Saturday, October 5, 2013


Opinion: 2013-14 Jayhawks’ ceiling limitless if …


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Andrew White III, Naadir Tharpe & Bill Self share favorite moments of Late Night 2013

Andrew White III, Naadir (not Nuh-Deer) Tharpe and Bill Self give their reaction to the skits and scrimmage from this year's Late Night at Allen Fieldhouse.

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It’s human nature. You watch a Kansas University basketball team compete for the first time, you walk away with an impression of how far it will advance in March.

You know that’s ridiculous because all you saw was a pick-up game rife with uncontested dunks at the rim courtesy of olé defense, but you can’t help yourself.

At first glance, this collection of super athletes that doesn’t feature either a returning starter or a scorer who has averaged more than 5.8 points per game in a KU jersey, struck me as a Sweet 16* squad. An earlier exit means it underachieves. An advancement beyond that equates to over-achieving.

So why the asterisk?

Again, this is all based on a wild guess after watching a wild pick-up game, but when that’s all you have to base it on, might as well let the imagination run free to pass the time today before KU’s 11 a.m. Memorial Stadium kickoff against Texas Tech in the Big 12 opener.

The asterisk is there because if two developments occur throughout the course of the season, preferably by mid-season at the latest, KU could blossom into the school to beat heading into March Madness.

If Wayne Selden blossoms so quickly as a hard-charging driver and assist man that he ends up running the team from point guard, suddenly the potential for the Jayhawks explodes up the charts.

Watching Selden take the ball on the left wing, drop his shoulder, burn past Andrew Wiggins and drop in a layup from the right side of the lane made the mind dance as to Selden’s chances of breaking down a defense. So did his on-the-money bounce pass that set up Embiid for a dunk. Ditto for a no-look pass to the post.

Selden’s build calls to mind that of Oklahoma State’s relentless sophomore point guard Marcus Smart and so did some of the passes that flew off his fingers. Obviously, he wasn’t facing the sort of ball pressure and defensive intensity he will once KU’s tough-as-it-gets schedule arrives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be too much for him to handle as a freshman. It’s the position he one day will play in the NBA.

The second half of the equation that could give a national-title projection a more realistic feel than a Sweet 16 exit involves the graceful center who started playing basketball at the age of 16 in Cameroon, coming to the hardwood from soccer fields and volleyball courts. If Joel Embiid, a 7-footer who looked scary good at times and a little lost at others, can improve enough to play starter’s minutes this year, look out.

As long as we’re in “Dream On” mode, minus the smoke from the Phog machine, picture Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black and Embiid flying down the court, a blend of size and speed only seen in NBA games. In all likelihood, too much of a turnover machine to work, but an intriguing concept.


Doug Cramer 8 years, 3 months ago

Wow - like what we're hearing about Seldon. I thought he was more of a 2...but if the 6 ft 5 big guy runs the point that well...then let's go with it.

Would like to see this starting line-up:

1: Seldon 2: White III 3: Wiggins 4: P-Doggie Ellis 5: Black

Phil Leister 8 years, 3 months ago

Selden. As someone whose surname is constantly misspelled, it bugs me. Just like the people who still write Weiss. It's not that difficult.

Michael Luby 8 years, 3 months ago

actually its Selden, but that sounds great. Let the speculating and the Basketball season begin! Not that it didn't start like 3 months ago anyways...the speculating.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 3 months ago

Selden & Wiggins are Jordan/Pippen v.2.0

Connor, Greene, White, ... whomever can fill the sniper role.

Embiid ends up starting along side Perry, but Tarik gets start minutes backing up both.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 3 months ago

Sorry Dagger, I like reading your stuff, but that comparison, while it could come true, is quite a stretch.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

First, Self was determined to reveal nothing about how the team will play to Coach K, except that it is long and can dunk. This was geared to show Coach K nothing about skills, or schemes. This was not even a scrimmage. It was a shoot around.

Second, Self is right: the freshman, except for Selden, have no clue how to play basketball. None.

Next, Tarik was the best basketball player on the floor last night by a considerable margin.

Selden was the most advanced freshman Self has had.

Naa was a black box, since he was asked to do nothing like run an offense and guard.

The most worrisome player was Perry, who really couldn't get off shots against these guys, or establish any court presence, when contested.

Next most worrisome: Andrew White is Conner Teahan with an inch more jump. His new muscles did not translate to new movement. He seems about where Tyrel Reed was as a soph.

The oddest: Wiggins looked like Kenny Gregory with a couple inches. Lots of run and jump, but not even a hint of being able to do anything but create alone. If Ben Mac had to learn how to use the offense to help him get looks, Wiggins first has to learn what movement without the ball is. Self is apt as usual in his description of Andrew. He is a freakishly athletic guy who can impact any time he is asked to, but has no other discernible game. He is awe, or nothing. He is not at all selfish and will learn, but it's like he has never done anything with 4 other guys but take turns making plays. I was hoping for more. So: the Wiggins family made the right decision in sending Andrew to Self. Converting him from a freakish athlete into a great basketball player in one season, which is obviously what Self is being asked to do, is an interesting technical problem, from a coaching standpoint. I don't think a potentially great player ever had so far to go in one year. This will be painful to watch.

Conner Frankamp was a pleasant surprise. He has athleticism. He is quite comfortable as a point guard. And Self was clearly concealing his gun. Be afraid, Coach K, be very afraid.

Jam Tray looked incrementally better.

Landen can play some, but not a lot yet.

Joel could be a soft shoe man with Hope and Crosby in The Road to Cameroon, but like Wigs, the notion of a team game seems as foreign as Max Falkenstein in cammies.

