February 21: News Headlines Digest

  • Also see our Daily Threads, February 21, and the News Digest for Yesterday, February 20, as well as Daily Threads for Yesterday, February 20


    ##Newell: KU basketball center Joel Embiid says he is feeling fine following Texas Tech game##

    LAWRENCE — Over the years, Bill Self has learned to avoid asking his guys about their injuries. Many times, he’s found out that thinking a player is fine is better than knowing the truth.

    Still, the Kansas coach tempted fate Thursday morning when he saw Joel Embiid on his way to class.

    ###** Embiid set to break KU freshman block mark**###

    One blocked shot against Texas on Saturday would give Kansas University’s Joel Embiid a school freshman record 63 rejections.

    The 7-footer from Cameroon is primed to pass Californian Eric Chenowith, who will be sitting in the Allen Fieldhouse stands during the 6:30 p.m., game and also will attend Monday’s 8 p.m., home contest against Oklahoma.

    ####Keegan: Kansas guards’ defense subpar####

    Every time Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self talks about the defensive role of one of his point guards, I flash back to a bloody scene from “The Godfather.”

    ###### Also see our Daily Threads, February 21, and the News Digest for Yesterday, February 20, as well as Daily Threads for Yesterday, February 20

  • Embiid to break Chenowith’s record. I’m not sure why people like to dog on Eric. I believe his second year he received some honors, maybe honorable mention AA?. Sometimes when players don’t live up to the fans expectations we really like to dog them. I’m just glad I wasn’t under the scrutiny of fans when I was in college, I sure wasn’t perfect!

    Noticed in the same article that there’s an opportunity to watch Cliff Alexander in the Public league championship tonight on ESPN3. He’ll face Jahlil Okafor and Whitney Young in yet another star studded Public league final.

    I am amazed at Alexander’s numbers but in the back of my mind I just hope his hat ceremony stunt isn’t a sign of immaturity that will be evident when he’s here. Bill Self is pretty good about checking these guys egos and we’ve had a nice stretch of years without a lot of outside distractions.

    The amazing run of conference championships will continue Monday if we handle the two games Saturday and Monday. Like all of us, I’d like to see April championships to follow those up! RCJHKU!

  • Interesting that Keegan is now “officially” noticing what board rats have been commenting on for the last several months, especially as it pertains to Tharpe’s “short legs” and inability to keep anyone from getting by him.

    This must drive Self crazy. We all know how he hated Taylor’s inconsistency at point, but now he’s mentioning Taylor in the same breath as Collins, Chalmers, etc. as part of the golden standard of D.

    Tharpe’s obvious shortcoming here and Mason’s, insofar as he is another small guard (but with higher defensive upside) help me make sense of Jacquan Lyle’s ongoing recruitment.

    If he comes in next year and offers an immediate defensive upgrade over Tharpe, he’s gonna get minutes.

    I won’t argue that he could win the starting spot, given Self’s love for the experienced player, and yet…and yet…if Lyle is a clear defensive upgrade over Tharpe/Mason, I don’t think you can quite slam that door shut.

  • I am tired of posters continuing to slam Tharpe and find fault at his game. Earlier in the season some fans were claiming that Mason is the best PG on the team. Now some folks are alluding that Jacquan Lyle, who has not played a single min of Div 1 BB, would replace him simply because he is 6’4". Come on give me a break.

    Its amazing how quickly people forget. We had a long and athletic Freshman PG on the roster last season and we know how difficult it was for him to adjust to this level. It happens with most Frosh. Even TT was mediocre in his 1st year and we know what had happened to Russell Robinson.

    Is Tharpe a perfect PG, absolutely Not. Does he have deficiencies, absolutely Yes. I also believe that a lot of his D issues are caused by rule changes this year. But overall he has played well this year. He is the QB of this team. I am so grateful for how well he is doing because if we did not have him we would be in deep trouble. Even his HC is pleased with his performance, just listen to Self’s press conference from yesterday.

    Every player has off nights, look at our Star players - Selden, Ellis even Wiggins, they all have disappeared in a few games.

    Instead of being thankful for what Tharpe has done well this year fans are continuing to bitch and I hope that this negativity comes to an end.

  • @AsadZ

    I hear what you are saying…

    The key is if people just want to slam him or give him constructive criticism to help him lift his game.

