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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.”

Comments

Jack Wilson 5 months, 3 weeks 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.

HEM

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Gary Bedore 5 months, 3 weeks 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 :)

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Kyle Coffey 5 months, 3 weeks 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.

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Brett McCabe 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Last year, I remember thinking: what would we do without Jeff back there defending the rim? He was such a presence and such a factor on the defensive end.

We'll have a much different feel on defense this year but Self has hinted in his comments that the team could be very strong on D. While adding Wiggins certainly grabbed all of the headlines, it may be addition of Black in the post that will determine wins and losses early in the season while the freshmen develop. Of course, Perry should also help steady us down low.

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Doug Cramer 5 months, 3 weeks 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
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Jonathan Allison 5 months, 3 weeks ago

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

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Woody Cragg 5 months, 3 weeks 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!

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