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Tharpe's departure no reason to cheer

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends a pass by Duke guard Quinn Cook during the second half of the Champions Classic matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends a pass by Duke guard Quinn Cook during the second half of the Champions Classic matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago. by Nick Krug

It always amazes me when fans celebrate the departure of a player and back up their stance by banging the drum for an unproven replacement.

Twitter is a dangerous place to do research, but, given that the news of veteran point guard Naadir Tharpe's decision to transfer away from KU broke just a couple of hours ago, that's the best place to look for now.

And the social media site is full of people cheering about Tharpe's exit.

I get it. I really do. The guy was less than stellar down the stretch last season, he struggled to make shots, run the offense and lead the team and fans don't like it when guys don't help the team.

Add to that the sketchy photo of Tharpe that surfaced shortly after the end of the season and you're quickly talking about full-fledged outrage from people who care an awful lot about these players.

Those are all valid reasons to be down on the guy, disappointed even. But is this KU team really better with him gone?

Time will tell, but I'm guessing no.

Here's the deal. Tharpe probably was not starting point guard material at this level to begin with. He did his best, gave it all he had (that part too often got overlooked with him) and took great pride in playing for Kansas. It really meant something to him to be a part of this program and I'm sure it's a tough deal for him to say goodbye.

Truth be told, Tharpe probably would have entered his senior season as a back-up point guard for the Jayhawks had he decided to stay.

That might have been part of what led to this decision, but it would have been a good role for him and the team. As we've seen, you can never have too much experience on a roster and, like him or not, scream at his every miss or not, Tharpe would have brought a lot of valuable experience to this roster.

It seems very possible that the Jayhawks soon could land Brewster Academy point guard Devonte' Graham. Adding him would've been a huge pick-up for the Jayhawks to begin with. It would be enormous now.

But, again, no matter how talented Graham is, he won't be able to replace the experience that Tharpe brought. At least not immediately.

Think about it. If the Jayhawks land Graham, who is down to KU and NC-State, their top three options at point guard entering next season — Graham and sophomores Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp — will have less experience combined (two seasons) than Tharpe did by himself (three).

Who knows what Tharpe's role would have been. He might have been a back-up to Graham. He might have played 10 minutes a game and he might have played 25. Heck, he might have even shifted into more of a role as a zone buster who came in as a shooter and had nothing to do with the point guard position.

We'll obviously never know. But to cheer his departure seems a bit short-sighted.

Remember how excited everyone was for Dayne Crist to replace Jordan Webb? That didn't work out all that well. This might. But until we see it, you have to wonder.

Comments

John Myers 8 months ago

Well said, Matt. I don't get people sometimes. I'm sad to see him go, and I wish Naa all the best, wherever his future takes him. He played his butt off for us.

John Fitzgerald 8 months ago

I'm glad you wrote this article Tait. This isn't good news for the program even if we get Graham. Tharpes experience will be missed and even if he wasn't the most efficient point guard, there's no denying he could shoot the ball. I hope this works out in the end for us, but I'm not optimistic until someone else steps up.

Dale Kroening 8 months ago

Well said Matt , couldn't agree more.

Sae Thirtysix 8 months ago

Matt, you are correct. NTharpe was / is a college student. He made good choices, he had bad choices. He did some things right, he did somethings that I am sure he regrets. It is part of growing up. I wish him the best and better decision making as part of his future.

Glen Miller 8 months ago

I agree that he was not starting point guard at Kansas University type material from what I have seen.... but I never wished for him to transfer. I almost think his impact on the team could have been huge coming off the bench. Coming off the bench with fresh legs and not having to guard their top point the whole game would have really benefited him. Either way, I wish this kid the best and hope that his daughter comes through everything ok because that is family and that is far more important than defending a player or making a basket. As aggravated as I used to get with Tharpe, I can't say I ever questioned his effort or desire to be the best he could be. I wish you luck Naa and you'll always be a Jayhawk in my eyes!

DB Ashton 8 months ago

I don't sense that the dominant reaction to Mr Tharpe's departure is shadenfreude. The team has championship aspirations, Tharpe proved to be less than a championship contributor, in that circumstance change is fundamental (but not guaranteed) and the best for all parties. He's far better off seeking opportunity elsewhere, better than riding the pine, every game an unkind reminder that, after three years' effort, he wasn't good enough. There's no blame attached to anyone here, no lack of effort, no one overjoyed that Tharpe failed to consistently achieve a near-impossible, world-class standard. Moveon.org.

