Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tharpe steps up as leader since demotion

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe celebrates after hitting a three pointer against New Mexico during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe celebrates after hitting a three pointer against New Mexico during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Kansas University junior Naadir Tharpe knows why he was stripped of his starting point guard duties during recent nonconference basketball losses at Colorado and Florida.

“I wasn’t doing anything to really help out the team, help out the guys,” Tharpe said after dishing nine assists and scoring eight points while regaining his starting spot and playing 37 minutes in Saturday’s 80-63 victory over New Mexico in Sprint Center.

“The team we have ... the guys stuck with me, coach stuck with me. Like I’ve said before, it’s all about confidence,” added Tharpe, who followed a 10-assist, one turnover outing against Iona on Nov. 19 with 15 assists against eight TOs the next four contests.

His so-so effort in those games, which included 8-for-26 shooting, led to coach Bill Self starting freshman Frank Mason on the two-game road trip.

“That’s how it’s supposed to be,” Tharpe said of his being disciplined by his coach. “He’s not around the dudes as much besides at practice. I have to make sure I’m the second voice out there. The games we were losing ... I put a lot of that on me.”

Self, who after the UNM game expressed how much he’d been “disappointed in him, not in his play as much, but his ownership and how he’s helping the other guys,” indicated Tharpe took a major step in the right direction Saturday.

“Naa had a really good game,” Self said. “He had a couple bonehead plays the second half, but for the most part played really well. We didn’t try to hit home runs. We were hitting a bunch of singles, making easy plays. We played through our bigs. It was kind of how we want to play.”

The Jayhawk players, who have nothing against backup point guard Mason (one assist, no turnovers, six minutes against UNM), nonetheless seem to relish having an experienced player like Tharpe around.

“Naadir is a good leader,” said freshman big man Joel Embiid, who had 17 points the second half against New Mexico as KU expanded on a narrow one-point halftime lead. “He’s always talking, telling us what to do. He gave us great energy for the second half and we were playing better.”

“He distributed the ball well and led us,” said sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who had 21 points, 13 the final half. “That’s what a point guard is supposed to do. He led us to the win.”

Tharpe knows how to break opponents’ zone defenses.

“We’ve got to get the ball to the middle,” Tharpe said, “to get it to Jo Jo and Perry because they are some of our best big passers and Jamari (Traylor) as well. (In) the last couple of games we lost, the teams played the majority (of game) zone. We had to make sure in practice we worked on the zone and were able to be aggressive.”

Tharpe believes he and his teammates are back on track heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. home game against Georgetown.

“It boosts our morale, gives us energy, gives us confidence,” Tharpe said of the victory, which busted a slump that included three losses in four tries. “Basketball is a game of confidence. Basketball is a game of runs. We were able to come back in Kansas City, our fans helping us out and playing like we did, it was a great win.”

KU on Saturday will be playing at home for the first time since a 88-58 win over Towson on Nov. 22.

“It’s been awhile,” Tharpe said. “It’s good we had those (road) games. Everybody keeps saying we have a young team. We are a young team, but to go on the road and play those games will only help us get better. It doesn’t get any easier from here. We have to make sure each and every game and practice we come out with the same mindset and be ready to attack and do the game plan.”

Things figure to go a lot smoother if Tharpe builds on his last game.

“He played well. He’s a good player. He was one of our most improved players over the summer,” Self said on his Hawk Talk radio show. “We’ve got to get a lot better before we start talking about guys playing well. Everybody has a big step we could take to get to the point where we could play like a team that hopefully has a chance to compete for another league championship.”

Hinson rant: Former KU director of basketball operations Barry Hinson, the head coach at Southern Illinois, tore into his team during a post-game rant to reporters after a loss to Murray State on Tuesday.

Hinson referred to his players as “mama’s boys” after the 73-65 loss. He ripped guard Marcus Fillyaw for having a bad game.


Barry Hinson rant

“I’m not going to fake who I am. I’m an emotional guy and I love my players, but I was frustrated with their overall lack of effort. I felt bad about mentioning one of my player’s names. That was a mistake,” Hinson told

Hinson also tweeted: “It was wrong of me to single out a specific player. I apologized to Marcus and team. I stand by the rest of my comments. Go Dawgs!”

Mario Moccia, the school’s athletic director supported Hinson.

“Barry cares about his players,” Moccia said. “I know this is not the season he wanted to have after 10 games (2-8). The losses have mounted, and he’s frustrated. I just wish he didn’t call out the players specifically and would have used more generalities.

“I know he’s a good man,’’ Moccia added. “But he can have these Yosemite Sam bombastic outbursts.’’

