Where Does Iowa State Go From Here?

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 18th, 2013

While many didn’t expect Iowa State to toss Michigan aside on Sunday, the 77-70 result was no upset. As long as Iowa State has fielded competitive teams, Hilton Coliseum has been one of the nation’s toughest road venues for visitors, especially those coming from outside the Big 12. Even before it was announced that Melvin Ejim would be available a solid two weeks before his original prognosis suggested, the Cyclones were one-point favorites, according to Ken Pomeroy. Yesterday’s win showed that while it’s still November, the Cyclones are further ahead than expected, especially on the defensive end. Dustin Hogue notched his first double-double in only his third game at the D-I level and Ejim stuffed the stat sheet with nine rebounds and three steals to go along with his 22 points. Fans are rightfully celebrating a win in the biggest game on their team’s non-league schedule, but it’s worth taking a look ahead to see what the near future portends.

Melvin Ejim and the Cyclones don't have much time to celebrate their big win over Michigan. (USATSI)

Melvin Ejim and the Cyclones don’t have much time to celebrate their big win over Michigan. (USATSI)

Things don’t get any easier for Iowa State, at least not right away. They have just two days to get ready for a date at BYU on Wednesday, and while everyone knows about the Cyclones’ perimeter power, they shot just 30 percent from behind the arc on Sunday. Even if great efforts from Ejim, Hogue and Georges Niang inspire Iowa State to go inside more often, their outside shooters will need to perform better if they want to outlast the Cougars at the raucous Marriott Center, especially if Tyler Haws is recovered from an abdominal strain suffered last week.

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Big 12 Team Preview: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 6th, 2013

Over the next two weeks, the Big 12 microsite will preview each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Iowa State.

Where We Left Off: For Iowa State fans, please excuse us, we don’t mean to re-live a bad memory. The 2012-13 season ended with Aaron Craft ripping the hearts out of Cyclone Nation with a go-ahead three-pointer in the final seconds of the second (or now third?) round of the NCAA Tournament last March. Iowa State made a serious statement a year ago, proving it belongs among the league’s best teams after finishing in a tie for fourth in the conference. While Hilton Coliseum has never been an easy place to play, Fred Hoiberg‘s mesh of young players and transfers has paid dividends in making Iowa State one of the scariest teams in the league every season.

Can Fred Hoiberg's Iowa State team build upon a fourth place finish in the league last season? (Ames Tribune)

Can Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State team build upon a fourth place finish in the league last season? (Ames Tribune)

Positives: Fresh off a successful run in league play a season ago, there’s so much to like about where Hoiberg has this program headed. While this Iowa State team did lose several key components to graduation, they return Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang in the frontcourt, both of whom played significant minutes last year. Ejim is a double-double machine down low and one of the best rebounders in the conference (although Ejim is expected to be out for most of November with a knee injury), while Niang has crafty skills to score the ball around the basket, and the touch to stretch a defense with his ability to knock down the outside jumper. Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane will be leaned on to fill the void from departed point guard Korie Lucious after averaging 15.1 points per game a season ago for the Thundering Herd, and freshman Matt Thomas is a sharpshooter who will fit in beautifully with Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system, helping Cyclone fans get over the loss of Tyus McGee to graduation.

Negatives: Hoiberg has transformed Iowa State into “Transfer U.” since he took over as head coach, and the strategy has worked almost flawlessly during this period. That said, there’s always a bit of a risk in relying so heavily on impact transfers and hoping the roster will gel during the year. While there is still a ton of talent on this team, the departures of Lucious and McGee, along with Chris Babb and Will Clyburn will create a big uncertainty in the backcourt. Whether Iowa State can continue to shoot the ball from deep as well as it has in the past will be a major factor in the team’s success this season.

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Knee Injury To ISU’s Ejim Thins Cyclone Frontcourt For Non-Conference Play

Posted by Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) on October 31st, 2013

One of the biggest keys for Iowa State this season is whether its defense will be good enough to make the Cyclones’ high-powered offense stand up. As someone who led the Big 12 in double-doubles last season, forward Melvin Ejim was going to be a big part of that objective. The preseason all-Big 12 selection led the conference in rebounding last season, but the Cyclones’ prospects of hitting the ground running were dealt a big blow when the team announced Thursday that the senior will miss four to six weeks after hyper-extending his left knee and suffering a bone bruise in practice Wednesday.