Tony Bandle 8 months ago

Including Devonte and the walk-ons, we will have on the backline Ju, So, So, So, So, Fr.

At the swing spot we will have Ju, So, Fr.

On the front line we will have Ju, Ju, Ju, So, Fr.

Also out of 10 total starting positions for 2013/14 and 2014/15, Bill will have had to replace 9 of them!! And if Ellis, Selden, Oubre and Alexander go as anticipated, that's another 4 for 2015/16.

CRAP!!! that's 13 out of 15 starting positions over three seasons...Geez we'll never get any experience.Damn, Kentucky will have more guys coming back than we do!!

Tony Bandle 8 months ago

OOPS..my bad!! Ellis and Selden both started last season. Still, make that 12 out of 15..a daunting challenge none the less.

Chris Bailey 8 months ago

I was on the Matt Tait bandwagon until the last few lines when you brought up Dayne Crist. All that hype and the drum beating for Crist arriving on campus with all his 5-star accalades came from reading this site. Without you guys praising him as our next great QB behind Reesing most of us would have looked at him as a has been or never was. He fizzled in South Bend. So while I support your stance on not wishing Tharpe on his way I can't endorse the whole Crist thing. You guys spoon fed us about his poise and leadership and we bought it hook, line and sinker. As far as the twitter incident with Tharpe it was monumentally stupid but it's nothing most 18 to 22 year olds haven't done and nothing most of us wouldn't have done given the opportunity back in college. That said he should have known not to post that picture. Yeah he played poorly down the stretch and yes we will miss his leadership. If nothing else than to bring the younger guys along and push them for minutes. And defending Webb, as much as I like the stance, he wasn't the guy here either. Although honestly Pick never got a fair shot in my opinion.

Matt Tait 8 months ago

Fair enough... If you remember, though, we were mostly just sharing what we had been told about Crist from teammates and coaches. It wasn't until we got to see him in games that we were able to make the call for ourselves.

Either way, though, even if we were wrong, that's still relevant here.

Chris Bailey 8 months ago

Right on. So you were but we were just reading what you were told so I guess neither of us were in the wrong :)

Chris Bailey 8 months ago

I'm going with 51/49 on that one.

Joe Joseph 8 months ago

I'm with Chris. This blog was homerville for Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps.

Matt Tait 8 months ago

Wow. You clearly missed the point by a country mile.

Steve Jacob 8 months ago

Everyone assumed Turner would come if Embiid left, and he did not. So don't assume Graham is coming. And I am not 100% sure Alexander will be eligible, the Chicago school system is so messed up who knows what can happen.

Steve Jacob 8 months ago

Just a college note, but Wisconsin player Frank Kaminsky just had the best blog ever...

"I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring,"

"At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sell out crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?"

"I don't think I would be able to live with the regret of skipping my last year of college to be a potential D-League player or end up in Europe," he wrote. "I have no doubt in my mind that I would have been drafted. I believe that one day I will be put on an NBA roster, but that doesn't happen right away for most people. Especially for a 7-foot white kid with average athleticism."

John Myers 8 months ago

Saw that earlier today - LOVED it. Kid is totally on point. I wish more kids thought that way.

Michael Maris 8 months ago

Kudos to Frank Kaminsky. Well thought out on his part for sure.

Michael Maris 8 months ago

Matt, I enjoyed the article (and your opinion).

It amazes me how someone (such as I) can post an opinion on an issue / subject. And, there are a bunch of so called Jayhawk supporters that post all kinds of negative reactionary post towards the writers or another individual posting their thoughts or opinions on this site. It truly shows how today society has become a ''What have you done for me lately crowd''. Sure, I want all of Jayhawk Athletic participants to excel and achieve their goals and win Conference Championships and National Championships. But the fact is, NOT everyone can win. I want Jayhawk Football to get back to the level of 2007 / 2008 and continually go to bowl games each and every year (or achieve the ultimate prize and compete for a National Championship).

Honestly, the move that JW Sports Dept. made in making everyone have to show their actual names on here seems to have gotten rid of quite a few of those negative posting individuals. But, there are still some left that seem to think that they can post a negative comment about the writers or us individuals who post our opinions as if their opinions or thoughts are the only one's that matter.

I'm always checking the site to see any new updated information throughout the day.

Matt, keep up the good work.

