Friday, June 14, 2013


Opinion: Jayhawks old, new entertain in games

Red team guard Sherron Collins breaks through a pack of players against the Blue team during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at the Horejsi Center.

Red team guard Sherron Collins breaks through a pack of players against the Blue team during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at the Horejsi Center.


In a moment, a word on the one new player who looked like he’ll be the biggest difference-maker on a Kansas University basketball team that otherwise lacks precisely what he brings. But first, a look back on some of the more entertaining moments from Wednesday’s camp game as well as Thursday’s charity-benefit exhibition game for two young area cancer patients.

In the camp game, Sherron Collins, still way too heavy to command a hefty paycheck overseas but working hard to change that, showed just what a terrific, instinctive, skilled basketball player he remains on relentless drives to the hoop, long three-pointers and pinpoint passes. Wayne Selden brought power to his dunks, softness to his shots. Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp barely moved the nets. Tarik Black is a physical presence.

In the charity game played Thursday at Free State High, the top moment came before the game, when advanced-cancer patient Jakob Askins received a heartfelt ovation from both sets of packed bleachers. Jakob hasn’t had a lot to cheer him up, and he’s going to hold onto that moment forever. Event organizer Brian Hanni, a Topeka native who used to have a talk show on the radio in Lawrence and now calls Texas Tech games in Lubbock, pours his heart into this event every year.

Another highlight: Pint-sized Cooper Woestendick of Cedar Creek Elementary in Olathe drew a charge from Tyshawn Taylor, one of the game’s many Globetrotters moments. Woestendick, grandson of late KU great Delvy Lewis, had the beginnings of a shiner to show for it. And then there was Scot Pollard, the winning coach, taking his glasses off, insisting the referee was more in need of them. At one point, Pollard protested the game, walked onto the court and ushered Kevin Young off the floor with two words: “Too young.”

OK, fun stuff.

Now let’s ponder a more subtle revelation from the camp game the previous day that could mean a great deal to how good Bill Self’s young team can become next season. Freshman Frank Mason, the guy nobody’s talking about because he didn’t score a lot of points Wednesday and barely cracked the top 100 in the recruiting rankings, is exactly what this team needs. He’s physically developed beyond his years, is explosive and has a natural feel for how to put pressure on a defense and set up a teammate when defenders collapse. Mason’s a pure point guard, something Kansas didn’t have last year. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t start more games at point than anybody else on the roster.

Check out the depth: Mason, Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Black starting. Naadir Tharpe, Frankamp and Greene, pushed by Andrew White III, in reserve on the perimeter. Jamari Traylor and either Joel Embiid or Landen Lucas in reserve in the post.


LaFriends 9 years, 3 months ago

So Tom's just goading the board with his suggestion that Mason starts over Naadir, right?

"Consider the depth when your starters are riding the bench!" Fun stuff, indeed!

TheBoHawk 9 years, 3 months ago

Yeeeah....I think Tharpe, had he ran the play that caused us to lose to Mich. last tourney...well I think this notion of someone starting over him even more ridiculous than it already sounds....Mason, I'm sure, is deserving of playing time. But Tharpe is the best true PG we've had since Collins, and he's had a lot of experience....The dude was there in the Championship game in 2011-12

jhox 9 years, 3 months ago

Tharpe has the potential to be a good college PG, but I don't believe he'll ever be an elite college PG. KU deserves an elite PG and we need to keep recruiting until we land that guy.

always_correct 9 years, 3 months ago

"I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t start more games at point than anybody else on the roster." ... What? You mean in his career? This year he will probably be the back-up. You can't honestly believe Tharpe will start less games than Mason.

Jesse Johnson 9 years, 3 months ago

He actually does mean this year (read the last paragraph where he projects mason starting alongside Wiggins and Black). I highly doubt it mostly because of Self's favoritism towards seniority. If Mason as a freshman really is better than Tharpe as a junior, then we should be good at the PG for a few years.

jhox 9 years, 3 months ago

Self will play the guy who earns it. He has a tendancy to keep a shorter leash on freshmen, but if they're better, they will play.

All I've seen of Mason are a few highlight reels, so I have no idea if he can beat out Tharpe, but it would not shock me if he did. If it does happen, don't look for it to happen much before the start of conference season.

I have a friend who's seen Mason play a couple of times, and he's really high on him. He said he easily got the better of Cat Barber in one of the AAU games he saw him play. This friend is not a KU fan, so it's not a case of him buying into a bunch of KU hype, and the guy played college ball and understands the game. I do respect his opinion.

The highlights I've seen of Mason don't seem to show as much speed as one might expect for a smallish point guard, and he looks a little loose with the ball. My buddy assures me he is very quick, and he was highly impressed with him, so I'm optimistic.

