Time to make the change

  • So by now we’ve breathed a collective sigh of relief after escaping Eastern Kentucky. We’re all still probably replaying the Traylor & Wiggins highlights in our heads. And most surprisingly, we’re all smiling and shaking our heads at the performance of Connor Frankamp. Before getting into the meat of this let me just say kudos to coach Self for expanding his bench and continuing to give players like Frankamp & Greene minutes all year. They didn’t get into every game, but they got into enough of them that they won’t be overwhelmed if called upon this tournament.

    Now if I may direct your attention to a quote from Eastern Kentucky forward Eric Stutz: “We went into the game knowing that we could turn their starting point guard over. That was our game plan.” Look, I know the Colonels are a scrappy team full of pesky guards and their calling cards are raining 3s and creating turnovers, but let that quote sink in. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky from the Ohio Valley conference KNEW they would be able to turn over the junior starting point guard for number 2 seeded Kansas. What else do you really need to know? In classic Tharpe fashion, he turned it over on the second possession of the game, and generally looked uncomfortable all game long when trying to run the offense. In the second half, Self played him almost exclusively at the 2 with either Frankamp or Mason in the game with him.

    If that wasn’t enough to convince you, we were also witness to more below average defense from Naadir. Due to Eastern Kentucky’s 4 guard line-up and the general good job we did switching it was at times difficult to determine whose man was scoring, but Glenn Cosey hit three treys in the game’s first 5 minutes, and at least 2 of them were on Naadir. He was consistently a step behind his man, which led to help defense from his teammates being needed which in turn created quite a bit of offense for the Colonels. Perhaps another thing that made Naadir’s defense standout as particular horrid was that Perry Ellis actually played pretty stout on that end of the floor, so the weak link wasn’t a shared title between the two (as is often the case).

    Again, these were guys from Eastern Kentucky. Not Kane or Staten or Smart beasting him. This wasn’t him not being able to match-up with the elite guards in the country as some have suggested. He didn’t look like he belonged on the same court as guys from the Ohio Valley conference.

    So despite being very pleased with surviving & advancing, I still found myself scratching my head throughout the game and for a long time afterwards. Why did Mason play so sparingly? 9 minutes to Tharpe’s 21? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Self recognized Frankamp’s value and played him as much as he did. But again, this was Eastern Kentucky. What happens when we play Syracuse or Florida down the road? Will he continue to stubbornly reinsert Tharpe in the game in hopes that his play will yield different results?

    This is a team that can contend for a National Championship. I’m pretty confident we can get by Stanford. Then we will have Embiid back. Wiggins is surging at the right time. Almost all of the pieces are in place. But we need steady PG play. Self has two options that to me seem vastly more appealing. The time is now for the lion’s share of the minutes to go to Mason & Frankamp. Is it risky? I suppose. Both Mason & Frankamp are freshman. Self would open himself up to criticism should one of them cost us down the road, whereas he is less apt to be second guessed if he stays the course with the upperclassman. That is the safe path. The bolder path gives us the better chance to play for the highest stakes.

  • Yes, Bill needs to start Frankamp. I know he falls in love with playing upperclassmen, but it will cost him if he doesn’t. Tharpe looks like this is the first time he’s ever stepped onto a basketball court. Frankamp has not turned the ball over in 122 minutes. Tharpe cant go a minute without turning it over.

    This game should show Self to only play Tharpe a few minutes but have Frankamp and Mason take the majority of the minutes.

    Another thing that annoys me about Tharpe that not many others have said is his inability to attack a defense. All he does is stand around and dribble. He needs to put pressure on the defense and attack.

    Today really showed the world that Kansas has issues at point guard. But it also showed everyone that they have a very good reserve that can step in and be solid and not make mistakes.

    Even if Self doesn’t start Frankamp, he should still have him play the majority of the minutes, like in the second half.

    Frankamp at the point could be enough to get us farther in the tournament.

