Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Self says Black’s breakout still to come

Kansas forward Tarik Black throws down a dunk prior to tipoff against Colorado on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Kansas forward Tarik Black throws down a dunk prior to tipoff against Colorado on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self hasn’t given up on Memphis transfer Tarik Black, who has not scored and grabbed just seven rebounds total in limited action the last four games.

“Tarik ... today he was the best player in practice,” Self said, praising the 6-foot-9, 260-pound senior on Monday’s “Hawk Talk” radio show. “I know he’ll have some moments, and I know he’ll catch some breaks (in upcoming games).

“He wants it so bad. Sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself,” Self added of the Memphis native who has come off the bench the last two games after starting the first eight.

Six of KU’s “bigs” played two or more minutes in Saturday’s 80-63 victory over New Mexico.

Black, who had two turnovers, worked two minutes, as did Justin Wesley, who had a rebound and hit one free throw. Perry Ellis had 21 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes; Joel Embiid 18 points and six boards in 25 minutes; Landen Lucas two points and five boards in 10 minutes; and Jamari Traylor four points, three assists and a rebound in nine minutes.

“Jamari has been terrific,” Self said of the 6-8 sophomore who had nine rebounds and five points in 17 minutes at Florida. “He makes two great passes for layups (vs. UNM). He’s playing with energy.

“Landen gave us some good minutes,” he added of 6-10 red-shirt freshman Lucas, “and Justin (6-9, senior) played late and did fine. We are a deep team up front, but with that being said, if the big fella keeps getting better ... he needs to be playing 30 minutes a game.”

The big fella is Embiid, a 7-foot freshman from Cameroon who is progressing rapidly.

“He is certainly capable of being a guy that could put up pretty big numbers if he can stay out there a little longer,” Self said. “He still gives you reasons to get onto him (at practice).

“He is a sponge. He wants to learn, wants to be a player. Certain things still bother him from a strength standpoint and things like that. He is very graceful on his feet.”

Finals: KU’s players continue to prepare for Saturday’s 11 a.m. home game against Georgetown while also taking their final exams in the classroom.

“We have a master final exam schedule. We work around the master schedule,” Self said of a list of the players and their exam times. “We had a four-hour window (Monday). The 2:30 (p.m.) range was the first time available (to practice). It was the same (Tuesday). Starting Wednesday, we’ll go at 11 (a.m.) or 12 (noon) every day. That’s the time slot available, which is not bad because we play at 11 Saturday.

“We’ll be in the gym a lot when we come back (from holiday break on Dec. 26). We’ll be in the gym a lot, not necessarily practicing all the time. There will be a lot of film and individual improvement and shooting and things like that. We’ll be in there a couple times a day that can vary. We can practice any time on those days (until start of second-semester classes on Jan. 21).”

The players will leave for their hometowns after the game Saturday. Joel Embiid, who hails from Cameroon, will be the only one not heading home. He’ll be able to hang out with players from the area as well as coaches and their families.

“They get four days off, which is a big number for what we usually get,” Self said. KU will meet Toledo at 7 p.m., Dec. 30, in Allen.

Loud arena: on Tuesday deemed KU’s Allen Fieldhouse the “loudest, most intimidating arena in the country.” Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium was ranked second, followed by the Carrier Dome at Syracuse, Gallagher-Iba Arena at Oklahoma State and The Pit at New Mexico. To see the video, click here. KU has won 66-straight games against nonconference competition in Allen.

Wiggins one, Embiid three: ESPN’s Chad Ford on Tuesday updated his rankings of college players for the NBA Draft. KU’s Andrew Wiggins remains Ford’s No. 1 prospect for the draft. Embiid is the third overall pick, behind Duke’s Jabari Parker. Wayne Selden is No. 19.


Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

By all accounts, Black has been a team leader and tutor to the KU big men. For that alone he should be praised.

Craig Carr 7 years, 11 months ago

Selden #19? If so, he should go. Seems like a great kid and I don't know how he would ever go higher.

Clarence Haynes 7 years, 11 months ago

Disagree! Don't think Selden has shown everything that he is capable of.

Nick Adams 7 years, 11 months ago

So after watching 10 games you've decided Selden will never go higher than 19? Where did you think Withey, the twins, TRob, and Cole would get drafted after 10 games? Most didn't even think the Morris twins could dunk halfway through their freshman year.

