Big 12 Alley-Oops and Airballs: Week NinePosted by cwilliams on January 13th, 2012
Big 12 Alley-Oops and Airballs is a weekly article examining what’s hot and what’s not in Big 12 basketball.
Another week of Big 12 college hoops is in the books, and the contenders are separating themselves in the standings from the pretenders. Still, there are a few middle-dwellers that I cannot figure out. Iowa State has a great coach, a star player, and a winning conference record. However, they lack a marquee win, and have still not shown they can defeat a better team. J’Covan Brown continues to lead Texas to an impressive record, but is relied upon too heavily. The youngsters in burnt orange need to mature, and fast, if they want to make a run at the conference crown.
- Kansas: The Jayhawks are hot, and getting hotter. Kansas recently cracked the Top 10, and judging by their schedule, Kansas might not leave it the rest of the season. They are undefeated in conference play, Thomas Robinson is playing some of the nation’s best basketball, and even Tyshawn Taylor has found a way to reduce his amount of turnovers in recent games.
- Frank Martin: While it’s easy to argue Frank Martin’s placement in this category due to the Wildcats 1-2 record in conference play, Martin might be doing his best coaching job yet this season. After a frustrating loss to Kansas, Martin fired up his boys and executed a perfect game plan against Missouri, handing the Tigers their first loss. Three days later, Kansas State continued their brutal conference start by hosting Baylor. Martin and the Wildcats gave the Bears their toughest test of the season, and narrowly lost by two. There’s no such thing as a good loss, but the way Kansas State played against the undefeated Bears, there was a lot of good to take from the game.
- A Return of Hilton Magic: I’m a sucker for student sections. I’ve sat in one of the better ones for four years, have rushed the court after huge victories, and have seen the positive effect a rabid student section can have on the home team as well as the negative effect they have on an away team. That’s why I was very pleased to see the tenacity of the Iowa State student section against Missouri Wednesday night. The students packed the stadium and were loud and aggressive from the opening tip. Did I mention it was around 15 degrees with a high wind chill during the game? Cyclone faithful easily could have bundled up at home and watched the game on ESPN3, but instead, they packed Hilton, and made it seem magical again.
- Big 12 Coaching Debuts: Ok, so Billy Gillispie has been a Big 12 coach before, and Frank Haith used to be a Big 12 assistant coach, but you get the gist. Including Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger and Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy, the first-year Big 12 head coaches are a combined 2-10 so far in Big 12 play, with both of those victories coming from Haith’s Missouri Tigers. Obviously, there is lowered expectations for first-year coaches, due to their programs mostly being in the gutter. But I’d say it’s time for three out of the four new coaches to at least experience a Big 12 win.
- Texas A&M: Once considered a darkhorse candidate to content for the Big 12 title, the Aggies have fallen on difficult times. They are 0-3 in conference play, and cannot buy a bucket. They are averaging a league worst 51 points per game in conference play and near the bottom in the nation in points per game throughout the entire season, with an abysmal 62.1 PPG. As the great basketball scholars always say, in order to win a game, you need to score points.