Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Column: Frankamp shows maturity at Oklahoma

Kansas forwards Perry Ellis (34) and Justin Wesley celebrate a late three by Kansas guard Conner Frankamp (23) against Oklahoma during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas forwards Perry Ellis (34) and Justin Wesley celebrate a late three by Kansas guard Conner Frankamp (23) against Oklahoma during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks Wayne Selden and his technical foul after 90-83 win over Oklahoma

Bill Self talks Wayne Selden and his technical foul after 90-83 win over Oklahoma.

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Box score

— It never pays to give up on a player talented enough to warrant a scholarship offer from Bill Self, Kansas University’s 11th-year basketball coach, because he never gives up on a player who tries to practice what he preaches. The smart ones figure that out. The immature ones play their way to the end of the bench, even out of the program.

Put Conner Frankamp in the first group.

Accustomed to dominating games in high school, Frankamp came into Wednesday night’s Big 12 opener in Noble Center riding a streak during which he had not scored in KU’s past eight games, three of which he never was called off the bench. He totaled 17 minutes in the other five and misfired on all seven shots, five of them three-pointers.

At 6-0, 165 pounds, the freshman from Wichita didn’t look in his first Big 12 game like a player wondering if he were in over his head, didn’t show the body language of a bench-warmer convinced his coach had it in for him. In his 13 minutes on the floor, he looked like a comfortable point guard, running the team with poise and shooting with confidence.

First half, teams trading the lead in a fast-paced game. Naadir Tharpe picked up his third foul and Frank Booker made one of two free throws to put the Sooners up by a point with 2:06 left. Exit Tharpe. Enter Frankamp for his second appearance of the night.

With him at the controls, Kansas outscored OU, 7-0, the rest of the half. Frankamp had five of the seven points.

After deflecting a ball that Perry Ellis ended up stealing, Frankamp was in the right frame of mind to make something happen at the other end.

“Getting stops on defense always helps your offense, I feel like,” Frankamp said. “If you focus on defense, your offense will come naturally.”

He sprinted down the right side of the court and stopped a couple of feet outside the three-point line. Brannen Greene whipped him a pass and Frankamp, with the feathery touch that enabled him to break Ellis’ Wichita high school scoring record, swished it.

Frankamp added a pull-up, free-throw-line jumper in traffic with five seconds left to send the Jayhawks into the locker room feeling as if they had found more than a six-point lead. They had found a potential rotation player, a lethal three-point threat.

It never hurts to have options. Fellow freshman Frank Mason’s a fearless jet, Frankamp a terrific shooter and slick ballhandler. Tharpe blends bits of all those qualities.

Still, it hasn’t been KU’s most consistent position on a young team that needs someone steadying the ship.

Tharpe happened to have one of his better nights in a Kansas uniform on the same night Frankamp entered the picture. Tharpe penetrated to the lane with more effectiveness than usual and played steady closing the game when not the same could be said for some of his teammates, most obviously freshman Andrew Wiggins.

“When’s the last time a team has had a great year, I mean a great one, unless you have a point guard who’s a good closer?” Self asked. “Kind of a like a quarterback in the two-minute drill who makes something out of nothing.”

The Jayhawks had a first-half closer in Frankamp and a second-half one in Tharpe (17 points, three assists). In a combined 39 minutes, Tharpe and Frankamp totaled 22 points and just one turnover.

With Perry Ellis dominating inside and Wayne Selden having quite the night, those efforts would have been wasted had the point guards not held it all together.

Frankamp was thrilled to be a part of it, but contained his excitement until his job was done. He entered the night having made just 3 of 14 threes (.214). He didn’t let his head sink to the level of his shooting percentage.

“I’m at the best program in the country, I feel like,” Frankamp said out loud what he must tell himself constantly when he is forced to watch games instead of participate in them. “It’s an honor be here, so my head’s always high. I always have to be ready.”

