Indy Car Racing: Herta and Chaves Discuss the Upcoming Season

It’s a new year and a new driver for Bryan Herta and his racing team. Par for the course; Herta Autosport has a habit of making huge changes every year. Alex Tagliani drove a Lotus powerplant for Herta in the team’s first season in 2012. A year later, Tagliani entered with a Honda engine. Jack Hawksworth drove last year. This year, Herta will have Gabby Chaves behind the wheel. Herta and Chaves spoke yesterday at an Indy Car press conference.

THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to today’s IndyCar conference call. Yesterday morning Bryan Herta Autosport announced that 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Gabby Chaves will pilot its No. 98 Honda for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
We’re pleased to be joined today by Bryan Herta and his new driver Gabby Chaves.
Bryan, give us a little insight on how this agreement came about and what sort of impression you have of Gabby and your experience with him thus far.

BRYAN HERTA: I mean, obviously the impression was good. It really started with some conversations a few months back and evolved to agreeing to go do a test at Sebring in December to get to know each other. I’d say that went really well on and off the track. Gabby was highly recommended. Obviously his credentials in Indy Lights speak for themselves.
For us, we’ve seen from recent past that the guys who have been coming out of Indy Lights into IndyCar have been doing a great job. We had a good experience with Jack Hawksworth coming out of Indy Lights. Gabby was obviously right from day one a very competitive driver. It was just a case of how can we put a deal together.
We worked very hard to get everything together and we’re pleased to go racing together this season.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned last year you ran another Indy Lights graduate Jack Hawksworth. As a former driver, is it becoming more and more important for you to support the up-and-coming talent in the series?
BRYAN HERTA: I think it’s important for the series. As a team owner, I have to take a narrower view. Frankly, it just comes down to getting the very best guy in our car that we can get.
I’m very pleased with where we ended up this year. I believe Gabby is going to do some great things this year in the car and I believe he’s a guy that we want to try and hang on to and keep on the team for several years to come.
I think we can build together and we can grow together.
THE MODERATOR: As I mentioned earlier, Gabby Chaves is the 2014 Indy Lights champion which he won with four victories.
Gabby, congratulations to you. I know you were working hard to secure a ride for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. How much of a relief is it for you to have that deal come together with a team like Bryan Herta Autosport?

GABBY CHAVES: The relief is only temporary because as soon as the deal is done you have to get your head down and start focusing on what’s next.
As soon as the deal was announced, I was very happy. It’s been a long journey to get to where I am. We’ve had a lot of sacrifice, a lot of hard times. This is only just the first victory we can get out of it.
Now it’s time to get back to work and really looking forward to enjoying a great season.
THE MODERATOR: Gabby, I know you haven’t been on track all too much, but from the experience you’ve had so far, how much of what you learned in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system have you been able to apply and what adjustments have you had to make?
GABBY CHAVES: Oh, everything that I’ve learned so far in the last three years in the Mazda Road to Indy and the last two years in Indy Lights I’ve been able to apply to the IndyCar Series. Especially when it comes down to the first race on the ovals, the whole oval schedule that we have, I think that’s where it’s going to make a bigger difference.
I’m really happy. I think the ladder series is how it should be and it’s preparing the drivers, as Bryan said, not only Jack Hawksworth showing some amazing speed, but Carlos Muñoz having demonstrated the quality of drivers that we’re feeding into IndyCar is very high.

Q. Bryan, not only have you signed Gabby but you made an engineering addition with John Dick coming onboard. What do you hope to achieve with him and how do you think he and Gabby will have the chance to work together?
BRYAN HERTA: John was with us at the Sebring test. He and Gabby worked together there. I’ve known him for many years. I never worked physically with John when I was driving. He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for.
When we were looking for that right combination for Gabby, we had kind of an opportunity signing the driver first and making sure that we’re building a group of people around him that fits.
Gabby had a good experience working with John. Frankly for me, we wanted to pair a lot of experience around Gabby, and John certainly fits the bill for that. He’s been around a long time. He’s been in IndyCar for a long time. His experience will definitely be a great benefit to Gabby as he’s learning this year.

Q. Gabby, you’re going to be a rookie in a year where aero kits are coming into the season. What do you make of the opportunity to help develop the car with something that is going to be new for everybody throughout the year?
GABBY CHAVES: Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity. I mean, not only for that, but for myself as a driver to really develop and enhance my skills at developing the car.
I think it’s going to be a great challenge. Like I said before, it’s going to be harder than ever before. Like I said, I’m just ready for the challenge and I’m excited to get going.

