Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Column: Vets key to KU’s tourney success


In many ways, the most significant development to come out of the Kansas University basketball team’s 69-52 victory Tuesday at Baylor involved the strong play of non-freshmen.

Looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament, KU’s heavy reliance on freshmen makes forecasting its postseason prospects a little shaky. You never know how a freshman will react when confronted with new circumstances. Last season, for example, Ben McLemore shot 2 of 14 overall and 0 for 8 from three-point territory in the two NCAA Tournament games in Sprint Center. He exploded for 20 points against Michigan, a game made possible by seniors performing so well against North Carolina.

In 2005-2006, freshmen scored 47 percent of the Jayhawks’ points and were bounced by Bradley in the first round.

So far this season, freshmen have accounted for 60 percent of KU’s scoring. They usually face man-to-man defenses, which keeps them in their comfort zones. Baylor played a 2-3 zone and, aside from a seven-point outburst in 93 seconds from freshman Andrew Wiggins, KU’s three top players in the game were junior Naadir Tharpe, sophomore Perry Ellis and senior Tarik Black. Non-freshman accounted for two-thirds of KU’s scoring in the defense-driven victory.

Kentucky proved in 2012 it’s possible to win a national title with the majority of a team’s points coming from freshmen. Probably because the first two picks in the NBA draft were freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, many forget that three of the top six scorers on that team were sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones and senior Darius Miller.

Freshmen scored 53 percent of the points for the Wildcats that year.

Comparisons to this season’s Kentucky squad and that one don’t ring true because the Wildcats rely on freshmen for 80 percent of their scoring this season. That’s asking a lot of frosh. KU’s freshmen carry a heavy load too, but they get more support from veterans than do Kentucky’s rookies.


Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Once again your old collegue Jesse Newell pointed this out with his Stat of the Day:

"Here's something interesting I spotted the other day: Naadir Tharpe has failed to put up 0.90 points per possession in just four games this season. In each of those four contests (Villanova, Florida, San Diego State, Texas), KU lost the game."

Conclusion 1: Thape plays bad O...Hawks lose. Conclusion 2: Others play bad O, even really bad...Hawks can still win. Conclusion 3: LJW should post a regular link to Newell's Post.

Shane Johnston 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure that statistic really says much. Who's to say 0.90 is the threshold between good and bad offense? Most of our players probably have lower points per possession in those same four games.

Tharpe's scoring will not be the thing that determines which way the team goes.

Kent Richardson 8 years, 7 months ago

Tom, I liked your comment during the game blog at Baylor regarding the * player who joined Florida that night. You intimated the gators would have an adjustment period and would regress before they got better.

Mick Allen 8 years, 7 months ago

Watched Walker play against Misery. A very talented top 10 recruit. Had trouble qualifying academically, and also received some improper benefits, ergo why he couldn't play until 2 4 14. All he established against the tiggers is he can dunk. A talented player who will make the Gators better.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 7 months ago

Mick, We ran into Mark, Booth and their wives after the TCU game entering the Trinity garage.. If you see him, we were the one Ward teased about carrying an armload of Girls Scout cookies.

Interesting seeing them all together like that. My best was Mark what there for the medical convention they had in our hotel, Hyatt. Did they host a team event/meal while in Austin?

Tony Bandle 8 years, 7 months ago

Yep..we've got some schollie vets alright.....not one starter from last year, two sophomores and a junior, a guy who doesn't play, a transfer from another school that plays and one that sits and a "12/'13 red shirt to go with our six freshmen!!

In KU's case, I think the term "vet" is used a little loosely but it goes to show how special this team CAN BE if all the wheels stay on the tracks. :)

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