Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Black on track: ‘Hard work paid off’ for Kansas’ big-man transfer

Kansas forward Tarik Black raises the Fieldhouse after throwing down a lob dunk against Georgetown during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013.

Kansas forward Tarik Black raises the Fieldhouse after throwing down a lob dunk against Georgetown during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013.


Before coming to Lawrence, Kansas University senior Tarik Black, a transfer from Memphis, carved out a niche as Conference USA’s top shooter.

Most of Black’s shots with the Tigers came from point-blank range, as he led his former conference in field-goal percentage in back-to-back seasons — 58.9 percent a season ago and a single-season record 68.9 percent during 2011-12 – but, close range or not, the numbers were impressive.

Saturday, during KU’s 86-64 victory over Georgetown, Black made all five field-goal attempts and seven of nine shots from the free-throw line during his first breakout game with the Jayhawks.

For his efforts, Black on Monday was named Big 12 Conference newcomer of the week, which made him the third Jayhawk to be so recognized during the season’s first seven weeks.

Although Black’s Kansas career started slowly, it had more to do with constant foul trouble and less to do with his offensive production. During his first 10 games in a KU uniform — eight of them starts — Black had delivered 11-of-20 shooting, good for 55 percent. After Saturday’s effort, Black is up to 64 percent and feeling good about his game once again.

“He knows he hasn’t played well,” KU coach Bill Self said of Black. “A lot of it is self-caused, and a lot of it is bad luck. He lost a little confidence, but he kept working hard and never took practices (or) even a few possessions off. Hard work paid off.”

The breakthrough performance came at a great time for the Jayhawks (8-3), who saw sophomore forward Perry Ellis limited to just 12 minutes in the victory over Georgetown after taking a blow to the head on a hard foul. In addition to the 5-of-5 shooting effort, Black added six rebounds and some toughness against a physical and experienced Georgetown squad that scrapped from the opening tip to the final horn.

With Ellis expected to be back for KU’s next game — 7 p.m. Monday vs. Toledo — Self could not help but smile about the potential of KU’s front court the rest of the way.

“He may not always have 17 points,” Self said of Black. “He didn’t do anything spectacular. He just played to his strengths. So if we can keep getting production out of him and Joel (Embiid, 17 points, eight rebounds on 4-of-4 shooting), we’ll be a hard team to deal with. Jamari (Traylor, eight points, seven rebounds in 20 minutes) was great off the bench as well.”

Black’s Big 12 honor was the fourth for the Jayhawks this season. Ellis and freshman Andrew Wiggins earned player- and newcomer-of-the-week honors, respectively, on Nov. 18, and Embiid earned newcomer-of-the-week honors on Dec. 2.

Wiggins and West

A photograph surfaced Monday on Twitter of KU freshman Andrew Wiggins posing with hip-hop star Kanye West. In the photo, Wiggins is wearing a Houston Rockets hat, while West is sporting a smooth coat and a big smile.

The photo likely was taken in Wiggins’ hometown of Toronto, where the KU forward is spending the holidays and West’s “Yeezus” tour wrapped up Monday night.

Bilas a big fan

College basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who was in town Saturday to call KU’s 22-point victory over Georgetown, took to Twitter following the game to praise the play he saw from freshman center Embiid, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, a block and two steals in 21 minutes.

Bilas’ Tweet: “If stock is being sold in Joel Embiid’s future, I want to buy some. That kid is ridonkulously talented. Dare I say, upside?!”

The raw big man who has started during the past three games enters the holiday break as KU’s third-leading scorer, at 10.5 points per game, and leading rebounder, at 6.6 per contest. He also ranks first in blocks (25) and steals (13) while shooting 68.3 percent from the field and 64.7 percent from the free-throw line.


Jack Wilson 8 years, 4 months ago

The biggest stat for Black (obviously) was one foul (and that wasn't a foul).

That's all that matters right now for him.

"Black on Track"? Let's see a nice stretch of games from Tarik before we make that proclamation. It's one game. But one game of productivity vs. 10 games of nothing, is better than 11 games of nothing.

I know Black was trying, but seeing Lucas perform so well might have added a touch more motivation, seeing his role on the team possibly slipping away.

Oddly, his lack of productivity early may have been the right thing for this team long term -- getting Embiid more quickly into a larger role. If Black had been at least serviceable, Embiid might not be starting. Now we have both in the roles that probably suit them best.

Benz Junque 8 years, 4 months ago

There will only be a few games where Black will have a positive match up. He got to go against a fat, slow, lazy center in Josh Smith who didn't make Black move his feet much or take Black away from the rim to defend in space. It was the perfect scenario for Black to excel and he did. Well done. That said, there aren't many of these types of matchups on the horizon so I don't think this was his getting "on track". He just took advantage of a good match up.

Black should be OK against Toledo as their best big is a 6'9" sophomore center who isn't very athletic and they are pretty weak in the post after that. I think the KU bigs will put up another big pile of stats in hanging the first loss of the season on Toledo.

