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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Keegan

Column: Tharpe’s time as KU’s starting point guard may be over

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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Point guard is basketball’s version of football’s quarterback in ways that extend beyond job duties. Things go wrong and it’s almost always the quarterback’s fault. Nobody in sports has a bigger, shallower fan base than the backup quarterback.

The past two years, the Kansas University point-guard position has had something in common with the school’s quarterback spot. No matter the starter, the chorus crying for somebody else showed up ready to sing every game, just in case.

And it does, in fact, feel like it’s time for somebody else to take his turn sweating under the interrogation lamp. Naadir Tharpe had his moments, but never consistently brought the type of production at either end of the floor that established him as the guy to lead the team. His confidence took a serious hit and the best way for it to come back just might be using him as a sixth man, a combination guard capable of getting hot from the outside.

Naming his replacement represents a far greater challenge than figuring out how to use Tharpe.

If there is a next DeAndre Kane — a graduated point guard with one more year of eligibility who can transfer without sitting out a year — that’s certainly an option worth pursuing. But no point in trying to talk yourself into one being available if that player doesn’t exist.

The answer very well could come from within the program.

If how brilliantly Conner Frankamp performed in the most pressure-packed games of his life with so little college experience doesn’t put him in position to gain serious consideration for the job, why recruit him in the first place? He played with remarkable poise in St. Louis. Sure, he was exposed at the defensive end, failing to communicate well and getting overpowered and beaten by quicker players, but more playing time and work on his body can camouflage those issues to an extent.

Wayne Selden, Brannen Greene and incoming recruit Kelly Oubre supply size on the wings, so KU can afford to play a small point guard, whether it be Frankamp or fellow freshman Frank Mason.

Frankamp (zero turnovers in his final 140 minutes) offers better ball security than Mason. He’s also a purer shooter, and with regular playing time would increase significantly his .313 three-point percentage.

Mason plays at a faster pace, defends with greater strength, quickness and confidence and gets to the paint more consistently than Frankamp. If two of his lobs off drives had been converted, he would have had four assists, not two, in the loss to Stanford.

Kansas won’t be able to improve significantly on a 10-loss season without major strides at the point-guard position, so maybe the guy who displays the most consistency in practices wins the job. Maybe the answer to a complicated question is that simple.

Comments

Steve Zimmerman 7 months ago

Selden used to run 2-3 different teams, one that included Noels. He is capable and will be more effective leading the pack as PG than a wing man. My only worry, if he's a PG, is his tendency to perform a no-look pass sometimes caught his KU mates off guard. Sure it would've been pretty, but it's also dangerous at the same time.

I agree with Conner. He can shoot like anything. He can obviously be a PG, but he's not as athletic & quick as Mason. I don't see superb PGs out of '14 recruits. Tyus is ok - never amazes me.

Bernard Gregory 7 months ago

Frank will work hard this offseason and establish himself as an elite point guard and for all the naysayers he will show the ability to flat out shoot the ball. He willingness to adapt to Coach Self style is something he hardly gets enough credit for. Remember he was only a freshman las year playing a true point for the first time. As I always mention I am biased when it comes to him but I have been proven to be right on too may occasions and hopefully he will prove me right again.

Kevin Jenkins 7 months ago

So many chances for Tharpe to improve and he didn't. Self was on the assumption he would be another Tyshawn Taylor.

Benz Junque 7 months ago

Taylor wasn't really competent until almost halfway through his senior year.

Joseph Bullock 7 months ago

Taylor had trouble because he was always trying to over compensate, for not having good shooters to get the ball to! if he would have had a McClemore, or anyone who could shoot, he would not have always tried to do so much, himself. but he got us to the Championship game, and almost helped us win it all!

Kevin Jenkins 7 months ago

Come on Coach, read. Tharpe had so many chances to improve but failed to deliver. Self had this dream he would improve like Tyshawn Taylor. I say use Mason or Conner. Both have great skills. I would prefer Selden at the SG. Yes, sometimes he could cover. But last year it didn't work that well. Yes Johnson could do it but he was better playing shooter.

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Thanks Tom, I agree 100% with what you said. I hope we hit the lottery with a player like Kane, but the reality is we will have to find a replacement from within. Regardless of who it is, it cannot be another season of Tharpe starting. We have a chance to be very good if not Great next year but we must have a playmaker who takes care of the ball. He needs to be able to defend his position. If he can shoot that would be nice to have but not a need to have with the weapons we got.

