Looking Ahead To The Big 12′s Most Important Games This Weekend

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 17th, 2014

This week has been highly entertaining for Big 12 fans. Whether it’s Kansas winning in a return to Hilton Coliseum, Kansas State putting the clamps on Oklahoma‘s high-energy offense, or the most recent development — Texas Tech springing the biggest upset of league play by beating Baylor on Wednesday night — storylines have emerged with each passing game. No school has played more than four games yet, but the Jayhawks are the only team still unscathed in conference play. After a quiet Thursday and Friday, the action resumes tomorrow with four match-ups that will have big implications on the conference race as well as teams’ NCAA Tournament resumes going forward.

It's been a long team since a visiting player won two games in Allen Fieldhouse.  Will Marcus Smart pull it off? (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY)

It’s been a long time since a visiting player won two games in Allen Fieldhouse. Will Marcus Smart pull it off? (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY)

Oklahoma State at Kansas (4:00 EST, CBS) - Remember way back in October when Marcus Smart had some interesting — if correct — things to say about Andrew Wiggins? It feels like ages ago, but two of the conference’s best players will finally get a chance to battle it out on the court. Most recently on Wednesday, Smart continued to make his case as the Big 12 POY with a great night against TCU (20 points, eight rebounds, five assists) as the Cowboys rolled the Horned Frogs, while Wiggins posted 17 points and 19 rebounds against Iowa State in a performance that still left some wanting more. Kansas will have its massive homecourt advantage behind it in this one, and the Jayhawks’ frontcourt has to be licking its chops at the idea of battling the Michael Cobbins-less Oklahoma State forwards on the glass. If Brian Williams and Kamari Murphy can’t get comfortable inside, the Cowboys will need to make up for the shortfall in other ways, whether through Smart rising to the occasion,  Phil Forte raining threes, Le’Bryan Nash putting up one of his patented hyper-efficient scoring nights, or some combination of the three.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Oklahoma versus Kansas State Already with Bubble Implications

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 14th, 2014

Before I start, a quick shout-out to the Big 12 schedule makers for giving us great match-ups seemingly every night conference games occur. They deserve raises.

It'll be a contrast in styles when Lon Kruger's Sooners take on Kansas State. (Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

It’ll be a contrast in styles when Lon Kruger’s Sooners take on Kansas State. (Jason Bean/AP Photo)

You’ve seen and heard this before: The Big 12 has the best conference RPI in the country. In his latest bracketology, Jerry Palm has seven teams from the Big 12 making the field of 68, more than any other league. So the next biggest Big 12 Game of the Week of the Night gives us Oklahoma at Kansas State, the result of which will go a long way in figuring out how soft the NCAA Tournament bubble will be in two months. The Wildcats and Sooners are polar opposites of each other. Literally. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in points per game (87.0 PPG) while Kansas State is dead last in that category (67.2 PPG). K-State is tops in the league in scoring defense (59.8 PPG) while Oklahoma sits at the bottom of the conference (79.2 PPG). It’s one of those “something’s gotta give” games.

Oklahoma’s four-guard lineup has been confusing for opponents to defend, as the Sooners run the floor, shoot from long range (38.4 percent from three as a team), and rebound well (fourth in the Big 12). Ryan Spangler, the lone ranger on the interior, is currently the second-best rebounder in the conference (9.2 RPG). Kansas State, on the other hand, appears to be more conventionally constructed with two bigs and three guards. The one-on-one match-up on which to focus tonight is Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield versus Kansas State’s Marcus Foster. Hield is averaging 20.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in Big 12 play while Foster was recognized as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week a week ago.

Before Saturday’s loss to Kansas, the Wildcats were on a 10-game winning streak which included wins over George Washington, Gonzaga and Oklahoma State. They are fortunate enough to have another important and winnable game at home here, but going forward, they’ll need to add additional credible road wins to their portfolio. The Sooners, despite a soft non-conference schedule, already have two marquee wins in Big 12 play: at Texas on January 4, and Saturday’s home win against Iowa State.

You can watch the Sooners and Wildcats tangle tonight at 7:00 ET on ESPN2. Something’s gotta give.

