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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Big 12 M5: 10.18.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 18th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Remember earlier this week when it was reported by Bleacher Report that adidas and Nike were set to offer Andrew Wiggins a shoe contract in the range of $140 to $180 million upon completion of this season at Kansas?  As it turns out, that story was indeed a hoax.  A report issued on Thursday night by Sole Collector, an insider in the sneaker industry, included a photograph they obtained of the fraudulent offer letter which was both undated and unaddressed discussing the details of the Wiggins “shoe contract”.  How exactly the fake offer was brought to light is still unknown, but the details of the story further underscore the difficulty top recruits face in making decisions as they embark on their professional career.  It’s a sad truth, but many of these young athletes present such a profitable marketing potential that the number of individuals willing to leach themselves on in hopes of cashing out in their own right creates an incredibly dirty and misleading situation.
  2. In an article by NBC Sports exploring non-Jordan Brand or McDonald’s All American freshmen who could make an impact this season, Iowa State shooting guard Matt Thomas was highlighted as a perimeter sharpshooter who could potentially be the best outside shooter in this year’s class.  Thomas will fit perfectly in Fred Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system, and will help fill the void left by former Big 12 sniper Tyus McGee.  Given the national exposure that Hoiberg has generated at Iowa State the past few seasons for his up tempo, run-and-gun style offense, it would not be surprising to some of the top future shooting talent flock to Ames to get in on the action.
  3. Baylor coach Scott Drew announced on Thursday morning that consensus top 100 freshman recruit Allerik Freeman will miss 6-7 weeks with a hand injury. Freeman was expected to bolster the Bears backcourt scoring, and provide yet another skilled piece to compliment the frontcourt duo of Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. An exact return for Freeman will not be determined for several weeks, but any action on or prior to Baylor’s showdown with Kentucky on December 6 will significantly improve Baylor’s chances of competing with the young, but talented Kentucky squad.  Perhaps the most important factor in Baylor’s success this season will be how they adjust to the departure of point guard Pierre Jackson.
  4. USA Today released their preseason coaches poll on Thursday, which featured #6 Kansas followed by Oklahoma State at #12.  Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State also received votes, effectively ranking them 26, 41, and 43, respectively. Much of the league’s preseason attention has featured Kansas and Oklahoma State who will anchor the top half of the league all season.  Baylor certainly has the talent to work its way up in the polls, and will have a chance to prove this in their December showdown with Kentucky. It will be interesting to see how Iowa State and Kansas State adjust to significant roster changes and whether they can position themselves in the upper echelon of schools in the Big 12 come March.
  5. In an interesting insight to just how important recruiting is for coaches throughout the nation, Luke Winn’s Sports Illustrated piece on Andrew Wiggins that hit shelves earlier this week explained how Bill Self altered his game plan last March against Texas Tech in an attempt to impress Wiggins during his official college visit at Kansas.  Former Jayhawk point guard Elijah Johnson threw six first half alley-oops as Self felt this both gave Kansas the best chance to win, and also showed Wiggins family what they wanted to see.  While this may not be groundbreaking information for some, it does further highlight just how hard some coaches work to win recruiting battles.  This story naturally begs the question, how much will Self be willing to adjust his game plan this season now that Wiggins has joined the Jayhawks?
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Big 12 M5: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 16th, 2013