It amazes me the people who still stick up for Tharpe when his play costs us so much this past season.

How many chances does someone get, how many times will he be benched, sitting next to the coaches as a critical game winds down? Someone else deserves a chance.

Jonathan Allison 7 months ago

I'll stick up for Tharpe. He struggled many times this season, he lost his confidence too many times and let negativity get the best of him. He faced the same struggles than many first year starters do.

Do I think that he should be the starting PG next season? Not necessarily, but I (like you claim that you do) agree 100% with what Tom Keegan said. He said "maybe the guy who displays the most consistency in practices wins the job."

This season, just like every season, players should compete to see who earns the position. Tharpe should not be relegated to backup duties next year based solely on his inconsistent play as a first year starter. He deserves a chance to win the job as a seasoned Senior and second year starter.

I believe that all of the returning players will make step change improvement over the off-season. Some players make their biggest gain between their freshman and sophomore year, and others make their biggest gain between their junior and senior year. We just have to wait and see who is best for the job next fall.

Jonathan Allison 7 months ago

I think that Tharpe's struggles this year more than anything have revealed that he needs to grow up. He showed signs of immaturity in the form mental toughness, discipline to scouting reports and game plan, and at times lack of heart.

Every good leader needs those things. Some people seem to be born with them, some people develop them, some people will never have them.

Tharpe will benefit next season from having a group of sophomores who are battle tested. Selden was the emotional leader of this years team, and he will likely be the same next year and then some. He will be the one to rally the troops, to call out his teammates, and assume the vocal leader role. Selden seems to be the "born leader." This will take a lot of pressure off of the starting PG position (assuming that Selden isn't the starting PG), because the PG will just have to focus on the game plan, running the sets, executing the scouting reports, the mental discipline and toughness aspect of the job.

Each of the PGs on the roster will benefit from competition for the position this offseason. That is a good thing.

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Jonathan you grow up pretty quick with a child in your lives, like he has. I am not sure Tharpe's skill set is there. From decision making to being able to lead a team he seems unable to perform at the level needed for college basketball.

Joseph Leon 7 months ago

I agree. Tharpe should be allowed to compete for the position next year. But that's not exactly sticking up for him. That's just saying he shouldn't be kicked out of the program based on this year's play.

Sam Constance 7 months ago

Have you read any of the recent message boards?

I'd say that suggesting Tharpe shouldn't be kicked out of the program qualifies as sticking up for him...

:-)

Benz Junque 7 months ago

Do we have another scholarship available that I don't know about? I thought the only scholly players we lose are Wiggins and Black? Aren't Wesley and Roberts walk ons?

Ryan Zimmerman 7 months ago

Yeah, but I think the only way we'd get a 5th year PG is if AW3 transfers... which sounds entirely possible. We have plenty at the wing, we need a PG. Now as Keegan said, who knows if someone like Kane even exists. I'd assume put Frankamp there and see what happens. He seems much more protective of the ball and can limit those awful turnovers Tharpe showed us. Of course, if Tharpe isn't a PG, IDK what he would be... he's not a great slasher or shooter

Benz Junque 7 months ago

Love this joke I found in a story on transfers:

A basketball recruit dies. At the pearly gates, he's greeted by God and the devil.

God: We're going to allow you to make a decision on what you'd like to do.

Recruit: Really? I know what I want to do.

God: You have to check out each place.

The recruit goes with the devil to hell. It's absolutely awesome. Guys are playing ball every day in front of packed arenas. There's eating, drinking and partying with pretty women.

Recruit: If this is hell, I can't wait to get to heaven.

He goes to heaven. It's sedate, not much going on. His family, friends and dog are there. But it's pretty quiet.

God: So what do you want to do?

Recruit: I've made my decision, I'm going with the devil.

He goes with the devil, walks into the gates of hell. It's fire and brimstone and everyone is screaming. It's the worst thing he's ever seen.

Recruit: Wait a minute? What happened to all the ball playing? And food? And women? And partying?

Devil: That was your official visit. This is what it's really like.

Dirk Medema 7 months ago

Didn't he lead the team in 3 pt % for most of the season?

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Benz you must be new to college recruiting... If they come across a player that is to good too pass up they will find a scholarship. Really nice post of all the things you could bring up pretty funny really.

