Four Takeaways from Kansas State’s Win over Kansas

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 11th, 2014

It seems rare when a team that comes back to force overtime in the manner that Kansas did ends up losing the game, but that’s exactly what happened in Manhattan against Kansas State last night. The Wildcats held a nine-point lead with under two minutes remaining (sound familiar, Kansas fans?) but some Jayhawks’ layups, putbacks, and a pair of costly Kansas State turnovers sent the game to overtime. No matter. The Wildcats continued to dominate the paint and won for only the fourth time in the series’ last 52 games, 85-82. Here are four takeaways from last night’s action in Bramlage Coliseum.

Marcus Foster has been a big reason for Kansas State's improved play as of late.

Marcus Foster has been a big reason for Kansas State’s improved play as of late.

  1. Kansas State is putting together a solid NCAA Tournament resume. After losing three out of five in the middle of January, the Wildcats now have back-to-back wins over top 15 teams. Their resume includes impressive victories over Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. Last night’s win puts them at 17-7 and just two games back of Kansas in the Big 12 standings.
  2. Marcus Foster is legit. The Wildcat freshman guard had 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting and added a pair of late free throws in overtime to ice the game with 22 seconds left. He came into the game averaging 14.7 PPG but has been especially hot lately, scoring over 20 points in four of his last five games. He’s averaged 27 PPG over the last two games in wins over #7 Kansas and #15 Texas. Read the rest of this entry »
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After the Buzzer: Opening Weekend Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2013

ATB

This Weekend’s Lede. It started somewhat unceremoniously with a nondescript game between Air Force and Army in something called the All-Military Classic in Lexington, Virginia. But after seven long months of quiet, the early afternoon tip between two of the military academies in a tiny gym on the campus of VMI represented the reappearance of the sport we call college basketball. For years we’ve clamored for an Opening Night with the appropriate pomp and fanfare that the game deserves upon its November arrival, and with the excitement around social media and the number of good games available on the various networks, we’re getting there. Some 225 other games involving D-I teams came throughout the weekend, and even though there were no aircraft carrier games scattered about the land, there was still plenty to get juiced about.

Your Watercooler Moment. The Triumphant Return of Joshua Smith.

Josh Smith Showed His Dominant Post Game in the Armed Forces Classic

Joshua Smith Showed Off His Dominant Post Game in the Armed Forces Classic

Approximately one year ago, the last time any of us saw Joshua Smith, we were subjected to this embarrassing crime against basketball. After a transfer year when he traveled cross-country to Georgetown and received a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately, it was hard to say what to expect this time around. We’ve always known that the 6’10″, 300+ pound center has soft hands, quick feet that belie his size and great touch around the basket, but his weight, and correspondingly, his stamina, have remained problematic. He simply couldn’t stay on the floor at UCLA, averaging only 19.3 minutes per game in a little over two seasons. But on Friday, for at least one night, Smith appeared to be a different player. Although Georgetown lost the Armed Forces Classic game to Oregon, the burly center logged 27 fruitful minutes, shot 10-of-13 from the field, and looked downright unstoppable inside on his way to 25 points. The Hoyas wouldn’t have been within 15 points of the Ducks were it not for Smith’s production, and it begs the question: Has the change of scenery allowed Smith to turn the corner in his development? If so, and what we saw this weekend is any indication, Georgetown has found itself with one of the most talented big men in the nation.

Sights & Sounds. Plenty of great stuff from Friday night, so check out the separate post we put together on Saturday to store it all. The top dunks, buzzer-beaters and some other notable videos and images are all over there, but we saved the best buzzer-beater of the weekend for here. Dayton was down two points as IPFW looked to inbound the ball to ice the big road upset. Then, this happened…

Brutal. And in case you’re too lazy to click through, here’s the best dunk of the weekend for good measure. Michael Qualls!