Share this story

Kansas Off to Good Big 12 Start After Dismantling of K-State

Posted by Taylor Erickson on January 12th, 2014

If you spent the last few days listening to media types in northeast Kansas, Saturday’s rendition of the Sunflower Showdown was supposed to be different. Kansas State entered the game on a 10-game winning streak after stumbling out of the gate. The Wildcats were surging behind a much improved defensive effort, and freshman guard Marcus Foster was making a strong case as one of the best players in the league. Kansas, on the other hand, was a confidence-stricken team that already had four losses on the season. A little less than a week ago, San Diego State had waltzed into Allen Fieldhouse and snapped Kansas’ 68-game non-conference home winning streak. The overwhelming youth and inexperience residing in Lawrence had Bruce Weber believing his team could steal a win against their intrastate rival. Kansas was supposed to be vulnerable.

Andrew Wiggins threw down on monster dunk on his way to a 22 point performance. (Nick Krug/KUSports.com)

Andrew Wiggins threw down this monster dunk on his way to a 22-point performance. (Nick Krug/KUSports.com)

Instead, what followed in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon mimicked what we’ve seen so often in this Sunflower State rivalry. Kansas jumped out to a 17-point lead off of a 14-assist, zero turnover effort in the first half. The second half featured more of the same, as the Jayhawks outscored Kansas State by nine on their way to and 86-60 victory behind Andrew Wiggins’ 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor. The previous five games between these two teams in Lawrence have followed a similar pattern, with Kansas winning by an average of 19 points per game during that span.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 01.10.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 10th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. It’s been a big week for Kansas State‘s Marcus Foster: the guard won Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors and CBSSports.com named him National Freshman of the Week. Now The Wichita Eagle has details on Foster’s high school career at Hirschi High in Wichita Falls, Texas. He played all five positions and helped Hirschi to an appearance in the state quarterfinals in his junior year. There, his recruiting stock rose quickly. Foster held scholarship offers from Kansas State, Creighton, Texas, Baylor and Colorado among others. In the summer before his senior year, Foster gained a lot of weight. He appeared slow in his AAU games and those who offered him retracted their scholarships save for Creighton and Kansas State. That drove Foster to get back into shape and have a Parade All-American season before deciding to play college ball for the Wildcats. It’s a fascinating story that also makes you think twice about recruiting services. Talent is everywhere, even if they aren’t ranked on a list.
  2. As we enter the first weekend in which everyone has entered conference play, CBSSports.com released their list of top 30 conference games to watch. Included are five Big 12 match-ups: both Kansas-Oklahoma State games, Kansas-Iowa State, Iowa State-Oklahoma State and Iowa State-Baylor. There are other intriguing Big 12 games that could have made the list, but you have to understand that there are games from nine other leagues that make up the 30. If anything, five of 30 ain’t too shabby for the Big 12.
  3. Kansas is planning on building a brand new apartment complex that would serve men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes. The complex would be similar to Kentucky’s Wildcat Coal Lodge, completed in 2012, in both amenities and finances. The projected cost for the complex is $17.5 million and it would also accommodate 34 students who are non-athletes, in compliance with NCAA bylaws. “We have one of the very elite basketball programs in the country, and we want to do everything we can to stay there,” Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony told the Kansas City Star. “Not only that, we need to, and housing is part of that.” I guess it is, to keep up with the Joneses’, but you were able to get Andrew Wiggins with what you have now. So yeah.
  4. Wednesday’s seemed like a breakthrough game for the entire Kansas team with Wayne Selden have a career night. The same could be said for backup point guard Conner Frankamp. He came into Wednesday’s game on an eight game scoreless streak, three of those being games where Frankamp didn’t see any playing time. He checked in against the Sooners and scored five points in 13 minutes which doesn’t seem like much at first glance. But those five points came within the last 2:09 of the first half which helped turn a deficit into a halftime lead for the Jayhawks. Kansas wouldn’t trail for the remainder of the game. Sometimes confidence is all a player needs to perform and Frankamp appears to have it now.
  5. More bad news to report for West Virginia’s basketball team: Bob Huggins announced the appeal for Jonathan Holton to play this season was denied by the NCAA on Thursday. Holton, who previously played at Rhode Island and later Palm Beach State Community College, would have been an immediate contributor for the Mountianeers this season. Holton averaged 17.5 points and 14.1 rebounds for Palm Beach State CC who went 29-3 last year. The NCAA said that Holton will have two years of eligibility remaining, starting with the 2014-15 season.
Share this story

