Closing Out the Big 12 Microsite

Posted by dnspewak on April 24th, 2013

Thank you. That’s all we need to say. Thank you for reading this microsite and for validating our work. From the bottom of the hearts of Danny Spewak, Kory Carpenter and Nate Kotisso, the three Big 12 Microsite writers, we appreciate the feedback you’ve given us — both positive and negative. As we move into the dark days of the college basketball offseason, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the memorable Big 12 Microsite posts over the 2012-13 season…

We’ll see you again come October. Have a great summer, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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Big 12 Season Wrap: the Highs, the Lows, All the In-Betweens

Posted by dnspewak on April 15th, 2013

In a big-picture sense, the Big 12 provided us with no surprises this season. Kansas won the league again, TCU finished in last place, five teams made the NCAA Tournament, and all was right with the world. It wouldn’t have taken Nostradamus to make those predictions. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an interesting six months, however. There were flops–most notably from the state of Texas. There were overachievers–most notably from the state of Oklahoma. There were thrilling finishes, blown calls, standout freshmen and that one time Kansas somehow lost to TCU. Oh, and one team even won a championship this season in, well, the wrong tournament.

Game of  the Year: Kansas 68, Oklahoma State 67 (February 20)

This showdown in Stillwater was simultaneously the best and worst game of the Big 12 season. How’s that for logic? After the Cowboys stunned Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse earlier in the winter and literally celebrated by doing back flips on the court, this revenge game took on even more importance in the league standings. Had Oklahoma State won, it would have seized the proverbial driver’s seat along with Kansas State and would have made the Jayhawks’ path to the regular season title very difficult. We had drama. We had overtime. Two, actually. And we had a game-winner in the final minute of regulation by Naadir Tharpe, who shook off a rusty performance to hit the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds to play. Instant classic, right? Certainly. The problem was, it was perhaps the ugliest game ever played by two top-15 opponents on the same floor. Kansas did not make a field goal in the first overtime and it did not make a field goal in the second overtime until Tharpe’s game-winner. That’s almost 10 minutes of basketball without a basket. In overtime! Overall, the two teams combined to shoot five for 32 from beyond the arc. Ben McLemore played 49 minutes, missed nine of 12 shot attempts and finished with seven points after barely touching the ball in the overtime periods. And that’s the best game of the year? We still stand by our decision. This was the game that changed the complexity of the Big 12 title race, and two free periods of basketball is never a bad thing.

Bill Self Won Another Big 12 Title (Photo credit: AP Photo).

Bill Self Won Another Big 12 Title (Photo credit: AP Photo).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kansas 108, Iowa State 96 (February 25): Asterisk on this one. Kansas beat Iowa State in Ames — where the Cyclones hadn’t lost in more than a year — but it needed a blown call at the end of regulation to get the opportunity. You remember the situation. Elijah Johnson‘s charging toward the basket with five seconds left in the game, his team trailing by two points. Georges Niang sets his feet and takes what appears to be a pretty standard charge. But there’s no call, the ball bounces on the floor and the officials eventually blow the whistle on Niang during a scramble. That allows Kansas to tie the game and win in overtime behind Elijah Johnson’s epic 39-point performance. The Big 12 would later admit its referees should have called a charge, but that’s a moot point right now. It’s a shame we’ll remember this game as the No-Call Game as opposed to the Elijah Johnson Game.
  • Oklahoma State 74, Baylor 72 (March 14): The Bears needed a victory in this Big 12 quarterfinal to give themselves a chance for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. Then they fell behind by 20 points. Dead in the water. Except Pierre Jackson started raining jumpers and floaters all over the place, and Baylor inexplicably tied the game in the final minute of regulation. But the officials made a controversial foul call (that’s a trend this year, across all conferences) and sent Phil Forte to the line, where he made both. That’s an exciting finish in and of itself. But it got even better: Nobody’s quite sure how it happened, but with just seconds left on a desperation, mad-dash possession, Jackson dribbled straight through two Oklahoma State defenders and found himself absolutely, completely wide open from three-point land. He had a chance to win at the buzzer. No hands contesting him, no defender in sight. He missed. That sent the Bears to the NIT, and at least they won that tournament. But Jackson’s failed buzzer-beater signaled the end of Baylor’s tourney chances, and it was another dark moment during an underachieving season.

