Big 12 Morning Five: 01.06.12 Edition
Posted by dnspewak on January 6th, 2012
- After earning himself a scholarship last month, former walk-on Bubu Palo learned yesterday that he will miss the next six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist. It’s a tough break for one of the Big 12’s most valuable backup point guards, as Palo has provided defensive energy and basketball smarts for the Cyclones since joining the team last year. Palo, who averages 2.1 assists per game, actually played in a victory over Texas before the MRI revealed his fracture. Iowa State can survive without Palo, but he isn’t as easy to replace as you may think. Fred Hoiberg‘s decision to move Chris Allen to the point has paid off so far as it has allowed Scott Christopherson to move to his natural shooting guard position, but Allen isn’t necessarily a “true” point guard. That’s why it was nice for Palo to spell Allen by chipping in 10-15 productive minutes a game.
- Billy Kennedy has had a tough year on a personal level after a Parkinson’s diagnosis this fall, but his professional life has not made things any easier with Texas A&M‘s lack of guard play. The Aggies, who dropped a home game to Rice and also lost their Big 12 opener to Baylor, no longer look like a Big 12 contender. Especially since backup point guard Jamal Branch transferred, Kennedy has very little depth behind Dash Harris and Elston Turner. If A&M can get back to its physical ways and rebound with authority again, this team could steal a few wins in Big 12 play. But baskets are hard to come by these days. As Kennedy puts it, “We lack and don’t have too many guards, guys who can handle the ball.” That’s a problem at this level of basketball.
- We missed this news on Wednesday, but apparently Kansas State forward James Watson did not dress against Kansas because of academic issues. Watson has missed time with a knee injury this season, but coach Frank Martin said injury had nothing to do with his benching. He has since been reinstated to the program, but Martin is still keeping an eye on his school work. The former Washington State forward has played in just one game for the Wildcats, when he logged three minutes against Southern Illinois.
- Bill Self has been coaching for a long time. Like most great coaches, he’s won at every level of college basketball because he’s a mastermind of psychology. Unhappy with the soft play from his big men, Self benched most of his forwards besides Thomas Robinson during a win over North Dakota on Saturday. When Kansas State came to Lawrence a few days later, the motivational tactic paid off: Kansas dominated one of the league’s most physical teams out-rebounding the Wildcats by 24. If that toughness carries over for the rest of the season, there’s no reason the Jayhawks can’t win another title.
- There’s also no reason Missouri can’t win a Big 12 title, but there’s still one pesky question on everybody’s minds. Can the Tigers win a major road game? Normally, we wouldn’t make such a huge deal out of this issue, especially since the Tigers did win a tough contest against a solid Old Dominion program last week. However, after winning just one Big 12 game a year ago, we cannot truly gauge this team until we see how it fares in an environment like Kansas State. Although there is some talk that Kansas State’s attendance will dip on Saturday because of the football team’s appearance in the Cotton Bowl the day before, Missouri has not played traditionally played well at Bramlage. The Tigers could make a real statement by winning that game.