Is Self too worried about Mason's minutes?

  • I’ve been throwing around this idea for a few days. I keep seeing Self saying now with Graham out for a bit, maybe longer that he will have to watch how much Mason is playing. Today I saw he was thinking of letting off pressure in certain situations to “save” some of his workload.

    To me Mason seems like a tireless worker who has thrived with playing a lot of minutes. He’s been crucial with on-ball defense and hitting shots when he needs to. I’m not saying that this doesn’t need to be monitored, and would be smart to buy him a minute here before timeout’s but I’ve seen countless times over the years how PG’s from other teams get used just as much as Mason is going to get over the next month or so. Shabazz avg 35 minutes a game and he was fine for Uconn last year.

    What’s everyone’s thoughts?

  • I get the feeling that this is what we’ll be seeing. How will he do with free throws at the end of the game, will he still be the best rebounder on the team? Usually it is a senior Guard that plays a whole game. I agree that if anyone can do it, it will be the Bulldog.

  • Self has a track record of playing his main ball handlers 32-33 mpg. I expect we’ll continue to see the same with Mason.

  • @Blown Agree about the track record, but I think he would like to play Mason the 32-33 minutes instead of 36. May not sound like much, but it could make a difference at the end of the game. Also, over time, even young athletes can break down.

  • Banned


    As much as Mason is a work horse and a stud. I agree HCBS has to find a way to preserve Mason. If he doesn’t Mason is done come tournament time. The conference schedule is going to be brutal.

  • @BeddieKU23

    The concern about playing Mason too much is real and valid. KU has two true point guards Mason and Graham and while other players can fill in at times, none of the other players currently in the rotation can play PG on a regular basis. Perhaps this is why he has floated Manning’s name. NBA teams carefully track on-court minutes, particularly that of their top players and are careful not to overplay them lest risk injury. In college, playing 32 versus 36 minutes might seem like a small number but it can make a big difference, so it is not surprising that Coach Self is concerned

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    It is definitely a concern but if he’s your best option stick with it and play the game of getting him rest when needed. I don’t think Manning is an option, it would be like reverting to a less talented Tharpe. Who wants that?

    Plug Selden in to bring the ball up, bring an additional defender into the game say Svi and get through to the timeouts.

  • @BeddieKU23

    The idea is not to replace him but simply give Mason some extra minutes of rest. For example, in the NBA they talk about the difference it makes when LeBron plays 2 minutes more or less per game over the course of a season, particularly at the end of the season. It is conceivable that playing Mason 36 minutes instead of 32 could end up with him being spent by the end of the season. Coaches in the NBA now periodically give players games off to prevent long term fatigue; LeBron got a game off a couple of weeks ago and Popovitch rested Duncan, Parker and Ginobile for one game a few days ago. Once conference play starts, Coach Self will not be able to rest Mason, unless he is injured, of course, so limiting his minutes seems like a good compromise; the question is who can he plug in for him for 8-10 minutes per game given that the only other true PG is injured and unknown when or if he will back.

  • Bill mentioned the other day that the reality is that he is going to play 32-33 minutes a game and they will hold back on him in practice. I personally think this is going to benefit Svi & Oubre greatly. They are going to get more reps in practice as a result of Frank taking less, and Selden shifting to get reps at the 1.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Well 3 of our next 4 games should give Mason time to rest in 2nd half’s if needed. The only game I could see him being used a lot would be the Road game at Temple. While Temple isn’t great, I’m sure they will be trying to knock off Goliath on their turf.

    This would also give Selden a lot of time to get somewhat comfortable in the next month in case Graham can’t come back in a month. I just don’t think using Manning is an option. It’s a major drop off in talent level if he’s coming into the game. He’s not going to score points for us, what is his going to do other than be a body out there. We lose so much by going to him, instead of sliding Selden over and bringing either Svi, Kelly & Greene in.

    Hopefully Self finds the best way. And hopefully Graham is able to come back and assume his role with this team.

