Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tharpe steps up as leader since demotion

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe celebrates after hitting a three pointer against New Mexico during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe celebrates after hitting a three pointer against New Mexico during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Kansas University junior Naadir Tharpe knows why he was stripped of his starting point guard duties during recent nonconference basketball losses at Colorado and Florida.

“I wasn’t doing anything to really help out the team, help out the guys,” Tharpe said after dishing nine assists and scoring eight points while regaining his starting spot and playing 37 minutes in Saturday’s 80-63 victory over New Mexico in Sprint Center.

“The team we have ... the guys stuck with me, coach stuck with me. Like I’ve said before, it’s all about confidence,” added Tharpe, who followed a 10-assist, one turnover outing against Iona on Nov. 19 with 15 assists against eight TOs the next four contests.

His so-so effort in those games, which included 8-for-26 shooting, led to coach Bill Self starting freshman Frank Mason on the two-game road trip.

“That’s how it’s supposed to be,” Tharpe said of his being disciplined by his coach. “He’s not around the dudes as much besides at practice. I have to make sure I’m the second voice out there. The games we were losing ... I put a lot of that on me.”

Self, who after the UNM game expressed how much he’d been “disappointed in him, not in his play as much, but his ownership and how he’s helping the other guys,” indicated Tharpe took a major step in the right direction Saturday.

“Naa had a really good game,” Self said. “He had a couple bonehead plays the second half, but for the most part played really well. We didn’t try to hit home runs. We were hitting a bunch of singles, making easy plays. We played through our bigs. It was kind of how we want to play.”

The Jayhawk players, who have nothing against backup point guard Mason (one assist, no turnovers, six minutes against UNM), nonetheless seem to relish having an experienced player like Tharpe around.

“Naadir is a good leader,” said freshman big man Joel Embiid, who had 17 points the second half against New Mexico as KU expanded on a narrow one-point halftime lead. “He’s always talking, telling us what to do. He gave us great energy for the second half and we were playing better.”

“He distributed the ball well and led us,” said sophomore forward Perry Ellis, who had 21 points, 13 the final half. “That’s what a point guard is supposed to do. He led us to the win.”

Tharpe knows how to break opponents’ zone defenses.

“We’ve got to get the ball to the middle,” Tharpe said, “to get it to Jo Jo and Perry because they are some of our best big passers and Jamari (Traylor) as well. (In) the last couple of games we lost, the teams played the majority (of game) zone. We had to make sure in practice we worked on the zone and were able to be aggressive.”

Tharpe believes he and his teammates are back on track heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. home game against Georgetown.

“It boosts our morale, gives us energy, gives us confidence,” Tharpe said of the victory, which busted a slump that included three losses in four tries. “Basketball is a game of confidence. Basketball is a game of runs. We were able to come back in Kansas City, our fans helping us out and playing like we did, it was a great win.”

KU on Saturday will be playing at home for the first time since a 88-58 win over Towson on Nov. 22.

“It’s been awhile,” Tharpe said. “It’s good we had those (road) games. Everybody keeps saying we have a young team. We are a young team, but to go on the road and play those games will only help us get better. It doesn’t get any easier from here. We have to make sure each and every game and practice we come out with the same mindset and be ready to attack and do the game plan.”

Things figure to go a lot smoother if Tharpe builds on his last game.

“He played well. He’s a good player. He was one of our most improved players over the summer,” Self said on his Hawk Talk radio show. “We’ve got to get a lot better before we start talking about guys playing well. Everybody has a big step we could take to get to the point where we could play like a team that hopefully has a chance to compete for another league championship.”

Hinson rant: Former KU director of basketball operations Barry Hinson, the head coach at Southern Illinois, tore into his team during a post-game rant to reporters after a loss to Murray State on Tuesday.

Hinson referred to his players as “mama’s boys” after the 73-65 loss. He ripped guard Marcus Fillyaw for having a bad game.


Barry Hinson rant

“I’m not going to fake who I am. I’m an emotional guy and I love my players, but I was frustrated with their overall lack of effort. I felt bad about mentioning one of my player’s names. That was a mistake,” Hinson told

Hinson also tweeted: “It was wrong of me to single out a specific player. I apologized to Marcus and team. I stand by the rest of my comments. Go Dawgs!”

