Hard to say any college basketball game one month into the season is "critical," so I won't do that here, but Kansas at Colorado stands to be something rather important for the Jayhawks on Saturday.
KU had a lackluster showing in the Bahamas last week, going 1-2 and falling to an undefeated Villanova team. Andrew Wiggins had only six points in the team' s 67-73 win over UTEP. In general, the team looks good but definitely not anywhere near great, and there are certainly some holes to be patched up. There are plenty of questions, and should Kansas lose on Saturday, I think the criticism toward KU and Wiggins will be dialed up a few clicks.
So that's why it's pretty interesting that KU coach Bill Self is opting to start freshman point guard Frank Mason over junior Naadir Tharpe on Saturday in the team's first road game of the season. This according to KUSports.com.
Self, who has used the same starting lineup the past six games, will alter the opening five Saturday at Colorado. Self says he has decided to go with freshman Frank Mason at the point-guard position in place of junior Naadir Tharpe, who has started all but one game — the season-opener, in which he served a suspension against Louisiana at Monroe. ...
“We're going to put Frank out there to start the game,” Self said. “He's been one of our more consistent, better performers so far this year. I think he deserves the opportunity.”
Of Mason, Self added: “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 ... 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.”
Mason is putting up 8.9 points per game and has a 20-7 assist-to-turnover differential so far this season in 19.4 minutes per game. He's a talented player, certainly, and it's going to be interesting to see how Kansas plays with four freshmen in the lineup. In addition to Wiggins, center Joel Embiid and shooting guard Wayne Selden are also first-year players. Perry Ellis, the sophomore 4 who leads the team in scoring, will also be in the lineup.
Colorado is 8-1, winners of eight straight after dropping the season-opener to Baylor.