Benz Junque 7 months ago

I assume by "find" a scholly you mean run someone out of the program, correct? Yeah, I'm a big fan of that...

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Or someone could redshirt and drop off scholarship like Justin did I believe.

Sorry the world is not all Rainbows and lollipops for you. We have done it before here, it is done at many programs. I don't see you a fan of many things Benz lol.

John Randall 7 months ago

How many chances? How about as many as it takes? Naadir will certainly be among the competitors (none of whom arrive with fully developed point guard skills). There will be plenty of chances for everyone – maybe AWiii ? I could see Tyler Self as someone who helps out a few times when it matters – he's been a freshman, a redshirt, a bench warmer and those seem to be prerequisites.

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Mercy, what is this t ball where we don't keep score and no one loses and everyone gets a participation medal? He does not have what it takes, he has shown it over and over this season. Sure let him compete but he cannot start anymore, he is a bench player.

Dirk Medema 7 months ago

Actually, I think it is called a championship t-shirt, cap, and ring, not a participation medal.

Tyshawn got 4 before he ever made it to the championship game. Plenty of others have never made it, not that reality should have anything to do with a blog discussion.

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Try to follow along Dirk, we are talking about how many chances Tharpe is going to get to start. Not if our program is successful, try to keep up if you can. John said he gets as many chances as it takes, why? Why does he deserve as many chances as he wants, if he cannot play the position? Also this is not a BLOG, this is a discussion section of an article, we reply to the article or each others posts. This is not a web log on the internet.

Greg Ledom 7 months ago

JR - Tyler Self? Surely you jest. He won't see the floor other than mop up (if that) for the next three years.

Matt Spitzli 7 months ago

He's a good shooter, and can drive the ball. I never minded him on the floor with Conner and Frank when they had primary ball handling duties. He isn't a bad player. He's just not smart enough on the floor to be the point guard (I know, Self talks about interchangable combo guards, but somebody has to have the responsibility of bringing it up the floor and starting the offense)

Justin Kruse 7 months ago

I'm hoping Tharpe will grow a lot in the off-season. He has the ability to get to the rim when he wants to, unlike Conner, and is more consistent from 3 than Frank. With Tharpe, I think the ability is there, I just want to see more passion and fire and for him to be more vocal. Be a leader!

Robert Brock 7 months ago

Self has himself a bit of a problem at the PG position: Tharpe is a PG who has difficulty making split-second decisions - while Mason and Frankamp are really undersized twos attempting to transition their games in order to play the one-spot.

Self needs some luck. Either the Hawks get a ready-to-play graduate-transfer or The Committee (Tharpe, Mason, & Frankamp) learns how to function at the position to Coach Self's liking.

Meanwhile, the Spring and Summer AAU season is firing up and the pressure is heating up for a big-time recruiting effort at the PG position. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be any easily identifiable candidates out of the 2015 class. Looks weak at the one.

Greg Lux 7 months ago

IMHO Frankamp is the future of KU basketball at the point guard position. The young man is smart. He is a skilled ball handler, not pron to lazy passes that end up as turnovers. He can shot and will improve with playing time. He may not be as fast as some others but I would say he can and will drive the ball often with success. He will be at KU 4 years and will understand the offense and be able to run the team very well. Nothing against Mason or Tharpe but HCBS has a definite offensive system he wants his team to run and I believe Conner is and will be the best choice to execute that system.

Ryan Zimmerman 7 months ago

I agree. Frankamp is a SMART player. You can tell in the limited time he got that he wasn't rattled. He stepped up and made the right passes and shots. Start Frankamp, and have Mason back him up. Tharpe can redeem himself in limited minutes and see if that lights a fire

Doug Cramer 7 months ago

After watching EJ blow it for us last year, I'm so disappointed in Self for not developing either Mason or Frankamp enough through the season.

Self Rocks...and I don't know anyone else that can win 10 conference championships in a row...but there was an obvious need in a change of point guard a long time ago.

Dan Spurgin 7 months ago

You guys do remember 3 years where T Taylor struggled with turnovers - Seems like Tharpe is right on track to be like Taylor in that regard. Taylor showed lots more promise in those 3 'learning' years than Tharpe has in his 2 so far.

If we are talking about converting someone into our full time point then that's the problem. The starting point should be the most obvious part of your team - no some hidden gem.