Top Storyline. Four Freshman Phenoms. We’ve been talking about them all offseason, and the debuts of some of the nation’s top rookies was everything we had hoped it would be. On Friday night, Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins were all playing at the same time, and none disappointed. In a dominant win over Davidson, Parker went for 22/6 on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor that included a silky-smooth 3-of-3 from deep. Randle did Parker one better with a 23/15 performance against UNC-Asheville that included an impressive 11-of-13 from the foul line. He followed that up with another 22/14/3 assts against Northern Kentucky on Sunday, becoming the first freshman to go for consecutive double-doubles in his first two collegiate games since Michael Beasley pulled the trick six years ago. Wiggins didn’t have a dominant performance in Kansas’ win over Louisiana-Monroe, tallying 16/3/3 stls in 34 minutes of action. The trio will all be on display tomorrow night at the Champions Classic, and so far, so good. We also shouldn’t forget Arizona’s star freshman, Aaron Gordon, who put up a 13/10/4 blks double-double himself in the Wildcats’ win over Cal Poly.

Four More Weekend Storylines.

  • These Games Are Foul. Well, some of them are, at least. There was an awful lot of preseason discussion given to the new hand-checking rules and how coaches, players and officials would have to adjust on the fly. Results have been mixed. One team that many pundits thought would be most impacted, Louisville, only had 14 total fouls in a 62-possession game against Charleston. On the other hand, a Seton Hall-Niagara game on Saturday resulted in a dreadful 73 fouls in an 81-possession game. In fact, there were more free throw attempts (102) than field goal attempts (101) in that game, which two hours and 28 minutes to complete. A total of 24 teams were called for 30 or more fouls over the weekend, while 18 were called for fewer than 15. The national average last season was 17.7 fouls per team per game (or 35.4 fouls per game), so this is definitely a trend worth watching.
  • ACC Darling Boston College Struggling. BC was a chic pick to make some noise in the ACC this season, and certainly there’s a lot of time left for the Eagles to get things going. But two losses over the weekend revealed that the same issues that Steve Donahue’s team had last season haven’t been solved. They still can’t guard anybody. In losses against Providence and Massachusetts, Boston College gave up 1.04 and 1.20 points per possession, respectively, and an average of 84 points per game. Furthermore, Bryce Cotton (28 points) and Cady Lalanne (27 points) lit their defense up, getting the shots they wanted whenever they wanted. Last season the Eagles finished 192nd in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency; if they don’t figure out a way to limit easy looks from the opposition, they’ll be staring another .500 season in the face not matter how good their offense becomes.
  • Mr. Robinson May Need a New Neighborhood. It was no secret that Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson came into this season on the hot seat. After yet another embarrassing home loss to a low-major team Sunday night, he may want to go ahead and start picking out his moving company. MEAC teams were 1-89 in the last two seasons against power conference schools (the one victory was Norfolk State over Missouri in the 2012 NCAA Tournament), and they were 0-5 so far this season. That is, until Coppin State went into Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum and used its athleticism and timely three-point shooting to lead for much of the game before walking out with a Pac-12 scalp. Robinson has had a history of these types of awful home losses, and adding another one to his resume surely doesn’t help things for him in Corvallis.
  • Other Weekend Upsets. Virginia Tech and Miami (FL) suffered tough home losses over the weekend (to USC Upstate and St. Francis (NY), respectively), but both of those programs were expected to be rebuilding this season. The biggest upset of the weekend instead had to have been Kansas State’s shocking home loss to Northern Colorado on Friday night. The jokes about Bruce Weber losing with some of his own players started in earnest immediately after the game, but it was two holdovers from last season’s Big 12 co-champions in Shane Southwell and Will Spradling who were largely responsible for this one. The duo combined to shoot a miserable 4-of-22 from the field and 2-of-12 from behind the arc.

Your Weekend All-Americans.

First Team

  • Julius Randle, Kentucky (NPOY). Consecutive double-doubles to start a collegiate career for the first time since Michael Beasley did it in 2007-08 makes this an easy choice. Through three days of action, he’s the NPOY.
  • Jabari Parker, Duke. Parker didn’t board like Randle but he scored more efficiently, missing only two shots in his debut.
  • Joshua Smith, Georgetown. As mentioned above, Smith’s 25/4 on 10-of-13 shooting was his best game in nearly two years.
  • TJ Warren, NC State. Warren went off for 27/8/3 assts as the Wolfpack beat Appalachian State to start a season of very low expectations.
  • Khem Birch, UNLV. Birch has the whole frontcourt to himself in Vegas now, and he made the most of it, going for 13/17/4 blks and showing some leadership in the Runnin’ Rebels’ victory over Portland State.

