Big 12 Morning Five: 01.04.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 4th, 2012

  1. Writers across the country are starting to take notice of Kansas State‘s offensive performance this season, as opposed to just its patented defense under Frank Martin. With a contest against Kansas looming at the Phog tonight, the Wildcats have shot less than 50% just once in the last four games, and they’ve also made 30-of-67 threes during that time. Will Spradling‘s steady hand at the point guard position has a lot to do with the offensive explosion, and Rodney McGruder appears to be the scorer Martin has been searching for in place of the graduated Jacob Pullen. These Wildcats are deep, balanced and willing to share the basketball, and there aren’t any egos in Manhattan right now. That’s a formula for offensive success in any program.
  2. It’s very hard to find positives for Texas Tech right now, but at least one person found something nice to write about the Red Raiders. Yes, TTU shot 11-25 from three-point range in two victories over CSU-Bakersfield and Southeastern Louisiana. We can hold off on the celebratory banner for now, but let’s at least give Billy Gillispie credit for a couple of relatively easy victories over those two squads. As Big 12 play begins this week, it’s possible the Red Raiders may not win more than three or four league games. In fact, anything more than that would be a dramatic overachievement relative to the talent available. Of course, if there’s anyone that can pull that kind of magic out of an undermanned team, it’s Gillispie.
  3. Rick Barnes may need to pull a little magic out of his young Longhorns, too. Barnes has never missed the NCAA Tournament since arriving at Texas in 1999, but his team has some work to do to reach the Big Dance this year. After losing five starters, most of the Longhorns’ problems can be attributed to youth, and as Barnes mentioned, “young guys make it more complicated than it has to be.” Right now, freshman point guard Myck Kabongo is one of those guys, but you’ve got to think he’ll come around as the leader of this offense once he gets his feet wet in Big 12 play. Give Barnes some time and he’ll be able to orchestrate a turnaround. In his 13 years at Texas, he’s at least proven that much.
  4. The NCAA Tournament seems unfathomable at this point for 7-6 Oklahoma State, but coach Travis Ford is hoping his tough non-conference schedule helped prepare his team for Big 12 play. OSU lost to Virginia Tech twice in November and December, and it also fell to Stanford, New Mexico and Alabama. Sure, the competition can’t hurt, but Ford needs a miracle right now. With J.P. Olukemi out for the year and a crisis at point guard, he’ll need Keiton Page and LeBryan Nash to perform like All-Big 12 player in order to get things rolling.
  5. A lot of eyes will be on Iowa State this winter, as Fred Hoiberg‘s remade program will hit the floor in the Big 12 with four transfers and several newcomers. The Cyclones’ experiment has resulted in an underwhelming 10-3 start so far. ISU hasn’t suffered through any early-season collapse, but the consistency is not there at this point. Take the team’s most recent two-point victory over Mississippi Valley State, for example. Iowa State nearly blew an 18-point lead before escaping with the 67-65 win, against a team that has won only one game this season. The Cyclones, known for their hot-handed shooting, have also gone cold during long stretches this season, and they’ve got to light it up from beyond the arc on a consistent basis to compete in this league.
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