Jack Jones 8 months ago

Well said!! ~ Unfortunately, when you combine the natural tendency of 20th and 21st Century human beings toward negativity ~ compounded by the ego-driven "look at me" social media explosion, ~ then throw in the "sports mentality" factor ~ it's probably surprising that there aren't more mindless critics posting. You're right about the LJW's decision to remove the ability to "hide" oneself behind some phony name. Cleaned up the site greatly.

Kent Kossoy 8 months ago

Sherron was a problem child his first two years, erratic and sloppy. Turnover city. Although by the end of his sophomore year he did assist one of the greatest shots ever. His third year, honorable mention, and last year all american. Tharpe minimally improved in his junior year. So how is his experience helpful?? The point runs the team. I am sure he is a great person. Although with the recent photo fun some may say differently. I am glad that his daughter is important. He appears to be taking his father responsibility. Although, being a father at such an age questions responsibility. All and all, no position is irreplaceable. Wiggins wasn't the Messiah. Not wanting to be negative, but don't be saying just how great these individual players are as players when the last ring was in 2008. Just saying'

Joe Joseph 8 months ago

I'm sad things didn't work out for Naadir. He was so good for stretches of the season and arguably the most clutch performer... until somebody (or some thing) completely mind effed him about 20 games into the season.

John Fitzgerald 8 months ago

You make a great point. It wasn't until late when he started trailing off. Maybe his daughters issues were really affecting him and he wanted to be close to home at that point. I'm sure that can really weigh on your mind. We will never know the real story but the fact is the guy is a good ball player and he will be missed.

Scott Smetana 8 months ago

Self and Naa we're never on the same page. I think Self's the man and I'm sure there's more to the story.....BUT... I think Self was too hard on him. I'm still hot he was on the bench after playing great against Michigan only to watch EJ blow it. This season Wiggins and Seldon could do no wrong while coach was always in Naa's face (and head). Naa is way faster than Frankamp on defense and is a much better shooter than Mason. I believed in a strong senior year for him ala Tyshawn. Now we'll never know.

Doug Cramer 8 months ago

Good article...although I'm not down on him because of the picture.

It never feels good to lose a guy that's worked so hard toward this program...and enjoyed it for 3 seasons.

Thank you Tharp for your leadership to the program...good luck to you and your family up in New England. I'll be rooting for you to torch the nets at your next school.

Mark Lindrud 8 months ago

I never wanted Tharpe to leave, but I did want him to mature. I was a harsh critic about the photo and just because he is leaving I am not taking those words back because I wanted him to be a better person, and a better player. I hope now that he is going back to be near his daughter this is his wake up call to be those things. I know when guys come here we want the moon, the stars, Big 12 Titles and Final Fours and they know what the expectations are when they step foot onto the Lawrence Campus as a young man. The crowd will cheer like they have never heard before and the Phog will rise every time in support of these young men. We critique them because we are devoted fans and we cheer them because we are devoted fans.

We may yell at one another at a time, but it is because we want these young men to do great things here at KU and beyond their time here. I will continue to support Tharpe if I get a chance to see him play somewhere and hope that he does well wherever he lands. I will continue to critique because I want him to keep getting better, but I am hoping no matter what he becomes a great father.

Jonathan Allison 8 months ago

Matt, I'm so glad that the "Active Discussions" widget it fixed! Thanks.

Sam Constance 8 months ago

Well said.

It's become vogue to criticize our point guard at KU to unreasonable levels in the last 6 seasons or so. I have no doubt that Mason or Graham will draw the laser-like ire of the fanbase at some point in the near future.

Personally, I'm fed up with it. The most important thing about the article above is pointing out how much Naadir cared and tried. He would sometimes be lackadaisical, but he never struck me as someone with what another poster called "attitude problems". It gets tiring to see so many fans turn dissatisfaction with a player's on-court performance into an indictment of what kind of young men they are.

And I think Joe Joseph may be onto something when he talks about something screwing with Tharpe's head late in the season. Maybe the medical issues with his daughter or wanting to be close to home. Maybe something else. But he really struggled during the final third of the season, and the fact that we got hit with a big blow in losing Embiid made his struggles all the more magnified, as Embiid's loss put more pressure on every player on the roster, and some were already performing at the best level of which they were capable. I think Tharpe was one of those players--at best, he was a good shooting, good passing ballhandler who was prone to occasional lapses in concentration and a poor defensive disposition. Thing is, that skill set was working pretty well for us given the other talent we had on the team. But when it Tharpe's flaws (everyone has them) became liabilities, it became a problem.

I hope that he finds a new school close to home for next year and that his daughter is okay in the long run. Best of luck Naadir. This is one KU fan who will miss you.

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