Sunday, February 2, 2014

KU’s Naadir Tharpe stews over loss on bench

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe misses going for a steal from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Also pictured is Texas guard Isaiah Taylor.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe misses going for a steal from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Also pictured is Texas guard Isaiah Taylor.


Kansas University starting point guard Naadir Tharpe had plenty of time to reflect on his performance as he sat the final 9 minutes, 42 seconds of Saturday’s 81-69 loss to Texas in Austin.

“Just how I didn’t contribute or help the team,” the 5-foot-11 junior said of the source of his greatest frustration as he rode the pine while cheering on backup Frank Mason. “How my man was getting too many easy shots.”

Texas freshman Isaiah Taylor scored 23 points off 7-of-14 shooting. He had no assists and two turnovers in 36 minutes. Tharpe had three points off 1-of-4 shooting with three turnovers against two assists in 26 minutes.

He has taken just 13 shots the last four games, scoring three points versus Texas, 12 against Iowa State, none versus TCU and six against Baylor. The ISU, TCU and BU games were all KU victories.

Prior to that, he scored 21 against Oklahoma State off 7-of-8 shooting and 23 against Iowa State off 7-of-9 shooting.

“It doesn’t matter. It all depends on how the flow of the game is going,” Tharpe said Saturday, asked if he should be taking a certain amount of shots a game.

While KU coach Bill Self has been quite pleased with Tharpe, reminding reporters “he was national player of the week a couple weeks ago,” the coach nonetheless was troubled by his play Saturday, hence the benching.

“The reason he was not in the game late is because I felt he wasn’t impacting the game on either end,” Self said.

Of course, Tharpe wasn’t the only KU player to have an off game on a day the Jayhawks dropped their first league contest against seven victories. KU’s Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis combined for 32 points off 12-of-25 shooting (48 percent), the rest of the team 37 points off 13-of-40 marksmanship (32.5 percent).

“That was definitely the toughest team we played, probably even out of some of our regular-season (nonconference) games we had,” Tharpe said of UT (17-4, 6-2). “That was a good team there. We’ve got to give credit to them, the point guard as well. They played a great game.”

Tharpe is confident the Jayhawks (16-5, 7-1) will bounce back during Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game at Baylor (14-7, 2-6). A year ago, KU won its first seven league games, then lost three straight.

“I feel these dudes, going into practice after a game like this, I feel they’re going to want to change it. They are not going to want this to happen again because it’s not fun at all losing,” Tharpe said. “They don’t like the feeling. We had a couple losses in the regular season (noncon) as well, so I feel we are going to turn it around right away.”

Tharpe, by the way, averages 8.9 points off 48.3 percent shooting (29-for-65 threes for 44.6 percent) with 105 assists against 39 turnovers entering the BU game. He has the respect of sophomore Jamari Traylor, who like Tharpe has been at KU three seasons.

“If he’s doing well, he gets a pat on the back (from fans), but if he’s doing bad it comes ... scrutiny I guess,” Traylor said. “Like Elijah (Johnson) and Tyshawn (Taylor), if we lose, some people gave them an earful some of the time. It’s hard to deal with as a person. Only strong people get through that. It’s not the game you play if you want people to be throwing (praise) all the time.

“I’m always telling him, ‘You’re our leader, go-to guy.’ Coach is always telling him he’s head of the team. All our confidence was in him at all times.”

Hectic slate: The Jayhawks, who returned from Texas via charter Saturday night after the Texas game, will fly to Waco after practice today in advance of Tuesday’s game. Self was asked if the Jayhawks would have simply remained in Texas for the two-game road trip and not returned to Lawrence had charters not been available.

“I’d say if it were Saturday/Monday, we’d stay regardless of charter or commercial,” Self said. Then after pausing, he added: “I would say we still would have come back because the game would have been over early enough we probably could have gotten a commercial flight. If we couldn’t get back until Sunday, of course we’d have stayed.”


