Big 12 Team Previews: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by dnspewak on November 2nd, 2011

Projected Finish: 10th

2010-11 Record: 13-19, 5-11 (11th, Big 12)

Head Coach: Billy Gillispie, first season

Key Losses: John Roberson (14.1 PPG), Mike Singletary (12.7 PPG), Brad Reese (11.5 PPG), David Tairu (10.0 PPG)

It’s a fresh start at Texas Tech this season in every sense of the phrase. The school fired Pat Knight after a run of mediocrity, and the roster now consists of one returning starter from the 2010-11 team. The top four scorers are gone, and the program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since Bob Knight led it there in 2006-07. So why the sense of optimism right now in Lubbock? It’s all for one reason: the hiring of new coach Billy Gillispie. After successful tenures at both UTEP and Texas A&M (and a decent two years at Kentucky that most other schools would accept), Gillispie is tailor-made for this job. At this point, his roster is bare: nine freshmen and only a few recognizable faces. The 2011-12 campaign may be difficult, but it won’t stay that way for long.

Gillispie Will Attempt to Rehabiltate His Image in Lubbock

The Stars: This team revolves around forward Robert Lewandowski, the only player on the team who averaged more than 13 minutes per game last season after starting 26 games. As the only senior on the roster, he’s also never been a primary scoring option. However, he’s a big, strong center with a decent defensive presence, and he’s a smart player who makes high-percentage shots. Plus, Lewandowski also lost 25 pounds this offseason, which means he’ll be significantly more mobile. The lighter frame should also help with his stamina, as he seemed to wear down toward the end of last year. He doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional “star,” but he’s got to emerge as the go-to option this season. If not, Tech’s going to have a heck of a time scoring on the offensive end.

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RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – Plains/Mountains Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2010

For the second October in a row, we’re bringing you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.

You can find all previous RTC 2010-11 Impact Players posts here.

Plains/Mountains Region (KS, CO, WY, OK, TX)

  • LaceDarius Dunn* – Sr, G – Baylor. Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning: there’s no news. We know that in order for him to be an Impact Player for this region and to indeed fulfill the promise that’s implied when your name pops up on all sorts of pre-season All-America teams, LaceDarius Dunn has to actually see the floor, and as of right now he’s still suspended from competition. He’s practicing, he’s attending classes, but that suspension from games of any kind is indefinite, so what Dunn is doing most is waiting. So are we, because we want to see the guy play some more, and soon. We’ve backed LaceDarius since his first moments on the Baylor campus and we’ve enjoyed watching him grow as a basketball player during his time there. Dunn was a factor right from the start in Waco, averaging 13.6 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 22 MPG as a freshman, and he’s only gotten more impressive each season. You could see his confidence grow by the game through his sophomore year as he tacked a couple of points onto that scoring average (15.7 PPG) and took on more responsibility. Last season was probably the school’s best since 1950 and earned the Bears their best year-end ranking ever (#10), and Dunn was the centerpiece along with Ekpe Udoh. The unquestioned team leader, Dunn put his scoring gift on full display, contributing 19.6 PPG (33rd in the nation) in just over 32 MPG. Because of his quickness and his deep shooting range, he represents the ultimate defensive conundrum. If you play up on him, he’s by you. If you give him a cushion — and he doesn’t need much space at all — he’ll drill you from range. If you get physical, not only will he match you (Dunn is a disturbingly solid 6’4, 205), but he’ll be more than happy to repair to the free throw line (85.7% last season) and bleed you to death with paper cuts. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about his game is that shooting accuracy. If Dunn can see the rim, he’s in range, and he has no qualms about letting it sail. He nailed 116 threes last season, a single-season record for the school. His next trey will be his 300th, and he’s already hit more of them than any other Baylor player. Those 299 threes put him 91 bombs away from breaking the Big 12 record of 389 held by Texas’ A.J Abrams, and seeing as how Dunn has had no problem breaking 100 the past two seasons, we think he’ll get there. Considering all that, his overall shooting percentage becomes that much more impressive. He shot 45.2% last year and has posted a 44.9% mark for his Baylor career. This brings up the question, again: how do you guard this man? It’ll be fun to watch Big 12 opponents make a go of it this season, that’s for sure — we just have to get the guy on the floor and past this current situation regarding the alleged assault. Because of the strange, conflicting stories from some of the people involved and the paucity of other details that have emerged about this matter, we’re not sure where the truth lies or what outcome would constitute justice. We just hope it’s one that results in LaceDarius Dunn playing basketball as soon and as much as possible.