Second Team

  • Kadeem Jack, Rutgers. Jack went for 30/12 to help new head coach Eddie Jordan earn his first collegiate win over Florida A&M on Friday night.
  • Rodney Hood, Duke. Hood had 22/9 in his own Blue Devils’ debut, missing only a single shot from the field as Duke blitzed Davidson.
  • Sam Dower, Gonzaga. Dower had the best games of his career on Friday against Bryant, dropping a 21/17 night in the easy win for the Bulldogs.
  • Drew Crawford, Northwestern. Crawford went for 25/11 on 8-of-14 from the field against Eastern Illinois to give new head coach Chris Collins his first professional win.
  • Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State. Nash began his junior season with a 21/10 performance that the Cowboys would like to see more of to meet their goals this season.
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Morning Five: 10.28.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2013

morning5

  1. For the fourth consecutive weekend (ugh), several schools around the country staged their Midnight Madness events. The headliner over the last three days was at North Carolina, where the Tar Heels’ annual Late Night With Roy event featured big cheers for troubled guard PJ Hairston. At Seton Hall, eating contest legend Takeru Kobayashi was brought in to wow the crowd as he went head-to-head in a hot dog eating contest with Pirates’ head coach Kevin Willard. Willard didn’t even try to get one down, preferring to spend the minute-long competition watching Kobayashi house a total of 10 without so much as an extra breath. Perhaps more impressively, Kobayashi then drained a gallon jug of milk in just 15 seconds. Over at Villanova, Nicki Minaj performed during its Hoops Mania event, while Kansas State created some buzz with its Fresh Prince of Manhattan skit. The most impressive item out of the weekend, though, may have come from Providence‘s Brandon Austin, who shut down the proceedings with a simply ridiculous between-the-legs, 360-degree windmill dunk. All good fun, but after literally a month of these Madnesses, can we get to some real basketball soon? Eleven days.
  2. With just over a week remaining before bona fide games tip off, the NCAA is releasing decisions on player eligibility with gusto. Last week it was Georgetown receiving the good (and astonishing) news that former UCLA center Josh Smith would be eligible to play immediately; Oregon got similar news on Friday when the NCAA cleared Houston transfer Joseph Young to play immediately for Dana Altman as well. Young is an exceptional scoring guard who averaged 18.0 PPG last season and brings to Eugene the 26th-best offensive rating in college basketball (124.1 last season). In a now-loaded backcourt featuring Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Young to go along with transfer Mike Moser in the frontcourt, the Ducks are suddenly looking like one of the top two or three teams in the Pac-12 again. Interestingly, transfers Young and Smith will face each other in their first game of the season between the Ducks and Hoyas in South Korea on November 8.
  3. Just a few days after Tim Floyd revealed that Kentucky and UTEP were exploring a 2016 game to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Brown vs. Board of Education national championship match-up, word came out that John Calipari’s program is seeking to spearhead another Champions Classic-style event involving the nation’s top basketball schools. According to ESPN.com‘s Andy Katz, Kentucky, UCLA, North Carolina and Ohio State are negotiating a three-year event that would mimic the Champions Classic with each team rotating through the others in alternate years. The unnamed event would begin in 2014-15 and would move between Brooklyn, Indianapolis and Las Vegas during the first three-year window. When the Champions Classic was first developed, we wondered if some of the other all-time great basketball schools such as UNC and UCLA would ever have a chance to participate; with this new event now in the pipeline, we’ll just about have it covered. Serious question, though — with a combined 24 national titles among this group, shouldn’t the new event supersede the other for rights to the name “Champions Classic?” And what happened to Indiana (five titles compared with Ohio State’s one)?
  4. The Miami/Nevin Shapiro scandal has come and gone with Frank Haith getting off relatively easy (a five-game suspension) and the Hurricane basketball program moving forward in decent shape. But, as the Miami Herald reports, former assistant coach Jorge Fernandez’s professional life has been destroyed as a result of admitted violations relating to providing free airline tickets to players and later lying to the NCAA about it. The article correctly points out that it is often the low-level assistants in these scandals who suffer the brunt of the punishment, as Fernandez notes that a two-year ‘show cause’ penalty has shut him out of the coaching profession and caused the matter of providing basic needs for his family very difficult. Some coaches around the country have rallied around him throughout his ordeal, but many others have not, and it’s uncertain if or where he will be able to land after his penalty has ended. It’s another one of those stories that makes people shrug their shoulders at the stark inequities built into the NCAA’s byzantine system of enforcement and punishment.
