Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lately, Naadir Tharpe incomparable

KU backup guard credits brother for his recent emergence

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe pushes the ball up the court past American center Tony Wroblicky during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe pushes the ball up the court past American center Tony Wroblicky during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.



Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe signals "three" after hitting one against American during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Naadir Tharpe, who has been on quite a roll with 22 assists against no turnovers the last four games, grinned Saturday night when asked if he’d compare himself to another height-challenged point guard, Allen Iverson.

“I don’t compare myself to anybody ... Iverson shot the ball 20 times a game,” said Tharpe, Kansas University’s 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore backup point guard, who dished 12 assists against no turnovers and hit three three-pointers in Saturday’s 89-57 rout of American.

“If anybody, I’d say more like Chris Paul, maybe ... Steve Nash,” he added.

Tharpe, who has made nine of his last 11 shots and seven of his last nine threes, shattered his previous career-high assist mark of five set against Chattanooga this season and Howard his freshman campaign. The 12 assists were sixth-most in a game in KU history, just six off Tom Kivisto’s record of 18 dimes in 1973.

All in all, it was spectacular play in just 20 minutes.

“I definitely played better than this in high school, but I’m not going to compare a high school game to a college game. I had a game where I had 16 assists, close to 20 (at Brewster Academy). I just have a different mind-set right now when it comes to basketball,” added Tharpe, a Worcester, Mass., native.

The modest Tharpe didn’t list himself when asked who was “responsible” for his emergence as a solid sub to Elijah Johnson.

“I would say mostly my older brother, Tishaun,” Tharpe said. “We’ve been sitting down and talking to each other a lot, as well as coach (Bill Self) and my teammates encouraging me.”

Tharpe, who lost his dad, Ronald Edward Tharpe, to cancer in 2006, has a mentor and role model in 34-year-old brother Tishaun Jenkins, who was a first-team NCAA Div. III All-America point guard at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

Jenkins led Salem State to its first and only Final Four appearance in 2000 and was recently named to the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I talk to him after every game I play,” Tharpe said. “He always tells me what I need to do better. He tells me I need to take a different mind-set out here. You have to be everywhere on the court. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Jenkins explained his “be everywhere” philosophy in a phone interview with the Journal-World from his home in Worcester, where the former school teacher now works for Verizon.

“That is my thing,” Jenkins said. “I said, ‘Naadir, you have to have the will to make every play ... to say I want to make the shot, grab the rebound, outlet it. I want to get it going and finish it right. I want to play defense, do everything, whatever it takes, do everything, be everywhere.’

“Right now, I think he’s just figured some things out. He’s more comfortable,” Jenkins added of the main reason for his brother’s success.

The success has come out of nowhere. Naadir was at the nadir after playing poorly in a victory over Saint Louis on Nov. 20. He had three points and two assists, missing four of five shots in 22 minutes.

“He was down, almost to the point, ‘I don’t know if I can do this, Ti,’” Jenkins related. “I was like, ‘You don’t quit. When the going gets tough, you get tougher. When it gets tougher you get tougher and tougher. That’s how it goes. You take that motivation to get better and show what you are about. Meet the challenge.’”

Sensing a need to catch his brother’s attention further, Jenkins after the Saint Louis game told Tharpe of a conversation he had with Self last January.

“Last year, coach said, ‘Tishaun, let’s be honest. Naadir is not going to go and dominate a basketball game,’” Jenkins said. “I am one of those guys … my coach told me as a junior in college that I reached my pinnacle. I put signs everywhere in my dorm room to stay motivated because this guy thought I was as good as I was going to be. I told my brother, ‘Coach Self said you can’t dominate a game.’ I don’t know if that put a little fire under his butt. It seems it has.

“I think coach Self is one of the best coaches in the country. I said to him (Tharpe), ‘If he thinks you can’t dominate, either that’s a lack of effort in practice or you are not showing him what you can do. On the court, you are definitely not showing him what you can do.’”

