Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Notebook: Naadir Tharpe challenging himself against Elijah Johnson in practice

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends against a pass from Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends against a pass from Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after Richmond win

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after the Jayhawks' 87-59 victory over Richmond on Dec. 18, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe and Jeff Withey

Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 87-59 victory over Richmond on Dec. 18, 2012.

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Box score


Kansas University sophomore Naadir Tharpe has some epic 1-on-1 battles with senior point guard Elijah Johnson at Jayhawk basketball practices.

“We get after each other way more than we get after other people,” Johnson said after watching Tharpe score a career-high 11 points while dishing three assists against no turnovers in KU’s 87-59 rout of Richmond on Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse. “I don’t understand why we are doing that. We talked about it. It’s something we are fixing right now.”

Backup point guard Tharpe, who hit four of five shots including three of four from three, said he likes challenging himself while playing on the Red Team (second team) and going against the Blue Team starters.

“I’m trying to not put myself on the Blue Team as much. I need to go against these guys (like Johnson) and get ready for the game,” Tharpe said. “My teammates encouraged me in practice to keep shooting. Travis (Releford), Elijah and the rest of the dudes tell me to keep shooting, as well as coach. I’m going to miss shots. If my teammates are encouraging me as well as my coach and want me to keep shooting, I know there’s a time it’s going to fall,” added Tharpe, who entered the game six of 21 from three.

Coach Bill Self said Tharpe had the “yellow light” not the green light as far as shooting the trey.

“He gets confused,” Self said. “He wants to dribble in there among the giants and shoot over them as opposed to shooting an open three. That’s the best percentage shot for him — open jump shots — because he can shoot the ball.”

Tharpe played 17 minutes; Johnson 28.

“Sometimes when I am in the game and look up to see he’s looking to get the ball and push it upcourt and I can just go,” Johnson said. “That is comfortable a lot of times instead of having to chase the ball down. I hope he keeps playing like this. I hope he gets better so he can actually pull some weight for us.”

Self was asked if the team has bought in defensively: “I think our starters have. I’m not sure everybody has. I’m not sure Naadir and Perry (Ellis) and Jamari (Traylor) have because Naadir has potential to do that. I think it’s still new to Perry and Jamari. I think they have made great strides. I’m not sure collectively we have eight guys you feel no matter who is guarding who we can get a stop and get teams out of their comfort zone. For the most part it’s not bad. It’s getting better. Kevin (Young) can improve in that area.”

Stats, facts: KU is 9-1 or better for the third time in the last four seasons and the fifth time in the 10-year Bill Self era. ... KU has won eight consecutive games. ... KU has won 61 straight nonconference home games. ... KU is 688-107 all-time in Allen. ... KU never trailed in the 40 minutes against Richmond, marking the seventh straight contest the Jayhawks have not allowed the opponent to get a lead. KU has not trailed for 293:36 dating to the Nov. 15 win over Chattanooga. ... KU is outscoring opponents 107-50 in the opening five minutes of games. ... KU outscored the Spiders 54-16 in the paint, KU’s largest point-in-the-paint differential of the year. KU has averaged a 19.4- point advantage in the lane. ... KU outrebounded the Spiders 46-26, for its largest rebounding margin of the season. ... Ben McLemore hit two of three threes. He has now connected on multiple threes in four straight contests, going 11-of-18 (61 percent). ... Freshman Evan Manning scored his first points as Jayhawk with a layup with 1:05 to play.


Ralster Jayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

BMac red hot from three for the season (61%). That may average on down a bit, but just wow. I like Naadir's cojones. Not afraid to shoot. Hit 2 threes in the champ game against KY. I think Naadir is a gamer, who just needed to limit the turnovers and become a defensive pest. He has the offense, which is great.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

I think that the 61% is just in the last 4 games.

Alex Peekeaton 8 years, 11 months ago

Tharpe didn't play against Kentucky in the Championship game.

