Sunday, October 12, 2014

Freshman Oubre brings energy to Late Night

Freshman Kelly Oubre gets stretched in the tunnel as the team waits to be introduced to the crowd during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Freshman Kelly Oubre gets stretched in the tunnel as the team waits to be introduced to the crowd during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.



Freshman Kelly Oubre gets stretched in the tunnel as the team waits to be introduced to the crowd during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kelly Oubre Jr. raced out of the fabled northwest tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse waving his hands wildly to the fans prior to the start of Friday’s Late Night in the Phog scrimmage on James Naismith Court.

The 6-foot-7 freshman guard from New Orleans kept the energy at a fever pitch after the opening tip of a 20-minute scrimmage.

He grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the first possession and also swiped a steal but ultimately missed a dunk on the other end with his Crimson team up, 6-3, in what turned out to be a 37-37 tie versus the Blue.

“I thought Kelly was good. He made three plays in the first few possessions that got us possessions, and that’s what he does,” KU coach Bill Self said on a night Oubre scored five points and grabbed three rebounds.

Freshmen forward Cliff Alexander had 12 points and four boards, while freshman guard Devonté Graham hit a three-pointer and dished two assists, while first-year guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk hit a three and grabbed two boards.

“You could tell (freshmen) they were nervous as we were last year,” said sophomore guard Wayne Selden, who scored 17 points. “It’s just an adjustment period.”

Oubre, who played at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada, last season, said overall he has had a smooth adjustment to college life. It’s because he flat-out loves Lawrence.

“Being here at Kansas is definitely one of the best things that’s happened to me so far in my life. I’m thankful for that. It’s a great experience right now. I’m just loving life,” Oubre said. “I just can’t wait to put this jersey on for real and give it a go to show the world what we can do.”

The player who averaged 22.2 points and 6.7 rebounds a game his senior year at Findlay Prep, didn’t rest on his No. 6 national ranking (by this past summer. He traveled to Vegas for the LeBron James camp and Los Angeles for Adidas Nations.

Though he said he enjoyed working on his game with collegiate players from other teams at the camps, the highlight of his summer was ...

“Stepping on (KU’s) campus pretty much. Meeting the guys for the first time. You can’t take that back,” Oubre said.

He attended both sessions of summer school and lifted weights and bonded with his teammates in pick-up games where he concentrated on his defense more than offense.

“I take pride in defense. Taking pride in defense ... that’s what every team needs,” Oubre said. “Teams win championships on the defensive end. I use defense to push start the rest of my game, to get my intensity level up, to get myself hyped. Getting stops ... it’s a great feeling.”

He’s already learned a lot from coach Bill Self, whose annually fields one of the best defensive teams in the country.

“Listening to him and buying into his system is going to get me far, and we are going to be great, because he is going to lead to be great,” Oubre said. “I just can’t wait to learn a lot more.”

Oubre showed humility when asked to compare himself and No 4-rated Alexander with one-and-done sensations Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, who arrived at KU ranked Nos. 1 and 25 respectively by

Wiggins went No. 1 in the 2014 NBA Draft and Embiid No. 3.

“There is no comparison to what those guys did. They are still growing and learning, and they’re in the NBA right now,” Oubre said. “They were here last year and did a great job helping the team. Me and Cliff, we’re here to help this team get as far as we can get them. Any individual accolades that may come along the way, let those come, but right now we’re focusing on the team.”

Oubre said he enjoyed watching Wiggins play on TV during his year at KU and before that, too.

“I watched ‘Wigs’ a lot in high school. We played against each other on the EYBL Circuit, AAU circuit,” Oubre said. “He’s a great player. He’s going to do great in the NBA. Just watching him last year being as successful as he was coming out of high school like I am now, seeing what coach Self did with him … it’s incredible, man. I take that every day as motivation. I’m going to work to be the best I can and help my team the best I possibly can. Andrew did the same thing. Now he’s in the NBA. That’s one of my aspiring goals to make it to the NBA. I’m going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can.”

