Big 12 M5: 12.11.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 11th, 2012

  1. The first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem. The Big 12 has a problem: It’s not playing very well right now. It’s bad enough that the league only has two ranked teams — the worst showing in the polls since 2008-09 — but the Kansas City Star breaks down some even more appalling numbers from November and early December. Right now, the league is 2-8 against the Top 25 and has dropped below the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West in terms of conference RPI ratings. Perhaps things will change if/when Myck Kabongo returns for Texas, if Kansas State can earn a headline win against either Gonzaga or Florida later this month, or if Baylor remembers how to play basketball. Frankly, only Oklahoma State has really overachieved and surprised anybody at this point. Everybody else, besides Kansas of course, has flopped for the most part so far.
  2. Speaking of the Longhorns, it’s a disaster in Texas right now. For perhaps the first time in college basketball history, the UCLA/Texas game on Saturday actually made headlines for being a terrible, horrendously executed game on both ends. At this point, the Longhorns are lost, and even Sheldon McClellan admits there’s an issue. “Guys don’t think we can win,” he said after the 65-63 loss to the Bruins over the weekend. Understandably, a team without its star point guard and a roster consisting exclusively of freshmen and sophomores will have growing pains. It’s just that nobody thought they’d be this severe.
  3. Kevin Young is the forgotten man for Kansas, so let’s go ahead and not forget that he scored 16 points, missed just one field goal and had eight rebounds in the Jayhawks’ romping of Colorado this weekend. That’s drawing some high praise from Bill Self, who called him the “best we have.” Now, Steve Fisher and San Diego State are really jealous he didn’t go there.
  4. Congratulations to Rodney McGruder, your newest Big 12 Player of the Week. This won’t be the last time he wins this award, so get used to it. He went off for a double-double against George Washington, but the competition will stiffen when the Wildcats head to Seattle soon for a showdown with Gonzaga. Coach Bruce Weber’s old team, Illinois, just knocked off the Zags, and Kansas State could really use a big-time victory this weekend after falling short against Michigan in November.
  5. Finally, a little tidbit out of Oklahoma: Lon Kruger’s nephew, Jarrod Kruger, has left the program to focus on his schoolwork. Interestingly, Oklahoma is actually the third Big 12 school the walk-on has played for. He started at Kansas State and then transferred to Kansas before landing at his uncle’s school. Although there are no signs that he plans on suiting up elsewhere, perhaps he should go for Oklahoma State or one of the Texas schools next, just to fill in some of the remaining blanks.
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Big 12 Team Previews: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by cwilliams on November 4th, 2011

Projected Finish: 9th

2010-11 Record: 13-19 (5-11), 10th (tie)

Head Coach: Lon Kruger, first season.

Key Losses: Cade Davis (14.2 PPG)

Oklahoma is looking to turn a new leaf and start a new chapter in the story of Sooner basketball. OU starts fresh with a new coach, Lon Kruger, a coach who has proven he can turn troubled programs into perennial tournament contenders. The Sooners lost their biggest scoring threat from last season, Cade Davis, but hope their junior class, especially Andrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger can replace Davis’s productivity. While fans may not have too much to root for on the hardwood in Norman this season, they can expect Kruger to get the program back on its feet and eventually relevant again.

The StarsAndrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger, the dynamic Sooner duo from last year, both return for their junior year. They are expected to be the leaders of this inexperienced Sooner squad in the 2011-12 season. Cameron Clark started every game last season as a freshman. He averaged 9.0 PPG in 2010-11, but I expect that figure to increase this season. All these players have certain aspects of their game that must improve in order for them to become stars. Fitzgerald needs to get stronger and tougher, Clark needs to gain more experience, and Pledger needs to find consistency.

Fitzgerald Is a Nice Piece For Kruger to Start With

The Veterans: The seniors of Oklahoma will most likely be more of a vocal force than an on-court force. T.J Franklin has been reduced to a bench role his entire career in Norman, and I don’t see that changing this season. Barry Honroe is a very athletic player, but does not seem to possess the other traits necessary to be a complete player. C.J Washington could be a threat under Kruger’s system, especially because he runs so well. He has not put up impressive numbers yet, and I will be interested to see if he thrives under a new system.

The Newbies

  • Casey Arent, a 6’10” junior center who transferred from Sierra College (CA), is big. The biggest on the team, in fact. He averaged 19 points and 11 boards per game at his junior college, but don’t expect Arent to put those numbers up in his first year playing Big 12 basketball. He will, however, need to continue to be a presence in the paint with the Sooners.
  • Sam Grooms is a three-point threat junior college transfer from Chipola College. He will continue to be a three-point shooter under Kruger. Grooms was ranked as the 3rd highest junior college recruit.
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