Big 12 Weekly Primer: Jan 9 – 11

Posted by dnspewak on January 9th, 2012

Kansas State has a rare opportunity this week to ruin two teams’ undefeated seasons in consecutive games. Just three days after handing Missouri its first loss at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats will host 15-0 Baylor on Tuesday night in a battle of two of the Big 12’s top frontcourts. There are a few other games to keep an eye on this week, too: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will meet tonight in a Bedlam game, though the series is hardly enticing right now with both programs struggling. And on Wednesday, MU will need to recover quickly from Saturday’s smackdown with Iowa State looming in Ames.


  • Baylor at Kansas State, Tuesday, 7 p.m. CT (Big 12 Network)

Facing an undersized Missouri team this weekend, Kansas State frustrated Ricardo Ratliffe and punished the Tigers with a physical frontline. Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez combined for seven blocked shots and Rodney McGruder attacked the basket at will as Frank Martin‘s team exposed MU’s main weakness in the paint. Unfortunately for KSU, it won’t be able to bully Baylor like that on Tuesday night. The Bears, who have been rebounding better lately, can throw any number of forwards at the Wildcats’ post defenders, including Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Perry Jones and starters Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller. They can’t play effectively unless their guards get them the basketball, though, so  it’s important for Pierre Jackson in particular to play well in a road environment. He has turned the ball over at a fairly alarming rate this year, but he has provided the missing piece for Baylor’s offense this year as a facilitator off the bench. Still, Kansas State’s half-court intensity on the defensive end may give the guards some problems, and this game could turn ugly if they can’t hold on to the basketball. In fact, for all of the talk about the forwards in this game, the guards will make the difference. Brady Heslip can provide BU with another element if his outside shots are falling, and starter A.J. Walton and reserve Gary Franklin cannot be outplayed by Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez and the rest of KSU’s deep and balanced backcourt. When BU has looked shaky offensively this season (for example, in a two-point win over Mississippi State), turnovers and a lack of ball movement has held it back. Baylor may have been able to edge MSU on a neutral court during a cold shooting night, but it won’t be able to recover from an off game in Manhattan.

Rodney McGruder Is a Difficult Matchup For Baylor

The key individual matchup is… Perry Jones vs. Jordan Henriquez. Filling in for the struggling Thomas Gipson, Henriquez earned the start against Missouri on Saturday and did not disappoint. The seven-footer blocked four shots and played one of his most complete games of the season with 10 points and eight rebounds. Now a junior, Henriquez no longer plays like a project anymore. He has the size and defensive ability to frustrate Jones, who has struggled against elite big men like Arnett Moultrie (MSU) and Kevin Jones (West Virginia) this season.

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Ten For Ten: Impressions of Each Big 12 Team From Its Opener

Posted by dnspewak on January 5th, 2012

Congratulations, Big 12 teams. You’ve all now played one-eighteenth of your conference schedule. For the next two months, you will suffer through hard-fought battles week after week until this wild league sorts itself out. After one game, it’s impossible to tell what exactly will happen from now until the first weekend in March. But each Big 12 opener at least gave us a little insight into this crazy conference. In alphabetical order, here’s what you need to know about Opening Week:

  1. Baylor has not played flawless basketball this season, but don’t exactly take that as a criticism. The Bears are undefeated and off to the best start in school history, and yet they still have a lot of room for improvement. Although it handled Texas A&M from start to finish in Waco on Monday, Scott Drew’s team still finished with 16 turnovers and shot just 2-12 from beyond the arc. Guard play in particular was a problem: Pierre Jackson finished with seven turnovers, and Brady Heslip did not score. And yet the Bears’ 61-52 victory was hardly in doubt until a modest comeback by the Aggies at the very end of the game. Perry Jones, who did not play well in a win over Mississippi State on national television last week, redeemed himself with a double-double as BU’s frontcourt overpowered the normally physical Aggies. The guards will make the difference this season for Drew, and though they struggled in the Big 12 opener, that trend should not continue. Jackson, Heslip, A.J. Walton and Gary Franklin are an underrated group.
  2. Iowa State is not a pushover this season. These guys can really shoot the heck out of the basketball, and they won their first Big 12 opener in five seasons by knocking off Texas 77-71 on Wednesday night. Yes, the Longhorns have problems of their own– more on that later– but Fred Hoiberg‘s team defended well, played with outstanding energy and got every shot it wanted on the offensive end. Iowa State made 10-of-21 three-pointers, and not a single trey came from Scott Christopherson, one of the top three-point shooters in Big 12 history from a percentage standpoint. Chris Babb and Anthony Booker combined to make eight of those shots, but forward Royce White controlled this game by getting to the free throw line and posing a matchup problem for UT. The Longhorns are small on the front line, and White exploited them by using his quickness. He announced to the Big 12 that he will not be easy to defend this winter.

    Bill Self's Team Made a Statement On Wednesday Night

  3. Kansas looked like a Big 12 champion again by spanking Kansas State at the Phog on Wednesday night. Sure, the Jayhawks cooled off after building an early 18-point lead, and the Wildcats jumped back into the game in the second half. By the end of the contest, though, KU had run away with this rivalry by beating Frank Martin at his own game. Kansas State thought it could rattle the Jayhawks with its high-pressure style and tenacious rebounding, but Thomas Robinson proved once again that he’s not afraid of anybody. Forget the loss to Davidson. Tyshawn Taylor may turn the ball over too much, and the offense may not always look crisp, but Bill Self‘s team will defend and it will not back down from a challenge. 17 offensive rebounds and a +24 margin on the boards against a Frank Martin team is proof of that. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Morning Five: 01.04.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 4th, 2012

  1. Writers across the country are starting to take notice of Kansas State‘s offensive performance this season, as opposed to just its patented defense under Frank Martin. With a contest against Kansas looming at the Phog tonight, the Wildcats have shot less than 50% just once in the last four games, and they’ve also made 30-of-67 threes during that time. Will Spradling‘s steady hand at the point guard position has a lot to do with the offensive explosion, and Rodney McGruder appears to be the scorer Martin has been searching for in place of the graduated Jacob Pullen. These Wildcats are deep, balanced and willing to share the basketball, and there aren’t any egos in Manhattan right now. That’s a formula for offensive success in any program.
  2. It’s very hard to find positives for Texas Tech right now, but at least one person found something nice to write about the Red Raiders. Yes, TTU shot 11-25 from three-point range in two victories over CSU-Bakersfield and Southeastern Louisiana. We can hold off on the celebratory banner for now, but let’s at least give Billy Gillispie credit for a couple of relatively easy victories over those two squads. As Big 12 play begins this week, it’s possible the Red Raiders may not win more than three or four league games. In fact, anything more than that would be a dramatic overachievement relative to the talent available. Of course, if there’s anyone that can pull that kind of magic out of an undermanned team, it’s Gillispie.
  3. Rick Barnes may need to pull a little magic out of his young Longhorns, too. Barnes has never missed the NCAA Tournament since arriving at Texas in 1999, but his team has some work to do to reach the Big Dance this year. After losing five starters, most of the Longhorns’ problems can be attributed to youth, and as Barnes mentioned, “young guys make it more complicated than it has to be.” Right now, freshman point guard Myck Kabongo is one of those guys, but you’ve got to think he’ll come around as the leader of this offense once he gets his feet wet in Big 12 play. Give Barnes some time and he’ll be able to orchestrate a turnaround. In his 13 years at Texas, he’s at least proven that much.
  4. The NCAA Tournament seems unfathomable at this point for 7-6 Oklahoma State, but coach Travis Ford is hoping his tough non-conference schedule helped prepare his team for Big 12 play. OSU lost to Virginia Tech twice in November and December, and it also fell to Stanford, New Mexico and Alabama. Sure, the competition can’t hurt, but Ford needs a miracle right now. With J.P. Olukemi out for the year and a crisis at point guard, he’ll need Keiton Page and LeBryan Nash to perform like All-Big 12 player in order to get things rolling.
  5. A lot of eyes will be on Iowa State this winter, as Fred Hoiberg‘s remade program will hit the floor in the Big 12 with four transfers and several newcomers. The Cyclones’ experiment has resulted in an underwhelming 10-3 start so far. ISU hasn’t suffered through any early-season collapse, but the consistency is not there at this point. Take the team’s most recent two-point victory over Mississippi Valley State, for example. Iowa State nearly blew an 18-point lead before escaping with the 67-65 win, against a team that has won only one game this season. The Cyclones, known for their hot-handed shooting, have also gone cold during long stretches this season, and they’ve got to light it up from beyond the arc on a consistent basis to compete in this league.
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Yet Another Blow For Oklahoma State: Olukemi Out For The Season