SIU senior forward Davante Drinkard responded to Hinson on Twitter: “I can’t believe the little man had the nerve to call us mama’s boys. Smh. I guess this is where Our team learns to point the finger.”

“He has the right to do that. If I have the right as a coach to go into a press conference and talk about our team, I can’t get upset at a player that wants to fire back on a tweet either,” Hinson told the “Dan Patrick Show” on DirecTV as reported by ESPN. “Freedom of speech, I’m all about that and I understand it.”

To watch Hinson’s response at his Wednesday news conference, click here.

Big game for Cliff: KU signee Cliff Alexander scored 35 points with 15 rebounds, six blocks and four steals in Chicago Curie High’s 82-56 victory over Chicago King on Tuesday. KU assistant Jerrance Howard was in the stands for the game. The 6-foot-9 center, who is ranked No. 4 nationally by, refused to talk to reporters after the game, according to the Chicago Sun Times. He reportedly is upset about media reports detailing his two technical fouls against St. Rita. Alexander had 19 points for Curie (5-0) in the first half.

White questionable: KU sophomore Andrew White III is questionable for Saturday’s game against Georgetown, coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Wednesday. White has practiced on a limited basis this week after suffering a hip pointer at practice a week ago today.

Scheduling: Self, who has said repeatedly he has no plans to play Wichita State, won’t change his position with WSU coach Gregg Marshall continuing to speak publicly about wanting to play the Jayhawks.

“Hey, there’s a lot of people who would like to play us. We’ve not had a hard time getting a schedule. I’ll play people for what we feel is best for our program,” Self said. “It’s not a knock on anybody else. I’m more interested in our team. I’m not spending any energy thinking about scheduling right now.”


Steve Zimmerman 4 months ago

"We play through bigs", Naa mentioned bigs, except Wiggins. That makes me wonder how Wiggins will fit in this system. Is he one of the bigs? Or should he create his own plays? Should he be the bait? Let the bigs shine while he struggles himself? Will there be set screens for him?


Joe Ross 4 months ago

Off the subject. I haven't seen hide nor hair of Jesse Newell.

What gives?


Bill Anthony 4 months ago

Brett, I'm so impressed that Gregg Marshal told you his true motive for talking about wanting to play Kansas. And here I was thinking that forming a bunch of 2,3 and maybe a couple of 4 star recuits into a team capable of almost beating Louisville in the final four, and being undefeated and highly ranked, at least so far, this season would have already gotten the attention of some big school ADs. So, thanks, also, for straightening us (or at least me)out on how ADs looking to get a new BB coach rely more on media moments that probably don't aire outside of Kansas than on on-the-floor results. I didn't know that, but then again, I don't know those guys either. Now that we (or at least I) know these things we (or at least I) will be able to quit whining about the Wichita Whiners.


Tony Bandle 4 months ago


1] Barry Hinson has a job at ESPN just waiting for him if he wants to take it...they love loud, controversial commentators.

2] Naadir "Warp" Tharpe got the message...still, three inches more in height and a step quicker on defense would have helped also. There is only so much he can do with the physical tools he has. I am afraid defense will remain an issue.

3] Wow, 35/16/6/4 is a hell of a line....Cliff and Perry are going to be a deadly pair next season!!

4] Come on, Travis, I can't remember what I had for breakfast at lunchtime, and you expect us to remember games from a month ago?? :)

5] At 7-3 KU and UNC have matching records so far, but have seasons in parallel universes..we get beat by ranked teams and pretty much beat everybody else. UNC beats ranked teams and pretty much loses to everybody else.

5A] WOW!! Lose to Rick home!! Uncle Roy.... up to his old tricks!!

6] When it comes to basketball, Lawrence is the middle of whine country with Missouri to the east and Wichita State to the west.


Joe Baker 4 months ago

Lead on Mr Tharpe

I'm amazed at the attacks on coaches lately. My bball coach was a monster compared to Hinson and many other coaches. This and many other allegations against coaches are really blown way out of proportion. People need to put up or shut up. If you want to play D1 sports, you need to develop some thick skin and accept the coach's input. It's part of sports.

Now...there have been the unfortunate over the top examples lately, but even then, coaches will do anything to get a response, reaction, or motivation for their team. Unless it's a major violation or crime, let the coaches coach. Hinson's "mama's boys" comment simply means, his team is soft. People need to check the PC at the door.

My coach used to drag us around by our jerseys, yell insults, obscenities, and other nice jestures. It either got our attention, laughs, or we ran wind sprints till we dropped or executed. It just shows how times have changed...shame.


