Big 12 M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 22nd, 2013

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  1. It isn’t official but it does feel like it’s really over. Perhaps yesterday’s loss to the Oregon Ducks was the final game of Marcus Smart’s brief and eventful career at Oklahoma State. He arrived on campus with a lot of hype and he was worth every bit of it. But where does that leave Travis Ford and his program? For such a successful regular season to end suddenly in the round of 64, he’ll hop back on the hot seat. What if Le’Bryan Nash or Markel Brown decides to leave for the pros too? They have a solid recruiting class coming in but it seems unlikely for those freshman to plug in those huge gaps. Uneasy times in Stillwater.
  2. Friday is essentially “Big 12 day” at the NCAA Tournament as the league’s four remaining teams will be in action. Two of those teams will do very little traveling (maybe none?). Kansas and Kansas State played at the Sprint Center for the Big 12 Tournament and now have the tough task of playing there again for the Friday/Sunday sessions. KU stands as the top seed in the South Region and there is extra intrigue here as a win today could set up another Roy Williams v. Jayhawks match-up in the round of 32. Due to recent developments (hi New Mexico), the Wildcats would have an easier road to the Final Four if they can get by Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Or if Wichita State upsets Gonzaga tomorrow, it’d be an all-Kansas regional semifinal in Los Angeles. It is March, it could happen.
  3. I guess we should get used to saying this: Iowa State is once again in the tournament. While it wasn’t a given they’d make it here even a month ago, one player who has helped their way in is forward Will Clyburn. As you may now, Clyburn is a transfer from Utah but he didn’t start his college career like most recruits did. He had a growth spurt during his senior year of high school but his height-strength ratio scared off most recruiters. Clyburn chose to enroll at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. He became a gym rat, fine tuning his game and eventually transferred to Utah after successful freshman and sophomore campaigns. Now he’s the leading scorer (15.0) and rebounder (7.1) for Iowa State. How did you let him get away, coaches?
  4. As Oklahoma preps for its second round game against San Diego State, we finally got into the mind (a bit) of their nomadic head coach Lon Kruger. Any coach will tell you how difficult it is to build chemistry on a team so imagine how much harder it’d be if the coach that recruited you leaves for another job before you graduate. “But then every place we’ve been we’ve never looked for another job or asked for another job. It’s just worked out OK with different moves for different reasons. We’ve been pretty fortunate,” Kruger told the Norman Transcript. I tend to believe that that’s a bunch of hooey. One of his former players, Steve Henson, mentioned how Kruger interviewed for the head coaching job at Texas right after his sophomore season. (Kruger ended up leaving for Florida after Henson’s senior year.) That’s not to take anything away from what he’s done in his second year in Norman but you or I shouldn’t be surprised if he up and leaves OU all of a sudden.
  5. In case you didn’t know that there was basketball being played outside of the NCAA and NIT tournaments, the Texas Longhorns participated in the CBI on Wednesday night. They took on their old rivals from the Southwest Conference, the University of Houston Cougars and ended up losing to UH 73-72. To add insult, top recruit Julius Randle, who considered Texas in his recruiting process, announced for Kentucky earlier in the week. Hopefully this is the last straw of a season where everything went wrong for Texas. And somewhere in the Northeast, current commissioner of the “old” Big East Mike Aresco is cracking open some champagne for all the wrong reasons.
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