Biggest unknown...

  • As I see it, KU has two big unknowns coming into the season. Coach Self may already know the answer but we certainly don’t. The unknowns are PG and Center.

    Let me start by saying that in my opinion the SG and SF, and to an extent PF, are pretty much set with Selden and Oubre starting, Frankamp backing up the SG and Green the SF and Svi likley playing both positions and at time Ellis stepping back and plain SF when Coach Self goes big. I don’t see any other players involved in these two positions although Graham might. The PF also seems pretty well stocked with Ellis and Alexander getting the lion’s share of minute and Traylor backing them up.

    Note: The official KU roster lists Ellis at 6’-8" -225, Alexander at 6’-8" - 240, Traylor at 6’-8" - 220, Lucas at 6’_10" - 240 and Michelson at 6’-10" - 245. They are all listed as “forwards.”

    The two unknowns I see are:

    Unknown 1, Point Guard - We have discussed extensively who will start the season but we still don’t have an definite answer.

    Unknown 2, Center - Who will start a center?

    My answer 1 - Mason has the inside track and can play a faster tempo. Frankamp is the steadier player but tempo would be slower when he is at the helm, on the other hand he can also play SG by virtue of his potential 3 point shooting potential. The biggest unknown is Graham that supposedly is the ultimate combo guard; I don’t know much about him so I am not sure where he will play in the rotation. If I were a betting man I would go with Mason at the PG to start the season.

    My answer 2 - Alexander would seem the likely starter but being only a “KU” 6’-8 would certainly place him at a disadvantage against the taller centers in the league and his heft might tire him quicker until Hudy has worked her miracles, so we might get only limited playing time at the start, and let’s not forget about the “freshman wall” that comes later in the season. Mickelson would appear to be the better suited to play center and his playing time will depend heavily in his off-season development. If he has indeed increased his jump by 6" then he might be in line to be the next pure rim defender that Coach Self likes and has enjoyed in recent years with Aldrich and Withey. Lucas falls somewhere in between the other two. My answer, Alexander start at Center and Mickelson gets substantial minutes.

    Bonus Question - Which unknown is a bigger concern?

    My answer - No doubt the PG situation. The road to the Championship starts with an elite PG. Just about every team that has won the National title had an elite PG to lead the team. PG play (and Embiid injury at tournament time) was the Achilles heel of last year’s team. Superior PG play, (absent a super start at other position) will get you farther than just about any other position.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I’ll take a shot at your questions.

    Unknown 1, I have no idea. When thinking about half court sets, a PG with “faster tempo” only works if we face an opponent’s defense which is slower, AND if all the other players can play at this “fast tempo”. If one player is out of control or causes others to be out of control, then the steadier PG may be the answer. Also if we face a really “in your face” aggressive defense, steadier play from all may be able to take advantage of a defense that is “over playing”. I think, in this situation, the PG with the ability to change to what tempo is needed, makes the difference. And of course, I’m with you in that we don’t know what Graham brings.

    Unknown 2, I’m with you on this analysis. Matching up with a big big will be key. As will be foul trouble and keeping our scorers on the floor.

    Bonus Question: I think your unknown 2 is the biggest concern of the two. I think we have the PG available to do whatever is needed for the team, which ever one it is. We will need one of Mickelson or Lucas to step up and take some defensive pressure and fouls for our other bigs, at least early in the season.

    I think I may have a different take on this idea of the team “playing at a faster tempo” than what many on this site seem to. I think just because the PG is fast doesn’t translate to the team playing fast. Tyshawn was probably the fastest guard we’ve had here, and the 2012 bunch didn’t play “up tempo”. The last team we had that could really turn up the tempo was the 08’ bunch. The key to that was having 3 1/2 ball handlers in a 4 guard rotation. We always had 2 1/2 or 3 ball handlers on the floor at one time. If we rely on just Mason to push team tempo, then defenses can run a soft 3/4 press to slow him down and allow the defense to get set behind them then fall back to man in the half court. No, I think that we at least need 2 ball handlers on the floor to push team tempo. (hopefully 3 ball handlers) I haven’t seen anything from the summer videos that proves that Seldon, Greene, or Oubre has the handles needed. I may be wrong about that though. So I think in order for the team to play at a faster tempo, we will need to see at least 2 of Mason, CF, Graham, or Svi on the floor at the same time. I guess the equation would look something like this:

    Mason + CF, or Graham, or Svi + chemistry (with each other) + chemistry (with rest of the team) COULD = faster team tempo

    I guess my point is that it isn’t about which PG is fastest, it’s about which big is slowest. (you don’t want to out run your finishers) And it isn’t about foot speed, it’s about ball movement.