Poetry in motion: Oubre recently gave a glimpse into his personality during an interview with He stated his favorite poem is “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay.

“If we must die—let it not be like hogs

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,

Making their mock at our accursed lot.

If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,

So that our precious blood may not be shed

In vain; then even the monsters we defy

Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!

Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;

Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,

And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!

What though before us lies the open grave?

Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!”

“I think about it before every game because it gives me a mental edge,” Oubre told the website.

Point guard update: Self on the play of his point guards at the Late Night scrimmage. Frank Mason had five points and four assists against one turnover, Graham three points, two assists and one turnover, Conner Frankamp seven points, one assist, no turnovers and three boards.

“I thought they were OK. Frank has improved a lot. Devonté is a solid guy. They were fine. Conner is not really a point. He can play some point. He made some there late (in hitting three of five shots). All three bring something different to the table. All did fine.”

Mom loves visit: Lori Zimmerman, mom of 7-foot Las Vegas Bishop Gorman senior center Stephen Zimmerman tweeted, “Great show!” from Friday’s Late Night. Also, “Wow.What.A.Night” and “My goodness this is the loudest crowd I’ve ever heard. It’s craaaaazy!RCJH!” And “Lunch with the team at Jefferson’s was great. Great guys #RockChalkJayhawk”


Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

KO .... Love you poetry. Live it, Love it.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

Love the poem KO, interesting author.

Can we put to rest the CF is our starting PG chant? Self "Conner is not really a point, He can play some point". CF is not going to be the first or second choice at PG. "Frank has improved.., Devonte is a solid guy, they were fine.

Shane Johnston 7 years, 10 months ago

Connor was huge in that game because he made shots late. Where he starts the game (whether it is on the bench or not) is different. He doesn't need to be the starting point guard to hit shots.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

More definitively??? Quit living in the past Brett (I call that era Tharpism, some very strange, unexplainable things happened during this era), I think Self was pretty clear about Conner not being our PG. If the head coach does not see it, even after the Stanford game, maybe its time to just accept it. It's just fate, and no you are not the master of anyone else's, only your own.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

Brett, oh Brett, let me try to help you. Conner did not start that game, he was not the first off the bench either. He was all we had left. That does not make him the best choice for the position. Thus Devonte is added to the team so we have better options.

I think this poem from CJ Baxter might be more appropriate for you-

Drifting minds unwind till they find Solace in the simplest of thought. Other minds can drift from time to time To find reason where reason is not.

Last point - you forgot it actually goes like this on a basketball team - Coach > Action > Words. If the coach says you are not a point guard, then you do not get to the "action" part. I get it is hard to let go to your dreams, but if Conner is our PG those will quickly turn into Nightmares. He is not a play maker and he does not create.

I like Conner, I hope he turns into a deadly 3 point shooter that we can unleash on teams. But he should not be our PG.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

Tell me any high level D-1 PG that plays the game like CF? In recent memory?

CF can certainly play point based on his solid ball handling. It's just not optimal based on his pace and lack of play making. But I love him at the 2.

Mick Allen 7 years, 10 months ago

Sounds pretty definitive to me Brett. Conner will play significant minutes just not at the point. Let's move on.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

Rodney: Well, you're right about CF.

Self's right. CF is not a point guard. A guy who had just 15 assist in 225 minutes with a lower assist to minute played rate than Wayne Selden, is not the playmaker a D-1 team needs as a primary PG. If Self chose 2 of the the 3 for the rotation, CF could not be a part of it. If he's not a PG, how could he be expected to play for stretches when the other PG is on the bench?

CF is battling Brannen Greene for PT, and that 5th perimeter rotation spot. That's just what I think right now.

Could CF play point for short stretches? Sure. And there's times when his style may be fine. He's careful with the ball. He brings it methodically up the court. But he doesn't create. And he is not a playmaker -- it's like having a governor on your offense. Safe, yes. Maximum overdrive? No. You can't get there. This is where folks championing CF as the point guard are missing the boat. You need some risk, your need creativity - Self said very specifically that we need more playmaking than last season. CF is a worse "playmaker" than Selden, who was the 2 last season. Self's has commented how he wants more playmakers on the floor. The only playmaker options are Mason and Graham. You can't have a guy like CF running the show if you want to reach your potential as a team.