Kevin Huffman 8 years, 11 months ago

Actually, it's only 39.5% but he does lead the team.

milehighhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Great stat, Gary!

"KU is outscoring opponents 107-50 in the opening five minutes"

Stan Unruh 8 years, 11 months ago

Great stat. The Hawks need to use the opening five minutes to silence the crowd at Ohio State on Saturday.

Adam Collins 8 years, 11 months ago

How many games have we started with McLemore draining a three? I would say at least three. It's been a pretty effective way to start games: Withey gets the tip, we swing the ball until McLemore has an open shot, 3-0 KU.

Scott MacWilliams 8 years, 11 months ago

I love the way the parts are all starting to fit the '12/'13 Jayhawk Championship puzzle.

Puzzlemaster Self keeps turning the parts, starting with the defense all around the edge to form the perimeter of the puzzle, the framework.

Then he fills in the sky parts with J-Wit and K-Yo, the Prophet and T-Relevant flying down the wings and BMc cruising the rims. Such a fast puzzle, too.

The second wave off the bench is beginning to find their places, too, adding to the strength of the whole set.

As usual, Rock the Chalk!!

bradh 8 years, 11 months ago

The announcers said that it was also Niko's first points as a Jayhawk last night.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

they said it was Niko's first points of the season.

NoteToSelf 8 years, 11 months ago

This team is a much better "starter" than last year's team. Remember HCBS had to burn timeouts in the first 2-3 minutes of the game a lot of times last year especially in the NCAA tournament. Hopefully they can continue that at OSU on Saturday "when the season starts".

Luca Rossi 8 years, 11 months ago

You beat me to the punch with that comment, agree 100%. Hope they can maintain the quick starts through the whole season.

Luca Rossi 8 years, 11 months ago

The team is playing well, really like the energy they've played with from the start the last few weeks. There were a lot of times last year late in the year & in the dance where they got off to slow starts and it seemed like they were always having to come from behind to win.

What were Rio's minutes like last night? I wasn't able to watch much of the game, curious to know everyone's thoughts about his PT and body language out there. I hope he sticks with it and keeps working hard, the kid has the chance to be a great player for us in a few years.


Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

his body language wasn't bad, but as Newell noted in the Ratings, he is still trying to do too much. He had 3 excellent plays though, to go a long with one or two bad shots.

He definitely was playing with a chip on his shoulder, but he seems to think that the only way he can prove himself is to go out there and play a bunch of one on one.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

Interesting comments by EJ on Tharpe.

"We get after each other more than we get after other people. I don't know why we are doing that.... It's something that we are fixing right now."

"I hope he keeps playing like this. I hope he gets better so he can actually pull some weight for us."

It sounds like EJ is being pretty hard on Naadir. It also sounds like scrimmages are getting pretty heated between the two. That can be a very good thing as long as it doesn't disrupt team chemistry. I'm guessing that it's just both of them having a competitive spirit on the court, and that off the court they're still buds, but if they really don't like eachother then that could cause problems.

My freshman year in HS I was constantly matched against our jr starting PG in practice. He was the best player on the team and I was out there trying to prove to coach that I could guard him. He would get very mad when I would steal the ball from him. One time in particular I stole it from him off the dribble in the backcourt two possessions in a row and he was cussing me up and down the court. But off the court we became best friends. So sometimes that competitive swagger can really become a bond even when in practice you're about to fight.

kellerman411 8 years, 11 months ago

I like Naadir but I still don't think he is worth losing Anrio. I think Anrio is a better investment for the long-term mainly because he is a much more complete player athletically. I really worry that he is going to leave.

Steve Kubler 8 years, 11 months ago

KU plays team basketball, as far as I can see Anrio plays YMCA ball so far. Yeah he is good, real good, but if he doesn't fit into the system he is not going to make it at KU.

kellerman411 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree but your game changes when you only play 2-3 minutes per game. He is young and wants to impress people so he looks out of control. If he had Naadir's minutes, he would play more team ball.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 11 months ago

Yes, but Naadir earned his minutes with hard work and a whole season's worth of criticism from the coaching staff. He turned the ball over all the time last year, but through repetition and hard work he's learned how to take care it. He's becoming a factor.