  • @BeddieKU23 100% agree. Manning is not an option. Selden or Svi can bring the ball up the court for the 6-8 minutes a game that Frank is on the bench. I think Graham being out really really hurts us but putting Manning into the game hurts us more. Let the other guards pick up the slack. If Selden and Svi are going to be NBA guards they can bring the ball up the floor a few times during college games.

  • Providing Frank those crucial 7 or 8 minutes of rest sets up opportunity to work Svi back into the lineup. His passing is crisp, handles already are decent, and he appears always to be thinking a step ahead of the action.

  • Let’s all remember, too, that you can play 36 minutes and get more rest during a game than when you play 32 minutes. It’s all based on when the substitutions are made. Let’s say we are one minute before the TV timeout. Self calls a timeout, takes out Mason. Mason sits through that timeout, the minute of floor time, and then the TV timeout All he missed was a few minutes of floor time but got lots of rest. Usually, you’re not going to call a TO for that. But Self could do that sort of subbing around an opposing team’s TOs, or other stoppages such as reviews – that’s why you have assistant coaches to monitor that, as the color guy mentioned on Saturday.

    Mason appears to be in the best shape any player I can recall. I’ve never seen him appear winded. And the wearing down thing – if all breaks right, we’ll play 40 games. In the NBA, it’s 82 plus perhaps multiple playoff series. I don’t think the two are even comparable. The players are usually playing only two games per week. The same for March, and even then, it’s 2 in 3 days, and then 3-4 days of rest.

    Another issue if he wants to keep Mason fresh is practice. Limiting the extra hard work there, or shaving it down.

    I"d play Mason as much as I could, with strategic blows. I wouldn’t reduce his minutes. Just my opinion.

    With all that said, if you’re an opposing team, what do you do? I’d attack Mason, try to foul the guy up. Then get him out and put major pressure on the ball handlers.

    The issue before us now is not really whether Mason will get tired. The issue is what we do when he is out because of fouls or injury.

    Manning is not a serious option for a long stretch. A minute or two, sure. But who knows how he’d function in a big environment. We can only speculate.

    I’d be interested in why Svi wouldn’t be at least an equal option to Selden. Svi is clearly a better passer. He appears to a slipperier penetrator – Selden is more point A to point B. We’ve seen Svi drive and dish like a PG. And he appears (emphasis on “appears” ) to have better ball handling ability than Selden – though we have not seen him under the duress we saw Selden under last season.

  • I’d like to think that Self regrets wearing down Aaron Miles back when he was faced with the problem of disciplining obstinate freshman Russell Robinson. Miles, Langford and Co. seemed absolutely worn down at season’s end; incapable of playing up to par in the Tournament. I know, I know, I have beat this dead horse for a long decade… Anyway, I hope that Frank can survive the current pressure which a hapless defection and unlimely injury to teammates has cast upon him. His bulldog inclinations will clamor for a full 40 minutes of action. Bill Self must find for him those 6-8 minutes of necessary relief. Frank Mason does not back away from propelling his body into harm’s way; and he represents one key player which this team cannot survive without!

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Agree 100% about Svi at PG. He’s our next best option.

  • I think the biggest part of this is to have another PG ready and capable. In order to do that, the backup has to get some PT at PG. Personally, I’d like to see Svi get some PG PT, but I’m thinking he has been discounted because of his age and lack of experience with American ball.

  • PG minutes aren’t like everybody else’s minutes. PG minutes are the entire length of the floor for the entire time they are in the game because they handle the ball so much.

    For example, let’s say Perry inbounds the ball to Frank and Frank brings it up. Perry can casually jog up the floor and not worry about the defense or anything like that because he doesn’t have the ball. Frank has to be engaged even against token pressure because you don’t want to get too casual with your handle when you are bringing it up. Frank has to run back to the ball on rebounds to get the outlet. He has to push the ball on the break.

    Other players can rest on the floor at certain times because they are off the ball or on the weakside. Because Frank is the PG (and guards the other teams PG most of the time) he doesn’t have that luxury.

