Big 12 M5: 11.01.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 1st, 2013

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  1. Iowa State was dealt an unfortunate blow on Thursday when preseason all-Big 12 selection Melvin Ejim suffered a knee injury that will sideline the 6’6″ senior for the next four to six weeks.  Ejim will miss a handful of games, most notably the Cyclone’s showdown with Michigan on November 17 at Hilton Coliseum.  Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg told the Des Moines Register that Ejim’s injury occurred while going up for a rebound, and could have been much worse than it actually was.  As discussed by Brian Goodman on Thursday, Ejim’s injury could shift sophomore guard Georges Niang to the center position while JuCo Dustin Hogue would slide to the power forward position.
  2. On the other end of the spectrum, Baylor received good news on Thursday when Denver transfer Royce O’Neale was granted a waiver to play immediately for the Bears this season.  O’Neale is from Killeen, Texas, and wanted to transfer to be close to his ailing grandfather.  The 6’6″ O’Neale will provide an important piece for Scott Drew’s squad which lost Deuce Bello and L.J. Rose to transfer in the off-season.  Baylor will once again have some of the best talent in the Big 12 this season, but whether or not they can contend for a league title remains to be seen.
  3. After Kansas closed out the spring recruiting season by landing the ultra talented Andrew Wiggins, many believed head coach Bill Self would certainly look to use the redshirt this season.  Andrew White III was the name most often discussed as a potential redshirt candidate, but it appears the sophomore guard had other ideas.  White spent the off-season getting in serious work with Kansas strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy, often times putting in an additional workout at midnight throughout the summer.  When White took the floor for the Jayhawks on Tuesday evening, it was evident his body has undergone a serious transformation since last season and now he figures to be a staple in Self’s rotation this year.
  4. The narrative around Oklahoma State this season beings with Marcus Smart, who is expected to be one of the top players in college basketball.  But Smart is not alone in the Cowboy backcourt, as he is joined by talented guard Markel Brown, who was tabbed by Big 12 coaches as a member of the all-Big 12 preseason team.  The cause for concern in Stillwater is the talent in the frontcourt, and as Rob Dauster pointed out, the Cowboys managed a whopping 6 offensive rebounds in their exhibition game on Sunday against Campbellsville.  As good as Oklahoma State is at the guard position, the front line will be an important factor when going up against teams like Kansas and Baylor this season.
  5. We have all probably had our fill of preseason polls so far this year, but the Associated Press released their preseason top 25 on Thursday, and featured Big 12 teams Kansas (5), Oklahoma State (8), and Baylor (25).  These three teams figure to be the class of the conference this season, with Kansas and Oklahoma State considered to be among those teams capable of winning the national title.  Whether or not the middle-tier teams in the Big 12 like Iowa State and Kansas State can make a push into the top 25 by the time conference play rolls around will be interesting to watch.
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Big 12 M5: 10.31.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 31st, 2013

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  1. As good as Tyus McGee was last year for Iowa State, early news out of Ames this season suggests freshman guard Matt Thomas might fill the void left by McGee without a hiccup.  Cyclone head coach Fred Hoiberg was a great shooter in his own right, and told the Des Moines Register on Wednesday “I ain’t tweaking that shot, I’ll tell you that.”  Fellow Iowa State teammates also couldn’t help but gush about Thomas’ ability to knock down shots from behind the arc.  As if you needed another scare on Halloween, just imagine one of the nation’s best shooters as a weapon in Hoiberg’s arsenal.  Yikes.
  2. As difficult as the rebuilding job at TCU was for head coach Trent Johnson, it appears the Horned Frogs seem to be heading in the right direction with the proper man at the helm.  On Tuesday, Johnson indicated that he believes his team in year two in Fort Worth is more skilled than that a season ago.  Among those looking to contribute for TCU this season, senior guard Jarvis Ray feels as if he’s playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder this season after missing the Big 12 campaign last year with a broken foot.  In what should be a weak bottom half of the Big 12, Ray and company will have a legitimate shot to significantly surpass last season’s conference win total of two games.
  3. To say that West Virginia‘s inaugural season in the Big 12 was a bit of a disappointment would be an understatement to say the least.  Bob Huggins’ squad struggled to a 6-12 record in the Big 12, and a 13-19 mark overall.  At the top of the list of disappointing players for the Mountaineers was point guard Juwan Staten, who figures to be an important piece for Huggins this season.  Staten seems to be using last year’s frustrations as motivation to improve his leadership for this go around in an effort to become the floor general West Virginia needs to really make their team go.  Don’t sleep on Huggins and West Virginia this season as Morgantown might just be a difficult place for many Big 12 teams to go get a win.
  4. While it appears that Kansas State may struggle at times this season scoring the ball, help in that department may be merely but a year away.  Maine transfer Justin Edwards will be forced to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but it seems he’s found exactly what he was looking for in Manhattan.  Edwards wanted more exposure against better competition, and there’s no doubt the Big 12 conference will provide him that.  Last year Edwards lead the America East Conference in scoring at 16.7 points a game, and while he won’t be able to suit up for the Wildcats this season, his focus during the down year will be on pushing teammates in practice and using his athleticism to bring competition to Bruce Weber’s squad.
  5. One of the more intriguing questions surrounding the Kansas Jayhawks this preseason is who, if anyone, will Bill Self choose to use the redshirt tag on for the 2013-2014 year?  As Tom Keegan of KUSports.com points out, it might be in Self’s best interest to avoid redshirting anyone this year.  Coming into the season, many believed sophomore guard Andrew White III might be a prime candidate, but it’s clear that White will hold a solid spot in Kansas’ rotation this season.  This likely leaves one of Self’s incoming freshmen, Brennan Greene or Conner Frankamp, as a more likely fit.  Although Kansas has only had one exhibition game in the books, it appeared that Frankamp might be the odd one out.  If history is any indicator, former Kansas high school standout Brady Morningstar has laid out a blueprint for Frankamp (a Wichita native) as to how patience could certainly pay dividends down the road in a Jayhawk uniform.
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Big 12 M5: 12.17.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 17th, 2012

