Big 12 M5: 03.06.13 EditionPosted by dnspewak on March 6th, 2013
- Big news for Oklahoma: Buddy Hield will be back. He broke his foot earlier this year, and there was a question as to whether he’d play in a Sooners uniform again. However, there are now reports that he’s likely to return on Wednesday against West Virginia. Hield isn’t a household name among Big 12 circles yet, but he had given Lon Kruger an enormous boost during his freshman season before his injury. He ran the point well, played terrific defense and was as important as any player on the roster. Now that he’s back in the fold, Kruger has to feel better heading into the postseason.
- Bob Huggins won’t make any excuses for his West Virginia team’s performance this season, but it’s undeniable that the Mountaineers’ move to the Big 12 had serious travel implications. The school is situated a long, long way from the rest of the conference, and getting places is a totally different ballgame compared to the Big East. The non-conference schedule added to all the travel, too: West Virginia began the season out west at Gonzaga, then took a trip to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando and later played at Duquesne and Purdue. Then think about all the flights in Big 12 play to the states of Texas, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. Not an easy thing for a new member program.
- Remember when Elijah Johnson was a worthless point guard and the root of all problems in the world? The guy who turned the ball over too much and caused all wars known to mankind? Those words are a little harsh, but the bottom line was that he hadn’t played very well at that point for Bill Self throughout the early winter and caught a lot of criticism for that very reason. Now, though, that’s all changed. After his legendary performance in Ames, Johnson had 12 assists against Texas Tech on Senior Night and appears to be hitting his stride. If he can continue to man the position along with Naadir Tharpe, Self will be able to sleep a heck of a lot better at night this March.
- It’s now or never for Iowa State, which finds itself right on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament. No pressure though, guys. “Win these next two games for sure,” Korie Lucious told The Gazette. “That would help us. Then go into the conference tournament and win as many games as we can there — try to get that championship.” Fred Hoiberg had an interesting quote in this article too, about the Cyclones’ inability to get stops in key moments. That’s been the overlooked thing on this team all year. Iowa State has scorers, but there’s more work to do on the defensive end. That could dictate how the Cyclones finish the regular season.
- Oklahoma State doesn’t have it easy right now. Sure, the Cowboys are in fine position heading into the NCAA Tournament, but they’re aiming for a two seed in Kansas City and have a tough road this week to get there. First, they’ve got to play a desperate Iowa State team (see above). Then it’s Kansas State at home on Senior Day. No matter what, though, Travis Ford has to feel good about where he’s at right now. He was the one coach in this league with whom we often threw the term “hot seat” around, and now that’s completely out the window. Kudos. Now, we’ll see where this season goes from here.