That was about the time Jenkins asked Self if KU could provide a counselor to help Tharpe work on some issues regarding his dad’s death.

“He spoke to someone the course of the whole year,” Jenkins said, expressing thanks to KU and Self for the forum for Tharpe to speak about his dad. “When you lose your father, you lose your sense of security. You could talk to him. He didn’t make decisions for you but gave you options, methods, ways to go. When you lose that, it’s on you.”

Speaking about reasons for his improvement, Tharpe said ... “I just feel like I’m going out and playing basketball. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life. I know what I need to do on the court — that’s find people and get them when they are open.”

As far as his scoring 25 points the last three games ... “A lot of coaches that coached me always said I was a good shooter. Growing up, my brother always told me, ‘You’ve got a nice stroke,’” Tharpe said. “Coach Self says the same thing. He gets mad if I don’t shoot open shots so I know I’ve got to shoot the ball when I’m open.”

Self is pleased with Tharpe’s progress. He always has been a fan of Tharpe the person, who showed up for his recruiting visit wearing a tie.

“What a great kid,” Self said, adding of his game, “There’s no dropoff when we go to the bench, not the last three to four weeks with Naadir. He’s getting more comfortable. He’s more aggressive defensively. He’s getting where he can facilitate really well. I’d say ever since our team started playing well, he’s a big reason why. He’s given us a boost every time he comes in the game.”

Tharpe, youngest of five boys in his family, is looking forward to showing his new and improved game to big brother in January, when he’ll make his fourth trip to Lawrence to watch Tharpe play.

At the next game will be another loved one — Tharpe’s baby daughter, Amara Grace Tharpe, who was slated to arrive for a visit Sunday.

“I just love her. It’s hard not to love her,” Tharpe said of Amara, whose first birthday is Jan. 21. “You look at her eyes. They are so bright. It’s hard to explain.”

He enjoyed spending time with his daughter over a short Christmas break spent in Worcester.

“I bought her some stuff online as well as a couple toys, stuff like that,” Naadir said.

Jenkins said Naadir, “is a great father, a great young man. He has manners, morals, values. Honestly, I’ll say this ... you ain’t seen anything yet,” he added, laughing. “I’m excited, proud, right now, but this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this little guy right here.”


theboehr 8 years, 2 months ago

"I don't compare myself to anybody"

"If anybody, I'd say more like Chris Paul, maybe ... Steve Nash"

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 2 months ago

I thought he was comparing playing styles, not talent or ability.

Steve Quatrocky 8 years, 2 months ago

In Jayhawk terms, maybe Russell Robinson with a better shot from 3.

rockchalker5 8 years, 2 months ago

Lets slowdown a little. RR was a floor general. Tharpe is nowhere near that yet.

actorman 8 years, 2 months ago

I'd say 12 assists against ZERO turnovers is somewhere in the vicinity of "floor general."

yates33333 8 years, 2 months ago

I hope you are right next year. RR was a real anchor and ball hawk for that team.

Steve Reigle 8 years, 2 months ago

I thought he was just trying to answer the question. Maybe he doesn't personally compare himself to anyone but, since he was asked to do so, he complied.

tomkeegslovechild 8 years, 2 months ago

Anyone else think that Omar Epps, Mike Tomlin, and Naadir are all related?? Uncanny resemblance...

RJ King 8 years, 2 months ago

Thank you Tishaun for looking after Naadir. It's not easy being 18, 19 away from home, a student athlete, baby girl, and at the same time adjusting to the loss of a father. Sounds like you are both motivating him and providing a good perspective.

PS: nice article TK

mattiesdad 8 years, 2 months ago was by Bedore....that's why it was nice.

Scott MacWilliams 8 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Tharpe, I am so glad you decided to prove Coach Self wrong about being able to dominate a game. Maybe you aren't there yet, but it sure likes you are getting there fast!!!