If Dunn Keeps His Head, He Could Be Baylor's first AP All-American First Teamer

  • Jacob Pullen – Sr, G – Kansas State. Expectations, much?  The last time Jacob Pullen’s Kansas State Wildcats were ranked as high as they are in the Preseason Coaches Poll (#3), John F. Kennedy was a relatively unknown senator from Massachusetts.  The year was 1959, and the Wildcats were ranked #1 in the final AP poll heading into the NCAA Tournament (regrettably, the Cats lost to Oscar Robertson’s Cincinnati in the regional finals).  In large part due to the big-shot making abilities of the six-foot guard who has a great chance to re-write the K-State record books this season, Frank Martin’s KSU squad is poised to make a run at its first Final Four since the 60s and its first Big 8/12 conference title since the 70s.  Pullen, the Big 12 Preseason POY as voted on by the coaches, is expected to run more of the point now that last year’s starter at that position Denis Clemente has graduated, but his ability to successfully play either the one or the two position is well-documented by league opponents.  Let’s be honest, though; with Pullen mimicking the scorer’s mentality of other height-challenged combo guards that have come before him, it doesn’t matter what “position” head coach Frank Martin puts him in.  The Beard (which is rounding into form for the season, incidentally) will have the ball in his hands when it’s crunch time, just as he did in a 34-point explosion against Jimmer Fredette and BYU in the NCAA second round last season and in multiple overtimes in another win (and 28-point performance) against Xavier in the Sweet Sixteen.  It’s not very easy to stop a player who can routinely go for 20+ against some of the best defensive coaches in the country (16 times last year), but the one thing you do not want to do against Pullen is leave him open from behind the arc.  Make him put the ball on the floor and try to get to the rim.  He’s not a traditional dead-eye shooter by any stretch, but he can torch it from outside when he finds a groove — seven threes against UNLV and BYU; six against Alabama, Xavier, Baylor and South Dakota.  Last year he tied Askia Jones’ school-record of 110 threes in a season because he’s learned how to pick his spots appropriately, exhibited by the nearly 40% conversion rate he enjoyed (a significant improvement from his 30% and 34% he shot from deep in his first two years in Manhattan).  Perhaps reflecting the grit of his fiery head coach, Pullen is also an elite defender, having been selected as a member of the six-man Big 12 all-defensive team last year.  Put all of this together — the  scoring, the defense, the grit, the BEARD — and you’re faced with the simple fact that the K-State guard is on the short list of a dozen or so players who are in contention for 1st team All-American and national Player of the Year honors in 2010-11.  The better he plays, the more likely it is that the fortunes of Kansas State basketball is on its way to reclaiming some of its ancient glory and make comparisons with teams a half-century ago completely moot.

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RTC Live: NIT – Texas Tech @ Seton Hall

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

The Red Raiders of Texas Tech come east to kick off their last run in the 2010 season, as they will face the Pirates of Seton Hall at the Rock in Newark, New Jersey. The Big 12 schedule was not kind to Texas Tech; after stumbling to an 0-3 start, the Red Raiders, led by junior Mike Singletary at the forward spot and John Roberson at the point, rallied for a 4-2 run that included as sweep of Oklahoma and wins over Iowa State and NCAA-bound Oklahoma State, before hitting a seven-game losing streak to close out their conference schedule. A brief revival in the Big 12 Conference Tournament (an 82-67 win over Colorado) ended in the quarterfinals with a loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, 80-68. Seton Hall faced their own Murderer’s Row in the Big East. The Pirates’ first 11 games came against postseason teams, eight of whom are NCAA-bound. The Pirates managed a 4-7 record through that stretch, and finished with a 5-2 flourish to head into the Big East Tournament with a 9-9 record. Like Texas Tech, they won their first round game (a 109-106 horse race with Providence) before bowing (to Notre Dame, 68-56), in a game unofficially dubbed a “play-in” to the NCAAs. This is the season where every game is the last game, and each team just wants to keep playing. Join RTC as we go to the Rock tonight for Texas Tech at Seton Hall in the opening round of the 2010 National Invitational Tournament.