Bryce Landon 8 years, 8 months ago

Seems to me it would have been more cost effective to stay in Texas. Waco isn't that far away from Austin. Here's a case of the University wasting money - the taxpayers' money, I might add. Should have thought back to the old World War II slogan, "Is this trip really necessary?"

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 8 months ago

It's good to be watchful about taxpayer money and in the recent past the KU Athletic Department has been notorious for wasting millions of dollars (i.e. coaches, AD compensation, etc etc), which have all been well documented and discussed.

However, in this case, I wouldn't be so quick to make that call. When you take into account two days of out of pocket expenses plus overland travel, it probably makes a good dent in the cost for an additional round trip charter. The cost staying home, meals/housing are fixed cost. If there is a comparative deficit it could be more than justified for any number of reasons, including what is best to get the team ready for BU.

Lance Cheney 8 years, 8 months ago

There also might have been a psychological component to it as well. We just got our butts kicked, so it would be good to get back home just for some familiar scenery and to help get it out of their heads, rather than stay around Texas and stew about it for several days.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 8 months ago

Not sure about taxpayer's money, TV money maybe, Booster money.... This is a tough call but after a rough game like that getting back home to regroup and it being a Tuesday game, this makes a lot of sense.

Benz Junque 8 years, 8 months ago

Just a reminder that they are still students and needed to attend class today.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 8 months ago

"Here's a case of the University wasting money - the taxpayers' money, I might add."

For 2013, KU Athletics had revenues of $93,650,448. Of that, $1,765,878 was "Direct Instutitional Support." From what I can tell, that was the only money that could even remotely be considered taxpayer money. That is less than 2% of the annual revenues. The vast, and I mean vast, majority of KU Athletics budget is from donations, NCAA and conference disbursements and ticket sales.

I'm sorry to pile on, Bryce, but I hate it when people scream that taxpayers money is being wasted on things like athletics at major universities. In some situations that may be true. But when looking at KU's athletic budget and things like the new towers being proposed, that's simply not the case. Private donations, TV revenues, and ticket sales are all based off of voluntary consumer choices, not mandatory taxes.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 8 months ago

Bryce--> KU Athletics is a self-sustaining entity, and it makes millions of dollars of profit. Why do you think Self was inked to the $52million, 10yr deal after the '12Champ game appearance. NONE of that is taxpayer money. Jeez, man, how irresponsible would that be? It is all corporate money generated by KU Athletics (TV deals, tickets, and a huge amount of Jayhawk mdse sold). Every KU item sold in a store has a % kickback to it should be.

For example, the "buyout" of Turner Gill was KU Athletics + private donor money (several key bigtime donors said "enough", and Zenger sent Gill packing). As it should be.

RCJH! RockChalkKUAthletics. RockChalkCharlieWeis. RockChalkBillSelf!

Eric TheCapn 8 years, 8 months ago

Also, that money isn't from the taxpayers. Basketball makes its own money and gets the rest from donors giving specifically to KU Athletics.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 8 months ago

Saturday Tharpe was not doing the job running the O and was tremendous defenisve liablity. If Tharpe was taking and hitting the open 3s, Self would have needed to leave him in the game. As it was, his poor defenisve play and inability to block out was a major reason for UT running up a 20 point lead. It seemed like when he was on Taylor (23 pts) he scored. When he was on Holland (11 rebounds) he rebounded. Even when he was on Feliz, who only played 18 minutes and shot poorly, he couldn't be guarded ended up with 7-9 FTs.

I'm not about to waste any time reviewing the tape to point out the specific numbers for each but saw enough in real time to know Self needed to get him off the court. I'm amazed that a guy could go nearly 3 years in Self's system and still can not play D.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 8 months ago

Well said. As an absolute lover of the 08ChampHawks with RussRob and Chalmers defensive prowess, I am truly bothered by Tharpe's defense issues. I mean Wiggins is the best defender on the team, and he is a frosh. Same for Mason. Bulldog on defense. Major props to Wiggins for busting his butt on both ends of the floor!