You know he wouldn't have brought you here unless he had reason to believe that you would do great things as a Jayhawk. These things sometimes take more time than a young man would like, but you have stayed the course and man has it paid off!!! If you haven't already, why don't you talk to Anrio and let him know to stay with it, too.

As far as Amara's eyes, you are sunk, my man. You have seen the light that shines from within those little angels!! I have my own theory about what makes little ones so darned irresistible. I think it has to do with their phenomenal growth and learning rate, like a little slow-motion love-bomb!! Good luck with her!

Rock Chalk, TharpeHawk!!

TheBoHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Lost my dad at the same age he did. All I can say about it that It's a miracle in itself he made it to KU.

mae 8 years, 2 months ago

Be sure to get her some earplugs Naa.

REHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Has been a joy watching Naadir devlop. I have to admit that I had about lost confidence in his collegiate ability to measure up to recruiting expectation. A few weeks ago I saw him as a merely "serviceable" Jayhawk point guard. Was I ever prematurely dumb!

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago


Part 1

Most got fooled. Bill Self was. So were most board rats.

IMHO Naadir's case demonstrates at least two things worth stocking in the larder for all future cases.

  1. The Bias of Role Specification: In any organization, from international regimes, to states, to producer oligopolies, down to firms, teams, households marriages and friendships, where roles are specified, the specifications of roles act like institutions and bias the outcome of who can and cannot be successful in those roles.

If you specify the role of point guard to include touching paint and going to iron for buckets and free throws, and you have two guards that can, for whatever reason, only get in the paint, then you have two lousy point guards.

But if you redefine the role of point guard to pitch forward, or to get in the paint only to pitch forward and/or kick out, and your two point guards can do these things, then you have two good point guards.

Self had two lousy point guards at getting to the rim and challenging for buckets and FTs.

Now Self has two exceptional point guards at pitching forward and kicking out of the paint.

EJ and Naadir have not changed, nearly as much as Self has changed his expectations, and then changed their roles accordingly, along with a change in team scheme.

I posted last summer and again early this season that Self appeared to me likely a prisoner of his own highly successful experiences recently. By this I meant he was heading into this season thinking he had enough players coming back from last season's inside-out Final Four team that all he needed to do was plug in EJ at point, Ben at 2, and Perry at 4, and press repeat.

From the moment the severity of EJ's injury became apparent to me early last summer, I doubted EJ could fill Tyshawn's role.

From the moment I heard Self say Perry was not aggressive enough, and then saw Perry play, I knew Perry could not play Thomas Robinson's role and that it was unfair to Perry to try to make him do it.

From the moment I saw how skinny Jeff Withey was when he came back this season, I knew they had opted out of making him be able to muscle and instead leaned him up in hopes of sharply increasing his minutes.

Knowing Perry could not fulfill the enforcer 4 role yet; that skinny Kevin would have to play significant minutes at 4, Zach was a gonner; that Jamari could not balance guarding his role and exploding out of it yet, and that Justin had not improved sharply, I knew Self was in for a 15-20 win season, unless he restrung the bow.

But I was not smart enough to figure out how to restring the bow, i.e., to redefine the roles into a scheme that could work with skinny guys in the era of XTReme Muscle.

And I am not entirely sure that Self was able to first, even after he recognized last year's 1/4-driven, inside-out game was doomed.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 2

XTReme Muscle had conditioned everyone to forget there was any other way to play than matching muscle for muscle.

XTReme Muscle without whistles had proven it could knock any finesse offense (motion or Princeton) dependent on timed cuts out of its timing. And XTReme Muscle without whistles had also proven that hi-lo and pick and roles sets could not function unless you were strong enough to stay on your spots.

The prison of experience then said you can't run timed offenses, or spot driven offenses, unless you are big enough to out-Sumo the other teams and have a couple of guys fast enough and strong enough to get to the rim, finish and come away with 8-10 FTs per game, plus have two trey shooters.