    Self could experiment with putting Mason on a non-scoring wing defensively to lessen the burden on Frank. He could also have Selden or Svi bring the ball up when the other team is just playing half court defense. These would be ways to make Frank’s minutes a little less taxing if he has to play 35+ minutes per game. UConn did that quite a bit last year with Napier and Boatright. Boatright brought the ball up quite a bit to let Napier stay on the floor, but play off the ball and earn a little rest. Boatright also guarded the other team’s PG almost all of the time so Napier didn’t have to put in so much work on that end. That allowed Napier to play 35+ minutes without wearing down because Boatright helped ease the burden in the middle of games.

    KU will need to utilize similar tactics in the short term to avoid running Frank into the ground before conference season starts. A blowout or two wouldn’t hurt, either.

  • @justanotherfan - You make some really good points there. PG minutes are much different than others. It is constant motion. Your idea of having Selden or Svi bring it up when Mason is on the floor makes sense. In case of emergency, Mason could help. I’d really like to see if Svi could cut it – meaning as an adequate option.

  • @BeddieKU23

    Timely question, pun intended. 🙂

    In an ideal D1, Self might not have to worry about protecting Mason’s minutes, or Mason.

    But in the D1 I observe remotely, Self appears right to try to protect both.

    KU didn’t have very good luck with Wiggins and Embiid as critical players without comparable backups, did it?

    Wiggins appeared to get the roughing up treatment so frequently that Andrew appeared to play to protect himself much of the time. (Note: one recollection is of an apparently unprovoked face punching of Andrew during a game.)

    Regarding Joel Embiid, he was, of course, first roughed up for half a season, and then apparently thrown to the floor and injured to the point of ending his only season early.

    Roughing up crucial players to see if they can be intimidated has long been part of the game, but in the current era where more aggressive play has appeared to be normalized, roughing up has appeared to have had to be intensified to achieve comparable degree of effect. Same apparently for cheap shotting.

    Let’s put it this way: Frank is going to get a lot more physical treatment than he would have had were Devonte available (for however long he may be out), as a backup. There is just greater incentive to see if he can be fouled up. or otherwise diverted from action. This puts him more risk of fatigue, fouling, wear and tear, and injury.

    The greatest risk of all for the season, of course, is Frank getting injured and lost for the season. And he already is reputedly playing through a sprain. If Frank goes out, then the team apparently would have to be completely reschemed, and with Devonte maybe out for the season, too, then even with moving Selden, or Evan to point, there is a distinct loss in ball handling capability and effectively no depth behind either Selden or Evan, unless Svi and Green suddenly become nifty ball handlers. Svi at least seemed headed in that direction for a time, but something has happened the last 2-3 games to suspend his development. If Svi resumes progress, Self will be able to patch and stitch something together. But if Svi is for some reason out of the picture, then this becomes a worst case scenario that can only be prevented by protecting Mason in the first place.

    And I wonder if the conspicuous inclusion of Jamari Traylor into the combo-guard committee that Self expects to use to cover for Devonte’s absence, were intended to signal to teams that if anyone goes after any KU combo guards, because of how thin KU is now, they should expect to see some comparably physical play returned subsequently.

    All speculation at this point however.

    Regarding Napier specifically, did anyone back him up that discouraged attempts to rough him up?

    Whatever, protecting Mason from wear and tear and from fatigue-induced injury, and from roughing up, all seem wise at this point.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    You make very valid points but it is also a catch 22 situation. Mason is still learning the system and we still see him make bonehead plays and the best way to learn the system is to play more. So, you want him to play as much as possible so he can become more familiar with the system while at the same time you want him to play less to conserve energy.

    I am not convinced that Svi is the answer. The game is still playing very fast for him and has not slowed down and thus we have seen reduced playing time. At the PG, the game would be even faster and I am not sure he is, at this point, at a level where he could handle it; he is not a natural PG and his natural position, at least in college, is SG or even SF; in the NBA he will likely be a combo like Hinrich or like Chalmers become a PG. No doubt that he has the natural skills and basketball IQ to adapt to the position but again, do you take a hit at that position while he learns to play it? I am sure he would do fine at the slower Euro pace, but at the faster American pace, he would be, at least initially, at a disadvantage. Just my 2 cents…

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