Rio, on the other hand, is still learning everything. He's green. He will get ample minutes next year, but this year our PG rotation is EJ and Naadir. Rio gets mop-up minutes for the time being.

Sam Constance 8 years, 11 months ago

Not an excuse. He needs to play proper team ball no matter how many minutes he is getting. Like Naadir last year.

I want Anrio to stick around long term as well, but how much of a success he will be depends 100% on him. He clearly has the talent to play big minutes for KU, but he needs to understand and execute the team game.

Curtis Stutz 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't think KU fans and HCBS can worry about losing a player. CS will develop players and the develop the team the best he can, let the chips fall where they may. I don't want to see 'Rio leave, but it's definitely not worth putting any of this season's possible success on the line to pander to one of the players.

Mick Allen 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with you wholeheartedly. All season I have noticed the similarities between Adams as a freshman and Ty as a frosh. Make an NBA play one time down the court then throw the ball ten rows in the crowd the next time. One poster commented today that Anrio wants to go one on one every time. Certainly I agree that he should be more judicious in his 1 on1 play, but when he is put out there with the coaches' sons and Garrett, I think he is given a longer leash, because no one else initiates any offense. As I have said on this site repeatedly, right now he is the best at getting his shoulder past his defender and getting into the paint. HCBS has said all along that Naadir is one of our better shooters. I still have concerns about his ability to keep his man in front and his ball handling ability against pressure. He made one great feed to Jeff after getting in the lane off the dribble, however I don't think he has the inclination or the athleticism to do that on a regular basis. I can see him used more frequently as a zone buster along with White III. Adams upside is much higher and I continue to believe that if Adams is patient and listens to what coach wants him to do to get on the court, we'll be better in March with him getting a significant amount of Naadir's time. I watched 3 practices and Anrio has not been short on effort in any of them. We need him to hang in there and stick around. At some point it will be worth it to him and to future KU squads.

Sam Constance 8 years, 11 months ago

I think that's a really tough comparison to make, and while my memory of Tyshawn's freshman year is a bit foggy, I don't remember it shaping up like Rio's has thus far.

My recollection of TT's freshman season was one of great promise--more promise than a Rivals ranking and a few isolated plays demonstrating some pretty amazing dribbling chops would imply.

I went back to look up his stats, and he played a whopping (for a HCBS-coached freshman) 26 minutes per game, and had a positive (but not great) assist-to-turnover ratio while putting in 3 assists per game. I don't think it's fair to Tyshawn to say that Rio is cut from the same cloth in any way but the most general sense. Granted, part of that is that Self didn't have a lot of options behind Sherron in the 08-09 season after the mass exodus, but it's not like the options in front of Rio (Elijah and Naadir) are so much better than the options that were in front of Tyshawn (Sherron and I suppose Tyrel).

The other thing that I really think sets Rio apart from Tyshawn is the passing. Tyshawn was enigmatic, but seemed to have an interest in distributing as much as the one-on-one bit that seems to be Rio's primary focus. That being said, in fairness to your argument, if you extrapolated Rio's stats out to minutes similar to Tyshawn's freshman minutes, you get assist/turnover stats that are pretty similar. 3ish assists to 2.5ish turnovers. Of course, extrapolating those stats is problematic, given how small the sample size is and the fact that those stats are being earned in garbage time.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 11 months ago

"KU is 688-107 all-time in Allen" I'm not sure why but this really surprised me. For some reason, I thought this number would be much higher. With over 2000 program wins, it seems like more of them would have been in Allen. Allen opened in 1955, so we have played there for 57 years. That would be an average of 12 wins per year. I guess that is about right, but it just seems low.

dylans 8 years, 11 months ago

You've gotten used to today's expanded schedule and Bill's level of success has us terribly spoiled.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 11 months ago

No argument from me on that one. I did try to think about how many home games we have each year. Out of about 30 regular season games, take out mid-season or holiday tournaments, take out road games, I think there are about 15 home games each year not counting exhibition. So, 12 wins is still a pretty good average over 57 years. Plus, I know that we didn't always have that many home games each year. Still, I think in the distant past, KU probably got to play some tournament games at home that would count toward the total. All in all, an impressive statistic that seemed low at first glance.