Self told Frankamp before the game that because of the way the matchups looked, he should expect to play.

“He hadn’t had a chance, I hadn’t given him a chance,” Self said, explaining the size of opponents made some games tough fits for the freshman. “He delivered.”

Tharpe said he suggested to Self after the half ended that it would be a good idea to keep riding Frankamp to keep his confidence heading up.

“I thought he played so well to end the half,” Self said of Frankamp. “Somebody asked me if we were

going to start Frank (in the second half). I said, ‘No, we'll go with Frankamp, because he played so

well the first half.’ I knew we’d need Naa down the stretch. We didn’t want him to get his fourth (foul).”

In reserve of Tharpe, Mason’s a better defender, a better finisher at the hoop, but if the quicker Frankamp develops, the more options Self will have to choose from based on the opponents.

Frankamp explained his ticket to Wednesday’s opportunity: “I’m trying to not make any turnovers and focus on the defensive end, as well. I’ve improved quite a bit (defensively in practice) from when I first started.”

One big night can make a big difference in a young player’s confidence. The fact it came in the conference opener gives Frankamp a chance to purge his non-conference numbers and reset the calculator in his brain to Big 12 only, just a week after New Year’s Day.

“I’ve kind of been in a slump, but hopefully tonight got me out of it and I can improve from here,” he said.

Lon Kruger’s Sooners play faster, with more drives and fewer patterns involving multiple passes than in past years. The Sooners play man-to-man defense as well. It was a style against which Kansas prefers to play. Still, winning on the road in such a tough conference and seeing a freshman grow more comfortable can only help the confidence of a young bunch that was in need of a boost in that area.


Suzi Marshall 8 years, 5 months ago

It was indeed a big night for CF. I'm not so sure about the article statement that Mason is a better defender, although he certainly should be. Frankamp has a very good basketball IQ and has always given a top effort. We are going to need Frankamp even if Selden continues tonight's performance.

He stuck his nose in it for those two rebounds. Love the photo of the two Wichita young men. I bet the two have been looking forward to playing together.

Bernard Gregory 8 years, 5 months ago

why is it that you never can say anything positive about Frank Mason, he is not perfect but it would seem that there is something he can do to satisfy your desire to always downgrade everthing that he does

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 5 months ago

I've said alot of good things about Mason and believe he will get a great PG when he learns to play the position. I love the effort and heart he brings. Nothing negative about saying I'm not sure he's a better defender than CF.

Joe Joseph 8 years, 5 months ago

Frank Mason is a better defender than Frankamp.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 5 months ago

I think it is clear Mason is a better defender than Frankamp. CF is limited by his physical stature, which teams almost immediately exploit. Mason, although not taller, is clearly stronger and doesn't seem to get pushed down on the block as easily. He is also much quicker than CF.

That said, CF played a great game last night and is an extemely intelligent player. KU needs both CF and Mason to continue to develop if we are going to make it deep into the tourney this year.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

You do realize that people have different opinions...I saw Frankamp fighting through screens against much larger opponents..I've also seen him looking lost. Today I gave him a B+.

Timothy Rake 8 years, 5 months ago

Great to see CF step up and make a couple of big-time shots. And Wayne in attack mode! Now if only Self can get into AW's head. . .

Timothy Rake 8 years, 5 months ago

Well, Wiggins, first of all. AWIII has kind of disappeared this year.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 5 months ago

I wish I knew what transpired between AW3 and HCBS...

Just as AW3 started to emerge in the rotation he had an injury and has all but disappeared. Hardly see him in any pics including when the cam is panning the bench.

Too much talent being wasted.

Steve Zimmerman 8 years, 5 months ago

It's about time our PGs making those shots and while making plays for others, too. Now they need to think about abusing those rims with lots of lobs - both short & long ones! C'mon, we have a fully loaded team with guys who can jump & slam, it's time to make those legs work! I've seen so many SC top 10 opportunities that this team missed out. It's fun to watch, it's confidence building. We need to send a message that this team is for real.