Big 12 M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 8th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. Just how good is Iowa State? That’s the question Rob Dauster over at College Basketball Talk is asking after the Cyclones pulled away from Baylor in the second half to win the battle of top 10 teams, 87-72. DeAndre Kane had his best game on the biggest stage of the season to date: 30 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Dauster believes the Cyclones are a very good team but not a top 10 team. His points are valid — the Michigan and BYU wins don’t have the same cachet now as they did in November, and their best wins (Iowa and Baylor) came at the impregnable Hilton Coliseum. Regardless of what anyone thinks about them, the Cyclones are now one of only five undefeated teams in college basketball along with Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
  2. When a team commits 18 turnovers in a conference game, it usually spells doom for the road team. Kansas State was that road team on Tuesday night and still somehow emerged with an 18-point win over TCU, 65-47. The difference for the Wildcats was winning the rebounding edge over the Horned Frogs by 16 boards. “They are not a good rebounding team,” forward Thomas Gipson said. “They play hard and everything, but we really wanted to emphasize our rebounding against them. I feel like we did a good job with that.” Now Kansas State’s winning streak is at 10 games, its longest since the Elite Eight season of 2009-10. Their buddies from Lawrence will be their next opponent on Saturday.
  3. Jerry Palm’s latest bracketology has seven Big 12 teams in the field of 68. Think about that: 70 percent of an entire conference is projected to make the NCAA Tournament. What a number, considering that the Big East’s 11 bids in 2011 accounted for 68.8 percent of that conference. According to Palm, Kansas State and Texas were selected as First Four teams headed to Dayton, Ohio. If they were picked as two of the final teams in, I wouldn’t be so sure if I’d take both. While Kansasa State has recorded its best wins (Ole Miss, Gonzaga, George Washington, and Oklahoma State) within the state of Kansas, those wins are collectively better than Texas’, which pretty much starts and ends with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. But that’s why the season doesn’t end on January 8. Who knows, maybe at season’s end the Big 12 will have seven resumes that are worthy of NCAA Tournament bids.
  4. On Monday, Kansas State’s Marcus Foster picked up Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors, but the accolades don’t stop there. In a collaboration between the Wayman Tisdale Award and CBSSports.com, Foster has won the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week for his play against George Washington and Oklahoma State. This is certainly a breath of fresh air when you consider that the award seemed like it’d be passed around between Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Wiggins and the Kentucky freshmen. Hooray for three-star recruits!
  5. West Virginia has missed some opportunities to rack up important wins in non-league play but leading scorer Eron Harris is encouraged by the team’s 2-0 start in the Big 12. Yes, those two wins came against Texas Tech and TCU both of which have worse overall records than the Mountaineers. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to Harris. “I don’t care what team you’re playing in the Big 12, it’s a tough conference,” Harris told MetroNews. “It’s significant.” Their first non-Texas opponent will come Saturday when WVU takes on Oklahoma State in Morgantown. We’ll see if things really are different.
Share this story