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  1. Kansas whipped another non-conference opponent at home Saturday, beating Belmont 89-60. While the Jayhawks’ top three scorers in Ben McLemore (17 points), Travis Releford (17) and Jeff Withey (14) all got theirs, it was seldom-used guard Andrew White III who made the most of his playing time. White III hit a trio of three-pointers, six shots total, and scored 15 points in just 10 minutes of action. Just one game earlier versus Colorado, White scored eight points in eight minutes. So I guess the question is, will Bill Self carve out consistent minutes for the freshman guard? I’m all for seeing players put up crazy points-to-minutes played ratios. Do it, coach.
  2. As for that other school in the state, Kansas State fell to Gonzaga Saturday in the normally exciting Battle in Seattle. The Wildcats found themselves down one point at the half but it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs were going to get rolling offensively. But second-half flameouts are becoming a trend against quality opponents like Michigan and the Zags. They were down 29-24 to the Wolverines before folding in the second half as well. After a home tilt against Texas Southern on Monday, the Cats will play another top five team in Florida on Saturday. I blame scheduling for all of this. We knew this Wildcats team is essentially the same as last year and will probably finish in the top four of the Big 12 but their non-conference schedule is either against top flight teams or scrubs. Why aren’t there more games against consistent mid-majors like Gonzaga or other power conference schools? No one can properly evaluate the Cats when all their losses are to ranked teams and their best win is probably against South Carolina Upstate.
  3. I’m giving up on West Virginia. I thought their win over Virginia Tech (who is responsible for Oklahoma State’s one loss) was a sign that the Mountaineers were possibly turning the corner… but no. WVU predictably lost to a deeper, athletic and more talented Michigan team coached by ex-‘Eers coach John Beilein. They lost without Aaric Murray, who didn’t even make the trip to New York for committing a violation of some sort. What did Bob Huggins have to say about Murray not being with the team? “I’ve left guys home way, way, way better than Aaric Murray.” And his team’s performance on Saturday? “I’m sick of watching guys stand around. I’m sick of watching guys not compete. I’m sick of guys missing shot after shot after shot but never coming early, never staying late, don’t think about coming in on an off-day and then telling me they care? I haven’t had guys like that before. I want some guys that care.” It’s going to be that kind of year in Morgantown.
  4. Iowa State‘s breakthrough 2011-12 season was welcomed with open arms to the college basketball world but its return to prominence was perfect except for one thing: The Cyclones lived with the sting of an early season loss to in-state rival Drake (ok, it’s probably not that serious). But ISU did get their revenge on the Bulldogs Saturday with an 86-77 win. Melvin Ejim poured in 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way. Ejim continues to be a fantastic rebounder (9.3 per game) for his 6’6″ frame. The last thing the Cyclones want to be seen as is a one-hit wonder.
  5. Texas head coach Rick Barnes earned his 550th win as a college coach in Saturday’s 75-63 win over Texas State. While winning 550 games in any sport isn’t easy, Barnes’ teams have tended to be disappointments. Touted recruits have come to Austin and left quickly enough to not make a big impact on teams. As for Saturday’s game, the Longhorns’ 75 points were a season-high. They might need to score a little more than that if they want to give themselves a chance against North Carolina’s scorers (84 PPG) on Wednesday night.
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