Thursday, October 24, 2013

Self sees matchup options with big backcourt

Blue Team guard Wayne Selden drives against Red Team guard Frank Mason during an open-practice scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Blue Team guard Wayne Selden drives against Red Team guard Frank Mason during an open-practice scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.


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At least one thing stands out when evaluating Kansas University’s possible starting lineup of 5-foot-11 Naadir Tharpe, 6-5 Wayne Selden, 6-8 Andrew Wiggins, 6-8 Perry Ellis and 6-9 Tarik Black.

It’s one, fairly tall unit — sure to provide matchup problems for opposing coaches.

“Last year we had big guards, too, with Travis (Releford, 6-6) and Ben (McLemore, 6-5),” KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self reminded reporters at Big 12 Media Day on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. Starting point guard on the 31-6 squad was 6-4 Elijah Johnson.

“You know, we were not quite as big as we’re going to be this year. Some of our best teams I’ve had little-bitty guards, guys that make plays. But I do think there is a difference with Wayne and with Andrew. I do think they can make plays and make them off the bounce. I think they can make them off the catch, too, because they both shoot the ball pretty well.

“It’s going to be a little bit different, but we’re not going to play much different. We’re going to try to put them in as many ball screens as we possibly can and get them to the point where they can attack off the bounce and get a piece of the paint like those little guards we’ve had in the past. I think they’ll be able to do it.”

Self — who praises the leadership, shooting and passing ability of height-challenged Tharpe — sounds like he’s intrigued by the size of freshmen Wiggins and Selden. Also, first guard off the bench at this time figures to be 6-6 Andrew White III.

“We’ve got to get Andrew (Wiggins) and Wayne opportunities to catch in the post. They could be two of our very best post players,” Self said.

“Absolutely,” he added when asked if he could play Selden or Wiggins at the 4 position (power forward). We could go real small and have Perry at the 5 (post). The thing is you want to play your best players if it works out. Our bigs now have been as consistent performers as we have. It’s hard to take both (bigs) out as of now.”

Frontcourt players Ellis and Black are being pushed hard daily by 7-foot Joel Embiid, 6-8 Jamari Traylor and 6-10 Landen Lucas. Judging from some recent practices, it appears Lucas may be the fifth big with several workouts remaining before Tuesday’s exhibition opener versus Pittsburg State.

“Last year we played without a low-post player. Jeff (Withey) was not a low post scorer. Kevin (Young) wasn’t a low-post scorer,” Self said. “We have more size and ability to play through our post more to score, I hope. I don’t think we were the deepest on the perimeter last year. A lot of things we can do better this year. We’re also replacing three fifth-year guys who started (Releford, Young, Withey) and a four-year guy who started (Johnson). There’s no substitute for experience. If we were going to play a game right now, trust me, last year’s team would beat this year’s team. Hopefully that will not be the case later. We weren’t good early last year either. There’s natural progression for teams to make.”

One thing KU may be missing is a batch of blocked shots.

“He’s not a rim protector like Withey,” Self said of Embiid. “I think he’s a good shot blocker. I don’t think he’s as good as he can be. He has to condition his brain to go get ‘em. We’ve been spoiled the last two years. We had the best shot blocker in America the last two years. He made up for a lot of mistakes.”

Self does expect some growing pains from his team, which plays what’s been called the toughest nonconference schedule in America.

“Well, we’re going to make mistakes and we’ll struggle in some areas, and I assume closing close games out could be a struggle until you learn how to win and that kind of stuff,” Self said. “But I would hope by conference play we don’t allude to these guys as young kids, inexperienced and that kind of stuff. Because the games that we play nonconference, if that can’t get a freshman ready to become a sophomore by mid-season, I’m not sure there is any schedule out there that can.”


Woody Cragg 7 years, 12 months ago

HCBS may have more options with these guys than any he's had before. But IMO the leash will still be short if they can't defend. He can always replace freshman & sophomores with more freshman & sophomores. Bring on coach Konsonants & the Dookies-let's see what these kids are made of. Faster, faster, let's get it on!

Ron Franklin 7 years, 12 months ago

That's a Jaybate expression, McCabe. Are you sure you like it still?

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 12 months ago

Wiggins is 6'8" now? Must've hit a growth spurt

Glen Miller 7 years, 12 months ago

Don't you know he grows an inch a day!! LOL.... In high school in the football program I'm not sure if any of us were the actual height listed. They tend to bump you an inch or two.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 12 months ago

I'm intrigued by all the dialogue from folks that attended late night...regarding Selden's ability to run the point!