    Ball movement= foot speed (with the ball) + passing + making the right decisions x 2 or better x 3

    Just MHO!

  • What is everyone’s definition of an “elite PG”?

    And do we even have one on this team, or one who could become “elite”?

    Did we have an “elite PG” on the 08 and 12 teams?

    Just curious!

  • @jayhawkbychoice Elite pgs make plays on both sides of the ball. They shoot well, can get to the paint at will, can make the wow play when needed, but will make the easy play when it’s available. On defense they contain their man and disrupt the flow of the opposing offense. Statistically, he’d have a 40%+ trey and an A:TO of at least 2.5. On defense, close to 2 steals a game and maybe a rebound or two. Sherron Collins was definitely the height of elite pgs in the Self era. RussRob and Chalmers both qualify, even if Chalmers played off ball more often. Tyshawn was close his senior season. Tharpe could have been if his D improved at all in 3 years at KU.

  • Glad this was brought up because I was wondering the same thing today after reading the story about Traylor and how he has developed. I realized our best team might require three forwards on the floor… none are centers.

    Given that the PG dilemma is well understood, I wondered: What if we don’t have a PG and a center? Could we be successful with a three forward-two guard lineup? Is there some mutated offensive configuration that could give us a unique advantage?

    Coach Self may find it advantageous to improvise and innovate a bit given the distribution of talent.

  • @bskeet First of all, I assume that when you say forwards you’re talking about PF not SF.(I consider SF as guards under HCBS) I doubt that we will see Perry, Traylor, and Big Cliff on the floor at the same time, very often. Maybe not at all. To me, this lineup falls apart with Perry at the 3. Perry has a good shot from the top of the key, but I don’t think we’ve seen him shoot from the wing. Also, I don’t see him beating an opposing 3 off the dribble. He could post up an opposing 3, but with him, Traylor, and Big Cliff and all their defenders in the lane makes for a clogged lane. Plus I’m not sure Perry could defend on the perimeter. Another thing is all this talk about multiple ball handlers on the floor. This may even limit some of our more “SF” type guards. But who knows! Foul trouble could keep this lineup from ever happening as well.

    I think well see more 3 guard, 2 forward lineups like we have traditionally. We will match up with most teams we face that way. My concern is when we face the few 7 footers this year. So, I hope that one of Mickelson or Lucas can defend such an opponent, and that they get enough PT to be ready for when we do.

    I really question whether or not Perry and Traylor are really 6-8 and would have trouble scoring over the top of long players. One of our problems last year was the ability of our perimeter player to deliver an entry pass on time. These guys need to catch the ball on the move, or while their defender is out of position. So, our perimeter players can really help them if they can deliver the pass when needed.

    The only way that I can think of to take full advantage of these three and the other position that we are so deep in, is to try to run everybody out of the gym. But I don’t know how much of a likelihood that is. Plus I worry about everybody getting enough PT to develop chemistry with each other. This is one of the reasons why my biggest concern is with the coaching staff and putting these pieces together for this season.

    (Interesting note: I admit I don’t watch much NBA, but when I do, it seems many teams will play their starting 5 and a 6th most minutes, but at times will do a complete “line change” a couple times per game to give their main guys an extended blow between the 1st and 2nd quarters and again between the 3rd and 4th quarters. Now I know this is unlikely for HCBS, but if he was ever to do such a thing, this would be the team to do it with. It could also provide some interesting data for Hudy and her research. Just a thought.)

  • @konkeyDong

    Nicely done. The elite PG is the one that can direct the offense and set the game plan in motion, whether it is at fast pace or a slower, more deliberate pace and can disrupt the play of the opposing PG enough to alter their game plan. RussRob was an elite PG in my boo,k and one of the more under estimated players ever at KU, and without him KU does not win in 2008.

