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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Single season at KU ‘life-changing’ for senior Black

Kansas forward Tarik Black puts up a shot prior to tipoff against Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Tarik Black puts up a shot prior to tipoff against Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Kansas University senior pivot Tarik Black, who has started nine games and come off the bench in 18 more in his one and only season at KU, now returns to the starting lineup for the next two games ... and possibly more.

The current rest/rehab period prescribed for freshman sensation Joel Embiid means more playing time and more of the spotlight for Memphis transfer Black, who was asked on Tuesday if this is a chance for him to make a push for personal accolades.

“I play my role. I don’t try to overthink it or overdo it. I don’t try to get in a position where I say, ‘OK, Jo Jo is out, now it’s my time to shine.’ That’s not what is called for,” said Black, a 6-foot-9, 260-pounder, who takes a 4.3 scoring, 3.1 rebound average into today’s 7 p.m. Senior Night game against Texas Tech.

“If I break out and shine ... I am a really good player. I’m very talented. I’ve proven it in my years of college. You can look at my statistics. My numbers are there. I know what I’m capable of. This team will function the way it needs to in order to win games. That’s something I will not mess up. I will not make that dysfunction thinking about me, me, me. It’s always about Kansas. It’s always about the Jayhawks. It’s always about the team.”

Black will be joined in the starting lineup by fellow seniors Justin Wesley and Niko Roberts, who will be making their first career starts, as well as freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden.

It’ll be an emotional night for KU newcomer Black, who thanks his teammates, especially junior Christian Garrett, who “has helped me grow spiritually. That changes your whole life.”

“I learned so much about basketball, life and myself in this one year being in this program than I have ever learned playing the game of basketball leading to this point,” Black said. “I was meant to be here. I’m very blessed to be here. This is my stop. This is where I was supposed to be for reasons bigger than basketball. This is life-changing for me.”

Black, who after this semester will have to write a thesis to finish requirements for his masters in African American Studies, wants to play in the NBA then open a nonprofit organization in Memphis.

“It’s a dream for me,” Black said of playing in the pros. “I’ve been blessed to make it this far. I will not put any limitations on my blessings in the future.”

He said the sky is the limit for this team, which enters today’s game 22-7 overall and 13-3 in the league; Tech, which fell to KU, 64-63, on Feb. 18, enters 13-16, 5-11.

“I want to accomplish something we’re still in the running for,” Black said of a deep run in the NCAAs. “This season has been so intriguing, so interesting, so fun that time has flown by. It feels like yesterday I arrived on campus. and now we’re here today getting ready to go into Senior Night and postseason. That’s crazy to me.”

Of Black, KU coach Bill Self said: “He’s got something about him that I think every kid yearns for. He’s ultra-positive, has a great attitude. He’s got energy and he’s always trying to make others better.”

Of point guard Niko Roberts, Self joked: “I think I even spanked Niko when he was about 3- or 4-years-old a couple of times when we used to babysit him.” Self is a long-time friend of Niko’s dad, KU assistant Norm Roberts. “He’s awesome, and he’s part of our family and has been for a long time, and certainly I’m real proud of him.”

Niko played along with the spanking story.

“Most of the time I got in trouble it was his daughter Lauren messing with me. I never did anything wrong, it was just her,” Niko said, laughing. “I got a couple beatings, I’m not gonna lie. Hopefully I won’t get any more.”

Of starting his first game, Niko said: “Hopefully once the game gets going a little bit I’ll be more comfortable and it’ll be less nerve-wracking. Those first 30 seconds will probably be kind of jittery for me.”

Cool customer: Wesley has actually started three exhibition games in his KU career. “I’ve played before. I’ll be excited for Niko especially. (He’s) my best friend; we came in together. I’ll be excited in that aspect. I can’t wait.”

Of Wesley, Self said: “I think Justin is maybe the coolest kid on our team.”