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All Things Considered, Texas Tech Hits Home Run With Tubby Smith

Posted by dnspewak on April 4th, 2013

Tubby Smith never finished above .500 in the Big Ten during his six seasons at Minnesota. That got him fired. His previous employer, Kentucky, essentially pushed him out after he couldn’t live up to the program’s sky-high expectations. He hasn’t reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in a decade, he’s 61 years old and his name is now more synonymous with the word “failure” than anything else. The haters might call him washed up. If you’re looking for a more friendly term, perhaps you’d say he’s simply past his prime.

Tubby Smith, Minnesota

Tubby Smith Has a New Job

So Tubby Smith’s not the hottest coaching name right now. Fine. But after Texas Tech announced Monday it had agreed to terms with Smith, it’s hard to imagine the school could have landed a better candidate for this position. The Red Raiders have a knack for reclamation projects. In 2001, it hired Bob Knight, who rebuilt the program entirely and had six fairly successful seasons in Lubbock. That risk worked, but the Billy Gillispie project went up in flames after allegations of improper conduct. All in all, Texas Tech is batting .500 in the Comeback Coaches category.

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Big 12 M5: 03.29.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 29th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Texas Tech once hired Bob Knight. So why not Tubby Smith? Sources indicate the Red Raiders have met with Smith, a one-time national champion at Kentucky and the recently-fired head coach at Minnesota. The Red Raiders, who also netted Billy Gillispie two years ago after his promising coaching career fizzled at Kentucky, seem to have a knack for associating themselves with big names in the coaching business. Smith is clearly the best candidate on the list for Texas Tech at this point. It still remains to be seen what sort of consideration interim coach Chris Walker will get, but Smith is a respected name, regardless of how his tenures at Kentucky and Minnesota ended. And they never even ended that badly, comparatively speaking.
  2. Smith might even be the perfect fit at Tech, according to one writer. He’s right about one thing– inking Smith to a deal would certainly create a “splash” in Lubbock, something this school could need. His six-year run with the Golden Gophers was not stellar, and he never finished above .500 in Big Ten play. He did make three NCAA Tournaments and slammed UCLA in the second round this year, but his team collapsed after a terrific start this year. Failing to reach the second weekend would have seemed unacceptable in December, but that’s how far the team fell within the span of a few months. Playing in a brutal Big Ten didn’t help, but point is, Smith wasn’t great at Minnesota. But he could be great in another situation, considering his success at Kentucky. Yes, yes, he won a title with Rick Pitino’s players and, sure, maybe it’s easier to win at a Kentucky, but you’re not going to find many available head coaches with Smith’s pedigree.
  3. Amath M’Baye‘s decision this week to declare for the NBA Draft was a bit shocking, especially for Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma teammates. But perhaps it’s not such a bad decision after all. M’Baye has a life to live, and he has a family to help overseas and a professional career to pursue. As the article points out, he’d be almost 25 by the end of next season. He will graduate in fewer than two months. If he feels as though waiting a year to turn pro would slow his progress, then maybe it’s the best thing for him to move on. It’ll hurt, but it won’t cripple Oklahoma’s roster, and it will keep M’Baye moving forward in his own life. Win-win all around.
  4. This story made waves in August, but it’s still a fun one: Kansas’ Justin Wesley will play Wilt Chamberlain in an upcoming film called “Jayhawkers.” How’s that for having big shoes to fill? Funny thing is, Wesley had never acted before starting this project. The film’s creator just needed somebody to fill the giant role and asked Bill Self for advice. They almost settled on Thomas Robinson, but Wesley’s body type was a little more conducive to the role. So Wesley it was, and the rest is history. Get your popcorn ready.
  5. Marcus Foster turned down an in-state offer from SMU (plus Oklahoma and other nearby schools) to play at Kansas State next year. That has to hurt more after Foster earned Player of the Year honors in Texas’ Class 3A division. Even with Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder graduating, he’ll still have to fight with Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez, Shane Southwell and others for playing time as a freshman. But he’s good enough to do it. He can play a lot of different positions, and he also plays bigger and tougher than his 6’2” frame would suggest. The guy averaged 27 points per game in high school, too, hence the Player of the Year award. Bruce Weber will find a spot for him, and it’ll probably happen the second he steps in Manhattan.
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Assessing the Season: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Posted by dnspewak on March 28th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the post-season, we’re taking a look back on a team-by-team basis at the 2012-13 season. Next up: Oklahoma State.

