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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Brannen Greene: Kansas players ‘get along great’

Brannen Greene

Brannen Greene

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Brannen Greene

One of the best things about playing basketball at Kansas University, Brannen Greene says, is the camaraderie of a close-knit team.

“We all get along great,” said Greene, a 6-foot-7 freshman shooting guard from Juliette, Ga. “There aren’t any grudges on the team. Nobody dislikes anybody. There are all positive vibes everywhere.”

Those good vibrations were evident at last week’s Media Day ...

• when freshman center Joel Embiid praised senior power forward Tarik Black for sharing his expertise;

• when freshman point guard Frank Mason singled out junior Naadir Tharpe for showing him the ropes;

• when freshman sharpshooters Greene and Conner Frankamp kidded about their one-on-one three-point shooting competitions held before and after practice.

“We have them all the time,” Greene said. “I beat him sometimes. He beats me sometimes. It all depends. He’s definitely the best shooter I’ve gone against. Hopefully he’ll say the same about me.”

Noted Frankamp: “It’s good fun. It helps me a lot having somebody to shoot with. He’s a great shooter. I think shooting behind the arc, we’re similar. He’s taller and longer. He’s good as well off the dribble. I think we’re both great shooters all around.”

Greene averaged 27 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists a game last year for Tift County High School (26-5). Frankamp, 6-foot from Wichita North, went for 31.1 points and 3.8 assists per contest for North (20-3).

“I think I’m a versatile scorer, but primarily a shooter,” Greene said.

“I shot a pretty good percentage in high school. I think I was 52 percent from the three-point line,” Frankamp noted. “I was pretty accurate in high school. I have to bring it to this level as well.”

KU coach Bill Self especially enjoys watching Frankamp and Greene the days they are on fire from long range.

“He’s big. He’s 6-7 with great range and vision and good ball skills,” Self said of Greene. “He’s got to tighten a lot of things up. In any other recruiting class, he would be a headliner. He’s a good player.”

Of Frankamp, Self said: “If there is somebody that can shoot better, I would like to see it because he can shoot it maybe as well as anyone we have had here. The one thing with Conner is, he is a shooter and a scorer, but probably a shooter before a scorer. With that you get to the college level and you have bigger guys closing out at you, and the game’s a little faster. You need to learn to get your shot off a little faster, and sometimes you see guys really labor to shoot the ball with the same consistency they did in high school. And that, to me, won’t be a concern because he will have the green light with us, is what I would say he has to grow through.”

The Wichitan has a shooter’s mentality.

“At the college level, guys are longer and tougher. I have to knock down open shots, not miss many open shots,” Frankamp said. “I feel I can knock down a lot of open shots.”

Frankamp finished his high school career with 2,275 points, passing current Jayhawk Perry Ellis (2,231) as top scorer in Wichita City League history.

“He (Ellis) doesn’t talk to me much about the scoring record, but we talk every once in a while. It helps having him around. I can ask him anything. He’s always there to talk to me and help me,” Frankamp stated, giving another example of KU camaraderie.

“He hasn’t brought it up yet. I’m sure he might,” Ellis said with a smile, hinting he might have a nice comeback awaiting Frankamp, such as total state championships. “It’s great to have Conner with me (after) playing against each other three years. I’m just excited having him on the team. He’s excited to be here, too.”

Comments

Jesse Johnson 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Love to read stories like this. Even though on paper Kentucky maybe has more talent, but I think our team has a better chance to mesh well. Can't wait for this season to start.

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Dee Shaw 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky, Yah, Yah. Who cares about the Wildcats. We are KANSAS. CNNSI.com just ranked KU the best college basketball program, present day.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

That's great... I remember when USA Today did the same in the early 90s except that it was called the best program in the history of college basketball. It's pretty clear that KU has impacted the game of basketball more than any other program.

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Steve Reigle 10 months, 3 weeks ago

It appears to me Kentucky's recruiting class is put together by getting the highest ranking recuits possible whereas Kansas puts together by going after the best available players that fit the team needs and who will mesh well with the other personalities on the team. Kentucky's method sometimes results in excellent performance and sometimes results in getting blown out in the first round of the NIT.

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Jason Keller 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't kid yourself. Let's not act like the kids that choose other schools just weren't a good fit for KU. The highest ranking kids tend to be the best players. Rivals is actually shockingly accurate if you look at large samples of data. Self goes after the best players period.

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John Randall 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The "best" players can be interpreted several ways ... making a team better is the most important.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm pretty sure KU offered everyone in Kentucky's a scholarship. At what point KU was dropped from those kids lists. Based on what I've seen of the Harrison twins, UK could be in for another frustrating season in which they underachieve.

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Brad Farha 10 months, 3 weeks ago

What have you seen of the Harrison twins? Not challenging your assertion, just want to know what you are seeing.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The twins are very talented players, but they are also two of the most selfish players I've ever seen. There was a report a couple of years ago that one of them got into a fight with another teammate who was also a D1 prospect because the twins only passed the ball between themselves. I also went to a couple of their games and they were pretty selfish players. Unless they've learned how to share the ball, I haven't seen a ton of evidence of that, UK will have some big time chemistry issues this season that will cost them games.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Just to give a little more light to the subject, the player who was involved in the fight was Anthony Odunsi who was the leading scorer for Fort Bend that year so he must have been getting the ball. Anthony Odunsi history - signed with Iowa St. out of high school and later asked for his release. Went to Utah for a year, then asked for his release. Ended up at Tyler JC for a year and just signed with Albany this past April. Anthony is on his 4th college and he has only been out of high school for 2 years - that should tell you something.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The reason Odunsi led the team in scoring is because when he got the ball, he would never pass it to a twin because he wouldn't get the ball back. That was a very divided team that was a ticking time bomb. They may have matured and if they have, Kentucky has a shot at a title this year. But if they haven't, Kentucky is in for another long season. I'm not trying to pick on the twins just because they're at Kentucky because theres a couple of players at UK that I really like such as Johnson and Young, this was the reality 15 months ago when their recruitment began and I've never been a fan of theirs because of the drama that was their HS careers.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

It was Odunsi who started the altercation as well..."Last week's fight occured with one minute left in the third quarter of Travis' game against Austin at Wheeler Field House. Video of the fight obtained by FOX 26 showed the physical part of the altercation started when Odunsi pushed Aaron Harrison in the chest."

