Tuesday, December 16, 2014

KU suddenly thin at point guard

Kansas head coach Bill Self has a chit-chat with point guard Frank Mason during the second half on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has a chit-chat with point guard Frank Mason during the second half on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self is hoping the sprained ankle point guard Frank Mason III sustained against Florida on Dec. 5 is the sophomore’s last injury of the 2014-15 season.

“Frank has become our most valuable guy, without question. We go from that being the deepest position on our team to thinnest position basically in a span of a couple weeks,” Self said on Monday’s “Hawk Talk” radio show.

The point-guard slot took a hit Wednesday when freshman Devonté Graham suffered a severely sprained right big toe against Georgetown. He’s out anywhere from a month to the rest of the season. KU’s other scholarship lead guard, sophomore Conner Frankamp, left the team in the preseason and has since committed to Wichita State. Naadir Tharpe, who had a year of eligibility remaining, left the program last spring and now is in the NBA Developmental League, leaving Mason as the lone scholarship point guard left standing.

“The little kid is as tough as can be,” Self said of Mason. “He’s probably our best defensive rebounder as far as going after the ball. He is our best ball-handler. He is not really a true point, but is certainly trying to become that.”

Yet it’s pretty risky playing him 40 minutes a game, so what’s Self to do about giving him a breather or two?

“We’ve got to get Wayne (Selden Jr., combo guard) ready, and we’ve got to get (walk-on) Evan Manning ready to come in and play some spot minutes, too,” Self said. “Of course, play in a way in which a big guy could initiate offense in some form or fashion. I actually think Jamari (Traylor, 6-8) could do that eventually.

“We need to cut Frank’s minutes back in practice. That will be important. We could ride him so hard and totally wear him out. I think we’ll try to get Wayne and Evan and whoever else as many reps in practice as we can and try to rest him a little because in games — let’s call it like it is — he’s going to play 32, 34, 35 minutes a game if he stays out of foul trouble. We need to do a good job of subbing and spell him a little bit, where he has fresh legs.”

Ouch: Graham’s right foot will be in a boot for the next three or four weeks before re-evaluation. At that time, the Raleigh, North Carolina, native could return or remain sidelined as a medical red-shirt. If Graham is done for the season, he’ll have four years of eligibility starting in the 2015-16 season.

“I think there’s no question at some point in time he could come back. Kyrie Irving (Duke one-and-done now in NBA) had a similar injury (returning for the postseason after December surgery), but he wasn’t going to be in school four years. It’s OK to waste that year in case he wanted to come back, because he wasn’t going to stay four,” Self said.

“With Devonté ... you don’t want to cost a kid a year because he falls under our red-shirt (in terms of number of games played). We’ll make sure he’s as close to 100 percent as possible, then if he does play the second half of the season, the red-shirt opportunity is gone. There’s no reason to put him out there unless doctors are confident he can help us. We still think there’s a chance he can impact this year’s team.”

His sprained toe is also referred to as “turf toe.” The definition of turf toe according to WebMD is “a sprain to the ligaments around the big toe joint, which works primarily as a hinge to permit up and down motion.” (For a detailed report on turf toe, visit

How’d the injury happen?

“Devonté was up on his toes when Josh (Georgetown’s Smith, 350 pounds) stepped on his heel. It pushed his big toe into the floor, which created the sprain, which created turf toe. You hear football players getting turf toe all the time. I don’t think you hear of many basketball players getting it ... I guess we call it ‘court toe,’” Self said. “It’s a significant deal to where for three weeks he’ll not put any pressure on it at all. We’ll re-evaluate to see if he can even start rehab.”

At the movies: Self said he presented freshman forward Cliff Alexander tape of former Jayhawk bigs on Monday.

“We showed Cliff a lot of film of Cole (Aldrich) and Kieff (Morris) today ... them not fighting it, not wasting energy,” Self said. “Let the defensive man get where he wants, then after he gets there hold him there, take advantage of where he is.”

Self said he also “went through each guy” talking to them about how they can get “a little bit better.”

“I told them, ‘We are not playing great. We are not doing this, we are not doing that, you know we are 8-1, ranked in the top 10 and really high (2) in the RPI. Life is not bad; how can we get it a little better?’”


Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

See the photo under the Tait story "The Day After: Survival at the Sprint Ctr". Frank Mason penetrated all the way, is about 4ft in the air, and does a wraparound pass to Ellis. That is an elite level PG play! I dont recall if Ellis made the shot, and if he didnt, Ellis deserves a buttchewing for wasting such an assist.