RJ King 7 years, 11 months ago

Apples to oranges. The players you mention are all bigs. Guards and bigs generally have had very different trajectories in their development (as compared to guards) between ages 18-21. NBA draft choices appears to reflect this

Also, Withey, the twins, TRobb and Cole were never in the discussion for the upcoming draft when they were freshman. Selden is. This is a completely different scenario.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

Apples to oranges? How about Brandon Rush.. He seemed to be a similar type of player. Or how about Ben McLemore, he might have been redshirted but I'm sure practicing against some of the top players in college basketball and having been coached by Bill Self for two years didn't exactly hurt his position in the lottery. Both of these players seem to be fair comparisons to Selden.

And bigs certainly weren't the only ones who gained experience from one year to the next. Tyshawn Taylor, Collins, Reed, Tharpe, Mario, Travis Releford, Russell Rob all seemed to have improved throughout their career at KU. Maybe if Selby or Xavier stayed a second year, they might have had more success in the NBA.. at least to this point in time.

Elias Dunlavy 7 years, 11 months ago

Are you kidding?! That means he comes back for a year or two and becomes a top 10 pick.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't know either. Seems that KU players never improve from one season to the next. Look at the Morris brothers, TRob, Withey, Kuan, Tyshawn, Cole, Releford.... and so on.

I don't understand why these guys never improve. I'm sure Robinson or Cole would have been lottery picks after their freshman seasons. Staying after their freshman years was just a complete waste of everyone's time. We should have taken back their scholarships and bring in more NBA ready freshman.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 11 months ago

If I'm the NBA exec, I take Embiid over Wiggins. Joel is the once in a decade player they proclaimed Wiggins is. In my humble opinion, in basketball the team with the best interior presence wins more often.

I'm not sure I agree with Selden being on the rise. He has been too invisible to say for sure.

Evan Bilyeu 7 years, 11 months ago

Yes but going with Embiid is a risky move, they would rather take whats in front of them depending on how desperate the team is, if you have a team that needs an instant impact, then they will pick Parker to be #1 overall.

Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

And doesn't every team drafting #1 overall typically need an "instant impact" player?

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

And why is that? Wouldn't the team draft the player that fulfills their most pressing need?

If a team is looking for a talented big man with a huge upside than Embiid most likely would be their first pick but if they find themselves needing a PG more than any other position than I'm going with either Marcus Smart or Keith Appling.

Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

It will depend entirely on which team is drafting in which order. With Wiggins, Embiid, Parker, Smart and Randle, teams will be able to fill whatever they think is their most glaring need.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

If I was an NBA exec and I had to pick either Wiggins or Embiid... I would be a happy man as I think both will be NBA stars barring any major injuries.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 11 months ago

Self will probably have to let Black play through his fouls or else he'll never get the PT to show his skills. Kansas has a bunch of vocal fans everywhere. This years road games to TCU, UT and TT will have Kansas well represented. Tickets for the TCU game went on sale a couple of days ago. Their place holds 7,412. I talked to the same TCU ticket manager this year as last. He told me prior to the game they had sold only about 1,000 (season tickets) but this game sold out by 11am...three hours after tickets went on sale...almost all to Kansas fans.

There seems to be a growing opinion that Selden would be much better off staying another year. NBA has moved him off the 2014 board. They have him as #5 in 2015 ( That board has Turner (1), Alexander (3) and Oubre (4) as early 1st round picks to go with Selden. If we land Turner the 2015 draft will be all Kansas with the 1,3,4 and 5 picks.

Mickelson is projected as a mid 2nd round pick at 45. The scouts all watch the Kansas practices, they must see something in Michelson.

Let's hope we can win some championships with this kind of talent.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 11 months ago

First, the headline is deceiving. Self never said that he expected a "breakout" by Black, which implies him at least getting productive or having a big game. Self said he'll "have some moments" and expects him to "catch some breaks."

We are 10 games in, nearly a third of the regular season, and Black's play on the court has been a disaster. One thing everyone can probably agree on.

What is concerning about Black is although he looks the part, his numbers don't bear out perhaps what we were expecting. I recall the comments of multiple Memphis fans when he signed .. basically, don't expect much. Black didn't even start for Memphis much of his junior season, and his minutes decreased from his sophomore to junior seasons.