Q. Gabby, you’ve been part of a class of upcoming drivers that have had flashes of brilliance along the way. Reviewing your history with Star Pro Mazda, a couple that come to mind is Sage Karam and Zac Veatch. How does it feel to come up with a full season Verizon IndyCar Series ride before Sage and Zac?
GABBY CHAVES: I mean, I don’t ever try to take anything away from anyone. But I guess before Zac, you’d like to see Sage have a ride as well. He’s a deserving champion, as I am. But essentially we want to have all these guys get a ride, not only Zac, not only Sage, we want to have all the young drivers that are eventually going to be the future stars of the sport get a ride.
It’s a difficult question to answer. Mainly I like to be happy for what I have accomplished. I have a great team behind me working very hard to make this happen as well as working with Bryan’s team.
I think we’re just happy that we made it happen on our side.

Q. How did you enjoy driving in the Rolex 24?
GABBY CHAVES: I mean, it’s a great experience. It was my second year driving for the same team. It’s always a great experience. It’s something very different that I’m not used to driver changes, long three-hour stints. It is a very unique experience that definitely broadens I guess my professional career.

Q. After coming from Indy Lights, are you looking forward to competing again in 20-plus car fields?
GABBY CHAVES: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s definitely a big challenge stepping up. Obviously every time you step up, drivers just get better and better. It’s going to be a big challenge.
I think with Indy Lights, you can’t take too much into consideration the car count, even though it is slow and it’s growing thankfully, because when you look at how guys like Jack Hawksworth impressed everyone, and everybody thought he would be a nobody last season, he impressed everyone, as well as Carlos Muñoz in his rookie Indy 500 and his rookie year. You can’t look too much into the car count when you have to look at the quality of the drivers.

Q. Bryan, do you have plans to be adding any more drivers this season? Seems a lot of teams have a strategy to have many drivers because that allows to have more testing time with the aerodynamic kits.
BRYAN HERTA: Well, we are going to run a second car at the Speedway this year, which will be a first for us, running two cars. I think as long as that goes well, we want to make sure we keep the focus on Gabby and his program this year, that we’re doing everything we need to do for him.
But we do want to grow the program. We would like to be a two-car team sooner than later. I think we’re open to the idea of doing more races later in the year as we work towards hopefully a full two-car program next year.

Q. How is the change with finding out about Brazil in such a sudden fashion, how has that affected your plans going forward?
BRYAN HERTA: It really hasn’t affected us too much. If anything, frankly, it helps us a little bit from the planning standpoint just because you’d like to have your deals done a little earlier than January, but this is the timing we had to deal with. We got everything done. We’ve got a little more time to get prepared, do a little more testing prior to the first race at St. Pete.
Logistically it’s great for us. Competitively obviously we’re racers and we want to do as many races as we can. But we understand the reasons for the change.

Q. Being a car owner, I assume it’s always better to maybe have the same set schedule in terms of numbers of races. If they were to add another race, where would you most likely like to have it? Long Beach, Detroit?
BRYAN HERTA: I mean, if it were up to me, I’d love to see us go to new markets. As a racer, Road America is such a great track. Love to be there. I always enjoyed racing in Portland. There’s certainly places that we can do a lot of good.
Circuit of America, I was there for the F1 race. Beautiful, beautiful facility. Would love to see us go there as well.

Q. I saw the PR release saying the March 8th date that would make sense going with the PWC, coinciding with that, since so many of the other races have that as a complementary series, that’s not going to happen sadly. What else are you looking forward to this season?
BRYAN HERTA: In terms of other races, adding races, we’re trying to keep our heads down, keep focused on building our team. What I’m excited about is a little bit of a fresh start for us this year, having Gabby in. He’s very enthusiastic. He’s been in the shop almost every single day since we signed the contract, which is great. Really just focus on building our program and continue to evolve and achieve more and more results on the track.