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Big 12 Tourney Daily Diary: 1st Round

Posted by jstevrtc on March 11th, 2010

I love days like yesterday.  Sure, the drive was a beautiful 8.5 hours of the same view — that is to say, farms, farms, and more farms, and where there weren’t actual farms, there was grass.  And it’s all flatter than a Shaquille O’Neal free throw.  But no matter the surroundings, it’s one of my favorite things to do.  Is there any greater feeling — especially right after thawing out from a tough winter — than packing a bag and a cooler (of fruit, granola, and bottled water, mind you), filling the gas tank, and hitting the road?  There aren’t many, for me.  Especially when the Big 12 Tournament is waiting at the end of that journey.  Don’t get me wrong, though — I was thankful for the satellite radio.  Have the satellite radio guys received their Nobel Prize, yet?  One second, I’m listening to ESPN Radio or Sporting News Radio dudes talking about hoops.  Then the NFL talk starts and I switch to, say, the BBC’s Europe Today, or a song by Gomez, or some blues from B.B. King.  Then back to hoops talk.  Fantastic.  And no, we’re not affiliated with them in any way.  I’m just being honest.

One of the best parts of any journey like this is when I text my friends who are at their jobs.  I’ll send them some generic message asking them what they’re doing, and they’ll respond with some variation of, “I’m at the office, knee-deep in status reports/memos/directives, trying to knock things off my action items list.  You never text during work hours.  What’s up?”  And I’ll type, “Oh, nothing.  I was driving to the Big 12 Tournament, enjoying some tunes, a gorgeous drive, a 70-degree day, and the prospect of four days of top-flight basketball.  Thought I’d give you a shout.  But you go back to your thing.”  Even though this is a blog and I’m allowed to type almost anything, I’ll spare you the vitriol that my friends offered in response.  Not even close to being safe for work.

So, as the comedian says, I’m here all week.  This’ll mostly be about basketball, but you might see some reviews of barbecue restaurants and/or interviews and pics from the festivities here.  This is such a great time of year, and this is the conference tournament at which to be.  Now, some notes from Wednesday’s games:

Texas 82, Iowa State 75

I didn’t know what we were going to get in this one, since Texas was obviously reeling, having dropped eight of 14, and Iowa State had just scored that victory over Kansas.  But is this what Texas needed, meaning the second season to arrive?  There’s a small part of me that’s been wondering if Texas mentally checked out at the midpoint of the season after they took their first loss because of the boredom that can take over teams.  A longshot, I know.  But there aren’t many reasons why a team this talented and athletic can’t get themselves out of first gear, a place they seemed to be stuck since the middle of January.

