Big 12 M5: 03.05.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 5th, 2014


  1. Through the first 16 games conference play, Baylor amazingly played themselves out of and back into contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Now it appears their at-large candidacy is all but sewn up by beating Iowa State 74-61 on Senior Night in Waco. Fittingly, Baylor seniors Brady Heslip (18 points, 5-for-8 from three) and Cory Jefferson (21 points, seven boards and two blocks) led the way and helped the Bears improve to 8-9 in the Big 12. How’s this for patterns: Baylor has made every even-numbered tournament year since 2008. Why mess with happy?
  2. On the heels of Senior Night, the Waco Tribune dove in to the story of fifth-year senior Cory Jefferson. It might sound hard to believe but Jefferson was a freshman on the 2010 Elite Eight team with guys like LaceDarius Dunn (!!) and Tweety Carter (!!!). You can tell Jefferson is a patient guy: he was willing to redshirt his sophomore season, stay on the team despite playing ten minutes per game in 2011-12 and then decided to put the NBA on hold to complete his college career in 2013. Now with a likely tournament bid and potential NBA career nearing, Jefferson is reaping the benefits of making the decision to stay in Waco.
  3. BREAKING: Bill Self is happy about something for once. The Kansas coach is looking forward to tonight’s Senior Night festivities when his Jayhawks take on Texas Tech in Lawrence. KU plans to honor Tarik Black, Justin Wesley and Niko Roberts and here Self is quite vivid about his feelings for these players. For whatever reason, folks have negatively chimed in about the team not properly “celebrating” the program’s tenth straight Big 12 title last week. At least on this night, something worth celebrating will be celebrated. Congrats to the Jayhawk seniors.
  4. Quietly, Oklahoma is after some valuable real estate on the final week of the regular season. The Sooners sit in second at 10-6 in the Big 12, tied with Texas but OU owns the tiebreak over UT by virtue of their season sweep. They will host West Virginia tonight and wrap-up the schedule against winless TCU on Saturday. It’s amazing to think that the coaches picked Oklahoma to tie for fifth in the preseason poll with Kansas State but are now on the verge of finishing right behind Kansas. It would mark the first time that had happened since Blake Griffin’s sophomore season in 2009. It’s looking more and more like Lon Kruger emerging as the favorite for conference COY.
  5. It’s now or never time for West Virginia. What WVU need to show the NCAA Selection Committee in the next ten days is that a) they can win games consistently, b) win games against quality opponents and c) win games against quality opponents away from home. They’ll get a chance to do all three starting in Norman tonight, Kansas at home Saturday and during next week’s Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. But all of that starts with the type of effort the team gets from leading scorer Eron Harris. Harris is a statistical oddity for a team’s top scorer: the Mountaineers are a surprising 3-7 when Harris scores 20 or more and just 2-4 in Big 12 games. Simply put WVU will need all hands to squeeze in an eighth Big 12 squad into the Big Dance.
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Looking Ahead: Kansas Jayhawks Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on April 15th, 2013

The chatter about next season began in Lawrence not long after Trey Burke led an improbable comeback against the Jayhawks in the Sweet Sixteen, and with good reason. Kansas loses all five starters this year. The four seniors — Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, and redshirt freshman Ben McLemore (who technically hasn’t declared for the NBA Draft yet, but there is a better chance of President Obama reading this article in the Oval Office than McLemore returning next season). He is projected to be a top three pick with many publications predicting that he will go #1 overall. Freshman guard Anrio Adams also announced last week that he had received a release from the coaching staff and was set to transfer, but he has since changed his stance and said he is staying at Kansas. It’s hard to guess where Adams will be playing next season, if anywhere. Either way, the Kansas roster turnover resembles that of the 2008-09 season, when most of the national championship team left and Self returned only two players with experience, junior Sherron Collins and sophomore Cole Aldrich. Collins blossomed into a star that season and Aldrich eventually left early for the NBA himself. Is there that kind of talent returning next season? No, but next year’s incoming class is better than that which arrived in 2009, which should help the transition somewhat.