Final Record: 24-9 (13-5)

The Expectations: Oklahoma State was considered a mixed bag before the season began. There were whispers that Travis Ford should worry about his job status, and even though he’d brought in stud freshman Marcus Smart, Ford had gained an undesirable reputation as the Guy Who Recruits But Can’t Coach. Everybody universally agreed that with Smart, sophomore Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown and several other returning contributors, this team had good enough individual players to compete near the top of the Big 12. But would they be the right assortment of pieces? This had been a bad team a year ago, and heart-and-soul guard Keiton Page had graduated. Luckily, scouts and opposing coaches raved about Marcus Smart in the preseason. They told us he wasn’t a typical freshmen — that he was mature beyond his years and the missing piece that would help Nash reach his expectations as a scoring wing. He wasn’t necessarily a natural point guard, though, so there were questions as to whether he’d be effective in that position.

Marcus Smart Had a Huge Year

The Actual Result: Smart can play point. Pretty freakin’ well, actually. So well that he was named Big 12 Player of the Year. As the team’s top defender, top scorer, top assists man and second-leading rebounder, Smart was that rare freshman leader who demanded respect from his teammates and completely revamped the attitude within his program. He opened up more opportunities for Nash, and that was evident right away. In the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Cowboys dismantled North Carolina State thanks to 43 combined points from Smart and Nash — the Wolfpack were ranked in the top-10 at the time. The Cowboys struggled from a New Year’s hangover and lost four of six games from December 31 to January 21. They couldn’t close the deal at home against Gonzaga in one of the more anticipated home games at Gallagher-Iba in quite some time, and then they lost three road games at Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor. That’s when the light truly went on in Stillwater. On February 2, the Cowboys won at Kansas and rode into mid-February with a seven-game winning streak. With a chance to take control of the league and sweep Kansas on February 20, Oklahoma State dropped a double-overtime heartbreaker to the Jayhawks an in ugly game that set basketball back by at least five decades. It couldn’t break KU’s hold on the Big 12, but it prevented Kansas State from winning the league outright by knocking off the Wildcats at home in the regular season finale. KSU returned the favor by handling OSU fairly easily in the Big 12 semifinals the next week. Then, the NCAA Tournament selection committee decided to play a cruel joke on Oklahoma State, rewarding its 24-win season with a #5/#12 match-up against Oregon. The Ducks, ranked in the Top 25 for much of the year, were probably under-seeded by at least four lines. At least. Guess what happened? Oklahoma State lost.

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Assessing the Season: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by dnspewak on March 28th, 2013

As the season winds down and the Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the postseason, we’re taking a look back at the 2012-13 campaign on a team-by-team basis. Next up: Kansas State. 

Final Record: 27-8 (14-4)

The Expectations: Frank Martin’s bizarre decision to take a job at South Carolina left the Wildcats searching for a suitable replacement. They settled on former Illinois coach Bruce Weber, who’d just been fired in Champaign. He was an intriguing coach because of his success at Southern Illinois and, of course, that Final Four run at Illinois and subsequent NCAA Tournament berths, but his tenure with the Fighting Illini ended on bad terms. In a way, though, he seemed like a perfect fit for Kansas State because of his similar intensity to Martin. He doesn’t appear as mentally insane on the sideline, but he’s a fiery defensive teacher and it was clear that the transition wouldn’t be difficult on that end. Once several Kansas State players announced they’d stay and play for Weber, it looked like he had a nice roster that could compete. Rodney McGruder was primed for a big senior year. There was a lot of size, a number of good guards and a rising star in Angel Rodriguez. If Kansas State could learn Weber’s patented motion offense and stick with the same defensive intensity it had under Martin, maybe Weber could win a lot of games. But there was no guarantee.