Len Shaffer 8 years, 5 months ago

As great as it was to see CF hit a couple of shots, what impressed me even more was the poise with which he brought the ball up. Given the turnover problems that have plagued this team quite a bit, it was great to see how calm and collected he was, and how he made smart decisions re when to keep trying to bring it up or himself or pass it to someone else. If he's showing this kind of solid veteran leadership as a freshman who's barely played, imagine how good he can become over the course of four (or five) years ...

And let's also give credit to Tharpe for suggesting that Self stick with CF to start the second half. It's a great testament to Tharpe's character and team-first attitude.

Cole Hogan 8 years, 5 months ago

Connor is going to be a STUD for us over these next 4 years. I was beyond ecstatic when he verbally committed like 3 years ago. He is quite a talent, and we are going to be very lucky in a year or two to have such a good ball handler that has such a nice shot, that is going to prove lethal and extremely useful in the coming years. I am also completely confident that he will grow into being a great leader for this team over the next 3.5 years. I'm quite high on CF if you can't tell.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

Part of the "poise" was that he made zero attempt to push the ball and the tempo at all. His only focus was to slow down and not turn the ball over. this is fine in small amounts but you have to at some point press the issue and attack.

When Tharpe walks the ball, people say he is failing. When Connor walks the ball up he is "poised". I am glad he played well but he will need to get comfortable pushing the tempo faster to warrant more extensive play. this was a nice match up for Connor but there will be some games coming up where that simply won't be enough. It's a good start.

Eliott Reeder 8 years, 5 months ago

Also, by "a good match-up" I think Self may have meant "a team that plays terrible defense". Connor can play point against teams that don't pressure the ball too much...

Mick Allen 8 years, 5 months ago

Excellent post Benz. When handling the ball Connor's only focus was not turning it over, which when you consider his limited playing time and youth it should be a priority for him. Right now he will not make many plays off the bounce which leads to more drives and assists, but inevitably more turnovers.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 5 months ago

Well there weren't many transition opportunities in the time he was on the court. OR maybe he didn't see those opportunities.

Either way, a nice job for Mr. Frankamp.

Greg Lux 8 years, 5 months ago

Connor is the kind of young man it seems everyone wants to see succeed. It's great to see him show some real game. He just moved up the bench and I expect to see him in the regular rotation from now on. He has a good head for the game and his ball handling skills are better then I expected. My one wish is he would get into a scoring position on offense. He stands way to far from the 3 point line and he needs to slide to the corner more which takes his defender with him. That opens up the lane for our point guard to drive and when the defender come in to help would leave Conner wide open for a 3 from the corner. It will come with time, but that's the one flaw I saw in his offensive rotation last night. Great game Jayhawks - Get those glasses off JoJo .. Rock Chalk

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 months ago

If Conner is 6''-0' tall, I will eat my hat...and yours too :).

I predicted when he committed, he would end up a virtual assassin for KU the last two years of his career. For you long-time KU Hawks, he will be our "McNamara Missile" and for you really old Hawks, he will be our "Seeger Sidewinder"!!

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 5 months ago

The game has an entirely different look, in terms of spacing when he's on the court. Although, OU is not noted for their D. However, if he gets the 3 ball working, nobody will be able to clog the lane like SDSU did. Wiggins could have a field day vs OSU, ISU and BU.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

Waht I like is that there really isn't much limit to Frankamp's range. His three last night showed that he is quite comfortable hitting from several feet behind the line. His play in the U19 highlighted that it wasn't a fluke. If he can stroke them from long range when he has a good match up and get sin then that will really open up some nice lanes for the others to drive. Teams will figure out that you can't play off of him and sag on the bigs pretty fast.