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  1. Bill Self was one of a few coaches to comment on the new emphasis that will be placed on hand-checking by on-ball defenders this season. According to a report from ESPN‘s Jeff Goodman, NCAA officials contend that the spirit of the rule change is to increase scoring and make games flow more smoothly, but opinions among head coaches regarding the impact are mixed. Some, like Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, carry an attitude of guarded optimism, but Self is concerned that the new rules will lead to an excessive number of trips to the foul line rather than better shots in the flow of a given team’s offense. There will inevitably be an adjustment period for all teams (and officials), just as there was when the charge circle was added two seasons ago, and we’ll definitely keep an eye on how teams adapt from November through March.
  2. Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith was mentioned among College Basketball Talk‘s Rob Dauster’s list of losers in last year’s coaching carousel. Simply not being Billy Gillispie will put Smith in good graces among some Red Raider fans for a short time, but the challenges of the job — a relative lack of winning tradition and the absence of success in the NBA Draft, just to name two — give us pause as to whether Texas Tech can rise from the ashes under its seasoned leader. This was a perplexing hire from day one, as we expected the Red Raiders to go with someone who was more of an up-and-comer rather than an established coaching veteran. Either way, it will be a tough row to hoe in Lubbock for the foreseeable future.
  3. CBSSports.com‘s crack team of college hoops contributors released its annual list of the nation’s top 100 players, and how the Big 12 fared depends on where you put the most stock. For instance, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart top the list, but you have to look 22 spots down from them to find the next Big 12 player, Baylor center Isaiah Austin. Overall, the Big 12 landed 10 players on the top 100, but we see some potential big-time risers in Joel Embiid (#28), Markel Brown (#52), and Melvin Ejim (#72).
  4. A thorough piece from Bleacher Report‘s Jared Zwerling reports that once Andrew Wiggins turns pro next spring, he could fetch a shoe deal valued as high as $180 million. After reading the story, there are plenty of angles worth examining: what the speculative value of Andrew Wiggins to a shoe company at this very moment says about the one-and-done rule and the concept of amateurism; how Wiggins can possibly handle all of the attention and pressure to succeed; and what head coach Bill Self  needs to do to keep he and his teammates focused as the Jayhawks aim for a 10th consecutive league title.
  5. Oklahoma State held its annual media day festivities on Monday, and it will definitely be interesting to see how the Cowboys hold up to league championship aspirations for the first time in 10 years. The aforementioned link is chock full of quotes from several players as well as head coach Travis Ford, and while nothing was said that was too far out of the ordinary, you do get the sense that the team’s chemistry could be off the charts all season long. If the Cowboys are used to playing with one another in January while Kansas is still trying to figure out how to make its pieces fit, that could be just the edge OSU needs to unseat the nine-time defending Big 12 champions.
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Preseason All-Big 12 Honors Blend Phenoms, Transfers and Experienced Contributors

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 3rd, 2013

Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

The sweet smell of college basketball strengthened Thursday afternoon as the Big 12 coaches released their preseason all-conference team, Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Freshman of the Year selections. Let’s break down the conference’s picks:

Preseason Player of the Year: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart, who surprisingly returned to the Cowboys after averaging 15.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in his freshman campaign, is the incumbent Big 12 Player of the Year, so it’s hard to be too surprised at his unanimous selection from the Big 12 coaches. Others may argue that blue-chip Jayhawk freshman Andrew Wiggins would be a more worthy pick given his higher ceiling, but we have to look at recent history for context, and that history shows that Big 12 coaches just haven’t been crazy about adding pressure to hyped incoming freshmen. For instance, neither Kevin Durant nor Michael Beasley, both of whom faced their own lofty expectations coming into the conference, were named as the Preseason POY in 2006 and 2007, respectively. On the other hand, the fact that both Durant and Beasley ended up fitting the bill as not only Big 12 but National POY candidates suggests that perhaps the voting body should be more open to the idea. In the end, it’s hard to fault the coaches for going with a guy who’s done it all before in Marcus Smart, but we’re excited to see how the season plays out.

OSU's Smart is the Big 12 Preseason POY (AP Photo).

OSU’s Smart is the Big 12 Preseason POY (AP Photo).

Preseason Newcomer Of The Year: Tarik Black, Kansas: As a transfer, Black makes a ton of sense here when you consider Bill Self’s successful history with big men. Granted, Black is already in exceptional shape and will only have one year to work with Self and famed strength and conditioning coach Andrea Hudy, but he figures to provide plenty of muscle (at 6’9″/260 lbs.) and experience (he started 60 of 102 games at Memphis) on an otherwise young Kansas lineup.

Preseason Freshman Of The Year: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: By now, you’ve probably heard all the talking points: Wiggins is perhaps a generational superstar who is as physically talented as he is level-headed and modest, and we as college basketball fans should be thankful for the one-and-done rule enabling him to pass through this season. We don’t disagree, and this accolade is just the latest for the 6’8″ Canadian small forward. We may not necessarily see eye-popping stats, given some questions that scouts have raised about his still-developing aggressiveness and Bill Self’s preference for balance on the offensive end.  However, we do expect to see some memorable plays on both ends and are looking forward to what should be a big-time year. How will he adjust to playing in the national spotlight?

