Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Opinion: Wiggins’ preseason no cause for alarm

Kansas guards Andrew Wiggins, left, and Naadir Tharpe laugh on the bench during the second half of an exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guards Andrew Wiggins, left, and Naadir Tharpe laugh on the bench during the second half of an exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Black sweatsuit, red headphones, the long, tall college student walked slowly across the Wagnon-Parrott Athletic Center parking lot in the cover of darkness Tuesday, destination Jayhawker Towers.

On the same day the Wall Street Journal in featuring Kansas University freshman Andrew Wiggins noted that only one college football player, Texas A&M; Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, was the subject of more October tweets than Wiggins, 18, he walked undisturbed back to his dorm.

We can say with confidence that with each stride he drew one step closer to figuring out how to fit his talents to college basketball. With Andrew Wiggins, it’s not a matter of if, rather when, he’ll figure it out.

Blessed with the physical gifts and basketball skills to earn five stars from recruiting services and cursed with the No. 1 ranking, Wiggins has the remarkable leaping ability to make it happen inside and the blurry-quick first step that makes him difficult to guard on the perimeter.

So far, he’s the one KU player who doesn’t look as if he knows quite what he should do when. No sweat. It’s not as if his coach didn’t see this coming from the 6-foot-8 small forward.

“I think in many ways, depending on how you play, it’s the hardest position to plug in,” Bill Self told Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News three-and-a-half weeks ago. “Everybody’s got a stretch-four (a power forward who’s a three-point threat), and you play to that. Or you’ve got a post guy, and you play to that. Or your prototypical two-guard, and that stuff. But here’s a guy that basically is a guard in a 6-8 long frame that we will try to take advantage of him open court, posting him, utilizing him in ball screens.”

In the two exhibition games, Wiggins (13 points per game) ranked second in scoring to Perry Ellis (14.5), 11th among scholarship players with a .391 field-goal percentage, first in blocked shots (four), was 0 for 5 from three and 8 for 10 from the line.

If he had played the same position and with the same energy, decisiveness and closeness to the hoop as reserve power forward Jamari Traylor, Wiggins probably would have doubled his scoring output and field-goal percentage. But is that the best way for him to help the team against the sort of competition that awaits the young Jayhawks?

Exhibition stats don’t count, but there were some interesting ones, such as:

  • Junior Naadir Tharpe had 15 assists. Combined, Conner Frankamp and Tharpe played 57 minutes without a turnover.
  • In 30 minutes, Traylor had 17 points and 12 rebounds and made all seven field-goal attempts.
  • Freshman Brannen Greene hit 5 of 8 threes.
  • Sophomore Perry Ellis made all nine free-throw attempts.
  • In 29 minutes, senior Tarik Black totaled 10 points, 14 rebounds and seven personal fouls.


John Fitzgerald 7 years, 2 months ago

I feel like Wiggins will turn it up when the competition gets tougher. I see him taking over games and it'll be exciting if he can do just that in the Duke game. Two players I'm overly impressed with though are Joel Embiid and Frank Mason. Mason plays like he's been on the team for at least 2 years. He makes great passes, doesn't turn it over much, and has great vision. And Embiid has the quickest feet I've ever seen out of a big man at KU. Embiid also has a beautifully soft touch that is going to be hard for anyone to guard. The announcers mentioned how his feet get set so quick and I started to watch and pay attention. Man, it's amazing to see it. This guy, if he works his butt off could potentially take the number 1 pick away from Wiggins. Two things I think Embiid needs to improve on in order to start are staying on his feet on defense and using his length to his advantage, and free throw shooting. If he gets those two things down then we may end up seeing Black come off the bench soon. Rock Chalk! Excited for Friday!

Robert Brock 7 years, 2 months ago

All of our players have strengths and weaknesses. The kids mostly need to learn how to play together as a unit. Don't mess with Kansas come February and March.

Tom Gillaspie 7 years, 2 months ago

For what it's worth - Frankamp had two unforced turnovers in the second half of the Fort Hayes game. Don't know how they weren't on the official stat line.
Embiid can be great, right now - completely lost on the floor. Wiggins - wait and see.

Josh Helmer 7 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, that was a really cool article. Loved all the advice from the former guys. That would be one story I recommend Andrew actually read. All the other stuff is just "noise" that he'll need to block out.

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