Rebound rates per minute played -- Black was at 20.9 for his three year career at Memphis. 18.9 was the low per year (in the year he played the most minutes), and a high of 23.2 (his junior year).

Compare that to post starters their final years here - KY .295, TRob .373, Withey .275, Markieff .341, and Marcus .269. Black was more comparable to Traylor rate last season of .213. As another comparison, Ellis' rate last season was .286.

One astounding stat .. in Black's sophomore season, he had only 6 assists in 895 minutes. I have never seen anything like that before.

By my count, he has had one good stretch in 10 games. He scored 5 points in about 2 minutes vs. Wake Forest (he had one foul at the time).

Of course, we attribute his lack of productivity to his fouls. But his continued fouling tells us something, doesn't it? For a freshman, we'd understand. Maybe a sophomore. But this guy is a senior and for 10 games he can't figure out how to play a few minutes without fouling? That tells me something.

As Fraschilla pointed out Saturday, Black has more fouls than rebounds. That's amazing.

Black may have his moments, as Self anticipates, but I think it would be an incredible surprise if he suddenly became the reliable, productive inside player most of us expected him to be. Looking at his career numbers ... particularly rebounding ... I don't know why I expected it. It will be interesting to see where Black is 10 games from now.

From what I've seen of Traylor, and now Lucas, they both seem to be better choices off the bench right now.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 11 months ago

Darn good stuff HEM. I spend a lot of time in Memphis and am very aware of his performance there. However, with his hard work and physical makeover I was expecting a lot from him. I never expected Embiid to progress at this rate or that Lucas would look so good. I'm sure Self feels some responsibility to give Black every possible chance but he also has a responsibility to develop his guys that will be back next year.

Self wants Embiid and Ellis on the floor +30 minutes a game. That leaves only 20 minutes, max, available for the 4/5. Traylor would get 15 of those. That leaves 5 minutes, at most, for Black and Lucas. Black's PT window for PT is closing fast.

Steve Kubler 7 years, 11 months ago

I am wondering if the new rule emphasis is hurting Black more than the others as he's had more time to become used to the old rules and implementation of them and as we all know, habits are hard to break. I've not had the time or energy to look at statistics related to this but it would be interesting to see a breakdown of fouls per minute by years of college experience.

Of course you would expect an experienced player to adapt more quickly as well so maybe it's a wash after all and Tarik is just having a bad run.

Mick Allen 7 years, 11 months ago

HEM, I think HCBS's comments about Black are more intended to keep Tarik a "good solder" rather than he believes there will be increased production from Black that will lead to more minutes, especially in light of Self's statements that for us to be the most efficient Embiid needs to play 30 minutes and in conjunction with Coach's acknowledgement that Lucas has recently been a positive contributor. One encouraging thing for me has been Black's enthusiasm and support for his teammates as he resides on the bench for 38 minutes each game. I have noticed on more than a few occasions that Black is the first one off the bench at time outs or to celebrate a big play by one of his team mates. This is positive because some of the reports out of Memphis when he committed to us in addition to criticism about his ability and lack of contribution was that he was a head case and a locker room cancer. I have seen no evidence of a bad attitude either at games or the 2 practices I have attended. He works hard at practice and all our big men benefit from the physical, strong presence he provides, although as of yet he has not scaled the physicality back in games which leads to foul trouble and a quick trip to the bench. I believe the article underscores one of Self's many coaching skills which is being a damn good psychologist when necessary. I believe Self is telling him to stay the course and see what transpires. I agree that when Embiid is not on the floor Traylor[if he learns to stay out of foul trouble] and Lucas should get the back up minutes. Of course at times Traylor will be on the floor with Embiid. Our young squad, I believe, sees Tarik as the older brother who can provide them some guidance from his experience regardless of his contributions or lack there of on the court. The article was another there is no I in team statement from coach. He realizes a supportive Tarik is a good thing whether he plays 10 minutes or 2.

Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

I did not have any expectations for Black other than what he has been; a veteran voice to mentor Embiid and the rest of the young players. If he gives us any positive in actual production I consider it a cherry on top.

We need him to bash our bigs at practice and force them to toughen up. Both Embiid and Ellis needed it. Black has instant credibility in the locker room and has been a vocal leader, especially before the season began.