Like I said, Odunsi is on his 4th college in two years - doesn't that say something? Bilas and Greenberg are two reputable analysts who both came away with the Twins being team players.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Regarding the Twins, Seth Greenberg and Jay Bilas were at Calipari's Fantasy Camp 3 weeks ago and had this to say:

Seth = "The Harrison twins were very different than I expected. Despite their reputation of being aloof, I found them to be engaged and connected to their teammates. They were very much part of the group." On Andrew Harrison - "He played hard, was unselfish and carried himself with confidence and poise. He got in the lane at will in both half-court and transition and played through contact at the rim. Harrison has the size, strength and quickness to be an excellent on-ball defender." On Aaron Harrison - "Harrison is a "ball guard" who will play some point guard. He has great size and strength and shoots the ball effortlessly and with range. Defensively, he has the strength to get through screens, but like all freshman he must learn not to take plays off."

Jay = “With the weapons Andrew is going to have around him, I think he can be especially effective because he has really good size and can absorb a bump and still finish a play. And he can handle it and penetrate, he’s a good passer. And he’s a really good kid.”

I wouldn't believe too much of that texashawk10, there is a reason why both Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins (before committing) both answered "Andrew Harrison" when asked the question "if there was one player you want to play with in college, who would it be?"

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Brad Farha 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Looks like these kids of grown up some. Should be an interesting year for both KU and UK.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree...I'm expecting both teams to be in Dallas next April.

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Kevin Huffman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow! Are you sure the question wasn't - FROM THIS CLASS who would you most want to play with? It would seem like someone coming in fresh might prefer to play with an already established Marcus Smart or the like vs. a Freshman.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The question was from Dave Telep and he referred to any "high school" player...I wasn't portraying it to be any basketball player - my point is the two top players in the 2013 class wouldn't be answering that question with Andrew Harrison if they believed for a second he is a complete ball hog.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

drgnslayr...I'm game - I only follow the day to day practices for UK, but I think I have a good idea what to expect from KU as well. Obviously there is a lot of hype out there right now for both teams and with the teams being so young, I'm not sure how credible the preseason analysis would be other than setting a benchmark for the midseason and pre-NCAA Tournament.

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Brad Farha 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for sharing the insight. I don't wish ill on other players when they don't choose KU, but I have no problem with other problems suffering from chemistry problems ; )

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Could be wrong but if the twins were to be selfish (and truthfully, I only know what's been said here), I think Cal would be quick to make a change. You just can't keep the ball out of Julius Randle's hands. If anything, the more he has it the better Kentucky will do. Too much talent to be watching the twins.

Wouldn't be surprised if Cal only played one twin at a time for the majority of the minutes (again, solely based on the info here) but that would also waste the positive chemistry you have when two players are completely in sync. In their third season at Kansas after both Morris twins had made huge advancements in their game, I believe they played best when both were on the court at the same time. Just an observation.

But as far as the twins at Kentucky go...not our problem.

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"It appears to me Kentucky's recruiting class is put together by getting the highest ranking recuits possible whereas Kansas puts together by going after the best available players that fit the team needs and who will mesh well with the other personalities on the team."

That's hardly the case - BS offered a scholarship to every top 10 ranked player in the 2013 class except the Harrison twins who committed early to UK. BS is recruiting the likes of Randle, Walker, Young, Gordon, etc. as hard as Calipari, Coach K, Williams, and Donovan.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Self did offer the Harrison twins, but they cut KU pretty early on and were a toss up between UK and Maryland for a while.

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David Leathers 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Close. But in reality, as others have already said, Bill offers a lot of the top kids that Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and others offer as well. I think the difference, and what you should have articulated, is that in recruiting, Self is honest with his players and really sells the team concept. Basically letting them know that no matter how good they really are, if they don't buy in, they don't play. So instead of Bill only going after the guys that will play team ball, he goes after the best and lets them choose if they want to play team ball.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Is that you BBall? NIT hangover?

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

still polishing off the latest NC banner and getting room to add #9 truehawk93!!!

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jaybate 10 months, 3 weeks ago

BeeBeeBalls,

Didn't you mean you were polishing a turd? :-)

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Alex Peekeaton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Jaybate...I must say that has been my favorite post from you ever - you only used 9 words!!!

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Woody Cragg 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Take off your shoes damn it, or just get help from a player. They count past ten don't they? Be Bee Balls is three words without spaces. Comical handle for a guy to take public. Please visit the site regularly for much more thoroughly memorable abuse.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

This is arguably the best recruiting class in Kansas history and maybe the second or third best overall or at least since the days UCLA. The same could be said for Kentucky with them having maybe the number one overall recruiting class.

Both teams are have some key returning players, Cauley-Stein for Kentucky and Tharpe, Ellis and maybe a breakout sophomore for Kansas. Also senior Terak Black may prove to be one of the best moves Coach Self made this summer.