Posted by dnspewak on January 2nd, 2012

Oklahoma State was already in disaster mode after two point guards transferred out of the program in a span of eight days last month, but the latest news just seems cruel for coach Travis Ford. He announced Monday that starting wing J.P. Olukemi will miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear, an injury he suffered in the second half of a loss to Virginia Tech this weekend.

The 6’5” junior was not having the breakout season many had anticipated, but he still played major minutes for the Cowboys and may have been their best athlete. He was a nightmare match-up for bigger defenders because of his quickness, and he could have easily overcome his quiet non-conference performance to emerge as a leader during the Big 12 season.

Instead, Olukemi will cheer on his teammates from the bench– and there aren’t many of them left. With point guars Fred Gulley and Reger Dowell having already left the team and fellow guard Markel Brown potentially missing the Big 12 opener against Texas Tech due to a minor hip injury the Cowboys will have a very short bench. Ford says Brown is day-to-day, and if he cannot play, OSU would have just six players remaining in its regular rotation.

JP Olukemi Will Miss The Rest of the Season With an ACL Tear

Olukemi averaged 9.4 points per game in 13 games this season. Oklahoma State had trouble scoring with him in the lineup, and now that he’s gone, the improvement of Keiton Page and LeBryan Nash will be even more important. The two leading scorers for the Cowboys are the only players capable of taking over a basketball game on the offensive end. Nash has struggled to acclimate himself to Division I basketball so far, and the lack of point guards on the roster has forced Page into an uncomfortable role. It is up to them, though, to turn this season around.

Freshman guard Brian Williams could actually benefit from this situation. With Olukemi in foul trouble and injured during the past two games, Williams logged a combined 74 minutes against Southern Methodist (double-overtime win) and Virginia Tech. He scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in that SMU victory, and he finished with a career-high 14 points against the Hokies. If this season heads in the toilet, Ford can at least monitor the progress of Williams, who appears to have a bright future.

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Checking In On… the Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2012

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take


The Week That Was

  • The Big 12’s feel-good story has to be Texas Tech freshman Luke Adams. Adams was born almost entirely deaf with only about 10% hearing in his left ear. Thanks to cochlear implants however, he is hearing nearly completely normally now. He has been effective in limited playing time as well, shooting 46% from three and 78% from the free throw line to go with a 24.4% assist rate. Although he was the leading scorer in Class 3A in Texas last year, his scholarship options were limited due to his size. He chose to walk on at Tech and based on his early performance, he could be a nice shooter off the bench for them in the coming years.
  • Thomas Robinson had the performance of the week in the Big 12 scoring 30 points and grabbing 21 rebounds against North Dakota. It was first 30 point 20 rebound game for a Kansas player since Wayne Hightower did it against Missouri 50 years ago, and it was just the sixth time in the history of the Big 12 a player has had a 30 and 20 game. Robinson joins elite company including Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, and Michael Beasley in the conference’s 30-20 club.
  • For the second week in a row, the two Big 12 unbeatens stayed that way by the narrowest of margins. Baylor beat Mississippi State in Dallas, despite what a cynic would call their best efforts to give it away, and Missouri picked up a nice true road win, going to Old Dominion and surviving, 75-68. Interestingly, they both had to fight the crowd a bit: Old Dominion was at home and has a nice atmosphere at the Constant Convocation Center, but the crowd in Dallas was pitiful for the Baylor-Mississippi State game. Playing in front of a stale crowd is probably good preparation for the NCAA Tournament, but it makes for some awful regular season basketball.