    I judge his play as a mixed bag. But I am thankful we have Tharpe, because if we didn’t we would be fighting just for entry into the Big Dance this year.

    On a personal level, I’m very happy with Tharpe and have total respect for his game and how far he has come. We have to remember… Tharpe was ranked as the No. 72 overall player by ESPNU 100, No. 91 by Rivals.com and No. 94 by Scout.com. Not exactly a big time talent coming to Lawrence, but he has proven himself to be worth far more than these rankings.

    Will I and several people in here continue to post frustrations and helpful hints on Tharpe? I’m certain we will.

    I haven’t read anything in here that I thought was a personal slam on Tharpe. I can’t recall anyone calling him a derogatory name, or completely bash his game. People have called him out on some issues… he often turns it over often and at bad times… he shows up big one game and totally disappears in others.

    I feel like he should be held to a different standard as a junior, then the pile of freshmen we have. I’d feel the same about all those freshmen in two more years, too.

    And as our PG and leader, part of that position is to be held accountable for what goes down in games. Sometimes even when it is another player’s fault. That is a part of leadership and Tharpe knows it and accepts it. He hasn’t always performed well, but he understands his role as a leader.

    Compare this to other fan bases and what they do to their players. Man… I only have to consider some in-laws from NY, and how they call every player on every NY team a foul name constantly. They insult their own players more than rival players. It’s not only embarrassing behavior, it eventually becomes really sickening! I hate to be in NY at certain times… like in the heat of summer when the Yankees aren’t playing well and people are feeling the heat. Very nasty ‘climate’ in the Big Apple!

    Lawrence is truly Lala-land! Lalalawrence!

    We can test this…

    Does anyone in here think that Naadir Tharpe sucks?

  • @drgnslayr I appreciate your feedback

    When I talk about slamming I was referring to criticism that has been put on him on this board recently:

    Passive Cant defend Out of control Ineffective

    Some of this may be knee jerk reaction but what amazed me most is that some folks are now suggesting that a projected #24 ranked Frosh could replace him as the starter next year.

    Speaking about the Yankee fans, I hear you loud and clear.

  • I don’t think Tharpe sucks. Not at all. But what drives me crazy about him is his inconsistency. He can play fantastic or terrible and you never know which it’s going to be. I have to agree with AsadZ that our other stars have also disappeared at times, but slayr is right that Tharpe is a junior and should be held to a higher standard. I also think his defense lacks against anyone with speed. Not “can’t defend” but he seems to get beat off the dribble too often. Again, I don’t think he sucks, I just mostly wish he played better D. And as far as a freshman coming in and taking his starting job, it seems to me most freshmen take quite awhile to learn to play defense to Self’s standard.

  • @AsadZ

    At times I get frustrated with some attitudes, too. Then at other times I’m certain people in here get frustrated with me.

    Seasons go long enough that we can’t help but meld our personal lives (and moods) in with our comments. I know I was cranky half the time last year…

  • I just got done watching Cliff Alexander in the Public League final on ESPN3. His team won in 4OT’s! Amazing game with two buzzerbeater threes. Cliff wasn’t a scoring beast, 19 points, must have snatched 15 boards, but made some pretty boneheaded plays down the stretch especially.

  • @AsadZ I think you have been reading our comments here (and on kusports.com prior) long enough to be able to judge by context and tone (and content) if someone is really slamming/insulting Naa (or any player), or simply voicing their opinion about where a Div.1 level athlete’s “defensive ability” should be, given the fact that athlete is in his 3RD season playing for Bill Self.

    When you see a consensus opinion on here about Naa’s defensive ability, very likely there is some truth in it. And frankly, Naa’s D is being exposed because his FELLOW teammates, who are Freshman (Selden, Wiggins, Embiid, Mason a bit) are playing better D than him.

    We’re not slamming Naa, just want him to do better…exact same phrase said publicly by Bill Self. Why cant we echo what our coach has said publicly? Dont you trust Bill Self’s word, when you’ve seen with your own 2 eyes what Self (& us) are talking about?

