Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Column: Frankamp shows maturity at Oklahoma

Kansas forwards Perry Ellis (34) and Justin Wesley celebrate a late three by Kansas guard Conner Frankamp (23) against Oklahoma during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas forwards Perry Ellis (34) and Justin Wesley celebrate a late three by Kansas guard Conner Frankamp (23) against Oklahoma during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks Wayne Selden and his technical foul after 90-83 win over Oklahoma

Bill Self talks Wayne Selden and his technical foul after 90-83 win over Oklahoma.

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Box score

— It never pays to give up on a player talented enough to warrant a scholarship offer from Bill Self, Kansas University’s 11th-year basketball coach, because he never gives up on a player who tries to practice what he preaches. The smart ones figure that out. The immature ones play their way to the end of the bench, even out of the program.

Put Conner Frankamp in the first group.

Accustomed to dominating games in high school, Frankamp came into Wednesday night’s Big 12 opener in Noble Center riding a streak during which he had not scored in KU’s past eight games, three of which he never was called off the bench. He totaled 17 minutes in the other five and misfired on all seven shots, five of them three-pointers.

At 6-0, 165 pounds, the freshman from Wichita didn’t look in his first Big 12 game like a player wondering if he were in over his head, didn’t show the body language of a bench-warmer convinced his coach had it in for him. In his 13 minutes on the floor, he looked like a comfortable point guard, running the team with poise and shooting with confidence.

First half, teams trading the lead in a fast-paced game. Naadir Tharpe picked up his third foul and Frank Booker made one of two free throws to put the Sooners up by a point with 2:06 left. Exit Tharpe. Enter Frankamp for his second appearance of the night.

With him at the controls, Kansas outscored OU, 7-0, the rest of the half. Frankamp had five of the seven points.

After deflecting a ball that Perry Ellis ended up stealing, Frankamp was in the right frame of mind to make something happen at the other end.

“Getting stops on defense always helps your offense, I feel like,” Frankamp said. “If you focus on defense, your offense will come naturally.”

He sprinted down the right side of the court and stopped a couple of feet outside the three-point line. Brannen Greene whipped him a pass and Frankamp, with the feathery touch that enabled him to break Ellis’ Wichita high school scoring record, swished it.

Frankamp added a pull-up, free-throw-line jumper in traffic with five seconds left to send the Jayhawks into the locker room feeling as if they had found more than a six-point lead. They had found a potential rotation player, a lethal three-point threat.

It never hurts to have options. Fellow freshman Frank Mason’s a fearless jet, Frankamp a terrific shooter and slick ballhandler. Tharpe blends bits of all those qualities.

Still, it hasn’t been KU’s most consistent position on a young team that needs someone steadying the ship.

Tharpe happened to have one of his better nights in a Kansas uniform on the same night Frankamp entered the picture. Tharpe penetrated to the lane with more effectiveness than usual and played steady closing the game when not the same could be said for some of his teammates, most obviously freshman Andrew Wiggins.

“When’s the last time a team has had a great year, I mean a great one, unless you have a point guard who’s a good closer?” Self asked. “Kind of a like a quarterback in the two-minute drill who makes something out of nothing.”

The Jayhawks had a first-half closer in Frankamp and a second-half one in Tharpe (17 points, three assists). In a combined 39 minutes, Tharpe and Frankamp totaled 22 points and just one turnover.

With Perry Ellis dominating inside and Wayne Selden having quite the night, those efforts would have been wasted had the point guards not held it all together.

Frankamp was thrilled to be a part of it, but contained his excitement until his job was done. He entered the night having made just 3 of 14 threes (.214). He didn’t let his head sink to the level of his shooting percentage.

“I’m at the best program in the country, I feel like,” Frankamp said out loud what he must tell himself constantly when he is forced to watch games instead of participate in them. “It’s an honor be here, so my head’s always high. I always have to be ready.”

Self told Frankamp before the game that because of the way the matchups looked, he should expect to play.

“He hadn’t had a chance, I hadn’t given him a chance,” Self said, explaining the size of opponents made some games tough fits for the freshman. “He delivered.”

Tharpe said he suggested to Self after the half ended that it would be a good idea to keep riding Frankamp to keep his confidence heading up.

