Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bill Self: Naadir Tharpe solid on ‘D

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe steals the ball from Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder during the second half on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe steals the ball from Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder during the second half on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.


Reader poll

Who should start at point guard for KU?

  • Elijah Johnson 38% 816 votes
  • Naadir Tharpe 57% 1229 votes
  • Rio Adams 3% 69 votes
  • Other 0% 19 votes

2133 total votes.

Naadir Tharpe’s shooting stats haven’t been pretty the past nine games.

“He doesn’t have to shoot the ball well to play well,” Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self said with a shrug, not dwelling on the 5-foot-11 sophomore backup point guard’s 17 baskets in his last 62 attempts for 27.4 percent.

“He is a real good shooter.”

On Monday, he hit three of nine shots — one of four from three — in KU’s 83-62 home victory over Kansas State.

Those numbers did not tell the story of Tharpe’s entire evening. The Worcester, Mass., native was cited as one of the stars of the game for his defense on KSU standout Rodney McGruder.

Yes, the 5-foot-11 Tharpe shadowed the 6-foot-4 McGruder during much of the contest.

“I thought ‘Naa’ the first half did a great job on him,” Self said. McGruder, a likely first-team All-Big 12 pick, scored just three points off 1-of-3 shooting while being unable to shake free of Tharpe the first 20 minutes as KU stormed to a 47-29 lead.

“He got his the second half,” Self added of McGruder, who finished with 20 points off 7-of-14 shooting.

“I was happy for him and proud of him,” Self gushed of Tharpe. “He had been on the cusp of having a good game.”

In retrospect, Self doesn’t consider it a genius coaching move putting the shorter Tharpe on McGruder.

“We really didn’t have another choice. You need Ben’s legs to shoot. If you allow him to chase Rodney, that wears him down,” Self said of Ben McLemore, who scored 30 points against KSU. “Travis (Releford) was out of the game with foul problems, and Elijah (Johnson) had two.”

Tharpe wanted no credit for slowing McGruder when it mattered.

“In practice, we knew what we needed to do against him,” Tharpe said. “It wasn’t one person guarding him. It’s what we talked about. We knew he’d be curling screens. We needed everybody to be in tune. Everybody on the team did it together. I felt it is why he didn’t play as well as he usually does. He still made baskets.”

Tharpe, who played significant stretches at lead guard with Johnson moving over to shooting guard, “had a great first half on both ends,” Self assessed. “He had the defense on its heels. He drove the ball, got us easy baskets. It’s probably his best half of basketball since he’s been here.”

As far as shooting, those who know Tharpe know he needs to keep firing when open, despite the fact he has made seven of his last 31 threes over nine games.

“A lot of coaches that coached me always said I was a good shooter,” he said. “Coach says the same thing. He gets mad at me if I don’t shoot open shots, so I know I have to shoot the ball when I’m open.”

It’s all a process, Tharpe said.

“Everybody who has come here and everybody I’ve seen here, nobody comes and is automatically a superstar,” Tharpe said. “I’ve been trying to work hard every day at practice. That way I can get to being a good player and get out on the floor and help the team win.

Self to coach Dream Team?: Self on Wednesday was asked by national talk-show host Jim Rome about his name being mentioned as a strong candidate for U.S. men’s Olympic team coach, to succeed Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

“Sure it would, oh gosh, yes, it would interest me,” Self said of coaching the Dream Team. “I don’t know if anybody who has ever said that knows Jerry Colangelo (chair USA basketball board of directors) or the (Team) USA people. That’s a situation there’s so much emphasis and such a big deal they are going to hire somebody to coach that team that has been around those guys (NBA stars) and those guys have a comfort level with. Just like Coach K has done a masterful job doing that, he also had some experiences with those guys beforehand, too.

“Although it is flattering to hear things like that,” Self added, “it’s something I don’t put one bit of stock into at all because the reality of that happening is not very good at all. My plate is full here. I am just focused on what is going on at Kansas. It is flattering but not very realistic either.”