Nancy Borst 8 years, 4 months ago

Let's make sure everyone's parents attend every game. Both Embid and Black have had great games when their parent(s) were in the stands.

Ron Franklin 8 years, 4 months ago

This article is another fine example of the media over- reacting to short-term performance.

Regarding his fouls; Tarik has been getting hosed the last 3 games on bad calls. He fouled so much before now refs are issuing phantoms on him. It's a load of crap.

Benz Junque 8 years, 4 months ago

How is this an overreaction? It does no more than list stats, quotes and the fact that he won a conference award. It makes no attempt to draw any conclusions from it. Do you think the fact that he had a great game and won a conference award should be IGNORED? The only overereaction was your comment.

Kye Clark 8 years, 4 months ago

I believe he was just echoing the same sentiments as you and HEM (Jack Wilson) from earlier, in that one good performance does not mean he is "back on track". Perhaps he should have stated that "This title is another fine example..." as opposed to "This article", but really that's splitting hairs.

In this case, clearly the overreaction was your criticism, although not surprising given that I routinely see you taking any opportunity to antagonize posters as opposed to engaging them in debate.

Benz Junque 8 years, 4 months ago

"Engaging them in debate"? Eh, OK. You realize this is a message board where people state their opinions and people them have the opportunity to agree or disagree with them, correct?

It gets old reading posts that do nothing but complain about how an article was written. Go to school, get a journalism degree and get a job in the field and write a better one.

So here's my "engage in debate"... I disagree with the statement that Black has been "getting hosed" on foul calls. He is simply not fast enough to move his feet without fouling when people drive around him and he gets fouls called on him. Against G-town he matched up against a completely sedentary opponent (Smith) and didn't have people driving at him and was able to play well. It was a good match up and he took advantage of it. Toledo has a relatively nonathletic center as well so I wouldn't be shocked by a decent game for Black next Monday.

Benz Junque 8 years, 4 months ago

"given that I routinely see you taking any opportunity to antagonize posters"

Sorry, I post on here to state my opinions and to disagree with opinions that I disagree with. I do not see the value in tacking on a "Yeah, what you said, +1!" comment that adds zero value to the conversation or in trying to find a clever way to reword the same thought of someone else to show off my big college words and hide the fact that I have no new point of view to add to the conversation.

If you disagree with any statements I make then by all means state your differing opinion. Such is the flow of conversation and debate. Point, counterpoint. A conversation where everyone has the same opinion bores me and likely most others.

Ron Franklin 8 years, 4 months ago

Someday when I have more time on my hands ill come back and spell it out for you Bens Junk. Thanks Kye, you hit the nail on the head. First, it was Wiggins this and Wiggins that, then after a few games the media starts dumping on the Kid. And I respect and appreciate Black, but to me, a statistical anomaly doesn't support that he is back on track.

On a separate note, Forde is now labeling Anthony Bennett the biggest flop at #1 in 20 years. After 10 games???? Writers are seemingly turning into a big basket of waffle fries these days.

Benz Junque 8 years, 4 months ago

Bennett is simply on track to be just that. 27 games into his first year and he is posting the worst stats of any #1 overall pick. Cleveland picked a decent college player at a position where they already had a good NBA player (Tristan Thompson). I can't think of a worse #1 overall pick. At least Greg Oden looked good when he was healthy and Portland needed a center. Victor Oladipo was far and away the best pick for the Cavs.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 4 months ago

The article itself is not a media overreaction, just the headline which is supposed to generate traffic. The article itself basically states that Black is starting to feel more comfortable with Bill Self's system. If he's more comfortable in the system, then I would venture to guess that we could see Black play about 10-12 minutes a game the rest of the way and give productive minutes when he's on the floor.

Michael Pannacciulli 8 years, 4 months ago

Its scary how good Joel can become. I only hope at the next level the lucky organization that gets him pulls all stops to develop him into the next great big man. Dont make him what he's not...don't just expect he will develop naturally to be a whatever it takes...hire Hakeem...hire Patrick...

I love all our Jayhawks but he has clearly separated himself from the pack. I thought Selden was going to be that guy...and I hope he still does blow me away but so far he's been good. Not great. Wiggins is Wiggins...we analayze him enough so no need to comment there. Love Black's fire...and glad he had a good game.

Keep it up fellas!

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 4 months ago

How many people on here know that the purpose of a headline is to attract readers? Headlines are not always 100% reflective of everything contained in the article. Paris Black did have a nice game and he could be back on track, but we won't know that for a few more games. I do think part of Black's issues are adjusting to a new system which does take time. At this point though, Black's fouling is not a big deal because of Embiid's emergence as a 30+ minute a game player.

Ron Franklin 8 years, 4 months ago

How many people here know the reason an article is written, is so that it is read?? See, I can do backhanded comments, too.

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