  • Frankamp getting more minutes also gives him more opportunities to shoot the ball and get comfortable.

    Just imagine if he can get his trey gun going. If they are fortunate enough to beat Stanford and play Syracuse, that would be so beneficial.

  • Stanford will be more challenging than most folks think. Dawkins has that team playing together and at a high level. They don’t make mistakes. They are poised and they have a good guard and athletic inside player (Powell) who had an off game… but don’t underestimate them.

    They are not going to be intimidated… They played Arizona, Oregon and UCLA – all advanced to the round of 32.

  • @icthawkfan316

    AGREED! What’s the down side of starting CF? Maybe he’ll have an off game and turn it over 2 or 3 times? I’ll take that!

    And CF is playing pretty good defense right now. Almost had a great deflection/steal if it hadn’t caromed off Tar.

    I’m sold.

  • @icthawkfan316 plus Frankamp and Mason will gain tourney experience that will be invaluable to next year’s run.

  • @icthawkfan316 - A perfect summary of what most are thinking, I imagine. Your quote from the EKU player was highly insightful, and analysis of what it meant hit the nail on the head. We see it, they see it, everyone sees it.

    In postgame on the radio, Self said that he was disappointed that we aren’t attacking pressure. But he knows why. We have Tharpe that is not capable, and we have Selden who is not reliable in that situation.

    I do have to credit Self, as you mentioned. He went to CF. Tried Tharpe again. Benched Tharpe again. And tried Tharpe one more time. Then back to the bench.

    This is perhaps the worst implosion of a KU player I can recall. Definitely sad to see.

    One key, as @VailHawk mentioned as well, is the defense. CF plays defense. Tharpe just does not. He gave up easy blow byes. Gave up threes. Standard fair.

    This game it was so plain to see how much better we were when he wasn’t in the game.

    What was the most comical and predictable with Tharpe was when EKU went to the 1-3-1, Tharpe wilted. First time they ran it he threw the standard cross court lob, got tipped out of bounds by an EKU defender. As I’ve said, the local high school point guard could do better.

    Also, Self’s got Mason on a short leash. The bad pass to Black and he was out.

  • When Conner graduates from Kansas, he is going to own the hearts of a lot of us fans. Anybody keep track of the improvement of Perry Ellis from year one to year two? Watch for more of the same from Conner.

    I am so impressed with this kid. He does not get rattled, he makes smart plays and he plays good D.

    I’m even more impressed with him in the interviews. I’m convinced he’s going to make some team a pretty dang good coach some day.

  • True to pattern, Bill Self has made every effort to bolster his more experienced junior point guard and keep him on the floor as much as possible. For the faithful Jayhawk following, Tharpe’s 21 minutes appeared too much yesterday. However, after an ugly start, his reinsertion was designed more in the manner of shooting guard, with Conner and Frank running the show. Though I have viewed this squad’s entire season of work intensely, I was still amazed at Conner’s composure and effective careful generalship in this, his first opportunity to shine on a major stage. I was inclined to think of it as something of an anomaly, probably a one-time happening in this tournament. Then I am slapped awake with Conner’s spellbinding season stats: NO TURNOVERS IN HIS LAST 122 MINUTES OF PLAY! Only 3 turnovers to 15 assists for the entire season! WOW! Evidently, BIll Self had the inkling that Conner Frankamp might be called upon for important playing time yesterday…and told him to be prepared to play. I suspect that the coaching staff has now moved beyond the verge of turning the corner regarding future point guard dependability. Though he might yet start this season, essentially Naadir Tharpe has played himself into a reserve role for the remainder of his time in a Jayhawk uniform.

  • It’s funny how last year everyone was saying the same thing about EJ and that Tharpe should be running the point. He was composed and made better decisions than EJ. Don’t understand how he could regress after another year in the system and getting so many minutes.