Tom Gillaspie 8 years, 11 months ago

Works out to about 87%, not bad considering some of the lean years

HawkKlaw 8 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, the early leads have helped KU immensely this season. I give a lot of the credit to Ben McLemore. He comes out and nails jump shots from the get-go. The weird (and good) thing about this team is that they have the killer instinct early in the game. If Self can coach them up to become great finishers, the sky is the limit in March.

As for Naadir and Elijah, I think it's just a case of the old dog being annoyed by the young pup. I personally think it will be great for the team (and Naadir) in the long run. It says a lot about Naadir's character that he doesn't back down from the senior starting PG and chooses (is not forced) to go head-to-head against him in practice. That's probably one of the big reasons why Bill Self is confident enough in Tharpe's abilities to give him 17 mpg; he's proven he can do it against one of the best players on the team.

I also feel like this is the year where Naadir (and his coaches/teammates) are realizing that he is going to be the future starting PG at KU for potentially the next 2 seasons. They're toughening him up right now. I still see him getting the quick hook and getting yelled at by Bill Self when he screws up (though it's not as quick a hook as last season's).

And for all that has been said about Naadir, it's pretty tough to argue with his stat line: 11 pts (3-4 from three), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers. That's really solid production from a backup PG. And it wasn't just against Richmond; he's had a few very solid games (stat-wise) this season.

As for the defense, Self is right - the starting squad is pretty locked down on defense. Naadir, Perry and Jamari all have some strides to make before they're going to be considered "lock down." It's good to hear Self say that Tharpe has the potential to be a good defender though. It's just one of those things that will take time.

Robert Brock 8 years, 11 months ago

Naadir's defense is atrocious; I don't know if he will ever improve that part of his game enough to play significant minutes in important games.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 11 months ago

Naadir's D may not be great, but I would hesitate to call it "atrocious."

I know my opinion won't be a popular one around here, but the writing is on the wall: Bill Self & Co. are preparing Naadir to be the starter for next season (and possibly the season after that). No way he'd be playing a sophomore 17 minutes a game with the regular rotation guys if he didn't expect Naadir to be a factor going forward (see: Niko or Christian's playing time).

And Self said it best: Naadir has the potential to become a decent defender. He will probably never be a "lock down" defender, but Bill Self obviously believes Naadir can get to the point where he's not a major liability on defense. And offensively, he's playing as well as KU needs him to.

You didn't see it last season, but this season you will see Naadir get significant minutes in most of the Big XII and NCAA tournament games.

mikehawk 8 years, 11 months ago

The blowouts are great, and I love them as much as anybody. But, in case anyone is listening to Coach as noted in his post game comments, the only time this year it was close and we needed a basket and stops to win, it didn't happen. We lost. Last year's team had more close games and some memorable come from behind games under pressure. I think this helped carry them in post season (see Purdue) as they never panicked and thrived under pressure. The one KU fan we can count on who is not into the Blue Kool Aid over this team is...thank God, HCBS. We'll know more after Saturday about this team, which has been already stated. An early Christmas gift for the Hawks may be a close game under pressure to win rather than another blow out. The KU nation and team right now is as high as a kite (I'm right there with them) and we need some clean and sober living.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree and I was thinking about this a lot last night: Last year we lost a couple really tough games to start the season. I think it's no coincidence that last year's team was more ready for the postseason than most of Bill Self's previous teams because of those tough early losses. But this year we've had a lot of "gimme" games, which might come back to bite us at the end of the season.