I could go on here, but among the freshman Selden is the only guy with the kind of basketball moxie coming in that Rush and Chalmers and Sherron had coming in. The rest of the guys are a bunch of high ceilings with no walls yet.

If Self is getting any sleep at all right now, it's because he is in denial.

To win 30 games with these guys will be a very tall order, unless Self was masking their abilities even to look like they know how to play basketball.

dylans 8 years, 3 months ago

Good thing there are a few extra weeks of practice this year so things can soak in. It sounds like Coach Self has a challenge on his hands, good. I feel like Bill does his best work when the challenge is greatest!

Jack Wilson 8 years, 3 months ago

Do not be alarmed. Repeat, do not be alarmed.

This was fake basketball. Same as the scrimmages some got so giddy about in the summer. Small things can be gathered. That's all. This has nothing to do with how a Self coached team will respond. Meaning, how they will play as a team.

But jb's takes here are really looks into individual player windows. And I know that he knows this was fake basketball. But observations of individuals can translate a bit. What struck me there is that most of his opinions were not that surprising, were they?

1] Ellis looks less than assertive and he can't get his shot off sometimes. Right, he doesn't talk and he had trouble getting his shot off last season (if he could hang onto the ball).

2} Traylor looked a little better. Right, #131. Low skill. But working hard every day.

3] Frankamp was a pleasant surprise. Right, small, skinny white dudes that can play always are.

4] White can't jump. Right, he's a plodder. He can't change that. He better hit his shots.

5] Landen probably isn't ready. Right, low ranked, redshirt freshman project. See you in 2015.

6] Wiggins shows little but being able to create alone. Right, welcome to the life of the kid who has always been the best player in the gym.

7] Selden was the most advanced freshman. Right, if one assumes Wiggins will be playing a "me" game. But this observation is perhaps not what was expected.

8] Tharpe was a black box. Right, because he was trying to show he was better than Mason.

9] Tarik was the best player on the court. Right, he is the only senior.

10] Embiid looked soft. Right, tall, skinny, volleyball.

No reason to worry at all. No reason to be concerned. Self will kick their a**es into shape. Scrimmages have never been real basketball.

Rock Chalk 8 years, 3 months ago

"The rest of the guys are a bunch of high ceilings with no walls yet."

Great line, jb. You have a way with words, my man.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 3 months ago

That is a great line. Never seen it before and it fully applies.

Hawk8086 8 years, 3 months ago

Self will have these guys playing team basketball. Guaranteed. I saw enough of the Perry that impressed everyone in the last part of the season. Not worried about him. Selden knows how to play the game. Wiggins will weave his individual skills into the team concept (thanks to HCBS). Tharpe will be a good PG. Black has the experience that we need. We can win it all without Selden playing PG and with Embiid in a backup role. I felt this way before the scrimmage (which told us very little).

John Randall 8 years, 3 months ago

"Running out their meth highs" would be an apt description of any group of freshmen's first exposure to Phog at the max.
Just as HCBS intended, nothing about Version X was learned by casual (or professional) observers.

KANSTUCKY 8 years, 3 months ago

Can a person who lives in a glass house have high ceilings and still throw stones if there are no walls?

jhox 8 years, 3 months ago

I love big strong point guards and the match up problems they create.

DerekR25 8 years, 3 months ago

Couldn't agree more! Other than Smart, having Selden makes me think of the kid who played for Texas several years back. PJ Tucker, I think. He and Lamarcus Aldridge were a dangerous tandem in a half court set.

dylans 8 years, 3 months ago

I wonder why Frankamp couldn't make a softly contested shot? 0 for 6 ouch. The freshmen have a long ways to go...

ChicagoJHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Selden is no joke my fellow Jayhawks. With all this talk about Wiggins, people tend to forget about Selden.

He's projected to be a top 10 pick in the NBA draft next year. We have four people projected to get drafted in the first round, 3 of them are lottery picks and freshman too!

BillSelfsLilBro 8 years, 3 months ago

Wow Keegan...very bold!

So your saying if they start the tallest guys at each position then they will maximize their potential? Maybe in 6th grade PE class but not on this level. This isnt recess Keegan.

Perry is in no way ready to play the 3 position. And what about depth?

Quite frankly CS will never deplore this lineup and the team will be just fine.

Its amazing the columnist for has a bball IQ of a middle school PE teacher.

Selden will get minutes at PG but only when Tharpe is not in the game.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 3 months ago

"Perry is in no way ready to play the 3 position."

That is unavoidable logic.

Tippyhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

I can't do Kusports anymore. Google surveys have pissed me off "to the point of no return". I'll have to get my enlightenment from Ku athletic, Rock chalk Talk, JayHawk Talk and other blogs. Google, in their arrogants can simply provide a 'skip this survey button?

Russ Freeman 8 years, 3 months ago

Whining about the survey questions is ridiculous. Two seconds of your time so that you can view good KU BB content from the hometown paper? I am a Lawrence native, KU grad living in Texas. I am glad to have a site to go to that is free to get my daily Hawks updates. I read everything on this site everyday. I don't always agree with The columnists or some or the reader opinions but I appreciate the site. So "click" yes or no and move on.

JB, HEM, Slayer, and others- love your takes. Let the season begin. Rock Chalk.

Tim Orel 8 years, 3 months ago

Or view it on something other than a PC. I've seen people saying they don't have questions on Macs and tablets.

John Randall 8 years, 3 months ago

The hoopla about Selden (and Black) looking like "men among boys" seems to belabor the point that nothing but boys were to be found anywhere on the court.

It's still preseason, so we can expect that the AAU all-star crap won't last much longer. I'm ready for some college basketball – anyone else?

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