Big 12 M5: New Year’s Eve EditionPosted by dnspewak on December 31st, 2012
- They’ve been gearing up for New Year’s Eve in Stillwater for months, and not because they particularly care about the calendar flipping or watching the ball drop in Times Square. Instead, they’ve been gearing up for tonight’s showdown between Oklahoma State and Gonzaga. It’s not only a Top 25 battle — the local media and fans are also billing it as a Game of the Century of sorts, the kind of program-defining game Travis Ford must win to re-establish the Cowboys as a relevant Big 12 program. Good news is, Oklahoma State earned some respect already by demolishing North Carolina State and winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Ford isn’t desperate for a marquee victory, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t help. The Zags, on the other hand, are no stranger to the Big 12. They’ve already knocked off four teams from this league this year alone: West Virginia, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State, all by an average of 20 points.
- “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The man who penned that quote — a Scottish author named Ian Maclaren — died in 1907. And yet the inspirational phrase applies to Ben McLemore more than a century later. As you’ve watched McLemore this season, you’ve seen him blossom as a scorer and leader for Kansas. You probably didn’t know he has an older brother in a maximum-security prison. You probably also didn’t know his older brother missed McLemore’s first college basketball game and might not ever get to see him play. The freshman wouldn’t expand on how his brother got to prison five years ago, and it’s also unclear how long he’ll be there, but the KU freshman was able to make a visit during the Christmas holiday. This has been McLemore’s life throughout most of his adolescence, and it’s something to think about the next time you see him step on the court at Allen Fieldhouse.
- During each of Kansas State‘s televised games, announcers have repeatedly mentioned Bruce Weber‘s motion offense and how it will take time for his new team to adjust to his philosophy. Unlike most of what comes out of commentators’ mouths, they’re right on this one. Weber is famous for his fine-tuned motion offense, and it’s more strict than what Frank Martin required on the offensive end. Defensively, though, nothing has changed. This team still needs to defend to win. As Weber puts it, “We have to guard. We’re good at it. We showed last week, if we can play at the right level, we can be OK offensively enough to win.”
- It’s been very difficult to see the downfall of Royce White after such a marvelous season with Iowa State in 2011-12. White’s issues with the Houston Rockets have been extensively publicized, and now there’s a new chapter: White has declined to play for the Rocket’s D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Nobody’s quite sure where he’ll go from here, but White claims the organization will not do enough to accommodate his mental health issues. He issued a statement as well, explaining his stance and calling information released by the Rockets’ “misleading” and, at times, “totally inaccurate.”
- Upon hearing that former Oklahoma (among other schools, most famously Indiana) coach Kelvin Sampson could become a candidate for the Brooklyn Nets’ head coaching job, we have to ask the question: Do the Nets have an unlimited calling plan? Cheap shot. We know. Still, it’s wild to consider Sampson may get the full-time gig in Brooklyn after impermissible phone calls landed him in hot water with the NCAA in 2008. He’s actually under a “show-cause” penalty until 2013, which means he can’t get back into the college game until next year. So why not coach the pros? He already coached on an interim basis for 13 games this season during the absence of Kevin McHale, finishing a modest 7-6.