Cynics Will Be Quick To Point Out That It Came Against North Dakota, But Thomas Robinson Posted One Of The Top Single-Game Performances In Big 12 History Saturday. (Credit: Reed Hoffmann/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Missouri (13-0): Although their offense is fantastic, I think it is officially time to start worrying about Missouri’s defense. They have allowed over a point per possession in back-to -back games, and almost did earlier in the month to lowly Kennesaw State. Frank Haith has generally had good defenses considering the talent he had at Miami so I think they can get the ship righted but it still is a potential red flag for the Tigers if they want to win the Big 12.
  2. Baylor (13-0): I promised I would put Baylor at the number two slot if they beat Mississippi State, but yikes. After squeaking out a two-point win in Dallas in which they tried their hardest to let the Bulldogs get out of there with the win, it probably will be a one week stay at the 2 slot. All of Baylor nation seems to have Pierre Jackson fever, as last year’s highest ranking junior college player scored 14 points against Mississippi State and has a 63.5% eFG on the season. But to temper those expectations a bit, I don’t think you can win the Big 12 title with a point guard who has a turnover rate of 30.4%. It is true that he will get more comfortable with the offense as the season goes on, but he will also be playing much tougher opponents. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Weekend Primer: New Years Weekend

Posted by dnspewak on December 30th, 2011

With holiday bowl games and a national showdown between Louisville and Kentucky on New Year’s Eve, there’s not a whole lot of Big 12 basketball to talk about this weekend. But six league teams will still compete during the next two days, and most notably, undefeated Missouri will hit the road for the first time in 2011-12. And if you’re not interested in watching John Calipari and Rick Pitino scream at each other for 40 minutes on CBS this Saturday, Oklahoma State will host Virginia Tech on ESPN2 during the same time slot.

  • Missouri (12-0) at Old Dominion (6-6), Friday 6 PM CT (ESPN2)

Kim English and the Tigers Still Need to Prove They Can Win on the Road

Eight days ago, Missouri showed its human side for the first time this season. After obliterating the likes of Notre Dame, California and Villanova, the Tigers nearly blew a double-digit lead to Illinois in the second half before recovering for a 78-74 victory in the Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis. That second half stretch, which featured poor passing, forced shots and turnovers by every player on the floor, marked the first time Missouri had ever looked rattled in a basketball game this season. Though half of the arena was wearing black and gold, the Illinois crowd came alive late in that game, and it was the Tigers’ first experience in a hostile environment. For a team that finished 1-7 on the road in Big 12 play last year, this is the last major concern for Frank Haith to tackle: Can his team win on the road? Old Dominion may be 6-6, but don’t write this off as a down year for Blaine Taylor‘s program. For the uneducated basketball fan, losses to Northern Iowa, Vermont, Fairfield, UCF and Richmond may not look very good, but we know better than that. All six losses for ODU (also including Kentucky) have come against league front-runners with at least outside shots to win their respective conferences. Hosting one of its most important non-conference games in recent memory, Missouri will have to deal with a rowdy and electric crowd in Norfolk. Yes, the Tigers are much quicker, and they obviously have much better guards. There’s a reason Mizzou blasted an even stronger Old Dominion team in Columbia last season. It’s a new season, though, and again, Missouri has no reason to be confident in a road setting until it proves it is not the same team as 2010-11. The formula for an upset here is simple: The Monarchs need to slow the tempo and let their defense go to work. Kent Bazemore is arguably the best defender in college basketball, so expect him to hound Marcus Denmon all night, and ODU has a couple of decent shotblockers in Nick Wright and Chris Cooper. ODU isn’t nearly as big or physical as it was a year ago, but it is still a sound rebounding team that won’t let MU get many second chances. This is a Blaine Taylor team we’re talking about here, after all. If Missouri stays hot from the perimeter, it won’t need to dominate the boards to win. Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon need to initiate the offense like they did in the first half against Illinois, as opposed to that disastrous second-half stretch. If that happens, the looks will be there for Denmon, Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 12.29.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 29th, 2011