Mario Moccia, the school’s athletic director supported Hinson.

“Barry cares about his players,” Moccia said. “I know this is not the season he wanted to have after 10 games (2-8). The losses have mounted, and he’s frustrated. I just wish he didn’t call out the players specifically and would have used more generalities.

“I know he’s a good man,’’ Moccia added. “But he can have these Yosemite Sam bombastic outbursts.’’

SIU senior forward Davante Drinkard responded to Hinson on Twitter: “I can’t believe the little man had the nerve to call us mama’s boys. Smh. I guess this is where Our team learns to point the finger.”

“He has the right to do that. If I have the right as a coach to go into a press conference and talk about our team, I can’t get upset at a player that wants to fire back on a tweet either,” Hinson told the “Dan Patrick Show” on DirecTV as reported by ESPN. “Freedom of speech, I’m all about that and I understand it.”

To watch Hinson’s response at his Wednesday news conference, click here.

Big game for Cliff: KU signee Cliff Alexander scored 35 points with 15 rebounds, six blocks and four steals in Chicago Curie High’s 82-56 victory over Chicago King on Tuesday. KU assistant Jerrance Howard was in the stands for the game. The 6-foot-9 center, who is ranked No. 4 nationally by, refused to talk to reporters after the game, according to the Chicago Sun Times. He reportedly is upset about media reports detailing his two technical fouls against St. Rita. Alexander had 19 points for Curie (5-0) in the first half.

White questionable: KU sophomore Andrew White III is questionable for Saturday’s game against Georgetown, coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Wednesday. White has practiced on a limited basis this week after suffering a hip pointer at practice a week ago today.

Scheduling: Self, who has said repeatedly he has no plans to play Wichita State, won’t change his position with WSU coach Gregg Marshall continuing to speak publicly about wanting to play the Jayhawks.

“Hey, there’s a lot of people who would like to play us. We’ve not had a hard time getting a schedule. I’ll play people for what we feel is best for our program,” Self said. “It’s not a knock on anybody else. I’m more interested in our team. I’m not spending any energy thinking about scheduling right now.”


Brianna Zaleski 8 years, 11 months ago

Greg Marshall needs to get a life. He's barking up the wrong tree. Look for the tournament committee to put in the same bracket this year. If WSU keeps up and gets a top 4 seed, and we hold up our end of the bargain as well, this could be the year we meet in the tourney.

Brianna Zaleski 8 years, 11 months ago

Well said, Brett. He's (Marshall) a great coach, but an incessant whiner with an inferiority complex. This game is not happening on HCBS's watch unless it happens in the tournament. Accept it and move on to other matters. I realize he's probably being approached by the media on this more than he seeks out the attention, but have some class and accept it for what it is. U are spot on about GM moving on at some point. This is mostly an attempt to puff his chest out so future ADs will take notice. The fact that he hasn't left yet, only proves that the right spot hasn't become available and the Marshall is intelligent. He's not going to leave a good situation unless its for a great one. I live in ICT, and the whining from the fans here is comical. They talk about this series as if it were a guaranteed W for WSU every game. Do they realize that in all likelihood, they will lose 70-80% of those games if they were to play on an annual basis?

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

You are completely ignoring reality in the case of Marshall. He has been a vocal proponent of staying at WSU. He could have weasily had the jobs at either Illinois or South carolina (where he is from and coached for many years) but he has stated that his family enjoys Wichita, that his salary goes a LONG WAY there and that he is pleased with the facilities and program that he has to work with. He just got a bump up to a $1.75 million salary which is about the same as making $4 million as the coach of USC and having to pay to live in LA.

He gets paid great, he likes where he is and he can obviously succeed there. Why exactly does he need to be lobbying for a job with "a major"?

Don't just make crap up.

Brianna Zaleski 8 years, 11 months ago

Yes, but all the $ in the world and low cost of living can't get u the respect of playing in a BCS conference. Until he's in a major conference, he'll always be a great coach at a mid-major. Don't underestimate the ego on these great coaches. If a high profile job comes calling, he'll be gone.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 11 months ago

You make crap up all the time..How about a self-portrait?