What I like about the Frank photo in this story, is it shows his determination, and that's exactly the quality he's been playing with. Very focused. Unlike our last PG, who left because of selfie and lack of on-court focus. Self, without question, "fired" Naadir Tharpe...which set the tone for this whole year needing to be a different beast than last year. Problem is we lost a lot of guys: Embiid, Black, Wiggins, White, Frankamp. (See that is guys from the 5 to 1 positions...every position took a hit).

Ryan Michael 7 years, 9 months ago

What you are describing is not elite point guard play... It's a middle school mistake which Frank makes all the time. Jumping in the air with no-where to go. Sure, if he penetrates and see's an open man then jumps to protect his pass and create some space, that's great. Jumping in the air, then hoping to god someone is open, spinning 180 degrees, and throwing a contested pass with no other option... That's just a mistake that he gets away with sometimes and others not. It needs to stop or be more controlled honestly. Once he figures that part out and starts finishing some easy bunnies he'll be an elite PG.

Doug Fogleman 7 years, 9 months ago

Good Post. He gets to deep, way to often. I liked to see him shoot a few pull up jumpers.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

Ryan, thats actually a good point. What I should have said is "highlight" pass, for if Ellis finished off the assist with a nasty dunk, it could make espn top10.

You cannot make a non-penetrating guard have the personality to be an attack dog. It just didnt work with Tharpe, nor with EJ (who did have an NBA body, but just not the mindset).

Walter Bridges 7 years, 9 months ago

EJ wasn't a PG for the 100th time Erich. Dumb or dense?

Steve-Judy Newell 7 years, 9 months ago

The irony of the situation is that had he stayed, Connor Frankamp could have had the playing time that he was desiring.

kellerman411 7 years, 9 months ago

The reality is that this is the difference between John Calipari and Bill Self. John would have got him to stay by any means necessary. Bill on the other hand is not going to beg anyone. He gives you the real deal and if you choose to leave then so long.

Trent Rose 7 years, 9 months ago

Really on Calipari? Every team has transfers. What about Kyle Wiltjer, who is currently averaging around 15 points per team for Gonzaga after transferring from Kentucky. Most players (like Frankamp and Wiltjer) want to play significant minutes and improve their chances of making it to the next level.

kellerman411 7 years, 9 months ago

Are you really going to argue with the notion that John Calipari has mastered the art of getting kids to give up minutes for the good of the team? He has 10 kids that could probably start anywhere in the country. I hate UK as much as the next KU fan but let's keep our feet firmly planted in reality.

Trent Rose 7 years, 9 months ago

The difference is probably at least 8 if not all of those players will leave for the NBA next year. And the ones not leaving figure there will be more playing time next year. How does Calipari do with the players that take time to develop and need to stay around three years? He doesn't want those players.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 9 months ago

except once you leave, he throws you under the bus

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 7 years, 9 months ago

Who's under the bus? Once you decide to leave through emotion or actions then it's done, Bill just moves on to the next in line. Everyone is ultimately replaceable in order to have a respectable, responsible team. Recruits come to Kansas for this not Kentucky or UCLA.

Chris Shaw 7 years, 9 months ago

Honestly, i think Frankamp made the right decision in leaving in the long run. Do I wish he would have red shirted instead? Yes I do.

IMO Self "used" Frankamp last year. I also think Self used Greene at times last year (Duke). I find the irony in your example is that CF couldn't get 7 min a game all season. All Season! There was no development, learning, gaining experience, making mistakes, getting comfortable etc etc.

When it got to the most important part of the season (the two NCAA tournament games) Self went with CF as the go to guy. CF's credit he was the glue that held that team together for two games. He was the rock and that IMO shows more mettle than anything about CF.

It was okay for self to put CF out there during the biggest stage in the biggest moment, but Cf couldn't get "time" during the season. That's the irony IMO. Why? More regular season wins? Another Big 12 championship?

I mean, if you thought here was any chance that CF was gonna help you come tourny time...why wouldn't Self had developed or found CF more minutes during the season? Irony? Yes!