Rio update: KU freshman Rio Adams had two turnovers in five minutes vs. KSU.

“He has a good attitude in practice. He tries and is aggressive,” Self said in responding to a question about the 6-3 Seattle freshman on Self’s “Hawk Talk” radio show. “I’m not being negative at all, (but) most of the time he’s put in there is because of foul situations. We had Elijah with two and Travis with two. Rio tried hard. He had two turnovers (that led to KSU hoops) but tried hard. They were turnovers of trying rather than being passive.

“He will be a good player moving forward. Andrew (White) deserves to play,” Self added of the 6-6 freshman, who did not enter until the final minute. “Against a team that really pressures, we felt comfortable going with a ballhandler (Adams) rather than a guy who shoots it better (White).

“I don’t know his role moving forward,” he added of Adams. “He has to be ready, and if his number is called like Cole (Aldrich) in 2008, he’s got to step in and make the most of it.”

Up next: KU will meet Texas at 8 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.


bhol 1 year, 2 months ago

Naadir is an irrational confidence type. Guys like that can get hot!


archercc 1 year, 2 months ago

Really stoked to see Tharpe get some love besides one liners and half-criticisms. I think the kid had a great game against KU on both ends of the floor and really showed that he can change the way the offense plays.

He shouldnt just be running the point when EJ gets in trouble, he should be running the point and EJ should be in his natural 2 position. Obviously you change that for rests or to change the game plan but for regular minutes it should be Tharpe.

Yes, he makes mistakes and misses shots. But he is a sophomore. EJ is a senior and makes the same mistakes and misses the same shots. Tharpe, on the other hand, has progressed incredibly since last year and even has shown flashes of brilliance this year. I think this "protecting him or EJs ego" is hurting both Tharpe and the team. I was totally perplexed by EJ getting the start in the second half and playing so many minutes. Tharpe got cold on the bench. It took two bonehead plays by EJ for him to finally get back in the game.

Obviously Bill is a better coach than I but I cant really understand the coaching logic of not maximizing the time of a kid who was running over the opponent like a freight train.


WETSUhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

East coast bias, and look at fan support at the other nine schools. With the exception of Iowa State, major empty seats except when playing KU. Recruits are sure to notice this when watching perspective teams. B1G, ACC, and Big East have better fan support. Big 12 is starting to look like SEC and Pac-12 with only big game support.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 2 months ago

As per ESPN, in the 2013 Class we have four Top-50 players. The rest of the Big 12 has ZERO. They do have six Top-100 players, though. Baylor and OK St. have two each; Iowa St. and TCU have one each. Basically, our class is better than the rest of the conference combined.

It's great to be a Jayhawk!


Jay Dogger 1 year, 2 months ago

As far as the Bigs go for next season, it is wide open. If Randle comes here I would guess he would have the inside track. People say Embiid is "raw," but he may still end up more effective than who we have right now.

If HCBS's system is too tough for freshman to excel, perhaps next year it should be simplified to accommodate the youth. I can't say White and Adams look like sure-fire starters. If they take a trajectory like Tharpe then we should get some quality minutes as back-ups. Right now the only player who looks like a starter for next year is Tharpe (though I would bet Selden is a starting wing).

Next year will be much different that any year since '09. I'm not sure we have a Sherron & Cole duo, but I know we have something great for Self to work with. It should be fun. But let's first take care of Texas and focus on the the Big 12 and the ninth in a row.


soapisurfriend 1 year, 2 months ago

I posted a few days ago that I thought Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp would both get good looks for the McDonalds AA game. That may have been true, but it looks like only Wayne Selden will be representing the Jayhawks in Chicago. Julius Randle did not recieve an invite either due to eligibility issues for the game because of his injury.