David Leathers 9 years, 3 months ago

Why do you have friends that aren't Jayhawk fans?

Ken Sedgwick 9 years, 3 months ago

WOW! Frank Mason already knows 50+ plus plays, and where everyone on the court is at every moment. I too think he should be the starting PG. Boy was I wrong, I thought he would red shirt a couple of years.

championhawks 9 years, 3 months ago

ummm... What?? My head is spinning after reading this opinion piece

mattiesdad 9 years, 3 months ago

We need to start calling these "Disjointed Fragment Sentences" instead of Opinion pieces.

gwenthejayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

One of the people "closest" to Kansas basketball just said Mason will start over Tharpe. There are wild statements, and then there are those statements that are so ignorant you wonder if he has paid any attention to KU basketball. The Mason comment is the latter. Injuries notwithstanding, if Mason is better than Tharpe you better book your tickets to

You ever get the feeling that Keegan throws out stupid statements just to get people to comment? Wonder if these guys get bonuses based on the number of comments they get per article...this would explain a few things over the last 5 years....:)

gwenthejayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

Keegan - you need to respond as to why you think Mason will start. You are the first "writer" to suggest that. There has been some debate at center, but that is about it. Tharpe, Selden, Wiggins, Ellis are seen to be locks to start by every journalist out there. What's your thought process?

Hawk8086 9 years, 3 months ago

Wow. He is going against the experience counts it realates to both Tharpe and White. Hard to believe that Mason would start over Tharpe. Significant playing time.............OK. The fact that he is even making the statement is a good sign for how good Mason might really be (assuming that what he says is true).

ihawk 9 years, 3 months ago

IMHO the prediction of Mason starting over Tharpe lacks insight. One would be wise to remember that KU's offense is not straight motion or dribble and dish, it is a continuity offense with motion principles. Coach Self designed it to assist his post players, who could not get their own shots, by employing a system where they receive an entry pass, pass back out, and immediately re-post using their defenders position against him, and receive the reentry pass in position for the easy shot. The guards must change the angle to deliver that pass. Why indeed did Mario Chalmers with all his HS credentials sit as a freshman while Hawkins and Vinson racked up minutes? He watched and learned. This team must learn how Self's system can manipulate defenders to give up easy shots with rebounders in position by playing past the first open shot to go deeper into the set, so they can experience and trust what is available. When the easy stuff is shut off later in the season by talented defenders playing like a team, they will then have the tools to let the tam rise above the sum of the talent.

We might also remember that by the time Mario's team won the championship Self said he entered the tourney with 105 set plays off the offense. By the time the next year's team left for their international games, they knew 5, and Self they did not run those well. We are blessed with an awesome group of recruits who are each used to seeing their first open shot as being their HS teams' best option on each possession. Notice how KU has a teacher as a coach. Only the players who know the offense can demonstrate to those who do not. Until all know it and trust it, this team might look like the KU rookies who lost 4 in a row early in Self's tenure. Fans griped, he continued to teach, they won it all when they learned.

It would be nice if local sports commentators were required to be able to diagram Selfs's offense with X's and O's and recite its principles they could find on Self's published DVD's especially after they had been selling their opinions for nearly a decade.

jhox 9 years, 3 months ago

Didn't Tyshawn start as a freshman? It can be done. I don't see it happening from day 1, but Tharpe far from has a lock on the position. He may well be the starter all season, but he's not earned the right to be considered a lock at this point. If Mason can play, then Self will give him a legitimate shot to win the position.

ihawk 9 years, 3 months ago

I do not claim to know the future, but I look for Tharpe to be first team big 12 as a senior. He has all the tools and two previous years learning which ones to apply or not so that defenders are manipulated until somebody gets the easy shot. It is not blind favoritism that that puts a couple of experienced players on the court with different groupings of talented rookies. Only the floor general who knows and trusts all the options self is trying to teach and has the experience to recognize what the defenders are doing that has left them vulnerable in similar past situations, can lead a team effort to its highest potential. I expect Tharpe to start and Mason to sub. I expect Mason's speed to be valuable like that of a young Collins. Taylor had speed, but how many years did it take to learn to make good decisions? If the team can have the critical spacing and movement to benefit from a well-executed dribble and dish, then Mason can seem to change the tempo and set the opponent on its heels. But such an offense has a lower ceiling and can only go as far as the sum of its talent. KY has on paper superior new talent. KU's mastering of Self's system tools for a team attack in every situation might be able to beat such talent even if we see the individual of KY gel in the end.

Boouk 9 years, 3 months ago

Considering Self's history, I'd be very surprised if Mason starts over Tharpe and Frankamp at PG.

hawkdiek 9 years, 3 months ago

Okay, it's 8:20 in the morning. I can't wait to come back her this afternoon and see how many posts there are. Talk about board fodder!