If this is true...we could go REAL BIG in the back court.

  1. Selden
  2. White III or Greene
  3. Wiggins
  4. P-Doggie Ellis
  5. Black

Steven Mathew 7 years, 12 months ago

While that does sound intriguing, I don't know if Ellis has the lateral mobility to defend at the 3, especially with the new rules now.

Joe Ross 7 years, 12 months ago

Maybe not Steven, but with the amount of height that Adam supposes, there would be no shortage of help-defense. Not only are all of those players tall, but they're all quick!

Eliott Reeder 7 years, 12 months ago

Black has been a fouling machine in the past, so I wouldn't count on him anchoring the defense just yet. Hopefully it will be easier for him in the Big XII, where refs let the big boys bang and be pretty physical in the paint...

Joe Ross 7 years, 12 months ago

Yes, this group is very capable of being great on defense by virtue of their height and quickness. But especially with a freshman group I wont pretend Im not concerned about fouls. With the new rule Coach will certainly try to get them to play defense with their feet as opposed to their hands. I share the concern about Black's fouling propensity, but the depth in the post alleviates that "somewhat". With Tarik off the floor you lose a lot of leadership, though.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 12 months ago

I don't think having a bunch of freshmen in the mix is as big a deal this year as it would be in most years because of the rule changes. Players coming in from HS already have to adjust to a much different style of basketball compared to what they played in HS, but this year all the returning players are also having to make significant adjustments to the way they've played defense in previous years. Everybody has to play by a new set of rules so it does take away an advantage veterans have over freshmen and I think the rules changes are great for players like Wiggins and Selden.

Joe Ross 7 years, 12 months ago

I made the very same point somewhere else a few days ago, admitting I didn't know for sure how the new rule would affect freshman. Good response!

Kyle Coffey 7 years, 12 months ago

This team seems to be so deep that Self is telling his guys constantly to pressure the ball because if you get in foul trouble, someone else can jump in and bring the same pressure to the ball. Last year, KU was not very deep and if Johnson, McLemore or Releford got in foul trouble, in came Nuh-Deer, Rio Adams or AW3. Also same case with Withey or Young, in came Jamari-Safari, Perry or Wesley. In contrast this year's backups will be Frankamp, Mason, AW3, Greene and Wiggins can play more guard if needed with the front court backups being Jamari, Embiid and Lucas. then Wesley. Much more bodies and more talent available in the front and back court.

Joe Ross 7 years, 12 months ago

I dont know Kyle. I think the depth is an advantage, too, but I havent heard Coach say he's planning on going any deeper into his bench this year (even though I anticipate early on that it will be more of a necessity than anything else).

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 12 months ago

Bill Self will not go more than 9 deep. Never has and never will. It's sounding like the rotation right now is shaping up to be Tharpe, Selden, Wiggins, Ellis, Black as the starters with AW3, Embiid, and Traylor off the bench and Mason and Frankamp fighting the other spot with Mason leading that battle right now.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

Hey Aaron, I basically repeated what you said. My bad.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

It can all change of course but as of Tuesday's Media Day I think it shakes out as this way ... starters are Naadir, Selden, Wiggins, Perry and Black. Two bigs off bench are Embiid and Jamari. That's seven. Self has said White III is currently likely first guard off the bench. That's eight. Self said he doesn't want Selden playing the point yet, so that would indicate the next is Mason or Conner (Naadir has said both have been backing him up). That's nine. So whom am I forgetting? How does that look? Is nine too many? What about the others I've not mentioned ... Wow. The depth is limitless.

p.s. If you want to comment with your real name but want nothing to do with facebook, Jesse is giving the option of having somebody at the J-W call you to check your name. You might even get to talk to Jesse if you do it that way :)

Ryan Michael 7 years, 12 months ago

I agree, I think Lucas is going to be another big that Self can't really keep off the court completely. This team is so stacked it's ridiculous.

To address the "ps" statement, it's kind of funny in my opinion. This is just proof that the folks at KUSports are realizing they've made a huge mistake... Your comment sections used to explode on basketball posts, and now they sit idle with the same half-dozen people responding to each post. The call in thing isn't sustainable, and even then how do you confirm a name over the phone? Do you ask? I can spend 2 minutes signing up for a google voice number, have it route to my real phone, so you can't rely on the number... It's just comical.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

Why do you say it means we made a mistake? All we want is real discussion with real people (names) like a lot of publications are now doing. Maybe Jesse and Co., are just trying to be helpful and work with people. I'm not sure about your last few questions. I'm not big on the specifics of this deal. All we can do is kill accounts if we see it's a fake name, I guess.