Big 12 M5: 12.11.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 11th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. It’s been a long two weeks for Kansas, and the Jayhawks took another lump on Tuesday night, dropping their second straight game and their third in the last 11 days, in a loss to Florida.  Andrew Wiggins was fantastic, leading all scorers with 26 points, or put another way, roughly one point for every time a draft analyst has changed his mind about him. The freshman phenom just didn’t get the help he needed as the Kansas guards turned the ball over at an astronomical rate, giving the Gators enough extra possessions to reel off a 21-0 run over eight-plus minutes in the first half. The Jayhawks made a run and got as close as five points from tying the game, but couldn’t get over the hump. We’ll have more on Kansas’ struggles later today, but while we aren’t jumping ship on Bill Self’s team, it’s tough not to look ahead and wonder how KU’s non-conference losses will impact their NCAA Tournament seeding no matter what happens in Big 12 play.
  2. We’ve yet to hit winter break, but West Virginia has really painted itself into a corner after losing to Gonzaga last night. The Mountaineers have no quality wins on their resume to counteract losses to Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, and now the Bulldogs. They’re essentially out of opportunities to make an impression in non-conference play, which makes their margin for error razor-thin. According to KenPom, WVU has a top-50 offense and top-100 defense but their at-large hopes will rest on their ability to do damage against the top half of the Big 12 while avoiding losses to the league’s bottom-dwellers.
  3. Oklahoma‘s improvement this season has been one of the more overlooked stories around the conference, but the Sooners were dealt a blow at practice Tuesday morning when guard Je’lon Hornbeak broke a bone in his left foot. The sophomore will miss four to six weeks, and if that timetable holds true to form, it pegs his return a few games into conference play. While Hornbeak is sidelined, the Sooners should be fine against Tulsa and Texas-Arlington, but their match-ups against Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, Texas, Kansas, Iowa State and Kansas State just got a little more challenging. Hornbeak didn’t start for Oklahoma, but Lon Kruger’s team will need to find some extra depth on their bench to bide the time – either that or hope for a surprisingly early return a la Melvin Ejim.
  4. Five days after squeaking by Ole Miss, Kansas State pulled another escape job at home, toughing out a 65-62 win over South Dakota last night. Freshman guard Marcus Foster led the way with 18 points, but needed 20 shots from the floor to get there. The Wildcats just aren’t getting the balance they need offensively to show that they can compete with the better teams in the Big 12; Foster and Shane Southwell combined to take 34 of Kansas State’s 62 shots on Tuesday, and were actually outshot by the Coyotes to boot. While they’ll happily take the win, the Wildcats did very little to instill much confidence going forward.
  5. After all of those downers, let’s end today’s M5 on a happy note, shall we? With Finals Week lightening the slate, it’s a good time to evaluate how teams are doing, and perhaps no unit has been as impressive as Iowa State‘s offense. The Cyclones lead the nation in points per game and are second in assists per contest, and as we noted yesterday, three different players on Fred Hoiberg’s roster have taken home Big 12 Player Of The Week honors. They aren’t without their shortcomings — poor offensive rebounding and a defense that hasn’t shown much interest in turning other teams over — but for all the talk of Oklahoma State and Kansas being the alpha dogs this season, it is Iowa State that owns the league’s only undefeated record.
Share this story

Big 12 Observations a Month Into the Season

Posted by Taylor Erickson on December 6th, 2013

With a month of action in the 2013-14 college basketball season now under our belts, the natural question becomes what exactly have we learned so far? We’ve been treated to some impressive performances, by both Big 12 teams and individuals, and a good number of less-than-impressive efforts. And while the buzz of Christmas season is firmly upon us, we’re also in the meat of a non-conference slate with several high-profile games involving the Big 12′s elite, allowing us further opportunity to draw more concrete conclusions. For the time being, though, four weeks into the season, here are a few observations worth keeping an eye on.

Smart showed he is human after a sub-par performance against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic (Credit: Orlando Sentinel).

Smart showed he is human after a sub-par performance against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic (Credit: Orlando Sentinel).

  • Marcus Smart is actually human after all.  Seriously, after exploding for 39 points against Memphis, Smart followed that up with 25- and 30-point performances against South Florida and Purdue, and left many in college basketball wondering if he had transformed into some sort of Space Jam Monstar in the offseason. The Oklahoma State point guard struggled in the Cowboys’ second match-up with Memphis, finishing with 12 points and two costly turnovers in a close game down the stretch. I’m not sure there’s another player in college basketball who seems to be better at harnessing his emotions in a positive way than Smart, so if there’s one thing worth betting on this season, it’s that the sophomore from Flower Mound, Texas, will find a way to bounce back quickly from a disappointing performance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Oklahoma State freshman Stevie Clark is adjusting quickly to the college game. Clark has put up some very efficient numbers in the early going, averaging 12 points and seven assists in just 21 minutes of action per game. If he can maintain a similar level of production behind Marcus Smart as the Cowboys’ schedule toughens up, Clark will have a great case for being the league’s best sixth man. Oklahoma State is still searching for answers down low, but between Smart, Clark, Markel Brown and Phil Forte, the Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches in their backcourt.
  2. Iowa State continues to receive outstanding contributions from its newcomers, but Tuesday night, it was junior forward Dustin Hogue who stepped up for Fred Hoiberg’s team by chipping in 13 points on just six shots to go along with eight rebounds and two steals against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Cyclones will be without Melvin Ejim against Michigan this Sunday in Ames, but encouraging performances throughout ISU’s roster this week and an amazing homecourt advantage could give them just what they need to beat the Wolverines.
  3. The Kansas Jayhawks have found production on their bench to weather early storms of foul trouble, according to Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star. Frank Mason and Brannen Greene are just two players who tend to get lost in the shuffle behind KU’s star-studded starting lineup, but they’ve provided huge minutes in supporting roles as the season has lifted off. As freshmen, they’ll only get better, so opponents shouldn’t expect a huge drop-off when Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden need to catch a few breathers.
  4. There were no surprises in Lawrence on National Signing Day Wednesday. Kelly Oubre, who committed to the Jayhawks earlier this semester, sent in his NLI, cementing his pledge to play for Kansas next season. Oubre figures to take Andrew Wiggins’ place in the KU rotation as an explosive, long-armed wing. Kansas remains in the hunt for Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, who will announce their decisions at the same time on Friday afternoon.
  5. Kansas State bounced back from an ugly early loss to Northern Colorado by taking care of Oral Roberts in a 71-63 win Wednesday night. Freshman Marcus Foster joined some esteemed company, becoming the first Wildcat freshman since Michael Beasley to score 25 points in a game. Head coach Bruce Weber has repeatedly insisted that his veterans need to lead offensively, and while that’s certainly an understandable sentiment, there are no sure things in his lineup. It would be wonderful for Kansas State if Shane Southwell, Will Spradling and Thomas Gipson could be counted on for 40 combined points on a nightly basis, but in the meantime, our unsolicited advice to Bruce Weber is to take your points wherever you can get them.
Share this story