    Finally, sticking to basketball analysis: Why is it that we want Naa to guard better? Because a blowby past our PG, means the opposing penetrator has many options now to run his team’s offensive options against us, or take it in for a layup, as KSU did to us. Did you see that shot chart? My god, my dear man, we actually saw Will Spradling (!!) blow by Naa, and have assists to a bench bigman and also went 3-5 from 3. That’s the worst example of on-ball D we have seen by a Bill Self team in a long time, and YES, it cost us the game (if you saw the shot chart by KSU). The other reason we have to contain the perimeter is that a blowby puts pressure on our bigs, who try to come over to help (late) and pick up cheap fouls, which really hurts our rotation and offensive rhythm. Every man has a job to do, and honestly some just arent defending up to Self standards. Man, even the TV announcers are talking about it, but we can’t?

    What’s the difference between slamming a player w/insults vs. observational critique? Most of us are KU alums, and have been watching Self’s teams like a hawk since 2004. What we see defensively is simply showing up in the team’s defensive stats as a glaring shortcoming. Face it: Other than Wiggins (incredible D) and fairly solid D by Embiid + Selden, our best defensive few minutes in weeks was the opening of the 2nd half vs. TCU, an 0-14 team missing several players due to injury…

    Isnt it right to want better? PG on-ball D is the cornerstone, so the intellectual/analytical discussion begins at that position.

  • @ralster I heard HCBS entire PC from this week. He was quite pleased with Tharpe’s performance and had overall positive comments. Couple of comments below from his PC:

    Naadir Tharpe hasn’t shot it great the past week. But he’s been a consistent shooter this season and is a good passer, creates shots off penetration.

    I agree that Tharpe can do better on D, I said it in my original post. But there are many other players who can do better on D, take Perry Ellis as an example. You have highlighted that Tharpe is a junior but you also know that he hardly saw any PT as a FROSH, he was always on a quick hook. With your logic same can be said about Perry Ellis, he is a sophomore and has been in the system a lot. Is he a doing a good job in your opinion on D, I don’t recall seeing any comments to that effect. Why haven’t you posted any analytical analysis on Ellis D? Do you hold him to a higher standard because he was a McD?

    I agree that Tharpe did not play a good game a K-State, but come on you know better that every player, even elite players, go through ups and downs, CBB is a long season.

    There is nothing wrong with demanding more but what I am saying is that fans continue to find fault at his game and don’t give recognition for how well he has done under the circumstances.

  • @drgnslayr BTW I enjoy your posts/comments immensely. I particularly liked your player by player analysis commentary with BBall. It will be nice to go back and read those posts now that 2/3rd of the season is over.

  • @AsadZ I hope you don’t think I’m slamming Tharpe, as that is not my intent. Watching him step up and salvage some close games with clutch three-pointers has been a treat.

    But since he plays for a defensive savant in Bill Self and because I hang my hat on defense when I play ball, Tharpe’s defense (and some other things but especially his D) is open to critique.

    Lyle stealing his starting spot is extremely unlikely. I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

  • @wissoxfan83 I watched that game as well. Holy cow, I didn’t realize that Public League games were played without a shot clock. That was strange to watch.

    It seemed like the zone defense that Whitney Young played bothered Cliff quite a bit. He made some clutch plays but had a pretty quiet night overall. I was most impressed with his rebounding. Fierce.

  • @drgnslayr I don’t think Naadir sucks. I think he is just as you said Drgn. I wish he was a bit more umm tenacious at defense, able to keep his man locked down despite a physical disadvantage. But other than that, I think he is an upgrade over Tyshawn simply because his assist to turnover ratio is quite respectable and he knows how to lead this team and doesn’t question his role or spout idiotic things on twitter.

  • Lets consider what we had in '08 in the back court… RRob, Mario and a young, healthy, thinner Collins. Those guys could guard well enough for us to bring home a title. We don’t have near that kind of defensive prowess in the back court this year… it’s not just Naa… And Perry is the weakest defending 4 we’ve had in the Self era!

    Perry has to toughen his game. I suggest heavy meat eating and hit the weight room every day. His current game is light years away from what is required at the next level. He needs more strength and a stronger attitude.

    And that meat needs to be hormone-free. I think most meat is pumped with estrogen.

  • A common misconception in the KU sports community is that it takes long athletic guards to get to the Final Four. Bloggers also suggest that it takes these LSA guards in order to play better defense and disrupt the other team’s offense. However, a commonly overlooked fundamental of excellent defense is something called “intensity”. What is intensity? Intensity is a combination of focus, alertness, and energy. Intensity is using 100% of a person’s mental energy on a specific task.

