- We’re under three weeks until the games really begin. So what better time than now to talk about what Big 12 coaches think about their competition? These preseason polls tend to be glorious crapshoots, so how serious do any of the coaches actually take them? They’re all too worried about how their own teams will shake out to care about anyone else’s. Truthfully, the preseason poll should probably be left up to the beat writers for each Big 12 team to figure out, but if things were done that way, we wouldn’t have this collection of coaches filling out a list minutes before it was due at the Big 12 offices. Shall we?
10. Texas Christian Horned Frogs (12 votes)
This was the easiest pick for #10 on the list. Or was it? You have to remember that head coach Trent Johnson and TCU dealt with injuries to key pieces last season. They lost forward and 2011-12 Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year Amric Fields for the season after injuring his knee 12 seconds into a game versus SMU. Aaron Durley, their 6’10″ mammoth who previously committed to Marquette, was also lost for the year after tearing his ACL. So what about this year? Durley suffered another torn ACL. Expected starter Devonta Abron will be lost for the year after tearing his ACL during TCU’s summer trip to Canada. There is reason for some optimism, though. Kyan Anderson is back for another year after being the Horned Frogs’ most consistent performer in 2012-13. Fields is healthy. They also scored Central Michigan and Pittsburgh transfer Trey Zeigler (career: 12.2 PPG) for his final season of eligibility and we’ll finally get a chance to see Johnson’s prized prospect Karviar Shepherd step on a college floor for the first time. Despite that, there’s still a strong chance TCU finishes in last place again. Consistent with past coaching stops, Johnson is wearing all purple all the time now. Everyone around him hates it. Fun times in the Metroplex!
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (14 votes)
There isn’t a coach in the world who could have won with the roster Texas Tech had last season. The Billy Gillispie scandal pretty much sent incoming recruits and whatever expectations this team had running for the hills. Chris Walker was called on to take over in the interim but when it came time to hire a full-time guy, Tech went in a different direction. Minnesota, because they’re Minnesota, fired Tubby Smith shortly after taking a Golden Gophers’ team to the round of 32 of the NCAAs for the first time since 1990 (the last non-sanctioned year, that is). Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt pounced on the 62-year-old Smith and made him the next Red Raiders’ coach just seven days after his firing. They have a lot of returning players including Jaye Crockett (11.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG), who dazzled in a new role as the first man off the bench. Hopefully Dejan Kravic can take a step forward as a more consistent offensive option. The same goes for Dusty Hannahs, whose size (6’4″, 210 lbs) can be a factor in driving to the basket when he isn’t connecting on three-pointers. Then there’s Jordan Tolbert, the team’s leading scorer in 2011-12, who, in addition to dealing with the dismissal of Gillispie, also had to endure the loss of his father before the start of last season. A little consistency is sorely needed here. Smith makes the fourth different head coach in the last four seasons in Lubbock. Good on you, Big 12 coaches, for picking them ninth, but a seventh or eighth place finish is viable at season’s end as well.