Wesley is the brother of former KU standout Keith Langford. “He’s been like my idol, my father figure, my hero, if you want to say. It was great to come here and kind of follow in his footsteps,” Wesley said.

Speeches: There will be speeches following the game. If KU wins, there figures to be mention of KU’s undisputed league title, the program’s 10th in a row.

“But it won’t be a net-cutting ceremony. We’ve never been big on stuff like that,” Self said.

Only for seniors: Wiggins, and any other non-seniors who might join him in the 2014 NBA Draft, will not speak to the fans tonight.

“I think our fan base, the majority would be disappointed if we did something that took away from what is one of the great traditions of our basketball season, and that is Senior Night,” Self said. “Now, I’m not saying I may not recognize or something, but certainly I don’t want the emphasis to ever get away from those kids that have actually exhausted their eligibility here. And in this case all three graduated, obviously.”

Of the tradition, he said: “This is not Freshman Night, it’s not Sophomore Night, it’s not Junior Night; it’s Senior Night.”

Beer sales in KC: Self talked about the decision to allow beer sales at the upcoming Big 12 Tournament.

“Unless it’s available to the coaches, it won’t affect me whatsoever. I probably could have used a little help the last 10 minutes of the Oklahoma State game,” he said, laughing. “That wouldn’t affect us one way or another.”

Naadir OK: Self said Naadir Tharpe (dislocated thumb) should be 100 percent. “I’m not a professor, but a B+ or an A-minus or something,” Self said of a grade to give Tharpe this season. “ I still think he can play better in some ways, but I think he’s been really good. He probably is as responsible for us winning the league as any individual.”

Self on the future of freshman Brannen Greene: “Brannen Greene is going to be an NBA player. I really believe that he could be that. He’s talented. Now, does he guard anybody yet, does he do some things that we think are important that he hasn’t quite bought into the same importance level? Probably not, but he is really a talented kid.”

Recruiting: Myles Turner, a 6-11 senior from Trinity High in Euless, Texas, who is ranked No. 6 nationally by Rivals.com, is slated to attend tonight’s game on a recruiting visit.

Season over: KU signee Cliff Alexander’s Chicago Curie High team fell to DuSable, 88-85, in overtime in a Class 4A Illinois State High School Basketball Association regional opener on Tuesday. Alexander had 25 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks. Curie finishes with an 0-26 record after having to forfeit 25 games because of ineligible players. DuSable is 11-11.

Comments

Scott MacWilliams 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you, Tarik, for giving Jayhawk Nation a great year! You were sorely needed to help lead this very young team through the toughest schedule in the country.

We are so proud of you for all that you have done and given to this team. Even though you're technically a Memphis kid, we'll always think of you as a Jayhawk, and you will always be welcome anytime you are in the neighborhood.

And I can hardly wait to read about your work with kids in Memphis after you are done playing the greatest game ever for pay... Memphis is lucky to have you for a returning son.

Rock Chalk, TarikHawk!!

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Adam McEwen 4 months, 3 weeks ago

With his size and athleticism I think he could have a future in the NFL. Red zone specialist. Name one corner who would have a prayer of stopping him on a fade route. Automatic 6 every time.

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Dirk Medema 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Wish I could find a picture/youtube of Clint Normore stuffing Harvey Grant in the NC game ('88).

Tarik will be great at whatever he does.

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Jim MinorThreat 4 months, 3 weeks ago

So will Cliff Alexander be able to play his freshman year??

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Steve Zimmerman 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I really enjoyed Tarik's SC top 10 moment when he gave a taste of Blake on the court. Nobody will mess with a guy his size. He needs to dunk every opportunity he can get. It's spectacular. He might not have crazy moves like Jojo, but he could get to FT line if he wanted to. I don't see any loss in productivity with him subbing Jojo.

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Jack Wilson 4 months, 3 weeks ago

"I don't see any loss in productivity with him subbing Jojo."

Respectfully, that is about the most outrageous and misguided comment I've seen in a while.

