Big 12 Morning Five: 01.22.12 EditionPosted by dnspewak on January 22nd, 2013
- There’s already enough drama in this showdown between Kansas and Kansas State tonight. Two top-15 teams. Playing for first place in the Big 12. Bitter in-state rivals. But look carefully, and there’s another aspect to all this: the Illinois rivalry. The last two coaches at Illinois before John Groce were Bruce Weber and Bill Self. Weber took over for Self and went to the national title game in his second season. He now coaches Kansas State after the Illini fired him seven years later. Bill Self left originally so he could take this job at Kansas. Got it? Good. You knew all that. But do you remember when Weber hosted a mock funeral during his first year at Illinois because he was sick of everybody talking about Bill Self all the time? They’re not best friends, but that makes for terrific entertainment tonight.
- Weber wasn’t necessarily the most popular choice when Kansas State hired him. Everybody knew he could coach at some level. He did, after all, have unbelievable success at Southern Illinois and propelled a Self-recruited team to the brink of a national title at Illinois, but things did not end well in Champaign. His final 2011-12 season was especially a disaster, so it’s not as though he was considered a home run hire by the Wildcats. Still, it appears to be working just fine at this point, and maybe it’s a sign that second chances and a change of scenery can really do wonders for a head coach.
- We’re not sure who stole West Virginia’s uniforms this season and started playing with them, but they certainly can’t be coached by Bob Huggins, can they? Not even Huggins believes it. In the midst of one of the worst seasons of his storied career, Huggins is profusely apologizing to anybody who will listen for his team’s uninspired effort in a 27-point loss at Purdue. “I want to apologize to our fans, apologize to the people in the state of West Virginia. This is totally unacceptable. This is not what we’re supposed to represent and hopefully they have enough faith in me that I will fix it.” If there’s anybody who can fix it, it’s probably Huggins, but whether it will happen this year is an open question for considerable debate.
- For as emotional as Huggins got with the media, it seems as though he took a different approach with his team. Strangely, the fiery head coach appeared to have said very little to his team in the locker room after Purdue embarrassed his team on national television. If the yelling and screaming is not working, why not try something else?
- Travis Ford said after his team’s victory against Texas Tech on Saturday that the Red Raiders were one of the most improved teams in the Big 12. Even if that’s true, their record isn’t quite showing it. Texas Tech has lost four of its first five league games by exactly 100 combined points, with the only win coming against dreadful TCU. At least the Red Raiders are playing well in spurts. After a last-place, 1-17 finish a year ago, even that’s significant improvement in many ways. Tech’s Jaye Crockett, who emerged as a scoring threat down the stretch in 2011-12 and appears to have a bright future with the Red Raiders, says he’s “tired of all these moral victories.” Texas Tech competed punch-for-punch with Kansas for one half and was within striking distance of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at halftime, but it hasn’t resulted in any upsets. Yet. Maybe as the season goes on, Ford’s statement about Texas Tech’s supposed improvement will show up on paper, in the form of a marquee win.