  • @jayhawkbychoice

    I was not advocating playing at a faster or slower pace, I simply indicated that Mason is capable of playing at a faster pace, although it does not mean that he cannot play at a slow pace if needed. Frankamp’s game, on the other hand, is better suited to a slower, more controlled pace and I believe he might have trouble with a faster pace. What pace Coach Self chooses to play might indicate who plays, and in most cases it will depend on who the opponent is.

  • I think I pointed this out in other conversations about the C position in regards to Alexander.

    Not a lot of Big 12 teams have big size that’s going to be a disadvantage to KU. Let’s take a look.

    Baylor has nobody over 6’9 and thats a redshirt Freshman who has never played. Rico Gathers is a big rebounding machine, but the same size as Cliff.

    Iowa St. is likely to start Niang and a combo of Hogue, Mckay, Nader. All 6’6 to 6’9.

    Kansas St. has 2 footers basically, neither has played much one a juco and one a transfer Soph. Gibson and Johnson give them good size. One of the few teams with Size to bother KU.

    Oklahoma has Spangler, again same size as Cliff and Ellis. They have 2 freshman 6’10 but how much will they play?

    Oklahoma St is a small team likely to start Nash and Cobbins down low. They do have a juco footer but again what impact will he have with Cobbins ahead of him.

    TCU has Shephard, Abron, and Fields all 6’9ish guys.

    Texas has the one true Center who will be a mismatch issue in Ridley.

    Texas Tech will be lucky to win 1 conference game. Not even going to talk about them.

    WVU has make everything against KU Devin Williams, and 3 or 4 other same sized bigs.

    Conclusion? Only a few teams we will play all year is our Height going to be of serious concern.

  • @BeddieKU23 In the nutshell, I agree. I think PG is much more vital to our longevity than bigs. Defensively we have the potential to struggle as last season with a shorter PG which we have in 2 potential operators, Frank & CF. At this point Graham is an enigma. Bigger guards may eat them alive to force rotation after rotation & breakdown the D at the 4 spot (Perry) which was our 2nd greatest weakness last year. Hopefully we don’t face the second coming or Deandre Kane very often if at all. Ridley would not be a concern for me if not for Turner. Barnes will play Turner a lot as he does other frosh, so by the time we see the Bevo Brothers, they may be potent. Other than UT, I’m comfortable with what we have. That said, I’m comfortable but not excited. To run the table in March we need a bona fide rim protector & am not sure anyone can fill that role, but my fingers are crossed that Mick, Lucas or by committee we will step up immensely in this facet. Dig it guys, late night is on the horizon-Rock flippin Chalk !!

  • Championship Basketball distills to three most game MUAs and two all but a couple MUAs, and one every game MUA. You can win conference titles with the first two levels of MUA, and get deep in the Madness, too. With a lucky draw you can even win a random ring. But to have a strong percentage shot at a ring you’ve also got to have that one every game MUA. Why? Because stopping him means double teaming and that means your other two most game MUAs win it for you, or they play your every game MUA STRAIGHT UP and he becomes decisive.

    Thus, under my heuristic, KU’s future depends largely on finding one every game MUA, because they appear to have several of the lesser grade MUA types.

    Does KU have on player the best opposing team in the country cannot stop without doubling and/or lots of help?

    The only guy might be Selden, if his explosiveness were restored. OAD s or not, all the other players on the team look like guys certain other teams will have answers for sooner or later.

    Oubre has an outside chance, if he were to have a 40% trey, but that seems unlikely.

    Brannen Greene has the package, but maybe not the discipline.

    It looks like all of our bigs, good though they may be, will be neutralized by some pair of bigs down the stretch.

    Svi is another possibility, but he does not seem far enough along in development.

    So, KU’s chance for a “special” season comes down to Selden and his explosiveness.

    Otherwise, it’s going to require a lot of random luck in draws to go far.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Iowa State has Jameel McKay, a 6’-9 red shirt junior transfer from Marquette, JUCO All-American selection and rated 3rd best JUCO player; he is a scorer and will get lots of playing time. ISU also has Georgios Tsalmpouris, a 7’1" Greek player and member of the National Greek team; while he is young he is supposed to be pretty skilled.

    Texas has 5 players 6’-9" or taller including top prospect Myles Turner, and 2 other at 6’-8". That is a lot of height. No doubt they are the tallest team in the conference and will be a match up problem for everybody.