Preseason All-Big 12 Team

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Morning Five: 04.29.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 29th, 2013

morning5

  1. There were so many early-entry decisions over the past three days that we will have break them into groups. The first group will be the guys who left. Perhaps the most notable is Shane Larkin, who is leaving Miami after a sophomore year in which he took his stock from not being on the NBA’s radar to being a potential first round pick. We are not quite sold on Larkin as a NBA point guard–his limitations were exposed in a few games this season–but we do not see his NBA Draft stock getting much higher especially with how little Miami will be returning next season so it made sense for him to leave. On a smaller scale, but probably more important in terms of the landscape of his conference Ray McCallum Jr. announced that he is leaving Detroit after his junior season. McCallum is in a similar Draft position or possibly a little worse than what Larkin is based on the mock drafts that we have seen, but given the information that his father (Detroit’s coach) has we would expect that he has some pretty good information on where he could expect to be selected. Finally, there is Andre Roberson, Tad Boyle’s first recruit in Boulder, who announced that he will forgo his senior season at Colorado to enter the NBA Draft. Roberson’s draft stock appears to be similar to the other two although Roberson’s position in mock drafts has varied more than the other two.
  2. While a trio of players announced their departure from the college game another trio announced that they will be staying. The most significant in terms of the national championship picture is Adreian Payne, who announced that he will return to Michigan State for his senior season. Out of all of the players considering entering the NBA Draft early opinion on Payne may have been the most divided. He probably could have come out and been a first-round pick, but if he returns and improves his game he should be a lottery pick next year. The next biggest announcement was the Isaiah Austin will be returning to Baylor for his sophomore season. Austin seemed to be a fairly safe bet to be a first-round pick so his decision is a bit surprising, but it has been reported that he was diagnosed with a torn labrum, which would affect his NBA Draft workouts, and he clearly has some areas to work on his game so it doesn’t seem unreasonable. We will leave the question of coming back to Scott Drew to work on those deficiencies for another column. Shabazz Napier may not garner the same headlines as the other two players that we mentioned, but his decision to return to Connecticut for his senior season may have an equally significant impact on his team’s success. We are glad that Napier decided to return to school because he was at best a late second round pick although the fact that he waited so long to announce might suggest that someone was putting thoughts in his head that he could have been a first-round pick. Fortunately he did not listen to those voices and will return to finish his college career in Storrs.
  3. Most of the attention has been focused on NBA Draft decisions, but there were a pair of notable transfers. On Friday, Ahmad Starks announced that he is transferring from Oregon State. Starks, who has one more season of eligibility left is reportedly looking at Bradley or Illinois to be close to his ailing grandmother. Starks would be a huge addition for either program and given the way the family hardship waivers have been getting cleared by the NCAA we have no doubt that he would be able to play next season. The other transfer announcement is more of an update as Rutgers transfer Eli Carter has narrowed his list down to Florida and Maryland. Normally we would assume that Carter would have to sit out a year, but after the NCAA’s ruling on the players at Rice and how they received a waiver due to the abuse they alleged at the school we would not be surprised to see Carter and other Rutgers transfers to try for a similar waiver given the video evidence against Mike Rice.
  4. We may have finally moved past conference realignment, but it appears that conferences are looking at creating their own version of Manifest Destiny as the ACC is looking at expanding its brand into Europe by playing games there. As the article notes the entire idea is in the preliminary stages so a lot of work needs to be done, but other schools have played games overseas with some success. Our big qustion is how this would work at the conference level. It works great when teams are playing glorified exhibition games or when there is well-defined revenue-sharing the way that professional leagues do, but what happens when a school loses a lucrative home-game that could be the difference between them becoming bowl-eligible or being on the right side of the bubble. Obviously pro sports teams deal with this issue too, but they have more well-defined revenue-sharing agreements and have a much stronger central leadership structure that allows them to issue edicts that will be followed.
  5. It is a move that probably will not attract much attention on the coaching carousel, but UNC-Asheville filled its head coaching vacancy as it introduced Nick McDevitt as its next head coach. McDevitt, who played for the school from 1997 to 2001, had been an assistant with the team before taking over the head coaching responsibilities when the former coach left to take a job on the staff at UNC-Wilmington. McDevitt has no experience as a head coach so we are withholding judgement on his ability to coach so hopefully his alma mater gives him a chance to prove himself.
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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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Assessing the Season: Baylor Bears

Posted by KoryCarpenter on April 11th, 2013

I don’t know who Baylor’s biggest basketball rival is, but I imagine whoever it was laughed at the Bears for winning the NIT last week — something about being the 69th best team in the country. Of course there are worse things than winning the NIT –  like losing in the NIT — so the Bears have that going for them. But those taunts from rival fans still have some merit. For schools like Memphis (2002 champs) or Wichita State (2011), winning the NIT can become a stepping stone to bigger and better things. But for big boy schools, schools like Baylor with top recruits falling off the bleachers, it’s hard to gauge how it feels to win its last game of the year and not capture the National Championship. In its 74-54 NIT championship game win over Iowa, Baylor played a former five-star center (Isaiah Austin), an honorable mention All-America guard in Pierre Jackson, and a quartet of former four-star recruits. That roster lost 14 games this season (including a 9-9 mark in conference play) and couldn’t beat out teams like La Salle and Ole Miss for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. There was no reason the Bears should have been in the NIT in the first place, but for the sake of this column, we’ll take a look at the highs and lows of the 2012-13 Baylor Bears.

