Dec 6 Headlines: Mason to start at PG

  • Frank Mason

    ###Frank Mason to open at point guard for Jayhawks### *KU Sports - *Self says he has decided to go with freshman Frank Mason at the point-guard position in the 2:15 p.m. game in place of junior Naadir Tharpe, who has started all but one game — the season-opener, in which he served a suspension against Louisiana at Monroe.

    Bill Self Press Conference, Thur. Dec 5 - mp3 Cliff notes

    ####Keegan: Once switch flips for young KU basketball players, look out#### *KU Sports - *Coughing his way through a seven-minute interview session with the local media Thursday, Wiggins shared a couple of things he has learned about the game since coming to Kansas University to play for Bill Self.

    “He wants to make every possession easier on us,” Wiggins said. “Once you get the ball moving to the second, third, fourth side, then it’s easier to score. Trying to score on the first side, that’s where all the help is, that’s when the defense is settled.”

    Wiggins makes it sound easy, but he and his young, talented team don’t always make it look as easy.

    “It probably was (difficult) at first, but we’re getting the hang of it, and it’s the right way to play,” Wiggins said.

    Keegan’s column meanders a bit, but ultimately is a message of hope and focuses on the promise of an incredibly talented team that is drinking from the fire hose. Give them time to learn from their early experiences and then ‘look out’. I tend to agree that it’s easy to overlook how young the team is given how much media exposure and fan anticipation there has been. Seems like we’re more familiar with many members of this team than we were of some of our more veteran-laden teams and that tends to create expectations that are exaggerated by the intensity of interest in a compressed period of time.

    By the way, the article below from Kevin Haskins of CJOnline had a similar message, although it’s presented through a bit more critical lens.

    ####Young Jayhawks ‘spoiled’ by big win over Duke####

    *CJ Online - *“Until you don’t have to coach energy, then your execution will never be good,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday.

    Desire exists. The Jayhawks want to win. Yet some are too shy, some are too meek, some are too reserved, most are too casual — another term used by Self — to spark peak intensity.

    This happens when teams depend on first-year players to be primary contributors. However, it does not mean Kansas cannot gain a more fiery personality. So far, the Jayhawks have mostly left it up to Self to rock the brimstone.

  • I’m thrilled to see maybe self learned something from last year and that is play who is playing best, regardless of their age. He has so often in the past played his upperclassmen when they were not performing as well as someone else. (EJ last year)

  • JVHawk, I’m not sure what you mean about last year.

  • I posted this in another thread about Mason starting

    Ben is really fast

    Ben is really fast

  • Oh my!!! Thx Baltimore

  • Well, that was fast. Self began the season stating that Tharpe was our most important player. Now he’s not starting. Self has been hinting at this move for while – the references to “playing faster” with Mason, comparing Mason to Chalmers, etc.

    Self deserves tons of credit here, in my opinion, regardless of whether the decision ends up being correct or incorrect. He made a tough, gutsy call and pulled the trigger to the detriment of an upperclassman. In my “hard decisions” post prior to Atlantis, I suggested that one the things Self should consider doing is if he thought Mason was better and would allow us to play better basketball, then he should make the switch now.

    If Self didn’t think this decision would plainly make our team better, he wouldn’t do it. That’s at least the most likely explanation.

    Another low percentage possibility explanation – he’s trying to motivate Tharpe by pulling the trigger this early. Maybe so. Maybe a little of both. This is about the same time last season when Self stated he may need to go a different direction at the backup PG spot; and then Tharpe turned a corner. By I doubt that. This is a big decision.

    Now, when Self says Mason deserves this, I agree. But one question I have … if there is that amount of separation between Mason and Tharpe to give Mason the starting role, how much separation does there need to be for Embiid to get the start over Black? Unless Self gave Black his word on starting when he was recruiting him. Would be interesting to know Self’s rationale there.

  • Wissoxfan I meant last year he stuck with EJ when it was clear tharpe was the better pg. The Michigan game would have turned out differently if tharpe had been in the game instead

  • I like this move. I’m excited to see our young Hawks in person tomorrow and having FM at point should allow us to run w Tad’s boys…even at altitude playing a faster game should free up Wigs and Selden to just play and not think so much…

  • HEM I totally agree about embiid. At this point he’s the most important player on this team. I’ve been waiting for self to reward him as well. Black seems like he just takes up space most of the time

  • @jvhawk22 : “Wissoxfan I meant last year he stuck with EJ when it was clear tharpe was the better pg. The Michigan game would have turned out differently if tharpe had been in the game instead

    Please explain this.