He has no future as a player at KU so I would rather the actual minutes go to Lucas, who has shown he can handle them effectively. I am thrilled with what we are getting out of Black at this point. I think he has been a huge factor in the rapid development of Embiid.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

Embiid needs a mentor? Don't they have coaches who do just that. Giving up a scholarship and only getting a mentor seems to be a pretty big investment.

Anyone following this team knows that Black didn't come here to be a mentor to anyone. He was wanted because of his size and experience.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree 100% with you. Why would he come to sit on the bench? He should have picked a school he could have at least played some minutes and enjoyed his senior year. He has one start left here, senior night.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 11 months ago

Maybe he's really enjoying his Senior year at KU. Maybe NOBODY figured Embiid would actually be a serviceable, very-productive, what a quick learner.

Black would do well to learn the phrase "nothing is given to you", and keep working his azz off, just like Embiid and Lucas are doing.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't agree the headline was deceiving. It wasn't ever stated as being a direct quote but it seems that HCBS implied that he did expect to see Black play to the level that HE expected of him.

I'm pretty sure that Self knew what type of player he was getting and didn't have the same expectations that most of us had. He had the scholarship to give and in the end, I think most of us will feel it was well used. Just having his strong physical presence during practice will make our other big better and if we get some productive minutes on the court when the other big might be in foul trouble or just need a break then all the better. The fouling propensity is something that must be addressed.

I think the reporter inferred the message correctly although without seeing the interview in full context, it's impossible to know for sure. Again I point out that our expectations and HCBS's are not necessarily the same.

I have been very impressed with the play of Lucas. He has the athleticism and now the strength (Thank You Andrea Hudy) to compete off the boards. Sometimes I find it hard to see him as he was last year. I believe his upside may be far higher than players such as Cole Aldrich.

Not so much with Traylor. He's more the type of player who slashes quickly and moves to the right spot. Some players never seen to have the ability to know where the rebound is going. Traylor is the opposite. He uses quickness over strength but he's no wallflower either. His body shape also gives testament to the ability of our strength coach.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

HEM The bigger disaster is your pessimism...

Tony Bandle 7 years, 11 months ago


1] The picture of the rainbow-colored KU rotation is clearing up and the ones left behind are as clear as black and white......Black and White!!!

2] 2014 starting line-up..Turner, Mason, Oubre, Alexander and Ellis...YIKES!!!

3] My atterntion span is about at Golden Retriever level so that's why I make lists of short comments focused on one idea at a time......uh.....why am I typing this??

4] Tarik just had the misfortune of showing up at the same time as "a once in a generation" big man walked through the door.

5] If you were the Toronto Raptors GM and you had the first pick, would you take the best Canadien freshmen or the highest upside freshman big man who happen to be teammates, ehh??

6] Loudest basketball venue I ever heard??... ..Allen Field House. Loudest venue I've ever heard??....the St.Louis TWA Dome during the Greatest Show on Turf days. 64,000 fans cheering at the 1999 NFC Champoinship Game against Tampa Bay. Sound level hit 130 decibels....parents were running to the exits with their hands over their kids ears!!

7] I'd say we have a chance of winning Saturday..oh crap, I misplaced my sarcasm font!!

Kye Clark 7 years, 11 months ago

2) You're pulling Tharpe out of the starting line-up?

4) As HEM stated above (and I stated maybe a week ago) Traylor & Lucas are better options than Black is right now, so whether Embiid was here or not I still would project Black as being at the bottom of the depth chart.

5) Hopefully neither of them have to play for that dreadful franchise!

Jack Wilson 7 years, 11 months ago

Oak: I think you just identified the only way that we get Turner.

First, on your starting line, you've got three post guys. I don't think there is any chance that Ellis, Alexander, and Turner would start together. Ellis isn't a 3 and won't be (in my opinion). You think he might be?

With that, the only way Turner does come to KU is if Ellis and Embiid both leave ... a top guy isn't going somewhere he might not start (again, in my opinion). Likewise, Alexander probably wouldn't have come here if he didn't have a real strong belief that Embiid was leaving. Meaning, Self told him it was nearly guaranteed.

And what was that Rams/Bucs game -- 11-6 Rams? One of the best examples of how a great defense ultimately can handle a great offense. The Bucs still lost, though.

ict: And as for your comment, this wasn't the first time I've stolen one of your opinions and adopted it a bit later as my own ... probably won't be the last.