  5. It got lost in the late week news cycle, but some big news relating to the Ed O’Bannon case against the NCAA was released on Friday afternoon. Federal district judge Claudia Wilken denied the NCAA’s motion for dismissal, paving the way for O’Bannon and the other plantiffs to move forward and eventually receive a trial on the merits of the case. The primary issue here was the relevance of language in a 1984 case from former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens that, while not part of the holding of that lawsuit, has been relied upon by the NCAA to retain its amateur model: “In order to preserve the character and quality of the [NCAA's] ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like.” Wilken rejected the notion that Stevens’ language represented any particular binding precedent, and in so doing, has removed a major procedural barrier assuring that the plaintiffs will get their day in court. Wilken will next rule on class certification of the case, potentially allowing thousands more plaintiffs to sue the NCAA and correspondingly raising their potential liability well into the billions of dollars.
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Big 12 M5: 03.18.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 18th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The NCAA Tournament Bracket is finally here, and it didn’t take long for someone to predict another early Kansas loss this year. Jeff Goodman at CBSSports.com previewed the South Regional here (in which the Jayhawks are the #1 seed) and has #8 seed North Carolina taking KU out in the Round of 64. And as C.J. Moore points out here, this upset pick might not be that crazy. Roy Williams changed his lineup last month against Duke, inserting P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup at the four spot. Since that game, the Tar Heels are 8-2. And it’s not like small lineups haven’t given the Jayhawks fits in the past. Think Purdue in last season’s Round of 32 or Iowa State this season.
  2. It hasn’t gotten much publicity, but Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is now the first coach to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament after his Sooners earned a #10 seed in the South Region. Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, and UNLV were all NCAA Tournament teams at one time or another under Kruger, who signed on at Oklahoma before last season and steered the Sooners to a five-game (and counting) improvement in the win column this season. The Sooners face #7 seed San Diego State in the Round of 64.
  3. For those of you lucky enough to skip work or school later this week, here’s a guide for your TV viewing pleasure, from Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch. For all the things the NCAA can screw up, the move with CBS and Turner Sports to broadcast more Tournament games across a number of networks (truTV, TBS, TNT, CBS) was one of the better decisions it has made in years, much better than the decision to expand the field to 68 teams (Did Middle Tennessee State really deserve an at-large bid?). The SI piece has all you need to know, including a list of broadcasting teams. My personal favorite: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, and Rachel Nichols.
  4. Forget bracket predictions, snubs, sleepers, and upsets for a minute. Eamonn Brennan ranked all 68 NCAA Tournament teams, but not by talent or resumes or title chances — instead, he gave us the most “watchable” teams of the Tournament. Not surprisingly, Iowa State came in at #11, higher than any other Big 12 school. The Cyclones aren’t a great team, but their complete lack of conscience from deep is fun to watch. Almost anywhere past the half-court line is fair game for their shooters. Not surprisingly, Kansas came in next at #21, followed by Oklahoma State (#22), Kansas State (#37) and Oklahoma at #43. Indiana topped the list.
  5. Bruce Weber has had a great first season at Kansas State, sharing the regular season conference title with Kansas and making it to the conference tournament championship game over the weekend. Weber told Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star that he wanted to play in Kansas City and on Friday. It’s unclear if Weber knew that Kansas City was a Friday/Sunday site so one wish came with the other, but he received both desires nonetheless. But as Robinett points out, the Wildcats are also forced to scout two teams this week after getting paired with the winner of a play-in game Wednesday: La Salle or Boise State. Kansas State is likely to face #4 seed Wisconsin should the Wildcats win on Friday.
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The RTC Podcast: Episode Twelve

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2013

With Groundhog Day and, oh yeah, the Super Bowl now behind us, the next couple of months belong to college basketball. Our RTC Podcast host Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is back to lead us down a primrose path of hoops enlightenment, including a discussion of the two biggest games of last weekend, examine some of the teams among the best in the country we can’t quite get a good read on yet, and riff on underrated names that should be getting more publicity this season. All this and more (outlined below) in this week’s podcast.

Check back on Friday of this week for our shorter RTC Podblast, which will run down some of the action from this week and look ahead to the weekend’s biggest games. And don’t forget to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after each recording. Thanks!