  • Hem- Nothing against Black, other than the obvious, but Lucas seems to be a nice backup to Embiid. However, it depends when Embiid committed versus Black. Didn’t Embiid commit before Black? If so, not sure why Self was so insistent on getting Black or even why he’s so set on him starting. Lucas would’ve been a great backup to Embiid. But, Self didn’t know exactly if Embiid would develop as he is either. I think the Twins leaving as they did really caused Self to pause and vow to never leave a big man on the table, especially an experienced big man at D1 play. I think Self’s montra is “you can’t have enough bigs.” Unlike Travis Ford in Stillwater, “i can’t get a big.”

  • @BaltimoreHawk - Holy cow on the link! Why didn’t we ever see that speed in Lawrence?

    @jvhawk22 - I’m still perplexed from last year’s results. EJ froze up when all the chips were on the table. Hard to say what Tharpe would have done. The results could have been better or worse… we are just second guessing CS. If we would have gone past Michigan it might have been EJ that pulled the trigger for 30 and helped us capture another NC. We’ll never know, because it didn’t happen. It’s a frustrating ending we all just have to live with as Kansas basketball fans.

    @HighEliteMajor - I think we all see how much more Embiid has to offer over Black. I’m just going to back up CS on this one. Embiid is going through a “total makeover” as a player, and maybe he improves better if he stays in the underdog role. I don’t know. We all know the over-under with Embiid in the game, and the guy needs to play more minutes. I think he already would be playing more if he could limit his fouling. Clearly, the separation is there and he has “starter” written all over him. I can’t think of anyone who follows Jayhawk basketball that thinks Embiid will always come off the bench this year. It’s a timing thing. In the process… it appears to mean everything to Black to carry presence on this team, and if you read back through statements made by coaches and players, Tar has been a key component in the development of this team and many players… including first, Embiid… and then Ellis and the rest. I think we have to put a higher value on Black than what we see on the court during games. All the players look up to him, and he must be one heck of a cheerleader to have it help him start games! I doubt starting a game means anything special to Embiid (since he is new to the game, and it wasn’t a part of his cultural experience growing up), but maybe it will become important as the year progresses. I kind of think he has to learn an importance to starting before he can start. I’m thinking that may be the part of the process that still needs to happen before JoJo jumps center.

    Anything could happen in Colorado tomorrow. We could burn Tad’s team into toast… or we could be flat. Just because a team has a great week of practice doesn’t mean it translates into the results of the next game. If it does, I expect to see lots of Jayhawk energy turning into TOs going our way… the majority of 50/50 balls… rebounding dominance… and rewards with several awesome run outs! This would show these guys that hard work pays off with a reward. If we come out nervous, and players over-thinking the game, we’ll get burned by Colo’s quick guard play. And some early bad moments could grow into a nightmarish outcome. Our guys would leave Colorado in a state of numbness… wondering what it takes to win at D1 level. Going back to the drawing board with even more determination.

    I don’t really know what’s best for them (and us)? More suffering and another kick in the chest? Or another victory… something Kansas is used to?

    I put it to all of you in here… what is the best result possible from this trip?

    Seems like if your personality is about final results… if you are one of the fans that says if we don’t bring home another NC then the year was a bust… you tend to want to take another painful shot to the gut!

    And if your personality is more like mine… I’m more into the journey… then you want the win now and hope they still learn enough and are developing fast enough for March. I like the journey… but if I knew it would help them more in the long run, I’d probably take the gut shot!

