Freshmen vs Upperclassmen



  • We’ve had some time go by now and it is a bit easier to look back on our loss with Stanford.

    I’m going off my memory of that game and the stat box to determine how our freshmen class did against our upperclassmen. The typical definition of “upperclassmen” only includes juniors and seniors… but for this comparison, I’ve including the sophomores as part of the definition of upperclassmen.

    I first decided to give each player a grade based on performance and no consideration for what class they are in. Here is what I came up with:

    Tarik Black - A+

    Perry Ellis - C+

    Andrew Wiggins - C-

    Wayne Selden Jr - C

    Naadir Tharpe - C

    Jamari Traylor - C

    Conner Frankamp - B+

    Frank Mason - C+

    Then… I took these grades and weighted them against their class. I gave freshman 1/2-mark increase for being freshmen because freshmen are expected to struggle in their first March experience. Freshmen have no experience in March from previous years. Sophomores I gave a draw on weight. They have at least been there before, whether they played or not. Juniors and Seniors received a 1/2-mark deduction from their grades because they should have enough experience to have a clear advantage over younger, less-experienced players.

    This is the weighted result:

    Tarik Black - A

    Perry Ellis - C+

    Andrew Wiggins - C

    Wayne Selden Jr - C+

    Naadir Tharpe - C-

    Jamari Traylor - C

    Conner Frankamp - A

    Frank Mason - B

    So, we had 4 freshmen with significant minutes in that game. And their average grade was at the high side of a B-.

    We had 4 upperclassmen with significant minutes in that game. And their average grade was between a C+ and a B-.

    So from my calculations, the freshmen slightly outplayed the upperclassmen.

    This is just looking at one game, but seeing that it was the game ending our season, it seems to be the most-significant.

    If I think about what sticks out in this game is the poor performance of Wiggins and the exceptional performance of Black and Frankamp. If these three players had more their typical games (Frankamp being scratched from this calculation because he hardly played all year), the grades would have favored the freshmen even more. Then imagine had Embiid played… what grade would he have received? I’m pretty sure it would be positive.

    There are so many factors not figured into this calculation. Like, why wouldn’t we add in extra weight on our upperclassmen for their need to help lead freshmen through their first March Madness? Black was our only upperclassmen spark in this game.

    We can’t take anything too major from just one game. But I think this is worth storing away in our memory banks for the future, when we look back on this game and perhaps make a false conclusion impacting future decisions.



  • @drgnslayr Lucas didn’t play much, but I thought he did okay. Tarik Black had an exceptional game, but is there any penalty for fouling out with around 5 minutes left in the game? As far as Wiggins, he did try to get going he had 3 or 4 traveling violations called on him (he did a head fake before he dribbled the ball). He scored on one of those moves, however the basket was waved off. I think that had more to do with output than anything. He was really trying to get himself going in my opinion.



  • @drgnslayr Great food for thought, drgn.

    More tidbits: LAST season, playing with seniors (Withey, KYo, Relef, EJ, and soph-experience BMac), Tharpe had I think 2 x 3-4 game stretches where he had 22asst:1 turnover. Think about that…that is year’s of rehearsal about what to do with trapping zones, etc…and when teammates are to go help the ball-handling guard. This season, playing with frosh, Tharpe couldnt duplicate his last season’s level of ball-distribution, eventhough he became the best 3pt% shooter.

    Also consider the “level” of the “experience”. Traylor is a sophomore, and coming along very nicely, but not a reliable expectation for him to do a double-double every night. He went 18 & 15 vs. EKY, 2 nights before Stanford, same gym. But then couldnt finish his usual 70% FG, could he? Not quite ready. Withey played like a 1st round draft pick, and he was. KYo stayed within his role, but what can you really expect from a not-high-ranked skillset type of player. He had that motor, though. And Releford and EJ simply made Tharpe look better, as often they were where they needed to be vs. zones, etc…

    So when we faced zone-D’s this season, our ability to handle that pressure departed with EJ, Releford, Withey, and KYo. Ellis was a turnover machine, often with the worst “gift” passes right to an opponents hands. Tharpe sufferred without EJ, like EJ sufferred without Tyshawn. Gotta have more than 1 lead guard, and they have to be well-rehearsed in breaking zones, like the 08guys were sooo good at it.

    It all gets better next season, due to the real (not garbage-time) experience. And I think Mason and Selden WILL be ready for primetime, and perhaps Frankamp showed he turned a corner. His A:T ratio is also stellar. Guarantee we get more than 25 wins next season.