Q. Gabby, Carlos Muñoz has admitted that Juan Pablo Montoya is his role model. Who do you consider to be your racing role model?
GABBY CHAVES: That’s a difficult question. I mean, I’ve had various role models throughout different stages of my life, even before I was racing. I loved watching racing. Especially at those times, when I was eight, nine, ten years old, I would get up every morning at 4 or 5 in the morning to watch the Formula One races where Juan Pablo Montoya was racing. I followed his career closely. As I started building my career, you started almost picking role models for who you wanted to be almost at that time.
As I started racing in Europe, I would take a few guys there that I’d like to follow kind of their footsteps. Then I came back to the States. I really enjoyed my time here and realized this is where I want to be. I started out in the Pro Mazda Series, then two seasons in Indy Lights.
At that time it’s almost like you’re getting so close to the guys, the IndyCar guys, that you almost want to pick a role model, but you don’t want to get too involved with that admiration because sooner or later if you achieve your goals, you’re going to have to go head-to-head against them.

Q. As a rookie this year, you’re about to embark on some new races, courses. What race or track are you looking most forward to in this 2015 season?
GABBY CHAVES: I guess I could break it down into two categories. I really look forward every year to racing at Long Beach. It’s one of my favorite street courses. So that’s definitely my favorite there. I really want to experience that in an IndyCar.
Then also you can never leave behind or forget about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s incredible. To experience that first in Indy Lights, getting close to 200 miles an hour, then to make a jump to being over 240 miles an hour, to me that’s what I’m looking most forward to this year.

Q. Bryan, with the cancellation in Brazil, is there any indication from IndyCar that they’re going to try to speed up the delivery of aero kits to the teams?
BRYAN HERTA: Frankly, even though it happened suddenly, I think IndyCar has done a really good job internally of communicating with the teams what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do. Obviously it’s all a little bit fluid still in a lot of areas.
But I don’t believe that aero kits are going to become available any sooner, frankly because everybody’s production is based on that March 1st date, and I don’t think there’s an ability to make any additional parts sooner.

Q. Have you been able to see any sketches of Honda’s kit compared to Chevy’s as far as the differences in how the cars are going to look?
BRYAN HERTA: I’ve seen some sketches, but we haven’t seen any of the actual production parts. I haven’t seen any drawings of the Chevy aero kit. I only saw the spy photos of Penske’s car when they ran at Circuit of the Americas. I am sure they have evolved a lot since then.
It’s a real point of entry. I think we’re all very curious and looking forward to seeing the cars turn up at Barber for spring training and see what we got.

Q. Gabby, could you comment on the importance of the scholarship prize that you were awarded with your championship last year with Indy Lights, and also the just the preparation that your years in the Road to Indy has provided you to make this step up to the IndyCar Series.
GABBY CHAVES: I think the scholarship prize, it almost makes the deal happen sometimes. I mean, I think it’s great that they’re giving the champion sort of a head start into their IndyCar career. Without the scholarship, it would have been very hard to make a deal happen anywhere. So I’m very happy. I’m very grateful that that program exists.
I think it’s not only in Indy Lights but the whole Mazda Road to Indy is coming along very strong. Ever since my first year in Pro Mazda in 2012, you know, just started building on that, getting myself familiarized with the tracks, with the people, the whole atmosphere. Everything is different.
So just to be able to work from those years of experience just makes my transition to IndyCar that much easier.

Q. As the reigning Indy Lights champion, talk about your optimism of the direction of the Indy Lights Series. And Bryan, do you plan to be involved again at any point?
GABBY CHAVES: I’m very happy with what’s happening right now with Indy Lights and the new car. I think that’s something that the series needed, and definitely is attracting a lot of attention, even new teams from overseas, new drivers, drivers that have competed in Formula One before, now coming over to Indy Lights. I think that’s great for the series. I think it’s great for IndyCar as well because it’s going to expand that feeder system. I’m very pleased that’s going in a positive direction.
BRYAN HERTA: From a team standpoint, I think we’re very open to coming back. We started our team in the Indy Lights Series. We wouldn’t even exist without it as a team. I believe in the importance of it, what it does for the development of drivers. I really think that the new car is a huge plus for the series.
From our standpoint, we feel like we needed to take a step back from it so we could really focus on making a step forward in the IndyCar program this year. But I would love to see us come back into Indy Lights again at some point in the future.