It Wasn't the Championship Baylor Wanted, But the NIT Was a Nice Consolation Prize

It Wasn’t the Championship Baylor Wanted, But the NIT Was a Nice Consolation Prize

Highs

  • Beating Kentucky in Rupp Arena, December 1: In early December, Kentucky wasn’t the team that would eventually fall to Robert Morris in the opening round of the NIT. Or at least, that wasn’t yet the perception. The Wildcats were #8 in the country at the time and pundits still believed their band of high school All-Americans could make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Baylor’s patented zone frustrated the Kentucky freshmen into a 29.6% shooting performance from the field. Pierre Jackson scored 17 points as the Bears rebounded from their loss to Charleston in the game prior.
  • 86-79 Overtime Win Over Texas, January 5: With a tough non-conference season then behind them, the Bears avoided back-to-back losses with an overtime win over Texas in the Big 12 opener thanks to big games from Cory Jefferson and Pierre Jackson, who combined for 49 points.
  • Senior Night Win over Kansas, March 9: Losers of eight of their previous 11, the Bears still had a chance to deny Kansas the outright regular season conference title on its Senior Night. That’s exactly what they did after Pierre Jackson scored 28 points and added 10 assists to give Kansas its worst loss in five years.

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Big 12 M5: 03.14.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The first set of fireworks at the Big 12 tournament were set off last night as Texas Tech beat West Virginia 71-69. After losing a 14 point lead earlier in the game, junior Dejan Kravic’s putback with 0.4 seconds left was enough for the Red Raiders to live to play another day. For Tech, third time’s the charm seeing how they lost both of their regular season meetings with the Mountaineers. A dramatic win like this can only help the chances for interim head coach Chris Walker to get the full-time gig. The job would be essentially his if Texas Tech would somehow upset Kansas later on today.
  2. Staying with the Red Raiders and this story is a real head scratcher. Remember Trency Jackson? He was a junior college transfer who started 11 games for them this season. Upon his transfer, Jackson obtained a special waiver because he “didn’t have enough transferable hours Texas Tech was willing to accept in advance of enrolling.” Usually in a case like this, the academic adviser at the transfer’s new school would be notified of this and would hatch a plan with the transfer to get those hours squared away. But that never for happened for Jackson. He was suspended for being academically ineligible but the problem was Texas Tech never told him he was until after the spring semester begun. It seems that Tech REALLY dropped the ball here and now will be interesting to see how this lack of oversight will affect Chris Walker’s prospects of getting the head coaching job. Jackson has since transferred to Western Kentucky and will hopefully be eligible to play by December.
  3. Texas closed up the night with a 70-57 win over TCU. The game was further proof that, even against a team like the Horned Frogs, Myck Kabongo makes a world of difference for the Longhorns. Kabongo made the most impact for his team, totaling 16 points, four rebounds and six assists. UT also got major contributions off the bench from sophomores Julien Lewis (19 points) and Sheldon McClellan (12 points). I feel like had Texas had the luxury of Kabongo all season long, they’d be in contention for an at-large bid (they’ve gone 6-3 since his return). Texas has to deal with Kansas State coming up tonight.
  4. On Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Goodman sized up each Big 12 coach’s hot seat on a scale of one (meaning they’re safe) and ten (meaning they best be looking for a new job). According to Goodman, every coach is essentially safe and much of that has to do with the unique situations going on in the league: Texas missing the tourney for the first time since the late 90s, Travis Ford finally cashing in on his talented basketball team, Trent Johnson’s first year at TCU etc. The only man truly coaching for a job is Chris Walker of Texas Tech as they look for a permanent leader going forward. Hopefully, we’ll see all 10 coaches return next season.
  5. Congratulations to Baylor’s Pierre Jackson who was named the District VII player of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Those not familiar with the “District VII” distinction (as I wasn’t), District VII is in reference to all Division I basketball programs housed in the states of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana which means Jackson was voted the best player in those states. He is not the first Bear with All-District VII honors in consecutive season (Curtis Jerrells, Lawrence Roberts and Darryl Middleton were the others) but he is the first player from the school to be named District VII Player of the Year. Freshman Isaiah Austin also joined Jackson as a first team All-District VII honoree.