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings 

  1. Kansas (13-1, 27-2) - The bad news for Kansas fans is that you lost a conference game after a tremendous run. The good news is that you have seen this before, (a road loss to Oklahoma State) and last time the Jayhawks bounced back in a big way, winning the national championship.
  2. Kansas State (11-3, 24-4) – Its still not out of the question for the Wildcats to share the conference title with KU.  The game Wednesday in Lawrence will be pretty intense, and KSU probably knows they will need to beat Kansas at least once (on Wednesday, or in the Big 12 Tournament) in order to have an argument for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Baylor (9-5, 22-6) – That was a huge week for Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears. They needed to hold home court against Texas A&M, which they did, and then go on the road and take care of business against the Sooners. Right now this is probably the last team I’d want to see on my side of the bracket if I was a top seed in the NCAA tournament. BU plays with fire and intensity that is even unmatched by most Big 12 teams, and that’s saying a lot.
  4. Texas A&M (9-5, 20-8) – The Aggies, along with the Bears, are in really good shape for a top four seed in the conference tournament and grabbing that all-important first round bye. B.J. Holmes spraining his ankle will not help, but that’s why getting the bye is even more important for TAMU because they would like to give Holmes the extra day of rest and recovery.
  5. Missouri (9-5, 21-8) – Losing Justin Safford to a torn ACL costs the Tigers size on the inside which they desperately need. I don’t see the loss of Safford being as important as losing one of their better scorers, but usually when you lose a veteran player late in the season it can demoralize your team. Mizzou should be fine with a guy like Mike Anderson at the helm, but right now they’re fighting very hard to improve their seed in the NCAA tournament and will miss Safford’s presence on the court.
  6. Oklahoma State (8-6, 20-8) – The week didn’t start off well with a loss at Texas, but it certainly ended pretty well with their upset over KU. The team you saw on Saturday is definitely not the team that OSU brings every night, as it’s impossible to shoot that well every game, but we did see the Cowboys being more efficient with the basketball. They spread the scoring around even with James Anderson putting up 27 points. The most impressive stat of this game was that OSU outrebounded KU 34-26, that’s something most people never saw coming.
  7. Texas (9-6, 23-7) – The Longhorns had a big scare when J’Covan Brown collided with B.J. Holmes in the second half of the game on Saturday. Texas can’t afford to lose a scoring guard especially this late in the season, but he made it back ok on Monday night’s game against Oklahoma.  The Horns will need to win this weekend at Baylor to give itself a shot at a top four seed in KC.
  8. Colorado (4-10, 13-15) – Other than the atrocity that was the Mizzou vs. Colorado game on Wednesday night, where we saw CU quit in the first five minutes, the Buffaloes had a pretty good week, taking down Iowa State in Boulder on Saturday to notch their fourth conference win.  That’s the highest conference win total that CU has had since the 2005-06 season. So congratulations to Colorado, and hopefully they can continue to improve and make the whole conference stronger.
  9. Texas Tech (4-10, 16-12) – Currently the coldest team in conference play, on a five-game losing streak, TTU will be looking to either upset Baylor at home or beat Colorado on the road this week in order to “right the ship” before the conference tournament starts. John Roberson (14.8 PPG, 5.3 APG) is probably one of the better point guards in the conference that no one talks about, and along with junior Mike Singletary they could lead this team to some upsets in the next two weeks.
  10. Oklahoma (4-11, 13-16) - It looks like OU will be luck to get Willie Warren back at all this season. His draft stock has plummeted, so I guess it’s not entirely out of the question that he could skip the NBA draft and stay in Norman. However, it’s more than likely that OU will not have Warren next season, and Jeff Capel will start rebuilding this program.
  11. Iowa State (3-11, 14-15) - The Cyclones will have a say in how the Big 12 standings sift out in this last week, and they could be the ultimate spoilers against Mizzou on Tuesday in Ames. More importantly I don’t think any ISU fans expected a possible last place finish this season, and it could be time head coach Greg McDermott is on the hot seat.
  12. Nebraska (2-12, 14-15) - I give credit to this Nebraska team because they have not given up, they play every team very tough. However, they just don’t have the talent to compete in the Big 12 right now.  Brian Diaz and Christian Standhardinger, two foreign freshman forwards, will be good for NU in the future. So at least there is something to look forward to on the hard court in Lincoln. But hey, the women’s team is undefeated.

Team of the Week: Baylor Bears - The Bears desperately needed to beat Texas A&M in order to maintain a shot at a top four seed in the conference tournament. BU took care of business and now they’re back in the top 25.  This week has two potential wins for Baylor, who can move as high as second place because they have the tiebreaker over Kansas State.

Player of the Week: Matt Pilgrim F Oklahoma State (8-8 FG, 2-2 FT, 6 REB) - that was Pilgrim’s line against Kansas. He is averaging just over 8 PPG on the season, so I give him Player of the Week honors for stepping up against the big competition. If OSU can get production from him like this in the tournament they will be a very hard team to beat.

This Week’s Predictions

Tuesday March 2

  • Colorado at Nebraska (8:00 PM ET) - Both teams are coming off rare wins in conference play, so there isn’t really a “hot” team to pick in this matchup. I like the Buffaloes because they have a lot more talent in their two star guards, Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, than NU has in their starting lineup.