Big 12 Team Preview: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 5th, 2013

This week, the Big 12 microsite will finish previewing each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Kansas State.

Where We Left Off: As he did at Illinois, Bruce Weber took the wheel of a new program and immediately led it to a regular season conference title. Despite an unimpressive defense and an offense that relied heavily on crashing the boards, Kansas State outperformed preseason expectations on its way to a 27-8 record and sharing the conference crown with Kansas. The postseason wasn’t so kind, however. Kansas State bowed out to the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament final, losing to Bill Self’s team for the third time in 2013, and followed it up by dropping a heart-breaker to 13-seed La Salle in their NCAA Tournament opener. KSU had a tough offseason as well, losing Angel Rodriguez to Miami and Adrian Diaz to Florida International, while also waving goodbye to graduating seniors Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez. Weber’s most prominent players still figure to be those recruited by former head coach Frank Martin, but he’ll look to begin shedding the reputation he garnered in Champaign as a coach who struggles to win without the previous regime’s holdovers.

Bruce Weber needs Shane Southwell to be the next Alpha Dog (er, cat) in The Little Apple. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Bruce Weber needs Shane Southwell to be the next Alpha Dog (er, cat) in The Little Apple. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Strengths: Last season, Shane Southwell was one of the most improved players in the Big 12, as he doubled his scoring average and then some, going from 3.2 points per game in 2011-12 to 8.4 last season. Where Southwell especially shined was beyond the arc, where he connected on 44 percent of his 110 attempts after hitting just 25 percent over the prior two seasons. Kansas State figures to rely on Southwell heavily this season, as the Wildcats’ trademark of cashing in on second chance buckets is destined to take a hit with a smaller lineup. KSU will need to score on its first attempts, and one man who can help take the pressure off Southwell is junior Thomas Gipson. At 6’7″ and 265 pounds, the big guy knows his way around the basket and takes up a ton of space. He’ll be counted on to flourish in a more significant role on both ends after averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game in each of his first two seasons. Farther out, Will Spradling is one of the Big 12′s more familiar faces. While the senior is far from automatic, he shoots the ball well enough from beyond the arc to command the respect of opposing defenders.