No matter how you look at it I think both teams have all the talent needed to win it all and are fairly equal. I think if the two teams were to meet in the final four, the difference would come down to coaching. HCBS over Cal every day.

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Kevin Huffman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't forget Poythress for UK also.

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Suzi Marshall 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Is Greene actually competing for the"shooting guard", 2 postion? Frankamp (6'.0, 165) and Greene (6'7", 215) are competing for the same position with equivalent shoot skills and comparable ball handling skills.. Greene has 7 inch and 50 pounds over Frankamp......

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Bob Thompson 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, but note that Conner has assists, and Greene has rebounds. Depends on what your team needs for any particular game.

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Jim Roth 10 months, 3 weeks ago

According to the article, Greene averaged 6.0 assists a game last year in high school. Frankamp averaged 3.8 assists.

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Dirk Medema 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Which speaks to the supporting cast around Greene as much as anything.

Conner led the national team 2 summers ago in scoring and assists I believe. He'll be more of a 1-2, while Greene is more of a 2-3. Coach Self will find a way to play the players who are playing the best in the right position, and both of these guys are likely to play.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"Comparable ball handling skills"? I'd give Greene the edge. Greene is going to be your overall better 2 with all that's been mentioned. I love CF, but just don't think he's quite ready to take on D1 talent...yet. If he's given some time to adjust and fine tune his game, he'll be even better. Greene is ready to step in with all his skills.

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clevelandjayhawker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

What he did with team USA in the U-17 games is what keeps me thinking he is ready. I think we all agree White, Green and CF are competing for 1 spot in the rotation. I like all 3 but there needs to be one or two redshirts from that group I feel.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I love what he did at the U17. I just don't think D1 is U17. I think he'll struggle due to his size and lateral footwork. I think other D1 players are going to expose him right now.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I see Greene and White competing more for minutes at the 3 than Conner and Greene at the 2.

Pure speculation and it also depends on where Selden gets most of his minutes. I could easily see Greene, White and Selden playing both the 2 & 3 depending on how HCBS sets his rotation and who plays better on defense.

Is a 10 man rotation out of the question?

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I remember Roy taking out five players and then sending in a new five. Didn't happen often and a different coach. Seen him do it at UNC also but Roy usually keeps an 8-9 player rotation.

I happen to agree HEM but we have 10 players who are all capable of starting on probably 95% of the teams not in the top 20. Glad I don't have to make the tough choices such as deciding which two players of that 10 who won't get many minutes.

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Mel Clare 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, if they are competing for the same minutes.......I say it is a nice problem to have! The other team starts a smaller guy at the 2 then go with Frankamp, they start a bigger guy, go with Greene! I look at this team and see a lot of interchangeable parts and positions! Will be fun to watch. Also..............Conner can play point if needed.

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Benz Junque 10 months, 3 weeks ago

CF isn't getting redshirted. This team needs a lethal three point shooter to be truly balanced and I think Self knows that. He probably sees Frankamp as a much better version of Tyler Reed.

With Tharpe feeding the ball to slashers Wiggins or Selden or to Ellis and Black in the post. a good three point shooter will have plenty of open shots. I personally feel that this missing piece of the puzzle is the only reason why UK beat KU in 2012 title game. I don't think either redshirts because having two elite shooters of such differing height gives KU the ability to counter any matchup.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

It doesn't make me any difference. They're all fairly capable, but which would be the most immediate fit? If he backs the 2 and some pg...great. I hope it works. I just see CF struggling with all his obvious opps.

two, re-read the piece again, Greene is as good a shooter as CF. You have a really strong bias to CF and that's great. Let's hope CF can step in immediately from game one and make a fair contribution. I just think he'll struggle more than Greene would. You defend CF way too much and there's no need. We all know that CF is an outstanding player and they will all get better with time.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't think it will happen but with White and Greene we will still have the deep threat needed to spread the defense.

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Dirk Medema 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Neither is starting in front of Selden and Wiggins. They are competing for sub minutes.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

There is only one position available with Tharpe (weakest link) Wiggins, Selden and Ellis having their positions pretty much cemented.

Whether Black or Embiid starts at center is probably the only position that isn't already decided. I think Black will most likely start as the season opens but Embiid will finish the year starting.

Fighting for the other three spots in the rotation will be intense.

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Michael Pannacciulli 10 months, 3 weeks ago

My hunch...one of these two red shirts.

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Ted Hume 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Fellow posters have been over this ad nauseum, with one variation (Frankamp): but I think the consensus must be that one of either Greene or White will redshirt. That's really the only realistic situation. My money is on Greene, because both have good length but AWIII looks to be in much better shape (remember that boot camp photo?-wow) and probably is way ahead D-wise (big, huge, enormous factor), has a year under his belt, and also came in as a terrific deep shooter. If Conner's the best pure shooter in the country, then he remains suited up this year for spot duty as a check-in shooter 2-3 times per half, for a few minutes at at at time to stretch leads and totally demoralize the opponents.

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Ted Hume 10 months, 3 weeks ago

check that- ... meant to say 2-3 (maybe 3-4) times per game (2-3 per half would put him FULLY in the rotation, and we just don't have those kinds of minutes to go around:)

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd agree Hume. I'd give AW3 the edge over Greene. It depends on AW3's progress in the footwork, agility, and overall system. Agreed, he seems to be in excellent shape and would definitely be better adjusted than Greene or CF.

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Benz Junque 10 months, 3 weeks ago

AW3 will need to improve tremendously over what I saw from him last year to get minutes. He wasn't ready to be in the rotation last year. We'll see how hard he worked in the offseason.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

two- you're too much. CF will not play over an experienced, bigger, stronger AW3. I'll take AW3 at this point over Greene and CF. Again, you're too quick to defend CF. Give it a break. You've defended him each time I've made an observation. What's funny, I'm going off of what CF and HCBS has said about progress. Ultimately, either player is a win win for KU.