Bruce Weber Had a Nice First Season (photo credit: Getty Images).

Bruce Weber Had a Nice First Season (photo credit: Getty Images).

The Actual Result: The best-case scenario occurred in Manhattan. During the first two months of the season, KSU stayed in the background by beating up on bad teams and failing to win neutral-site games against Michigan and Gonzaga (in Seattle). Nobody knew what to think of the Wildcats — that is, until they beat Florida in Kansas City. Game on. From there, Weber’s team took off. There were some initial growing pains offensively, but from a defensive and rebounding standpoint, there were few teams better in America. Kansas State lost only six games during the regular season, four of which (Kansas twice, Michigan and Gonzaga) came against teams who’d been ranked No. 1 at some point this season. The other two came against Oklahoma State and Iowa State, both of whom wound up in the NCAA Tournament as well. Kansas State technically shared the Big 12 title, but it lost both regular season games to the Jayhawks and then fell to them again in the Big 12 title game. Nobody can take that shared title away from the Wildcats, though, and the 14-4 record is proof they had a really, really good season. But Weber even admitted after the Big 12 Tournament that beating Kansas is the next logical step. The La Salle mishap in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament last Friday will overshadow this team’s many accomplishments, but there shouldn’t be many complaints. It’s just difficult to see the winningest senior class in Kansas State history fall flat like that.

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Big 12 M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 28th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Your move, Texas Tech. Five-star recruit Keith Frazier just tentatively committed to play for the Red Raiders, but he wants to play for interim head coach Chris Walker. That means Tech might need to keep Walker on as the permanent coach for Frazier to stay true to his word. Is it worth it? Frazier is, after all, a consensus top-25 recruit with the potential to change the entire landscape of this program. The shooting guard from Dallas is a McDonald’s All-American. Fan interest in Lubbock could be at an all-time high if he does indeed step on campus, but it appears that will hinge on Walker’s status. As the interim coach, Walker didn’t win very many games, but don’t judge him on the mess he inherited from Billy Gillispie. He kept things together fairly well, knocked off Iowa State at one point and avoided a complete catastrophe. Frazier or no Frazier, Chris Walker isn’t a bad candidate as the permanent head coach of this program.
  2. Amath M’Baye‘s short stay at Oklahoma is over. The swingman announced he’ll skip his senior year to enter the NBA Draft, a decision made partly because he needs to financially support his family overseas. He also feels he’s mature enough to make the move, considering he’s now almost 24 years old. The former Wyoming transfer was a solid addition for Lon Kruger this year, but he wasn’t an elite player and a few heads were scratched with his decision to forgo his senior year. M’Baye has a life to live, though, and his choice makes sense on a lot of levels. It’ll leave the Sooners looking for a versatile wing to fill the void, since M’Baye did a lot of different things with his blend of size and athleticism in the frontcourt.
  3. You’ve probably heard of Andrea Hudy before. She’s already been featured on ESPN, but here’s another look at the woman behind the magic at Kansas. Hudy is the strength and conditioning coach for the Jayhawks, and she’s built quite a reputation as a fierce motivator and frightening trainer. In the background of all this is her role as a female trainer in a largely male world of men’s college basketball. It’s admirable that she’s able to do her job — and do it well — without complaint from either the players or Bill Self’s staff. It’s proof that regardless of gender, a trainer’s a trainer. And they’re almost all as scary as Andrea Hudy. Judging by Self’s dominance of the Big 12, it looks like Hudy’s a step above her competition.
  4. Oklahoma State‘s roster will depend on whether Markel Brown, Le’Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart all return to school. That’s huge. But here’s a more detailed look at exactly what Travis Ford might have to work with next year. We know Philip Jurick is gone. Ford will miss that big body, but he ran into legal trouble before the season and isn’t irreplaceable. Michael Cobbins could be primed for a big year up front, as could Kamari Murphy, who’ll be a sophomore. Oklahoma State returns a good group of guards, too, including Phil Forte and Kirby Gardner. Beyond that, the Cowboys will welcome five newcomers who could get big minutes if the OSU Big Three decide to leave for the NBA.
  5. Let’s get this over with. You probably don’t like the NIT, but you need to know that Baylor knocked off Providence to advance to the semifinals at the Garden. The Bears will now face BYU, a team it defeated in Waco earlier in the year. That was an odd game, as it turned out — Baylor fell behind early, then went on a masterful run to seize control of things and win fairly easily. At that time, it seemed like that might be the win that could turn the season around. Instead, Scott Drew’s team is playing BYU in the NIT. So much for that.
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Assessing the Season: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the postseason, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the 2012-13 season. Up next: Iowa State.

