Worlds collide to make the first post of the week an easy-to-name one.
First, a few words about Naadir Tharpe leaving the Jayhawks basketball program.
I felt sorry for Naadir all season. He was clearly miscast as a primary point guard for a national championship contending caliber team. But, thanks to several misses on the recruiting trail by Bill Self1, the job was his. And despite his obvious limitations, people looked back at his performance against Michigan a year earlier, when he played wonderfully, and expected him to be a step up from the always wild ride that was Elijah Johnson’s year at the point.
And, to Naadir’s credit, he played wonderfully again in a few games this year, notably in the second Oklahoma game. While the rest of the team tried to piss that one away he hit a series of big shots and then sealed the win at the free throw line.
But it was always a roller coaster ride with Naadir. He’d counter every good game with another where he would turn the ball over constantly, often in a mind-numbingly dumb manner. He would go scoreless on a night when no one else was hitting. He would fail to do anything to stop the guy he was guarding. He would attempt the difficult pass when the easy one was both smarter and better.
And then came the stuff that made me feel for him. Bill Self will jump all over any player that’s messing up. But he’s especially hard on the older players and on his point guards. Naadir got it both ways last season. I believe it was during the Oklahoma State game in Stillwater when, after throwing a ball out of bounds without being pressured, Self just destroyed Naadir during the subsequent time out. At that moment, I wondered if Naadir might transfer when the season was done.
Whether it was all that or his stupid social media move in the off-season (look it up if interested), but enough became enough and he’s gone.
Everyone’s probably better for it. I think he’s a player who has maxed out his abilities, and it would be a miserable season if he continued to struggle with the basics of running the offense. Throw in the expected reaction by opposing fans to his selfie exploits, and I don’t blame him for leaving.
There is some question as to whether he was asked to leave. I haven’t heard anything to suggest that he was forced out. But I’ve also heard the coaching staff wasn’t too disappointed he is leaving. It saves them having to publicly discipline him for his naughty pic and a season of the fans killing him every time he did something wrong.
I hope the best for him, wherever he lands. His career at KU might have been different if he never had to be more than the backup he was recruited to be.
On to the Atlanta Hawks, who nearly knocked the top seeded Pacers from the NBA playoffs in the opening round. It took a determined, gutty effort in game six for the Pacers to bring the series back to Indy for game seven. Then, finally, for most of the night, the Pacers played free and easy while Atlanta was missing shots they had hit through the first six games. It was a bit of a rout, although Atlanta made enough runs to keep it interesting.
Getting to the bigger point, man, I don’t know what happened to the Pacers. They looked awesome through the first three months of the season. Then Paul George threw down that nutty 360 tomahawk against the Clippers, the paternity rumors about George and an exotic dancer, Larry Bird signed Andrew Bynum and traded for Evan Turner, Lance Stephenson started fighting with everyone, and they fell apart. Only Miami’s struggles in the final weeks of the season kept the Pacers in the #1 seed slot.
The Pacers just feel like a team that has come completely unmoored. I don’t think getting by Atlanta suddenly fixes that. Maybe they’ll get it together enough to win four games against Washington. And then the hope is that getting a third crack at Miami, with home court, will suddenly focus them and we’ll see the Pacers from the first half of the season.
That’s a lot of wishful thinking, though. I have a feeling they have a new coach next year, because someone has to take the blame, and Larry will look long and hard at moving everyone but Paul George in the off season.
Finally, real hawks. As in we have a couple living in our backyard trees. I’m not sure whether it’s a mom and her juvenile hawklet, or a mating pair. But two birds have spent the last several weeks reeking havoc amongst the wildlife in our neighborhood. Each morning our front yard is covered in feathers from the hawks’ morning kills. Occasionally I find little bird parts scattered around, too. Sadly the hawks have either eaten or scared off all the songbirds and our normally busy bird feeder is desolate and quiet.
I’m not sure what kind of hawk they are, but a neighbor mentioned he talked to the city two years ago, when a pair was in his trees, and was told you can’t shoot at them because they’re a protected species. Not that I would take a shot at them, but I don’t know of another way to get rid of them. I guess it will be a birdless summer, and we’ll hit the mosquito spray extra hard. Or hope the bats clear them out.
- The one notable failing of Self’s recruiting has been with primary guards. After getting Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins, each ranked #2 in their class, in back-to-back years, he has not signed his top point guard target since. Tyshawn Taylor only came to KU because Tom Crean left Marquette for Indiana. Tharpe was a third or fourth choice. Frank Mason was a fall-back option. I suppose Conner Frankamp might qualify, but I doubt Self ever expected him to be a starting point guard. ↩