Sean Swindler 8 years, 8 months ago

KU Basketball/Athletics is its on corporation and does not operate w/taxpayer money.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 8 months ago

Tharpe has looked a step behind in defense against above average talent all year. So I was not surprised he could not defend against Texas, but he added nothing else to the game. I was very glad he sat, last time he sat he came back with a vengeance, lets hope that is the case again. We don't need him to be dominate but he does need to show up, assists, scoring, rebounds, just pick one and add to the effort of the team.

Can our point guards stop the no look behind the back drop off passes? For some reason both our point guards are doing it now and opponents know its coming and they are coming close to picking those off and running unopposed for a easy dunk. Make the pass, not the highlight reel.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 8 months ago

And now for something completely different, The List List:

1] Christmas List.

2] Wish List.

3] Grocery List.

4] Laundry List

5] Bucket List

6] Hit List.

7] Franz Liszt.

8] The List of Adrian Messenger.

9] Listerine.

There...everybody take a deep breath and relax. Kansas will be fine and these guys will remember this game as a lesson learned. I do agree with Suzi, I think, who posted no one on this team is ready for the NBA.

Andrew will probably get away with it because he plays in space as a wing, but Jo Jo will be facing "monsters" every single night....he needs another year to be ready for the "grind".

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 8 months ago

Item 9 needed after the TX game. The visual would be the Keystone beer ad with the "bitter beer face"...

Denver Vold 8 years, 8 months ago

Are we so worried about money that we should forget they are students missing all of their Monday classes.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 8 months ago

I see that as part of the equation to best get ready for BU. There have been in the past and probably on this team several players who distressed over missed classes.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 8 months ago

I'm sure the University provides ample resources to make up the classwork. At least for the students who plan to return.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 8 months ago

Coach Self earns the big bucks for a reason. His challenge now is to win with a finesse team.

We can point out Tharpe's inadequacies, or any other player's for that matter -- but they are what they are.

I do not think that Ellis or Tharpe will improve defensively, nor do I think that either one (or Wiggins) will magically play tougher.

So Self needs to find ways to win games like the Texas game that may lie ahead in the NCAA tourney, with the type of team that he has. That may be getting creative on the defensive end (junk defenses when necessary), or utilizing our athleticism with a and OSU-like 2-2-1 3/4 court press, or running more set plays against teams like Texas, or screening more against zone defenses to create space and opportunity (as opposed to relying primarily on motion and ball movement), or lending more practice time to a base zone defense.

My point is just that we are now at Feb. 1. This tiger has it's stripes. We can still get better, but there are some aspects that seem more nature than nurture, so speak.

That means Self has to craft a title winning squad ... a team that can win six in a row in March ... from the semi-molded piece of clay that this team has become. And that means taking advantage of our numerous qualities and strengths, while perhaps recognizing and focusing our game plan away from our weaknesses.

Will Self continue to try to make this team the type of team he wants it to be? Or will he focus on trying to make this team the best team that this team can be? And to what degree do those two items overlap?

Benz Junque 8 years, 8 months ago

I won't go so far as to call them a finesse team. They are the bullies against teams that do not match up physically. They have been beaten by teams that were big enough to not be pushed around.

Add in the fact that they simply did not play hard at all. Selden was the only guy on the floor in the second half that looked like he was trying to get a win. The rest looked like they were just trying to let the clock run out without having an ankle turned.

This type of on/off switch mentality is very concerning to me. It has been the postseason downfall of a number of excellent KU teams. To have so little personal pride that you can allow yourself to think you can just roll over someone without trying is troubling. That's a great way to lose to an 8/9 seed in the 2nd round.