KemDooKU 9 years, 3 months ago

Maybe this is Toms way of lighting a fire under Tharpe to work extra hard over the summer to become what we needed last year to get over the Michigan hump and cruise to the finals - looking back at the tournament it really is a shame that we did not win it all- we had all the pieces except a true point guard with steady nerves down the stretch - Almost every year it's the same old story ..... Shoulda coulda woulda

Adam Collins 9 years, 3 months ago

Anybody know when the next scrimmage might happen? Since Wiggins is coming in this week, I want to know how long it will be until we might see him in a Jayhawk uni.

jgkojak 9 years, 3 months ago

Tharpe will start, but...if Mason is AS good, sans experience, it sure will be nice to have 2 pure PGs to run this team interchangeably.

jaybate 9 years, 3 months ago

Board rats are shocked Mason might start, when Naa shot 36% from trey and could not beat out a pop tart prone, one-legged shootist in a slump at point guard last year?

Note: EJ was a helluva fine player when healthy, as he memorably showed in his season high game last season, but for 2/3s of last year he could barely walk, and Self gave Naa look after look, and still chose EJ. No coach can forget THAT!!!!

Naa became a solid 20 minute man that obviously earned Self's trust and respect on THAT team.

But Naa isn't going to have seasoned defenders helping on him this team and there wi be no Withey behind him. This year's KU PG will have to be able to GIVE help, not NEED help!

Naa will start if he has gotten better on D, or if Mason isn't as good on D as Keegs believes Mason is. Maybe not otherwise.

One more thing: it is even remotely possible that Selden, or Wigs, could become the point, if Naa and Mason struggle. Going long at point would allow Connor's once a decade trey at the 2.

Perry and Wigs are the only two locks.

As I wrote yesterday, at the other three spots, nothing is writ until we see who can do what at D1 speeds.

Self wants Naa to succeed.

Self wants Mason to succeed.

But neither guy is known for trey shooting, and KU DESPERATELY needs a trey shooter to stretch it for Perry and Wigs.

Finally, imagine how partial to KU future OADs would become, were Self to start Selden, or Wigs, at the 1?

Robert Brock 9 years, 3 months ago

If you start playing OADs at the 1, you will eventually look like Texas.

Hawk8086 9 years, 3 months ago

I think Selden may be close a lock. If Mason is good enough to start, that bodes well for how good we will be.

jaybate 9 years, 3 months ago

Texas looked pretty good with Durant. :-)

Michael Luby 9 years, 3 months ago

Good stuff as usual Jaybate. Very interesting situation we have here.
However, given CS's tendency to stick to his upperclassmen, do you really think he wont start Naa? At least until one of our highly touted freshys get used to Self ball. I admit though, its exciting to think our starting 5 for next year could feature 4 freshmen and a sophomore.

joeloveshawks 9 years, 3 months ago

I highly doubt that Mason starts. This is not an informed statement as I have never seen him play but I assume 95% of the people on this board have not seen him play either. The reason I feel Tharpe will start is that he is poised to have a break-out year. Yes, he only shot 36% last year from deep but he has a great stroke and he showed flashes of being able to bury big shots. He hit a huge shot in our second round game against Purdue 2 years ago and buried a number of clutch free throws in close games last year. He is incredibly quick and with all of the athleticism around him this year I see him being a great facilitator.

More importantly, there were a lot of comments yesterday on another board about who is going to red-shirt. Could it be Mason? It sounded like Frankamp has impressed Tyshawn and Collins quite a bit. I just can't imagine that Self can find minutes for everyone. It seems like 1 player will have to wait a year and it seemed to me that a lot of people think it will be AW3 but I am not sure why. He is essentially the same type of player Greene but he has a year of experience under his belt and Greene does not. If I had to bet on anyone at this exact moment I would lean more towards Greene or Mason having to sit.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 3 months ago

joeloveshawks = joeknowshawks

Great post.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 3 months ago

Tom is a total blow hard. Embarassing. He is like Keitzman on 810 who likes to say stupid stuff to get people angry.

FarSideHawk 9 years, 3 months ago

If you had read the comments from former players about Naadir the summer before his freshmen season, you would have thought he would start over Tyshawn.
Just a grain of salt to take with this article...

addlime 9 years, 3 months ago

Exactly. I seem to remember a quote about he and TRob going to hook up for big things. He was probably on the court with TRob a total of 40 minutes all season.

tical523 9 years, 3 months ago

Naadir Tharpe will be a stud next year, guaranteed.

Dan Cook 9 years, 3 months ago

Naadir is the likely starter in November. Mason is a possible starter in January or February. TK has probably been listening to Coach Self who absolutely loves Mason.

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