Iowa State will be without Melvin Ejim for at least one month following a knee injury. (AP)

Iowa State will be without Melvin Ejim for at least one month following a knee injury. (AP)

The injury will likely keep Ejim out of ISU’s most important non-conference battle, which comes against national runner-up Michigan at Hilton Coliseum on November 17. Barring something unforeseen, he’ll also be sidelined for the Cyclones’ tilt against BYU in Provo three days later. The recovery window pegs his probable return as either December 7 against Northern Iowa or December 13 for another intrastate game against Big Ten sleeper Iowa, though obviously that’s subject to change based on the recovery. In the meantime, look for Fred Hoiberg to try to patch his frontcourt together with one of his patented small lineups. Forward Georges Niang could slide up to the five spot, moving probable starter and JuCo transfer Dustin Hogue to the power forward slot. If Hoiberg finds that he needs a bigger body down low, junior Percy Gibson could see a bump in playing time, though he’ll be an offensive liability if he doesn’t improve from his mediocre sophomore campaign. The trickle-down effect could also push junior Naz Long into meaningful playing time.

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Big 12 M5: 10.21.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 21st, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Gary Parrish over at CBSSports.com gave us his top 30 big men coming into the season, and the Big 12 was well represented with five players making the list. In order, they are: #8 Isaiah Austin (Baylor), #9 Joel Embiid (Kansas), #11 Cory Jefferson (Baylor), #22 Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), and #29 Georges Niang (Iowa State). Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Kentucky’s Julius Randle topped the list, both of whom are hard to argue against even though Randle is a true, untested freshman. As for Iowa State, if Ejim and Niang play as well as Parrish thinks they can play this season, the Cyclones could contend near the top of the Big 12 standings.
  2. It is surprising that a group of talented, young basketball players don’t want to get out and run in transition, but that appears to be what Bill Self is battling with his team so far this season. “I think this could be the quickest team we’ve had to get up and down the court,” Self told the Lawrence Journal-World‘s Gary Bedore Saturday. “But we’ve got to do it every possession.” Self is right, especially with the way he coaches defense. Kansas teams are known for their outstanding defense, and a team that wants to play fast can convert turnovers into points in a flash. The Jayhawks have as many athletes and as much depth as nearly anyone in the country this season, and with a young team that could take some time to master the offense, getting into transition on a regular basis for easy buckets could be exactly what they need early on.
  3. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart isn’t shying away from his decision to return for his sophomore year, bypassing the NBA and the chance to be a top-5 pick last summer. “A lot of people say I turned (a big opportunity) down, but I didn’t turn down anything,” Smart told the Oklahoman‘s Gina Mizell on Friday. “I just pushed it to the side.” Smart spoke after Oklahoma State’s annual “Homecoming and Hoops” Midnight Madness event, highlighted in part by a video montage that was projected onto the Gallagher-Iba court. Smart said the Cowboys have a chance to make history this season in Stillwater, and he is right.
  4. Not only does Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds know his school has a basketball team, he is actually concerned about the state of said basketball team. No, really. ”I worry more about basketball,” Dodds told Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel last week. “If I were going to pick one [program] to worry more about, I worry more about basketball.” Dodds has announced his retirement for next August, so it’s hard to see him firing head coach Rick Barnes and making a new hire on his way out the door, but with a new boss coming to town next fall, Barnes’ days in Austin could be numbered.
  5. Not unlike Bill Self’s wishes, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins wants his team to start running. Huggins, however, wants his guys to run because they’ve been so busy teaching and learning this season that actually playing the game has been secondary at times. ”It’s just that with all those new guys we’re doing so much teaching that we haven’t had a chance to run up and down,” Huggins said after Friday’s Midnight Madness, officially named the “Gold-Blue Debut.” The Mountaineers return only five players from last year and will have a steep learning curve this season regardless of how much running they do.
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The Big 12 All-Drone Team: Five Guys Flying Under the Radar

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 17th, 2013

On Tuesday, CBSSports.com released a ranking of the top 100 players in college basketball for the 2013-14 season. Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart were slotted as the top two players in the list, highlighting the type of talent we will be fortunate enough to see this season in the Big 12. Even for the casual Big 12 basketball fan, Wiggins and Smart are household names, but what about those “other” guys out there? The ones who will take a back seat to the Wiggins and Smart media exposure, but are fully capable of putting on a show in their own right? If we were to take a page out of the Dick Vitale vault, we might refer to this list as the All-Drone Team – guys who will fly a bit under the radar, but certainly remain viable weapons for their respective teams. Here are five Big 12 players to keep an eye on this season:

Markel Brown Isn't Well-Known Outside Big 12 Circles (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Markel Brown Isn’t Well-Known Outside Big 12 Circles (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Markel Brown: 6’3” Senior Guard, Oklahoma State:  While Marcus Smart is the one who garners the national media attention for Oklahoma State, Brown is a vital part of the Cowboys’ success in Stillwater. Brown initially made his mark in college basketball with his knack for throwing down monster dunks, but proved last season that he’s much more than just a high-flying guard, averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting 36% from the three-point line. It was Smart’s play down the stretch in Oklahoma State’s win last season in Allen Fieldhouse that drew praise nationally, and rightfully so, but Brown was the thorn in the side for the Jayhawks in the first half, knocking down five of seven three-point attempts to build a lead. There certainly won’t be a moment too big for Brown this season, given his fearlessness and confidence.  Opposing players and fans alike should refrain from sleeping on him, or they’ll quickly be reminded just how impressive he is at dunking the basketball.


Georges Niang:  6’7” Forward, Iowa State:  Unlike Brown, Niang isn’t a superior athletic specimen, but that’s what makes his European-inspired game all the more impressive. The fact that Niang is a staple in Fred Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system shows his ability to shoot the ball from deep. Add that to his ability to put the ball on the floor and his crafty ways of scoring around the rim and you have a match-up problem for almost any team in the country. Niang will be looked at as a key component this season after the departure of the Cyclones’ leading scorers. The combination of he and fellow forward Melvin Ejim will provide an ability to stretch the floor and test the frontcourt depth of Iowa State’s opponents this year.

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Big 12 M5: 10.17.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 17th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. As we mentioned earlier this week, Kansas will hold an open scrimmage this Saturday, but one new development is that the Jayhawks will have a couple VIPs in attendance. According to The Kansas City Star’s Rustin DoddJahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, two of the top five prospects in the class of 2014, will check out the scrimmage as part of their official visits. Okafor, a center, wowed scouts and writers over the summer with his advanced footwork and fundamentals, while Jones is considered among the top point guards in the class by several recruiting services. The two have long been rumored to be a package deal, and when one of the nation’s best coaches schedules an open scrimmage that just so happens to fall during your visit, you know things are getting serious. The event will also be a nice chance for the many KU fans who were shut out of “Late Night At The Phog” to get a look at their favorite team.
  2. West Virginia will also debut its squad in front of a home crowd this weekend. The Mountaineers may not be a factor in this year’s Big 12 race, but with many new faces coming in, fans will have a chance to get acquainted tomorrow night. This season’s team figures to be very perimeter-oriented, although not to the extremes of Huggins’ 2006-08 WVU squads. Eron Harris and Terry Henderson combined to shoot 37% from distance on 231 attempts last season, Gary Browne will look to improve on his frosty 20.4% clip from last season, and 6’10″ Kevin Noreen will also step out from time to time.
  3. The Big 12 coaches slotted Kansas State fifth in their preseason poll last week, and while that’s a respectable goal after losing three core players from a conference championship team, the Wildcats will need seniors Will Spradling and Shane Southwell to become vocal leaders if they are to realize their potential. Both Spradling and Southwell held supporting roles in the past, opting to let their play speak for itself, but their performance will be especially important on a team that’s lacking in post depth and bringing in five freshmen.
  4. CBS Sports contributor and friend of RTC Jon Rothstein spent some time with Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg on Wednesday. The Cyclones will pester opposing defenses with big, versatile shooters like Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim, but the piecemeal backcourt of Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, freshman Monte’ Morris and JuCo transfer K.J. Bluford shouldn’t be trifled with, either. We’re not sure if the Cyclones’ offensive production will match last season’s performance, which landed them sixth in the country in offensive efficiency, but we can’t rule it out, either. This unit will score, but improvement on defense is imperative if Iowa State is to crash Kansas and Oklahoma State’s party at the top of the standings.
  5. While we’ll be keeping very close watch on Marcus Smart, it can be easy to lose sight of the benefits his presence will bring to Oklahoma State‘s future. The attention Smart has brought the OSU program has already yielded one ESPN Top 100 recruit in Jared Terrell, and recent commitment Mitch Solomon could find himself on that list with a good senior season. Additionally, Oklahoma State remains in the hunt for big fish such as Myles Turner and Devin Robinson. There are certainly other factors at work, but it’s nearly impossible to argue that Smart’s play last season and his surprising decision to stay in Stillwater have given the program a level of exposure it wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
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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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Where Does Iowa State Go From Here?