Rich Hetherington 8 years, 5 months ago

I can picture it now, 3 years from now, seniors Connor Frankamp, Landan Lucas, Brannen Greene and Frank Mason still suiting up for the Jayhawks. Sure, we'll be getting our top flight recruits each year as well, but something tells me those 4 will be here 3 years from now playing a HUGE role in whatever Kansas does that year! They won't all start, but they will definitely be impact players and who knows, maybe they will all start along side a good big man to be named later.

Chris Shaw 8 years, 5 months ago

As the article states that the matchup was a big reason for Connor's success last night. I don't think that's always going to hold true with every team this season.

I do think Connor brings a different element. He is not as quick or fast with the ball as Mason or Tharpe and it takes him longer to get up the court and get the team in an offensive set, but he may be as efficient or possibly more going forward.

In a slow, grind it out ball game I kind of like what Connor may potentially bring to the table. Last night...I think defensively wasn't a big deal, but that's probably what is limiting Connor at the moment and going forward. He doesn't turn the ball over which is good and he keeps his man honest by not allowing them to "Sag" by just simply stepping on the court.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

From what I saw against Okie State last night, Connor will have success against Texas as well. They really struggled to keep track of Smart and Forte. Forte is even smaller than Frankamp and was wide open for jumpers whenever he was out there.

Chris Shaw 8 years, 5 months ago

Forte and Frankamp have two totally different roles though. I can't imagine what Frankamp would be with the minutes, the freelance, and the greenlight that Forte has.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

With Frankamp and Tharpe on the floor at the same time, Frankamp can easily find himself in the same situation and role at times as Forte was in. If it looks like Frankamp can move without the ball and get in position to shoot open jumpers, Tharpe can run the offense no problem. Frankamp is no smaller than Forte so it's not like he would be schooled at the other end vs. Texas.

Waylon Cook 8 years, 5 months ago

Conner and Lucas need more time and Black needs less(I was so pissed in first half I wanted Self to leave him in so he could just foul out). Its hard for a player to get experience when they get pulled immediately(that's really always been a Self problem but he wins a lot so I love him!)

Jack Wilson 8 years, 5 months ago

And all this time I thought Black had his "breakout" game against Georgetown.

Walter Bridges 8 years, 5 months ago

It showed what he is capable of doing. Why so infrequently is perplexing.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

It's depends purely on match up. Connor will get more time in the few games where he has the best match up. I think Connor can have success against Texas because they struggled guarding the slower, shorter Forte of Okie State last night. I think Black can have success against them aas well because they have a big, slow center that wants to camp in the post in Ridley who is very similar to Smith of Georgetown. Black should not even step on the floor against Baylor with their tall, skinny bigs that want to shoot long jumpers. There may be others but those are the ones that jump to mind right off the bat.

Mick Allen 8 years, 5 months ago

How about giving Black some time against Gipson of the mild cats.Although trimmed down he uses his bulk and strength to back people down. He uses his considerable booty to drive his defender under the basket. Tarik may foul out in 5 minutes, but he could be the immovable object to Gipsons' irresistible force.

Joe Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

Excellent idea Mick. Gipson is a beast inside. Black or Lucas will be the answer. A little 1-2 punch with Black and Lucas. Then throw a little Embiid in between. Gipson will never know what's happening. However, with Embiid, Gipson will likely foul out before Black. Embiid will expose Gipson all night long. Embiid will dance around Gipson. Gipson has cement shoes.

Benz Junque 8 years, 5 months ago

KU needs to get Gipson off the floor in foul trouble ASAP. He really plugs up the post at both ends. He seems more aggressive in his movements than Smith was for G-town. We'll see who wins the slugfest under the rim. Ku needs it to be KU in a bad way.

Joe Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

I think you might have a good idea for Self. I would try to give Black some minutes and allow him to foul himself out. If he does that a few games, sits, thinks, learns, then maybe he can correct his fouling. Self puts the burden on Black, not his coaching. However, he is the coach and he is ultimately responsible to manage Black's play time with fouls. If he's teaching Black to play defense and NOT foul, then let Black decide what he wants to do: foul out or's simple.