As I said, I don't think Self saw through the prison walls initially.

What he did was what one is supposed to do, when confronted by an apparent strategic dead end. Start trying stuff. He tried Kevin and Travis at point. He tried Kevin and Travis guarding the point. He tried Andrew at the 4.

But the most important thing he tried was driven by simple necessity: he tried skinny Kevin at the four to get more energy and some explosiveness. And that meant that with skinny Jeff Self was going with two guys that by definition could not stay on spots.

Do you see the significance of this in retrospect. Self and staff could not even think about asking Kevin and Jeff to stay on spots. So they HAD to start thinking about mobility and about sliding off spots in the directions they were being pushed.

What then appeared to happen is that as Jeff and Kevin began to be pushed off their spots, and slide with it, EJ and Naadir were suddenly no long trying to force passes into spots, but rather trying to hit these moving targets. It turns out that both EJ and Naadir are quite adroit at doing this, much more so than trying to force passes into contested spots.

Frankly, I believe EJ has been trying to play this way since the beginning of the season, because of his injuries. He couldn't get insided and so he was spending all his time sliding around the perimeter trying to find angles to get the entry passes to guys trying to stay on spots, and that EJ instinctively began to see that he could get the ball to the bigs rather easily when they were shoved off their spots--much more easily than when they were holding position but being fronted and doubled.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 3

Self and staff apparently could not see the virtue in what EJ was discovering. They saw only that he was not being Tyshawn, not touching paint, not getting to iron, not getting FTAs.

But here's the thing: they kept winning...even with EJ not doing what they wanted...even with EJ hobbled.

The problem was that Naadir was well enough to keep trying to play it the Tyshawn way that the coaches kept insisting was "the way."

But Naa lacked the physical ability to do it at all and so he kept getting crammed and coupled with getting beaten badly on defense, Naa began to lose his confidence, and so Self had to go even more to his crippled EJ, who couldn't touch paint because of his injury, but who could guard.

But somewhere around 5 games ago, some what coincident with the end of any glimmer of hope of Zach Peters ever bringing the muscle needed to play last year's way, Self, or someone on staff, finally put 2 and 2 together.

If we start spreading the defense out, and going with the way they shove us, their muscle actually helps us get open and because both EJ and Naa are good passers it creates both easy shovel passes as targets are moving side to side, but also creates the half step our bigs need to turn corners and go to the rim for pitch forwards passes both on the horizontal and on the vertical for our good leaping, skinny bigs.

Sometime about 5 games ago, KU began to turn strategic weakness into strategic strength by systemactically redifining roles and the way the hi-lo was to be played.

Sometime about 5 games ago, suddenly the roles began to fit the players to a tee. They could execute the new roles very well.

HawksWin 8 years, 2 months ago

Thanks JB for the explanation on the new strategy! Anxious to see how the team responds to top Xtreme muscle teams. Would tOSU's "frustration" serve as a good sample testing? The new strategy/roles haven't been truly tested yet, but I trust this team has men (vs. boys) with "hard hats with cast iron cups". I expect our 4-5 year seniors' "mental toughness" that is already programmed will prevail.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 4

Alas, poor Perry, perhaps the second most talented player on the team behind Ben, was caught up in a revolving door and having to learn, unlearn and relearn way too much, when all he should have been focusing on was learning to explode outside his position as all good freshmen must. But Self realized better this than to continue asking Perry to play a role he was not ready for. Better pull back on his reigns and let him go slow for awhile and have him learn this new style of play as a sub, and have him ready to make big impacts come late January, or early February, than waste his entire season on trying to do something he isn't ready for, and even if he could get ready for it, the rest of the team would be stuck in roles they couldn't fulfill.

But progress, especially Naa's progress, isn't just about role respecification, or any other single thing.

  1. Neural Net Grow Together-I keep harping on this concept of neural net grow together because it is so much more fundamental and empirical than "lights going on." To reiterate, UCSB Neuroscience Institute brain scanning research has documented that human brains don't achieve mature neural net growth until the age of 23. Period.