Winner: Colorado

  • Missouri at Iowa State (8:00 PM ET) - The Cyclones will be looking to play spoiler in this matchup. They played Mizzou tough in Columbia so I expect they will do the same in Ames. Marquis Gilstrap had one of his better conference games against MU, so look for him to be a huge factor in this game. Overall, this is not a good matchup for the Tigers but Mike Anderson doesn’t usually let his team lose two games in a row, especially to a team with less talent.

Winner: Missouri

  • Baylor at Texas Tech (8:00 PM ET) - The Bears know that they will get Texas Tech’s best shot, especially now that BU is ranked. TTU has played many teams tough at home, regardless of how overmatched they may be, and I don’t think this game with be an exception. However, Baylor has the “Big Three,” LaceDarius Dunn, Ekpe Udoh and Tweety Carter.

Winner: Baylor

Wednesday March 3

  • Kansas State at Kansas (8:00 PM ET ESPN360) - If you don’t have ESPN360, find a friend with it and go to his house for this matchup. Kansas State is now officially the hottest team in the Big 12, going up against a KU team that is probably demoralized after getting blown out in Stillwater. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente are probably my favorite guard duo to watch in the country, and I also enjoy watching Xavier Henry’s silky smooth shot from behind the arc. If you’re a true college basketball fan you will find some way to watch this game, because it is one of the better matchups of the whole season. Kansas knows if they beat their rival they lock up the Big 12 regular season title, and KSU knows their only chance at sharing the title is to upset the Jayhawks in Lawrence, which just doesn’t happen.

Winner: Kansas

  • Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (9:00 PM ET ESPN2) - The fact is without B.J. Holmes, A&M is not the same team. Last time these teams played the Cowboys came out on top, and this time I think they will get the best of the Aggies again. Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis are a tremendous inside-outside duo for A&M, but it won’t be enough to stop James Anderson and company.

Winner: Oklahoma State

Saturday March 6

  • Texas A&M at Oklahoma (12 PM ET ESPN) – The Aggies will be looking for redemption against a different Oklahoma team in Norman. There will be a lot of fans on hand for this game, but the excitement level of the crowd remains to be seen. It’s hard to cheer on a team that has suspended three players and their “star” is most likely out for the year with a sickness. Tommy Mason-Griffin is the new leader at OU, but I don’t think he’s ready to lead his team to an upset of this caliber. TAMU knows they need a win to clinch a top four spot in the conference, and Mark Turgeon will make sure his guys are ready to play on Saturday.

Winner: Texas A&M

  • Nebraska at Oklahoma State (1:30 PM ET) - I’m not a liar, so I won’t say that the Cornhuskers have much of a chance in this game. It is going to be James Anderson’s last game in Stillwater, and look for him to put on a show in his “curtain call.”

Winner: Oklahoma State

  • Kansas at Missouri (2 PM ET CBS) - It’s always a great environment when these two rivals play. Last season, Zaire Taylor hit a game winner in Columbia and the Mizzou fans rushed the court (both teams were ranked in the top 20 so it was hardly an upset), which shows how intense this rivalry is on both sides. KU will again be looking to put MU in its place, and since the Tigers have absolutely no answer for Cole Aldrich I like Kansas to win this one easily.

Winner: Kansas

  • Texas Tech at Colorado (4 PM ET) - This will most likely be the battle for eighth place in the conference. Colorado fans want to see as many wins out of their Buffs as possible this season, and I think they will pleased on Saturday. Colorado will have its best week since they upset Baylor, and finish at 6-10 in conference play.

Winner: Colorado

  • Texas at Baylor (4 PM ET ESPN) - Baylor has lost at least one game every week they show up in the rankings. I don’t think this week will be any different as the Longhorns will come into Waco and upset the Bears. It took Baylor overtime to upset Texas in Austin, so we all know we’re in store for a great basketball game.

Winner: Texas

  • Iowa State at Kansas State (6 PM ET)- Craig Brackins had his best game of the season against KSU in their first matchup. I like Brackins to have another great game, but the Wildcats will come out on top to clinch second place in the conference.