Cody Riedy 7 years, 9 months ago

There's not a single thing that I saw that Frankamp can do that I haven't already seen that virtually every 1 & 2 guard on the roster can do and can do better. If he was still on the team, he'd be the worst defender out of all the guards. He has an very average handle (i.e. he can dribble and avoid TOs but its not like anyone was ever going to use Frankamp and "shake and bake" in the same sentence). He can shoot threes and at least as of last year, make them at a very pedestrian rate. Last year in the tournament he dribbled the ball up the court with out turning it over and finally made a couple shots. He was not "the rock" or "the glue" of anything. He performed competently, whereas all the guys remaining on the roster show that they have the potential to perform above average.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 9 months ago

I wouldn't call White leaving, "taking a hit". He was ineffective at best and didn't belong on the same court w the other talent at his position

Chris Shaw 7 years, 9 months ago

He was pretty effective in those two NCAA tournament games when he was thrown to the wolves.

Shannon Gustafson 7 years, 9 months ago

You might want to read the comment you replied to again ;)

kellerman411 7 years, 9 months ago

I remember when Self offered Frank Mason a scholarship.. everyone on here moaned and groaned because he was just a 3 star or whatever. Self kept saying the kid can play and raved about how tough he was.

Allison Steen 7 years, 9 months ago

I know. Its like apparently Bill Self knows better than we do? I dunno, still not falling for it

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 9 months ago

Mason was also at best Bill Self's 7th choice at PG in that class. He offered every PG in the 2012 class until one finally committed.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

Aaron, boy howdy, I sure am glad that Frank Mason kid decided to come to KU...

Mike Riches 7 years, 9 months ago

Interesting how things have developed over the last week. Graham has gone from having a minor ankle sprain, and going to "be fine" to having turf toe, and it's sounding more and more like he's done for the season. Jamari has gone from being suspended, to running the offense (I'll believe it when I see it.) Mason has gone from being a stud to being a....stud. Crazy week!

Robert Brock 7 years, 9 months ago

Mason is an undersized 2 learning to play the 1. He is truly tough, plays heads-up defense, and his ball-handling allows him to get into the paint frequently. Like all PG-trainees, he needs to improve his recognition, decision-making, and passing skills.

Last season, he was the model for the out-of-control attacker who rarely distributed the rock to teammates with better position. He is much better this year and as he and his teammates develop into a unit, it is fair to expect that Mason will eventually be a true 1. The kid is a stud.

John Strayer 7 years, 9 months ago

Well one thing he really needs to learn is to not leave his feet when passing the ball. Too many times in the early games he was fortunate to not have twice as many turnovers as he did have. Really bad habit of leaving his feed before he knows where he's going with the ball.

Robert Brock 7 years, 9 months ago

Several of our guys love the jump-pass. Maybe they grew up watching video of quarterbacks doing that back in the early 1950s or something.

Mason is improving (a lot) but he still makes mistakes. I'll bet that Coach Self will stay in touch with him about his flaws;)

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 7 years, 9 months ago

Does Sherron need a job as an assistant coach? Give him some more time with Hudy to prep for a final shot at Europe and turn our points into something great again. Glad I'm old enough to remember Mario and him playing together.

Nicholas Cederlind 7 years, 9 months ago

I love the thought of Wayne at point guard, he knows how to slash and drive. I would also make Svi a backup point. The kid has great court vision and knows how to distribute the ball.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 9 months ago

Jamari's PG duties will be limited to bringing the ball up when he gets a defensive rebound and Mason isn't on the court so we're talking 1 or 2 possessions at best.

Wayne Selden is now the back up PG for KU and that is a scary thought because he has not yet shown the ability to handle pressure defense yet. He hasn't faced it this year yet, and he was awful at it last year so it's still a big question mark this year if he's improved that skill.

Evan Manning did come in and play with the regulars against Kentucky so I don't think Self's blowing smoke by saying we'll see Evan running point some this year. There's two scenarios we'll probably see Evan run point this year. The first is against the weaker teams on the schedule like Lafayette, TCU, Texas Tech, and such. The second is when Mason gets into foul trouble.

Steve Kubler 7 years, 9 months ago

I believe what Self has said is that Jamari will "initiate" the offense. That does not necessarily include bringing the ball up the court. He will be the guy at the top of the key with the responsibility of moving the ball side to side and driving if given the chance. I've seen big guys do this, to tired to pull up a name right at the moment. Their height gives them some visibility/passing advantage and if they are quick enough makes them a tough guy to guard.