Kansas Basketball Coach Bill Self’s Press Conference

The Kansas Jayhawks, settled comfortably at the top of the Big 12 conference, will begin the second half of their Big 12 season with a two-game lead over West Virginia and Iowa State. The Jayhawks play at Oklahoma St. on Saturday, and a victory in Stillwater should all but secure Kansas’s 11th straight Big 12 regular-season title. Bill Self talked about his team yesterday:

Q. Coach Self, I have a question about Wayne Selden always have the best defender. Is the reason he hasn’t shot particularly well the last few games, is defense taken out of the play? What is your theory on that?
COACH SELF: No, I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I think his mom came to town. He got a new haircut. There is really a lot of important tangibles going on why he shot it well. But hopefully he’s on an uptick. I think he went 8 of 13 from three this past weekend, which, obviously, we’re a different team when Wayne plays like that. He was really, really good. He’s guarding better.
When you worry about the right things, I think you shoot it better. I think sometimes you put pressure on yourself to make shots when things aren’t going well, and he hasn’t done that as much of late because he worried about other things. So he sounded pretty well, but you look at it and he hasn’t shot it well like he’s capable of shooting. For the season, I could be wrong on this, but I think he’s right at 40% from three. If you had told me he would shoot 40%, we’d really be happy. Where he hasn’t shot the ball as well was from two, inside the arc. He needs to do a better job of finishing when he goes to the hole. I think his perimeter shooting has actually been pretty good.

Q. How much more dangerous is a team like Oklahoma State after being able to go on the road at a hostile place like that and find a way to get a victory?
COACH SELF: I think it’s easier to prepare for the next game when you’re in good spirits over the last game. So, if you play on Wednesday or Tuesday, by Saturday you would think that kids would have a chance to recover, whether it’s a draining game and you win or whether it’s an emotional loss, whatever, especially in league play where there’s definitely ups and downs.
To me, I think the two-day turnaround is more important for mental preparation having won on Saturday if you play on Monday. Losing on Saturday sometimes I think is more draining, and you don’t get as much done on Sunday which makes your preparation not as good for Monday. But they’ll be ready to play regardless if they had won or not last night. But if I was their coach, I would definitely feel better about guys being enthused and excited for practice and excited for scouting report and things like that after an emotional win like that. It was a great win last night they had.

Q. Brannen’s numbers from the three in league play are almost unheard of. Is it too early to talk about him as far as how good a shooter he is? And also your team in general is really looking good from beyond the arc.
COACH SELF: I think we’ve got a good shooting team. We haven’t shot it well consistently, but in league play, once we got into league play we shot it a little better. But regardless if Brannen’s stats are 40% or 50% or 60%, the guy can really shoot the ball. I mean, he’s probably as good a shooter as we’ve had since I’ve been here. Maybe from a percentage standpoint, you could say Rush, maybe Tyrel. I think Brady led the league in three-point shooting one year. But to me, Brannen makes real shots. He jumps up and just shoots the ball, and shoots it with confidence. I think he doesn’t take as many shots, but I think he’s probably as good a shooter as we’ve had since we’ve been here.

Q. Do you think you guys need to shoot more threes or are you okay– what have you guys done?
COACH SELF: I think game situations determine how many threes you shoot. Sometimes teams take away things, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they want to trap the post and take away their bigs and that could open up some things. Sometimes there are a lot of offensive rebounds, which create more three-point opportunities or transition which creates more three. I think a lot of it depends on the game. But historically, 30% of our shots historically have been threes. I think we’re close to being right on that again this year.

Q. Cliff has ten points and three rebounds in the last three games combined, and minutes are down. Is this just sort of the freshman wall? He’s played more than the other freshmen. Kind of a different situation for him compared to them, but is it that or something else?
COACH SELF: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s hit a wall by any stretch, but he hasn’t scored the ball as much lately. But if you look at how he scored in other games it’s off of penetration. It’s not off of catching the ball in the post and making post moves or scoring over people as much as it is drop offs and offensive rebounds and transitions. So I think Cliff’s doing fine. We can say his minutes are down, maybe down two minutes a game or three minutes a game or whatnot. But we’ve had some guys step up.
I thought Landen played really well the last game, obviously, against Iowa State. And he didn’t even play against K-State. So that’s kind of how we’re doing it. I know it’s not really seeming like it’s fair to kids, but we’ve got a rotation of 8. And if those 8 are playing well, we may not get to 9 and 10. If we’ve got a rotation of 8 and they’re not playing well, or foul problems creep in, which is what happened against Iowa State. And we put Landen in, and he performs as well or better than some of the guys that were playing the minutes before, so we run with him. But that’s how we kind of evolved. So I wouldn’t read into that very much.