Winner: Kansas State

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on December 17th, 2009

checkinginon

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (9-0)- The Jayhawks dominated Radford and La Salle at home this last week, but now the schedule gets much harder.  A Michigan team that is in need of a big win will visit Lawrence on Saturday.
  2. Texas (9-0)- The Longhorns blow out every team they play, probably because they have such an easy schedule, but also because Damion James is averaging a double-double. The matchup between the frontcourts of Texas and North Carolina may provide us with the most evenly matched game of the season, between two final four contenders.
  3. Kansas State (9-1)- Sorry Red Raiders fans, but I have to give the three-spot to the Wildcats despite TTU being the only other team in the conference outside Texas and Kansas that is undefeated. In my opinion, a road win against UNLV is better than a home win over Washington.
  4. Texas Tech (9-0)- John Roberson put the team on his back against TCU after being down five at halftime. Roberson played all 40 minutes and finished with 21 points on 7-11 from the field.
  5. Texas A&M (8-2)- Losing to New Mexico is nothing to be ashamed of; the Lobos can play with anyone in the power conferences.  The Aggies need to look at their game against Washington on December 22nd to get their name back in the national spotlight.
  6. Oklahoma State (9-1)- James Anderson is continuing his great play, and if Marshall Moses keeps averaging a double-double, Oklahoma State will be a hard team to beat in this conference.
  7. Oklahoma (7-3)- The Sooners have a good streak going, and they should have two more wins before they play on the road against Gonzaga.
  8. Baylor (8-1)- The Bears were off last week, but they’re win over Xavier looks a lot better after Xavier beat Cincinnati.
  9. Iowa State (7-3)- Beating their in-state rivals should get this team back on track.  The Cyclones have a lot of talent, they just need everyone to play well at the same time.
  10. Missouri (6-3)- Losing to Oral Roberts?  That’s a sign of a team that is in rebuilding mode.
  11. Nebraska (7-2)- A very ugly win over Oregon State, but it was a win nonetheless.
  12. Colorado (6-4)- Losing against Colorado State, a team that has been dwelling in the basement of the MWC the last few seasons, won’t get anyone in Boulder excited about basketball.

Team of the Week:  Kansas State WildcatsJacob Pullen had a huge night against UNLV (28 points, and 7-10 from behind the arc), which helped lead the Wildcats to their second big win of the week.  Denis Clemente and Pullen can lead this team to a deep run in the NCAA tournament when all other parts of the team are running smoothly.

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ATB: Don’t You EVER Give Up…

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2009

atb

Jimmy V Classic.  As someone whose family and loved ones have been seriously impacted by cancer, this is always one of our favorite events of the season.  We vividly remember the night at the ESPYs in March 1993 when Jim Valvano gave his inspirational speech, and even sixteen years later, it continues to stand the test of time.  “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up” became a mantra for people of our generation, and the positive effects that the Jimmy V Foundation has produced over the years gives Valvano a lasting legacy that many of his fellow coaches, many of whom were more successful at coaching basketball, will never know.  As long as this site exists, we’ll do this every year, and we’ll do it for the Green Bay Packers, Coach!

And now, on to the games…  RTC Live was in the building.

  • #13 Georgetown 72, #20 Butler 65.  Georgetown got 25 points and 14 rebounds from Greg Monroe as the Hoyas dominated Butler on the inside, outrebounding the Bulldogs 43-30. Perhaps Monroe’s biggest impact came on the defensive end, as he helped force Matt Howard into one of the worst games  of his career as he finished 1-9 from the floor while looking intimidated in the post before fouling out. Georgetown jumped out to a 52-35 second-half lead, which Butler couldn’t bounce back from. Austin Freeman was 4-5 from deep in adding 18 points for the Hoyas, who picked up a must-needed statement win. Butler, who got 24 and 8 boards from Gordon Hayward, is not the top 10 team that many predicted they would be during the preseason right now, but this is still an impressive win nonetheless. For Butler to be in position to earn an at-large bid should it come to that, they are now probably going to have to beat both Ohio State and Xavier in coming weeks.
  • Indiana 74, Pittsburgh 64.  Indiana picked up their first relevant win over a BCS team (beating Iowa last year doesn’t count) in the Tom Crean era as they thoroughly outplayed Pitt in MSG tonight. Indiana go 20 from Verdell Jones and 18 from Christian Watford as they finally broke through for a good win after losing three heartbreakers this season. The Hoosiers are going to be a dangerous team, as they do have some talented youngsters (we didn’t even get a good feel for Maurice Creek tonight), but IU may still be a year away from really being able to compete and make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Pitt, on the other hand, didn’t look like Pitt. They struggled defensively, they were beat up inside, and they settled for tough, deep jumpers. If Ashton Gibbs hadn’t been hitting from three (he had 25 on 8-25 shooting, 5-15 from three), this one could have been ugly (although, uglier than being down 17 to Indiana in this stage of their rebuild is tough to do).

