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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Naadir Tharpe takes Bill Self on wild ride … to the Sweet 16

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe looks for the applause from the crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-58 win over North Carolina, Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe looks for the applause from the crowd as he leaves the court following the Jayhawks' 70-58 win over North Carolina, Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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KU-UNC reaction

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey

Kansas coach Bill Self and seniors Travis Releford and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 70-58 victory over North Carolina on March 24, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

UNC coach Roy Williams, Marcus Paige, James Michael McAdoo

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, guard Marcus Paige and forward James Michael McAdoo talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 70-58 victory over UNC on March 24, 2013.

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Box score

KU-UNC

— Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s emotions took a wild spin on a tilt-a-whirl ride Sunday and sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe was behind the wheel, making his coach’s expressions scream “No!” “Yes!” “No!” “Oh no!” “Oh no, not again!” “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes!”

While others sweated watching him, Tharpe played with the confidence of a man convinced that in the end everything would be just fine. He made sure of it. Mixing addled plays with brilliant ones, Tharpe had far more of the latter and helped Kansas storm from 11 points down to reach the Sweet 16 with a 70-58 victory against North Carolina.

On a day KU seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford relentlessly dominated at both ends in the second half, Kansas needed one of its underclassmen to join the party. On this day it wasn’t going to be either Ben McLemore (0-for-9, two points) or Perry Ellis (1-for-3, three points).

Tharpe answered the call, overshadowing his spills with thrills that chilled the partisan Kansas crowd.

A 5-foot-11 sophomore guard from Worcester, Mass., Tharpe scored all of his 12 points in a second half in which he made all three of his three-point shots. He also made three of four free throws in the half.

And then there were the plays that made his coach hold his head to keep it from exploding.

Instead of laying the ball in, Tharpe fired an off-target behind-the-back pass that Releford turned into a bucket, but that didn’t keep Self from pointing at Tharpe in frustration. Late in the game, Tharpe picked up one of his four turnovers on a five-second violation.

Tharpe’s most embarrassing moment “will never happen again” he vowed afterward. With Perry Ellis at the free throw line ready to take a second shot, Tharpe was talking to Elijah Johnson about “how to defend the next play” when he absentmindedly walked onto the three-point line, a lane violation. As soon as the whistle blew, a low, harsh voice shot through the still-silent arena. It belonged to Self.

Not long after that, Tharpe did what he had already done twice in the half. He stuck a dagger in North Carolina’s hopes. His first three-pointer gave Kansas a seven-point lead, the second a 12-point lead, the third, of the step-back variety, a 13-point advantage with 5:24 remaining.

Tharpe spent much of the second half playing in place of McLemore and when Tharpe checked out of the game in the final minute, Self gave him a hug and a pat on the backside and, according to Tharpe, Self told him, “You made some bone-headed plays, but wow, you played great for us today.”

After the buzzer sounded and KU’s record improved to 8-0 in Sprint Center games this season, Self walked with Tharpe to the spot of his violation and repeated his message.

“He said the same thing about the bone-headed play and once again he said, ‘You played great. You really showed toughness.'"

Tharpe, who looked very much like an overwhelmed freshman a year ago, has played with so much confidence this season.

We all see Self shaking his head at Tharpe’s miscues during games, but we’re not privy to other moments when the coach tells him what he thinks of his game.

“He comes up to me a lot and talks to me about how he wants me to be aggressive and always tells me how I’m a good player and how I’m a great shooter,” Tharpe said. “When your coach tells you that, it’s hard for you not to play with confidence. He’s been here a long time and he’s been around some great players. For him to say that to me, I feel like that’s how I have to play, and I need to do as much as I can to help him out.”

Not done with his 10th season at Kansas, Self has won 300 games for the school. You don’t do that without knowing how to balance climbing all over every player’s imperfection daily while still managing to inflate your players’ confidence levels.

Tharpe and the rest of the team combined to make 25 percent of their shots in the first half, 63 percent in the second.

Tharpe shared Self’s first words at halftime, when Kansas trailed 30-21:

“Is this how you want it to end, going out like that?”

And what was his tone?

Tharpe smiled at the question.

“Come on,” he said. “You guys know coach Self.”

Not nearly as well as Tharpe does. He knows him. He likes him. He doesn’t want to disappoint him. He did anything but that Sunday.

Comments

Steve Brown 1 year ago

Michigan has talent we have the system. It will come to sight lines in the big Jones stadium, we should practice with large mirrors on the walls this week to make it hard to focus and find our rim/net sight lines, then in the dome, it will be natural.
Sort of similar to home bowling teams using heavier pins.