Watching Tharpe vs. Texas reminded me of Collins vs. Northern Iowa. No sense of urgency whatsoever, just sitting and waiting for the KU "talent" to make the opponent roll over wihtout actually earning it.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 8 months ago

Collins had a pulled groin (evident vs. UNI) and was a reported 80% for that game. No regrets over 1 bad game, even if season-ender, as Collins gave it his all. Same applies to EJ and the Michigan game. Same applies to Reed and Markieff vs. VCU. (Team fail in all cases).

Jack Wilson 8 years, 8 months ago

Benz: The times that we have won, say in conference play, we have not won being a physical team. We have not really won because of defense. We have won because we have been offensively overwhelming.

Black, Mason, Selden, and to an extent, Traylor, are more physical players. In that order. But our major minutes guys -- Tharpe, Wiggins, Ellis, and Embiid -- that's not their game.

They got out-toughed on Saturday. I think you're wrong in suggesting that they weren't "trying." I think they were. But at least with Tharpe, Wiggins, and Ellis, they always appear passive. I'm sure they were trying. But they were "trying" the way they try. Passively. With finesse. No anger. Embiid is more emotional, but his game is finesse. It isn't power.

To me, while it may appear to be an effort issue, it's really that they are just playing the kind of game that is inherent in their make-up. And that's hard to change.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 8 months ago

HEM, we are talking about freshman 'physicality' with Wiggins and Embiid. Agree that Ellis (like EJ) needs to be amped-up somehow to play mad. But when he is frustrated, he misses bunnies. EJ looked like a lotto pick when he played mad... So I agree about Ellis=finesse guy. Nothing finesse about Black or Mason. Agree about Tharpe.

Rodney Crain 8 years, 8 months ago

Another point to consider maybe is that every game almost it is someone different that excels. Think about it, has anyone played consistently during either non conference or conference play. If someone does for a few games they disappear for a game or two. We just do not have someone that plays at a high level game in game out, even if their shot is not falling. So there is a risk that there will be games like the Texas game, where no one is on. Could be we are young, that we do not have a clear team leader, or we just are not tough enough.
It does seem that our team is like past teams, they reach a point where they think they just have to show up to win. We have seen this before in early exits from the NCAAs.

Also to me when the game clearly needs for us to change up our approach Coach Self just cannot bring himself to try something radical to change the game. When half time adjustments were not working, why not try something different? How bad can it be if what we are doing is never going to get us to single digits?

Tony Bandle 8 years, 8 months ago

The refereeing was definitely influenced by the Texas crowd to allow them to play...just as the refs will be influenced by the Allen Fieldhouse crowd to call them closer. I predict that on Feb. 22nd, the Texas frontline will get into foul trouble and a revenge-motivated Hawk team will take advantage and deal them a defeat.

It's not that the Jayhawks are without muscle [ Black, Traylor, Selden..even Embiid with the right match-up], it's just that the "finesse" guys need to man up and penetrate to put themselves on the line.

Wiggins, Ellis, Tharpe, Greene need to look at Mason and emulate the what-I-call his "Fearless Torpedo" penetration.

PS I would suggest Conner stay outside and bomb away!! :).

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 8 months ago

I seriously wonder if Kansas ever gets that much favorablity from the refs in AFH. They all seem to bend over backwards, often to our detriment, to be "fair." I hate to come off sounding like an ISU fan and always prefer to give the benifit to the officials but Saturday's game was a bit hard to take. However, we played so bad, it's difficult to come down hard on the officiating.

Mason....he even tried to post up Ridley! Actually it started off as a drive but when Ridley had him, Mason tired some post up moves. Fearless and bold...I think so. Mason also played smart on a similar drive when he had Embiid on the baseline. When he drew Ridley away, he hit Embiid for a lob dunk.

The point is Mason forced the action while Thapre took the day off.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 8 months ago

KU, like about every other team, definitely gets some home cooking with the refs. I'm not sure exactly why it is, but I think it may have more to do with the agressiveness of the home teams than it does blatant homerism. Teams are naturally more agressive at home. Whether it is because they feel more confident or the refs are afraid to make the call because of the home crowd or a combination of both I'm not sure.

