Cole Aldrich

Naadir Tharpe ‘didn’t do anything spectacular last year at all’

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One thing that the Bill Self’s Kansas program has proven is that if you’re willing to bide your time and accept a role on the bench, you’ll eventually end up reaping the benefits.

Sherron Collins went from seventh man to first-team all-american at the same time that Cole Aldrich went from “is that big guy a walk-on?” to “that big guy’s a lottery pick!” The Morrii were unimpressive their first season in Lawrence, but both went on to become first round picks. While they were making a name for themselves, Thomas Robinson was waiting for his chance to become a National Player of the Year candidate and the No. 5 pick.

Jeff Withey. Travis Releford. Even Tyshawn Taylor. It makes one wonder just what Self could have turned Josh Selby into if he had three years to work with.

And if Naadir Tharpe’s quotes to Rustin Dodd of Kansas.com are any indication, he may be the next Jayhawk to turn into a success story:

“You’re not just going to be able to come here and just think you’re going to be able to play,” Tharpe said. “You’re going to have to know the system.”

[…]

“I really didn’t do anything spectacular last year at all for anybody to see what I can do or not,” Tharpe said.

Tharpe is going to need to make some spectacular things happen next season. With Taylor graduating, he inherits the starting point guard job. There will be plenty of talent around him — Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis, Elijah Johnson to name a few — but Tharpe will be the glue that holds that team together.

History says that he should do just fine.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Was the 2012 Kansas team more memorable than 2008?

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It’s never surprising to hear about a coach refusing to watch the tape of a title game that he lost.

What’s the point of torturing yourself like that?

If you’re good enough to make it that far in the NCAA tournament, than I think it is reasonable to say that you are going to lose a significant amount to the NBA. And if you lose significant pieces to the NBA, than rewatching the tape won’t be a way to learn about the team you have coming back as much as it will be a chance to fret over the small mistakes made that cost you that ring.

Which is why I’m not surprised to stumble upon stories like this, from Rustin Dodd:

For the first seven weeks, he didn’t bother to relive the disappointment. There just wasn’t a reason. Bill Self has seen just a few clips from that Monday night in New Orleans. And for now, that’s enough.

It’s been 61 days since No. 2 seed Kansas’ amazing NCAA Tournament run came to an end in a 67-59 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA championship game at the Superdome on April 2; 61 days since the Jayhawks ran out of time, their final comeback falling a few baskets short in the waning minutes.

“I haven’t watched the game,” Self says.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything in that story worth reading.

Frankly, I was shocked to see Self quoted saying this:

“I think if we’d have won it, I’d still think I wouldn’t have reflected as much,” Self says. “Because that ’08 deal was just so fresh and new, and it’d been so long since it’d happened around here — it just made it that much extra special.”

I get it. 2008 was his first Final Four and his first national title. Prior to that year, Self had been to four Elite 8’s without making a Final Four. Two of those Elite 8’s came in his first four years in Lawrence. The other two years he had been knocked out in the first round of the tournament as a No. 3 and a No. 4 seed. Pressure and criticism were starting to mount, and that 2008 season got him over the hump.

But Kansas was expected to have that kind of success. They had a roster that was so talented that Cole Aldrich, a future lottery pick, couldn’t get playing time and Sherron Collins, a future first-team all-american, was buried as the seventh-man. The Jayhawks were supposed to succeed. Anything less would have been a disappointment.

Last season was different. Kansas lost three recruits to eligibility issues and had the majority of their key players leave, either due to graduation or early entry. They returned a roster that featured the enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor, the inspirational Thomas Robinson and a slew formerly high-ranking recruits that had been disappointments early in their careers. That was supposed to be the Kansas team that ended the streak of consecutive Big 12 titles.

Instead, the Jayhawks not only won the Big 12 by two games and ended their rivalry with Missouri with a 19 point, come back win, but they rode that success all the way to the national title game. The Jayhawks were the underdogs this year. They didn’t quite win against all odds — this is still Kansas, after all — but this was the least likely Jayhawk team to go this far since 2008.

Given everything that surrounded this group of players — Robinson’s pursuit of becoming the caretaker to his little sister; Taylor overcoming his inconsistencies on and off the court; Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Connor Teahan all becoming vital pieces of a conference champion — they were quite an amazing story.