  • 0:00-8:32 - Oklahoma State vs. Kansas
  • 8:32-20:21 – Indiana vs. Michigan
  • 20:21-27:07 – Florida, Syracuse and Duke – just how good are they?
  • 27:07-30:21 – When does bubble talk start to mean something?
  • 30:21-35:09 – Underrated stars
  • 35:09-37:54 – Where does Kansas State belong in the rankings?
  • 37:54-41:47 – How far does Oregon drop after 2 bad losses?
  • 41:47-47:51 – Mid-week previews & Wrap

We welcome any and all feedback on these podcasts including topics for future discussion or if you want to send us any questions for our “May Not Be From Actual Listeners” segment. Hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or @rushthecourt on Twitter.

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The RTC Podcast: Episode Nine

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2013

As we’re now back on a regular schedule with The RTC Podcast, we hope that those of you listening out there will continue to give us feedback in terms of some of the things you like and don’t like about our weekly venture. And definitely please feel free to continue to hit us up with commentary via Twitter and/or email if you have a good idea of something you’d like for us to discuss or add to the podcasts or end-of-week podblasts.

This week, as always, we’re hosted by Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), where we took a hearty look back at the Big East’s blunderful weekend, talked over the new transfer rules and their possible downstream ramifications, and discuss some of the most indispensable players in college basketball. We’ll be back Friday afternoon with the shorter RTC Podblast, per the usual schedule. Thanks!

  • 0:00-8:58: Big East Blunders – Pitt, Georgetown and Cincinnati Lose
  • 8:58-15:22 Illinois Wins Big in Champaign Over Ohio State
  • 15:22-23:00 The Importance of Home Court Advantage
  • 23:00-31:50 What’s Right, What’s Wrong with the Proposed Transfer Rules
  • 31:50-37:21 Most Indispensable Players
  • 37:21-42:27 Is Kansas State as Good as Their Resume?
  • 42:27-45:18 UNLV Ranking Based Off Talent
  • 45:18-48:10 UNLV @ New Mexico Preview
  • 48:10-51:44 Minnesota @ Illinois Preview/Wrap

We welcome any and all feedback on these podcasts including topics for future discussion or if you want to send us any questions for our “May Not Be From Actual Listeners” segment. Hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or @rushthecourt on Twitter.

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The RTC Podcast: Episode Seven

Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2012

Here’s hoping that everyone is enjoying a safe and memorable holiday season. Here at RTC we’ve fallen victim to some of the same time-sucking madness that envelops everyone at the end of the year, but we were able to get together Episode Seven of the RTC Podcast last night to publish today. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our host and he leads us through the last couple week of action with a focus on the nation’s undefeated teams who have already suffered their first losses.

Next week we’ll do Episode Eight at the end of the week and then we’ll jump back into the normal schedule of Tuesday/Friday recordings. Feel free to jump around using the outline below. Also make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after each recording. Thanks!

  • 0:00-6:00 – Indiana Knocked From #1 – Meaningful?
  • 6:00-7:02 – Butler is King of the Upset
  • 7:02-8:23 – Jim Boeheim Wins #900 Then Loses
  • 8:23-11:40 – Florida Goes 0-2 Against Wildcats
  • 11:40-13:13 – Impressions of Arizona
  • 13:13-14:43 – Kansas State Enjoying Life with Bruce Weber
  • 14:43-19:10 – Bragging Rights Reactions
  • 19:10-20:54 – Thoughts Heading into New Mexico-Cincinnati
  • 20:54-27:48 – Kansas Wins at Ohio State
  • 27:48-30:44 – Bluegrass Battle Preview
  • 30:44-35:25 – Can UNC Avenge Last Year’s Loss vs UNLV?
  • 35:25-37:10 – Gonzaga’s Big 12 Holiday Weekend
  • 37:10-38:09 – Quick Picks and Wrapup

We welcome any and all feedback on these podcasts including topics for future discussion or if you want to send us any questions for our “May Not Be From Actual Listeners” segment. Hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or @rushthecourt on Twitter.

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RTC Top 25: Week 1

Posted by KDoyle on November 19th, 2012

Week one is in the books. There is already a fair amount of movement within the rankings, as well as a few teams making appearances in the Top 25 after not being on the radar in the preseason. The big story is, of course, Shabazz Muhammad is eligible to play for UCLA. As such, the Bruins rose in the rankings despite a near-miss performance against UC Irvine. Meanwhile, NC State took a significant hit after a blowout loss to Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys make an appearance in the Top 25 after not even receiving votes in the preseason poll.

