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Sunday, February 2, 2014

KU’s Naadir Tharpe stews over loss on bench

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe misses going for a steal from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Also pictured is Texas guard Isaiah Taylor.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe misses going for a steal from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Also pictured is Texas guard Isaiah Taylor.

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Kansas University starting point guard Naadir Tharpe had plenty of time to reflect on his performance as he sat the final 9 minutes, 42 seconds of Saturday’s 81-69 loss to Texas in Austin.

“Just how I didn’t contribute or help the team,” the 5-foot-11 junior said of the source of his greatest frustration as he rode the pine while cheering on backup Frank Mason. “How my man was getting too many easy shots.”

Texas freshman Isaiah Taylor scored 23 points off 7-of-14 shooting. He had no assists and two turnovers in 36 minutes. Tharpe had three points off 1-of-4 shooting with three turnovers against two assists in 26 minutes.

He has taken just 13 shots the last four games, scoring three points versus Texas, 12 against Iowa State, none versus TCU and six against Baylor. The ISU, TCU and BU games were all KU victories.

Prior to that, he scored 21 against Oklahoma State off 7-of-8 shooting and 23 against Iowa State off 7-of-9 shooting.

“It doesn’t matter. It all depends on how the flow of the game is going,” Tharpe said Saturday, asked if he should be taking a certain amount of shots a game.

While KU coach Bill Self has been quite pleased with Tharpe, reminding reporters “he was national player of the week a couple weeks ago,” the coach nonetheless was troubled by his play Saturday, hence the benching.

“The reason he was not in the game late is because I felt he wasn’t impacting the game on either end,” Self said.

Of course, Tharpe wasn’t the only KU player to have an off game on a day the Jayhawks dropped their first league contest against seven victories. KU’s Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis combined for 32 points off 12-of-25 shooting (48 percent), the rest of the team 37 points off 13-of-40 marksmanship (32.5 percent).

“That was definitely the toughest team we played, probably even out of some of our regular-season (nonconference) games we had,” Tharpe said of UT (17-4, 6-2). “That was a good team there. We’ve got to give credit to them, the point guard as well. They played a great game.”

Tharpe is confident the Jayhawks (16-5, 7-1) will bounce back during Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game at Baylor (14-7, 2-6). A year ago, KU won its first seven league games, then lost three straight.

“I feel these dudes, going into practice after a game like this, I feel they’re going to want to change it. They are not going to want this to happen again because it’s not fun at all losing,” Tharpe said. “They don’t like the feeling. We had a couple losses in the regular season (noncon) as well, so I feel we are going to turn it around right away.”

Tharpe, by the way, averages 8.9 points off 48.3 percent shooting (29-for-65 threes for 44.6 percent) with 105 assists against 39 turnovers entering the BU game. He has the respect of sophomore Jamari Traylor, who like Tharpe has been at KU three seasons.

“If he’s doing well, he gets a pat on the back (from fans), but if he’s doing bad it comes ... scrutiny I guess,” Traylor said. “Like Elijah (Johnson) and Tyshawn (Taylor), if we lose, some people gave them an earful some of the time. It’s hard to deal with as a person. Only strong people get through that. It’s not the game you play if you want people to be throwing (praise) all the time.

“I’m always telling him, ‘You’re our leader, go-to guy.’ Coach is always telling him he’s head of the team. All our confidence was in him at all times.”

Hectic slate: The Jayhawks, who returned from Texas via charter Saturday night after the Texas game, will fly to Waco after practice today in advance of Tuesday’s game. Self was asked if the Jayhawks would have simply remained in Texas for the two-game road trip and not returned to Lawrence had charters not been available.

“I’d say if it were Saturday/Monday, we’d stay regardless of charter or commercial,” Self said. Then after pausing, he added: “I would say we still would have come back because the game would have been over early enough we probably could have gotten a commercial flight. If we couldn’t get back until Sunday, of course we’d have stayed.”

Comments

Jeff Kilgore 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The comments, fine-tooth combing the game, are comical at times. How about this for a crazy explanation: one home team with talented athletes happened to beat another team with athletes that, for many reasons, don't tend to lose many games?

Tharpe is a fun player to watch, and while he has every right to question his game, I don't and I won't. I am very happy that he wears Kansas across his chest and will continue to be so.

We're still in first place, right? Last year's team lost three straight and won the BIG12, right? This team is comprised largely of 18 year-old kids, however talented, and compete hard night after night, right?

A 45 to 19 free throw disparity is damned hard to overcome, no matter if the officiating was good or not so good.

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John Fitzgerald 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This next game will show how tough our team is. The question of concern will be, After getting man handled by Texas can they go to Waco and beat a team that just beat OSU at home? I think this game against Baylor we will learn a lot about this young team. And I'm hoping it's all good things.