Lance Cheney 8 years, 11 months ago

I guess I don't understand why Self won't agree to play them. I can understand in previous years why he wouldn't, but they are a legit team now, so it would be good competition. I see it as being no different than playing somebody like Florida. Is it because of bragging rights? I have no idea. Somebody fill me in!

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

When you play a game in Florida, you open recruiting doors there. Kids in Florida are able to see your team play and know that if they signed with Kansas that they might be able to get a game in front of their friends and family.

When you play a game in Florida, any big money boosters and program supporters in the area have the ability to finally see the team play in person. They can thank them for their support. Playing a game in Wichita doesn't do that because any big boosters that live in Wichita are likely already season ticket holders and can see the team whenever they want.

There is no door that is opened by playing a game in Wichita. That door is already wide open as KU has taken whatever they want from Wichita preps. There is more benefit to playing in front of a new audience versus the audience you already own.

John Randall 8 years, 11 months ago

Spot on regarding the influence of recruiting on scheduling. Open doors is a nice metaphor for HCBS's reasoning.

Kyle Rohde 8 years, 11 months ago

The same Greg Marshall that has turned down a bunch of different jobs over the past few years and repeated how happy he is in Wichita? You can say a lot about the guy but saying he's trying to jump ship is just wrong.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

Let's not forget why coach Self started Mason in the first place. And let's not forget what Mason has brought to this team.

It is always interesting the ebb and flow of the narrative. A few weeks ago, Mason was the "bulldog" and the one player on this team that would take charge. He was the most impressive player. He was nails vs. Duke. He reminded Self of Chalmers -- Self's words.

The only thing that changed was our horrible performance against zone defenses. That had just as much to do with coaching and preparation (particularly in the Villanova and Florida games) as the performance by the players.

And though coach Self says that Tharpe is better vs. zone defense, which appears to be correct, it is important to remember that Tharpe wasn't a star in Atlantis, at Colorado, or at Florida vs. zones. And Tharpe is not a savior vs. the zone. I recall Tharpe passing the ball to Ellis in the corner, he was immediately trapped; Ellis then barely escaped and got the ball back to Tharpe, who then passed it right back to Ellis, where he was immediately trapped again. I recall Tharpe throwing lazy passes. I recall Tharpe dribbling directly into traps. He's a junior, Mason a freshman.

Tharpe played well on Saturday vs. UNM. Tharpe may be the better fit for this team in the long run -- emphasis on may.

But I don't want to lose sight of what Mason brought to the table, and what he will bring to the table. Mason was shaky with his three point shooting early, but he was 2 for 3 from three point range vs. Florida and seemed to be finding his range.

Mason's overall performance vs. Florida was very poor. No doubt. But we were not prepared to handle Florida's 1-3-1. "We", meaning the team. And Self is in charge of getting the team prepared. They were not ready. That's on Self. We can say "young team" or whatever, but this is Self's baby.

The team was flat out not prepared for the half-court 2-2-1 and 1-2-1-1 vs. Villanova. Heck, we came directly out of a timeout vs. Villanova and Selden dribbled right over half court into a trap (after we had just been trapped doing the same thing moments before). We didn't have guys flashing to the proper spots. We didn't attack at all. That's lack of preparation. Then we were probably worse a few games later vs. Florida's half court trap.

I guess my main points are that 1) Mason is still the player we thought he was -- let's not forget that with the sudden change in the narrative, 2) Tharpe didn't play appreciably better vs the zone than Mason did prior to UNM, and 3) our struggles vs. the zone have had as much to do with preparation and coaching, as with performance.

And is it too far fetched to think that as the season progresses, and Mason cleans up some of the concerns Self might have with his play, that Mason reassumes the starting role? I don't.

Travis Clementsmith 8 years, 11 months ago

YEAH! I mean, it wasn't like Self had less than 24 hours to prepare for Villanova junk defense with a Freshman dominated squawd six games into a young season... oh, wait...