Not an Upset of the Night Illinois 79, #24 Vanderbilt 68. Yes, Vandy was the ranked team, but Illinois was ranked as recently as last week and these teams are roughly even in our eyes.  A very nice intersectional matchup nonetheless.  The Illini shot a lights-out 59% from the field and ran out to a 9-0 early lead that put Vandy behind the eight-ball from the beginning.  Illinois guard Demetri McCamey lit up the Commodore defense for 8-10 from the field and 23/5 assts, while DJ Richardson added 16/3/3 assts in the win.  The Illinois defense has been somewhat maligned thus far this season, but they did a good job tonight of limiting AJ Ogilvy’s (8/3) touches and forced Jermaine Beal into a 4-14 shooting night.

Some Mid-Major Revenge (Some Not).  There were a few good opportunities for mid-majors to take down BCS teams tonight, and the little guys got a split this evening among the four games up for grabs.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #4 – Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2009

seasonpreviewPatrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Kansas (15-1)
  2. Texas (14-2)
  3. Oklahoma (11-5)
  4. Kansas State (10-6)
  5. Missouri (9-7)
  6. Texas A&M (8-8)
  7. Oklahoma State (8-8)
  8. Iowa State (7-9)
  9. Baylor (5-11)
  10. Texas Tech (4-12)
  11. Nebraska (3-13)
  12. Colorado (2-14)

All Conference Team:

  • Sherron Collins (G), Kansas
  • Willie Warren (G) Oklahoma
  • Craig Brackins (F) Iowa State
  • Damion James (F), Texas
  • Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas

6th Man. James Anderson (G) Oklahoma State

Impact Newcomer. Xavier Henry (G), Kansas

big 12 logoWhat You Need to Know.

  • KU Dominance.  Of the 13 years that the Big 12 has held a conference tournament, Kansas has won the crown six times, which is the most of any Big 12 school.  Kansas has been deemed the regular season conference champion nine times in those 13 years, sharing the title in three of those times. Every time Kansas has shared the title the Jayhawks were the two-seed in the conference tournament.
  • Two At the Top. It’s very possible that Texas and Kansas could share the Big 12 title this season. Texas’ toughest conference games are Kansas (in Austin), then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State on the road.  The Longhorns seem to have the advantage over the Jayhawks when it comes to an easier conference schedule, but with KU bringing back all of its talent and adding one of the top freshman in the nation, I still believe that Kansas will stay atop the conference alone.
  • Where are the Tigers. Where do you rank the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 this season? After being picked seventh by the coaches in last year’s preseason poll, the Tigers finished third and won the Big 12 Tournament en route to an Elite Eight appearance. Mike Anderson will continue to play his “Fastest Forty Minutes” style, and behind leadership from senior guard JT Tiller (Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009), and sophomore guard Kim English, it’s hard to determine where Mizzou will be at the end of the season. Anderson has put together a very athletic lineup, which should be able to play to his coaching style, but their lack of experience and a consistent scorer could hurt them.
  • X-Factor. Freshman phenom Xavier Henry could be the key to Kansas’ hopes of a second national title in just three seasons.  A late decider, Henry could very well be one of the most productive freshmen in the NCAA this season.  He is surrounded by unbelievable talent that will hog most of the attention from opposing defenses, which should open up many scoring opportunities for Henry.

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