  1. Though Missouri has appeared immortal during the first two months of the season, a second-half lapse against Illinois last week has at least one writer questioning whether the Tigers’ field goal percentages will hold up throughout the season. Kim English has rebounded from a tough junior season to shoot 53% from three-point range this season, and Ricardo Ratliffe‘s numbers are just absurd (76% from the field). As a team, Missouri has seen enormous jumps in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage, and yes, it would be silly to think that some of these numbers will hold up. Still, even in that swoon in the second half in the Braggin’ Rights game, the issue wasn’t necessarily that MU missed a bunch of open shots. That happened under Mike Anderson a lot, especially on the road. Instead, it seemed that things broke down because of poor passing, no ball movement and a lack of poise. When Frank Haith‘s pick-and-roll offense is really working and the ball is in Phil Pressey‘s hands, he will find guys like Ratliffe, English and Marcus Denmon for a lot of open looks. And that’s partly why these statistics have skyrocketed.
  2. In this era of realigning conferences with complete disregard for geography, it’s refreshing to see that TCU will save a lot of time and money by moving to the Big 12 next season. According to one example in the article, the men’s basketball team will save almost 4,000 miles in road trips next year, and the football and basketball programs (both men’s and women’s) will combine to save about 16,770 miles. That’s a lot of fuel money in the bank, and hey, it can’t be bad for the environment either. And although TCU officials won’t say how much money the school will make from the move, one spokesperson said “it’s no secret” that the university will make a good deal of money off the move.
  3. And if you’re interested in a recap of Texas A&M‘s move to the SEC, here’s a full rundown of the situation. As you can imagine, the sports media talk in College Station was dominated by the SEC during the past year, just as it was in Columbia, Missouri, and every other college town with realignment implications. The article also points out that the SEC stuff overshadowed success from several A&M athletic programs. In fact, the Aggies won three NCAA titles and seven Big 12 titles, but this particular website thought realignment news was more important in 2011.
  4. Oklahoma State needed two overtimes to defeat SMU last night, and the victory wasn’t exactly pretty. But the win is a sign that the Cowboys are not letting transfers dictate this season. Senior Keiton Page, who started at point guard after the defection of both Fred Gulley and Reger Dowell during the past eight days, said his teammates “have been great at keeping their heads up and their emotions high.” That cannot be easy to do amidst all the turmoil, but even freshman point guard Cezar Guerrero, whose playing time will increase dramatically now, says the team chants “1-2-3… family” after every huddle. That’s got to count for something, right?
  5. Residents of Kansas City love to talk about bragging rights between Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State, and that prompted one sports journalist with the Kansas City Star to dedicate a multimedia session to the topic. The Tigers look like the Big 12 favorite right now, and Kansas will certainly be in the mix for an eighth-straight title despite that loss to pesky Davidson. As for Kansas State, the Wildcats may be the most intriguing team in the league right now. After winning the Diamond Head Classic, it’s obvious that Frank Martin‘s team will once again find itself in position for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. As always, it’ll be a fight this winter to see which of the Kansas City-area programs will come out on top.
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Big 12 Weekly Primer: December 28-29