Even if they lost to Kentucky two months ago.

I’m sure this team meant a lot to the good folks of Lawrence. It’s surprising Self would go on record, even if it is out of context, saying something to the contrary.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Comparing Kentucky to other champs who replaced everything

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Now the all five of Kentucky’s underclassmen stars are officially headed to the NBA (along with senior Darius Miller), it’s time to marvel at the production coach John Calipari must now replace.

Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague and Miller represented93 percent of the Wildcats’ scoring, 94 percent of their rebounds, 95 percent of their blocks, 96 percent of their steals and 96 percent of their assists. Those are simply staggering numbers, per Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. (He has a complete listing of those totals and by player.)

It’s not anything new for a champion to lose a hefty amount of production. In just the last 10 years, at least four teams have been in the same position.

The 2005 Tar Heels lost their top seven scorers (Sean May, Rashad McCant, Ray Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams and Jackie Manuel), but those players “only” accounted for 84 percent of the team’s scoring. (David Noel and Reyshawn Terry managed to get on the scoreboard.) Those seven did account for massive amounts of rebounds (93 percent), but nothing else was above 83.

When Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Frasor and Danny Green, it wasn’t nearly the same amount of attrition.

Kansas lost 80 percent of its scoring from its 2008 title team (Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun), but returned a sixth man in Sherron Collins and a big man who played a key role in the Final Four in Cole Aldrich.

Even the back-to-back Florida champs didn’t have replace as much even though it also lost its six top players (Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Chris Richard and Corey Brewer). Those six accounted for 83 percent of the scoring, 77 percent of the rebounds, 81 percent of the assists, 81 percent of the steals and 87 percent of the blocks. (Having Marreese Speights, Walter Hodge and Dan Werner helps).

Kentucky will probably be similar to ’06 UNC and Kansas. Both of those teams made the NCAA tournament the following season (Kansas was 27-8, won the Big 12 and reached the Sweet 16; UNC was 23-8 and second in the ACC). Florida (24-12) and the 2010 Tar Heels (20-17)  were in the NIT. The Wildcats’ incoming class – which will likely still add another impact newcomer – has elite players ready to step in at every position. And we’ve already learned that Calipari excels at replacing entire rosters.

It’ll undoubtedly look different, though. When you’re replacing everything, that can’t be helped.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Thomas Robinson deserves everything he will get at the next level

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It’s official — Thomas Robinson will forego his final year of eligibility at Kansas and enter his name into the NBA Draft.

And while it would be easy to assume that Kansas fans would be upset over the fact that yet another talented big man has left the program with eligibility remaining — Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich, the Morris twins — Robinson’s decision, according to Bill Self, is a cause for celebration.

“This is as happy a moment as there is,” Self said. “Really, when you really think about what this young man has been through for 15 months and think about the sacrifices he has made, the long nights, the sleepless nights and to remain focus, do well in school and represent our school in a way that almost brought us a national championship, it’s pretty amazing.”

“Now to see him live out his dream … what’s happening now with him is just as cool as last Monday night, playing in that (championship) game. This is as good as it gets for an individual, but also a program and a fan base that’s supported him so much.”

We all know his story by now.

Both of his grandparents and his mother passed away within the span of five weeks last January, leaving Robinson and his younger sister Jayla. The reason that Robinson returned to school was to improve enough that he could enter the draft and become his sister’s caretaker. The constant effort on the floor and the tireless work ethic off of it was all a result of that single-mindedness.

“I tried to come up with a thank-you note, or something to show my appreciation,” said Robinson, “but I couldn’t get anything. I think it’s beyond words what this program meant to me and how much support I felt coming from my situation.”

Robinson, the first unanimous AP All-American since Blake Griffin, deserves everything that will be coming his way, and it will be a lot. He’s projected to be a top five pick.

To get an idea of the kind of person that Robinson is, think about this: he brought Jayla, who turned nine on Monday, up with him during his press conference to announce he was turning pro:

source:

(Photo via the KUAthletics twitter feed)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Did James Michael McAdoo return to school for the money?

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North Carolina got some big news on Thursday afternoon when freshman James Michael McAdoo announced his intention to return to school for his sophomore year.