    I think Tharpe will still be needed for us to go far this year. Starting Conner at this point will not solve our PG problems. Naadir has played good in some games this year. Let’s hope he has a few more of those, even if it is from the 2 spot shooting some 3s.

  • @HighEliteMajor I posted on another thread. If he benches Tharpe, don’t we have a confidence problem…both with Tharpe, and potentially with the whole team? Making a switch in the middle of the tournament is a tough deal. I would say continue to start Tharpe, play CFand Mason more, and give the majority of the minutes to the guy who is the most effective. If that is CF one game, so be it, if Mason another, so be it. Tharpe has proven to be effective in some games…if he plays to the same level…he gets the majority if the minutes.

  • I loved Conner Frankamp when he committed. Somehow I believe his performance with the USA U-17 team was no fluke. Now I’ve seen his growth over his first season. He made steady progress even though his minutes on the court were sparse at best. I’m very excited for him and eagerly anticipate more major contribution from him like yesterday. But I won’t be disappointed if he stays on the bench most of the game tomorrow. He is after all a relative unknown quantity and people didn’t prepare for him. Now I’m sure all the opposing coaches scouted his game by now and it won’t be easy for him to have another stellar game. We will see what kind of fighter he is when the defense is keyed on him like they did on Tharpe. I still believe Tharpe will come through with huge games. And Frankamp and Mason give us two different styles in addition to Tharpe. It will be difficult for the other teams to focus on just Tharpe. I think it’s brilliant Coach Self recognized Tharpe’s deficiencies and introduced Conner at the right moment. According to one of the articles, Coach Self decided he was going to go to Frankamp before the game. He knew EKU’s 4 guard lineup would give Tharpe problems, and he made the necessary preparations to get Frankamp ready. Major kudos to Coach!

    I don’t know much about Standford, but read they have good inside bigs. So we probably will face a more familiar lineup than EKU’s 4 guards small. So Tharpe can still be effective. And I’m look forward to KU taking down the trees with our 3 bombs tomorrow!

  • @Wishawk

    Conner is going to be a big contributor during his 4 year stay.

    I caught plenty of his HS game, and what we don’t really see yet in his D1 game is his tough level of competitiveness. Conner is a scrappy competitor. That is the best definition of him in HS… more so than just being a long ball shooter. Up until now, Conner has played reserved while he figures out D1.

    We will see a different Conner soon enough. He has methodically adjusted his game to make it work on the D1 level, and he will continue to develop to become a bigger contributor.

  • @drgnslayr Yes!

  • Don’t understand how he could regress after another year in the system and getting so many minutes

    @FarSideHawk Well for starters, he has most likely always been this bad on defense. But when you have defensive stalwarts around you - Releford, Withey at the back end, etc. - it is less noticeable. A team full of seniors is more apt to help and cover up your mistakes.

    Similarly, leadership is not needed or expected from a sophomore back-up point guard on a team full of seniors. He went from having no leadership responsibilities to being the most experienced guy on the court. He hasn’t shown the ability to handle that responsibility. He has wilted under the pressure.

    Lastly, while starting Connor might not solve our PG problems…didn’t his presence do just that yesterday?

  • Though he might yet start this season, essentially Naadir Tharpe has played himself into a reserve role for the remainder of his time in a Jayhawk uniform.

    @REHawk That may be true, but it’s not necessarily reason for concern. Remember Russ Robinson in 2008? He did just enough… and his back up did the rest…

  • @icthawkfan316 Yes, Conner’s presence helped a lot. But just as you mentioned the affect on Naadir going from sophomore backup with no leadership responsibility to starting PG role, don’t you think it’s better to let Conner keep coming off the bench and limit Naadir’s minutes if they are damaging.

    Changing a veteran PG mid-tournament is just too risky I think.

  • While playing Frankamp worked well yesterday, let’s not forget that basketball is a game of match ups. What worked well against Eastern Kentucky might not necessarily work well against Stanford. I am sure Coach Self will pick the player he thinks will work out best and if it is not working, he will adjust accordingly.

