Kansas basketball: The time has come for Johnny Furphy to earn more minutes

Connecticut v Kansas
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Kansas head coach Bill Self is more knowledgeable about the game of basketball than most people on this planet. That’s why he’s won 16 Big 12 conference championships, two national titles, and has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But he wouldn’t be the coach he is today, nor would he have the success he’s had without making some adjustments. And one of the adjustments he should make to help increase the potential of this year’s team is to give freshman Johnny Furphy more minutes.

The glaring weak spot in KU’s starting lineup this year has come at the No. 2 guard position currently occupied by fellow freshman Elmarko Jackson.

It’s not hard to understand why Jackson got the job to begin the season. He was a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit with seemingly all the upside in the world. Heck, he was even projected as a first-round NBA Draft pick by some before the season started.

To Self, he was the best choice to replace would-be starter Arterio Morris, who was kicked off the team due to severe, off-the-court matters.

But that experiment has not gone according to plan thus far into the season.

Jackson was thrust into the college game too soon and it shows. He often looks overwhelmed and out of sorts – especially in road environments like the one KU saw against UCF the other night, which resulted in Jackson getting pulled from the game less than three minutes in.

Since the start of Big 12 play – and for the majority of the season – he has offered little-t0-no offensive production for this team. In the games against TCU and UCF, Jackson went a combined 0-4 from the field and 0-1 from three-point range. He scored zero points, had 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 turnovers while averaging 23 minutes of game time.

His limited offensive production really hurts the team, especially when he plays alongside point guard Dajuan Harris Jr., who is often too unselfish and doesn’t look to score.

Meanwhile, Furphy continues to look better and better as the season goes on.

In Big 12 play, Furphy has scored 13 points while shooting 50% from the field. He also contributed 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and just one turnover while playing an average of 13.5 minutes per game.

He’s been much more efficient than Jackson, he’s got a much better shooting stroke, he’s a 3-point threat (something this team desperately needs), and he just looks more poised and comfortable than his freshman counterpart.

Is Jackson the better on-ball defender? Maybe. And we know defense matters a lot to Self. But Furphy just provides more for this team as of late, and he needs to be on the floor.

If Self sees value in starting Jackson over Furphy – fine. But the reasons are dwindling for him to earn more minutes than Furphy.

If Self is willing to make that adjustment, it may just provide the spark this team needs heading into the thick of conference play.