Q. Getting back to the three-point shooting, it is around 30% of your shots usually from three. Do you have a system and then it just goes to that number? Orthopedic have you thought okay, that’s a good percentage of shots?
COACH SELF: No, no, we haven’t done anything to talk about that. It’s just the way we play, and it’s just what it is. It’s the way we play this year it seems like to me it would be more. Maybe a percentage or two points more. But usually we play inside out and that’s how I want to play. Even if we don’t shoot inside, at least play behind, throwing it inside, and we haven’t done that near as much this year. But theoretically, I think that’s a pretty good percentage for us. Maybe some schools are 40% or 35 or 25 or whatnot.
But based on our history and the success that we’ve had with our shot selection over the years, I think 30% is a pretty good number for us.

Q. Each year, how big of a goal is it for you to win the conference as opposed to being a byproduct of winning a lot of basketball games?
COACH SELF: Well, I think it’s a goal every year to win your league. I think that’s the goal of everybody that plays in a league is to win the league. So we’ve put a lot of emphasis on winning the league. We don’t talk about it a ton. We huddle up and say Big 12 champs at the end of each practice. That is sometimes the extent of our talk about it.
But it’s too early to be looking at the league race and say, oh, we’ve got to do this and this or we’re in pretty good shape. All we’ve got to do is just go play well in Stillwater, so that’s how I look at it. The Iowa State game, we never once mentioned the league race to our guys. We talked about getting a chance to play a really good Iowa State team. So it’s something that is important to our players. I mean, if you’re a team of guys, I mean, do you want to be the team that didn’t do it? Do you want to be the one that, obviously, wasn’t able to do what all of the players that came before you were able to do? So there is some pride there, and we’re able to sell that throughout a season.
But once you get into it, we don’t put extra emphasis on it or anything like that. I don’t have to, because it is important to the kids. They already know it.

Q. Iowa State didn’t close the way you wanted it to, and TCU with a little pressure at the end. Is that something teams are doing to you or something you guys are having trouble with yourselves?
COACH SELF: Well, I think that at certain times we’ve looked really good against pressure and certain times we haven’t. I think in the– in both of those particular games, I think the other team did a good job of getting after us, but I also think we did a pitiful job of handling them getting after us. You know, we’ve got a team that with Frank or whatnot, when he’s playing 35 minutes does such a good job in late-game situations and go get open on your own. Sometimes he doesn’t have the same energy level to get open on his own, and he’s really important that he does.
But I think we’ll handle it better moving forward. We’ve worked on it a lot yesterday. A lot. That was our whole emphasis during practice yesterday. So a lot of it is the other teams. When other teams pressure you, you’re going to turn it over, and when you play cautious and almost play not to screw up or play to run the shot clock out, I think sometimes you screw up more because when you really get down to it, it becomes a game where if you manage the clock right, it’s impossible for the other team to come back.
So sometimes you start thinking like that and, okay, we’re not going to take that shot. Let’s be a little conservative here. I think that’s when you struggle the most. There are certainly some things we can do to improve and tighten up, no question.

Q. Some of your defensive numbers have been a little better in conference play?
COACH SELF: Been a lot better.

Q. Field goal percentage defense, is there a key to that? How do you explain that?
COACH SELF: I don’t know if there was a key. I thought all along we had potential to be a very good defensive team. I don’t know if we’re very good yet, but I think we’re heading in that direction to be pretty good. But we played a hard schedule. I tell you what, folks, you shouldn’t even look at your overall season stats. Just look at your conference stats when everybody’s playing the same people because your overall season stats, you could beat one team, 120-40, and your scoring margin and rebound margin and all that stuff is not real. All teams benefit from it. We benefited from it. Other people benefited from it.
But the bottom line is I really think once you get into conference and you’re halfway through league play, you can tell who you are more through conference stats than you can through season stats. Our season-long stats haven’t been very impressive at all in my opinion. But our conference stats, and I don’t study it daily, but our conference stats from an offensive standpoint efficiency, obviously from a defensive efficiency have been much, much better. The two things we haven’t done well in league play at all is shoot free throws and rebound the ball.
We definitely I thought were rebounding the ball and shooting free throws better out of conference, and I can’t blame that free-throw shooting on competition. Usually nobody guards you when you shoot them, so you can’t really blame it on that. But we’ve got to get where we can make free throws consistently.

Q. Have you guys done a better job protecting the rim than maybe you thought you would?
COACH SELF: No, not better than I thought we would. I still don’t think we’re near as good as what I thought we would be protecting the rim. I watched the Oklahoma State game again today. I’ve watched it two or three times, but I’m amazed how many times they got all the way to the rim. I thought Iowa State and K-State we probably did a better job of not letting them get all the way to the rim. But maybe we’ve done a better job in the last three or four games, but I still think that’s a big area that we can improve in.