Posted by dnspewak on February 27th, 2013

Georges Niang drew a charge. Iowa State should have had possession of the basketball with a two-point lead late in regulation on Monday, and it should have had the chance to inbound the ball and ice the victory over sixth-ranked Kansas at the free throw line. The Cyclones should have all but sealed their NCAA Tournament at-large bid with the win, but then a funny thing happened. The officials made a human error. The Twitterverse blew up, ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla directed his outrage at the NCAA on the air, and the college basketball community essentially came to a consensus that Iowa State got jobbed.

Tough Loss Aside, Iowa State Has a Lot To Play For  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Tough Loss Aside, Iowa State Has a Lot To Play For (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Cyclones indeed had a victory stolen from them. Even Kansas fans would probably agree with that statement, but it doesn’t change the facts. The Jayhawks won because Elijah Johnson put on a display for the ages, draining threes from every corner of the state of Iowa. The officials weren’t guarding him. The Cyclones were — they were trying to, at least. Nobody could guard Johnson on this particular night, and blown call or not, Iowa State had a five-point lead with less than a minute remaining in regulation and could not hold on for a victory. Cry foul all you want and blame the zebras if it makes you feel better, but there’s nothing Fred Hoiberg and his crew can do about it now. They lost.

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Big 12 Conference Call: February 9 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 9th, 2013

Welcome to another edition of our Big 12 Conference Call! This week has been some kind of something hasn’t it? We have seen TCU take down Kansas in perhaps the biggest upset in the Big 12 era as well as Baylor and Oklahoma’s attempts to play themselves off the tournament bubble. There are bigger questions that loom too. Who has the inside track for Big 12 Coach of the Year? And, if Kansas continues to slide, who will win the Big 12? Today, we’ll hit on those topics and more. 

1. Kory predicted the Jayhawks to fall to Oklahoma State on Saturday and we all know what happened at TCU on Wednesday. Is their Big 12 title hopes in jeopardy?

2. If Kansas doesn’t win the Big 12 title, who will sit atop the conference standings at the end of the year?

3. Imagine yourself on this year’s NCAA Tournament Committee and you’re forced to choose Baylor or Oklahoma to put in the field of 68. Which team would you go with and why?

4. Who do you like to win Big 12 Coach of the Year?

5. Which of the three Texas schools will have the highest finish — UT, Tech or TCU?

******

An unreal night in the Metroplex. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

It was an unbelievable night in the Metroplex. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

1. Kory predicted the Jayhawks to fall to Oklahoma State on Saturday and we all know what happened at TCU on Wednesday. Is their Big 12 title hopes in jeopardy?

KC: Absolutely. With the way Kansas had been playing in January, the loss to Oklahoma State was coming. The Cowboys have plenty of talent and nobody was going to go undefeated in the Big 12 this season, anyway. But the loss to TCU -ranked lower in kempom than the likes of Quinnipiac and Yale- is the worst Kansas loss since before Larry Brown was coaching in the 80′s. Point guards Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe shot a combined 5-for-27 with three assists against the Horned Frogs. In his last eight games, Johnson has more turnovers (28) than assists (25). If that doesn’t trouble you, nothing will.

NK: Most definitely. Kory hit the nail on the head — a slip up was bound to happen. To be truthful, I didn’t see one of this magnitude. Their loss to TCU Wednesday has gone down as easily the biggest upset in the Big 12 era in my opinion. The Jayhawks could only win in spite of their point guard problems for so long. And now in a time where a team like Kansas is supposed to separate themselves from the rest of their conference mates, they find themselves in a tighter league race. At least it’s better for the fans of other teams.

DS: They’re in a heck of a lot more jeopardy than they were a week ago, that’s for sure. And yet the Jayhawks still sit tied atop the league with Kansas State, and they own the tiebreaker with that win in Manhattan. So forget the TCU debacle. With half of the Big 12 schedule left to play, Bill Self once again has his team in position to win a regular season title. Kansas has serious issues on the offensive end, and it’s hard to envision this team doing a ton of damage in March, but it’s still the class of the Big 12. With Self’s track record, I’m expecting to see vintage Kansas show up against the Wildcats on Big Monday. But that game in Norman is a tough one this weekend.

