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.


wrwlumpy 1 year, 3 months ago

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


William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

I'd like to see some of Jesse's stats concerning team play with EJ in versus when Naadir is in (only with the blue team). I think Naadir has to drive the hole some, just like EJ has to because without the drive we end up with our perimeter players standing on the trey line passing the ball back and forth until the shot clock expires. Perimeter players driving the hole disrupts defenses just like feeding the post in the high/low.

Driving the hole doesn't mean these guards have to finish at the rim. Driving the hole is about getting by their man with the dribble, forcing other defenders to stop the drive. Naadir needs to learn how to be an effective scorer without finishing at the rim. And the phrase for that is the "pull up." He also needs to shoot effectively with a high arch. He needs all the tricks you see smaller players use to score in the post. Let's not forget the art of creating space so he can get his shot off effectively. And how about some ball screens?


Chad DeShazo 1 year, 3 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.


AzHawk97 1 year, 3 months ago

  • I hope Rio ends up like some other KU guards that had some trying times their freshman year. RussRob came at of it pretty well, and so did Elijah. Remember Elijah's garbage time dunk as a frosh with time running out that got him chewed out by Self. He was so anxious to get in and show his skills.

  • Did Evan's two points put the all-time father/son scoring record out of reach?

  • Kevin Romary has said you can tell how the start of the game will go by observing whether or not the opposing team watches the Kansas basketball video after their lineup is announced. If they huddle up, they usually are fine, but if they are spectating before the game, they usually carry that out to the court. CU, Belmont, and Richmond all watched the intro video.


mikehawk 1 year, 3 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 1 year, 3 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.


Ron Prichard 1 year, 3 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.


Jason Keller 1 year, 3 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.


Jonathan Allison 1 year, 3 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.


Luca Rossi 1 year, 3 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.



NoteToSelf 1 year, 3 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".


bradh 1 year, 3 months ago

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


mojayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

THIS is a fun team to watch. Period.


Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 3 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!!


milehighhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Great stat, Gary!

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


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 3 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.


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