Final Record: 23-12, 11-7

The Expectations: This team was difficult to gauge in the preseason. The Cyclones had been so heavily reliant on Royce White last year, and Fred Hoiberg had a lot of new faces in Ames to consider. White had dominated the ball so much for in 2011-12 that with he, Scott Christopherson, and Chris Allen no longer available, Hoiberg had to gel a new class of big-name transfers into a winning team. It appeared that Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious would bring a new element to the roster as a true point guard, but White’s loss to the NBA was big. And even Will Clyburn, eligible after transferring over from Utah, probably was not going to be enough to replace the NBA Draft pick. You knew that Clyburn and Lucious could really play, though, and with the return of veterans Chris Babb, Tyrus McGee and Melvin Ejim, there seemed like enough talent still around to keep this team in reasonable postseason contention.

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After Losing To Ohio State

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After Losing To Ohio State

The Actual Results: The Cyclones never crashed and burned at any point, but it took them a long time to find their identity. Non-conference play did not fare all that well, as Iowa State lost just about every important game before the Big 12 schedule. It lost to Cincinnati and UNLV in a Las Vegas tournament and later also lost at Iowa. When it blew a sure victory to Kansas in the Big 12 opener — you know, the one where Ben McLemore banked in a three-pointer to send the game to overtime — nobody knew where this season was going. But thanks to a high-powered offense, Clyburn’s production and improved seasons out of sharpshooter Tyrus McGee and elite rebounder Melvin Ejim, the Cyclones eventually learned their identity. They were shooters. They’d light up the scoreboard, rebound the basketball and fire up every shot imaginable, and even though their defense wasn’t stellar, they could shoot their way to wins from the perimeter. So that’s what Iowa State did, earning home wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State to build a resume strong enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It ended abruptly in the Third Round Sunday afternoon thanks to Aaron Craft, but all things considered, Hoiberg’s “rebuilding” year didn’t seem like one at all.

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Assessing the Season: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2013

And then there was one. After Iowa State’s close loss to Ohio State and Kansas’ strong second half win over North Carolina on Sunday, only one of the Big 12’s five NCAA Tournament teams remained through the end of the first weekend. Oklahoma State played the best 12 seed in tournament history (Oregon) and got bounced. Kansas State forgot what time its game against La Salle started and apparently didn’t begin playing basketball until the second half — when it was too late. Oklahoma fell victim to San Diego State’s vicious defense. Iowa State got Crafted by Ohio State. Those locker rooms were surely quiet in the aftermath of those losses. Stunned, probably. Everybody thinks they’re going all the way — or at least have the ability to win a game or two in March — but for four Big 12 teams, the dream has ended. Once the disappointment fades, it’ll become apparent that most of these teams massively overachieved. Here’s our first look at Oklahoma’s 2012-13 campaign:

Lon Kruger Turned Things Around in Norman (Las Vegas Review)

Lon Kruger Turned Things Around in Norman (Las Vegas Review)

Final Record: 20-12 (11-7)

The Expectations: We touted Oklahoma as a potential sleeper pick on this microsite, but we were never very serious about it. With Lon Kruger at the helm and strong roster continuity due to an abundance of returning starters and contributors, the Sooners just seemed like the perfect candidate to surprise some people. Still, with as poorly as this team played at times a year ago, nobody dared predict Kruger’s team to do big things. The head coach would get this program rolling one day, sure, but it wouldn’t be this year. There were just too many question marks. Could they figure out how to score beyond Steven Pledger, last year’s leading scorer? Would their bigs improve? Would any of the freshmen guards contribute and actually provide some adequate depth? It seemed there were some decent parts for Kruger to work with, but this looked like the quintessential NIT roster.