Posted by dnspewak on December 28th, 2011


  • #11 Mississippi State at #6 Baylor, Wednesday, 8 PM CT in Dallas (ESPN2)

Scott Drew's Team Is Flying High Heading Into Tonight's Game

At 12-0 and fresh off a Las Vegas Classic sweep of St. Mary’s and West Virginia, there’s not a whole lot left for Baylor to prove. The 6th-ranked Bears seem to have it all: dominant bigs, freakish athleticism, terrific dunkers and, most importantly, steady guard play. Junior college All-American Pierre Jackson, Boston College transfer Brady Heslip and junior A.J. Walton have formed a strong trio in the backcourt, and they’re helping Perry Jones and the crew lead the way in the paint. Cal transfer Gary Franklin has also impressed since gaining eligibility, as he’s turned the ball over just once in four games. That’s a striking contrast from last season, when Scott Drew wasted a boatload of NBA talent due to poor guard play and other issues. Baylor still has some work to do in the rebounding department, and it also turns the ball over a bit too much at times. But those are kinks Drew will work out during the course of the season, and they shouldn’t hold Baylor back against Mississippi State. In many ways, the Bulldogs are a mirror image of Baylor. They have a dangerous frontcourt duo in Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, but Rick Stansbury’s guards have stepped up to help the Bulldogs to a 12-1 start. Dee Bost may be this team’s most important player as both a scorer and leader of the offense, and it’s going to be up to him to make smart decisions on a semi-neutral floor in Dallas tonight. Let’s not be silly here, though. This game will be won in the paint, and it all depends on which stars show up to play. Jones had a lot of questions to answer this season after a somewhat disappointing freshman season, but he has looked like a new man so far in 2011-12. That’s also an accurate description for Moultrie, who has embraced his role as the enforcer in Starkville after two modest seasons at UTEP. In his first year of eligibility, Moultrie has already recorded seven double-doubles, and he’s both getting to the line (6.0 attempts per game) and converting his free throws (88.3 percent). Against Jones, Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy and the other forwards with giant wingspans on the Baylor roster, Moultrie has a chance to prove his worth on national television.

The key individual matchup is… Dee Bost vs. A.J. Walton/Pierre Jackson/Gary Franklin. Jackson has not started a game this year, and Franklin just became eligible four games ago, but they’re both stealing time away from starter A.J. Walton at the point. It’s not a bad problem for Drew to have, since all three are playing reasonably well. It’s no secret who runs the show for Mississippi State, though. Dee Bost will likely attempt the most shots for the Bulldogs tonight, he’ll lead the team in assists and he will also be the most disruptive defensive presence on the floor. After all, he’s in the top-10 all-time in steals at Mississippi State, which means Walton, Jackson and Franklin better take care of the basketball. The elite forwards in this game cannot get to work unless the point guards play well. For Bost, that means taking good shots. When MSU plays well, it’s usually because Bost finds a groove and plays within the offense. But when Bost struggles– say, like his 2-9 effort in a loss to Akron or a 4-16 performance in a near-collapse at Detroit– this team is in trouble. It will be interesting to see who Drew leans on at his point guard spot. Franklin and Jackson actually played more minutes than Walton in the team’s overtime win against West Virginia, and Jackson starred in that game with 23 points and a tying three-point in the final minute.

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Considering the Big 12 Underachievers

Posted by cwilliams on December 27th, 2011

Last week I discussed the overachievers of this early Big 12 season. It was a cheery, sunshine-laced post, discussing players who are playing above and beyond their expectations so far this season. Today, we conquer the inevitable, and discuss the teams and players who have underperformed for their team so far this season. The good news? There is still plenty of time to make amends.