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Big 12 M5: 01.15.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 15th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The AP and Coaches Polls were released Monday, and Kansas climbed into the top five (#4 to be exact) in both polls. The Jayhawks jumped Michigan and Arizona this week, who lost to Ohio State and Oregon, respectively. Kansas State continues to climb in both polls as well, jumping to #18 in the Coaches Poll and #16 in the AP. While both teams from Kansas are climbing, the rest of the Big 12 is nowhere to be seen. Oklahoma State has been dropping fast while losing three of their last four games, and Iowa State and Baylor are still a few weeks worth of wins away from making appearances of their own.
  2. I’ve never been a big Rick Barnes fan. I’ve always thought that Barnes has underachieved with the amount of talent he has had at Texas and has never been held accountable because Texas fans are more worried about the third-string quarterback than the basketball team. But C.J. Moore of Basketball Prospectus began to change my mind today. It’s an eye-opening piece with plenty of noteworthy statistics. Moore does a solid job of rebuking the claim that Barnes should have advanced further into March during his one season with Kevin Durant on the roster in 2006-07, when the Longhorns lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Maybe Moore is right — maybe Barnes is better than we think.
  3. A quick update on West Virginia sophomore guard Juwan Staten, who missed Saturday’s game against Kansas State for disciplinary reasons: Bob Huggins said during a teleconference on Monday that Staten will travel with the team for its game at Iowa State on Wednesday night. It is still uncertain whether he will play, though. Huggins seemed to infer that this week’s practices leading up to the game will decide Staten’s fate for that game as the Mountaineers will look to improve to 2-2 in the Big 12. Staten is second on the team with 10.5 PPG and leads the team with 2.9 APG at this point in the season. He played sparingly last week against Texas in logging just 13 minutes, but just the week prior he had 17 points in a home win over Eastern Kentucky.
  4. Kansas guard Ben McLemore has been getting the most attention of any freshman in the Big 12, but Iowa State freshman forward Georges Niang is quietly putting up impressive numbers for the Cyclones as well. He is third on the team with 11.5 PPG and is shooting 35.5% from beyond the arc. Fred Hoiberg told the Associated Press that he loves Niang’s footwork, and I think he has a high enough basketball I.Q. to mask his athleticism with smarts while he continues to develop his body at Iowa State. He scored 18 points in Saturday’s blowout win over Texas and has scored double figures in six of his last seven games. He has a very European style of game for a big man, shown in last week’s near-upset of Kansas. He drew shot-blocking extraordinaire Jeff Withey out of the paint with his ability to knock down jumpers, opening up the lane for his driving teammates.
  5. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com updated his latest bracketology on Monday. The Big 12 received six bids: Kansas (#1 seed), Kansas State (#6), Oklahoma (#7), Oklahoma State (#9), Baylor (#11), and Iowa State (#12). Who would have guessed before the season that Oklahoma would be projected as a higher seed than Oklahoma State and Baylor? There is obviously still a bunch of games to be played, but the Sooners are positioning themselves for a good day on Selection Sunday. On a different note, I wouldn’t want to be a #6 seed paired with Baylor in the first round (Boise State in this particular bracket). The Bears are far from a great team but, as in recent years, they have the talent to win a few games in the NCAA Tournament.
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Big 12 Conference Call: December 6 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 6th, 2012

Welcome to our second installment of the Big 12 Conference Call here on the microsite. Danny (@dspewak), Kory (@Kory_Carpenter) and Nate (@natekotisso) are back to answer the tough questions in the league, and lord knows there’s plenty of them. Today, they’ll discuss Baylor’s struggles, Colorado’s return to Allen Fieldhouse, sixth man of the year as of now and much more. 

As Drunk Joe Namath would say, Big 12 basketball is “struh-guh-ling.”

Here are this week’s five questions:

  1. The Big 12 has only two teams ranked in the AP and coaches’ polls. What do we make of this?
  2. Colorado will make its first return to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday since leaving for the Pac-12. Will the Buffs beat KU?
  3. Which Baylor team are we going to see more of this season, the team that lost to College of Charleston and Northwestern at home or the team that ended Kentucky’s 55-game home winning streak?
  4. If you had to pick a sixth man of the year right now, who would it be?
  5. If there was a non-conference game with a Big 12 team you’d like to see live, which would it be?