This week’s QnD after the jump…

Quick ‘n Dirty Analysis.

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Big 12 M5: 10.25.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on October 25th, 2012

  1. The CBSSports.com crew was at it again on Wednesday, this time ranking the top 50 wings in the country for this season. UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad came in at No 1. ahead of Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas. The Big 12 has four players on the list, three of whom are in the top 15. Oklahoma State sophomore Le’Bryan Nash (13.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG last season) was No. 7 followed immediately by Kansas redshirt freshman Ben McLemore at No. 8. Rodney McGruder of Kansas State (15.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG) came in at No. 14 and Texas’ Sheldon McClellan (11.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG) rounded out the conference at No. 43. All four players have a shot to lead their respective teams in scoring this year as well as challenge for Big 12 Player of the Year.
  2. Andy Glockner unveiled a list of his own on Wednesday. He ranked all 32 Division I conferences and placed the Big Ten on top. The Big 12 showed up on his list at third, one spot behind the Big East. His assessment is spot on to me in that while there’s maybe just one great team – maybe Kansas -- the middle of the pack is tough from Baylor all the way to Oklahoma. TCU and Texas Tech will finish at the bottom and the Jayhawks should win the league again, but it would be hard to argue against any projection of teams in the second through eights positions. Every one of those teams has question marks but every one of them also has a bright spot or two that could lend itself to a good season.
  3. Here’s more from Glockner: A strength of schedule breakdown of a handful of teams this season. He liked Kansas‘ slate, saying “The Jayhawks did what Indiana (and others) should have done: load the schedule with home and quasi-home games, but against capable opposition.” KU’s schedule is highlighted with a game at Ohio State, versus Michigan State in Atlanta in the Champions Classic, Colorado, Washington State, and either Texas A&M or Saint Louis in the CBE Classic in Kansas City. Glockner liked Kansas’ schedule, but he loved Texas’ slate. The Longhorns are in the Maui Invitational, they play UCLA in Houston, Georgetown in New York, and face off with North Carolina and Michigan State. Texas Tech’s schedule, on the other hand, is laughed at, and rightly so. They don’t leave the state of Texas until January 16 and play just three power conference schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Alabama — in the non-conference season.
  4. Bill Self acknowledged his team’s need to replace the toughness that No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson took with him to Sacramento in a kusports.com article Wednesday. Self told the Lawrence Journal-World‘s Gary Bedore that Robinson “gave us an air of toughness. It made other players think they were really tough or fierce because he led by example.” Self added that his team will miss Robinson’s presence initially but believes he’ll have enough players to fill Robinson’s role by year’s end. It’s hard not to agree with Self with his track record of largely unknown role players becoming productive starters nearly every year. I want to say he’ll hit a bump in the road one of these years and won’t have a group capable of sliding in seamlessly, but I can’t. Eight straight conference titles speaks for itself.
  5. Oklahoma State senior Jean-Paul Olukemi is still waiting to hear from the NCAA about his appeal regarding his eligibility. Because he took classes at a junior college in high school, his eligibility began earlier than he realized and is now scheduled to run out after the first semester. “You just hope that people understand that you listen to people who are much older than you and they give you the wrong information because they’re trying to do something to benefit themselves,” Olukemi told the Tulsa World on Tuesday. “I hope they understand it wasn’t something that I did.” Nothing to see here, just case 5,489 of the NCAA potentially hurting a kid’s career over something this silly. Did he take money from an Oklahoma State booster? Did he cheat on a standardized test? No. He took a few college credits in high school. Sure, he should have double- or triple-checked to make sure he was good to go. But the NCAA should realize that neither Olukemi or Oklahoma State gained any athletic advantages in this case. Let the kid play.
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Big 12 Media Day: News and Notes

Posted by KoryCarpenter on October 18th, 2012

The Big 12 debuted its new basketball identity on Wednesday in Kansas City at its annual Media Day, and there was plenty of personality to go around. That was no more obvious than when West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stepped up to the mic for his question and answer session. Huggins, who coached at Kansas State during the 2006-07 season, was asked if his one-year stint in the Big 12 would help West Virginia’s transition this season. “I don’t know,” Huggins said. “I do know where to eat now, though.” On a more serious note, Huggins said he felt that West Virginia is a lot like the other schools in the Big 12. “We’re the state university,” He said. “We’re a land grant institution, we’re in a college town. We have a great venue to play in. We’re very much similar.”