Bill Self Might Need To Be Patient Next Season.

Bill Self Might Need To Be Patient Next Season.

Returning Players With Experience:

  • Naadir Tharpe, sophomore point guard (19.4 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, 34.3% FG): Naadir Tharpe is a shoot-first point guard who isn’t a great shooter. When he decides to play like a true point guard and looks to distribute the ball to open teammates, he’s not bad. And as the only point guard remaining with any real game experience, expect him to start from day one. But he needs to realize (or Self needs to be in his ear every day this summer) that at some point, he’s not a scorer. There was a three-game stretch in February where he went 5-of-22 from the floor. He was 2-of-15 against TCU, 2-of-11 against Iowa State and 4-of-17 in the NCAA Tournament. But that’s not all his fault. Self had no other options on the bench, and this Kansas team was sometimes timid. Ben McLemore should have taken 18 to 20 shots a game but also had a tendency to disappear. Elijah Johnson shied away from the ball in certain situations. Travis Releford wouldn’t hurt a mouse, and Jeff Withey was a defensive giant with limited offensive post moves. Tharpe is ever-confident, and you could sense that Self didn’t want to kill his aggressiveness even if it meant a few 2-of-11 shooting nights. Next season might be different, however. It might have to be different.

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Morning Five: Labor Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 3rd, 2012

  1. What appeared to be a rebirth of basketball at UCLA is quickly turning into a potential nightmare as reports of a potential NCAA investigation into the recruitment of the Bruins top three incoming recruits has surfaced. We have known for a while that the NCAA was investigating the recruitment of Shabazz Muhammad, the star of the incoming class, but what is new is that the NCAA is also investigating the recruitment of Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, both top 20 recruits. Details on the investigation are sketchy at best–it is not even known if this is tied to the Muhammad investigation or if this is a separate case. Whatever it is it is not good news for the Bruins who were hoping to become relevant nationally for the first time since 2008.
  2. UCLA’s crosstown rival USC had its own issues this weekend as the investigation into the Trojans own scandal revealed evidence that implicates former basketball player Davon Jefferson as well as football star Joe McKnight. One of the individuals being investigated reportedly admitted that he gave Jefferson $3,700 in cash. With the other issues the school has had they could be facing a fairly harsh penalty from the NCAA if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims. If that wasn’t enough bad news, the school also announced yesterday that Maurice Jones, who led the team in scoring, assists, and steals last season, would miss the upcoming season after being declared academically ineligible. While the Trojans should be much improved from last season (read: not absolutely atrocious) this will clearly be a big blow to any NCAA aspirations they may have had.
  3. The Trojans weekend was probably only topped by the one that Billy Gillispie just experienced.  Not only did the Texas Tech coach have to deal with reports of what some have called a “player mutiny” he was also hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition. The news of the so-called mutiny should not be a shock given Gillispie’s reputation as the alleged injustices involved the hours they were practicing and “mental games” that Gillispie was playing. As for the hospitalization it appears to have been a hypertensive emergency where Gillispie’s blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, but from reports he seems to be doing well at this time. Even with that good news Gillispie has a lot on his plate when he gets out of the hospital.
  4. Wagner got a boost on Friday when the NCAA granted Dwaun Anderson a waiver allowing him to play for the Seahawks at the start of this season instead of January as some expected. Anderson, who was Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, had enrolled at Michigan State last summer before transferring to Wagner, which raised some question as to when he would be eligible. Anderson provides an already solid Wagner team with a level of athleticism that could bring the team, which is led by first-year head coach Bashir Mason, to another level assuming they can integrate him into their current group of players.
  5. If you are not familiar with Kansas forward Justin Wesley you may be hearing a lot about his exploits in the near-future even if it is not on a basketball court (well at least a real one). The Jayhawk junior, who averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per game last year, has been selected to portray the legendary Wilt Chamberlain in an upcoming independent film titled “Jayhawkers”, which looks at Chamberlain’s impact on race relations in and around the Kansas campus. There is a chance that this film will not get made due to a legal dispute with the Chamberlain family not to mention some questionable funding issues. Given the nature of the film, which is being made by a Kansas professor, we suspect that the film would not spend too much time on the court where the only part of Wesley’s game that resembles Chamberlain’s is his free throw shooting (49.9% for Wesley and 51.1% for Chamberlain) or the Big Dipper’s prodigious appetite for, uh, extracurricular activities.
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ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting North Carolina State vs. Kansas