    Interestingly enough, others argue that a guard who is an LSA by definition does not require intensity to play good defense. They think that just because he his long he does not need to play with intensity.

    Unfortunately, most do not understand the basic aspects of why teams play good defense. To put it another way, long teams can play bad defense. That seems to contradict what many bloggers are saying. How can this be. Allow me to explain.

    Back when I was playing in high school, there were numerous times that I did not play with intensity. I did not bring my full amount of energy into the basic and fundamental aspects of basketball. I was a longer player, though not the fastest. During those times when I didn’t bring any intensity, I got MAYBE a rebound or two a game. Pretty bad, right? However, I gradually taught myself what it means to play with intensity and what I had to do. When I decided to play harder, I was getting about 10 rebounds a game! Quite a difference, right?

    So, what does this have to do with Nadiir and Ellis? Everything. To me, the eye test says that Tharpe doesn’t bring intensity to the defensive side of the ball. According to bloggers, it is because “he’s not tall enough”, or “he’s not fast enough”. They insist that a longer guard would make the difference. But there are plenty of examples where shorter guards have led their teams to the Final Four.

    Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are both six feet or shorter yet were able to go to back to back final fours and win a championship. Trey Burke was not an LSA, but yet played with EXCELLENT intensity and energy and led his team to the championship. Same thing with Korie Lucious and Kalin Lucas leading their teams to back to back final fours.

    My point is that it doesn’t matter how big the person is. The only thing that matters is their intensity that they bring. That is Tharpe’s issue. Not because he’s short or not fast enough. Frankly, I am tired of that excuse. Same thing with Perry. Perry is not skinny and frail.

    Again, it is all about attitude and energy. I rest my case.

  • @AsadZ First, let me compliment you on your impassioned defense of Tharpe.

    I am a Tharpe fan. However, my humble opinion on Tharpe is that he simply is bumping against his ceiling. That is all we’re seeing.

    He has one aspect of the game that is excelling – shooting. There are other positives, too.

    But my opinion is that he is just a pretty good passer, and just an average creator off penetration. He does not run the break well – very importantly, he does not sense the break or exploit opportunities in the open floor. In my book, he is below average in that regard. Perhaps he’s playing it safe – fear of the hook. I don’t know. But his full-time role has demonstrated that significant weakness. And his defense is atrocious at time. He is limited by the famous short legs (see jaybate, 2011). And he lacks passion on defense (it would appear).

    All that being said, it’s really just a critique. It is very hard to ever be completely satisfied with any point guard.

    Tharpe has the ability to change a game with his shooting. He’s displayed the cool hand to shoot when necessary, to take over a game. That’s big. And that emergence was a touch unexpected. What we can hope for a perhaps some incremental gains in the areas that he has been deficient.

    Again, just opinion, but certainly not the gospel.

  • @HighEliteMajor HEM, I value you as an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated KU fan. As such I’d like to ask you a question.

    When evaluating Tharpe as a point guard, emphasis is on point guard, how would you rate him between the scale of 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

    Furthermore, with the same evaluation criteria, how would you rate some other PGs who have played under Self - EJ, TT, Collins, Chalmers, RR

  • @ajvan AJ, Thanks for the clarification. I can understand where you are coming from on this matter.

  • @AsadZ Thanks. I value your opinions here, too. It’s a good discussion.

    Ok … that sounds fun. Here’s how I’d rate them as point guards. And I spent some time thinking about it. Changed numbers a few times before posting:

    1. Tharpe 5.5
    2. EJ 4.5 (obviously a 2 guard – at least obvious now; a little slam on myself there).
    3. TT 4 through December/2011, 8 after December/2011
    4. Collins 7.5(always thought he was more suited at the 2).
    5. Chalmers 9 (when he was on the ball).
    6. Robinson 7
    7. Miles 8.5 (his senior season when he added the 3 ball).

    To me, when Chalmers was on the ball, he was the best. Could stroke the 3 at a 45% clip, could throw the lob, make teammates better.

    The 5.5 for Tharpe basically means a tick above the average to me.

    How about you?

  • @HighEliteMajor Hmm, That’s pretty close to how I’d rate them although I have Tharpe rated a bit higher, big surprise 🙂

    Below is my rating and I am taking into account entire body of work:

    Tharpe 6.5 EJ 5 Collins 8 Chalmers 9 Robinson 7.5 Miles 8

    BTW, What a game last night, full of highlights.

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