Naadir Tharpe is the Key to the Kansas Offense

Posted by Kory Carpenter on November 1st, 2013

Search for the lone weakness on a Kansas team loaded with NBA lottery talent and McDonald’s All-Americans and you won’t be looking for long. He stands about 5’11” and couldn’t crack the starting lineup on a team last season that was one point guard away from another Final Four. You can see why Kansas fans are everywhere from curious to anxious to worried about junior point guard Naadir Tharpe‘s play this season. It’s not that Tharpe isn’t capable of running an offense with future NBA Draft picks at the other four starting spots. It’s that if Kansas falls before the national title game, Tharpe’s play will likely be the reason.

Can Naadir Tharpe Keep The KU Offense Running Smoothly?  (USA Today)

Can Tharpe Keep The Kansas Offense Running Smoothly? (Credit: USA Today)

Last season the Jayhawks went down in flames against Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen with senior shooting guard Elijah Johnson putting the finishing touches on a mediocre season at point guard, all while Tharpe came off the bench playing 19.4 minutes per game. The sophomore averaged 5.5 points per game and shot just 34.3 percent from the floor. Watching Johnson struggle to run the offense for the first time in his college career made you wonder how little Self trusted Tharpe to do the same.

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Night Line: Baylor Becoming a Complete, Elite Team Before Our Eyes

Posted by EJacoby on January 11th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

When Kansas State walloped previously undefeated Missouri last weekend, it looked like the Big 12 was shaping up as a jumbled mess of strong teams, without a clear favorite. K-State had a chance to stake its own claim atop the conference ladder with another home game on Tuesday night, but the Baylor Bears came through Bramlage Coliseum and had other ideas. Baylor remained undefeated by surviving the road test, 75-73, and in the process perhaps established itself as one of the top teams in the country and clear Big 12 front-runners. At 16-0 with several good road wins (BYU, Northwestern, and now K-State), neutral court victories (St. Mary’s, West Virginia), and the talent to match any team in the country, Baylor needs to be considered an elite team along with the likes of Syracuse and Kentucky.

Pierre Jackson Helps Complete Baylor and Make Them an Elite Team (US Presswire)

We’ve all known that Baylor has some of the best athletes in college basketball, led by the talented underclassmen forward combination of Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller. Jones (13.4 PPG), Miller (11.1 PPG), and senior leader Quincy Acy (12.1 PPG) have all performed admirably offensively this season to match their expected high-level contributions on the defensive end. But the emergence of point guard Pierre Jackson has completely changed the look of Scott Drew’s team. Jackson, who is still not in the starting lineup, came off the bench and recorded a double-double in Tuesday’s win over Kansas State, going for 10 points and 11 assists in 33 minutes, while also chipping in five boards and two steals. Jackson was playing at the junior college level last year, and the transfer is now on the Bob Cousy Award list as one of the 20 best points guards in America. While not the greatest ball-handler or passer in the traditional sense, he’s become the strong guard that the Bears lacked last season and most pundits feared they would again this year. Jackson upped his season averages to 11.9 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, and 51% field goal shooting after the crucial win on Tuesday. With depth in both the frontcourt and backcourt as well, Baylor has become a complete team right before our eyes.

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