Ryan Michael 7 years, 12 months ago

Well I say it's a mistake because anyone with eyes can see that this forum is dead after the change. A post like this would have had 100+ comments (most of pretty good quality). Now? You have half a dozen guys commenting over and over again saying pretty much the same thing with no solid discussion.

You can try to put lipstick on this pig all you want Gary, people aren't that stupid... It's obvious the change was for the worse. And comparing KUSports to ESPN is comical. Just don't.

Ryan Michael 7 years, 12 months ago

No, actually i have been responding to posts if you were paying any attention... I would respond to more legitimate discussion if it existed here, but it doesn't. The same half dozen posters (like yourself) provide no legitimate content here anymore.

It's probably a large reason why Gary has started posting here to try to pad the fact that nobody else is.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

I think he likes Lucas and I think Lucas has made good progress. I just think at this time the four ahead of him are Perry, Black, Embiid and Traylor and I think Bill likes to use just four bigs. But I do think the coaches like Lucas and remember they're one injury or a few bad practices away from taking each others jobs at many positions. Deep team.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 12 months ago

I think it was Self during media day that said Lucas is the 5th big right now which means Lucas is a garbage time player in Self's system. There's a reason the kid redshirted last year. He may be a serviceable player during his time at KU, but there's nothing out there to indicate he's ever going to be anything more than a role player for KU who may end up starting in 2-3 years as a junior or senior. He was a 3 star kid and is developing at the rate one would expect out of a 3 star kid. I would love to see him pull a Trey Burke and end being a NPOY, but there's no evidence in his first 15 months or so as a Jayhawk to say he'll ever be anything more than a role player. It's not a bad thing if that's all he ever becomes because every team needs role players who can do their job well enough to let the stars dominate.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

I think he's got talent. He'd probably play 30 minutes a game for a majority of teams in any major conference this season, definitely a majority of the Big 12 teams. It remains to be seen what he gets done in his KU career, but as of right now, he's just a red-shirt freshman. He may not play at all here this year if nobody gets hurt. He won't beat out Perry, Embiid and Black and Self really loves Traylor, so like you said he's probably the fifth big all year which means no PT unless he passes Traylor at some point. That's doubtful cause Self loves Traylor and his game.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 12 months ago

A few of things ..

1] On Lucas, he was just not that talented coming out of high school. Just a fact. Generally unranked/outside top 100. Traylor is a year ahead and has that advantage. But really Lucas is exactly where he should be now as a redshirt freshman. With that, Lucas is a develepmental guy and a nice insurance policy. His true value will come his junior and senior seasons. Not to be harsh, but that's really it.

He's a guy that Self can recruit over without concern for starting spots, and certainly will. If Lucas is a competent 3rd big his junior and/or senior season, that's a win. If we don't need Lucas to be the 3rd big, ever, that's a win too. Kind of like Traylor being big #4 this season. Perfect #4 guy. Lucas was the result of missing on Kaleb Tarczewski -- the "all in" thing, and thus was the fall back position. That's all we should expect.

2] The starting lineup and subs are really just as they were (predictably) two months ago. The only question was whether Frankamp could be the backup PG over Mason, with the question being ball handling (some predicted Mason as the starter of course). Lots of posters went gaga over Frankamp too after the summer scrimmage. But ball handling (taking care of the ball) wins the back up PG gig. And after watching the scrimmage last Saturday, Mason is much more the PG. I think it's clear that he gets the back PG minutes. Might be 8 per game. And with Mason, that's perfect .. a guy to hand over the keys to in 2015-16.

3] And I would not say that the depth is "limitless" as Gary suggested. Self gains a comfort zone with players. As the season goes on, his belt tightens. Self may have the depth, but he won't use it. Look at last season .. Adams and White just sat. We had the depth. Self isn't into developing guys during games. So as the season progresses, the depth gets rust. Some folks criticized White when he came in and clanked a few. Most of those guys likely didn't play the game. It's incredibly hard to be out of real game action for weeks and then just come in and perform. Self's mentality -- the quick hook -- limits his bench because he won't tolerate what rust gives us -- mistakes. He won't let the next tier guys work through the mistakes. As the season goes on, guys who don't play, won't play. And when they do, it's emergency situations. As it sits, by conference play, you might not see anyone on the court past the top 9 -- Greene and Frankamp could be White and Adams of last season.