Brian Mellor 7 months ago

"You guys do remember 3 years where T Taylor struggled with turnovers"

The somewhat unexpected run to the championship game erased in one month the 3.5 years that had come before it.

Tony Bandle 7 months ago

OAKVILLE ODDITIES: Let's look at the point guard situation, shall we.

1] NAADIR - POSITIVES - will be a Senior with two years of PG experience, has the ability to hit shots, has taken over games to produce victory, may have chip on shoulder and want to prove everyone wrong. NEGATIVES - defense is deficient in almost all match-ups, can be a turnover machine, lacks mental toughness at times to rebound from misplays, may have lost confidence of teammates, is it too late for the leopard to change his spots?

2] CONNER - POSITIVES - a natural born shooter who will only get better with experience, ball handling skills better than advertised, showed unusual improvement with increase in playing time, almost certainly three more years at a KU. NEGATIVES - will be at a size disadvantage with virtually every matchup, lacks quickness for consiitent penetration into the lane, defense will suffer against quicker opponents, with his killer shooting ability will he be under-utilized at PG versus SG?

3] FRANK - POSITIVES - by far the quickest ball handler, quickness allows him to be a decent defender, fearless driver and penetrator, has potential to provide outside shooting threat, like Conner is has three more years at KU. NEGATIVES - fearlessness warps into carelessness way too often, KU at distinct backline size disadvantage when he and Conner are on court at the same time. needs to be better passer and improve game speed anticipation, must improve outside shooting.

4] WAYNE - POSITVES - an interesting option, has the size to dominate most match-ups at PG, may be able to create more open shots for himself both from the outside and in penetration, plus defense at the point would be an upgrade. NEGATIVES - Does he have enough ball-handling skill and quickness to handle the rigors of a Div. ! PG, probably only at KU for one more year, may be better served as the "outlet' option for bringing the ball up the court, will running the team diminish the potential for his other team contributions?

There..now I have given you all the absolute answer....which is, I don't have a clue what Bill will do!!!

Mick Allen 7 months ago

Tony, this is a well informed comparison of the 4. Frank seems to have more of the strengths and weaknesses that Ty had in his first 3 years. Frank's outside shooting improved until the Stanford game. Comparing Frank and Conner I would say Conner takes care of the ball better than Frank{ 3 turnovers in 140 minutes}, but Frank will make more plays off the bounce and create more help defense when he gets to the paint leading to more dunks and lay ups for our bigs when he makes better decisions as to when he takes it to the rack and when he distributes. Realistically he will not shoot the ball as well as Conner is capable of, but I saw some improvement in his outside touch as the season progressed.

Jack Wilson 7 months ago

Jonathan: You can certainly stick up for Tharpe. That is admirable.

Here's something you said: "He showed signs of immaturity in the form mental toughness, discipline to scouting reports and game plan, and at times lack of heart."

Ok, and he was a junior. That's the important thing. He wasn't a freshman. Tharpe is a three year member of this program and he was our worst player on the court.

Self had to bench him early in the season, as a junior. Tharpe pouted about the benching, and wondered if Self "liked" him, as a junior. Tharpe demonstrated a complete inability to guard all but the bottom 25% of opponents, as a junior. Tharpe compromised our post players and defense in general by continuing to permit penetration, as a junior. Tharpe could not handle the press, as a junior. Tharpe could not penetrate against zone defenses, as a junior. Tharpe, on two recent occasions, got called for a 5 second count trying to inbound the ball, as a junior. Tharpe's confidence the shoot the ball clearly decreased through February and into March, as a junior. Tharpe was benched repeatedly by Self for turnovers and poor defense, as a junor. And Tharpe completely collapsed in the NCAA tournament, as a junior.

Mike DeCoursey on Monday made a pretty appropriate comment -- he said that it was hard for KU to expect to win "without a point guard."

I came into this season completely on the Tharpe bandwagon. He demonstrated a steady hand last season, and showed significant improvement from his sophomore season. I personally anticipated a 25% improvement.

I got burned. Self got burned. We all got burned. Most of all, the team got burned.

Coach Self said he needed Tharpe to be "good", to be a "leader." Self said this in a December 13, 2013 article: “For us to have a really good year this year, Naadir’s got to step up. There’s no other way around it,” the KU coach said. “And I believe he will. He’s in a little bit of a funk right now, but he’s going to get out of it.”