If we have lost Embiid, we have lost our NCAA title hopes. It is that simple.

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Steve Zimmerman 4 months, 3 weeks ago

True, but I was referring to this temporary sub. I want to support Tarik and cheer for him. He reads this article. It's a moral boost. I'm his fan, on your side. Chill, chill.

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Jonathan Allison 4 months, 3 weeks ago

When Tarik committed to KU he was expected to be a starter and to get most of the minutes and be a key to us being national title contenders.

Based on what we've seen of Tarik this year and based on his career numbers, you're probably right about our hopes resting on Embiid being healthy, but let's not forget what we brought Black in for.

When Tarik has played his best basketball, he has been as effective in those minutes as Embiid is on an average day. Tarik doesn't have the offensive repertoire of Embiid because Tarik lacks the soft touch and finesse game of Embiid, however Tarik has shown that he can muscle his way for an easy layup or baby hook shot. Tarik is definitely a more physical presence and if he can stay out of foul trouble (big IF) then he can defend the low post probably better than Embiid.

Even if Tarik puts together his best two games of his career we'll still miss Embiid's free throw shooting and help defense.

Bottom line is we didn't expect Embiid to come in and be our star in the low post. We expected Embiid to be a reserve and Perry and Tarik to be our "one-two" punch down low. Perry's been mostly steady, but maybe not met all of our expectations, and Tarik had foul trouble and has struggled at times on the floor. Since Embiid has emerged as our most efficient big man, we tend to forget that last spring when Tarik committed to KU he was expected to be a starter and to get most of the minutes and be a key to us being national title contenders.

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Walter Bridges 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I like the positive take Steve. He can be a beast in the middle and yeah, we need Embiid back as Jack says but its hard not getting excited about Tarik.

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Greg Lux 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Tarik thanks for the memories and enjoy tonight. You maybe come a great recruiter when your pro career is over. Your experience at Kansas is just want recruits need to hear.

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Joe Baker 4 months, 3 weeks ago

It’ll be an emotional night for KU newcomer Black, who thanks his teammates, especially junior Christian Garrett, who “has helped me grow spiritually. That changes your whole life.”

Thank you Christian for your Christian witness and for testifying. Keep the faith and fight the good fight. I understand Black's attitude now and it's source. Black is remembering who he is and who's he is in this whole experience. He has a great perspective.

Have fun and a great last home game in the Phog. You deserve it my friend and thank you for choosing KU to be your last academic stop. God bless you in your future endeavors. It's been a joy watching you on the court and representing a great program.

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John Randall 4 months, 3 weeks ago

While I'm eager to see Tarik and Landon at the 5, I see no need for anxiety ...

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 3 weeks ago

OAKVILLE ODDITIES:

1] I truly believe that due to the success of Andrew and Jo Jo plus the addition of Cliff Alexander next season, Myles decision is simply Jo Jo goes, I come....Jo Jo stays, I go.

2] This game will NOT be a walkover...TT has been very competitive lately.

3] My pick for surprise player for 2014/15.......Brannen Greene.

4] Tarik REALLY has to stay out of foul trouble for the next couple of games

5] A college activity with beer available..OUTRAGEOUS!!!

6] Watched the movie, "Woodstock", last night and realized all those kids shown in the flick are now in their mid-sixties to early seventies....talk about suddenly feeling old!!

7] To all of you going to the game, a culinary tip...find the Salty Igauna nacho booth and get a Lime-Aide and pork nachos with everything. I swear this is what will be handed to you by St.Peter as you enter the Pearly Gates.

8] Notes from past Senior Nights - Wayne Simeon spoke so long in 2005 that some of the students were late for their 8:00 am Classes!! Notable non-speakers included Paul Pierce, Mario Chalmers, Thomas Robinson and Cole Aldrich. As far as I know, Bill Self has never spoke on Senior Night..I may be wrong, however.