    Oklahoma has 5 player 6’-8" or taller and a couple, Spangler and senior transfer from Houston TaShawn Thomas will see tons of playing time. Thomas is 6’-8" 240 and averaged 14+ PPG at Houston and will see considerable playing time.

    Oklahoma State has 4 players 6’-8 or taller including 2 footers, and while some might not see a lot of playing time it is still decent height.

    Baylor has only 3 players at 6’-8 or taller and it is the smallest squad they have had in while.

    Kansas State has 3 players 6’-8" or taller and a couple of smaller players such as Gipson that play taller. Two of the bigs are transfers, including 6’-11" Bolden from Georgetown and Hurt from JUCO that might be ready to get minutes.

    West Virginia has 5 players 6’-8 or taller with a couple that will contribute heavily.

    TCU has 5 players 6’-8" or taller and a couple will contribute but the team along with Texas Tech with 6 players 6’-8" or taller will not contend in the conference.

    Compare with KU with 3 6"8" players and 2 6-10 players and only Ellis and Traylor having substantial playing time at KU. So, as much as we think we have a lot of talent/edge at the bigs, the height and experience ( please note I did not say talent or potential) is comparable to that of the other top conference teams. Actually the number surprised me some because I was conditioned to think we had a lot of depth at the bigs, but then I remembered we lost Black (6’-9" ), a substantial contributor, Embiid (7’-0" , a very, very special player and Wiggins (6’8" ) a unique player that played taller than most bigs and we only got Alexander and Mickelson as replacements, neither a proven or experienced player at KU. I firmly believe that Alexander will come along nicely but Mickelson might be the key.

    In short, we will have competition at the bigs, although KU would seem to have the edge in talent/potential, and no question that Texas, with their size and experience, will be the biggest match up problem. KU’s biggest strength is at the SG and SF where it is deep and talented.

  • I was just trying to point out that for all this talk of being out sized by every team not every team is going to be playing them in significant minutes against us.

    Oklahoma’s Thomas is not eligible and unless something happens which I don’t see will be a non-factor to this discussion. Spangler is holding down the block for them with whatever Freshman emerges. Maybe Bennett because of Seniority.

    Iowa St. is playing Niang as their best player, and whoever else emerges. McKay is 6’9 not some 7 foot monster with huge size. We forget Hogue who’s an undersized 4 but will try and fill Ejim’s role and is a Senior. Likely McKay may start because of his bigger size, but Hoiberg likes to have all 5 positions shooters and McKay is not that guy. The Greek kid is what the 4th or 5th big, not likely to see much action unless better than I’m thinking.

    Texas will give us trouble and if Turner is good as a freshman and they put Holmes at the 3 in situations then they are huge. I have suggested we play Zone against them because the one thing they didn’t do well last year was shoot the ball. Eliminate their height advantage by forcing them to make jump shots.

    K-State will start Gibson and either one of the footers or Johnson. The only other team that I see giving us size issues especially in Manhattan.

    Oklahoma St I’ve already said is set at both forward positions who if healthy will probably play 30+ minutes. They don’t have a Murphy to bring off the bench and who knows about their newcomer’s. Not worried about their size, more worried about Forte making 9 3’s and finding someone to cover Nash.

    WVU , Williams is the only true back to the basket big they have. Noreen is terrible, Adrian is a face up shooter and Watkins didn’t really show much last yr. Why are we scared again?

    TCU has good size and I believe they will be a much improved team. 5-6 league wins I can see easily. Not worried about their size though.

    Size looks great on paper but if they aren’t likely to be a starter or a significant contributer then KU is fine and its business as always. We are so used to having the footer that we assume we won’t be as affective without. For the first time in a while we have to actually defend and I look at it as a great opportunity for Self to re-establish his defensive prowess. We will have to find ways to be a good defensive team without relying on a rim protector as our blanket. I do think Cliff will block plenty of shots and if Mickelson gets playing time can be expected to get his share too.

  • In my opinion, the PG battle is the biggest and most important unknown.

    I’ll suggest that the Greene vs. Oubre battle is a big one and is not yet decided, as is Svi battle for relevance. But the PG battle rules.