We'll know a lot more about this team after Saturday's game.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 11 months ago

True that those games were easy wins, but they weren't expected to be that easy. This team seems to have developed the killer instinct, thank goodness, instead of only playing as hard as they have to in order to win. None of that "playing down to the competition" from this group.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

Can someone sneak the video in at Ohio State on Saturday....oh wait..never mind, OSU has already seen the video and the live version!!! :)

Chad DeShazo 8 years, 11 months ago

I think there's been a little too much hype about the teams KU has played the past three games. Of course HCBS builds them up... he has to in order to motivate his team. But I don't think any of the three past teams we played were all that good. Take a look at the teams that those teams have beaten in order to get their nice records... Richmond won in OT to James Madison and William & Mary and lost (badly) to Ohio. Belmont lost to Northeastern and VCU. Colorado had a fluke early win against Baylor but their record isn't all that either. I think Saturday is going to be a real test.

Sam Constance 8 years, 11 months ago

Well, they weren't world beaters, but the last three teams we've played have been ranked #63, #32 and #71 in Ken Pomeroy's real-time rankings.

Those are decent teams that should be considered the same type KU might meet in the first or second round of the NCAA tournament.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

Their accumulative records before meeting us was something like 25-5 and each is supposed to contend for their respective league titles.

But you are correct..OSU.....a Top Ten Team, 9-1, playing at home with the burning memory of two brutal losses to KU....this could be ugly...yet, it is Thad Matta coaching..... :)

Sam Constance 8 years, 11 months ago

Speaking of OSU, I found their Pomeroy profile rather interesting:

They are rated #8, right behind the Jayhawks (#7), and have a pretty impressive pairing of offensive (7th nationally) and defensive (15th nationally) efficiency, as one would expect from a highly-rated Pomeroy score. Kansas is the inverse of Ohio State, with the 15th most efficient offense and the 6th most efficient defense.

But what struck me as most interesting was their list of opponents and results. They only have one loss, and it's a very impressive one: to undefeated Duke in Durham by a measly 5 points. NTS--not too shabby. However, they have exactly ZERO impressive wins, as they haven't even played anyone ranked inside Pomeroy's top 100 outside of Duke.

Their best three wins by opponent's Pomeroy ranking are against Washington, NC-Asheville, and Long Beach St, ranked #105, #142, and #176, respectively. Their strength of schedule is a 2012 Missouri-evoking 248th nationally.

Outside of Duke, they've only played one team that ranks in the top 100 of defensive efficiency (Savannah St at 29th) and one team that ranks in the top 100 of offensive efficiency (Washington at 55th).

If this game wasn't in Columbus, I would be somewhat expecting KU to really show some dominance, given how much they've been clicking lately. Of course, given that this is our first true road game and the fact that we didn't look so hot in our only other true neutral game (which ended in a loss), I think this will be a very close game. Even though Ohio State hasn't played and beaten anyone super impressive yet, they have high offensive/defensive ratings and took their only loss in a two possession game on the road in perhaps the second-hardest home venue for a road team to win in the entire country. I'm excited to see how we react to the hostile environment.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 11 months ago

I recall watching Naadir's high school highlights and being impressed with his ability to drive the lane and dish to the open man. He's just now getting comfortable enough in Bill Self's system to start doing it in games (I've seen him drive and dish to set up a lot of guys on the perimeter this season...just last game he had a really nice dish to Travis for an open jumper).

Another thing he displayed in his high school highlights was the ability to make some "pull up" jumpers and "floaters" over taller players. That is part of his arsenal, but right now he's more concerned with not turning the ball over (understandable since turnovers get him the quick hook every time). Like his ability to drive and dish, I think his ability to make pull up jumpers in traffic will come along as he gets more comfortable being a factor at KU.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago

Oh, for goodness sakes..that's just awful!! Why should Nadiir get a TV just for being a back-up???

wrwlumpy 8 years, 11 months ago

After watching the Richmond game I will no longer call him Naadir-in-the-headlights.

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