Q. On the defensive side of things, do you have an idea of field goal percentage or numbers want to be at like benchmarks?
COACH SELF: Not really. I think if we can hold opponents under 38 I’d be really happy. Historically, if you do that against good competition, you’d be really happy. A lot of people think under 40. But some of the best teams field goal percentage is 41 or 42, but they create enough havoc and get more steals and do some other things that kind of offset a high field goal percentage. So it’s all in your philosophy.
But in my world, if we could average 7, 7-and-a-half steals a game and hold opponents to the 38, 39 range and then be plus five or six on the backboard, I would say well, we’re starting to gain on some things. We’re still in some possessions and limiting other people’s possessions, which is probably pretty good.

Q. It’s within an hour drive ask still home country for you. Is it always going to be special to go back there?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I love Stillwater and I love OSU. We spent 11 years of our life there, but it’s not like it used to be. When I was at Oral Roberts and just left to go to Oral Roberts and we played there every other year we’d play home at home with them, that was kind of a unique deal for me, because I was so young and didn’t know. We’re going to go. We’re going to take our team and we’re going to go show everybody over there, all our friends what we can do, and we ended up getting beaten 39-42, I think.
Tulsa we didn’t play. Illinois we didn’t play. It was emotional for me going back there, our first game back here. It was a big Monday, if I’m not mistaken, and they had a final four team. They were great. And we weren’t quite as good, and I think I called three timeouts before the 16-minute mark because things weren’t going really well.
But it’s not anything different for me anymore. It’s just like going to Ames or just like going to Norman, except you have a chance to see people after the game. I won’t see any friends before the game. For the most part, at least that is the way it usually works. I certainly won’t try to have lunch with anybody or anything like that, and then after the game I get a chance to kind of reconnect with some folks. But it’s always good to see familiar faces. The place is important to me. Lot of people there helped raise me and that kind of stuff so appreciative. But over 30 years it kind of dwindles, the emotion that you have when you go back.

Q. The players are very happy for Wayne, had a good game a couple games ago. The game against Kansas State there was a lot of support. Do you see that with this team?
COACH SELF: There are a lot of intangibles going into having a good team. One of them that goes into it that I think can be so misused and you take for granted is I think they actually like each other. There are a lot of teams that you act like they like each other, but deep down they don’t like each other. Yeah, yeah, I’m happy for him, yeah, right, but what about mine. He’s taken my minutes. Yeah, I’m really happy for him, but he’s taken my minutes. That is the mindset with some teams, but I don’t see that with this team.
I think they’re genuinely happy with each other. They like each other. They want each other to be successful. When you have two players that are as respected as Perry and Wayne, I think our players genuinely care when they do well, especially when a guy maybe has been laboring a little bit.
We talk about Perry, he spoils us because he’s so consistent in so many ways, but he made a couple of tough plays against Iowa State that were huge. I mean, the charge he takes and making the basket and going down on his shoulder hard and getting up and being back in transition to stop them on one possession and things like that. Those are things that kind of go unheard of, but those are things that make coaches most proud.
The players get it. They understand when guys are performing well, and guys need something good to happen. Certainly Perry went through a little rut, and Wayne’s gone through a little rut, and hopefully they’re back out of it now.

Q. The other assist to turn over ratio for Devonte right now–
COACH SELF: What is he 32-3?

Q. 22-3?
COACH SELF: Yeah, I gave him too much credit. Yeah, that’s pretty good. It’s not as good as 20-1. He was 20-1 at one time. He’s done a nice job. If you look at it, Wayne’s made shots in league play. Kelly’s made shots or excuse me, Brannen’s made shots in league play. Devonte and Kelly, though they were making shots earlier, they haven’t really made shots in league play. We can kind of like this and that.
But one thing that’s been consistent for the most part is that we’ve taken better care of the ball, even though we’ve had 16 the other night, I still feel like we did a better job of taking care of the ball till late, and Devonte’s been a big reason why.