Posted by KCarpenter on March 23rd, 2012

North Carolina State, by this point, has hopefully demonstrated that it has the talent to match up with just about any team in the nation. The Wolfpack has height, speed, athleticism, and skill. Kansas, however, has all that, tournament-tested experience and perhaps the second best player in college basketball, a guy named Thomas Robinson. Like so many games that NC State has competed in this season, this is a game that may very well come down to foul trouble. To win this game, C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and DeShawn Painter need to stay on the floor, which may be a challenge considering how good the Jayhawks are at drawing fouls. Yet, in Kansas, NC State faces a team that shares their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

Gottfried Was A Controversial Hire, But He Has The Wolfpack Back In The Sweet Sixteen

Lorenzo Brown, Leslie, and Howell are all excellent at drawing fouls and Kansas’s big men are fairly susceptible to foul trouble. Jeff Withey‘s physical style means that he often finds himself with more than a few fouls while the rest of the big man rotation, outside of Thomas Robinson (who still gets called for 3.5 fouls per 40 minutes), fouls like there is no tomorrow. Kevin Young gets called for 5.4 fouls per 40, while Justin Wesley‘s 8.6 fouls per 40 is about as double-take inducing as it gets. If  NC State can win the foul battle, avoiding fouls on defense while drawing contact on offense, the Wolfpack may be able to leverage an advantage in the frontcourt while picking up easy points from the free throw line. NC State’s ability to keep Georgetown‘s Henry Sims on the bench with foul trouble was a major key to last Sunday’s upset and I think a Friday night victory follows a similar game plan.

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Big 12 Tournament Semifinals Thoughts

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 10th, 2012

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor. He filed this report from the Big 12 Tournament semifinals in Kansas City. You can follow Brian on Twitter at @bri_goodman.

Baylor 82, Kansas 71

The Baylor Bears have deservedly had their share of doubters all season. After starting the campaign 17-0, Scott Drew‘s team was swept by the top two teams in the Big 12 and suffered losses to the other two squads in the conference that are locks for the NCAA Tournament. While Baylor played one of its most complete games of the season in a drubbing of Kansas State on Thursday in Kansas City, the knock remained that the talented Bears didn’t have the defensive toughness, focus and heart to match up with its seemingly endless supply of tools and athleticism the other teams offered. One game doesn’t erase an entire reputation, but Baylor put a dent in that line of thinking by withstanding a furious Kansas run in front of a de facto road crowd to hold on for the win in the first Big 12 semifinal Friday night. “This was a night we grew up,” Drew later said.

Brady Heslip's Late Threes Were Key to the Baylor Victory

The outcome derailed what hoopheads have been hoping for in a rubber match between Kansas and Missouri, but the Bears are hardly concerned with such matters. With Thomas Robinson battling foul trouble, Baylor went on a 13-4 run to take a 13-point lead early in the second half. Kansas was taxed physically, but the Jayhawks weren’t going to go down without making a run of their own, and that’s exactly what they did. Kansas answered with a 19-4 spurt, keyed by great defense from Jeff Withey and a collective effort on offense, and briefly surged ahead. “Tonight, you knew they were going to make a run,” Drew said after the game. The Bears, prone to disappointment despite a slew of young talent, were tasked with answering. Perry Jones III led the response, scoring six of his game-high 18 points to help Baylor pull ahead for good, but it was one of the overlooked Bears, Brady Heslip, who delivered with the knockout punches. A pair of threes by the sophomore guard put BU ahead for good and Drew’s biggest smile of the night came during the postseason press conference as he spoke about Heslip’s background. “He has an unbelievable work ethic (with) a good bloodline.”

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