4] With that, if Frankamp is in that situation, I really hope he redshirts. He was plainly the weakest player on the court (size and strength), including walkons. Give Hudy a year. Practice. And be a five year player.


Jesse Johnson 7 years, 12 months ago

I completely agree with your analysis on Lucas. I'm not sure why people are even talking about Lucas playing this year. This recruiting class, which could be the best in KU history, helps to complete possibly the deepest team we have ever had. So why is there even a clamor about Lucas, a 3 star prospect in high school, getting playing time in his first of four years? I'm sure HCBS loves the kid, but he probably also loved Jeremy Case (who I remember being foolishly excited about because Roy Williams stated he was the best 3 point shooter he had ever recruited, I learned from that to not get excited about contributions from 3 star players at KU, especially their first year playing).

I'm taking the wait and see approach on White. I know they say he's much improved and he really just didn't get much time to prove himself last year, etc. But I have just learned that you can't expect a player who shoots well in practice to be a great game shooter. Shooting in games is a completely different skillset from knocking down practice jumpers by yourself in the gym. Best example of this is Elijah Johnson, who, despite "putting on shooting clinics" in practice , was a streaky AT BEST 3 pt shooter in games in his career (only 34% for career). If White still struggles in games, then his rotation spot is on very thin ice with Greene nipping at his heels if he can demonstrate game shooting ability.

Jesse Johnson 7 years, 12 months ago

Also of note, from that article I posted a link to EJ mentions Conner Teahan and his ability to make 3 pointers in practice from "just about anywhere". He's an example of a player who didn't get better at making shots with more playing time. He was best when he only played mop up minutes for some reason (maybe because the competition also had their mop up crew in the game for him to get shots off against?) In any case, more PT doesn't necessarily mean a player will shake off game time nerves and become the type of shooter he is in practice. Like I said, it is really a different skillset.

Ryan Michael 7 years, 12 months ago

I think a lot of Conners issues didn't revolve around his shooting ability though... It was the lack of athleticism (relative). He simply wasn't fast enough, tall enough, or strong enough to compete against starters at that level. He couldn't dribble well enough against a quick defender to boot. I loved Conners effort though, he just wasn't built to play elite D1 competition.

White on the other hand has put on considerable muscle. From what I can tell he's dramatically improved his ball handling (about as much as you could ask for in a year) as well. The athletic ability exists here, where it didn't with Conner. That's a huge difference. I guess time will tell whether he gets significant minutes, but I'd give him a lot better shot at seeing the court than I would someone like Conner...

Ryan Michael 7 years, 12 months ago

And i quote: "Again the question: why are you here? To rile up people? Because you are insecure?"

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

Yeah I don't see many people clamoring for him to play a lot. In my case I'm just pointing out I guess that I do not think he's a stiff. We'll see, but I think he's OK. Maybe not KU caliber, we shall see on that, but he's no Travis Williams (bless Travis' heart).

Ryan Michael 7 years, 12 months ago

Although he may not be Jeff Withey or Cole Aldrich, he's still a true big, with a big wingspan... Also, from what I can tell he's muscled up quite a bit.

I guess my point is that Black has been known to foul quick and often... If he hits the bench with foul trouble, Joel and Lucas are really our only options at the 5 as true bigs. I really don't see Joel being consistent enough to play a lot of minutes. I think he's going to do fine against powder puff teams, but not against B12 competition. I think the pace of the game and the picks and rotations are going to eat him up until he gets a better understanding and some experience. His up-side is massive, but even the best bigs typically take time to understand and work in Selfs system. That leaves an open slot for Lucas to contribute quite a bit in my estimation...

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

To be devil's advocate regarding White, guys do improve sometimes and we've seen it at KU dating back to Paul Pierce even. We're just in a society that expects production right off the bat. Guys can improve.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 12 months ago

I see Lucas having a lot of growing pains but I want to see him on the court. Something that may happen is he gets more minutes when we have big leads, and hopefully that will be often this season.

Its lol possible Self goes with 9, but who they are changes nightly depending on need. There's going to be lots of options.

Gary Bedore 7 years, 12 months ago

Good points, the depth may not be limitless but sort of because he has 10-11 guys who can play for most anybody. They are the 5 starters plus Embiid, Traylor, White, Conner, Mason, Greene. The other two scholarship players are Mickelson (redshirt) and Lucas and Lucas isn't bad. In this day and age, that depth is close to limitless. Pretty much every scholarship player could play in the rotation on a major conference team.

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