McAdoo was an all-everything recruit coming out of Norfolk, VA. And while his freshman campaign wasn’t overly impressive, there was a reason for that: he was playing behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson, who may have been the two best big men in the ACC.

McAdoo did get a chance to play heavy minutes late in the season as Henson went down in the ACC tournament with a wrist injury, and he didn’t disappoint. The freshman averaged 10.6 ppg, nearly double his season average, and 4.6 rpg in seven postseason games for the Tar Heels. That performance,, combined with the fact that McAdoo is a physical specimen that is a blood relative of Bob McAdoo, would probably have been enough to get him picked either in the late lottery or the middle of the first round.

In this day and age (and with the exception of last season, apparently), seeing a kid that is a guaranteed first round pick return to school is somewhat out of the ordinary. But McAdoo made a smart decision to return to school.

Why?

Because McAdoo has a chance to be a top five pick next season, and the difference between going 15th and fifth is a lot of money. Take a look at last season’s rookie scale. (For those that don’t know, first round draft picks get a guaranteed two-year contract with team options for the third and fourth year at predetermined values.) Jonas Valanciunas went fifth and Kawhi Leonard with 15th. Valaciunas will make double what Leonard does. Enes Kanter, who went third, will earn  almost $6 million more than Leonard in their first three years in the league.

That is a lot of money, enough to make it worth the risk to return for another season.

And rest assured, there is a major risk involved. While it is very possible that McAdoo could end up being the second coming of Thomas Robinson, who toiled behind Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins before finally getting a chance to shine this season, it is no guarantee. What happens if McAdoo struggles as the focal point of the UNC offense? What happens if he gets injured? What if he spends the offseason eating McDonald’s and Taco Bell instead of working out?

Plenty can go wrong over the next seven months that will scare of the teams looking for a franchise-changing draft pick. Barring some incredible stroke of bad luck, however, it is tough to envision McAdoo falling all the way out of the first round. If he ends up being the 25th pick of the first round instead of the 15th pick, McAdoo’s contract would only end up being worth around $1.6 million over the course of three years.

The bottom line is this: if you are projected to go in the mid-to-late first round, and, in a best case scenario, you’re a late lottery pick, it makes sense to leave immediately. The money made over the course of your contract wouldn’t be significantly greater than the money you would earn in that extra season in the NBA. But for that precious few that have a chance to play their way into the big money of the top five, there is plenty of financial incentive to stay.

I can’t help but think that is why McAdoo is back at Chapel Hill this year.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Manning, Hinson hirings ‘not a distraction by any means’ for Kansas

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Kansas had two members of its coaching staff – assistant Danny Manning and director of basketball operations Barry Hinson – snag head coaching jobs this week. Manning’s off to Tulsa, while Hinson will take over at Southern Illinois.

Those transactions merely added joy to an already happy week for the hoops program. Distractions don’t apply.

“When a team is successful,” Kansas coach Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World, “you hope your assistants have an opportunity to benefit. We were fortunate to have two guys get jobs yesterday. I don’t know how often that happens. A big deal for me was, I told those respective schools, ‘I’m fine with this, but let’s do it now. I don’t want the rumors and everybody being interviewed and have to lie and say you haven’t taken a job. Let’s get it out of the way now and handle questions tomorrow.’

“I told our players last night Barry got the job, and Danny told them he more than likely was going to get the job. Our players are fine. They are happy for our guys. This isn’t a distraction for our guys at all. Trust me, Danny and Barry are not working on Tulsa or Southern Illinois now.”

Manning, 46, has been with Kansas since 2003, first as director of student-athlete development, then as an assistant coach after the 2006-07 season. Since then, he’s been one of the main factors behind the Jayhawks’ frontcourt player development. The Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and now Thomas Robinson all benefited from Manning’s tutelage.

Hinson, 50, has been with Kansas the last three seasons. Unlike Manning, this won’t be his first head coaching gig. He coached at Oral Roberts (getting the job after Self left) and then Missouri State. They’ll both be missed by the players, but they’re intent on ending things with the ultimate high note.

“It’s not a distraction by any means. We’re happy for both of them,” center Jeff Withey told the paper. “Danny’s been an awesome coach and great mentor. It’s sad to see him go, but I’m happy for him. He deserves it. I still have a couple more days to milk as much knowledge as I can from him.”

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.