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Bernard Gregory 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I know I am a little bias because I have seen what Frank can do when he is given the green light its makes the rest of the guys better. Right now he is so concerned about getting the type of assist that Tharpe get where you just pass the ball around to Wiggins or Selden and hope they are hitting the outside shots or occassionally pass to the paint against lesser talented postmen. Frank could be the guy that opens it up for all these guys and take the pressue off them by penetrating and shooting from the outside where they have to guard him tightly. He needs to be assured that he can jack it up like Wiggins does without repercussion and not look so confused about making the plays that its obvious that he is so hesitant to make when they are right there before him. I feel the main reason he lost the starting job is because he started playing like Tharpe and Coach being as good as he is realized why am I going to start a guy thats playing like a guy I still already have. This kid took a team with no D1 D2 or D3 players to the Group AAA Championship in the State of Virginia which is the elite class in the state of Virginia. I know what he would do to led this group of talent if allowed,I believe he will provide that toughness for them and it will become addictive.

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Tony Bandle 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The refereeing was definitely influenced by the Texas crowd to allow them to play...just as the refs will be influenced by the Allen Fieldhouse crowd to call them closer. I predict that on Feb. 22nd, the Texas frontline will get into foul trouble and a revenge-motivated Hawk team will take advantage and deal them a defeat.

It's not that the Jayhawks are without muscle [ Black, Traylor, Selden..even Embiid with the right match-up], it's just that the "finesse" guys need to man up and penetrate to put themselves on the line.

Wiggins, Ellis, Tharpe, Greene need to look at Mason and emulate the what-I-call his "Fearless Torpedo" penetration.

PS I would suggest Conner stay outside and bomb away!! :).

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Jack Wilson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Coach Self earns the big bucks for a reason. His challenge now is to win with a finesse team.

We can point out Tharpe's inadequacies, or any other player's for that matter -- but they are what they are.

I do not think that Ellis or Tharpe will improve defensively, nor do I think that either one (or Wiggins) will magically play tougher.

So Self needs to find ways to win games like the Texas game that may lie ahead in the NCAA tourney, with the type of team that he has. That may be getting creative on the defensive end (junk defenses when necessary), or utilizing our athleticism with a and OSU-like 2-2-1 3/4 court press, or running more set plays against teams like Texas, or screening more against zone defenses to create space and opportunity (as opposed to relying primarily on motion and ball movement), or lending more practice time to a base zone defense.

My point is just that we are now at Feb. 1. This tiger has it's stripes. We can still get better, but there are some aspects that seem more nature than nurture, so speak.

That means Self has to craft a title winning squad ... a team that can win six in a row in March ... from the semi-molded piece of clay that this team has become. And that means taking advantage of our numerous qualities and strengths, while perhaps recognizing and focusing our game plan away from our weaknesses.

Will Self continue to try to make this team the type of team he wants it to be? Or will he focus on trying to make this team the best team that this team can be? And to what degree do those two items overlap?

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Denver Vold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Are we so worried about money that we should forget they are students missing all of their Monday classes.

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Tony Bandle 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And now for something completely different, The List List:

1] Christmas List.

2] Wish List.

3] Grocery List.

4] Laundry List

5] Bucket List

6] Hit List.

7] Franz Liszt.

8] The List of Adrian Messenger.

9] Listerine.

There...everybody take a deep breath and relax. Kansas will be fine and these guys will remember this game as a lesson learned. I do agree with Suzi, I think, who posted no one on this team is ready for the NBA.

Andrew will probably get away with it because he plays in space as a wing, but Jo Jo will be facing "monsters" every single night....he needs another year to be ready for the "grind".

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Rodney Crain 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Tharpe has looked a step behind in defense against above average talent all year. So I was not surprised he could not defend against Texas, but he added nothing else to the game. I was very glad he sat, last time he sat he came back with a vengeance, lets hope that is the case again. We don't need him to be dominate but he does need to show up, assists, scoring, rebounds, just pick one and add to the effort of the team.

Can our point guards stop the no look behind the back drop off passes? For some reason both our point guards are doing it now and opponents know its coming and they are coming close to picking those off and running unopposed for a easy dunk. Make the pass, not the highlight reel.

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Sean Swindler 2 months, 2 weeks ago

KU Basketball/Athletics is its on corporation and does not operate w/taxpayer money.

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Suzi Marshall 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Saturday Tharpe was not doing the job running the O and was tremendous defenisve liablity. If Tharpe was taking and hitting the open 3s, Self would have needed to leave him in the game. As it was, his poor defenisve play and inability to block out was a major reason for UT running up a 20 point lead. It seemed like when he was on Taylor (23 pts) he scored. When he was on Holland (11 rebounds) he rebounded. Even when he was on Feliz, who only played 18 minutes and shot poorly, he couldn't be guarded ended up with 7-9 FTs.

I'm not about to waste any time reviewing the tape to point out the specific numbers for each but saw enough in real time to know Self needed to get him off the court. I'm amazed that a guy could go nearly 3 years in Self's system and still can not play D.

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Eric TheCapn 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Also, that money isn't from the taxpayers. Basketball makes its own money and gets the rest from donors giving specifically to KU Athletics.

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Bryce Landon 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Seems to me it would have been more cost effective to stay in Texas. Waco isn't that far away from Austin. Here's a case of the University wasting money - the taxpayers' money, I might add. Should have thought back to the old World War II slogan, "Is this trip really necessary?"

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