Big 12 M5: 03.07.13 EditionPosted by dnspewak on March 7th, 2013
- We’ve long been Rick Barnes apologists here on the Big 12 microsite. He’s an easy target for criticism, often slammed for not reaching his potential and wasting NBA talent at Texas. The word “overrated” is thrown around a lot with Barnes, and during this difficult season, he’s now in even more trouble from a public opinion standpoint. But at least one person agrees with us that it’s perhaps overkill to lay so much blame on Barnes for this season. Nobody’s claiming that Barnes is Bob Knight, but he’s done a terrific job in Austin for a sustained period of time. Myck Kabongo problems aside, he also had a roster solely consisting of freshmen and sophomores and knew he’d have some growing pains. When the NCAA suspended Kabongo for much of the season, the problems intensified, and it resulted in a disaster of sorts. Give Barnes some time to sort out his program. After a decade of winning at Texas, he deserves at least that much.
- Bill Self has never endured the kind of struggles Barnes has gone through this year, but they’re similar in the respect that they’ve both won at several schools. Self, of course, has won a little bit more, and his journey from Oral Roberts to Tulsa to Illinois to Kansas has been an interesting one. It’s easy to point to what Self has accomplished in Lawrence, but sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s refreshing to hear him talk about the early days at Oral Roberts, too, and it’s especially intriguing to consider the alternate possibilities in his career path. Had Self gotten the Missouri job in 1999, there’s no telling what the college basketball universe would look like right now.
- Staying with the coaching theme, here’s a look at Lon Kruger, another renowned coach in the world of hoops. If there’s anyone who epitomizes the trite phrase “he-wins-everywhere-he’s-been,” it’s Kruger. He has his Oklahoma team on the verge of the NCAA Tournament, which isn’t a surprise to anybody. It is surprising, however, that it took only two years for Kruger to create a new culture of winning in Norman. Wyoming transfer Amath M’Baye and the freshmen additions have helped, but he’s gotten his returnees to buy in as well. At this point, he’s successfully cleaned up the mess created by the Jeff Capel fallout.
- If Kansas State wins at Oklahoma State this weekend, it’ll clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title. It’ll take the outright crown with a Kansas loss. With a Jayhawks victory, though, the “tie” in the standings will be a “tie” in name only. Kansas swept its in-state rival, so it’ll be the real champion and the top seed. Of course, that won’t stop the Wildcats from celebrating, as long as they win themselves this weekend. And hey, the year Kansas won a national title in 2008, it tied Texas atop the standings but lost to the Longhorns in the head-to-head matchup (though they played only once — in Austin). At this point, Bruce Weber will take any hardware he can get in his first season in Manhattan.
- West Virginia has clearly fallen this season — wanna know why? Here’s a pretty good assessment of the situation. Entering the 2012-13 season, the Mountaineers weren’t league contenders by any means, but they weren’t considered slouches, either. They had big-time transfers, an improving sophomore class and a team seemingly capable of playing for an NCAA Tournament berth. That hasn’t happened, and it’s interesting to look at some of the recruits who did not pan out and left Bob Huggins a little thin.