    As a coach’s son, Frankamp is a smart player with excellent fundamentals, in the mold of players such as Tyrel Reed, a player that started slowly but gradually became an essential part of the team. Frankamp is a lot like Reed but with better 3 point shot, and Tyrel was very good 3 point shooter.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    True… and we’ve seen Naadir have horrible games then follow it up with a stellar performance. Let’s hope it happens now. And if it doesn’t… if he starts out bad again we have to pull him quickly.

    The big mistake is to let him go on for too long on the court. After about the 10 minute mark of the first half, the game has taken on it’s own rhythm that gets hard to shake.

    I’d give Naa the first 5 minutes of the game to prove himself. Maybe even less like if he already has 4 TOs in the first 5 or 6 possessions. That is just friggin’ ridiculous from any PG in D1… even the worst teams in the country wouldn’t allow a PG to play that bad!

    You know… Einstein was no dummy… especially when he said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    We are riding that edge and may have falling over it already!

  • @FarSideHawk That is my view.

  • @icthawkfan316-Haven’t read all the comments on this thread yet so forgive me if I’m redundant, but there are several aspects of Tharpe’s game that are quite easy to dissect.

    1)First, he almost never, & I mean ever executes a fundamental defensive posture-keeping your arms raised & hands up in the offensive man’s line of vision. That’s flippin elementary and the importance of such cannot ever be understated. It’s damn tough to do if you’re not conditioned-is like boxing & being arm-weary. The limbs just feel like lead from being fatigued. Anyway, next time out notice this if you haven’t yet.

    2)He rarely protects his dribble with his body by giving the defender an angle to pursue. If you do that as Conner did, the defensive guy’s feet are always one in front & behind the other & never squared up. When your def man is in that position all you have to do is get by his front foot & you have him beat, plain & fast. He virtually has to foul to stop you then.This is hard as hell, & I’m not trying to make it sound easy, but that’s what GOOD point guards are able to do. We’ve seen flashes of that from Frank at times this year & several guys, HEM, slayr, jaybate & others have compared Frank & Na like day & night, but Frank hasn’t brought that knock-down 3 pt shot with him yet. Conner flat ass took those guys to school on that ball handling fundamental yesterday, & once his shots start falling, this team will be 100% different to defend. Granted, this was a 15 seed he played against yesterday, but I don’t give a flip, it was on the big stage at the big dance & the vultures were perched on the wires just salivating for KU to fail. Conner stepped right in the spotlight like he’s always been there, with tons of poise, & did exactly what needed to be done, & we got the W.

    3)Sometimes Nadir’s court vision is completely at a different level & IMO is because of the comfort level he does or doesn’t maintain. Conner & Frank both face the fire with their own fire & that’s just something Na doesn’t do with much consistency. If defenders play him tight in his pocket, he acts as if he’s afraid to get it picked. At times Frank is tentative too, but this was a 15 seed, & Na just didn’t cut it. From a stability standpoint, I’d start him vs Stanford, but I’d have him playing the 2 spot PDQ when Wayne needs a blow, but I think the Genie’s (Conner) out of the bottle now & you can’t afford put him back. As always, JMO

  • Thanks to many for replying and keeping a healthy conversation on this topic.

    Something that @HighEliteMajor mentioned and @REHawk perhaps inadvertently shed some light on - what’s going on with Mason? As HEM said, Self has him on a short leash. Go back to the Big 12 tournament, Mason has played 4 minutes against Okie St. (an overtime game), 12 minutes against ISU, & then 9 minutes yesterday against Eastern Kentucky. On the season he averages 16 mpg, so he’s seen his playing time cut. And we have Bill Self telling Connor before the game that he was going to use him. So while I am calling for a change and cut into Tharpe’s minutes, has Connor perhaps surpassed Mason on the depth chart? Is Mason in the doghouse?