    And listen to us … Point Guard. Not combo guard. Not lead guard. Not small scoring guard. But good ole fashioned, handle the ball, run the offense, be the coach on the court, Point Guard. Graham has been sold to us as a point guard. Mason is a point guard. CF proved he can play point guard. Forget the combo guard fiction.

    The winner is Mason. National folks believed that we didn’t have a point guard last season. What we had was a guy who was thrown into the fire and was developing. He was kind of ready for prime time. He realized very quickly that you can drive and throw up crap in D-1.

    But here’s were Mason was dead-solid – ball handling. The dude was reliable. He didn’t yack in tough spots, he was able to control the ball with confidence, and he was able to do so with the ball in front of him. As the season progressed, his drives became more under control and his three point shot became more sure. Progress. Development. Further, his defense was not poor. He gave effort all the time. He took defense seriously.

    If Graham comes in and is better, great. We’ll all be happy. But remember, Graham hasn’t played D-1 ball yet. And he’s a freshman. Trying to run coach Self’s system. And he’s trying to beat out two guys who have experience under fire. Tough task. Again, if he does, that proves something. But I think we’ve got our guy.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    “And listen to us … Point Guard. Not combo guard. Not lead guard. Not small scoring guard. But good ole fashioned, handle the ball, run the offense, be the coach on the court, Point Guard. Graham has been sold to us as a point guard. Mason is a point guard. CF proved he can play point guard. Forget the combo guard fiction.” …SWISH !!

    Also: Graham trying to beat out 2 guys that have taken some substantial lumps in Self ball-I gotta see it to believe it. And frankly, I’d hate to see that happen to those guys. Might open the door for someone to leave before Jan 1. I’d damn sure hate to loose Conner. IMO he can be a huge game changer or more so, as Forte at OSU. That kid is like a Ninja with a blade in the night-deadly.

  • We have a big pile of quality guards.

    But one thing stands out to me.

    Mason is the only guy who is dedicated totally to one position… PG. I can’t see him coming in as a 2. Not sure about Graham, but I’m guessing he could see some time as a 2.

    That sticks out at me. It tells me that Frank just has to focus on being a play maker. Every once in a while, knock down a perimeter shot.

    I think it will be tough for anyone to take that spot away from him.

    Sometimes less is more. In this case, Frank focuses 100% of his energy on being a play maker. Hard to imagine him losing out the starting spot at point.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Painful read you posted. Painful because it is true.

    We’ll be challenged in the post this year.

    Because of that reason, I think the answer is for us to put more pressure on the perimeter. Make it tough for everyone to feed their post bigs. Also… if we can penetrate we should be able to draw fouls on their bigs.

    Teams like UCONN prove that size can be overcome by aggressive guard play. We should take a page out of their book and see where it leads us.

    One thing is for sure… we can’t maintain the old guard mindset that our bigs will save their poor defense. I’m really sick of watching KU stink at perimeter d. It is the biggest reason why we rarely get to use all that athleticism on the court, like for run outs, because we don’t get steals.

    It sure would be nice to be a team that took care of the ball this year, and also played aggressive and stole more balls than they give up. We better figure out some way of winning the possession battle because I’m not counting on us doing it on the boards this year.

  • @jaybate-1.0 That 1 every-game MUA could be Frank Mason. With control and experience and picking his ways to break down the opponent, he could be the biggest factor. There is a reason(s) Tharpe was shown the door. Biggest one was the headless team that got beat by Stanford. There woulda been a PG competition including Tharpe if it werent for the KU-embarrassing selfie he did. That iced it, easy decision by Self to pull Naa’s plug. And, maybe it was time to flex the “who’s boss” muscle, and Self just did. There will be no shortage of hustle & effort this year. BigCliff and Oubre arent soft either.

    This will be a team to be reckoned with, simply because it knows where the performance bar is set. They learned thru their own failures last season.

  • @HighEliteMajor Your earlier point about we need a PG is so true. Someone who can efficiently run the offense. The issue is that Self simply cannot stop himself from plucking guards who can also score. He likes to build a dangerous team from every position.

    To put it in a way Ive never put it: “combo” guards are forever conflicted about scoring themselves vs. setting up their teammates. Some are better than others at changing gears between the 2 roles of scorer vs distributivePG. Some remain conflicted throughout their careers (Sherron, Tyshawn). And EJ was “not” a PG, as Self so infamously said. Even during his final half of his senior season, Tyshawn clearly still saw himself as a scorer, to wit all those 3att he took in the Madness, only hitting 1 I believe…

    Self likely yearning for an A.Miles/RussRob type of distributive PG. Pendulum has definitely swung back to that need.