Bernard Gregory 8 years, 8 months ago

I know I am a little bias because I have seen what Frank can do when he is given the green light its makes the rest of the guys better. Right now he is so concerned about getting the type of assist that Tharpe get where you just pass the ball around to Wiggins or Selden and hope they are hitting the outside shots or occassionally pass to the paint against lesser talented postmen. Frank could be the guy that opens it up for all these guys and take the pressue off them by penetrating and shooting from the outside where they have to guard him tightly. He needs to be assured that he can jack it up like Wiggins does without repercussion and not look so confused about making the plays that its obvious that he is so hesitant to make when they are right there before him. I feel the main reason he lost the starting job is because he started playing like Tharpe and Coach being as good as he is realized why am I going to start a guy thats playing like a guy I still already have. This kid took a team with no D1 D2 or D3 players to the Group AAA Championship in the State of Virginia which is the elite class in the state of Virginia. I know what he would do to led this group of talent if allowed,I believe he will provide that toughness for them and it will become addictive.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 8 months ago

Frank is below average at best when it comes to setting guys up and has a horrible outside shot. He basically drives the lane and bulldozes his way in trying to get a layup, which doesn't work when there are 3 guys around. 1/10 times he drives he may pass it off and he isn't that successful when he drives to score. If he would look to be a play maker first then his drives would be more successful.From what I have seen of him I hope we get another PG because I don't know how well he will do down the road after Tharpe graduates.

Bernard Gregory 8 years, 8 months ago

how can you set guys up that are all standing around the perimeter and most of the times he drives there are no cutters because they are standing and watching.For the most part when he does drives its after the ball has been passed around and the clock is starting to run down.I will put his outside shot up with any of the players that are taking the shots now.I remember how horrible Wiggins and Selden shots were but yet they were still encourage to shoot.You must be a non Kansas fan if you really want to replace him. Maybe you rather have Big Cat or Rodney Peters.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 8 months ago

Ironically, when other people drive they find a way to pass the ball off to an open man. I won't put Mason's shot next to anyone, especially when his form is bad and just because I want to find another PG recruit doesn't mean I am not a fan. I don't see a lot in his offensive game to be impressed. I am hoping his outside shot improves this offseason a lot.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 8 months ago

...and the reality of Mason lies somewhere between these two opinions.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 8 months ago

Most likely, but all I am saying is let's get another PG in so that in case Mason doesn't improve, we have a fall back.

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 8 months ago

This next game will show how tough our team is. The question of concern will be, After getting man handled by Texas can they go to Waco and beat a team that just beat OSU at home? I think this game against Baylor we will learn a lot about this young team. And I'm hoping it's all good things.

Erich Hartmann 8 years, 8 months ago

Exactly right, John! I watched that Baylor win over OSU, impressive. I also rewatched the KU-OSU game today, where we out-toughed Marcus Smartflop.

Baylor in Waco will be a great test for this team. One of the last remaining tough road games in the conference. Undecided about the KSU game in Manhattan...also not sure about the TubbyTechies (in Lubbock).

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 8 months ago

The comments, fine-tooth combing the game, are comical at times. How about this for a crazy explanation: one home team with talented athletes happened to beat another team with athletes that, for many reasons, don't tend to lose many games?

Tharpe is a fun player to watch, and while he has every right to question his game, I don't and I won't. I am very happy that he wears Kansas across his chest and will continue to be so.

We're still in first place, right? Last year's team lost three straight and won the BIG12, right? This team is comprised largely of 18 year-old kids, however talented, and compete hard night after night, right?

A 45 to 19 free throw disparity is damned hard to overcome, no matter if the officiating was good or not so good.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 8 months ago

The market drops 326 points today right immediately after the weekend loss to UT. Coincidental?

Regardless if you believe there is a connection, it happened.

Let’s hope for a Hawk win Tuesday.

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