The Big 12 Welcomed Many New Faces at Media Day on Wednesday

Huggins added that road wins will be tougher to come by in the Big 12, whose more intimate venues are a far cry from the sometimes stale and large off campus arenas often found in the Big East. He was quick to add though, “I’ve always told my players, I’ve never seen a fan block a shot or score a goal. Some of them probably have committed fouls but they didn’t call them.”

One of those venues is Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, where Bruce Weber is also entering his first season in the Big 12 after accepting the head coaching job at Kansas State in the offseason. Weber was fired from Illinois after last season, where he incidentally had taken over for Kansas coach Bill Self in 2003. Self has dominated the Big 12 since his arrival at Kansas, so much that Kansas State Athletic Director John Currie asked Weber during his interview if he was up to the task of dealing with Self’s Jayhawks. “As a coach, you want that challenge, that’s the exciting part of it,” Weber said. “I hope we make it a rivalry. It’s obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. So it should be fun. He’s done a great job, and hopefully we can compete with them.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 M5: 10.08.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 8th, 2012

  1. No need to remind Chris Walker how difficult his job is this season at Texas Tech. He may have inherited one of the messiest situations in major college basketball after the resignation of Billy Gillispie, but he’s likely just happy to have the interim job at this point. With no expectations whatsoever, Walker is now pledging to get out and run with his new roster this season. Walker says he likes the Red Raiders’ athleticism, but as the article points out, his up-tempo style may depend on how well his new point guards perform. Last year, Gillispie’s point guards were nothing short of abysmal, and he did not ever find a viable option to take care of the basketball and facilitate offense. Those who’ve seen freshman Josh Gray say he’ll be a difference-maker at the point, but it’s hard to rely on a frosh for leadership and immediate production. No matter who takes the reins as the point guard, though, it’s nice to see Walker attempting to create an identity for this program. That’s the first step in the recovery process after the Gillispie debacle.
  2. Two former Kansas basketball players joined the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame over the weekend, placing a Jayhawk stamp on the state with Bud Stallworth and Wayne Simien. As younger folks, we had to google Stallworth to make sure to cover all of our facts. He starred in the early ’70s, reached the Final Four in 1971 and saw his number retired by the school in 2005. Googling Simien was not necessary, however. Simien played in two Final Fours under Roy Williams and blossomed into one of the nation’s top forwards as an upperclassman, averaging a double-double as a senior in 2004-05. He played briefly in the NBA before heading to Europe, and he’s now listed as retired by Wikipedia. A bit surprising, sure, but Simien built quite a basketball pedigree in his short career.
  3. We’re a little late on this, but Bill Self signed an extension last week to stay at Kansas through 2022. We’re not sure what we’ll be doing in 2022, but if Self makes it that far, he’ll rake in millions. The deal increases his annual salary, too, which begs the question: Is Bill Self still underpaid? Forbes took a look at the situation and makes a decent argument. The economic impact Self has made at Kansas is stunning. Forbes claims Self has increased the Jayhawks’ financial stock, from the eighth-most valuable college basketball program to the third-most valuable in just a few years. That alone is enough to justify Self’s salary.
  4. Speaking of money, Kansas State just shelled out $18 million for a new practice facility. It’s 50,000 square feet and gives the basketball program luxurious courts, offices, locker rooms and other facilities. It may not translate directly to a national championship, but it’s the sort of thing that helps in the recruiting business and adds an extra benefit to potential prospects. It’ll also make Bruce Weber’s job a little easier as he begins to mark his place in Manhattan.
  5. Oklahoma State represents Travis Ford‘s fourth coaching stop, and he’s had an interesting tenure with the Cowboys. After immediate success on the shoulders of the likes of Byron Eaton and James Anderson, he’s fallen on hard times lately and needs a rebound. As this piece points out, he’s slowly rebuilt the three previous programs at which he coached, but he’s now attempting to bounce back from an injury-riddled season and two straight seasons without an NCAA Tournament. It’s odd to say, but the pressure might be on Ford with Marcus Smart joining the crew this season. It’s silly to say he’s on the hot seat, but the direction of his program probably depends on how his team fares in 2012-13.
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Morning Five: Columbus Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2012