Self said the following before the season: “I need Naadir to be our most valuable player,” Self said Tuesday before the Coaches vs. Cancer Season Tipoff Reception at Municipal Auditorium. “Now, I didn’t say best player, but he needs to be the guy that, regardless of the situation, it’s hard for us to play without him.”

Tharpe has become the opposite of what coach Self hoped. Actually, the player we can't afford to have on the floor.

(continued)

Jack Wilson 7 months ago

From a leadership standpoint, Tharpe's lack of effort, tenacity, and grit, particularly on the defensive end, was beyond bad. It was pathetic. He looked like a whipped puppy most of the time when things didn't go right. The "effort" elements are extremely concerning, and disappointing -- a "lack of heart" as Jonathan identified.

This was the ultimate failure with this team. The lack of a competent point guard who could play at least average defense destroyed an otherwise promising season.

Tharpe had his moments, and his shooting improved, but those were false positives

Can you imagine having a junior point guard that gets sent to the bench three different times for poor play in the opening round of the NCAA tourney? It was reality.

Not only can't I imagine Tharpe the starter next season, I can't imagine that he would even be in serious consideration for the rotation.

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

Excellent Post Jack. I just do not understand how anyone can think he deserves to start, or that he will grow or improve. Just not going to happen, he has not shown any reason to believe it will.

Martin Rosenblum 7 months ago

The new landscape of college basketball has made the key positions, Point Guard and Center much more difficult to recruit for . Big men, who are OADs don't necessarily need the top tier schools to park at for a year before moving on up to the big leagues. Point Guards can shine even more, sometimes, at the lower level D1 schools and have their skills highlighted come tournament time, thus building up their stock for the next level, potentially.

In the end, talent will always win out over hype and benefits of being in any college program for one season may not truly serve as development for those with natural talent. So the playing field isn't as unlevel as it used to be. An Andrew Wiggins could have played for Florida Gulf Coast and a Doug McDermott coulld have played for Arizona and they both would have been equally as valuable to the NBA.

So, my point is that it it harder to recruit consistently at a school like Kansas year after year and have a bench full of ready-to-play studs. HCBS will find it easier to find some potential that will be able to be developed over time, not leaving after one season, and to build a program without focus on that instantaneous Final Four run as the goal. Let's go back to the days when recruiting was not a contest but a means to an end.

Suzi Marshall 7 months ago

Oak: Selden looks like he has the ball handling and passing skills for the point. Plus he has the leadership skills for the position.

John Fitzgerald 7 months ago

I like the idea of Selden at point. Would he be up for it though? And Tharpe is a good guy but he just doesn't have that killer instinct. Not sure that can be coached. Either you have it or you don't. On a separate note, If our defense can improve drastically then I think we will be a great team next year. That depends on the on guard defense which will be on our guards as well. Who will step up? That's the Biggest question next year, but I think Selden confirming his return is a true sign he's ready to take it head on. If Embiid returns, then I don't see how we're not preseason number 1. Also, have any of you seen the "fire Bill Self nonsense"? How horrible is that? I hope he doesn't read these posts or pays attention to Twitter much because he's done so much for us I don't think "firing" him is even close to being justified. I can't think of any other coach that I would want. Look at Coach K. Duke has lost in the first round in two of the last three years as a 2 seed and a 3 seed. Wonder if Duke fans are calling for his firing as well? Anyways, I love Self, and he warned us about this year. He said there will be high highs and low lows. If you didn't take him seriously then that's on you.

John Fitzgerald 7 months ago

Also, I want to say that even though we have all had some negative views of this season, it's refreshing to know that a lot of you are still here talking about the future. As Jayhawk fans we can be a bit spoiled, but we will always stick by our team even if we're disappointed. Also, there isn't a college basketball tradition richer than Jayhawk nation. In the past 10 years Self has won more tourney games and major conference titles than any other coach. He's made the tourney every year he's been here and KU has made the tourney every year since 1989, which we were banned that year. We won the academic championship this year in college basketball, meaning we don't only have the most talented players, but the most intelligent. Are we spoiled? Yes, yes we are, and I love every bit of it. Here's to hoping next year ends on a brighter note then this year did.

Mick Allen 7 months ago

Well stated John. Remember Roy's statement about the whine and cheese KU fans?

