Big 12 Morning Five: 12.08.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 8th, 2011

  1. Tonight is it: Bob Huggins returns to the state of Kansas to face Kansas State, which he spurned for West Virginia after the 2006-07 season. Despite the fan outrage– Huggins spent just one year at KSU, after all– there’s no denying he helped build the successful program Frank Martin currently oversees. True, Huggins did not even make the NCAA Tournament in his lone season as the Wildcats’ head coach, but he overachieved with a blue-collar roster and made the NIT. From there, he left his stamp on the program by luring Michael Beasley and Bill Walker to Manhattan, Kansas. As the article points out, he could have easily taken his entire coaching staff and those two star recruits with him to West Virginia. He didn’t, however, and it set up a solid foundation for Martin.
  2. Kansas’s Jeff Withey was once a heralded recruit when he originally committed to Arizona. After leaving for Kansas, Withey toiled in anonymity for awhile, but he’s back in action this season as a key contributor. The junior center nearly tallied a triple-double on Tuesday, and he has started every game so far this season. With Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor the only players on the roster with major experience at the Big 12 level, Withey’s continued production is a must for Bill Self.
  3. We all know the difficult story of Billy Kennedy, who had to take a break as Texas A&M‘s coach this fall due to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Luckily, he’s starting to regain his strength and normal level of energy. That’s great news for the Aggies, who should also get star wing Khris Middleton back from an injury very soon. A&M has lost just one game thus far, and it has handled the inferior opponents on its schedule. From here, the season should only trend uphill.
  4. Iowa State is Newcomer U with so many transfers this season, but freshman Percy Gibson is starting to make a name for himself as well. Gibson started his first game of young career on Tuesday in a win over Prairie View A&M, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Although he may not stay in the starting lineup, he’s poised to earn major playing time with his performance so far this year.
  5. If Missouri keeps winning, you will probably see quite a few more articles that are basically mea culpas for criticizing the hiring of Frank Haith, which at the time was widely criticized and had little support from fans or analysts. If they did so privately, they certainly wouldn’t have gone public with that opinion. Haith had very little success at Miami, and there was almost nothing to suggest he could succeed in Columbia. That, folks, is why they play the games. Haith’s team hasn’t lost yet, and it looks like the top team in the Big 12 right now with blowout wins over Notre Dame, Cal, and Villanova. 
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