  1. Does anyone even celebrate Columbus Day, and how would you do so if you had a notion — pull out some vials of smallpox and spread it around? At any rate, Happy Columbus Day, everyone. If nothing else, the holiday means we’re on the verge of the start of official practices around the country, and that nip in the air we felt over the weekend was a very welcome sensation. One player almost exactly one year away from competing in his first college practice is Chicago’s Jabari Parker, and the multifaceted big man on Friday announced the five schools who are most likely to earn his services next year. The quintet includes BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State, and Stanford, with the Blue Devils and Spartans widely considered the two favorites. BYU and Stanford are outliers with Parker’s faith and interest in academics driving those decisions, but a wild card school here we should keep an eye on is Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators. Donovan has already received commitments from two top 10 players in this class and the pressure that he’s feeling from Calipari’s hauls in Lexington has clearly pushed him to double down on his persuasive sales pitch.
  2. News leaked late last week that the Battle of the Midway, a showdown of preseason Top 25 teams Syracuse and San Diego State on the USS Midway in San Diego harbor, was in danger of cancellation because of a lack of financial support. While we are still on the fence about the need for multiple aircraft carrier games per season (others are planned for Charleston, SC, and Jacksonville, FL), this game projects as the best matchup of the trio so we were hoping it would find a way to continue. With the financial assistance of Fox Sports San Diego agreeing to cover any shortfall, the showcase event will go on as scheduled on the evening of Veteran’s Day (also known as Opening Night). Syracuse definitely will have some holes to fill but Jim Boeheim has considerable talent returning; still, Steve Fisher’s Aztecs no doubt will have this one circled on their calendar as a major seed-line enhancer in front of a home crowd in a very cool environment.
  3. Kansas State put a ribbon on its brand-new $18 million basketball practice facility on Friday, as the arms race in college sports continues to search for bigger and bolder solutions to problems that were arguably never there. According to this article from the Topeka Capital-Journal, K-State had in fact been the only school among Big 12 members without such a facility in place, and new head coach Bruce Weber will surely use its state of the art characteristics to his advantage on the recruiting trail in coming years. Much like Louisville within the state of Kentucky, the Wildcat program runs at a natural disadvantage through its close proximity to the basketball behemoth just a few miles down the road — but, at the same time, a rising tide lifts all boats, and the KU sphere of influence can serve to help Kansas State’s on-court aspirations, even if it is unlikely to ever reach the standard of excellence achieved in Lawrence.
  4. A common refrain around Pac-12 circles is that if three-bill center Josh Smith ever gets serious about his weight and effort on the court, UCLA becomes a much different team. Much has been written over the last two seasons about Smith’s problems with motivation and over-eating, but this weekend article by the LA Times suggests that the gifted big man, while not yet anywhere near where he needs to be, may have at least turned a corner. His body fat is now at 17% (down from 25%) and he is talking the talk about following a better diet protocol and giving maximum effort on the floor. Hey, it’s a start, and for Bruins fans salivating at the possibility of an energized Smith to go along with their super freshmen and other returnees (one of those players, Tyler Lamb, will have arthroscopic surgery and be out 4-6 weeks), the realization is that a player with his gifts giving only 50% is still a valuable asset to a team gunning for a national championship.
  5. We’ll finish off this M5 with a report from Jeff Goodman on a most curious career path for a former college basketball journeyman named Eric Wallace, a player who bounced around between three different schools in his five-year career. The 6’6″, 230-lb. forward enjoyed his best season at Seattle University last year, averaging 9.4 PPG and 7.9 RPG through a combination of grit and athleticism, but it is his next career choice that makes this story interesting. DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony recommended Wallace to an Australian Rules Football combine in Los Angeles based on his athletic gifts, and he did so well there that he was subsequently invited to the AFL Combine in Melbourne, Australia. Despite no previous experience with the game whatsoever, he earned the “Best International Performer” award there, and he hopes to use his newfound ‘talent’ to get an invitation to a team’s rookie list allowing him to stay in Australia and learn the game in a more focused manner. So many players end up chasing the NBA dream when they have no realistic shot, it’s great to see someone like Wallace perhaps finding an entirely new way to use his gifts without fear of too much disappointment.
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