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Ryan Houston 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I Agree with tedHume 100%. Greene is a great player, they both are. But Frankamp could just kill the other teams behind the arc. So I would go with Frankamp

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"AWIII looks to be in much better shape (remember that boot camp photo?-wow) and probably is way ahead D-wise"

Couldn't agree more. I think Self gets more angry over sloppy or lazy defense than anything else except turnovers.

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wrwlumpy 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Are we the largest fan base in America or just the most popular?

http://kenpom.com/popular.php

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ccarp 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe, but I'd say not till next season.

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clevelandjayhawker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

How does an opposing team defend us? With zone- we will burn them with our deep 3 weapons and Perry being able to shoot from mid-range. With man- who can guard Ellis, Wiggins or Selden one on one? Especially with Bill calling the shots and Black/Embiid setting screens for backdoor cuts. Or you can try and get into a track meet with us, but its not like we have around 12 guys that could start for most teams in America.

I think we have the shooters and getting points won' be an issue (on paper), but D is where we will win or lose.

My expectations are super high for this team, but they are young. With that said it is going to be fun to watch them grow.

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VaJay 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Personally, I'm glad to hear we have multiple sharpshooters that can knock down 3's & open up the defense & not let them pack it in. It should open up more lanes for Wiggins & Co. to get to the hoop.

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BucknellJayhawk3 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Connor Frankamp will be a better shooter than Connor Teahan but his Zac Efron impersonation will be lacking.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Teahan wasn't a great shooter. I believe he was a sub 40% 3 shot for his career. I want to say that Tyshawn had a better career % and I don't think anyone believes he was a dead eye shooter, but I also don't think he gets the credit he deserves either though for his shooting. I think statistically, Brady is actually the best 3 point shooter of the Bill Self era not counting Withey.

CF is the best shooter I've seen wearing KU colors since Boschee. I also think he gets the AW3 treatment this year of someone who has the offensive game to be effective, but just isn't a good enough defender to be able to leave on the floor regularly.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't remember what Chalmers was for his career, but Brady was a career 42% 3 point shooter. It wouldn't shock me at all if Mario was better. I'm typing this off the top of my head and don't have a computer to verify. It wouldn't shock me at all if Chlamers was 43% or 44% fir his career. I want to say Brandon was was 41%, I know Tyrel Reed was 40%. I can look it up when I get off work today and verify those numbers, but I know Brady was one of the best of the Bill Self era.

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BucknellJayhawk3 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd be curious to see the effective offensive efficiency a la Ken Pom. Brady was a good shooter but was also a very selective shooter, which fit his role on the team.

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justanotherfan 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's remember that shooting percentage, while great, doesn't present a full picture. For example, Brady was a good 3pt shooter, but a lot of the 3's he took were wide open shots because the defense was rotated away from him.

For Rush and Chalmers, they both took a lot more challenged 3's because they were counted on for scoring, so the degree of difficulty on their shots was higher.

Tyrel falls somewhere in between. Towards the end of his career, we really depended on his shooting, but defenses also knew that and matched up accordingly.

With this year's team, I think we could see whichever shooter gets the opportunity shoot a very high percentage (mid to upper 40s) because the defense will be rotated around to Selden, Wiggins, Ellis, etc. Those marginally better looks will help the percentage tick up just a bit because they are all great shooters and those open looks will get converted.

Once the defense starts rotating around to them as shooters, their passing skills will come into play, which is where the size of White and Greene may become important. Frankamp will have to be smart with the ball and make sure he's rotating it quickly before bigger guys can cut off his passing and vision lanes.

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jaybate 10 months, 3 weeks ago

If you only got five men on a roster, Greene would get the nod for size, other things equal, no doubt.

But you get 13-15 and you want a rotation of 8, if you can find 8 with no fall off. Rotations not only allow resting starters, but playing matchups, too.

Greene and Conner, White and Conner, allow Self to go long, or short, to matchup with long or short opponents.

Keeping Greene, Conner AND White eligible, allows Self to stay long rotating White and Greene.

And on rare occasions, when the opponent goes 3 short, Self can counter with Naa, Conner and Mason m2m, then zone with White and Greene, then back again.

If it were me, I would not red shirt any of them in order to go for a ring with all match-ups covered.

But Self thinks of continuity, too, so one, will probably be redshirted to ensure long term shooting length.

Also, Self just dished out some serious praise to Greene. In a normal recruiting class, Greene would be considered the star.

At the same time, Self spoke the red shirt code of Greene having some things that "need tightening up."

It sounds like Self thinks Greene is a future draft choice that could get cherry picked early by the NBA on size, trey touch, and "potential," if he were to play this year.

Self would probably like Brannen to red shirt and be ready to be a star next season.

But he will most likely make the redshirt offer to both guys and see which one accepts.

Conner appears to be a go this season.

I can't see why Self would green light some one to shoot and then redshirt him.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Greene was right the same neighborhood as the twins and T-Rob as far as recruiting rankings go so him being an early exit wouldn't be the most surprising outcome. Given that Greene is college 2-3 though and not a college 4 like the other 3, I could see Greene being a 4-5 year player depending upon a potential redshirt. One thing I would do with Greene if I were Coach Self, give Greene plenty of video to watch of Reggie Miller. Greene has a thicker body than Miller, but there are a lot of similarities in their games.

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jaybate 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Great point about Reggie. We are most fortunate if Brannen can do what Reggie did.

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jaybate 10 months, 3 weeks ago

clevelandjay,

There are going to be three ways to play this team.