So: when you are dealing with a young person from 18-22 that cannot do something, especially a young person with obviously exceptional athletic ability, there is a significant possibility that he REALLY cannot do it. There is a significant possibility that his neural nets have literally not grown together sufficiently to permit learning by reps, or learning by baptism under fire experience, or learning by needling, or by threatening to run one from the team, or by threatening to bench someone, or by making someone run steps until next week.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Note to online editor. I tried three times to edit the number 1 to read number 2 on the post and it would not take the edits and and change the post.

Appears to be a glitch related to some routine that triggers indenting that I did not insert myself, at least intentionally.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 5

To bring this issue into starkest focus, Michael Jordan probably got cut from his high school team one year, not just because his attitude was not right and his high school coach was trying to jolt him into reality. It was very likely that Michael Jordan, regardless of how much physical ability he had, could not do the things the coach asked him to do, with the attitude the coach expected. Period.

Similarly, it is quite likely that Michael Jordan, who wen to the pros a bit early, may have been quite a bit less than stellar early on, not just because he had to learn the NBA game, but also because his brain just was not developed.

More and more I think neural net grow together explains the sharp and unexpected failures of some OADs to adapt to D1, and of others to adapt to the NBA. Its not that they didn't learn enough before hand. Its that they couldn't learn enough before hand.

Its true Naadir Tharpe lost his father. Its true he has struggled mightily with this loss, as all do that suffer such losses. But it is also true that such losses never really heal. They stay with one forever. Something else has changed with Naadir Tharpe, something that has let a solid athlete that could not do much of what was expected, suddenly start to do it.

We saw a similar change in Tyshawn that took much longer.

We saw a similar change in EJ that took a little longer.

All coaches and players and parents and fans take it for granted that players' bodies mature at different rates.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Part 6

But some how they think the brain is not subject to the same varied rates of neural net grow together. And they also tend to think that if the body does mature early, then the neural net grow together should also happen. But it doessn't necessarily.

Some neural nets, even after grow together, are not robust and rich enough to enable the athletic person to fully utilize his/her physical abilities. But more often that not I now think they do. What I think happens too often and most unfortunately is that premature exposure to too much pressure, too much criticism, too much failure, wrecks the confidence of many young persons. Burns their not yet fully grown together neural nets into dysfunctional patterns that are then doubly difficult to re-burn more functionally.

Self's genius, in my opinion, rests in his insight into this phenomenon, whether it is instinctive on his part, or something systematically studied and understood.

There is a lot of legacy layman's language that hints at the fact that young people are not fully functional learning machines between 18-23. We know young people can learn anything that they CAN learn very rapidly.

But I believe we are entering an age of enlightenment about the fact that there are somethings they cannot learn until the neural net grow together permits.

I would submit that Naadir's neural nets have grown together sufficiently that he now learns very quickly whatever Self teaches him, that he has in the past simply not been able to learn at all. And its not because he's seen it all for a year and a half now. It is because he now has the connections necessary to see and learn what could not be seen and learned at all before.

Rock Chalk!

Robert Murphy 8 years, 2 months ago

Very interesting. Thanks for all your work on this site, 2013 should be a great year. We always learn more not less.

jaybate 8 years, 2 months ago

Thx, bfiss, always a pleasure to hear from you.

REHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

More excellent posting from you, jb. Happy New Year!

HawksWin 8 years, 2 months ago

Great insight JB. Heard teen boys need much more hours of sleep during their growth years than girls. Unlike girls, boys take more years to fully mature physically, physiologically and emotionally. Your Neural net grow is a logical argument.

ccarp 8 years, 2 months ago

Hard work and determination are paying off, keep it up Naadir! Talent develops and can shine at Kansas, ask RusRob, Thomas Robinson, Releford, and Withey. keep the focus, we need you; now and the next couple of seasons! I love the dishes of late, as well as watching you create steals in the paint while opposing big men lower the ball trying to figure out when to go up against those 7 foot fan blades. Rock Chalk!