  • @HighEliteMajor-Seems like we’ve hammered these questions again & again forever. Mason has been rewarded yet Joel can’t crack the nut after being the windex man & a perfect 6-6 FG’s in prior games, & Black gets the bone. So maybe Bill is just trying to manage both guys propensity to fouling out in his approach, which appears to me of playing not to lose instead of playing to win. That’s just one thought, but another may be an “arrangement” of sorts with Black on PT. Wasn’t “Konsanants” (jb) pursuing after him pretty seriously? We played Duke so we now understand that premise & their deficiency on the glass. And the most likely of scenarios may be that most of these kids are finally learning how to play a true team game when they have all been convinced their entire careers they themselves are the icing on the cake, & Black hands down has many more years experience in a particular system than JE. Joel has only been in organized ball for 2-3 years so that is my take on his status. But regardless, Joel should be setting the tone offensively by starting, & that he, along with our other MCDAA’s & Frank, the Bulldog, Mason, must hearby be reckoned with accordingly. Black just doesn’t have that kind of presence around the rack. This team could be an absolute juggernaut of an offense if the parts can mesh even so slightly. Self has always been a D first coach, but he’s going to have to step up his coaching game a little with regards to the contrasting rule changes to help the offense. Hey, none of us really like that, but that’s the way it appears to be evolving & if coaches are stubborn about it, there will be a lot more Villanovas down the road for those who are in denial. I believe Bill will eventually play the hand he’s been dealt, & far as any of us can tell, it looks like it should beat whatever anyone else has shown so far, at least from an offensive standpoint. As always, respectfully this is JMO.

  • My take on why Black is starting over JoJo. When Black became available every big program was after him (I personally did not and still do not understand why) so I am sure that as a result he had some leverage and was able to get some assurance about playing time, given that this is his last chance to impress the NBA scouts. We all have seen that, pretty much like he was at Memphis, Tarik is a fouling machine, something that has been amplified with the new contact rules; by the same talk, JoJo is also prone to foul, a result of his lack of experience and his limited knowledge of the game. Now, the refs tend to call a tighter game a the beginning to set the tone and relax some as the game wears on. Maybe Coach Self starts Tarik knowing the he will get a couple of quick fouls and then he brings in JoJo once play has settled. Also, some players are better coming off the bench than starting, a good example is Nick Collison whose stats are consistently better than Perkins, but Perkins starts anyway.

    Once Coach Self deems that JoJo is ready to start, he will start.

    Given the last couple of minutes of the UTEP game, I am surprised Mason is starting; he must have had one heck of a practice week.

  • Embiid is fouling at 3.5 per game. Second worst in the big 12. Considering he is only playing 17 minutes a game, this is a horrible stat.

    Self doesn’t care who starts so much has who can finish. So having Embiid available for the last 4 minutes of the game is probably more important to Self than having him for the first 4 minutes and gets in quick foul trouble just to sit on the bench. Sitting on the bench gives him the opportunity to see the flow, and how the game is being called. It gives him the opportunity to scout his opponent from 50 feet away. I think its a positive that Embiid isn’t starting yet, but when he can keep the fouls down: LOOK OUT!!

  • Just my opinion. Black is going to be the more consistent practice player due to experience (and reports are that he’s a practice stud). Black and Embiid both foul at an alarming rate. Embiid has more athleticism, scoring ability, and upside in general. Fouls are usually called at a higher rate at the beginning of a game due to the refs establishing themselves. So if up you have two hackers at the same position, the second one into the game (in theory) should foul out after playing more minutes.

    Another theory: Bill didn’t want to play Embiid this season (alaThomas Robinson et al). Embiid thinks he’s not good enough to go pro. Next season Embiid bursts onto the scene like BMac last year. And Bill secures his 11th straight.

  • I don’t know how I feel about making a change at the PG this early in the season. I really like Mason’s game. However, I also think that, with the scoring available, this year’s KU team could benefit more from having a pass first guy at the point rather than a scoring PG like Mason.

    I don’t think it’s a bad move, necessarily, but the goal should be to get Wiggins and Selden to be the aggressors with the first unit, and allow Mason to push the pace with the bench units.

    So far this year, we have been doing a good job of establishing the post presence with Perry early on, but we have not done as much to get our wing scorers going early on. We need either more slashing from Selden and Wiggins or more cutting.

    That responsibility is not ultimately on Tharpe or Mason. Both Selden and Wiggins have to take the initiative to make themselves difficult to guard by making aggressive moves both with and without the ball. This team’s ceiling is directly tied to how well Wiggins and Selden play. Their level of play is directly tied to how aggressive they are. No matter what other personnel changes occur in the rotation, if those two aren’t aggressive, there is a much lower ceiling on what this team can accomplish.

  • @justanotherfan Once Wiggins and Selden figure out how to make the defense work to cover them off the ball watch out!

  • @justanotherfan : Agreed, we need to get Wiggins and Selden going rather than a PG that’s chucking bricks from 3 and driving to score.

  • How will this affect Team Chemistry?