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Big 12 M5: 02.28.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 28th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Not only is the Kansas State senior class working on one of the school’s best seasons in over three decades, but they just became the school’s all-time winningest group of seniors with 97 victories and counting. The trio of Jordan Henriquez, Rodney McGruder and Martavious Irving are three wins away from K-State’s first conference regular season title since 1977, and if that happens, it will break the school’s all-time conference win record of 14. The Wildcats are currently 12-3 in the Big 12 and are tied with Kansas in first place. If they can take care of Baylor and TCU, the season finale against Oklahoma State in Stillwater would be one of the biggest regular season games in Kansas State history.
  2. Every team in the country is working for something right now. For schools like Texas Tech and West Virginia, it’s probably getting the players ready for next season. For Baylor or Iowa State, assuring a spot in the NCAA Tournament is the primary goal. But for teams like Oklahoma State, seeding in the Big Dance is the focus as the regular season draws to a close. The Cowboys still have a slender shot at the Big 12 championship, but the most likely scenario is a third place finish. They end the season against Texas, at Iowa State and play host to Kansas State on March 9. The latest Bracket Matrix outlook has them as a #5 seed, but they could probably jump to as high as a #3 seed if they win those three games and win the Big 12 Tournament, which would likely mean three wins against Kansas and Kansas State.
  3. The story of Bill Self’s 500th career victory was quickly lost in the shuffle of overtime, questionable officiating and rowdy Iowa State fans Monday night. Self is the ninth fastest Division I coach to reach 500 wins and the third Kansas coach — joined by Phog Allen and Roy Williams — to reach the milestone. Self has said a few times this season that he has no intentions of coaching long enough to break any wins records, but he is certainly on pace to get in the neighborhood of the all-time greats if he decides to stay in the game long enough. He has an 83.7% winning percentage at Kansas and has averaged 29.9 wins per season while there. As pointed out here, he could reach 1,000 wins in 15 years if he averages just three more wins per season through the age of 65.
  4. Baylor freshman center Isaiah Austin could easily end up being an All-American during his career in Waco, but he probably won’t be around long enough to see that happen. Austin is saying all the right things right now, like how he’s focused on getting the Bears into the NCAA Tournament and having success there, not the looming decision to stay or leave. The team seemed like a lock to earn an NCAA bid a month ago, but they have now lost six out of nine and are in danger of landing on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday just a bit over two weeks away. Whether the Bears make the NCAA Tournament or not, don’t expect to see Austin in yellow and green next season unless the Kings finally become the Sonics and select him in this summer’s NBA Draft.
  5. Sam Grooms hasn’t had the best sendoff in his final season at Oklahoma, averaging 4.3 PPG as a senior. It’s a small dip from last season as the Sooners guard has struggled with his confidence at times this year. “I would second-guess myself all the time before I shot and it didn’t turn out well,” Grooms recently told John Shinn of the Tahlequah Daily Press. Grooms averaged 17.6 PPG in a recent three-game stretch against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor, two Sooner wins. Grooms isn’t the best or most important player on the Oklahoma roster, but a productive final month of his college career could assure his team a spot in the NCAA Tournament and perhaps a couple of wins if they get there.
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Big 12 NCAA Resumes: Baylor Bears

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 27th, 2013

Over the next few weeks, we’ll break down where each Big 12 bubble team stands in terms of its current NCAA Tournament resume. This time: the Baylor Bears, who are trying to make back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time in the Scott Drew era. 

  • Current Record: 16-11, 7-7 in the Big 12
  • RPI: 64
  • SOS: 32
Baylor's at-large opportunities are waning. (Getty Images)

Baylor’s chances at an at-large bid are waning. (Getty Images)

As is the case with most bubble teams, it’s been an up-and-down year for the Baylor Bears. The talent is there: upperclassmen, versatile big men, a dead-eye shooter and a Big 12 POY candidate. Despite a couple of brain-farts at home and maybe head coach Scott Drew, there’s still a chance to sneak into the Dance. SI’s Andy Glockner, CBS’ Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Ben Franklin all have the Bears on the outside at this point, but I’m going to do my best to try to make an unbiased case for them.