Q. You watch a game like Oklahoma-West Virginia, not that you’re necessarily rooting for somebody, but you understand if West Virginia loses, you’re going to be two games up on that. How do you watch a game like that? Are you coaching in your head?
COACH SELF: No not coaching in my head, but I do have favorites. There are some teams to me that I don’t necessarily care for them more than the other team, but there are certain situations we may pull for a team more than others. But you know, it’s so early and you want something to happen.
My thinking is a lot of times when you wish for something to happen early in conference play, it turns out to be totally irrelevant late, and it may end up biting you. So we just watch. We just watch.
It’s certainly nice to have a two-game lead halfway through it, but to me we’ve still got to play West Virginia twice, and that two-game lead could go to zero if we don’t take care of business. So we just try to watch, not get too hung up or emotional in what’s going on, and then just focus in on what we need to do.

Q. Iowa State late in the game and West Virginia, they really pressure the ball, Oklahoma State some too. Is that how much Devonte plays?
COACH SELF: He could. He could. The thing about it is Devonte’s going to play his 15 to 25 minutes, depending on how the game goes. And Frank’s going to play his 30 to 35, and Wayne’s going to be locked in and play a certain amount, and Kelly and Brannen too. It may be a little more, but it’s nice to have five starters you can play back there and have confidence with them.
So any of those combination, as long as Frank or Devonte’s on the court at the same time, I think any of those combination can be effective for us depending on who is playing well.

Q. You talked about practicing one way and scoring a different way about making plays. What is that like for the coach?
COACH SELF: It happens all the time. It happens all the time to all programs, but okay, this is how we’re going to play. This is how we’re going to play. This is how we’re going to play. And all of a sudden, foul problems dictate well, that takes away the low post and this and that. Now you tweak it. How do we get the ball to where we want it to go without doing it the way we’ve scripted it so to speak, and that happens all the time with all teams.
That is one thing our team has done a pretty good job of thus far is being able to adjust on the fly. What we did against Iowa State offensively was not anything remotely on film looking at it. That was really right to do. It wasn’t. But the way they defended the post, and how ineffective we were scoring on the post, and we’re just going to be a drive-it team. I thought our guys adjusted pretty well, and actually did a pretty good job with that.
So we probably practiced playing that way 15 minutes. So I think a lot of teams have a lot of things in their package that maybe they don’t plan on using. That was one of those times that we did something we didn’t plan on doing and it worked out okay.

Q. With your bench and the different skills you have like Brannen and Devonte and Cliff, are you a team that can bring guys off the bench and they’ll give you a different style? Does that make sense?
COACH SELF: I would say probably not. I don’t think our style changes based on– like if they’re trapped in the post and giving us problems trapped in the post and maybe our emphasis isn’t getting it to the post as much. So we’re going to try to twist something else up. But I don’t look at it like well, if we’re going to play this way, we have to have him in the game. I don’t look at it like that at all.
I look at it probably more defensively than offensively, and like okay, they’re playing two four men now, who is Cliff going to guard on the perimeter? I would look at it like that. But offensively we’re going to try to do things whatever our goal game plan is, regardless, we may have to tweak it within the game. Certainly it would be nice if we could say, okay, we’re going to go down, throw the ball inside and play behind that. But Iowa State didn’t guard a high post and they doubled the low, and that made it hard to do that.

Q. With yesterday being football signing day, what is it for you when it comes to recruiting a guy, there has to be one thing you see out of that player beyond skills that you’ve got to get out of a guy, and this is the type of player we want in our program. Is there one thing?
COACH SELF: Well, if you’re looking at what we look at when we recruit, I would say there are three things. I don’t know what that would equate to in football, but in basketball it would be how athletic, how explosive, can he shoot, and is he tough?
I would think in football you’d have something a little bit different than that, but in theory, probably something pretty similar. Maybe a receiver, can he catch? I don’t know. But that to me is what it comes down to. Then if you’re unsure on a guy, which we’ve been unsure on many, it comes down to basically is he tough, and will he be a good teammate? If you’re going to be a good teammate, if you believe that and if you’re tough, you’re going to find a way to help your program.
Now it may not be in year one, it may not be in year two, but it could be in year three and year four. That’s why it’s a little different with us, because with the really good players we’re recruiting, we’re projecting them for one or two years. With football, you’re projecting them for four or five years, so sometimes I think in football, at least from my vantage point, Dave knows better than me, intangibles can be more important than trying to evaluate that in football than in basketball. Like on Wiggs, you’re going to take Wiggs no matter what, or Joe you’re going to take him no matter what. But when you’re taking a football player that may need a red-shirt or this or that and you’re trying to project down the road.