Frank Mason says for Kansas to be successful in the postseason, the Jayhawks must “rebound the ball, defend at a high level, be coachable and execute on the offensive end.”
And, oh yes, one other thing.
“Make at least 80 percent of our free throws,” Mason, KU’s senior guard who has made 82.7 percent of his free throws in 18 Big 12 games and 77.6 percent overall, said emphatically.
KU coach Bill Self grinned when discussing Mason’s 80 percent proclamation.
“Yeah, well if we can shoot 80 percent from the line, that would be great,” Self said. His Jayhawks will meet the winner of Wednesday’s Oklahoma-TCU first-round Big 12 tournament game (6 p.m., Sprint Center) in a quarterfinal game at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
“I don’t know why he didn’t say 95 (percent). That would be even better,” Self added.
The Jayhawks (28-3, 16-2 Big 12) have made 66 percent of their free throws in 31 games, which ranks ninth in the 10-team Big 12. Only Texas has been worse, at 65.2 percent. The 66 percent mark ties the 2006-07 Jayhawks for worst performance in the 14-year Self era. That ’06-07 team went 33-5, won the Big 12 regular season and postseason tourney titles and advanced to the Elite Eight, where it lost to UCLA.
KU has cashed 70.8 percent of its free throws in 18 Big 12 games, which ranks eighth in the conference. Baylor has made 70.3 percent and Texas 64.7.
“We’re not as poor a free-throwing team as people make us out to be,” Self said.
“Sasha Kaun wasn’t exactly Rick Barry when he went to the line, OK?” Self added of Kaun, a career 51.2 percent free-throw shooter during 2005-08 at KU. “We’ve had numerous things like that.
“We’re shooting 71 percent in league play, which is not awful. Knowing if the other guys continue shooting at the same rate and Josh improves a little bit, that’s a 75 percent free-throwing team. I think he will,” Self added of freshman Jackson, who has converted 55.9 percent of his free throws, including 58 percent in Big 12 games.
Self said of Jackson: “I’ve said it before, I’m not going to make a big deal about that. He’s got to make them. He’s proven to me over time that when it counts the most, he usually does.”
Of KU’s rotation players, Lagerald Vick has made 82.1 percent of his free throws, followed by Mason, Devonté Graham (77.5), Svi Mykhailiuk (67.6), Carlton Bragg (63.2) Landen Lucas (61.5) and Jackson.
“When you’ve got guards and you drive it downhill, you hope to shoot a lot of free throws. You’ve got to convert,” Self said.
Mason on Tuesday was chosen as USA Today’s national player of the year. Jackson was picked second-team All-America by USA Today. The first team consisted of Mason, Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Lonzo Ball, UCLA; Dillon Brooks, Oregon; and Josh Hart, Villanova.
Mason was chosen District VI player of the year Tuesday by the United States Basketball Writers Association. KU’s Bill Self was the District VI coach of the year. Mason and Jackson made the all-District VI team with Jeffrey Carroll and Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State; Naz Mitrou-Long and Monte Morris, Iowa State; Marcus Foster, Creighton; Tai Webster, Nebraska; Peter Jok, Iowa; and Mike Daum, South Dakota State.
Sporting News on Tuesday picked Jackson to its freshman All-America team. The other members are Ball; Malik Monk, Kentucky; Markelle Fultz, Washington; and Miles Bridges, Michigan State. On Monday, Mason was picked first-team All-America and Jackson second-team by Sporting News.
Selden nets 10-day deal with Pelicans
Former KU guard Wayne Selden will sign a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN reported. Selden has averaged 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 30.6 minutes per game in 35 games for the NBA Development League’s Iowa Energy.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Pelicans “have been looking at several free-agent guards in the past few weeks following a trade that sent three members of the team’s backcourt to Sacramento along with a two draft picks in exchange for All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi. Since the All-Star break, New Orleans has already handed out 10-day deals to guards Jarrett Jack, Hollis Thompson, Jordan Crawford, Reggie Williams and now Selden.”
Williams’ 10-day contract expires on Monday.
Taylor honored in Turkey
Former KU guard Tyshawn Taylor of Mamak Belediye Ankara DSI was chosen player of the week in the Turkish Basketball League last week.
He had 36 points and six assists in a 94-82 victory over Mugla Orman. Taylor started the year playing for Maccabi Kiryat Gat in Israel.