    What was Shabazz Napier?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I agree with you 100%. Who wins the PG battle will probably determine the team’s direction and at this time it looks like Mason.

    The Oubre-Greenm battle is a net wiin-win since they both can end up being valuable contributors. Svi is a multi-talented (although still raw) player that can play PG, SG or SF although I see him playing mostly the 2 or 3 and I don’t expect him to contribute heavily his first year, and if he does, it is just icing on the cake.

  • @drgnslayr

    Although we think we have a talented group of bigs, in reality we have only two bigs, both 6’-8" with experience and don’t have the true center/rim defender we have grown accustomed to. Our bigs could end up being a solid group or just a serviceable bunch; let’s hope is the first.

  • @ralster

    RussRob came to KU as a scorer and was very frustrated initially because his role was to distribute the ball rather than score and came very close to transferring. Once he embraced his job, he became one of the steadier PGs ever at KU and a critical part of the '08 Title team. He is perhaps the most overlooked/underrated player I can remember and not a lot of fans really understand how good the team was because of him.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    The rotation that KU had in 2008 with RussRob and Sherron was what I was imagining for this year… But it’s a bit different. I see CF much more like Russ (capable of shooting and passing) and FM more like Sherron (driving to make contortionist-like layups and occasionally taking 3s).

  • @bskeet

    The RussRob-Mario combination with Sherron coming off the bench was as good a back court as we have had.

  • I’m not so much worried about our size disadvantage because Alexander is an elite player. Texas is a concern because that have two guys with size that are very good to elite players, but among the others, they either have very talented undersized guys or they have big guys that aren’t necessarily long on talent. Some stiff that happens to be 6-10 doesn’t worry me because Cliff is strong enough and athletic enough to handle that.

    PG is a much bigger concern because the size difference will matter there since none of our PGs are elite talents. Not to say they aren’t good, but Marcus Foster, for example, is every bit as good as Frank Mason or Conner Frankamp. Because there isn’t a huge talent difference, the size will factor in. That’s the unknown we have to worry about, because we either need Graham to be very good right away, or we need Mason/Frankamp to be much improved over last season because somebody has to play 25 minutes a game, and with those kind of minutes, flaws will be exposed. Remember, we felt good about Tharpe when we saw him as a backup, but all of his warts showed when he had to play a lot of minutes.

  • @justanotherfan

    Based on what I have seen up to know, Marcus Foster is a much better PG than Mason or Frankamp. He is arguably the best guard in the conference. If not for Wiggins, Foster would have been the Conference freshman of the year last season.

  • I think all would agree that Foster is a much different type of player … he only had 2.5 assists per game. And more to the point, about 1/3 less assists per minute played than Mason did last season. But Foster showed he was the real deal.

    And @justanotherfan made a great point: “Remember, we felt good about Tharpe when we saw him as a backup, but all of his warts showed when he had to play a lot of minutes.” ---- that is an excellent reminder.

    But I remain a bit giddy about Mason.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Would you trade Mason for Foster?

  • The origin of the universe?

  • @jaybate-1.0

    The Big Bang Theory?

    Now back to basketball. Do you think Foster is the best guard in the Conference? If not him, who?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I am excited about Mason (and Frankamp) as well. I am just guarded because with Mason, some of his decision making on drives wasn’t good last year. That could be small sample size, or that can be a tendency that will lead to him turning the ball over constantly this year. His size also means that he may have trouble against traps, which I am sure we will see this year after how we handled them last season.

    With Frankamp, I am worried about his defense. In short spurts, he has been okay, but over long stretches, he will have to stand up on his own because rolling the help his way early won’t work if he’s playing 23+ minutes per game. I am also worried about the possibility that he gets into foul trouble if he can’t keep quicker guys in front of him.

    Those concerns can’t be answered until I see them play heavy minutes against good teams. I think they can do it, but check back in December to see how I really feel.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I have high hopes for Mason and think that the dynamic might change this season, but on the current evidence, if I’m put on the spot, yes, done deal.