“I thought he played so well to end the half,” Self said of Frankamp. “Somebody asked me if we were

going to start Frank (in the second half). I said, ‘No, we'll go with Frankamp, because he played so

well the first half.’ I knew we’d need Naa down the stretch. We didn’t want him to get his fourth (foul).”

In reserve of Tharpe, Mason’s a better defender, a better finisher at the hoop, but if the quicker Frankamp develops, the more options Self will have to choose from based on the opponents.

Frankamp explained his ticket to Wednesday’s opportunity: “I’m trying to not make any turnovers and focus on the defensive end, as well. I’ve improved quite a bit (defensively in practice) from when I first started.”

One big night can make a big difference in a young player’s confidence. The fact it came in the conference opener gives Frankamp a chance to purge his non-conference numbers and reset the calculator in his brain to Big 12 only, just a week after New Year’s Day.

“I’ve kind of been in a slump, but hopefully tonight got me out of it and I can improve from here,” he said.

Lon Kruger’s Sooners play faster, with more drives and fewer patterns involving multiple passes than in past years. The Sooners play man-to-man defense as well. It was a style against which Kansas prefers to play. Still, winning on the road in such a tough conference and seeing a freshman grow more comfortable can only help the confidence of a young bunch that was in need of a boost in that area.


Glenn Bradford 3 months, 1 week ago

I like Francamp and I think he can help this team. I heard the stories when he was in high school and I have season tickets and I have watched him in warmups. He is definitely a shooter. I thought he played well in general at Oklahoma. He made two nice shots. I think he handles the ball well and is intelligent and has leadership skills. However, I am continually amazed at the inability of KU players to shoot jumpers. I realize that the defense at the Div 1 level is great but an open jump shot is an open jump shot. Andrew Wiggins and Andrew White were supposed to be great shooters. Neither one of them make many outside jumpers. Where are Calvin Thompson and Billy Thomas when you need them? CF made two open jumpers so I don't know how much that really proves. I have wanted Bill Self to play CF more and I hope the Oklahoma game will get him some substantial minutes. I do like Frank Mason but he is somewhat up and down. Our guard play has been the weakness for sure. I was beginning to think Selden was way overrated but he really showed some life at Oklahoma. I think Bill Self tried to light a fire under him and get him to be more aggressive.


Joe Baker 3 months, 1 week ago

I think CF is a great player, high IQ, and definitely learning at this point. His opportunities have been thrashed on the boards since he stepped foot on campus. I think Self will develop him. Conor has so much against him, but if he develops, he'll turn into a very nice asset for this team. He's definitely a four year student athlete. It's nice to see them. I saw it in Norman, but CF needs way to much time to gather himself, plant his feet, square, elevate, and extend his shot. He's deadly, but needs too much time. A long defender will get him. I love CF and he's a great Wichita product, but just don't know what's ahead for him. He reminds me a little of Jeremy Case. That is a GREAT pic of Ellis and Frankamp, the Wichita connection.. Ellis is probably one of CF's biggest fans right now. I see nothing but love and respect between the two.


Tony Bandle 3 months, 1 week ago


The Tarheel fans are crucifying Ole Roy with many calling for him to be fired and trashing their players in the process. This is a team which is 10-5 and have beaten Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville!!

WOW...and I thought we Jayhawk fans were tough!


Andrew Dunlap 3 months, 1 week ago

next year will be a better year for us. The one and dones will be gone. The rest will have been battle tested and the true identity will emerge. Too many players with talent trying to figure our their roles this year.


Jack Wilson 3 months, 1 week ago

It was nice to see CF get his shot.

He only played CF because of foul trouble to Tharpe and Mason. That's it. It is more likely that CF won't even play vs. K-State than it is that he gets the same minutes as last night. Or that he'll get two minutes and then get put on the bench if he makes a turnover or mistake.


Ian Legler 3 months, 1 week ago

Conner played great last night. Seeing him hit a 3 was welcome. His play at the end of the half is what really stood out to me though. His little shimmy to shake the defender loose and having the confidence to pull up and hit the shot was awesome. My seats were at that end of the court so we had a nice view of it.

We were all unaware that Embiid had taken a shot to the eye (hence the goggles) so that was a little confusing.

Glad to see the boys win a close one on the road.


