Big 12 Media Day: News and Notes

Posted by KoryCarpenter on October 18th, 2012

The Big 12 debuted its new basketball identity on Wednesday in Kansas City at its annual Media Day, and there was plenty of personality to go around. That was no more obvious than when West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stepped up to the mic for his question and answer session. Huggins, who coached at Kansas State during the 2006-07 season, was asked if his one-year stint in the Big 12 would help West Virginia’s transition this season. “I don’t know,” Huggins said. “I do know where to eat now, though.” On a more serious note, Huggins said he felt that West Virginia is a lot like the other schools in the Big 12. “We’re the state university,” He said. “We’re a land grant institution, we’re in a college town. We have a great venue to play in. We’re very much similar.”

The Big 12 Welcomed Many New Faces at Media Day on Wednesday

Huggins added that road wins will be tougher to come by in the Big 12, whose more intimate venues are a far cry from the sometimes stale and large off campus arenas often found in the Big East. He was quick to add though, “I’ve always told my players, I’ve never seen a fan block a shot or score a goal. Some of them probably have committed fouls but they didn’t call them.”

One of those venues is Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, where Bruce Weber is also entering his first season in the Big 12 after accepting the head coaching job at Kansas State in the offseason. Weber was fired from Illinois after last season, where he incidentally had taken over for Kansas coach Bill Self in 2003. Self has dominated the Big 12 since his arrival at Kansas, so much that Kansas State Athletic Director John Currie asked Weber during his interview if he was up to the task of dealing with Self’s Jayhawks. “As a coach, you want that challenge, that’s the exciting part of it,” Weber said. “I hope we make it a rivalry. It’s obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. So it should be fun. He’s done a great job, and hopefully we can compete with them.”

With three talented seniors returning — Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez, and Martavious Irving — the Wildcats might be able to sneak into the upper half of the conference, but it won’t be easy. Bill Self said he can envision this year being like last, when three teams — Kansas, Missouri, and Baylor — were all in the top 10 for most of the season. While that might be a stretch, the conference is deeper than it’s been in a while. Programs like Texas Tech and TCU will struggle, but normally middle-of-the-pack teams like Iowa State and Oklahoma State will have plenty of talent to compete.

Big Things (and Big Ups) Are Expected From Marcus Smart (

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, for instance, welcomes in five-star forward Marcus Smart. “He can play four different positions on the court from the point guard position to the two, to the three, to the four,” Ford said. “If you asked him to play the five, he would do that too.” Ford insisted that Smart has had a positive impact on former five-star recruit and somewhat embattled guard Le’Bryan Nash, who some predicted would jump to the NBA after his freshman season before experiencing growing pains last year. He averaged 13.3 PPG but shot just 39% from the floor. The league’s coaches believe the Smart/Nash duo will be successful, picking the Cowboys to finish third in the conference. The entire preseason coaches poll looks like this:

  1. Kansas (9)
  2. Baylor (1)
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. Texas
  5. Kansas State
  6. West Virginia
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Iowa State
  9. Texas Tech
  10. TCU

Here’s a few more good quotes from coaches around the league:

  • Chris Walker, Texas Tech: “I tell the guys all the time that 85% of the people don’t care what’s going on, and the other 15% are glad you’re going through it.”
  • Bob Huggins, West Virginia: “Since I was in the Big 12 when there was a north and south divisions, and we played everybody in the south once, and everybody in the north twice, there were places I didn’t get to go. I didn’t get to go to Lubbock. I almost wanted to stay just so I could go to Lubbock the next year, you know what I mean?”
  • “They asked me there who our rivalry in the conference was going to be, and I said it’s probably Iowa State. They’re the closest. Only 853 air miles.”
  • “You were talking before about home court advantages, and I don’t know who has a bigger home court advantage than KU has. We went in there and lost by I think it was 106 my year at Kansas State.”
  • “When you talk about KU winning all of those, I think there is one guy really responsible, and that’s Bill. He’s a great coach. Of course having all those players doesn’t hurt anything either, just in case you were wondering. That doesn’t hurt at all either.”
  • Curtis Shaw, the head of Big 12 officiating, held a mini film session for media members. Shaw talked about the challenges of officiating in different conferences in years past: “In the Big East you let them fight all night. In the ACC you called a foul if they touched someone.”

Kansas should capture its ninth consecutive conference championship this season. TCU and Texas Tech will finish ninth and  tenth, but everything in between is a mystery at this point, making an interesting first season in the new Big 12.

KoryCarpenter (150 Posts)

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