  • First off, in my estimation Frank is quicker & a better pick n roll guard than Nadir, & that is probably the oldest & most efficient play in hoops. When he gets past his guy’s front foot, he is flat a$$ gone. The decision making process that follows is really the entire key. Guys have to fill the passing lanes & the 3 MCDAA’s will do that. I am also of the firm belief that when JE is on the floor with Frank & the other starters, no one can be doubled & that is a field day opp for the rest. Perry has proven this several times. In contrast with Traylor, Black or Landon out there, opposing defenses can sluff off one & our others seem to freeze up & stand around befuddled with an extra defender applying pressure. In other words, that’s a huge & very obvious weakness. I also think it is inevitable that coach makes these adjustments and maybe best to accomplish this at a slower pace, even if they take a few lumps in the process. As he stated, this is a marathon not a sprint. All knowledge or teaching must have adequate time to assimilate it’s value regardless of it’s relevance to a situation, & no one, positively no one, likes losing more than Self, so this is a great learning enterprise for he as well playing this green of a team, even with the skillsets these kids have. All coaches will say that earlier losses can be beneficial down the route, so I’m trying not to get too impatient for this team to gel. His teams have historically always peaked late season wherever he’s been, so I have to trust his judgment long term. I posted years ago after the twins left that the following year with Trob, TT, Reed, Tehan etc,. would be Bill’s greatest challenge to date after the tragic season prior, & he answered the bell & guided those mostly unheralded guys to the NC game vs a really loaded UK, so I’ve little doubt he’ll push the right buttons with these guys when necessary. We’ll see if “The Bulldog” is the right first move.

  • WOW! The snow ball is going down the hill.

    Mason starts. Embiid next week?

  • @Wishawk : USMNT got a tough draw today. Getting picked to be with Deutschland was bad enough, but adding Portugal at the end was cruel.

  • As much as I wanted to puke sometimes when Gundy was talking in the Bahamas, I realize he is right about one thing; we have to have points generating out of our perimeter if we want to stand a chance in March.

    I think Tharpe has earned some cred with his assist numbers… but if he doesn’t produce points, and we have some flat games out of our two, we are now limited to Wiggins nailing 3s. I definitely wouldn’t hang my hat on his ability to nail 3s. Wiggins should only be shooting 3s because it helps keep defenses honest against his penetration… unless he suddenly jacks up his % accuracy from 3.

    I’m on board with Mason leading the charge. I’m betting he must have had a phenomenal week of practice to unseat Tharpe. I’m betting the criticism he took for the end of the UTEP game has pushed him even harder. Someone has to bring the fire to this team, and Tharpe isn’t doing it. Doesn’t mean Tharpe will play less minutes. He’s still going to sub at point, and it looks like he is in the rotation for minutes at the 2.

    I like all of this… I like how no one is guaranteed PT. I like how we have replacement options at every position. CS has spoken about this before… and how he likes to bump people out of their spot in hopes of motivating them to play better. Tharpe should take this hard and go work that much harder to get his starting job back.

    I thought it was interesting to read CS’ words about aggression and how this young team has misconstrued what it is… and how they were accepting aggression as meaning to shoot the ball too quickly.

    Aggression can be defined in several ways. Pace is often tied to aggression. Doesn’t necessarily mean “speeding up” the offense and getting shots up too quickly. What it should mean is everyone is moving their feet more. Sometimes when I’m watching us play I purposely blur my vision. I just want to see shapes, motions and colors. I want to see how our blue uniforms (or whatever color they are that game) are moving on the court. It gives me a better perspective of how well (or not well) our guys are moving their feet. Who is fighting to get open. Who is making the sacrifice and setting the screen for his teammates. Up until this point in the season… when I go from blurry to clear vision I see one man moving more than anyone else… Frank Mason!

    Another part of aggression is fight. Who will use their body and fight hard for rebounding position. Who will set hard screens (legally). Who will fight through screens to play tough d. Who will go get the 50/50 balls.

    What has hurt us most of all, up until now, is we have too many guys either thinking too much or just trying not to make mistakes. The game has to flow, and these guys need to develop a team rhythm. There are delays in their motions and too much standing and watching the game.

