In two of Kansas’ three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis last weekend, freshman point guard Frank Mason played well. Overall he averaged 9.7 points and 2.0 assists per contest, reaching double figures in games against Wake Forest (13 points) and Villanova (12). With the recent run of play and his work in practice, head coach Bill Self has made the decision to move Mason into the starting lineup for Kansas’ game Saturday at Colorado.
“Frank doesn’t talk, but he’s been great. He had about as bad a two minutes against UTEP as a guy could possibly have to end the game,” Self said according to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World. “But if you’re going to line up the games that are hard to win on who our best player has been, you can make a case it’s been Frank, whether it be Duke, Villanova, Wake. I’m really pleased with him. But he’s got a lot to learn, too, but he’s trying. He tries hard every day. Every day he tries.”
And in tomorrow’s matchup Mason will certainly learn some things that will serve him well as the season progresses, with the Buffaloes being led by one of the nation’s best point guards in junior Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie isn’t built like your standard point guard either, as at 6-foot-6 he’s got the size and length to give opposing guards fits defensively.
It would be one thing for Mason to make his first start in front of the home crowd, but it’s another to do so on the road in an environment that has undergone significant change during Tad Boyle’s tenure in Boulder. Once named “Allen Fieldhouse West” based upon the large number of Kansas fans who would be able to acquire tickets to this matchup, the Coors Events Center has become much less hospitable to visiting teams of late.
Mason’s move into the starting lineup means that junior Naadir Tharpe will come off the bench, taking on a role in which he’ll be expected to be productive. Tharpe’s averaging 6.3 points and 5.0 assists per game on the season, and he scored a season-high 11 points in Kansas’ win over UTEP last weekend.