Pius Waldman 7 years, 9 months ago

Mason is a bulldog. He will lead us to the promise land. Sure he makes mistakes but boy he also does great plays. Best rebounder for his size I have ever seen. If necessary he can play 40 minutes. The only thing he needs to address is not to foul. Don't worry about his play.

Dwight Murray 7 years, 9 months ago

A bull dog might describe Mason. Not what you want when you ask them not to bull rush seven footers,leave their feet to blindly pass or turn the ball over. In fairness, he shows he's able to cash late free throws and is even shoot an open three. Conner may have been slow but he had sooo many other attributes. But when you are BS and you are addicted to the short bull point guard, he's exactly what you get and an early exit in March.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 9 months ago


What, other than shooting, are some of the attributes that you are speaking of w CF?

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago


Newsflash---> Has our dear Dwight Murray seen Frank Mason play this year, after the KY game? Much improved. And he is shooting 50% from 3pt. Sorry, Connor Frankamp can literally only dream about hitting 50% 3s for KU, as he couldnt do it all season last year, and was the worst 3pt shooter on the entire team last year at 25% prior to the Stanford Miracle-not.

Attribute? Oh so now we think a 5'11, short version of Brady Morningstar safely-feed-the-post is a good thing? How many extra possessions is Mason getting for KU with each of his crazy high rebounds? And his defense is solid. Leagues better than Tharpe, and much quicker feet than CF, sorry, I saw it last year. I will give CF credit for having a knack for intercepting the bounce pass, I recall that about 3 times.

CFrankamp was a high-school volume shooter. He needed dozens of shot att to get his points, which is HIS ONLY CLAIM TO FAME. So now you think he was going to be content to pass the ball around for Bill Self? Nope. There's about 6 reasons CF transferred: (wanted more touches, not big enough to compete at KU, Greene, Mason, Svi, Selden, and Self would never design an offense around CF like they did for him in h.s.) --oops, that's 7 reasons. Woops--I left out Graham as a reason: that's 8 reasons.

Now, sir...would you call it an attribute if a kid is wildly unrealistic? At the time of Connor's transfer, his dad says for him: "Connor's dream is to play in the NBA". Man! How?! When he couldnt even compete with a college team's own roster?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to call your attention downwards, far beneath our high-flying Jayhawk plane...see the parachute floating way down below? You can just make out the initials C.F. on it...

Walter Bridges 7 years, 9 months ago

Can't recall too many TRUE Kansas fans hoping for a player to fail at KU.

Mark Bowers 7 years, 9 months ago

I support Kansas and HCBS, I think he's probably one of the top 3 best coaches in the NCAA men's bb currently. KU doesn't always get the recruits that Kentucky or Duke gets, but then again HCBS hasn't coached in the NBA or for the USA olympic team. HCBS doesn't get the attention that other head coaches from other programs get and I think that plays a role in not always getting the best of the best too. I know that all the comments that I've read belly aching about HCBS, would do an about face quicker than grease lighting if HCBS ever left. The 1 position isn't perfect, but at least we have players that can fill in and still be effective, 98% of the programs out there would be dead in the water under the same circumstances.

Bernard Gregory 7 years, 9 months ago

I told everyone of those who doubted Frank when he first came that there was going to be a point where he was going to prove the naysayers wrong. Yes he knows that he got to stop jumping in the air and passing which he is conscience of. And his best hasn't came yet because believe it or not he is still learning what he needs to do to get better. Once he does watch out. Of the 7 guys they tried to get ahead of him which one would do this team better right now. He didn't redshirt, he didn't transfer and he is the starter. They could go out and recruit the top point guard in the country and Frank wouldn't even consider leaving ,it would only make him work harder to prove himself. He just build like that. So once again I will go back to enjoying watching his development and not defending him against some of those that still feel he is not the answer.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

+1. When Self said Mason has a chance to be as good as Sherron, that is a high, high compliment. We havent had that tight of a ball handler since Sherron left. Tyshawn improved a lot, and EJ wasnt bad (except for 4min in 1 costly game), but Mason is re-setting the ball-handling standard. And his decision making is improving steadily...

Backup PG is the real issue with Graham hurt, and post play, of course...Frank Mason is not the issue. He's a huge net-positive already.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 9 months ago

Conner didn't go to Wichita to be their #1 PG, that would be Fred VanVleet one of the true elite PGs in CBB. KU's weakest position is probably still at the PG. I would rate Juwan Staten, West Virginia and Isaiah Taylor, Texas as the top 2 in the Big 12.

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