On similar note, anyone else notice the rims at Sprint are not balanced, the 1st half for us, has much smaller scoring in B12 as well as NCAA games. We got the large rim the 2nd half. Take all the games add up all the points and see our 2nd half basket up by 18- 24% is my guess.

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FarSideHawk 1 year ago

KU still not getting the love from the 'experts', which is great! The team should read that and get motivated.

SI picking Michigan to come out of the South.

ESPN ranking KU as no. 11 out of the 16 left in its reseeding article.

Beat Michigan!

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FL_Jhawk 1 year ago

I can see Naa becoming my favorite player, to finally replace Tyshawn, who was becoming my favorite later in his Sophomore year.

Naa just needs some more consistency in his shooting. He will miss everything, then he has games like last night. I rarely get upset when he shoots a three, even when he is missing, as I know he can hit them, but some of his driving to the basket drives me nuts. But Ty was much like that. Fact is, to get better, you have to push yourself, and you make mistakes when you push yourself hard. And while he can practice pushing himself in practice, it is not the same as in a real game with people you aren't familiar with. So, every time he drives to the basket and dribbles it off his foot and throws up a prayer, keep in mind he is learning and that will make him better. The alternative is to not make the attempt out of fear he will screw up, and thus never get much better. Maybe BMac needs to take a lesson here.

But oh man, if he, EJ and BMac can all get hot at the same time, wow.

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Steve Corder 1 year ago

Wonder what Bill said to Ben when he benched him the 2nd half?

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JayHok 1 year ago

When he plays juiced up, the rest of the team plays juiced up. What a benefit to have a juiced up point guard coming off the bench when the opposing defense is out of juice and our seven foot juice-man is ready to squeeze some oranges at ten and twelve feet.

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easyfive 1 year ago

I said long time ago that Naa is the best point g since Jo Jo White. People laughed at me. Understandable but, go look on u tube and put in his name and see yourself. I got to shake hands with Jo Jo when i was six in Allen.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year ago

There was Cookie Miller (the "microthug" at Nebr that Sadler booted), and then there is Naa, who really is a tough cookie!

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Robert Robinson 1 year ago

You ever notice when bills at his highest level of frustration with Tharpe he goes out and hits a 3? Some players do better when they're told how good they are in a nice way. I think Tharpe responds better to tough love.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago

First best guess at next year's first starting line-up:

PG - Naadir with Mason and/or Frankamp.[Conner is better than people realize at the point]

SG - Selden with 'Rio and/or Frankamp.[Wayno is a BEAST!!!]

SF - Greene with AWIII. [Branden is going to surprise a lot of people]

PF - Ellis with Wesley and {????? we're gonna miss Zach here next season}

C - Traylor with Embiid and Lucas.{Embiid will work in quick and move Jamari to PF]

WOW... Junior, Soph, RS Soph, Frosh, Frosh starting lineup....we go from one of the most experienced starting fives to one of the youngest!! I don't think anyone redshirts...I think we'll need all hands on deck 2013-14!!!

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William Blake 1 year, 1 month ago

"Everybody has a bone in their head... or we'd just carry a blob on our shoulders!"

You can quote me on that one.

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ManCrushOnCaptainKirk 1 year, 1 month ago

Huge Ballsy Move by Bill Self for sitting McLemore for that long in the second half. Few coaches would have the gonads to do it. Perhaps he learned his lesson from leaning too heavily on Sherron a few years ago in the tourney.

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monkeehawkSL8 1 year, 1 month ago

This story is about Nadir and his part in one of the most inspiring 180 degree turns I have ever seen in a college game. Naa's play, the 3's actually lowered my heart rate, I managed to get through the game yesterday without burning any furniture. (Old family tradition).

Some people have mentioned Frank Mason, I usually don't make blanket prediction's but between Nadir and Frank we're going to be fine a point. Frank's ball handling abilities and speed are sensational. Jayhawks, "take care of each other and win another", settle for nothing but everything. RCJH KAAAAAUOOOOO

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7texdude 1 year, 1 month ago

Tharpe hit some huge shots against UNC, but he will have to play even better against Michigan. Their backcourt is filled with playmakers. KU will have to play even better to win. Rock Charlk!

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KemDooKU 1 year, 1 month ago

Roy and the Ronald McDonald crew just got served by Pimp Daddy........ aka Tharpe!

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AsadZ 1 year, 1 month ago

I have a new nick name for Tharpe, Assassin

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Kevin Huffman 1 year, 1 month ago

Seeing Tharpe evolve and us all have high hopes for him now for his upper classmen years, makes me wonder if we'll possibly be debating the same things for Frank Mason 2 years from now! :) I hope so. I think Tharpe was technically ranked in the 110's, right? And F. Mason was in the 130's so, at least kind of similar in that regard. Though I think by the end of his season, Mason was being posed as maybe should be ranked higher by so-called "experts". I know they've got a similar build.