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Jonathan Allison 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Bill Self usually give a brief speech and then introduces the Seniors on Senior Night. He's the MC. MCBS.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks , Jonathan..as soon as I posted this list, I remembered Bill was indeed involved, if only peripherally...MCBS..very good!! :)

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Craig Hagelgantz 4 months, 3 weeks ago

What's the over-under on "one more year" chants tonight?

Also, the seniors should be given (if NCAA rules permit) a novelty "key" to the Phog.

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Jonathan Allison 4 months, 3 weeks ago

30 minutes of "OMY" chanting total for the entire evening from Student admission until the team leaves the floor for the locker room after Senior Speeches.

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Titus Canby 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd rather chant "3 more years."

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Brianna Zaleski 4 months, 3 weeks ago

“If I break out and shine ... I am a really good player. I’m very talented. I’ve proven it in my years of college. You can look at my statistics. My numbers are there. I know what I’m capable of. This team will function the way it needs to in order to win games. That’s something I will not mess up. I will not make that dysfunction thinking about me, me, me. It’s always about Kansas. It’s always about the Jayhawks. It’s always about the team.”

Man, if TB fails to make it at the professional level for sports (which I doubt, I think he'll find a home somewhere, but he might have to go overseas), he should seriously consider a job as an athlete or actor/ musician' PR coach. This young man always says the right thing and never puts his foot in his mouth. The benefits of being a senior, I suppose, as well as a great family up bringing.
But seriously, couldn't you imagine some professional team employing him as a mentor/ PR coach for the young, talented knuckleheads? I could. If I was an owner, I would think it a very valuable commodity. Thank you, Tarik Black. You will be forever remembered as a great addition to our Jayhawk family for the way you conducted yourself on and off the court. You will always be remembered for your INSANE dunk against UT as well. But I, for one, will most remember you for what you said in the quote above. I have never in my life heard someone so eloquently state, as you just did, the meaning of team sports. That should be engraved on a plaque and recited before the start of every basketball season in Lawrence. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of a long, prosperous life for you, young man.

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John Randall 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess nobody else read the part of the article dealing with Tarik's aspiration to open and run a non-profit organization for youth in Memphis. I admire him for that as much as for the ability he displays on the court and as a PR presence for himself and the JayHawks.

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John Fitzgerald 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Can't believe senior night is already here! I'm excited to see what Black can do with this chance to start and play big time minutes. He's proven to be a force when he stays out of foul trouble. I wonder if we jump to an early lead, will Self keep Niko and Wesley in for a bit? That would be cool to see. Anyways, I'm excited for tonight and hope we can finally celebrate 10 straight. RCJH!

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Suzi Marshall 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm looking forward to following Black's career in basketball and beyound.

Our Big Cliff has a really rough night last night, suffering his first loss (he missed one game, Curie lost) of the year in OT. Alexander went for 25/15/8 before fouling out at the end of regulation (ww.chicagotribune.com/sports/highschool/ct-spt-0305-curie-basketball-20140305,0,308142.story). Alexander plays with tons of emotions and is driven to win. I can not wait to get Alexander on campus.

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John Pritchett 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I wish I could read this article. But I refuse to bow to Google's demands.

Thanks for being a Jayhawk, Tarik. We've been blessed.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Allow me:

!] Tarik talks about how great it is to be a Jayhawk and how Christian Garret opened up his eyes to a Christian lifstyle.

2] HCBS talks about knowing Niko since he was an infant. Niko is nervous but excited to start.

3] Justin was great as Wilt, and treasures his time in the 2012 Finals. HCBS says Wesley coolest kid on the team.

4] Only seniors will give speeches.

5] Beer will be sold in KC for Tourney..Bill said he could have used one at Okie State.

6] Naadir is OK, Brannen is going to be really good, Myles Turner will be at the game tonight and Cliff Alexander's season is over despite almost a triple double 25 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks.

7] Also, there is a link to click on the see Olivia Wilde naked..........just kidding!!

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