Weaknesses: Despite Spradling’s experience and ability to knock down set shots from distance, question marks abound in the backcourt, assuming Southwell spends most of his time on the wing this season. Spradling is hardly a sure thing and Weber will need to find a solution at the point among a glut of unknown commodities such as freshmen Marcus Foster and Nigel Johnson.  The Wildcats may also struggle down low until a capable complement to Gipson emerges. Sophomore D.J. Johnson is the only player taller than 6’7″ (6’11″ Georgetown transfer Brandon Bolden will sit out the season, per NCAA rules), so the Wildcats will field a frontcourt rotation that’s much smaller than what fans are used to seeing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 4th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Kansas State took down Pittsburg State 75-54 in exhibition action on Friday night. The only problem was the Wildcats were hobbled in doing so. Bruce Weber said earlier in the week that guards Will Spradling (0 pts) and Shane Southwell (10/5 asts) as well as forward Nino Williams (13/13) were all battling injuries despite playing more than 20 minutes apiece. Thomas Gipson, who is expected to be more of a force on the offensive end, did not play either due to an unspecified injury. Another headline came from the three freshmen thrown into the action. Point guard Marcus Foster turned in 13 points, five rebounds and four dimes, while fellow Texan Wesley Iwundu scored 10 points in 17 minutes, and Nigel Johnson poured in 15 and nine boards in Gipson’s place. While it’s important to get your starters as healthy before the season tips off, it’s nice to know you have options down low and in the backcourt if you’re a K-State fan.
  2. News came down late last week that Melvin Ejim would be out several weeks with a hyperextended knee and bone bruise. But Ejim is hoping he can return to the floor sooner than expected. “I don’t think it’s going to take as long. Hopefully it doesn’t take as long,” he told the Ames Tribune. “It’d be the best if I took a couple weeks, and I could play right away, but we’ve still got to be smart and it’s something if I do play on it and it’s not properly healed, it’s potentially something that could hurt me down the line.” Smart is right. Adrian Peterson certainly set a precedent for athletes and how much time they can take to rehabilitate their injuries. And sure, Ejim’s feeling pressure to be rushed back considering 60 percent of Iowa State’s starting lineup wasn’t there a year ago. It’s also not a bad thing to go the Derrick Rose route and make sure your mind and body are in sync with each other before returning to action. Get well, Mel.
  3. They’ve got a shiny new top 10 ranking and lofty expectations at the national level, but believe it or not, Oklahoma State won’t be talking about a national championship this season. According to the Tulsa World, Travis Ford had his players study up on the six Cowboy teams that previously made it to Final Fours for a team dinner weeks ago. “We wanted them to learn about the tradition but also the championship-type teams,” Ford said. “We’ve talked a lot about trying to get to that point, trying to get our guys throughout the summer and a little bit of preseason thinking in terms of trying to motivate them to win a championship. Once the night was over, I told our guys, ‘Now we’re done talking about it.’ I don’t want to talk any more about it. I don’t want to pinhole it.” Interesting approach from a man who hasn’t done a whole lot in his time in Stillwater; but hey, the more Big 12 teams at the 2014 Final Four in Dallas, the better.
  4. TCU had its own exhibition game on Friday night and they were able to come away with a 81-74 over Arkansas-Fort Smith. Karviar Shepherd, the top prospect from the Horned Frogs’ 2013 recruiting class, shined with a 16-point, 10-rebound outing. After missing the 2013 portion of last season, senior Jarvis Ray scored 18 to lead all scorers. TCU is slated to tip off its season Friday against crosstown and old Southwest Conference rivals, SMU. Let’s hope that Trent Johnson will have a healthy roster to work with in 2013-14.
  5. The mother of Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith passed away last week. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and later confirmed by the school’s athletic department, Parthenia Smith died late Wednesday. She was 92. Tubby’s father, Guffrie, passed away just before the start of the 2009 basketball season at 88. It’ll be tough to concentrate on coaching this week, but our thoughts and prayers go out to Tubby and his family through this trying time.
Share this story

Sizing Up a Key Freshman at Every Big 12 School

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 29th, 2013

Brian Goodman is the lead Big 12 correspondent for RTC. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman

The 2012-13 season saw a handful of freshmen throughout the Big 12 make their presences felt around the league. Everyone knows about Marcus Smart, but he was far from the only rookie player who proved himself capable. Perry Ellis, Isaiah Austin, Rico Gathers and Georges Niang also showed opposing players and coaches that they belonged in the conference too. Further down the standings, Josh Gray, Javan Felix and Terry Henderson gave glimpses of what they can do when given opportunities to show their stuff  (although Gray later transferred out of the conference).

Andrew Wiggins will be the top freshman in the Big 12, but after him, it's not so black and white. (credit: ESPN.com)

Andrew Wiggins will be the top freshman in the Big 12, but after him, it’s not so black and white. (credit: ESPN.com)

Once again, the Big 12 will welcome a stellar class of incoming talent this season. We took a look around the conference and plucked one freshman from each team who we think will make the strongest impression. Top to bottom, the Big 12 doesn’t offer quite the depth the SEC — which claims eight of the top 12 prospects from ESPNU’s Top 100 (just to use one recruiting service) — will roll out, but we’re looking forward to watching newcomers from every Big 12 team make strong impressions in their opening campaigns.