  1. Lay way off Tharpe and help everywhere else and dare Tharpe to beat you. This allows DTs on wings and down low. Then isolate on Tharpe on the offensive end.

  2. Overplay, muscle, smother and rattle Tharpe. Then isolate on Tharpe on the offensive end.

  3. Run the Princeton, or shuffle offense and wear down an impatient, green team.

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Jack Wilson 10 months, 3 weeks ago

So you're saying Tharpe's the weak spot on the offensive end?

Actually, I'm unclear in what we really have in Black. As a collective group here, we have just assumed Black is a plug-in, KU quality post player. That remains to be seen. We also saw Ellis get a bit overwhelmed by in your face defense in the post. He will be the focal point for defenses in the post this season. Embiid is a freshman. Traylor can't score.

If I'm an opposing coach, staring down a perimeter of Wiggins, Selden, Tharpe and a sharp-shooter, I may be a bit more comfortable defending the post.

I don't disagree that Tharpe may end up being the weakest link (though I doubt it). But right now, collectively, I'm more skeptical of our post play.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

HEM- no slight toward Tharpe at all. I'd say it's a compliment to Tharpe. If Tharpe is improved, and he should be, then if teams lay off him...he will be dangerous. He's got experience, skills, and smarts. He'll be a great sleeper when teams focus on the others. He should take full advantage of his opps this year, because teams will dare him to beat them.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

If I was an opposing coach, I'd try and force Tharpe into shooting as many shots as possible because he's never had the reputation of being a great shooter and we've seen at times that he can get a little too trigger happy and take some bad shots.

As far as Black goes, there's enough out of him against good teams since Memphis usually plays a pretty good non-conference schedule to know what he brings to the table. He's not a great scorer, but capable of having a game here and there where he leads a team in scoring. He's going to be the best rebounder on the team and this is his meal ticket to the NBA. He's also a very physical defender and if he can cut down his fouls (this is his biggest issue on the floor), he can be an enforcer that makes opponents think twice about driving the lane.

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Benz Junque 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, Tharpe's offensive game is the weak spot at the offensive end. If he gets duped into taking a lot of jumpers, KU will be in trouble. Like Taylor, he can hit some and even hit a hot spell, but you have a lot of better options.

I don't think anyone should expect Black to be a traditional KU post player in the mode of Morris or T-Rob. I see him more as 2008 Darnell Jackson; be a beast on the boards, do the dirty work at both ends and be there for alley-oops and putbacks. His main role will be to tie up a defender to allow the slashers to do their thing and the shooters to do their thing.

He is BIG and experienced and seems to be playing with a newfound attitude that really reminds me of what DJ gave us in 2008.

As for Ellis in the post, he isn't going to be a "focal point" like T-Rob was in 2012 where everyone knew he was the primary source of consistent offense. T-Rob was faced with double or triple teams early and often. I friggin' dare someone to double team a post player on this ear's KU team and leave Wiggins or Selden (or Frankamp or Black or...) wide open. Eliis will see virtually zero DTs this year. We just need him to be assertive; catch the ball and make his move to the rim. He isn't going to suddenly become an explosive jumper so he needs to have great footwork, positioning and timing.

There is really no position on the floor I have concerns with outside of Tharpe; ultimately it is his team. I am a firm believer that a team develops the personality of it's leader. Hopefully he can break the chain of knucklehead leaders Collins-Taylor-EJ and make smart decisions on a consistent basis without feeling the need to either dog it at times or be careless at times. He needs to be KU's "Alex Smith"--> just don't make unrecoverable mistakes and keep feeding the ball to the talent.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

two- good comp between DBlock and Black. I'd give DBlock a pretty big edge though. But good comparison for this year for Black's analysis.

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jaybate 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Part 1

The reason you try to crack Tharpe, one way, or the other, is that it cascades into a player like Black, who has never had to carry the load inside. It is almost impossible to be an effective big man offensively without a very sound point guard getting it to you when and where you can use it.

And the best way to control potentially dominant wings like Wiggins and Selden is to break up the rhythm of the offense to the point the offense is never generating them predictable looks at high percentage places, where they can get into their games and kill you.

I am not down on Naadir at all. I think he will do a good job. I think he has the same limitations I have talked about in the past defensively, but he has learned how to compensate for them well enough for a back up role, and now we get to see if he has developed enough to be able to withstand being schemed against specifically. I suspect he will find a way to do it, especially with Self's gift for masking players' shortcomings.

What I like most about Naadir is his ability to get inside and pass, and what to my mind is already a proven streak of XTReme Mental Toughness. Of all the guys, he is the only one on this season's team, that has really been in the toughening box for an extended period. Self really didn't put Perry in the toughening box ever last season. He was too busy coaxing what he could get out of him, and pulling him to avoid his lapses for three fourths of the season to put him in the toughening box. Naadir got a serious taste of it last season. Everytime he got pulled, and most times when he did not get pulled, Self was chewing on him, and dissing him, and threatening to go in another direction, when Self didn't even have another direction to go in. The jury is certainly out on Naa's trey. I doubt he will ever be the trey shooter Self was saying he could be, but there again, we won't know for sure till he gets his time in the klieg light. I will tell you this. If Naa can get off to a good start shooting the trey, he is going to be very, very, very hard to guard on penetration with opponents having to stay tight on Selden and Wiggins.

I am fond of thinking spatially about the game. I see down the middle teams and transcept teams, and inside teams, and outside teams. What I hope to see with this team is a point guard and a triangle team.