Alan Mills 7 months ago

I like the idea of Selden at the point. We heard mention of that from time to time this season. Need something different. Frankamp, maybe, but he's a natural 2, although short. Tharpe is not the answer, as we've seen. Mason, perhaps. I cannot see him playing any other position. With Selden at the point, there is less pressure for him to be a shooter. That would allow Frankamp to bomb away a bit more. Not entirely sure, but certainly need something different from this season. I wonder what all those Tyshawn Taylor critics are thinking now? Wouldn't it be great to have him back?

Jesse Johnson 7 months ago

Not really Alan. Even as a senior he was turning it over in the double digits. Why would we love to trade a bad PG for slightly better? What we would love is to have one of our actually great PGs back, i.e. Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson or one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks: Aaron Miles. We haven't had a really good PG since Collins. That's unacceptable for a program like KU.

Jack Wilson 7 months ago

One thing we are overlooking with Selden at the point is Selden's subpar ball-handling.

Selden is a true 2 guard at the college level. He has shown no ability to handle the ball with any kind of pressure.

Here's some evidence -- we all saw how Selden handled the press. He didn't. He turned the ball over frequently. Against OSU at home, for example, he had 5 turnovers against their pressure.

Even better evidence is that Self, by the end of the season, removed Selden from the 2 guard spot against pressure late in the season, flip-flopping he and Wiggins in the press break.

But the best evidence of all -- how many times was Selden been entrusted to bring the ball up the court this season? Pretty close to zero. The only times were a couple of set plays where he threw the lob from a side out.

With all of our issues at point guard, Self didn't even hint or toy with the switch.

Does Selden handle the ball better than Stanford's subpar crew? No evidence of that. And you saw what happened there.

Selden at the point guard spot is just speculative fantasy. It sounds good, we'd love if he could do it, it would allow us to be a big team that maybe could guard. It all sounds great.

Not trying to throw water on the party, but Selden's inadequate ball handling will simply not permit it.

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

I agree Selden as our PG makes no sense at all.

Mick Allen 7 months ago

Once again I agree with you Jack. While I thought Wayne entered the ball to our bigs as well as anyone on the team, I too remember his performance against the OSU pressure and seldom if ever seeing him bring the ball up court. Both Wayne and Andrew, because of their respective heights, had trouble keeping their dribble low, although the problem was more severe and obvious with Andrew, which I think impacted both of their confidence in handling the orange. Just my opinion

Mike Riches 7 months ago

I agree on Selden...he has a chance to be a great SG his entire second year. Perhaps he could become a good PG by the end of the year, but he would definitely have a learning curve, even though he played the point some in high school. Conner or Frank make the most sense to me because, if for no other reason, they're both four year guys.

Tony Bandle 7 months ago

Jack, the purpose of my four guard comparision earlier was to point out the short comings more so than highlight the positives...in my opinion, Wayne would be the last option at point guard.

His strength is closer to the basket, driving and hitting the boards from the off side and then popping out for the perimeter jumper.

If we took a vote right now, NT, FM, WS or CF....my vote, based on overall results, would be Conner....just one man's opinion.

Jack Wilson 7 months ago

I like CF, and he proved to be a decent option. But right now, I think Mason is the choice. CF is a nice off the bench, can play 1 or 2. As Ethan said below, too, I think Mason's passing improved on penetration as the year progressed. If Mason plays out of control, CF takes the job. Mason's shot improved and I see him as the guy, if I had to wager.

Personally, I think a nice 5 man rotation of Mason, Selden, Greene, Oubre, and CF at the perimeter spots.

This from same guy that said Tharpe would be "nails" this season ...

Ethan Berger 7 months ago

One thing to remember is from freshman to sophmore year is when a player makes their biggest jump. I felt Tharpe got to much blame most the year but since the OK state game, he has fell apart. Mason looked very good against Stanford and Connor was cold blooded. They were just freshman. Selden in high school showed ability to be a do it all type player. The game seemed sped up for him this season at some parts. If he can tighten up his dribble a tad and learn to play with his eyes, he could share some of the burden. Greene is the wildcard next year. If he improves a lot on D, he will be in contention of the 3. Embiid is what I want most. Perry might be the sixth man or Cliff will be. Point is that is one heck of a luxury to have. If Mason passed like he did against Stanford, he should win the job at the 1.