    “Basketball is a game of motion.” That was beat into my head back in my days. If players keep moving their legs, good chance positive things will happen. Up until now how many times have we seen the execution of an off-ball screen to free someone up? We’ll have to do more than spread out our perimeter and pass back and forth. Someone has to move in order to disrupt a set defense. It’s even better when several players stay in motion. And it is best when several players stay in motion and they are tied together with a rhythm! I get really excited when I see an offense running like that. When the choreography, spacing, timing and execution work together. It’s where we want to be on offense… it begins to look effortless, and it makes defenses look slow, tired and frustrated. It scores points in bunches.

    At times, we’ve shown some of this in the open court. It is much harder to accomplish it in the half court, when defenses are set.

    I’m super psyched to see more Jayhawk ball! It feels like a condensed version of several years of Jayhawk development… because players like Embiid and Mason advance their development quickly!

    Rock Chalk!

  • @Kip_McSmithers US is in one of two groups of death, and England is in the other. It will be a great achievement to get by either Germany or Portugal. US has the deepest team this time, but may be missing the top shelf strikers. Hope Clint Dempsey rises up to the occasion, and luck is on our side.

  • Does anyone have the list of freshman point guards starting at KU? Mario Chalmers, Adonis Jordan? Did Jacque Vaughn start? I don’t think as good as they were, Collins or Hinrich started as freshmen.

  • Collins was our valuable 6th man on our '08 championship team. Man… was he good in that role! Collins the spark plug! He was fast and brought a bunch of energy into the game!

  • “freshman point guards starting at KU?”

    Aaron Miles, day 1.

  • Sherron was asked to start and said he was the “little brother” and deferred to Russ Rob.

  • If Jo Jo starts, then we will be just like Kentucky in the makeup of our team. They’ll have 4 Freshmen and the kid from Olathe Northwest as a Soph. starter.

  • Thanks, @ParisHawk How did I miss Miles?

  • @wrwlumpy If everything appears equal, I’d take Coach Self any day or night over Coach Cal. And I have a feeling we will be a much better team in March than the Kentucky blue. 😮

  • Late game tonight on espn-Bayor vs 4 UK freshman & Willie Cauly Stein…is that German?

  • Move over Tharpe, Mason is here. 😉

    Tharpe and Mason in warmup

    Tait’s blog

  • @globaljaybird - “I am also of the firm belief that when JE is on the floor with Frank & the other starters, no one can be doubled & that is a field day opp for the rest. Perry has proven this several times. In contrast with Traylor, Black or Landon out there, opposing defenses can sluff off one & our others seem to freeze up & stand around befuddled with an extra defender applying pressure.” Exactly right. There is a clear delineation between our post players when it comes to “starter quality” and “reserve quality.”

    @drgnslayr - You know how I will answer the question on getting more perimeter shooting. I think it is incredibly easy. Play Brannen Greene 15+ per game. Problem completely solved in my simplistic mind. But do you really think no one is guaranteed playing time? How bad would Wiggins have to be to find the bench?

    @justanotherfan - Don’t sell Mason short yet on being a pass first guy. Not saying he will be, but I sense he has a nice sense for the dish. But my question is whether Self really wants a pass first PG, despite all of us wanting one? He did have TT manning the ship all those years. – and TT had no real sense for the dish.

    @JayHawkFanToo Your take on Black is probably the best speculation we can make. A little guarantee on starting.

    @truehawk93 - I know there is a Lucas contingent. I have to admit that I’m at least more curious now that he got some real minutes in Atlantis, particularly when Traylor is not rebounding the ball and Black looks marginal.

  • @HighEliteMajor-Dead right, Taylor nor EJ were ever pass first guys & were constantly leaving their feet with nowhere to go with the ball & that just drove me nuts. It’s like they had no sense of the geometry of the court & could never find a passing lane so they either took a bad shot or quite often turned it over. Doesn’t take long to watch a guy play to observe how well he can see the floor. Mason impresses all of us plus the HMIC so he’s getting the reins. Also, his teammates must have the timing to measure his speed & when to fill the lanes. It sure sounds easy & is not scientific by any means, but we’ve a half dozen guys that run like the wind & we’re all going to get a glimpse of what Frank is made of tomorrow if they cooperate. I agree he may not be a shoot first PG but the others have to work with the flow & tempo that he creates.

  • My thought isn’t that Mason won’t distribute, it’s just that his natural tendency is to score.

    Let’s take Michael Jordan and Lebron James, for example, the two best basketball players I have had the privilege of watching in my lifetime.