Steve Quatrocky 8 years, 2 months ago

Agreed! He is living up to the recruiting hype now, a true point who has a good stroke from 3! A better shooting version of Russell Robinson.

And, Jamari reminds me of a Freshman TRob, before his scoring game emerged and he would foul out of games in about 10 minutes. His offensive game needs to develop a little differently due to the 2 inch height difference but I think his ceiling is very high given that he isnt a one and doner.

Its the four and five year guys that make the program and instill the right values of hard work and focus of continually getting better on the newcomers, even the one and doners who could easily upset the team.

Travis, Brady, Tyrel, Withey, EJ, Conner, Tyshawn, those are the guys who provided the framework since Coach Self arrived, set the tone, and then were enhanced by the short timers' extreme talent that in turn can only be demonstrated with a good team around them.

rockchalker5 8 years, 2 months ago

Tharpe may be a better shooter than Russ. But lets not discount RussRob, Tharpe is not on his level yet. As a defender or as a facilitator.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 2 months ago

Don't worry...he'll be listed at 6'-10" in the game program by his junior year!! :)

Woody Cragg 8 years, 2 months ago

Good copy Gary. True when you lose a parent you face a vulnerabilty like never before. This is just the type of kid that you want to pull for. At times it seems as Self can be too harsh with critique, but he knows much better where the hot buttons are to motivate & not hammer. Sure hope Nadir can get his degree and be all he can for that little girl. Parenthood is the most widely abused privilege on the planet IMO, & it is a privilege. So he has so much more on his plate than just hoops. But that can be a means to a wonderful future & end also. Good luck Nadir, I've a feeling you'll figure i)t all out. These are absolutely the best years of your life. Stand tall (no pun intended) & ride the wave.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 2 months ago

Good to see Naadir finally getting some love around these parts! I suppose that will happen when your backup PG goes out and gets 12 assists, along with 9 pts and 4 rebs in just 20 minutes. What a contribution!

It just goes to show that Naadir has learned and developed immensely every time he's gotten the quick hook from Bill Self, every time he's turned the ball over (which was a LOT last year), and every time he's gotten blown by on defense.

As for comparisons, he is certainly no A.I. or RussRob. Iverson was a slasher/scorer (not Naadir's game) and RussRob was a defensive stopper (also not Naadir's game). I would argue that he's got a similar skill set to Aaron Miles (a true facilitating PG with good shooting form...sans the greatness thus far). I'm not saying Naadir and Aaron are identical players, but the similarities in their style of play are there.

Like it or not Naadir is being prepped to take over as the starting PG at KU. He's got the experience of playing on a team that went to the National Championship game last year and now he's developing the skills to be a big contributor in games like that. I only wish brock and/or midwest_muser were here so I could say "I told you so."

Steve Kubler 8 years, 2 months ago

Couple of months ago everyone was talking about the big hole behind Elijah and the lack of a suitable person to fill it. Nice job in taking that topic and covering it with dirt Nadiir!

My babies have all flown but I can still remember that look. Once you see that and they curl that tiny hand around your finger you are lost, and happy about it.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 2 months ago

Go home and be a father Nadir. Forget KU basketball.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 2 months ago

Go home and get off your pedestal wissoxfan83. Forget KU basketball.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 2 months ago

Not a pedestal, I just don't like to see kids growing up without fathers.

fansincewilt 8 years, 2 months ago

Every year I wonder, "What are we going to do next year?" Some years back that was a reasonable worry. I"m starting to think that is not so much a worry now. It seems to appear that Coach really knows what he is doing. Remarkable! But, how do you replace a Jeff Withey? Who is our next year lock down defender that is around 6'6" or so? I really don't think we have a worry. I think I will just enjoy this year's ride. It looks like it could be another long one, maybe even another trip to the final four but it is really much too early to start thinking about that. It is fun, though. I did not begin to guess the emergence of Young or Tharpe. Wow, was I off! I'm not going to worry about these freshmen either. They will be ready next year. Self just may be the best coach in college basketball. It is really interesting to hear those talk of Ohio State after their dismantling by Self. Before, they were one of the top teams in the country. Then, after Self, they are not. Even after Duke edged them out for a victory, they were still considered one of the best. Some now have them the fourth best in the Big 10. We'll see.