Joseph Bullock 7 months ago

I'm trying to figure out why Jaquan Lyle, went to Oregon, a football school, after his post with himself, the Jayhawk Logo, and Cliff! That is on our coaching staff!

Rodney Crain 7 months ago

I believe shortly after his visit we pulled our offer.

Ian Emerson 7 months ago

We didnt lose out, his visit wasnt us auditioning for him but the other way around. It was an audition to prove himself to us. TBH i think its because Self knew Wayne was coming back anyways.

Eric Mitchell 7 months ago

Tharpe does not deserve to start next year but it is certainly possible that he earns it next year. Yes, he was a junior but as a first time starter at an elite program and the pressure that comes along with that, there are going to be growing pains. He was never the best player on his high school teams and was recruited as an insurance policy. I still support him but needs to reset in the summer.

Mason has the handle and other than his reckless drives to the basket he took care of the ball reasonably well. You could tell that he was focused and never was there an issue of poor effort. Tough, gritty, explosive and has the potential to be a good defender and shoot 35% from three.

Frankamp did what was needed to facilitate the offense. Not flashy or a great athlete but Hudy can help a little in that department. Possesses the 40-45% three point shot that we have lacked since Reed, Morningstar, and Teahan departed. Underrated scorer and ball handler. Below average defender but not because of fundamentals. Mickelson, Alexander, and the possible return of Embiid will help the guards.

Need to Improve to Win Starting Job: Tharpe: Confidence. Ability is there but needs to stay even keel. With more time on the floor we have been able to dissect his game and his flaws are most obvious in the mental department.

Mason: Be quick but don't hurry. I think he has the best potential of the three but rushes play of the game too often.

Frankamp: Athleticism. Couldn't stay in front of guards and doesn't have the length to cover for his slow feet.

Odds: Tharpe - 40% Mason - 30% Frankamp - 25% Selden or Graduate Transfer: 5%

Matthew Pyle 7 months ago

For the most part, I thought Mason was awful when the chips were on the line. Turnovers and missing clutch free throws.

Ryan Michael 7 months ago

You mention Frankamp didn't stay in front of guards... He did 10x better at sticking to his man than Tharpe did all season though. If you are going to call out one player for something, you need to keep the same standard for the other.

Eric Mitchell 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Tharpe is the worst defender of the three. Meant to put that in there. Trying to be optimistic.

Titus Canby 7 months ago

Regardless of what we think about Tharpe's ability, can you imagine being a 20 year old and seeing a headline like this?

Timothy Grillot 7 months ago

I remember these discussions year after year with Tyshon, then someone posted stats on Vaughn and Miles two other 4 year and I ate crow and quit bitching about TT. Isn't it a little early to conclude Nadir goes to the bench? Self knows what he is doing. If Seldon was a better option this year he would have been at the point over Connor. I have always liked Self's two point guard system. Other teams have rarely been able to press effectively because of it. Connor was a freshman also so I do not want to criticize too much but the reason he was effective against E Kentucky was no turnovers and it wasn't necessary to attack as much on offense with the size advantage we had inside. Against the 1-3-1 zone it was absolutely crucial that our PG penetrate the gaps on the zone and either go to the hole or dish. Eric MItchell hit the nail on the head. Connor cannot guard quicker guards. Several times he had opportunities to penetrate and he chose to dribble around the perimeter. If you don't try it reduces your turnovers plain and simple. Lack of penetration against Stanford was the main factor in our loss along with Tarik fouling out so early. This team was very young and it looks like the most of the nucleus of the team will be back.I would prefer Connor be a 3 point assassin like Forte. I'm sure Self will give everyone a fair shot at the PG and will end up starting whomever is the better option. Mason and Sharpe need to play within themselves. This team was frustrating because it was so super talented but in the end their youth and some injuries did them in. Honestly, it is kind of nice to have a program where nobody is satisfied with a 25-10 season, including the players, but we need to lose the sky is falling attitude. We have the best coach in the country at the head of one of the greatest programs in the country! Rock Chalk!

DB Ashton 7 months ago

None of the three primary candidates have demonstrated the ability or potential to lead a championship team at point. That's a given. I wouldn't have a clue where the answer lies, but surely it's elsewhere. Frankamp and Mason will have increasing value as they mature, in reserve, in spots where their weaknesses will be less exposed. I would encourage Tharpe to transfer. Any minutes he plays going forward are empty minutes better invested in the future. Mr Self's (well compensated) job is to employ a fresh candidate worthy of investment and it does not speak well for him that none are under development already.

