s a one- or two-possession game.”
*More on depth: “Again, whoever was going to be picked ninth or 10th, every coach will tell you they could finish first or second in the league. Why the league is, again, ranked the number one RPI, net ranking last year, RPI for the last years, top to bottom the best league in the country. Doesn’t mean much difference no matter where you’re picked, what people think you’re going to do.”
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger
*On adding a large recruiting class: “It’s a little bit unusual to add that many people at one time, new people, new faces at one time. Kristian Doolittle and Brady Manek and Jamal Bieniemy, the three guys returning, have done a terrific job of helping them understand what needs to be done, understand what lies ahead.”
*On surprises in practice so far: “[I] found out early on that the versatility is going to be a strength. I think the depth will be a strength. A lot of guys [are] interchangeable parts, chance to play bigger or smaller depending on maybe opponent play of our guys.”
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins
*On Derek Culver gaining experience last year: “I mean, he is not going to change how he plays. That’s Derek. That’s his identity. I think it’s given him some confidence. Other than that, I’m not sure what it would have done for him.”
*On potential changes in officiating: “I think the thing that needs to be called, if they’re displaced, shouldn’t be allowed to do that. I mean, obviously if it affects their shot, you shouldn’t be allowed to do that. But there’s going to be contact. This thing that we’re going to have a no-contact sport, those people have never played our game. You got 10 big, strong, fast guys in a confined area. There’s going to be some contact.”
Texas coach Shaka Smart
*On new contributors: “We got three new players, Will Baker, Kai Jones, and Donovan Williams, who we’re very excited about. They’re very green, but very talented. I think they can impact our team in a positive way.”
*On Andrew Jones: “Andrew is such a competitor, he’s out there working his tail off in workouts even with that PIC line in his arm. But his last treatment ended in September just before we started practice, so it was really, really good timing just from the standpoint of him being able to be full go with our team, with our guys in practice as we got started on September 24. His plan is to play this year.”
*On adding Andrea Hudy to the staff: “The things that she does mentally and physically with the players, with performance, which that’s truly her job, that’s all of our jobs, is to get our guys to perform the best they can in a game situation. That’s been probably the best part of what she’s brought to our program, is again the combination of what she does with the guys mentally, the ways that she prepares them, and then also what she’s doing with their bodies.”
Players from every Big 12 team took time to speak on Wednesday as well. You can hear from pairs of Jayhawks and Wildcats below. Plus, more from Bill Self, in which he addresses questions about NCAA allegations, his legacy, recruiting and reigniting the Border War with Missouri.
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