Really? Poor prep? No qualifiers whatsoever? Its all on Self that he didn't get a young team in a young season prepared for a zone defense in 2 hours? That's your criticism?

John Randall 8 years, 11 months ago

Supposing that beating a zone defense was the only thing this team needed in order to mature into a league, regional, national championship threat, we would have seen different games in Paradise, Boulder and the swamp.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 11 months ago

I thought the team was very well prepared for the UF game.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

Travis: First, a 2-2-1 and 1-2-1-1 half court trap , which Villanova ran, are not junk defenses. So your premise is flawed. Such defenses are to be expected and prepared for. It amazes me how some folks give Self a complete pass. You place none of our poor performance against pretty standard defenses on Self?

Self is not infallible. We were completely unprepared for what Villanova threw at us. They can only practice so much, and coaches have to decide what to do and how much time to dedicate to what aspect of the game. It is obvious that whatever we did, it wasn't enough.

Contrast that with games when we have been masterfully prepared. That is typically the case. It wasn't vs. Villanova. Can't receive all the kudos when things go well, and then not take blame when your team can't handle what the other team is throwing at you. We were outcoached in that game. It is possible that Self gets outcoached.

See, my comment was that "our struggles vs. the zone have had as much to do with preparation and coaching, as with performance." Part of this is on Self.

Suzi: Regarding the 1-3-1 of Florida, the difference is, we knew it was coming. Self mentioned on Hawk Talk that they couldn't simulate the game speed and intensity in practice. My comments on the Florida game were a bit different .. I meant that no matter how you slice it, our performance against Florida's trap was on Self .. it's his "baby" and we weren't ready to handle it. It's part of why we lost.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 11 months ago

My observation was a lot of the problems vs UF should be directed at very poor choices primarily by our guards made. We reviewed that tape several times and believe the team was very well prepared and could have blown UF out of the gym, even with the stellar game they played.

I am aware of the fateful expression of "be careful what you wish for" but I'm hoping to get those guys in the tournament.

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

My guess is that there are occassions where young guys do what they are supposed to in practice and then do not carry what they did in practice over to the game. That doesnt mean they weren't PREPARED; it means they weren't up to the task of performing when it was time. Thee is a difference.

Young players panic mentally when they are uncomfortable and there simply is not enough practice time allowed to beat that out of them. I am not giving Self a pass on anything; I just hold players ultimately accountable for what players do out there. I am 100% confident that the coach didn't call a play to go get stuck in the corner in a trap and that he did specifically teach them that it is a boneheaded thing to do.

It's like training a puppy. I can teach my dog to "come" and in the house with no other distractions she can perform the task at a very high percentage. If I take her out in the yard with 1000 distractions and other things, that percentage drops incredibly. The only way to train her to perform with the added distractions is to perform the training outside in those situations.

The only way to train these kids how to play against a team that plays a bunch of different zones while a crowd is screaming at 110 dB and the shot clock is running is to play an actual game against a team that play a bunch of different zones while a crowd is screaming at 110 dB and the shot clock is running. There is zero chance of replicating it in practice no matter how hard you try. It's just different and isn't truly learned until it is experienced. You can wish all you want but it won't change that.

Odds are much higher that the kids will panic and forget what to do the first few times they are in that position but that over time they will have a better understanding of what to do when faced with it. It doesn't mean the coach didn't prepare them. NOTHING can truly prepare them except experience and repetition.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 11 months ago

"My guess is that there are occassions (w/corrected spelling) where young guys do what they are supposed to in practice and then do not carry what they did in practice over to the game.

Young players panic mentally when they are uncomfortable and there simply is not enough practice time allowed to beat that out of them." that IS a bunch of crap. Self's teams learn by repetition, repetition learned in practice. Some call it 'muscle memory' but this comes only w/practice and is reinforced by having success during the game.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 11 months ago

Jessie Newell wrote a very good piece on this for the Topeka paper. I wish he had included some clips from the UF game.

Kye Clark 8 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the link Suzi. That was an excellent read. Jesse is still the best!