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Big 12 M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Oklahoma was a pleasant surprise this season. Lon Kruger worked his magic to lead a struggling program to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Blake Griffin roamed the streets of Norman, so it’s fair to call the Sooners classic overachievers. As the article points out, there were a number of bright spots during the 2012-13 campaign. Romero Osby’s production increased as a senior. Buddy Hield became the team’s best defender and became quite the character in the locker room. Kruger transformed a losing mentality into a winning one almost overnight, but it wasn’t all good news this season. There were some negatives. The end of the season wasn’t good, for starters, but despite a late road loss to TCU and no postseason victories in either the Big 12 or NCAA Tournaments, the Sooners created momentum for next season, if such a thing even exists.
  2. Baylor doesn’t have any momentum, not after a fairly disastrous season that saw the Bears fall all the way to the NIT. Still, maybe Scott Drew’s team can at least salvage some pride this March. It continues this evening with a quarterfinal game against Providence. Baylor didn’t crash and burn in the traditional sense — it was on the bubble all the way through the Big 12 Tournament, after all — but that’s not good enough for a team with this much talent. Not with blue-chip freshmen in the frontcourt, the best player in the league in Pierre Jackson, and a dead-eye shooter in Brady Heslip. No matter how far Baylor advances in the NIT, that “what if” will linger into next November.
  3. Naadir Tharpe is a sophomore. He really is. For all the expectations, criticism and attention, it’s easy to forget he hasn’t even wrapped up his second full season of Division I basketball. That’s life at Kansas, though, which is why he’s playing such a key role on this team right now. Alongside senior Elijah Johnson, Tharpe has also carried the brunt of criticism from fans and writers for Kansas’ occasional offensive lapses and point guard problems. But that didn’t happen during the Jayhawks’ dominant second half against North Carolina this weekend, and it’ll need to stay that way as this team advances into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
  4. Texas Tech might need a new basketball coach if it doesn’t retain interim head coach Chris Walker, so it’s reaching out to various candidates. The results are not good so far. Southern Illinois’ Barry Hinson, an odd candidate considering he finished in last place of the Missouri Valley in his first year in Carbondale, said he has no interest. And New Mexico State’s Marvin Menzies said the exact same thing. Texas Tech isn’t the best job in the league, but the school has lured Bob Knight and Billy Gillispie to coach there in the last decade. Those are big names — especially Knight. It remains to be seen whether the TTU program can catch a big fish again this time around.
  5. Fred Hoiberg knows all about being awesome at things. Especially basketball. So he’s going to coach an All-Star game at the Final Four, featuring some of the best seniors in college basketball. It’ll be a nostalgic event for Hoiberg, who played in this same All-Star game as an Iowa State senior in the 1990s. See how he’s gone full circle?
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Big 12 M5: 03.26.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 26th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The search has begun for Texas Tech‘s next head basketball coach, but this is hardly a typical situation. One of the top candidates for the job is, um, the guy who coached the team this year. Chris Walker won only 11 games at the helm with the Red Raiders this season, but the league’s coaches praised him often for the way he dealt with the aftermath of the Billy Gillispie fallout. It would be silly to judge Walker based solely on his performance as an interim, so you’d have to think he’ll at least get a fair shot at landing the full-time position. The other names listed in the early portion of the search are, at the very least, intriguing: Scott Sutton (Oral Roberts), Doc Sadler (current Kansas staff member and former Nebraska head coach), Steve McClain (former Wyoming head coach and highly-regarded, longtime assistant currently with Indiana) and Barry Hinson (Southern Illinois). Sutton’s probably the best candidate of those choices, but he seems to have made a lifestyle choice to stay at Oral Roberts. Sadler didn’t fare well at Nebraska, McClain’s tenure at Wyoming ended poorly, and Hinson’s team finished in last place in the Missouri Valley this season. Surely, other names will emerge. You would have to hope so.
  2. Imagine this: Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, and Le’Bryan Nash playing another year together in Stillwater. Banners would be hung. Numbers might be retired. Championships might be claimed. But for that to happen at Oklahoma State, the trio would need to skip the NBA Draft this summer. That might be a tough proposition. Smart’s projected as one of the top picks in the 2013 NBA Draft. Brown’s considered a first-rounder. And Nash might be a second-rounder. If for some reason they did all return, we’re talking about a team with limitless potential. “It’ll be scary,” Nash told The Oklahoman. 
  3. Texas had a bad season. Then it played in the CBI and lost to in-state opponent Houston. Rick Barnes obviously wasn’t very happy, so when reporters asked him whether he would ever consider scheduling the Cougars during the regular season, he took a bit of an elitist tone. He said he’d only play them at home in Austin, which is unfortunately a sentiment you often hear muttered by power-conference college basketball coaches. The aforementioned link is pretty snarky and critical, but it has a point. Teams like Texas often say they have nothing to gain by playing a team from a perceived “lesser” conference on the road, but it makes life impossible for non-BCS schools in terms of scheduling. It hurts potential rivalries, kills fan interest, and deprives people of solid basketball during non-conference play.
  4. Sorry, awkward teenagers in Lawrence, Kansas: your middle school dance has been cancelled during the Kansas Jayhawks’ Sweet 16 game against Michigan. Probably a good idea, since there surely wouldn’t have been anybody there. Now, they will need to make sure they don’t reschedule the dance for Sunday, when a possible Elite Eight game could be played. Oh, and don’t schedule it for April 6 or April 8, either. You know, just in case.
  5. We leave you on one final note: former Kansas State basketball player Dick Stone has passed away. He was a star in the 1950s, but at the age of 78, he was killed on Thursday in Florida when a man driving a pickup truck swerved into his parked car. Very tragic and very sad, and not the best way to end the Morning Five.
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The Big Picture Implications of Iowa State’s Loss