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Andy Tweedy 1 year, 1 month ago

Somebody PLEASE tell me I'm not imagining this: when Tharpe was recruited, all we heard (from Self, too) was that he was a pure point guard, in the mold of an Aaron Miles or Russell Robinson. But this past year, we're hearing he's almost more of an off guard with a great shot. I'm not questioning Self, I'm quite sure he knows what he's got. But what happened to the pure point guard we recruited. Was this just what everybody saw in high school and reassessed what he truly was when he got in a D1 rotation?

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nostradavid 1 year, 1 month ago

Naa is awesome this year. Love a wild ride !

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KULA 1 year, 1 month ago

Naadir is going to be, as is, a great point guard for us. He's got great quickness to the hole, handles the ball better than EJ and probably better than Tyshawn, is a great shooter and makes some beautiful passes, especially on the break.

But the best thing about him is that he's a GAMER! He doesn't shy away from the big shot--even last year when he was on Bill's "one&done" list (one mistake and you're done for the day) he still wasn't afraid to let his game fly. He doesn't go into his shell when the game is tight like so many Kansas shooters have in the past (and present). He's not afraid to step up and take the pressure shot. That's priceless!

Naa's gonna get All-Conference consideration next year and All-American consideration when he's a senior.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 1 month ago

Best coaching move all season was yanking BMac in the second half. Tharpe's three treys were HUGE, and the points he scored were pretty much the difference in the game.

3

Scott Smetana 1 year, 1 month ago

Naadir is the man, period. Same story, team gets behind and lacks offense, Tharpe sparks a great comeback. The only question is who to bench, EJ or BMac. I think Tharpe is better than both.

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jaybate 1 year, 1 month ago

Naa earned his spurs.

He earned everyone's respect.

He earned a good night's sleep.

He earned the right to say I play in the rotation of a team that has won 31 games and I'm in the Sweet 16.

Not bad for a sophomore that wasn't very highly recruited and seemed out of his depth for a while.

Not bad at all.

He has the getting better gene.

There was nothing going wrong out there with Naa today that can't be gotten better.

Bone head plays?

Self players that don't make some bone head plays aren't Self players.

Making some bone head plays appears to be part of the crucible of becoming a player who impacts out of his position.

Naa guarded and kept up with a bunch of Mickey D's in a money game.

Naa is part of the solution.

You're damned straight Self has seen a lot of good players in ten years, Naa.

And they've all made some bone head plays.

And when he says you played great for us today and showed real toughness, it means you do have the right stuff.

You've got stuff the Mickey Ds on UNC don't have.

Congratulations.

Now don't ever make that mistake AGAIN!!!!!! :-)

4

tical523 1 year, 1 month ago

Tharpe has lots of skills and most importantly ball handing, he puts pressure on the defense when he dribbles the ball and that is so important when shots are not falling or to get others open. I like our back court but he is the only one that can penetrate and create whenever he has to, EJ can sometimes but not consistently well. B Mac is so so far from putting pressure on a defense and I agree with an above post in that he will get lost in the NBA shuffle. Naadir is going to be a stud the next couple of years.

3

RedJay 1 year, 1 month ago

Tharpe reminds me of a quieter Sherron Collins. Remember when Sherron would go dribbling deep into the paint and we'd all yell "Whaaa?!?!" Sherron would just stand under the basket dribbling until he found an open shooter or sunk a circus shot.

That's how I feel every time Tharpe heaves an open 3 with 28 left on the shot clock. The similarity is that both players know it's going in, even though I never believe them.

1

frankfussman 1 year, 1 month ago

"As soon as the whistle blew, a low, harsh voice shot through the still-silent arena. It belonged to Self." The camera was on Self at the point when he shouted, but we didn't see what happened on the court. On screen Self shouted, "God dammit!", and some in the crowd at Liberty Hall laughed at that, and then we heard about the lane violation.

1

iamakufan 1 year, 1 month ago

That five second call on Tharpe was bogus. Ridiculous. No way was he "closely guarded." No way.

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741hawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Last year, I honestly wondered if Tharpe would be on the team this year. My bad! Isn't it clear that we are much better with Tharpe at the point and EJ at the 2? Ben can take a big NBA check or stay a year and have a long and wealthy NBA career. IMHO, I believe The NBA would eat Ben up should he leave now. What a great second half. Rock Chalk!

2

Boouk 1 year, 1 month ago

Releford was spectacular today defensively against Bullock. It'll be interesting to see who he guards Friday- Burke or Hardaway Jr?

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