Travis Clementsmith 8 years, 11 months ago

It amazes me the amount of amnesia some fans have about the beginnings of seasons. I can't remember the last team that came out playing "crisp, midseason" basketball early in the year. Oh yeah, now I do, it was under offensively minded Williams while usually returning junior and senior dominated teams.

Do people really not remember the last time we had a young team whose talented freshman class had to go through their own growing pains in Maui? Self is a button pusher, its often what separates good coaches from great ones. Being able to push players beyond what they thought was an acceptable level of play.

This second guessing about who should start over whom is a silly excersise. The track record suggests Self will figure it out and by conference season, we'll all be pretty happy with his methodology. I mean, that's the track record. I'm quite comfortable with whatever Self wants to do and who he thinks should be playing where and when.

John Randall 8 years, 11 months ago

It was my major disappointment with Roy's teams that they usually started a season ahead of everyone else, and by Feb/Mar quite a few of the others had caught up with them.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 11 months ago

Kansas needs to schedule Wichita State. It's an in-state rivalry that needs to be rekindled.

You know Barry Hinson's rant is a big deal when it's the lead story on the Jim Rome Show.

Davante Drinkard is part of the problem, not the solution, at SIU.

Naadir Tharpe is the key to Kansas' fortunes this season. As a point guard, Self is going to be toughest on him because he's the guy who runs the offense.

Rich Hetherington 8 years, 11 months ago

Tharpe will be a starter for the remainder of his career here at Kansas. I'm not saying someone else won't get a spot start, much like Mason did here recently, but Tharpe is our PG for the remainder of this year and for the entirety of his senior year. Looking at his assist to turnover numbers from last year and this year, his ratio is better than some of the most beloved Jayhawks in the last decade. I know what Mason brings to the table and how important he'll be in his career here, but I think he'll continue to learn and grow from both Self and Tharpe and will be ready to take the point on a full-time starter basis his junior year. Plus he'll likely improve his offensive efficiency and make better passes by that time, so I anticipate he'll be a special player as well.

Rich Hetherington 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't think he's just going to "sit around", but I'm confident that Tharpe is the better choice to start at PG, and while Mason can be a fire-cracker off the bench, he's still miles behind Tharpe in just about every facet of the game. I love his tenacity and his drive to get into the lane, but he's not a good shooter, passer or finisher in the lane, and the last couple games he wasn't able to get to the line so he lost most of his value. Tharpe is an excellent passer and a better shooter, and at times, has shone he can drive and finish as well. I think Mason is going to have a phenomenal career at Kansas, but just like most mid-level recruits, he'll have to wait for "his turn". In the meantime, don't sell Tharpe short; he's the guy ppl all over here were begging to start after an electric game @Ohio St. last year (9 A/0 TO) and I believe he'll be one of our bigger keys to success this year and next.

Glen Miller 8 years, 11 months ago

Mason is a good spark plug, but he is not the man to run our offense. He drives the lane and then when he gets there he looks for someone to pass to and there's nobody there so he just throws up a prayer. I'm impressed with the kid's drive and determination. I am not impressed with his decision making. If you think Tharpe is sooooo bad, then maybe you should refer to last year with EJ?? I think our PG play this season is much better than last and Tharpe will get better as he grows into his role as the primary ball handler. Mason is not as good of a distributor and to put the game in his hands is a mistake in my opinion.

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

"He drives the lane and then when he gets there he looks for someone to pass to and there's nobody there so he just throws up a prayer."

Sounds like Tyshawn Taylor.

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 11 months ago

Mason is just a freshman. Tharpe made bad decisions too during his first year. I am not discounting Mason. Currently, Tharpe is the best QB we have. He is the best one to help us tackle the various zone schemes that are thrown at us... but I see Mason as the one with the biggest potential. Next year will be very interesting! Even though history says that Self will give Tharpe the nod with him being a senior, I see Mason taking on an increasingly heavy load.

Benz Junque 8 years, 11 months ago

You have no idea how Tharpe will respond and neither does Self. I am glad that we have a backup that is a possibility of being ready to start now. It's really a win-win. No one really knows. Tharpe is only a few games into being the leader of this team. It is something that takes time. The vast majority of previous team leaders had struggles early on in performing their new roles and responsibilities to the expected level. It's a learned skill like any other.