CF, though, has lots of positive qualities. But there is no way this team can reach its maximum potential on offense with a player like CF running the show.

Shane Johnston 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree about Conner and Brannen. Connor will provide the most value as a shooter if he's playing alongside Kelly, rather than Brannen. The best case for him is if he and Kelly both come off the bench together, but it's tough to see Kelly starting on the bench at this point.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps CF at PG has been laid to rest but the Selden for PG is alive an well!

Over the weekend in Lawrence, I had a chance to talk with a lot of people. There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for Graham and the Big Line-up, which I bet we see early on vs. KY.

Self is doing a lot of talk about running two Little Guys in the backcourt, which we will surely see plenty. The Big-Lineup (1. Selden, 2. Mykhailiuk, 3. Oubre, 4. Ellis, 5. Alexander) will be the combo to watch. I'd love to see Selden post up on either of those twins at KY ...or anyone else.

Oubre's spirit must be some kind of descendent from Leonidas or Richard I (The Lionheart), whose dramatic performances at Thermopylae and Jaffe are legendary.

Shane Johnston 7 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, Selden at PG does seem to be alive at this point. I don't understand it, unless it's just a way to get Connor more minutes playing off the ball. Wayne is going to be on the floor a lot. If Connor is just backing him up at the 2, he will spending a lot of time on the bench.

A natural lineup for us is only small against Kentucky at the 1 and 5. Size down low will matter much more than at the point. Our biggest challenge will be scoring over their length and defensive rebounding.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

One chant at a time please, I only have two hands to type with!

Selden is going to have to show ball handling and play making abilities to even consider him playing the point, which I only have him being the third or fourth option at PG.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

Suzi .. Self has taken great pains to state that we're better with two guards that can handle the ball and make plays. We've heard it many times now.

Who is Self referring to by implication? Selden.

Selden played the 2 last season. If Selden could handle the ball and be a playmaker, then the issue is moot, right? Why would Self engage in the discussion if Selden could do these things? Self has referred to last season when we played with "two big wings" --- Selden and Wiggins.

It seems like we completely ignore that Selden was so bad with the ball last season, that he couldn't play the 2 against the press. And that he was so bad with the ball last season, that Self couldn't use him at the the point at that time, right?

Sure, we could get a few possessions here and there where he brings the ball up, or some weird match-up I guess, but you don't talk about point guards, ball handling, and play making to sit the guys that do that best.

I'm curious, why this infatuation with Selden at the point?

If you're the opposing coach, what do you do if Selden is the primary ball handler? Hint .. it begins with "P."

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

Not at all going against what Self says but instead going with what he says. I do think Self will keep shooters on the court more this year.

With regards to Selden playing PG, I love his leadership skills, size, and playmaking ability. Sure his TOs last year are a concern but I clearly recall some of those crisp passes into the post. Additionally from the point he can create favorable post-up mismatches, especially with a shooter like CF on the court.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't know, Suzi. You said leadership, size and playmaking. Leadership and size are nice qualities, but they don't mean you're a PG.

And Selden was not and is not a playmaker. He didn't look like a different guy at Late Night. He's a "big wing" as Self said. He's the recipient of playmakers. Do you recall one instance where he drove and delivered the ball for a slam? Or where he created anything? Remember, Self has talked about getting more playmaking on the floor by adding a playmaker. That added playmaker would be in the 2 spot. Selden was the 2. That's the answer.

Second, a point guard has to be able to dribble the ball with certainty, handle pressure, deliver passes to the wing on high pressure, push the ball quickly up the floor between defenders, be able to penetrate and dish, deliver a variety of passes, etc. I've seen none of this from Selden. But that's not his game.

I do agree, though, he does deliver the ball well to the post. But more like a Releford did.