    I honestly can’t fathom why Mason would have fallen out of Self’s good graces while Tharpe has remained in them (in so much as to retain his starting role and the benefit of the doubt), at least not any reason that we’ve seen on the court. Maybe in practice or something off the court, which would only be speculation.

    Anyway, interesting to say the least.

  • I think Mason is too one dimensional, a driving bulldog. He hasn’t made enough progress at making assists, so he is expendable, or is not counted on other than when we need to change the pace. I think we see a little or a lot of him depending on his success at generating sparks.

  • @Wishawk he had a bad game against osu, there. Of course so did Tharpe! Seems like he didn’t get much time after that.

  • @Wishawk I think you are dead on on. Early I liked Mason’s bulldog play, but then he didn’t dish or kick out, or sometimes pull up for a jumper.

  • Embiid made every one better, especially Tharpe. Defenses were geared to deny him the ball. All perimeter defenders were focused on denying Jo the entry pass all the time. This made defenses sag off wings who were then easier to pass to. This made defenses play Naa straight up to deny the entry pass. This gave Naa room to work. Jo was easier to feed because of his size.

    Now Naa is naked. Offensively, Tharpe suffers from five things:

    1.) he is thoroughly scouted;

    2.) his left is weak;

    3.) shooting hand injury;

    4.) his wings can’t shoot the trey; and

    5.) his wings can’t dribble.

    The last two mean defenses can scheme him off ball to bake pop tarts.

    The first two mean defenders can deny him drives.

    Number 3 means he can’t make Js.

    Embiid made Tharpe better.

    Mason has a book on him, too: lightening quick but no trey, no dish, no pull up, weak one way (forget which), gets lost running offense.

    Conner had almost no book: shooter whose shot didn’t convert to D1, plays sparingly, then nothing.

    Conner’s weaknesses will be found. He will struggle.

    If they can find Wigs’ and Selden’s weaknesses and make them struggle, they can make anyone struggle.

    Lost in Naa’s struggles was Selden’s terrible game.

    The antidote to these problems are playing more through bigs and Wigs inside … Until the other team is big inside… Then the only answer may be Joel.

    Stanford will test this ability.

    Tar, Perry, Jam Tray and Wigs gotta be ready.

  • @icthawkfan316 Self was worried about turnovers so he planned to play the guy who doesn’t make any. That was Conner, not Mason. Mason is more a complement to Tharpe than a replacement.

    <language rant> Compliment and complement are two good English words: not one, but two. Please use each one properly. If you don’t, they will merge into one word with two spellings and our language will be the poorer for it. </language rant>

  • @ParisHawk

    Copy and paste.

    But with love and as an assist for all that work out here. (Fragment) 😉

    In particular, ict works at it, writes well and makes few errors for his column inches. And he is particularly good at finding my faux pas, which keeps me on my toes and helps me get better.

    Rock Chalk!

  • Hell no we don’t bench Tharpe, unless his hand injury is too severe!

    We scheme better for Tharpe. We help him more. We sub for him more.

    Throwing people overboard is not who we are!

    Until Embiid is back, or until Black hangs 25, all of our perimeter players are going to experience XTREME PRESSURE.

    Go inside until the opponent backs off the perimeter pressure.

    This is who we are.

  • @Wishawk Great post. I hope you are right about the “3-bombs”, but I am afraid it might be "wish"ful thinking. Sorry–couldn’t resist the pun.

  • @ParisHawk

    <humor attempt> I compliment you on your use of the English language, you complement this board very well! <humor attempt>

  • @wissoxfan83 The use of proper sportsgrammar is one hell of an accomplement.

  • @wissoxfan83 Thanks! I’ll quote Dixie Dywer in The Cotton Club after Dutch Shultz said: “You know if I didn’t like ya you’d be dead by now?” – “It’s nice to be liked.”

  • @REHawk Haha, I thought for a second you wrote accouplement which means “coupling” in French.