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jaybate 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Part 2

I would like to see Perry, Selden and Wiggins constantly forming this triangle that Naa constantly penetrates with, or without the ball. The obvious play is Naa driving into the triangle passing to which ever vertex is most open, which is what they should do when Naa can operate WITH the ball against a point guard. But what is less obvious is for Naa to become a cutter into the triangle after he has dished it off to the wings. Developing this cutter play into the paint with these three great offensive players on the three vertexes of the triangle is how Naa will be able to overcome a guy like Marcus Smart. Smart is going to have to help on either Selden, or Wiggins once the ball goes to the wing. When that happens, Naa goes to paint and then it is a matter of whether Self can teach the great, but green wings, to feed the point guard in the paint a foot in from the FT line. Because if they can, Naa at that point with out Smart breathing on him, can wreak havoc on the defense with his X-axis game, as Slayr has mind controlled me into calling. :-)

I'm really talking here about a variation on Dean's old four corners offense, where in, sometimes the point guard dribbles into the middle, and sometimes he cuts into the middle to get the feed and then do his thing. It won't look a lot like the four corners, unless Self really stretches it for some reason, but it will work kind of like that. Call it the three corners though. Because one of the bigs, Black, or Traylor, or Lucas, or Embiid, is going to be married to the iron, while this is going on.

But regardless of my imaginings, my post was just responding to how I would tackle this KU team, if I were on the other bench. I am not at all sure these tactics would work. I am just saying this is the way I would go about attacking the team, until I know for sure that Naadir cannot be cracked. After that, I would resort to a shuffle, or Princeton, even though I detest both. These guys have too much talent for most teams to play them even up, if they can get the fundamentals down at D1 speeds.

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Ted Hume 10 months, 3 weeks ago

"When that happens, Naa goes to paint and then it is a matter of whether Self can teach the great, but green wings, to feed the point guard in the paint a foot in from the FT line. Because if they can, Naa at that point with out Smart breathing on him, can wreak havoc on the defense with his X-axis game"

and this is precisely where you then see a ton, and I mean a freaking TON of little lobs to the rim: to Perry, to Embiid, Black, Wiggins- you name it, and it's basically an easy 'oop 70% of the time once Na gets it back from the wing at the top of the post with defensive wings starting to slide back in, and bigs forced to pop out or at least show sightly to stop penetration... I think what you're describing, 'bate, could be just a thrill to watch when Self gets it right...

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wrwlumpy 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Looking at the final third of the season, Tharpe played every bit as well as Ellis. As fans, we were comfortable when both came into the game. Most of us would have rather seen Tharpe than EJ in the Michigan game. Tharpe has been chewed on more than any other player in BS's tenure. His game in the championship for BIG 12 tourney was pure Ice Water. His half court bounce pass through a crowd broke their backs. When he came to the bench, Self smiled and hit him with a rolled up program. When Tharpe sets his feet he is a great shooter, so, if they lay off him, he will have a very high percentage. I hope opponents play Tharpe and Mason tight. Both will be in the lane whenever they want. When going to the hole, Naadir was equal to Travis in scoring. He is not the weak link. I had no faith in him for his whole first year, thinking early on that Rio's ability to stay in front on defense would get him the job. When we all see who Self picks to be in this 8-9 man rotation, we know that the best coach in the country has done the right thing.

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Brett McCabe 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Four words until your first Tharpe reference.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Tharpe is the weakest link in the starting lineup even if Black is the early-season starter based on Embiid's progress. I would say it's similar to Ellis backing up Young last year and also think Embiid will be starting as the season progresses.

The other three starters will be Wiggins, Selden and Ellis. I cannot think of a sound argument other than experience at this level for Tharpe to be considered a stronger link. The talent level of these three will overcome what ever Tharpe has gained in experience.

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clevelandjayhawker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

  1. I think Tharpe is going to be able to score, maybe not like Tyshawn, but enough to keep the defense honest. Plus he was a pretty good shooter from deep last year, I expect that to carry forward to this year. He can even be more selective this year, thus shooting a higher percentage.

  2. Tharpe may be the PG, but in a Self system that doesnt mean a whole lot. We have multiple ball handlers this year and Tharpe may make the first pass, but the offense can start with anyone. And I would think that will be Wayne more times than not.

  3. With as athletic as our guys will be that may not be the best strategy. A lot will depend on how Ebiid and Black look, if we have a legit ball swater then good luck with that.

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Benz Junque 10 months, 3 weeks ago

No Tharpe was not a "pretty good" shooter from outside last year; he was pretty bad. He shot just 33% from deep on the year, which was only that high because he got a little hot in the last 10 games going 12-26. Before that he was a putrid 23-80 (28.75%). If Tharpe is shooting threes on a regular basis, we have a serious problem.

We have players to shoot from outside and all will be better than Tharpe. He just needs to direct traffic, value possession of the ball, make the right decision with his passes and play lights out defense on the perimeter and he will be a success.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I have to agree twocoach44.

Tharpes most important statistic will be his assist to turnover ratio. If he can keep it at least 2 to 1 then he will have done his job..

He is not a good shooter from the outside nor is he especially good at creating his own shot or driving to the hoop..

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Jack Wilson 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Just a friendly reminder that 33% for 3 range is not bad. 33% from 3 range is the same as 50% from 2 range (1 pt difference). However, it is not what we want this season. I'd really like to see 40% from Tharpe.

And the note on Tharpe being better at the end of the season, I would think, is at least a positive sign that he's getting better. But not definitive, for sure.

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Benz Junque 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I know the math of the points and the percentages. That's immaterial. ESPN lists their requirements for qualification for 3pt fg% leaders as "a player must be on pace to play in 75% of team games and average more than 2 three point attempts per game". They only list their Top 100 and the 3pt fg% of #100 was 42.5%. This means there were likely more than 200 players in D1 basketball that shot a better percentage. 33% isn't godawful, but it's, as I said, "pretty bad" when you will have the types of shooters that KU will have this year.