Kye Clark 7 years, 11 months ago

LOL...I wasn't implying you stole it. Just illustrating that we were both on the same page and you were pointing it out today.

Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree. I think Turner ends up at Oklahoma State. Too many big men to fit in the rotation. Can't start everyone and I really don't think that Ellis is leaving. If he does, we'll get Turner.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

Think I will save this prediction Nostradamus. If Turner doesn't go to Kansas, I doubt very much he would go to any other Big 12 school

Benz Junque 7 years, 11 months ago

The loudest basketball game I ever attend was in 1988 at the Pontiac Silverdome with the Pistons against the Celtics. They set an NBA regular season attendance record with almost 62,000. It was completely insane. My ears ring just thinking about it. I still remember watching Rodman and Bird wrestling for rebounds. Fun game.

Titus Canby 7 years, 11 months ago

Loudest game for me was either the '78 or '79 game against Kentucky at the Field House. I was sitting behind the bench, heckling Kyle Macy through the whole game, and couldn't hear the guy next to me.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 11 months ago

I also was at that game. We had a six-point lead with approximately 30 some seconds left in the game and found a way to lose at AFHl

Rich Hetherington 7 years, 11 months ago

I definitely believe Tharpe will be starting as a senior! Is Mickelson a 3 or 4? Is Oubre a 3? If Seldon leaves this year, I think you might see Greene starting next year even. It will be real interesting to see how the lineup plays out with a projected group of Ellis, Alexander, Traylor, Lucas, Mickelson (we really don't have to have Turner with that group being here), Greene, White, Frankamp, Tharpe, Mason and Oubre. I don't know about all of you, but I'd say that group, with the rest of this year under their belt, will be a formidable lineup as-is.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

Mickelson is a 5 and will likely be battling Lucas for the 4th post spot next year.

Jerry Tompkins 7 years, 11 months ago

Why not talk up Perry Ellis? He's been Mr. Go-To all season long and outscored Embiid in the NM game. Embiid is needless to say very impressive, but let's not forget Mr. Ellis!

Kye Clark 7 years, 11 months ago

Something that Self mentions in the article and I have been on since the Florida game has been the play of Jamari Traylor. What has caught my eye in particular has been his confidence & execution of scoring moves. Against Florida, he had a nice drive & spin move along the baseline for a bucket. He had a couple nice moves against New Mexico, one in particular coming to mind was him putting the ball on the floor and driving the lane for a lay-up.

Short-term, this is very encouraging with Black under-performing and Lucas, while solid, still developing. The real benefits could be long-term though, as HEM has pointed out how we have the potential to be very thin in the post next year depending on early draft entries and late signees. Is there any reason to think this guy couldn't be just as good if not slightly better than Darnell Jackson by his senior year?

I used to be fairly skeptical about Jamari's role on the team and potential ceiling. While maybe a bit premature, I think I've turned the corner and am at the very least no longer discouraged at the prospect of him playing major minutes and having a major role on both this year's team and future squads.

Mick Allen 7 years, 11 months ago

I agree, but he too needs to stay on the court by drastically reducing his fouling. He also made 2 very nice assists against New Mexico who lost by 6 to in state rival New Mexico State last night.

Asad Zoberi 7 years, 11 months ago

I feel the same way about Traylor and was also impressed by some of his post moves.

Personally, while Embiid is definitely gone, I don not think Ellis will leave for NBA next year. He appears to be a kid who wants to excel in academics and maximize his college experience while playing the sport he loves.

Thus with Ellis, Alexander, Traylor, Lucas and Mickelosn we are in a good position as far as Bigs are concerned.

Jesse Johnson 7 years, 11 months ago

Just my personal opinion: give all of Black's minutes to Lucas. Lucas did some really good things, I thought, in the game on Saturday, most notably rebounding the ball, one of the biggest culprits in our three losses and something, as HEM pointed out, is a major weakness of Black's. Black, being a senior, was supposed to be a guy that was already developed that could jump right into the lineup and give us some solid big man minutes. He has not been that and I don't see any reason to waste minutes on developing him when he is already a senior. Lucas on the other hand is already giving us good minutes and has 3 more years. I say use the precious minutes to develop him instead of wasting them on Black. Again, just my opinion.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 11 months ago

Been wanting to see a big Black breakout...

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