Big 12 Weekly Five: 08.29.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on August 29th, 2012

  1. Because it just wouldn’t be a Big 12 Weekly Five without the dreaded conference realignment talk, new league commissioner Bob Bowlsby said last week he’s happy with 10 teams in the, uh, Big 12, for now. Naming inconsistencies aside, he has a point. Bowlsby told the Kansas City Star that a 10-team league allows for more flexible scheduling, and from a basketball standpoint, the idea of a true regular-season champion is appealing. Ten teams affords the Big 12 the rare opportunity in hoops to allow for home-and-homes with every opponent, so although an expansion may drive more revenue into the Big 12, we’re perfectly content leaving things the way they are.
  2. Hold on, folks: The Darrell Williams case isn’t over yet. The defense says it has new evidence in the case, and it’ll now try to convince a judge to grant the former Oklahoma State forward a retrial after a jury convicted him of rape this summer. There’s no word on what evidence the defense will present, according to the Associated Press, but Williams’ conviction is beginning to gain national notoriety after staying under the radar throughout the original trial. Reverand Jesse Jackson is now fighting on Williams’ behalf, and his supporters claim the lack of DNA evidence and possibility of misidentification means he got a raw deal. One of the victims in the case doesn’t see it that way, telling the AP that she is “infuriated” and that “they don’t know what happened to me and the other girl.”
  3. Kansas returned from its trip to Europe with two losses, which seems mildly concerning but probably affects little in the long run. Kansas State lost two games in Brazil, after all, and it’s August, not March. But Bill Self is never one to mince his words, and he ripped his team in an interview with CBS’ Gary Parrish recently. Parrish asked who stood out on the trip. Self’s response? “Really nobody. Nobody really impressed me. Everybody was just OK. [Senior guard] Elijah [Johnson] wasn’t great. [Senior center Jeff] Withey wasn’t great. [Senior guard Travis] Releford wasn’t great. I’d say [freshman forward] Perry [Ellis] showed as much promise as anybody in terms of scoring. But he has a lot to learn.”
  4. Iowa State has rewarded athletic director Jamie Pollard with a five-year extension, and he’s got Fred Hoiberg to thank in part for that. The deal provides a little more stability to Hoiberg’s staff, who can now work under a solid administration with excellent school support. When Pollard first hired Hoiberg, it wasn’t met with a lot of optimism around the nation. Sure, bringing The Mayor back to Ames fired up the fan base at home, but he had no coaching experience and seemed like a major risk. A disastrous stretch in Big 12 play during his first season didn’t calm any fears, but Hoiberg’s breakout year in 2011-12 made Pollard look like a genius.
  5. Let’s end this Weekly Five with some kind words for one of the league’s doormats. Laugh at Texas Tech all you want, but as this blog astutely points out, there’s more talent for Billy Gillispie to work with in 2012-13. The assessment is overly optimistic, sure, but there’s reason to believe that Gillispie’s second season could be a significant stepping stone in this rebuilding project. First of all, Tech will have a fresh roster after several transfers this offseason and a giant group of Class of 2012 newcomers. Most importantly, that recruiting class includes several new point guard options, including Josh Gray, who just might be one of the league’s most important freshmen next year. That position plagued the Red Raiders a year ago. Gillispie knew that and immediately went and found new options. Look at the bottom of the article, though, and you’ll really see why Red Raiders fans should feel decent about their situation. Billy Gillispie has done this before. It didn’t work at Kentucky, but he was a proven winner before that — a tough-nosed overachiever with the ability to sap every bit of talent out of his roster. That’s why he’s a perfect fit in Lubbock.
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Surprise! Assessing Early Signs of Life at Providence, Oregon & Iowa State

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2010

Andrew Murawa is an RTC contributor.

Last week we spent some time praising the work of two of the most familiar faces in the college basketball coaching world, Rick Pitino and Bruce Pearl, in getting their teams off to sparkling starts in the aftermath of some rough off-court patches. Today, I’d like to recognize some perhaps less well-known coaches who have turned awful offseasons of a different sort into solid starts for their respective teams. At Providence, Oregon and Iowa State, the basketball programs all went through turbulent summers full of personnel changes and uncertainty, but thus far the coaches at each of those programs has fought through the adversity to earn a combined 29-9 record for the three schools, albeit against maybe some lesser competition. None of the three schools are necessarily expected to be major contenders for NCAA Tournament berths, but at least they’ve got their programs headed in the right directions after rough offseasons.

Marshon Brooks Has Been a Revelation This Season

For Keno Davis and the Providence Friars, the offseason was an absolute nightmare – not that 2009-10 was all that great to begin with. The Friars lost their last 11 games of last season on the way to a 12-19 record, during which time junior guard Kyle Wright abruptly left the program. After the season was over, a new rash of bad news hit the Friars. First, it was announced that point guard Johnnie Lacy and center Russ Permenter would be transferring out of the program. Then, a couple days later, Lacy and freshman center James Still were charged with felony assault, leading to Still’s eventual dismissal. A month later, the bright spot in the Friar program was extinguished when leading scorer and rebounder Jamine “Greedy” Peterson was kicked off the team. About a week later, assistant coach Pat Skerry left to head to Big East rival Pitt, and in the process, severely hurt Providence’s recruiting with incoming 2010 recruit Joseph Young announcing that he would be staying closer to his Houston home for college. After Davis lost some face in refusing to allow Young out of his scholarship for a time, he was eventually released and allowed to enroll at the University of Houston. Next, 2011 commit Naadir Tharpe announced that he was withdrawing his commitment to the Friars and opening back up his recruitment. And finally, for good measure, Kadeem Batts suffered a disorderly conduct charge in July. In short, it was a miserable offseason.

But, in the face of all of that turmoil, the Friars are off to an 11-2 start to this season. Yes, they’ve dropped games to La Salle and Boston College, and for every win over a Rhode Island and an Alabama, there’s a win over Central Connecticut and Prairie View A&M, but at least Coach Davis has not allowed the negative momentum of the offseason to boil over into a disastrous 2010-11 campaign. Senior wing Marshon Brooks has developed into a versatile threat (22.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 2.0 3PG) and a team leader, while sophomores Vincent Council and Bilal Dixon are each developing into serious Big East-level talents. Council is among the top ten point guards in the nation in assists, with seven per game (he had 16 in a game against Brown), while Dixon has been killing the boards on both ends, to the tune of 9.7 rebounds per night (more than three of those on the offensive glass), and adding almost three blocked shots a night. While much more serious competition awaits the Friars come Big East play, Davis has focused on tightening things up on the defensive end where PC ranked in the bottom 100 teams in Division I last year in defensive efficiency; now PC ranks in the top 100. There is certainly a ways to go for this Friar team, and the talent level  is still such that any dream of a run to an upper-division Big East finish should be tempered with, you know, sanity, but Davis has taken what was a disastrous offseason and settled things down in Providence to the point where the program is no longer in freefall and is playing up to their talent level. There are sure to be plenty of losses (and losing streaks) in conference play, but expect the Friars to beat a team or two that they have no business beating, and to be competitive on a regular basis.

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