I think the idea of Selden at the point is more far fetched than CF. CF can handle the ball -- and I think CF could play it. It just isn't optimal. And with both, I think there's a little "anyone can play PG" in the discussion.

Now, you said that from the point, he could create a favorable post up advantage. Agreed. Heck, he can do that from the 2. Problem is, as you know -- Self never posted him up. He never posted up Wiggins. He just doesn't do that with his perimeter guys. It's a great point. I wish he would.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

Leadership qualities are the most important characteristics required from a PG. It's my biggest concern about Mason being an effective PG. Mason speaks about 3 words a month and shows no emotions, ever. Perhaps his playing example may transcend everything but it's very rare.

Yes I do recall a few bullets that led to easy baskets last year that were delivered by Selden. Jack, I don't want to belabor the point because I'm pretty sure Selden's time at the point will be limited to special situations. My fascination about it is because of all the options that could open up, if he can deliver the goods. I am enamored by the idea of having Selden/Oubre/Ellis/Alexander all on the court at the same time. Put the Stanford version of CF on that court and .... I'm aware of the potential problems with that combo but I'd love to see how it works. My best Self takes a look at that combo as well as about a dozen others.

Over the weekend, I heard from some reliable sources Self will be throwing in a few new wrinkles. Now that Selden is healthy, look for it this year. That KY game is going to be reallllly exciting how Self counters their size.

Mick Allen 7 years, 10 months ago

Suzi, Suzi, you are seemingly unwilling to ever be objective about Frank. You don't have to be a cheerleader to be a leader. Every bit as important for a point guard is to be able to break your defender down off the bounce to create a numbers advantage. Mason and Graham give us that ability. Selden does not although, as you pointed out, he does feed the post well from the wing. HCBS has said repeatedly that Mason is as tough and competitive as anyone on the team. He had 4 assists to 1 turnover in the scrimmage and the 1 was on a bounce pass to Alexander on the drive that was just a little too low. He turned it over, but if the pass was 6 inches higher off the bounce it was a high light assist. Both Graham and Mason can distribute the ball while attacking the paint.Surely you agree that one can lead by his play and not just by being vocal.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

Mick, I do not disagree with a word you said. As I've told you many times, l'd like Frank a lot more if he could talk and show some kind of emotions. I think Frank will be our starter at the beginning of the season with Graham hot on his heels.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 10 months ago

Daniel - And tell me, how does that make him a point guard? -- I'm assuming that you are suggesting that since the discussion is about Selden playing point.

Suzi - I agree leadership is important. But you have to have the requisite skill, as well. It would be pretty cool if Selden had that skill set.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

Would have been really cool if Black had that skill set last year!

Titus Canby 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow. Is KO really just a freshman? Everything in this article just screams maturity and dedication. I want to hire his publicist.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 10 months ago

Russell Robinson wasnt a very "vocal" PG, yet he was to-date, Self's most effective PG. Sherron was vocal and by-example. Tyshawn was vocal, as well as by-example. EJ wasnt as vocal, and wasnt an effective PG by-example (thus the "no PG" comment). Tharpe folded-up in season last year, then got shipped out...(not a leader on or off court).

Got no problem with Mason. Tough as they come, and Self knows it. We know it. And opponents better know it.

Let's see what Graham is made of...NEED DYNAMIC PLAYMAKERS, either to set up others, or do it themselves. Self's brain is imprinted by Sherron and Tyshawn, as well as Chalmers and RussRob. That's the mold, folks.

Connor Frankamp is Brady Morningstar minus 3 inches and minus 25lbs, but with a quick trigger shooting history. Let me state this even more bluntly about Frankamp: his lofty high-school stats came from volume-shooting. He was the best option on his high-school team(s). That is no longer the case. He is not a D-1 "quick" penetrator. Not an elite defender. Nor will he get the number of shots he ever got in h.s. Self will NOT design the offense around him. Nor can Frankamp play the "muscle" game that Mason and Selden can. He is not a good fit for a Bill Self team, other than an off-bench, spot up shooter like the other Conner (Teahan) was. Period. (could have been a star at an MVC team...)

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