Oklahoma State: With the addition of freshmen sensation Le’Bryan Nash and Cezar Guerrero, plus the senior leadership of floor general Keiton Page, the Cowboys were expected to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid this season. So far, they have shown no signs of meeting those expectations. Eleven games into the season, the Cowboys already have five losses. While none of these losses have come against mid-majors, what is truly worrisome about the Cowboys is their abysmal team field goal percentage, 41.2%, which ranks 260th in the country. True, in some games, the shots just don’t fall. But to shoot this poorly in every game is troublesome, and with conference play looming, the Cowboys need to get their act together if they want any shot at postseason glory this year.

Tyshawn Taylor Has Must Get His TO Problem Under Control

Tyshawn Taylor’s Turnover Problem: It would be unfair to say Tyshawn is having a poor season. He’s averaging 15.3 points per game, and has gotten to the charity stripe more than anyone else in the Big 12. But his knack for turning the ball over was most recently apparent in Kansas’s loss last week to Davidson, a game where Taylor turned the ball over five times. He also miscued the ball seven times against Ohio State and 11 times against Duke earlier this season. What is even more surprising is that two years ago Taylor averaged just 1.7 turnovers per game, while this season, his turnover rate is at 4.2 per game. Taylor will need to reclaim his ball control before conference play starts in earnest if Kansas expects to make another deep run in March.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 12.27.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 27th, 2011

  1. And the trainwreck continues in Stillwater. Oklahoma State point guard Reger Dowell has announced his decision to transfer, leaving the Cowboys with only one player to man the position. Remember, Fred Gulley already transferred earlier this month, so freshman Cezar Guerrero will now assume the reins. Senior Keiton Page has also apparently seen some time at the point in practice, and that’s part of the reason why Dowell may have left. His decision is interesting considering he said just last week that he would try to “stick things out” at OSU. That’s not going to happen, however, and Travis Ford better cross his fingers that nobody else leaves.
  2. What do you know about Baylor’s Brady Heslip? Before a few weeks ago, even us sharp minds at the RTC Big 12 Microsite could have only told you a handful of things. He’s a guard who transferred from Boston College. And, well, that was about it. But Heslip is certainly on our radar now, as he won Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors by lighting up the scoreboard in Las Vegas in Bear wins over St. Mary’s and West Virginia. It wasn’t even apparent whether or not Heslip would get major minutes this season after his transfer from BC, but he’s already become an integral part of this Baylor backcourt.
  3. Surprise, surprise: Frank Martin‘s Kansas State team is surging, and it most recently swept the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii during Christmas weekend. Without Jacob Pullen, it was easy for bonehead writers like us to write off the Wildcats, but at this point in his program, Martin has established a culture of winning in Manhattan. No matter who is on the roster, Martin finds a way to win, and he does so by pushing his team’s buttons to play hard and smart basketball. This year, Will Spradling has found his calling as the point guard position, Rodney McGruder has learned how to take over games, and Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez have been immediate contributors as freshmen. This team still has work to do in Big 12 play, but Martin has to be in the running for Big 12 Coach of the Year at this point.
  4. Lon Kruger may be a candidate for that honor as well, but that’s not what we’re talking about with OU basketball this morning. Instead, it’s James Fraschilla, an Oklahoma freshman and son of commentator Fran Fraschilla, making news with a bunch of cool trick shots. The video he created was so absurd that some believed it wasn’t real. However, Fraschilla says none of the video is fabricated, and the trick shots all did indeed occur. And the best part of the two-minute video? It’s also a ploy for charity, so everybody wins here.
  5. The Realignment Apocalypse is over now, and it’s time to reflect on what could have been for Texas in particular. According to this article, had UT left for the “Pac-16,” it could have taken a major financial hit. Instead, the school will make almost $20 million dollars in the Big 12 this year, and it still has rights to the multi-million dollar Longhorn Network. There’s always a chance Texas — or any other school for the matter — could still bolt from the league, but the Longhorns seem to be in a pretty beneficial position here in the Big 12.
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