    Jordan was a scorer, pure and simple. He could score whenever he wanted, from wherever he wanted, in whatever way he wanted. Of course, someone of his talent, he could also distribute, but there were many days where Jordan would have only one or two assists (career average was 5.3 assists). But that was because Michael Jordan was the purest of pure scorers (30.1 career mark). Never averaged more than 8 assists. Never averaged less than 20 points (in his final season as a Wizard).

    James is different. He is primarily a distributor in all honesty. You could tell in the early development of his NBA career that he wanted to pass the ball, not because he was afraid to shoot, or sulked away from big moments, but because his vision and passing are two of his greatest skills. And his numbers bear that out. He’s never averaged less than 5.9 assists a game for a season (higher than Jordan’s career average), and never averaged more than 31.4 points per game (barely above Jordan’s career mark).

    It’s not that Lebron can’t score, or that Jordan can’t pass. It’s how they visualized their role, what they were most comfortable doing and how they felt most comfortable playing. For Jordan, that was as a scorer. For Lebron, its as a facilitator.

    Mason can pass. His vision is very good. He is excellent at breaking down the defense. But he attacks to score. Thing is, he isn’t the best scorer this team has. He isn’t second. He may not even be third.

    Tharpe is not a scorer. That doesn’t mean that he can’t put the ball in the basket. It just means that his primary skills, the way he plays when he is at the top of his game, is to pass the basketball and make plays for others.

    That’s not a knock on either of them. It’s just a question for me of which type of player is the best fit given the rest of the personnel on hand. Last year, I think Mason would have been a great player to have around to take the ball handling burden off EJ, and allow him to play his game. This year, though, there is benefit in having a PG that may not take more than a handful of shots because that means more opportunities for Wiggins, Selden, Ellis, Embiid, the shooters, etc.

  • @HighEliteMajor - I’m a big Greene fan, too! I just think he’s in CS’ dog house because he isn’t playing CS-discipline ball yet. CS wants the ball to move several times around the horn before taking the long ball. The hope is to get the ball in the paint first, and if it isn’t there then we always have the long ball. Greene plays like a free spirit, and that means he’s going to up the ball whenever it is there. Two different philosophies on basketball, obviously, we know who gets to make the decision on this one. Greene is learning some discipline, and he will become a better player for it. I just hope we get a chance to see him develop (on the court) this year. He is a guy I worry about on a transfer, and I think he is definitely worth holding on to!

    @globaljaybird - I’ve had my DVR set for a week on the Baylor-UK game. Should be an interesting game. You never know what Baylor team is going to show up. I’m anxious to see Randle’s game against Baylor’s bigs. We should all learn a lot from that game.

    @justanotherfan - We all share in your concerns. Mason gives us more energy right now, he is a threat to penetrate, and he’s also shown abilities to create assists. If he ever starts nailing down 3s it will almost be impossible for Tharpe to take that starting job back. Tharpe will stay an important part of this team. He’s been leading both on and off the court, and that’s a big help. I hope he takes this in stride, and I hope he makes a decision to bring even more energy to the game than Mason in order to win his job back! He’s been told on countless times to penetrate and he just doesn’t. CS has now spoken many times on how he wants to see penetration from our perimeter players, including from our PG. It draws fouls and helps us win the foul wars. So far, Mason seems to listen most to Self, and tries to execute what he wants. If you replay most of our games played it is Mason who is a key factor down the stretch.

    Anyone else in here thinking what I’m thinking… I can’t wait to see JoJo play another game! Has he learned some things this last week?

  • No matter who the PG is, if the others on the floor don’t work to get open with movement or screens or whatever, then it becomes a necessity for the ball handler to have the skill & quickness to disrupt the defense & draw them to him. Without 4 other guys on the same page, it’s tough to score period, but the last time I looked we had 3 or 4 MCDAA’s on this team with pretty hefty resumes, so I don’t doubt Bill knows what he’s trying to accomplish, & quite likely is more than just meets our untrained eyes.

  • If Mason develops a 3pt shot, he will be the steal of the recruiting class, as he will be seen starting for a royalty program and in a starring role…Self will look like a savant for finding such hidden talent.