Joe Baker 8 years, 11 months ago

Lead on Mr Tharpe

I'm amazed at the attacks on coaches lately. My bball coach was a monster compared to Hinson and many other coaches. This and many other allegations against coaches are really blown way out of proportion. People need to put up or shut up. If you want to play D1 sports, you need to develop some thick skin and accept the coach's input. It's part of sports.

Now...there have been the unfortunate over the top examples lately, but even then, coaches will do anything to get a response, reaction, or motivation for their team. Unless it's a major violation or crime, let the coaches coach. Hinson's "mama's boys" comment simply means, his team is soft. People need to check the PC at the door.

My coach used to drag us around by our jerseys, yell insults, obscenities, and other nice jestures. It either got our attention, laughs, or we ran wind sprints till we dropped or executed. It just shows how times have changed...shame.

John Randall 8 years, 11 months ago

The nice thing a "jesture" is that it can always be taken in fun.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 11 months ago


1] Barry Hinson has a job at ESPN just waiting for him if he wants to take it...they love loud, controversial commentators.

2] Naadir "Warp" Tharpe got the message...still, three inches more in height and a step quicker on defense would have helped also. There is only so much he can do with the physical tools he has. I am afraid defense will remain an issue.

3] Wow, 35/16/6/4 is a hell of a line....Cliff and Perry are going to be a deadly pair next season!!

4] Come on, Travis, I can't remember what I had for breakfast at lunchtime, and you expect us to remember games from a month ago?? :)

5] At 7-3 KU and UNC have matching records so far, but have seasons in parallel universes..we get beat by ranked teams and pretty much beat everybody else. UNC beats ranked teams and pretty much loses to everybody else.

5A] WOW!! Lose to Rick home!! Uncle Roy.... up to his old tricks!!

6] When it comes to basketball, Lawrence is the middle of whine country with Missouri to the east and Wichita State to the west.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 11 months ago

Wichita State to the southwest, more accurately. K-State is to the west, and they whine a lot. So does Iowa State to the northeast.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 11 months ago

2) I dread watching the game Saturday going against Georgetown guards ...D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera: ( 3 pt shooting 22-of-47) and Starks.

However,it's going to be interesting to watch Embiid go against Smith, who has 100 lbs on him. Hopkins and Ellis should be a great matchup. The mismatch appears to be with Trawick on Wiggins. Looks like we will see Wiggins doing some posting up.

6) Austin to the South and Lincoln (gone but still whining) to the North.

Bill Anthony 8 years, 11 months ago

Brett, I'm so impressed that Gregg Marshal told you his true motive for talking about wanting to play Kansas. And here I was thinking that forming a bunch of 2,3 and maybe a couple of 4 star recuits into a team capable of almost beating Louisville in the final four, and being undefeated and highly ranked, at least so far, this season would have already gotten the attention of some big school ADs. So, thanks, also, for straightening us (or at least me)out on how ADs looking to get a new BB coach rely more on media moments that probably don't aire outside of Kansas than on on-the-floor results. I didn't know that, but then again, I don't know those guys either. Now that we (or at least I) know these things we (or at least I) will be able to quit whining about the Wichita Whiners.

Joe Ross 8 years, 11 months ago

Off the subject. I haven't seen hide nor hair of Jesse Newell.

What gives?

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

You must be talking about Jesse Newell, the KU beat writer for the Topeka Capital Journal. He has some good stuff over there.

Joe Ross 8 years, 11 months ago

Wha??? Where have I been? When did this happen? Evidently around the time Smith was brought on board (would be logical). Larger paper with more circulation probably translates to better salary, and it's not far from home. Congrats, Jesse. Just curious that nothing was posted here on kusports.

Steve Zimmerman 8 years, 11 months ago

"We play through bigs", Naa mentioned bigs, except Wiggins. That makes me wonder how Wiggins will fit in this system. Is he one of the bigs? Or should he create his own plays? Should he be the bait? Let the bigs shine while he struggles himself? Will there be set screens for him?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.