Frank Mason has a chance to seize the moment against Fort Hays State in KU's final exhibition game in Allen Fieldhouse Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Mason, the 5-11 freshman point guard, will start in place of Naadir Tharpe. KU coach Bill Self is starting Mason to give him more experience since Tharpe must sit out the season opener against Louisiana at Monroe on Friday for violating NCAA rules by playing in a summer league game in Chicago.
"(Mason) is going to play more (Tuesday)," Self said. "I don't know if it's still going to be a lot more than he normally would have, but I'm certainly going to try to get him as many reps as possible."
Mason looked a bit nervous and spotty in the exhibition opener against Pittsburg State on Oct. 29, scoring five points on 1-of-3 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 at the charity stripe. He also had an assist and committed three turnovers in 18 minutes.
This game against Fort Hays State will be big for Mason to get more confidence as he rolls into the first "real" contest versus Louisiana at Monroe without Tharpe in the lineup.
"I'm hoping we don't miss (Tharpe)," Self said about the regular-season opener. "You always want your full complement of players, but I'm hoping other guys step up and play great. A couple of years ago, I think Tyshawn (Taylor) and Elijah (Johnson) both sat out Naadir's first game, and Naadir almost got a triple-double. I think he had nine points, nine turnovers, and like eight assists.
"Certainly, Frank is going to make some mistakes, but I think it's great for him to get out there."
Self talked more about Mason's role in the system.
"His responsibility is that we have a good offensive possession," Self said. "He just needs to make a pass to initiate and drive to create opportunities for others. If it's a bad possession, then the point guard should take responsibility; that's on him, just like a quarterback should in football. If it's a bad play, he (QB) probably called the wrong play in the huddle or line of scrimmage. The point guard's got to take that same responsibility.
"But with Frank, it's just important to make a pass to start a play as it is to to make a pass to finish a play. That's what I want to see him be able to make easy plays to get the ball moving, and defensively, he needs to cut the head off. That's harder to do with today's rules that you can really go out and attack the other team's point guard, but certainly that's what we'd like for him to do."