Thomas Michaud 8 years, 2 months ago

When Doc gets another opportunity to coach again, and the Director for Basketball Operations opens up, I nominate Tishaun Jenkins to take the spot.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 2 months ago

It's great to see Tharpe getting through those screens, instead of going behind them! I hope he keeps pushing his limits this year with all the veteran support because next year, he's our will be Tharpe's team. For now, let's focus on winnig the Big 12 and playing into April.

Rockinhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

I took my kids to bill self basketball camp last summer. Tharpe was far and away the most engaging and fun player with the kids. My boys loved playing hoops with him and he genuinely seemed to enjoy it. I've always had high hopes for him since meeting him in person and seeing his great personality up close.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 2 months ago

That's a great compliment and a reason that we're lucky to have Naadir as a Jayhawk. I was very unsure of his playing ability, but that's only because I'm a rabid fan. Now when Naadir entiers the game, he impacts the game immediately with a pass, defense, or shot. He'll help lead our very young team next year, and I have no fears now.

If Self had known that Naadir would play this way back in the summer, he would not have been scrambling to find Johnsons's backup. Now, I don't think of Naadir of a "back-up," but as one of our more capable players who would start on many teams in the Big12.

KansasComet 8 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like an excellent older brother. I love watching this young man develop as a basketball player. He is only going to get better!!

Steve Reigle 8 years, 2 months ago

Naadir is not only a good basketball player, he seems to be the kind of young man I like to see as a representative of the University of Kansas.

Adrian Meneses 8 years, 2 months ago

KuGrad listed 7 players above of which 5 of them had red shirted thus helping them to develope into the players we love to watch game in & game out. I am as ecstatic as any jay hawk fan is at the progress Nadir has made thus far into his sophomore campaign, but as far as being a shoe-in for the starting/leader of this team role for next year is still up in the air. Next years team is gonna be very young which is unconventional for a HCBS team, i have a feeling he's gonna let the young-ins play more minutes then what we r accustomed to seeing. I would love if Nadir can continue this level of performance week in & week out during conference play where we have 2 games every week, which would then prove to coach that he is ready to handle that role. My question is Tharpe seems to me another player that would benefit from having a 5th yr., if so when is that redshirt yr gonna be? With the level talent coming in next year would it be smart for him to take it next yr while providing his experience in practice everyday and teaching from the bench during games. I just don't see him as a 4yr player and waiting to redshirt between his jr & sr year.

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely 0.00% chance Naadir takes a red-shirt (unless he were to get hurt for a season)...Taken from the words of Samir Nahenanaja: Yes, This is horrible! This idea.

DI77ON 8 years, 2 months ago

Unrelated to this article, but here is the team celebrating in the locker room:

Tony Bandle 8 years, 2 months ago

BenMac even got Perry to smile with this act!!! Great rythm and fine moves!!!!!!!

Adrian Meneses 8 years, 2 months ago

Yeah I saw that too, nice to see Rio getting in on the action!

Adrian Meneses 8 years, 2 months ago

Rock, at which part that? That he couldn't benefit from a 5th yr, or that I think that he needs to prove his recent awesome play as of the last 4 games to continue on thru conference play to solidify his starting spot for next yr. Or that that next years crop of freshman aren't gonna give him serious competition for a starting spot come conference play. Please be more specific in your concerns, add some content please. Not just " r u serious "complaints, that's not adding any insight to your distaste of my opinionated question!