The key percentage this year for Tharpe is his A/TO ratio. I really don't qwant to see Tharpe even shoot more than about 3 three pointers a game. He has more important work to do.

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Benz Junque 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Just a friendly reminder that there has never been a post player in the Bill Self era shoot lower than 50% from 2 point range. If the option is for Tharpe to shoot a 3 or feed the post, the best choice according to the math is to feed the post.

2012-13 2pt fg%: Releford 65.9%, Withey: 58%, Young 57.9% Both Morris twins shot 62% from 2 pt in 2011.

33% from deep stinks when you play in an offensive system that generates such good looks for post players that they score at a 60+% clip. Tharpe needs to feed the post players and kick to the 40+% deep shooters.

The biggest thing we need hhim to improve is his defense against opposing PGs. With the tough non-con schedule and with facing Smart twice for OSU, KU will face a lot of good PGs this year. The young players will look for Tharpe to set the tone on defense just as Releford was looked to last year. When Rele was tenacious, the rest of the team locked down as well.

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FearlessJayhawk 10 months, 3 weeks ago

It's great to have the luxury of so much talent. Every year the skill level is getting higher and higher. With the players that we have, it is very difficult to choose the best ones. It basically comes down to who has the best attitude, the best work ethic and who best fits into the puzzle. I do not envy having CBS's job.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I want to see more consistency on the kick to the perimeter or wide open shot.

I love Hackman's line in Replacements, "Winners always want the ball..." My question is who is a winner on this team? And who wants the ball?

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Bryce Landon 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Great team chemistry is essential for a great team, and this team sounds like it has the right chemistry for a great team. Props to Naadir Tharpe for helping the youngins figure things out; I think he's due for a breakout year as the starting PG.

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Steve Gantz 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Does our football team have great team chemistry? I don't pay much attention to them, but I bet most teams and teammates get along pretty well.

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Bryce Landon 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Hard to tell sometimes. The KU offense doesn't have very good chemistry.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Players can get along great with one another and still have horrible chemistry with each other. Having great chemistry means that players communicate well with one other, know where the other is going to be, knows tendencies and stuff along those lines that make a team play better and look smooth doing so.

As far as the basketball team goes, nobody knows what kind of chemistry they truly have because they haven't played meaningful games with each other yet. One sign of a team with great chemistry is ally-oops.

With the football team, I'd say the defense has good chemistry as they're usually in the right spot and there haven't been that many blown assignments. As far as the offense goes, there's very little chemistry on the OLine which trickles down to other areas. The number of blown assignments by the OLine this year is probably already more than all of last year and is a big part of why the offense has struggled so much this year.

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Tony Bandle 10 months, 3 weeks ago

RANDOM THOUGHTS.

1] DO NOT REDSHIRT ANYONE. Basically, you've got a 6'-7' scorer who can shoot [Greene], a 6'-6' shooter/scorer who can defend [AWIII} and a 6'-0" shooter who'se even better from the outside [ 52% is just sick!! ]. It's a long season...keep all your options open for every different game situation.

2] Perry Ellis, the Silent Assassin waiting in the high grass....he will be huge this season.

3] Someone questioned Black's potential impact on this team....big body, great movement, powerful as hell, Division 1 experience at a qualty program...don't worry about it.

4] I truly hope they focus on Tharpe...he will burn them with his passing.

5] No Zach Efron-look-a-likes this year...Conner more resembles Opie Taylor.

6] Something tells me that the friendship and closeness is suspended during practices. My guess is that it's a war out on the court with no quarter given or taken!!

7] Best pick-up game in American College Ball this year: Wiggins, Black, Ellis, Tharpe, Selden, Wesley, Traylor, Roberts, Garret versus Mason, White, Frankamp, Lucas, Embiid, Greene, Mickelson, Manning, Self.

8] I put the "over" for "Coach's Sons Games" at 15. [ Definition - A game with a blow-out score that let's Evan, Tyler and Niko all play].

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JayHawkFanToo 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I have serious reservations about Tarik. He did not start for Memphis, a team not nearly as talented as what KU appears to be, so I am not sure why people think that overnight (OK, over the off-season) he will become a starter for one of the (arguably) top teams in the Country. Keep in mind that he also had "discipline/attitude" issues at Memphis; I am sure Coach Self will have none of that.

I agree that he has a big incentive with the NCAA in his future, but I believe that he will play more at the start of the season, but by the end, Embiid and Lucas will play more minutes.

Having said that, I sincerely hope I am wrong and that Tarik lives up to the hype and turns out to be a stud.

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Hawk8086 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I hear what you are saying about Tarik, but I think he will do well. He was highly recruited out of high school. We don't need him to score a lot. Rebound, play defense, and set screens. If Embiid really progresses, I can buy that he might take significant playing time from Black.......but I don't expect it. Black has the edge in experience. I can't see Lucas playing more than Black........Tarik has way too much of an edge in experience.

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oldalum 10 months, 3 weeks ago

What I read about Tarik's days at Memphis was that he was disgusted with the other players because they loafed around and didn't play hard. As a result he was dropped as a starter, and one day even walked out of practice in protest. He isn't going to find that kind of players on a Bill Self team.

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DanR 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Where did you read that? Everything I have seen (lived in TN and followed Memphis a bit) was exactly the opposite. Tarik was the biggest underachiever out of the state of Tennessee. He has the physical tools, so hopefully getting away from his hometown posse will help him focus, but I have the same reservations JayHawkFanToo has. I have no problem with Embiid, Traylor or Lucas taking his minutes until he proves he's earned them.