    Regarding the Michigan-loss-is-old-news lamentation over EJ (& by association, Tyshawn), I would simply say that those 2 players were almost unstoppable together (2012 season), where Tyshawn HAD the attack dog mentality, which allowed Elijah to be the assassin/“quiet” 2guard. I waited YEARS to see EJ+TT play together, so 2012 was a vindication of my “theories” about Selfball and his ‘combo’ guard philosophy…the key one being you need 2 of them out there at all times. 08Champs had the luxury of a 3rd starting combo guard off the bench (Sherron). EJ last year had the misfortune of timing to be the only ONE. Tharpe could have been used alongside, but wasnt at a key moment. BMac played the 2guard slot, but was absolutely a “shooting guard”, NOT a ball-handling combo-guard. The biggest indictment of Elijah Johnson is poor timing (needed TT 1 more year), and a non-attack-dog personality that he could not alter…other than if you made him really mad, as ISU and KState hecklers did. But most people are not able to play ‘mad’ every single game.

  • @Wishawk

    Does anyone have the list of freshman point guards starting at KU? Mario Chalmers, Adonis Jordan? Did Jacque Vaughn start? I don’t think as good as they were, Collins or Hinrich started as freshmen.

    Mario did not really play PG at KU and when he tried he was turnover machine. The bulk of his playing time was as SG with Russ Rob at the PG.

  • I see this as more of a promotion for Mason than a demotion for Tharpe. I don’t think anyone expected Mason to play as well as he has this season. Maybe this will motivate Tharpe to play better going forward. Self should start Embiid too.

  • Also, nice win, Baylor. Big 12 now 6-2 against the SEC. Big, long, athletic Kentucky was outrebounded 41-25 by Baylor.

  • We can add Darnell Valentine to the list of freshman point guards starting at KU. He was awesome.

  • Interesting watching the UK/Baylor game last night … Calipari played four of his starters 35 or more minutes, and the other one 33 minutes. Bench played a combined 21 minutes. And Baylor beat UK shooting 2/11 from 3 point range. Rico Gathers (who?) had 13 boards for Baylor – and as @KirkIsMyHinrich pointed out, Baylor dominated the boards. Willie Cauley-Stein has a sum total of 3 rebounds in the 33 minutes.

  • HEM, you are right on the money

  • I caught the first 2/3s of the UK/Baylor game… but since the women’s game ran past, my DVR missed the end. I watched Baylor come back in the second half and brought it back to even.

    Cauley-Stein totally got out-muscled for boards… but then he had a couple of big-time throw downs right over top a defender. So he showed he could play physical when he wants to. My worry in playing them, is they feed the ball into Cauley-Stein and he draws quick fouls on Embiid. There is no way to guard in the post except the run out of the way of an offensive player charging ahead.

    But I do think we can limit Randle. The key is to do what Izzo didn’t do… keep a big in front of him and have guards pinch down on him in the post immediately when he gets the ball. You have to attack his dribble and he’ll turn it over quite often on a pinch. He’ll definitely be pressured into a quicker scoring move. Another thing with Randle… he’s predictable. Seems he always likes to go to the left side. Can he score with his right hand?

    Zone defense works well against UK, as long as they aren’t scorching the nets from 3. They haven’t figured out all the ways to attack a zone yet. It might not be that easy come March, because UK will see mostly zones between now and then. If we can learn to play a decent man-to-man and fight over top on ball screens, we will be a tough match-up for UK. That is a big “if” because pinching in a defender on top over a ball screen creates an easy opportunity to draw a foul because of the stupid rules interpretation.

    I think our best weapons against UK are Mason and Wiggins. They have an extra gear over UK’s big guards and can penetrate, leading to fouls and scoring.

    I hope we hook up in March. It would be a real shame to not get this match-up.

    So now we have one less loss than UK… I guess that means we are better than perfection!

  • @HighEliteMajor-Rico Gathers is kin to LMU’s Hank Gathers. He is a really thickly built tough guy in the paint-aggressive on the glass & can also score strong if he gets a catch 8-10 ft of the rack.

    @drgnslayr-I watched Stein play in HS & though he can dominate smaller, less physical kids, he’s now playing with much bigger guys & still seems to prefer a finesse game. Surprised Baylor out rebounded UK as er their zone def makes it harder to box out.

  • One more element on the rule interpretations this year that bothers me…

    In the low post, if the defender is in the circle the offensive player can do absolutely anything he wants to the defender (except hit above the shoulders) and it will be a foul on the defender. Essentially, defenders need to back out of contesting shots that close to the rim.

    I hope they are training up Embiid to know how to play within the circle. At least he has one excellent advantage; his foot speed may save him!

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