Terrence Cernech 7 months ago

There is always the possibility of a conflict when a player has aspirations to play at the next level and their talent or ability would be marginal at that next level. I doubt that there are very many prep players out there who receive a scholarship to play at Kansas that don't feel as though they can play in the League. Subjugating their opportunity to shine and show how great they are for the good of the TEAM often could become a conflict that they need to resolve. There are many more role players in the League than stars but "that's them, not me."

Sam Constance 7 months ago

Let's be honest here everyone:

We don't have any great options at PG currently on the roster next year. All three of the potential options (and no, Selden is not one of them--he isn't a good enough ball handler OR passer to be our PG) have warts, and fairly considerable ones.

I won't re-hash most of the concerns about Tharpe that've already been brought up. We all saw him lack the ability to lead this team with a consistently steady hand. He had some good moments, and even provided the boost we needed to win some of our games--games we would have lost without him. But on a team filled with so many underclassmen at the guard positions, the thing we needed most from him was steady consistency. The positives, for me, about Tharpe are that 1) next year's team won't be so young, and therefore dependent upon the steady hand of a upperclassmen point guard, and 2) college players improve all the time--even from their Jr to Sr years. Remember that even Jr/Sr are still quite immature in the grand scheme of things. I know it's fun to compare him to TT's arc at KU, but one key difference separates them: Tyshawn never struggled on defense the way Naadir has, even when he was still putting things together offensively.

Frank Mason is super quick, can penetrate into the lane, and works hard on defense. These are all great signs. But he also showed the tendency to put his head down and get himself caught in bad situations, as well as being a poor enough shooter that as the primary PG, he could become a liability. He, like Tharpe, can improve from this year to next, but since he is younger, theoretically he has more room for significant improvement than Tharpe. And he already has shown promise in the most important areas: lane penetration and defense.

Conner Frankamp. I know he is the flavor of the month right now, mostly because in contrast to Tharpe's unsteady play, Frankamp looked positively unflappable. It's fun to quote the "no turnovers in his last 140 minutes" stat, but to me, that stat is as troubling as it is encouraging. Point guards have higher turnover totals than most other players on the team for a reason. They handle the ball the most AND they are responsible for making passes that take advantage of the defense. This means sometimes making a pass or two that are riskier than others. If you aren't turning the ball over AT ALL as a point guard in the equivalent of three and a half games, I can't help but wonder if you are missing out on some prime opportunities to burn the defense. The fact that he didn't play much this year in spite of having such good ball security says to me that Self might have a similar thought. While Conner has defensive liabilities, I don't think this alone would have kept him out, since Tharpe has also shown severe deficiency on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps Self thinks that Frankamp doesn't make the difficult, but necessary passes often enough. Passes that you need to make to beat the defense.

Sam Constance 7 months ago

Given all that, here is my percentage wheel of who I think is most likely to win the starting job next year, based purely on what they've shown this year and their potential to improve the things they've struggled with:

Mason: 50%

Tharpe: 40%

Frankamp: 10%

Though Self shows staunch loyalty to his upperclassmen, the fact that he has already tried pulling Tharpe from the starting lineup this year shows that he is not completely opposed to using a younger guard if the situation warrants it. In the past, his loyalty to upperclasmen has borne fruit--even with Elijah--so it's hard to question it too much. So that's why I feel comfortable putting Mason at the highest percentage, in spite of the fact that he'll have to beat out a senior PG.

I like Frankamp as a steadier change of pace at the PG spot, but I don't see him being the starter. It's too bad we don't have a bigger PG option, so that we could bring him in as a smaller 2-guard for short periods of time. If Selden was better against pressure, that might be an option, but that will require offseason improvement from Selden as well. Not something to plan on, most likely.

The trick to all this is that, if Tharpe isn't the starter, does that break his confidence and make him essentially useless as a backup? Given how poorly he reacted to being benched earlier this year, that is not a good sign. But perhaps with some offseason conversations between he and Self, that can be mitigated. I could see Tharpe also being a serviceable 2-guard alongside Mason, but obviously that again leaves us vulnerable defensively on the perimeter.

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