TexasRockChalk 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm glad to see the negative rhetoric on EJ die down a bit. HCBS made it clear EJ is not and has NOT been 100% in a very long time. Let's rally behind ALL our Jayhawks and let's sweep the rest of our Big 12 games! It's very much within reach. If we play the way we did against KSU, then there is NO reason we shouldn't win out.

As evidenced by ISU's loss to Texas in 2OTs, anything can happen. That's the greatness of college basketball and SPORT in general.

Rock Chalk!


hawkmoon2020 1 year, 2 months ago

I would think to maximize the effectiveness and efficiently of players (and a victorious outcome) in a 40 minute game, 9-man is max. Many teams have done well with less.

Just saying that it's a little bitter sweet knowing that CS will probably go with an 8 (+/-) rotation, and therefore, leave guys like CF, BG, and perhaps LL and/or JE with very minimal minutes. Even so, nice problem to have, and I DO think there is still a big opportunity for Randle to shine if he decides to join the fun.


hawkmoon2020 1 year, 2 months ago

Off topic too much? Just wondering what rotation numbers CS will end up going with next year given the talent at most positions. i.e.

PG (3) Tharpe, Adams, Frankamp, Mason SG (2) Selden, White SF (2) Ellis, Greene PF (1) Traylor, (Randle?) C (2) Lucas, Embiid

That's a 10 man rotation without Randle, and 11 with him. Obviously, a nice problem to have, but wow. '13-'14 will be very interesting.


RJ King 1 year, 2 months ago

On another note - HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY to all. And, if no romance, I hope you all have many special other someone's in your lives.

I had the choice of going to the Gonzaga / Saint Mary's game, or dinner at Lark Creek. Hope I made the right one.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 2 months ago

Like a lot of us, I've had the Jayhawks and the players on my mind.

Last night I watched a couple of "South Park" episodes before bed. I had a dream where Cartman was baggin' on EJ but Kyle and Stan were defending him. It was kind of like this site except there were faces to the comments.


Chris Shaw 1 year, 2 months ago

One other thing! Would love to see the student body pull off a last minute "Harlem Shake" at gameday on Saturday.


Jack Wilson 1 year, 2 months ago

Posted this late yesterday .. new ESPN rankings are out .. a few moves:

13 - Wayne Selden

28 - Joel Embiid

43 - Brannen Greene

47 - Conner Frankamp

no rank - Frank Mason

Also, McDonalds All-Americans come out today. Small bit of info .. only one national champion since 1979 has won the national title without having a McDonald's AA on its roster. Maryland in 2002.


Chris Shaw 1 year, 2 months ago

Sometimes when we as fans think things are bad they really aren't. Can you imagine being this guy? He went from a worldwide hero to this. Absolutely mind-boggling.


Scott Smetana 1 year, 2 months ago

On a side note.. Go Tad and the Buffaloes tonight! I can't stand arrogant Arizona fans.


Cameron Cederlind 1 year, 2 months ago

On another note, I know it's looking pretty far in to the future but the 2014 team is going to be extremely talented and have a good amount of upperclassmen leadership. Tharpe as a senior, Traylor/Ellis/Rio/AW3 as juniors, Frankamp/Seldon(hopefully)/Greene/Embiid/Mason as sophomores with whatever Self can recruit next year. Next years team will be a bit sloppy but the following year, really going to be solid. Hopefully Lucas stays and he'd be a technically a junior at that point as well. So good to be a Jayhawk.


jgkojak 1 year, 2 months ago

That kind of game benefits a Bill Self coached team - maybe not THIS team, but most of his teams.


Ron Franklin 1 year, 2 months ago

Very nice interview with Jay Bilas on 810 Border Patrol this morning.

I am certain Jaybate would like to listen to this podcast as Bilas discusses the fouling dilemma that is taking over NCAA right now.

Good stuff, and Kudos to Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John for getting such a great guy on their show. Bilas is definitely my favorite media guy for the NCAA.

In nutshell for those of you who may not have time to go listen or don't have the opportunity to listen:

Jay said the supervisors of officiating, not the officials themselves, are responsible for the calls and lack of calls, which directly is resulting in lower scoring games.