Ian Legler 8 years, 5 months ago

Conner played great last night. Seeing him hit a 3 was welcome. His play at the end of the half is what really stood out to me though. His little shimmy to shake the defender loose and having the confidence to pull up and hit the shot was awesome. My seats were at that end of the court so we had a nice view of it.

We were all unaware that Embiid had taken a shot to the eye (hence the goggles) so that was a little confusing.

Glad to see the boys win a close one on the road.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 5 months ago

It was nice to see CF get his shot.

He only played CF because of foul trouble to Tharpe and Mason. That's it. It is more likely that CF won't even play vs. K-State than it is that he gets the same minutes as last night. Or that he'll get two minutes and then get put on the bench if he makes a turnover or mistake.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 5 months ago

HEM, I would agree with you but for the following sentence:

Self told Frankamp before the game that because of the way the matchups looked, he should expect to play.

I think the foul trouble made it more convenient for Self to play CF for longer periods of time. I also think that CF earned a little bit of Self's confidence last night and that might translate into more minutes going forward. I don't think he will immediately become a 15 min/game guy, but I think we might see him a little more. The same goes with Greene. It's clear Self is trying to work him in more here and there. How much he plays is yet to be determined, but I think Self realizes he needs to develop one or two backup guards for late in the season. Whatever the reason, it looks like AW3 is going to be the odd man out. I would love for all of them to contribute meaningful minutes, but I just don't see that happening.

Andrew Dunlap 8 years, 5 months ago

next year will be a better year for us. The one and dones will be gone. The rest will have been battle tested and the true identity will emerge. Too many players with talent trying to figure our their roles this year.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 5 months ago


The Tarheel fans are crucifying Ole Roy with many calling for him to be fired and trashing their players in the process. This is a team which is 10-5 and have beaten Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville!!

WOW...and I thought we Jayhawk fans were tough!

Joe Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

The life of a D1, blueblood program, yikes...that's why they get the big bucks.

Joe Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

I think CF is a great player, high IQ, and definitely learning at this point. His opportunities have been thrashed on the boards since he stepped foot on campus. I think Self will develop him. Conor has so much against him, but if he develops, he'll turn into a very nice asset for this team. He's definitely a four year student athlete. It's nice to see them. I saw it in Norman, but CF needs way to much time to gather himself, plant his feet, square, elevate, and extend his shot. He's deadly, but needs too much time. A long defender will get him. I love CF and he's a great Wichita product, but just don't know what's ahead for him. He reminds me a little of Jeremy Case. That is a GREAT pic of Ellis and Frankamp, the Wichita connection.. Ellis is probably one of CF's biggest fans right now. I see nothing but love and respect between the two.

Glenn Bradford 8 years, 5 months ago

I like Francamp and I think he can help this team. I heard the stories when he was in high school and I have season tickets and I have watched him in warmups. He is definitely a shooter. I thought he played well in general at Oklahoma. He made two nice shots. I think he handles the ball well and is intelligent and has leadership skills. However, I am continually amazed at the inability of KU players to shoot jumpers. I realize that the defense at the Div 1 level is great but an open jump shot is an open jump shot. Andrew Wiggins and Andrew White were supposed to be great shooters. Neither one of them make many outside jumpers. Where are Calvin Thompson and Billy Thomas when you need them? CF made two open jumpers so I don't know how much that really proves. I have wanted Bill Self to play CF more and I hope the Oklahoma game will get him some substantial minutes. I do like Frank Mason but he is somewhat up and down. Our guard play has been the weakness for sure. I was beginning to think Selden was way overrated but he really showed some life at Oklahoma. I think Bill Self tried to light a fire under him and get him to be more aggressive.

Joe Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

Glenn- I respect your observations. You are right on to a degree. But I don't think Wiggins was really ever scouted as a 'great shooter.' He was scouted as a 'good shooter.'

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