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: Like you, we’ve seen the YouTube clips and read the scouting reports and articles in publications ranging from Sports Illustrated to GQ. Also, like you, we’re ready for Wiggins to make his debut and show everyone in actual games why he’s been the projected top overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft for so long. We agree with Bill Self in that we don’t expect Wiggins to average 20 points per game – today’s suppressed scoring environments and Self’s reputation as a coach who prefers a balanced attack makes that outcome a longshot. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t think the phenom will make a huge impact on both ends of the floor.

Matt Thomas, Iowa State: Despite starting just two games last season, Tyrus McGee was the Cyclones’ second-leading scorer thanks to a white-hot 46.4% shooting clip from long range. Now that he’s gone, though, Fred Hoiberg needs someone to fill the shooting void, and we can easily see Thomas emerging as that guy. The 51st-ranked recruit on ESPNU’s Top 100, Thomas boasts the kind of range that can break games open and cut deficits in a hurry. Once he commands the attention of the league’s defenses, passing lanes will open up to deliver the ball to the likes of Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 03.29.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 29th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Texas Tech once hired Bob Knight. So why not Tubby Smith? Sources indicate the Red Raiders have met with Smith, a one-time national champion at Kentucky and the recently-fired head coach at Minnesota. The Red Raiders, who also netted Billy Gillispie two years ago after his promising coaching career fizzled at Kentucky, seem to have a knack for associating themselves with big names in the coaching business. Smith is clearly the best candidate on the list for Texas Tech at this point. It still remains to be seen what sort of consideration interim coach Chris Walker will get, but Smith is a respected name, regardless of how his tenures at Kentucky and Minnesota ended. And they never even ended that badly, comparatively speaking.
  2. Smith might even be the perfect fit at Tech, according to one writer. He’s right about one thing– inking Smith to a deal would certainly create a “splash” in Lubbock, something this school could need. His six-year run with the Golden Gophers was not stellar, and he never finished above .500 in Big Ten play. He did make three NCAA Tournaments and slammed UCLA in the second round this year, but his team collapsed after a terrific start this year. Failing to reach the second weekend would have seemed unacceptable in December, but that’s how far the team fell within the span of a few months. Playing in a brutal Big Ten didn’t help, but point is, Smith wasn’t great at Minnesota. But he could be great in another situation, considering his success at Kentucky. Yes, yes, he won a title with Rick Pitino’s players and, sure, maybe it’s easier to win at a Kentucky, but you’re not going to find many available head coaches with Smith’s pedigree.
  3. Amath M’Baye‘s decision this week to declare for the NBA Draft was a bit shocking, especially for Lon Kruger and his Oklahoma teammates. But perhaps it’s not such a bad decision after all. M’Baye has a life to live, and he has a family to help overseas and a professional career to pursue. As the article points out, he’d be almost 25 by the end of next season. He will graduate in fewer than two months. If he feels as though waiting a year to turn pro would slow his progress, then maybe it’s the best thing for him to move on. It’ll hurt, but it won’t cripple Oklahoma’s roster, and it will keep M’Baye moving forward in his own life. Win-win all around.
  4. This story made waves in August, but it’s still a fun one: Kansas’ Justin Wesley will play Wilt Chamberlain in an upcoming film called “Jayhawkers.” How’s that for having big shoes to fill? Funny thing is, Wesley had never acted before starting this project. The film’s creator just needed somebody to fill the giant role and asked Bill Self for advice. They almost settled on Thomas Robinson, but Wesley’s body type was a little more conducive to the role. So Wesley it was, and the rest is history. Get your popcorn ready.
  5. Marcus Foster turned down an in-state offer from SMU (plus Oklahoma and other nearby schools) to play at Kansas State next year. That has to hurt more after Foster earned Player of the Year honors in Texas’ Class 3A division. Even with Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder graduating, he’ll still have to fight with Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez, Shane Southwell and others for playing time as a freshman. But he’s good enough to do it. He can play a lot of different positions, and he also plays bigger and tougher than his 6’2” frame would suggest. The guy averaged 27 points per game in high school, too, hence the Player of the Year award. Bruce Weber will find a spot for him, and it’ll probably happen the second he steps in Manhattan.
Share this story