    Let’s keep it propre, people 😉

  • @wissoxfan83


    Goooooo Badgers!

  • @drgnslayr

    Thanks Dragon! It was a fun 2nd half.

  • Time to make the change?

    Tharpe? This should be Tharpe’s last start in KU uniform. CF should’ve been starting way more often. But, Self did the same thing with EJ because he had no choice. But, Self had a choice with Tharpe and CF. Why didn’t Self play Lucas regardless of Lucas’ play? He is long. Wigs was completely off. Was he in the NBA this game?
    Worst enemy of KU is the zone. When will Self learn? How many zones will he face before he teaches his team to attack the zone. They’ve failed the zone every time it’s been used.

    I’m pissed they lost this game. Stanford is not the better team, but was this game.

    Have fun in the NBA Wigs. Media got their wish with Stanford and Dayton. It’s a media dream. KU looked terrible and the refs failed to make calls down low.

    Ok…Shox have my attention. Let’s see if they can do it for Kansas.

    Any word on Embiid? I think he’s out for a long healing process.

  • @truehawk93

    I’m watching that game and by halftime I’m questioning myself if I want Kansas to advance.

    Playing like that is disrespectful for the game itself. I hope Naismith wasn’t watching.

    You know… I don’t care if we win it all every year. All I care about is that we go out there, ready to play and we give it our all… including the coaches. It seemed like our stuff wasn’t working so we spend almost the entire game doing it anyways… and in the process WE made Stanford believe they could win.

    Why did it take almost the entire game to attack their post? Why did it take most of the game to realize we should press? A team without a point guard? Are you kidding me?

    It seems that we just thought our basketball name was all that had to show up today. Guess that was false.

    Kudos to Black Death, Conner, Frank and Bam Bam for keeping it close. At least we didn’t get blown out! We certainly could have.

  • @drgnslayr I would add that Stanford got some foul calls / baskets on head, shoulder and ball fakes, whereas we got blocked because we always, always went right up.

    I thought you were supposed to teach them that stuff!

  • @ParisHawk

    My bad! 😉

  • @drgnslayr I absolutely agree with everything you said. I normally do not attack the coaching, letting Self’s record speak for itself, but I honestly believe he was out coached in this game. What in the world had Frankamp done to earn bench time most of the second half? It is not as if anyone else was doing any better. Even so, he almost pulled it off, but by the time he came in, it was too late.

  • @ParisHawk I especially loved the chicken wing the Stanford big threw on Tarik right before Tarik fouled out. I could see Tarik’s thinking that maybe the refs would let them play through. The calls were really inconsistent down low against KU.

    KU beat KU, not the refs. But, they sure didn’t call it consistently down low. I thought we got hacked and the refs failed to call it. They gave Stanford every advantage down low. Once again, a great example of a team playing up to KU and KU playing down to a lesser team. This Stanford team played to win and made a few more plays in the end.

  • @lincase-Conner was beaten badly several times by Randle & likely why he wasn’t on the floor more. It was a mismatch Dawkins would’ve taken to the barn if he could. But even at that, I think the offensive trade off was worth it. Conner just is a craftier ball handler constantly changing angles against his defender, trying repeatedly to get his feet out of position. Na acted like a whipped pup when he had the rock-like it was a flippin hot potato & he couldn’t getr rid of it quick enough. This kid’s gonna be one Helluva player,in the future. No Wiggs, no Selden, very little Tharpe, you just can’t continue to do the same things over & over with the same failing results. It’s stupid not to do different math & play the hot hand, but alas, it’s time to put this one in the books & move on. If Embid & Selden are back, I think we may be a pre-season pick with the new guys & Conner, Frank, Brannen, Jam Tray & Lucas. I would also not be shocked if either White or Greene or both didn’t bail out because of the crowd. Oh well, I guess this is all just part of the OAD merry go round we seem to be destined to have here now.

  • @globaljaybird Good points.

Log in to reply