  • @ralster

    Right on…

    I think Conner, in the least, will offer us rock steady play from the point. Question is… can he lift his athleticism between now and then and become more than just a steady performer? He will have to do it if he hopes to play beyond college, at some level of pro ball.

    Yes… last year was the year we should have taken home the trophy. All that experience, the best shot eraser in the post, a mix of players with differing abilities. I just wish BMac had been a bit more natural alpha dog. He was sort of pushed into that role and you could tell, because his aggressiveness didn’t always come natural. It was a bit artificially-generated. I thought Wiggins was much the same.

    Thinking back… I know we look at Wiggins #s and see he had a good season. But with his insane athleticism, he could have done better, but it started with attitude going into the season. He had a good attitude, but not one of alpha dog. His attitude was centered too much on being a team player (blending in).

    He’ll have to sell himself now as being an alpha dog, because teams looking to spend their top draft picks don’t want a player just blending in.



  • Frankamp is a coach’s son and like other coach’s sons before him such as Collison, Hinrich and Reed, he has super solid fundamentals and his game IQ is high; in addition, he is a superior 3 point shooter.

    He is now an adequate PG that will not make too many mistakes, but I am not sure he has (yet) the athleticism to penetrate and take it to the hoop, and he is not (yet) fast enough to be a lock down defender. How much he develops over the summer will determine how much he plays next season. He is a gym rat so I am convinced that lack of effort will not be an issue.

    As far as Perry Ellis, I remember Raef LaFrentz coming back for his junior year completely transformed, looking like a hulk and dominating inside. I am really hoping to see a similar transformation by Ellis; although in all fairness, LaFrenz had a bigger/taller frame.and was the prototypical PF where Ellis is built more like SF. Along with Frankamp, Ellis could be one Andrea Hudy’s more successful projects.



  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Nice post. And I’m trying to stay positive on these guys. Especially in the hands of Hudy.

    I was amazed at what she did with Withey. He left Kansas a totally different player. Probably twice the strength and reflexes from the day he set foot on Lawrence soil.

    Funny you mention Perry. I see both Conner and Perry in similar positions. Both need to build the right strength to go along with their huge skill sets. It is the only thing holding these guys back from reaching the top in D1, and solidifying pro options after.

    Both of these guys are total gym rats. I’m hopeful their light will come on and they go get it done now for next year. Both have the brains to realize where they are at… and where they want to be.



  • @drgnslayr Going back and watching early games again I noticed Perry actually slimmed a lot as the season progressed. This makes me wonder if we will see Perry at the 3. I am reminded of how they kept trying to get Withey to bulk up without success but finally let him be thin but light on his feet. That turned out well. Maybe they have decided to let Perry be the best Perry he can be. I think that could be fun to watch and scary for other teams.



  • @jayhawkeyes

    “Going back and watching early games again I noticed Perry actually slimmed a lot as the season progressed.”

    You did see Perry slim down during the season. That’s something you will see from many Jayhawk players because they get pulled off of heavy weights during the season and get their exercise from running. I don’t think that is an indication of him becoming a 3.

    But I would like to see him play some 3 minutes. It would encourage him to work on his dribble and we already know he is working on his trey shot.

    Withey did put on about 25 lbs as a Jayhawk… and that was all muscle. I don’t think they ever gave up on him adding weight. It’s just hard to add all the muscle, and he was battling with his own genetics.

    His accomplishment was impressive, considering his genes and then what he accomplished.



  • @drgnslayr

    There was story about Withey’s progress in the NBA and how much better he had gotten since he started pushing back, once he realized he did have the strength to do so. No doubt he has been a pleasant surprise for the Pelicans, paricularly since the Unibrow is out for the season.



  • The Conner question is something that will be interesting to watch all summer.

    I’m not surprised Conner played well against Stanford, to be honest. Remember, Stanford was a team that did not play a true PG. That’s the type of team I would expect Conner to do well against. The question for him is, over the course of the season, can he handle the Marcus Foster’s of the world hounding him defensively (and having to chase them around on the other end). That’s an answer we don’t have yet.

    We saw with Naadir this year that the increase in minutes exposed several of his flaws, just as losing Tyshawn exposed EJ the year before. My worry with Conner is that he may be a guy that is perfect in small doses, but could be exposed if we try to expand his role too much. Of course, you really can’t determine that until you start expand a player’s role, but that could be a concern, especially since our progress next year could be directly determined by how our PG situation unfolds.


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