Kansas coach Bill Self sticking with struggling Elijah Johnson at point
Seth Davis talks to Kansas coach Bill Self about the possibility of replacing Elijah Johnson at point guard.
From the outside looking in, Kansas Jayhawks sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe’s rising play and senior guard Elijah Johnson’s struggles make it seem like the starting point guard position is in jeopardy of some turnover.
But not if you ask coach Bill Self. Even though Johnson, the starting point guard, is laboring, Self is standing by his man.
“[Johnson’s] my guy, regardless, and he’s going to be our starting point guard as long as his health allows him to be,” Self said on the recent Courtside with Seth Davis. “He is a two being forced to play the one. It would be like an offensive lineman that’s a guard being forced to play tackle.”
Tharpe is performing well off the bench but won’t be replacing Johnson anytime soon because Johnson’s troubles are not due to lack of talent, according to Self. It’s really just a matter of positioning and adjusting.
During the offseason, Johnson went from playing the two to the one to replace Tyshawn Taylor and has since struggled with getting his shot off, running the offense and turnovers. His field-goal percentage is at an all-time low (36.5). He’s averaging 3.2 turnovers compared to his 1.9 average last season.
"I don't think it's unusual that guys go through this. He's a far superior shooter than his stats show,” Self told the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Tharpe, who’s averaging 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds, showed up when it mattered Monday night against Kansas State with eight assists and a bench-high seven points in 27 minutes of play. Yet his inexperience has also put Kansas in a bind. He chucked up a career-high 15 shots and only made two in a 62-55 loss to a TCU team that has lost its other 10 games in Big 12 play -- and by an average of 16.8 points.
Self could easily put Tharpe at the point and let Johnson get comfy in his old position at the two. However, the type of inconsistency that Tharpe showed against TCU justifies Self’s decision to stick with Johnson at point guard while he fine-tunes his play at the position.
This guard experiment could prove beneficial to the team if it gets deep into March Madness, when fatigue and matchups become an issue.
Whom do you think should be playing the point at Kansas? Make your voice heard in the comment section below or on Twitter @Hoopsoncbs. And don't forget to watch Courtside with Seth Davis on CBS Sports Network, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can also follow Adena Andrews on Twitter @adena_andrews.
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