He also said that coaches know that officials can only call a certain number of fouls in a game, so the coaches use this is a strategy. "'f they are only going to call 25 or 30 fouls then you are crazy not to foul 60 times in a game.........the game can't go on for 2 hours and 45 minutes if they called every foul" That's a paraphrase....

Jay also said basketball has become equivalent to hockey with the hip checking, clutchig, chest fouls, grabbing, etc.

If that's the environment, then the adaptation we are seeing now makes perfect sense to me. Adapt and Evolve. That's the name of the game, right ?


Steven Mathew 1 year, 2 months ago

All Big XII First Team:

  1. Pierre Jackson, Baylor
  2. Rodney McGruder, K-State
  3. Ben McLemore, Kansas
  4. Romero Osby, Oklahoma
  5. Jeff Withey, Kansas

yates33333 1 year, 2 months ago

The announcer of the K-State game understood Tharp's value best when he kept saying, ad nauseam, that KU had found a point guard. For the most part Tharp did an excellent job driving and passing and giving players the ball at the right time. If he can keep this up.

Regarding Withey's turnovers relative to Johnson's, a center who blocks more shots and has about four times as many rebounds as TOs ought not be compared to a point guard who has as many TOs as assists. .


dehawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Remember, in order for the second tier guys to have significant minutes, the starters have to play well enough for CS to let the others come into the game. That means the starter, for example, need to blow TCU out of the water so that they can sit some and have fresh legs for Iowa State. The key is for the starters to play extremely well early to earn their rest.


Mel Clare 1 year, 2 months ago

That is why I hope we see McClemore for another year to hone his ball handling skills.


Ron Franklin 1 year, 2 months ago

Last year at this time, I didn't want to see Naa on the floor because his d was atrocious. It appears he has picked up the itensity this year and is sliding better.

My only 'knock' on Naa is that he is trigger happy, but I'll take that over being timid.

If he could just correct that "lean-backwards-jumpshot" he has I'd be done with my nit-picking:)


hotrodm 1 year, 2 months ago

EJ should drive and dish, not drive and miss a lay up. After driving and dishing a few times the defense will be looking for the pass and EJ would be allowed to get closer to the basket and lay it up for 2.


HawksWin 1 year, 2 months ago

Come on Naa, remember Ty & do what he did best. You can do it! Elijah has been in a battle - between his ears - with his knees & future career. Doubt generates fears which plays havoc on confidence. He will come to terms with it as all winners do. Here's an article on another winner of ours - Tyshawn.


Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Speaking of Dream Team, would someone post a youtube collection of KU Dream Team 2007-2008's games (non-NCAA conf)? I could only find bits & pieces of the games played that season (well, most of them vs UNC & Memphis). Gosh, I miss those guys. When will we have a team where everybody could dunk like them? TIA.


RJ King 1 year, 2 months ago

This is old news, but funny . . .

Rock Chalk Siri Hawk

Rock Chalk Siri Hawk by RJ King


Jay Dogger 1 year, 2 months ago

PG defense will get interesting. Kabongo is back for Texas and he had a good game against Iowa St.

To me, Ben and Rele need to shoot more and EJ and Tharpe need to shoot a bit less. If our PGs concentrate more on assists maybe this will happen.

I really wish one of Ellis, Traylor and White would play/earn meaningful minutes and score some points. It feels like we're one player (or maybe two) short of having a full team going into March.

I know the roster tightens, but those Saturday/Sunday games are where we slip up, and a better bench would sure help. I get nervous when our starters play 35+ minutes and then have one day's rest. This is what will happen before the road game at Iowa St. I would say that the game two days before is only against TCU, but...


Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Naa is always my guy. He's very polished, calm, and very focused. Rio will have to learn that from him. I remember Naa's first few games, he looked lost just like Rio. Eventually, Rio will adjust & we'll get to enjoy the best of him.


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