***

1. The Big 12 has only two teams ranked in the AP and coaches’ polls. What do we make of this?

  • Danny Spewak: It’s been a difficult first few weeks for the Big 12. Texas has crashed and burned without Myck Kabongo. Baylor, save for that win at struggling Kentucky, has been perplexing. Kansas State had only one attempt to prove itself on a major stage, and it lost to Michigan by double-digits. At this point, you’ve had only one team overachieve (Oklahoma State) and really only one team (Kansas) play to expectations. Thus, two representatives in the Top 25.
  • Kory Carpenter: Baylor would have been firmly in the Top 25 had they not lost to the College of Charleston. Coupled with the losses to Colorado and Northwestern and it doesn’t make up for the nice win over Kentucky on the road. No one else on the outside of the Top 25 has beaten a team with a pulse. Oklahoma’s best win is over an awful West Virginia team, Kansas State’s crowning jewel is a three-point win over Delaware, and Iowa State lost to the two ranked teams they’ve played. Until the resumes improve, there’s no reason any of the other eight teams should be ranked.
  • Nate Kotisso: You guys hit the nail on the head. Other than Oklahoma State, the Big 12 has floundered in important non-conference games. Watching Baylor defeat Kentucky on Saturday was more about UK losing than the Bears winning. Kentucky had 16 more offensive rebounds and turned the ball over fewer times than Baylor, yet their horrid shooting lost the game. K-State still has tests coming later in the month and with Rodney McGruder playing better, there’s a chance for them to slide into the rankings before New Year’s. Oklahoma is 6-2 but they have yet to register an impressive win outside of West Virginia. And geez the Mountaineers are a whole other story. But you gotta stay positive, you guys.

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Big 12 M5: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 6th, 2012

  1. Does this upcoming season feel a little retro to you? ESPN’s Jason King thinks so as he spells out why 2012 feels a lot like the late 1980s to him. The Kansas Jayhawks are one of nine teams that enjoyed success 25 years ago (give or take) that is also projected for big things this season. Remember when Larry Brown coached Danny Manning and his Miracles to a national title at KU in 1988? Now the two will be going up against each other as first-year coaches in Conference USA. There are several more comparisons and symmetry in this piece and they are all delicious.
  2. SB Nation‘s awesome Iowa State blog, Wide Right & Natty Lite, gave us a self-preview of the 2012-13 Cyclones. They see ISU finishing third in the Big 12 but they make a compelling case for it. Yes they are one Royce White, Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen short this season, but with Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious and Melvin Ejim (a year older) replacing that trio in the rotation, the idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all. And according to a well-respected name in the college hoops media talking about a Cyclone freshman, it only reinforces the notion.
  3. Speaking of that well-respected name in college hoops, it is Fran Fraschilla who sees similarities between the games of Iowa State frosh Georges Niang and Creighton’s Doug McDermott. Rob Dauster of NBCSports.com has more on the freshman who played alongside Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel at the Tilton School in New Hampshire. Here’s a fun fact about Niang: After initially running for senior class president as a gag, he ended up winning the position and treated his role somewhat seriously. Still, just a mention of a current Cyclone drawing comparisons to the NPOY candidate McDermott is probably a weird consolation prize for not signing the Ames, Iowa, native back in 2010.
  4. The Pistols Firing Blog is running through each Oklahoma State player from #15 down to #1 this week. Ninth on the list is Kirby Gardner, a JuCo point guard who, according to GoPokes.com, was seen as a backup plan since Travis Ford knew Cezar Guerrero wasn’t completely on board with playing ball outside of California. Gardner averaged 17.2 points and 4.4 assists per game in earning the MVP as a member of San Bernardino Valley Community College last season. Ford called Gardner the team’s “only true point guard” and he has a serious shot at some playing time this season.
  5. The Jeff Boys at CBSSports.com – Borzello and Goodman – have compiled a list of all the injuries and suspensions for every team in every conference. Iowa State’s roster is notably hit with some small suspensions while Oklahoma State, a team projected by the coaches to have a big season, has been bitten badly by the injury bug. If you have time to read or even scan through the list, please do. They worked really hard on it.
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