    @justanotherfan - The key is the angle of the curve, is it going up, or down. Mason’s was going up at the end of last season and he clearly had become better at not driving the ball into bad situations. The beautiful thing here is that we have three options – I’m quite sure one will pan out. If Graham is Tyler Ennis, this will all be moot.

  • @justanotherfan

    At times last season, Mason regressed to his HS level of confidence where he was a volume shooter and scorer, and he would take a long three at the beginning of the possession with no one in position to rebound. Let’s hope his decision making has improved in the off-season, and much like RussRob did, he can transition from scorer first-passer second to passer first scorer second which is what the team really need from him.

  • I think the bottom line on a guard, irrespective of the fact he scored a lot in h.s., or thinks he can score…is what is his court awareness & playmaking ability/decision-making??

  • @ralster

    Agreed. However the attributes you mentioned can be compromised if he maintains the “score first” attitude; if I remember correctly RussRob indicated that much in Beyond the Phog.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Yep, exactly. I met RussRob, and got to talk to him a bit (back in 2007), and I consider '08 to be Self’s best team. Its been well chronicled, but Russell had to make a HUGE decision after his frosh season, when Self asked him to become distributor insyead of scorer. He was a top30 recruit who had a 20+ppg scoring avg in h.s., a 6’1, 200lb tough kid who idolized Jarrett Jack, and himself almost comitted to GaTech. He knew shelving his own offense, likely would cost him a chance at the nba, & perhaps he was right. The days of Jacque Vaughn in the nba are long gone, as PGs are expected to score.

    Of course, after a year or two out of college, RussRob can bomb away from nba-range (he showed it at a summer camp game 2 yrs ago, where along with Billy Thomas, those 2 demolished the then-current ku lineup). But his nba window likely closed, as there’s always someone younger/better. Last I heard, Russell was earning $400k/yr overseas as a tough, all-around star.

  • @ralster

    Your post is sad… made sadder because it is probably true. RussRob did make huge sacrifices at Kansas that could have cost him from getting the needed big time attention players need out of college when going to the league. It is so hard to make it work after that. There are few NBA coaches and head office people that have the guts to gamble on guys who don’t come in with the big hype or are fresh.

    It is the same issue in corporate America. Stay out of the corporate loop for a few years then try to get back in. Good luck!

    The decision-makers feel they risk their own necks when going outside their small, safe loop (hype players… or in corporate… currently employed candidates). They may be right, too. A sad conclusion to this post.

  • Sad within the context… but let’s step back and recognize that he’s getting paid 400k/year and a lot of expenses are covered as well. He will be able to earn at that level for maybe a decade. But he also has a degree. He can attempt to shift from player to staff, administration or some other area and continue to earn, albeit, not at the same level, but he could have a great nest egg by then.

    He didn’t hit the jackpot by NBA standards. But he’s earning at an Senior Executive level in the corporate world, and most of us would consider ourselves pretty successful if --after years of climbing the corporate ladder --we had even one year of earning 400k.

  • @ralster

    The point is sad, as @drgnslayr says, if Russell Robinson was in a position to become Jarrett Jack or Kyle Lowry, probably the two best comps for him as an NBA player.

    Robinson isn’t quite as big as Jack, who has always been a physical load even though he isn’t as athletic as some of the other top PGs like Westbrook and Rose, or as keen a floor game as Chris Paul.

    Jack never averaged less than 4.5 assists per game while at Ga. Tech. Add in the fact that he’s 6-3 and improved his 3pt shooting tremendously over his career (28% as a freshman to 41% as a junior) and you can see why he jumped up as an NBA prospect. He was tremendously efficient, particularly as he matured. I don’t think he’s a good comparison for RussRob because of the size and shooting, and the fact that Jack was a better overall player from day one than RussRob was.

    Lowry is the better comparison. Both he and Robinson are around 6-0 tall. Lowry was not a good perimeter shooter in college. He attempted 40 3’s total in his college career. He didn’t do much that set him apart from Robinson, but he left Villanova after his sophomore year. I think the difference was that while Robinson was seen as peaking as a backup, Lowry was seen as a potential starter by most NBA teams. RussRob has done well for himself, in my opinion. As a backup in the NBA, he wouldn’t make much more than he’s making now in Europe, and he wouldn’t have as much stability because backup PGs are always on the move.

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