Waylon Cook 3 months, 1 week ago

Conner and Lucas need more time and Black needs less(I was so pissed in first half I wanted Self to leave him in so he could just foul out). Its hard for a player to get experience when they get pulled immediately(that's really always been a Self problem but he wins a lot so I love him!)


Chris Shaw 3 months, 1 week ago

As the article states that the matchup was a big reason for Connor's success last night. I don't think that's always going to hold true with every team this season.

I do think Connor brings a different element. He is not as quick or fast with the ball as Mason or Tharpe and it takes him longer to get up the court and get the team in an offensive set, but he may be as efficient or possibly more going forward.

In a slow, grind it out ball game I kind of like what Connor may potentially bring to the table. Last night...I think defensively wasn't a big deal, but that's probably what is limiting Connor at the moment and going forward. He doesn't turn the ball over which is good and he keeps his man honest by not allowing them to "Sag" by just simply stepping on the court.


Rich Hetherington 3 months, 1 week ago

I can picture it now, 3 years from now, seniors Connor Frankamp, Landan Lucas, Brannen Greene and Frank Mason still suiting up for the Jayhawks. Sure, we'll be getting our top flight recruits each year as well, but something tells me those 4 will be here 3 years from now playing a HUGE role in whatever Kansas does that year! They won't all start, but they will definitely be impact players and who knows, maybe they will all start along side a good big man to be named later.


Tony Bandle 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If Conner is 6''-0' tall, I will eat my hat...and yours too :).

I predicted when he committed, he would end up a virtual assassin for KU the last two years of his career. For you long-time KU Hawks, he will be our "McNamara Missile" and for you really old Hawks, he will be our "Seeger Sidewinder"!!


Greg Lux 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Connor is the kind of young man it seems everyone wants to see succeed. It's great to see him show some real game. He just moved up the bench and I expect to see him in the regular rotation from now on. He has a good head for the game and his ball handling skills are better then I expected. My one wish is he would get into a scoring position on offense. He stands way to far from the 3 point line and he needs to slide to the corner more which takes his defender with him. That opens up the lane for our point guard to drive and when the defender come in to help would leave Conner wide open for a 3 from the corner. It will come with time, but that's the one flaw I saw in his offensive rotation last night. Great game Jayhawks - Get those glasses off JoJo .. Rock Chalk


Len Shaffer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

As great as it was to see CF hit a couple of shots, what impressed me even more was the poise with which he brought the ball up. Given the turnover problems that have plagued this team quite a bit, it was great to see how calm and collected he was, and how he made smart decisions re when to keep trying to bring it up or himself or pass it to someone else. If he's showing this kind of solid veteran leadership as a freshman who's barely played, imagine how good he can become over the course of four (or five) years ...

And let's also give credit to Tharpe for suggesting that Self stick with CF to start the second half. It's a great testament to Tharpe's character and team-first attitude.


Ferd Magellan 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm very happy that Frankamp was given a shot and he produced, but I'm not sure how this team is going to survive by having to score 80+ every game to win. These guys have to find a way to keep teams from taking advantage of the dumb new foul rules. Increase the intensity on the perimeter to force more turnovers? More zone when team's outside shots aren't falling?

Credit to Clark for having a crazy game, but I've never seen a Bill Self team defend like this before. Tharpe, Mason, Frankamp and Selden have to be able to slow down opposing guards to some degree.


Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's about time our PGs making those shots and while making plays for others, too. Now they need to think about abusing those rims with lots of lobs - both short & long ones! C'mon, we have a fully loaded team with guys who can jump & slam, it's time to make those legs work! I've seen so many SC top 10 opportunities that this team missed out. It's fun to watch, it's confidence building. We need to send a message that this team is for real.


Timothy Rake 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Great to see CF step up and make a couple of big-time shots. And Wayne in attack mode! Now if only Self can get into AW's head. . .


Suzi Marshall 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It was indeed a big night for CF. I'm not so sure about the article statement that Mason is a better defender, although he certainly should be. Frankamp has a very good basketball IQ and has always given a top effort. We are going to need Frankamp even if Selden continues tonight's performance.

He stuck his nose in it for those two rebounds. Love the photo of the two Wichita young men. I bet the two have been looking forward to playing together.


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