Sam Constance 8 years, 2 months ago

I think that he wonders if you have ever watched a Bill Self team before when you suggest things like having a Junior point guard take a redshirt so that we can have..., WHO, exactly, run the point?

Undersized combo guard Conner Frankamp? Or 3-star Frank Mason?

Or maybe you're looking at Anrio Adams, who hasn't even been able to beat out Tharpe on this year's team?

Maybe Tharpe could benefit from a 5th year. Heck, a lot of players that age could probably benefit from extra time to work on their game. But there's far more at play here than just Tharpe's personal development as a PG. If we're starting a freshman or a sophomore who couldn't get on the court for more than 5 minutes a game this year, next year is in serious "rebuilding" mode--I'd say 10 losses or more.

Adrian Meneses 8 years, 2 months ago

BINGO! WE R GONNA B In A SERIOUS REBUILDING MODE more so than we have ever seen in the Bill Self era at Kansas, we potentially will be losing every starter from this yrs squad! Dont get me wrong i want Tharpe to be the teams starting point guard, with thinking outside the box i am just wondering when & to what capacity. I want Tharpe to succeed just as much as the next faithful jayhawk. Just have concerns that with the in coming talent (Conner & Wayne ) & with Rio, who I believe could have a higher ceiling than Tharpe, potentially turning the corner just like Nadir has in his sophomore campaign. I would HATE to see him being the 6th man come the 2nd half of next season is all. And "yes" been watching Self Ball for quite awhile & he has always starts hard-nosed defense minded guards, and Tharpe is not there yet defensively, but I hope he proves it to coach before the end of the season. He just hasn't done that yet?

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 2 months ago

Not even close. Again no chance he takes a red-shirt... We aren't just gonna tank next season, for Tharpe to "grow" as you put it, and like MarchPhog88 says no chance we give the starting point guard spot to Anrio Adams, when he hasnt beat out Tharpe for minutes THIS season...No chance, none at all that he takes a red-shirt. I'll wager my house on it, and Bill Gates' house on it well were at it since its obvious as the grass is green.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 2 months ago

CostaRicanHawk: You are thinking way, way outside of the box .. and, respectfully, outside of any box of realism.

You don't redshirt a starter to save him. You redshirt Lucas, who, at best, might by midseason beat out Traylor as the 4th post player. Or Releford a few years ago when Self determined he wouldn't play.

You talk as if 2013 is a throw-away season. It may be different. But not a "scrap it" season. We don't have those at KU. We'll have top talent coming in and nothing better than an upper classman to provide leadership. By the end of the year, we might have a young, talented team ready to make a run in March (or win the Big 12 like we did in 2005 and 2009). Rebuilding here means winning the Big 12, or competing to win it. And still being a force in March.

Also, remember, we'll be recruiting top players. Top 20 point guards. Guys ready to take Tharpe's place. It would be silly for him to pass up a season as a starter in 2013-14 when his prospects in 2015-16 would be wildly uncertain. We could bring in the #1 one point guard.

Your suggestion is a "thought", but one that would be unprecedented. Can you find an example where a top 50 program redshirted a potential starter to save him for a year or years where the team thought he could be better used? I wouldn't bet not.

Sam Constance 8 years, 2 months ago

Great writeup. I've been impressed with Naadir's growth and development, but it's getting hard to find players who haven't grown and matured under Self's tutelage.

It also sounds like Naadir has an excellent brother in Tishaun. He probably deserves just as much credit as Self for Tharpe's steady improvement.

Benjamin Piehler 8 years, 2 months ago

Tharpe is the man.

Happy New Years, hawk nation!

DDDHawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations, Naadir! Your hard work is paying off!

MizzouBest 8 years, 2 months ago

Just checking in with you guys. KU looks great as usual this year. MU? Better than average, I would say......nothing special really.

I still really dislike the SEC......miss KU and Big 12!

Have a good 2013 everyone!!

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