Posted by dnspewak on March 24th, 2013

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 Microsite writer. 

One shot does not define a program. Aaron Craft’s dramatic, I-can’t-believe-that-just-went-in three-pointer in the final milliseconds of regulation on Sunday will become an iconic moment of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but as much as it will pain Iowa State fans for all eternity, it will not ruin Cyclones basketball. It will not overshadow Fred Hoiberg’s rebuilding job and two straight NCAA Tournaments, nor should it overshadow the fact that ISU will return the Big 12’s leading rebounder in Melvin Ejim next season. Hoiberg’s program is in fine shape, and Craft’s pull-up three won’t change that.

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After This Loss

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After This Loss

But boy, does this one hurt. And it’s hard not to think about what might have happened had Craft’s shot not fallen. Say he misses, and the 10th-seeded Cyclones upset Ohio State in overtime. Say Chris Babb does not get injured, or the officials make a different call on that charge in the final minutes and it changes the outcome of this game. If Iowa State could have found a way to knock off the Buckeyes and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, it would have made its first trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2000. That’s a full 13 years ago, when Larry Eustachy roamed the sideline and Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley wore the Cyclones jersey. It was the end of a strong era for Iowa State basketball, as Eustachy’s success built upon the work of Tim Floyd and Johnny Orr in the ’80s and ’90s. When Iowa State earned a two-seed in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, this program couldn’t have soared any higher.Then Hampton happened. Out in the first round to a 15-seed. A short while later, the infamous party pictures of Eustachy forced his departure after the 2002-03 season. His replacement, Wayne Morgan, won one game in the NCAA Tournament a few years after that but nothing more. When Greg McDermott took over in 2006-07, four seasons of mediocre, tournament-less basketball followed.

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