Case For An At-Large Bid: Gotta give Baylor this: They really challenged themselves in the non-conference season. They participated in the Charleston Classic that featured teams like Colorado and St. John’s. They took trips to difficult environments like Gonzaga and Kentucky. To top it off, they scheduled two home games versus 2012 Tournament teams Lehigh and BYU. (Which makes me wonder: How are strength of schedules calculated exactly?) They played Gonzaga tough on the road and lost while beating fellow bubble teams BYU, St. John’s and Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Meanwhile in conference play, they have a 10-point win against Oklahoma State which is looking better by the week.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on February 15th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

While there may not be as many marquee match-ups this weekend, the games in the Big East, MW, and Big Ten are extremely important to their conference races. It’s nail biting time for college hoops fans across the country as teams play for their tourney positioning. Should be a good weekend of hoops, so let’s get to the breakdowns!

#16 Georgetown at Cincinnati – 9:00 PM EST, Friday on ESPN (****)

John Thompson III Has His Hoyas Playing At A High Level (Getty)

John Thompson III Has His Hoyas Playing At A High Level (Getty)

  • Georgetown is in a three-way tie at the top of the Big East with Syracuse and Marquette after the Orange lost at UConn on Wednesday. At this point though, half the conference still has a chance to catch them. Despite their inconsistency, Cincinnati is still one of those teams. The Bearcats have been living and dying by the three-point shot. In their last three games, they were 3-13 against Providence, 4-25 against Pitt, and 12-25 against Villanova. It’s fairly easy to tell which games they won and which they lost (losses to Providence and Pitt with a win against Villanova, in case it wasn’t clear). In Big East play, Cincinnati shoots 43% of its field goal attempts from beyond the arc, while only making 30.5% of them. If you recall, Michigan looked like this in the past and had a tough time being consistent, as well. Georgetown will allow teams to get off three-point shots, but teams are only making 28.8% of those shots in the Big East. If you follow Ken Pomeroy, he will tell you the former is more important, so watch closely to see if the Bearcats can take advantage by actually knocking down the deep ball. The Hoyas length may be tough to shoot over, however. Speaking of length, 6’8″ Georgetown forward Otto Porter is on fire recently. Porter is averaging 18.5 points in his last nine games. Not coincidentally  the Hoyas are 8-1 in that stretch. The Cincinnati defense is struggling to stop teams from scoring in the paint, so look for Porter to have another big game. If the Bearcats can’t stop Porter and they can’t make threes, they are going to have a tough time winning.

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Award Tour: Fabulous Week For Freshmen; Jim Larranaga Is New No. 1 Coach

Posted by DCassilo on February 1st, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

What a couple of days it was for our freshmen across college basketball. On Tuesday, there was Nerlens Noel, who provided one of college basketball’s best performances of the year by blocking 12 shots in Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss. Meanwhile, his teammate Archie Goodwin posted 24 points, six rebounds and four assists. A day later it was Baylor’s Isaiah Austin stealing the show with 19 points and 20 rebounds. Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart had 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Anyone who believes talent is down this year for the freshman class just hasn’t been paying attention.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Anthony Bennett – UNLV (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 18.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG

After starting the season on fire, Bennett has not been nearly as dominant in the Mountain West Conference. He clings to a spot this week after averaging 15 points and seven rebounds over his last two games. This week: February 2 at Boise State, February 6 at Fresno State

9. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 16.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG

Zeller has drawn a lot of criticism this season, mainly because of expectations that were too high in the first place. When the dust settles, he’s still the top scorer and rebounder on the third-best team in the country. This week: February 2 vs. Michigan, February 7 at Illinois

8. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 18 PPG, 6.9 RPG

Kelly Olynyk is Making Waves For More Reasons Than His Haircut This Season

Kelly Olynyk is Making Waves For More Reasons Than His Haircut This Season.

With the below-average competition in the West Coast Conference, Olynyk isn’t posting monster numbers lately because he really doesn’t have to. He’s coming off a week in which he averaged 14 points and seven rebounds, while the Bulldogs cruised to two victories. This week: February 2 at San Diego, February 7 vs. Pepperdine

7. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG

Early foul trouble against West Virginia on Monday had McLemore destined for his worst game in ages. But he still found a way to finish with a solid 13 points and four rebounds. It must be nice to have a freshman that you can pencil in for at least those numbers every night. This week: February 2 vs. Oklahoma State, February 6 at TCU

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