Seriously, the guy has played for three years with little impact and people here are fixated on his height and weight and comparing him to Darnell Jackson. OK.

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Dirtyphog 10 months, 3 weeks ago

CHAMPIONS CLASSIC GOES ON SALE TOMORROW! I've been waiting all year since the last champions.. This is unrelated to the article just excited!

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REHawk 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I feel confident that Black possesses the tools and current disposition to do a superior job in the post. Gotta hope that he can quickly adjust to Bill Self Basketball (although we are bound to see a new and revised edition of SelfBall this season, what with so much athleticism and available potential). And I feel almost as confident that Tharpe has now been burned enough by the quick yank to KNOW that he must quickly adjust to most any situation which should arise. If he loses patience and begins tossing up ineffective shots, Mason or Frankamp will be fetched from the pine. Once that ball sails into Selden's hands we are bound to see very different dynamics than with Ben last season. The first pass on offense will still be crucial to play development, but "point guard" play might not draw quite the attention from the opposition as the squad faced last year. Our current 2 man is a bruiser with sound wheels, reportedly inclined toward attacking the rim.

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Steve Gantz 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder if it's really relevant if our players get along great?

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coloradojayhawk 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, because if they're friends with each other, they'll be in tune and they'll know instinctively where each other is on the court without having to look first. That can save time when making a fast pass through traffic or an alley-oop. Also, teams that don't get along well don't share the ball and root for each others' success.

Self's teams have always, imo, had excellent chemistry and team cohesion. I'm looking forward to that continuing with this team, even though many are new to each other.

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texashawk10 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Bill Self's teams have not always had great chemistry. The Xavier Henry team didn't have great chemistry (because of CJ and Carl Henry, not Xavier), the Josh Selby team didn't have great chemistry (injuries aand suspensions take the blame there), JR Giddens sophomore year was a team without good chemistry, I would even say last year's team didn't have great chemistry either.

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Joe Baker 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Lucas and Black are going to be brutal inside.

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Kevin Huffman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Yet another reason I could see Perry staying all 4 years or at least 3 years = Conner - sounds like he enjoys now playing WITH him as opposed to against him.

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Mike Bratisax 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Would not be the first time former rivals formed a strong bond of friendship.

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Ryan Houston 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The season is around the corner. It is T minus 29 days tell tip off. You can feel the electricity in the air. Kansas has roster full players that all are deserving of playing time. Question is, who be the lucky four bench players? Players like Andrew white seem motivated, and focused on earning those minutes. The Frankamp vs Greene battle is heating up. Because it seems certain one of the two will be sitting out this season with a red shirt. Which insures longevity for Kansas’s future. On paper the starting five, seems to be one of premier five the country. How good they are. Will depend on how hard they work, and fast they grow together as a team. A big question is, how much has Ellis improved. With all of this tension. Andrew Wiggins and The Jayhawks can either embrace it, or try to ignore it. So far it seems they are ignoring it.. The clock is ticking. The season is almost here. Fans around the country are ready to see Wiggins, and his teammates showcase their skills on national tv. Hopefully, they will not fall too far short of expectations. As Kansas fan to fellow Kansas fans this should be one hell of a ride.

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Scott MacWilliams 10 months, 3 weeks ago

“I think I’m a versatile scorer, but primarily a shooter,” Greene said.

"The one thing with Conner is, he is a shooter and a scorer, but probably a shooter before a scorer." (HCBS)

Hey Jayhawks Brain Trust: Could someone please shed a little light on what is the difference between a shooter and a scorer? Is a shooter one who doesn't dunk??

Thanks!

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Christopher Hauser 10 months, 3 weeks ago

A scorer is not necessarily a great shooter but tends to have a nack for getting the ball in the bucket ala travis relaford, he could just score. A shooter is a marksman but tend to not be able to create as much for themselves.

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Ryan Houston 10 months, 3 weeks ago

On the other hand, I think you could say a shooter is someone who specializes in long rang shooting. A person who is great from behind the arc. A scorer is someone who can just get the ball to the hoop. Shooters are much more rare in basketball. To be called a shooter, you have to be damn good marksman. To be a great sore you need to be like Wiggins. A guy that can drive the ball to the hoop almost at will. You could say that, Wiggins is a Scorer before he is a shooter. The same way you can say that, CF is a shooter before he is a scorer.

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Ryan Houston 10 months, 3 weeks ago

One more thing., if you watch a pure shooter. The ball sails right through the net. Its doesn't hit the backboard.It doesn't hit the rim. It seemingly hits sails right ware through the net the majority of the time. A pure shooter shot has the right spin. The right velocity. The perfect arc. Its almost like watching a masterpiece of shooting.

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mikehawk 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Like QB's in football, point guards get a great deal of scrutiny in the college game. Often, too much blame and too much credit. Much like the QB. With Tharpe, it isn't what his numbers were last year, it was the improvement from Freshman to Soph year. And, that improvement was considerable. Let's see what the improvement is from Soph to Junior year. That much improvement this year would be outstanding, and probably isn't even realistic. In his first year, he would get a little panicked and deal with it by looking for his shot, which led strait to the bench. Last year, it wasn't as bad, but still, he was often too quick to look for the shot rather than the pass. This year, his job is to set up a host of real deal scorers. If he gets into looking for his shot in situations other than fast breaks or very late in the clock, the Freshman point guard might get a shot at the job, or at least more minutes. Tharpe's job is simple...to avoid turnovers, play defense, and distribute to some serious studs. I think it his job to lose

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DanR 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Site is flaking out, never mind.

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