Rich Hetherington 4 months ago

Tharpe will be a starter for the remainder of his career here at Kansas. I'm not saying someone else won't get a spot start, much like Mason did here recently, but Tharpe is our PG for the remainder of this year and for the entirety of his senior year. Looking at his assist to turnover numbers from last year and this year, his ratio is better than some of the most beloved Jayhawks in the last decade. I know what Mason brings to the table and how important he'll be in his career here, but I think he'll continue to learn and grow from both Self and Tharpe and will be ready to take the point on a full-time starter basis his junior year. Plus he'll likely improve his offensive efficiency and make better passes by that time, so I anticipate he'll be a special player as well.


Bryce Landon 4 months ago

Kansas needs to schedule Wichita State. It's an in-state rivalry that needs to be rekindled.

You know Barry Hinson's rant is a big deal when it's the lead story on the Jim Rome Show.

Davante Drinkard is part of the problem, not the solution, at SIU.

Naadir Tharpe is the key to Kansas' fortunes this season. As a point guard, Self is going to be toughest on him because he's the guy who runs the offense.


Travis Clementsmith 4 months ago

It amazes me the amount of amnesia some fans have about the beginnings of seasons. I can't remember the last team that came out playing "crisp, midseason" basketball early in the year. Oh yeah, now I do, it was under offensively minded Williams while usually returning junior and senior dominated teams.

Do people really not remember the last time we had a young team whose talented freshman class had to go through their own growing pains in Maui? Self is a button pusher, its often what separates good coaches from great ones. Being able to push players beyond what they thought was an acceptable level of play.

This second guessing about who should start over whom is a silly excersise. The track record suggests Self will figure it out and by conference season, we'll all be pretty happy with his methodology. I mean, that's the track record. I'm quite comfortable with whatever Self wants to do and who he thinks should be playing where and when.


Jack Wilson 4 months ago

Let's not forget why coach Self started Mason in the first place. And let's not forget what Mason has brought to this team.

It is always interesting the ebb and flow of the narrative. A few weeks ago, Mason was the "bulldog" and the one player on this team that would take charge. He was the most impressive player. He was nails vs. Duke. He reminded Self of Chalmers -- Self's words.

The only thing that changed was our horrible performance against zone defenses. That had just as much to do with coaching and preparation (particularly in the Villanova and Florida games) as the performance by the players.

And though coach Self says that Tharpe is better vs. zone defense, which appears to be correct, it is important to remember that Tharpe wasn't a star in Atlantis, at Colorado, or at Florida vs. zones. And Tharpe is not a savior vs. the zone. I recall Tharpe passing the ball to Ellis in the corner, he was immediately trapped; Ellis then barely escaped and got the ball back to Tharpe, who then passed it right back to Ellis, where he was immediately trapped again. I recall Tharpe throwing lazy passes. I recall Tharpe dribbling directly into traps. He's a junior, Mason a freshman.

Tharpe played well on Saturday vs. UNM. Tharpe may be the better fit for this team in the long run -- emphasis on may.

But I don't want to lose sight of what Mason brought to the table, and what he will bring to the table. Mason was shaky with his three point shooting early, but he was 2 for 3 from three point range vs. Florida and seemed to be finding his range.

Mason's overall performance vs. Florida was very poor. No doubt. But we were not prepared to handle Florida's 1-3-1. "We", meaning the team. And Self is in charge of getting the team prepared. They were not ready. That's on Self. We can say "young team" or whatever, but this is Self's baby.

The team was flat out not prepared for the half-court 2-2-1 and 1-2-1-1 vs. Villanova. Heck, we came directly out of a timeout vs. Villanova and Selden dribbled right over half court into a trap (after we had just been trapped doing the same thing moments before). We didn't have guys flashing to the proper spots. We didn't attack at all. That's lack of preparation. Then we were probably worse a few games later vs. Florida's half court trap.

I guess my main points are that 1) Mason is still the player we thought he was -- let's not forget that with the sudden change in the narrative, 2) Tharpe didn't play appreciably better vs the zone than Mason did prior to UNM, and 3) our struggles vs. the zone have had as much to do with preparation and coaching, as with performance.

And is it too far fetched to think that as the season progresses, and Mason cleans up some of the concerns Self might have with his play, that Mason reassumes the starting role? I don't.


Kyle Rohde 4 months ago

The same Greg Marshall that has turned down a bunch of different jobs over the past few years and repeated how happy he is in Wichita? You can say a lot about the guy but saying he's trying to jump ship is just wrong.


Brianna Zaleski 4 months ago

Greg Marshall needs to get a life. He's barking up the wrong tree. Look for the tournament committee to put in the same bracket this year. If WSU keeps up and gets a top 4 seed, and we hold up our end of the bargain as well, this could be the year we meet in the tourney.


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