No Matter What Happens Tonight, Scott Drew Deserves a Fair Shake

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 27th, 2014

Ever since Baylor blew the doors off of Creighton on Sunday, the public tide has started to turn in Scott Drew’s favor. He hasn’t shaken all of the criticisms — that he’s underachieved with top-flight talent in previous seasons and that he’s toed a fine line with his recruiting strategies (as if other programs don’t)  – but with every postseason win he continued to chalk up, the noise has definitely quieted. On Wednesday night alone, CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd and Yahoo!‘s Jeff Eisenberg posted columns detailing why the doubters have it all wrong about Drew. While Dodd and Eisenberg aren’t the first to defend the Baylor head coach, their points remain that regardless of what you think about his tactics, the results he’s produced deserve acclaim among some of the best coaching jobs in the country — no matter what happens tonight against Wisconsin.

No matter what happens tonight, it's time to evaluate Scott Drew with fairness. (AP)

You don’t have to like Scott Drew, but it’s past time to evaluate his tenure at Baylor with fairness. (AP)

The Bears are one win away from a chance to play in the Final Four for the third time in five seasons, so if they beat the Badgers this evening, they’ll have cracked the Elite Eight with three very different teams. While one of the prevalent knocks on Drew is that last season’s group — which had a similar look and feel to this year’s team in terms of roster construction — failed to make the NCAA Tournament, it’s also true that three of his best players this season were guys who were passed over by bigger programs. In other words, if you’re going to penalize Drew for missing out on a Dance card with Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and a senior Pierre Jackson, that’s fine; but if you’re going to do that, it’s only fair to also credit him for getting the most out of Kenny Chery and Royce O’Neale and parlaying that player development into postseason success. Going back even further, he’s offset the lukewarm contributions of hyped recruits Perry Jones and Quincy Miller by getting great value from low-level prospects like Jackson, Quincy Acy and Ekpe Udoh, all three of whom are now playing professionally.

Even if Drew loses tonight, he’ll still find himself among rarefied air in the coaching community. Only six other programs have made the Sweet Sixteen three times in the last five years: Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Not Kansas, not Duke, not Syracuse, not Connecticut. Not bad for a guy who arrived in Waco 11 years ago with the unenviable task of rebuilding a D-I program from essentially scratch. No matter what the narrative says you should think about him, stop thinking it. The guy can coach.

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Big 12 Team Previews #2: Baylor Bears

Posted by dnspewak on November 9th, 2012

Over the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Baylor at the #2 position is next on our list. 

The Skinny

  • 2011-12 record: 30-8, 12-6
  • Key contributors lost: Quincy Acy, Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller
  • Head coach: Scott Drew
  • Projected finish: 2nd

Scott Drew doesn’t care what you think. He’s perfectly fine reloading with NBA prospects after his stars leave early for the pros, and he’s perfectly fine dealing with the stigma of underachievement and playing an “impure” style of basketball, whatever that really means. In the end, Scott Drew doesn’t care what you think. That’s because he wins. For all the criticism, Drew has reached the Elite Eight twice in three seasons and once again welcomes a collection of stud freshmen to replace the departed Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy. Call this team undisciplined all you want. Drew has the league’s best player in Pierre Jackson, another ferocious frontcourt and as much depth as anybody in the league. Drew just has one more step in quieting his doubters: He must find a way to finally win a Big 12 title.

Drew Is Suspended For The First Two Big 12 Games, But His Team Should Be Just Fine

The Personnel

Pierre Jackson is fun. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 06.28.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on June 28th, 2012

  1. We haven’t been able to talk college basketball for months, not since Kentucky cut down the nets in New Orleans. Thursday night, however, the NBA Draft will allow us junkies to get our college hoops fix by watching all of our former stars learn their fate. We’re always ready for surprises on draft night, but the endless number of mock drafts gives us a vague idea as to where the Big 12 standouts will go. One mock draft predicts Thomas Robinson at the number two spot, which has essentially become the consensus among all the draft “experts.” Kansas teammate Tyshawn Taylor is slotted as the last pick of the first round there, and Quincy Miller (#18), Royce White (#19) and Perry Jones, III (#20), are on the list, too. Many other players should hear their names in the second round, which is admittedly a bit more of a crapshoot.
  2. Kansas did just fine for itself last season, winning another Big 12 championship and reaching the national title game. But it wasn’t the easiest year for coach Bill Self, who had to mix and match with a short bench and only a handful of reliable contributors outside of the main nucleus. That’s why Self is excited about adding more depth in 2012-13, and he’s especially excited about the progression of sophomore guards Naadir Tharpe and Ben McLemore (ineligible last year). With those two expected to contribute more as well as the arrival of star freshman Perry Ellis, Self believes he should have more options.
  3. It’s hard to believe, but once the summer ends college basketball will be right around the corner. So it’s never too early to talk about non-conference schedules. Texas Tech will apparently add three major home games to its schedule next year: Alabama, Arizona, and Arizona State. That should give Billy Gillispie a decent idea as to how much his team has improved after a fairly disastrous first season.
  4. Oklahoma State has also announced it will host Gonzaga at Gallagher-Iba Arena on New Year’s Eve in 2012, an exciting match-up for those of us who’d rather watch hoops than college football during the holidays. Interestingly, OSU claims this could be the biggest non-conference home game at Gallagher-Iba in more than a decade, which sounds a bit like hyperbole but could certainly be true. And frankly, college basketball is better when that historic arena is rocking, which means the Cowboys better get their act together and string a few wins together before that December 31 game. There’s reason to believe Travis Ford’s team could get better too, especially if freshman Marcus Smart finds a way to co-exist with Le’Bryan Nash.
  5. Baylor is no stranger to scandal, and it’s happening again. In a strange twist, a former basketball player has been charged with extorting Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Richard Hurd is accused of telling Griffin he would disclose some sort of dirt on him to the public if he did not receive a sum of money, which  actually makes us more than a little curious as to what Hurd “had” on Griffin. We didn’t recognize the accused’s name when we saw it, but apparently he was a walk-on at Baylor who actually averaged 17 minutes per game in 2004-05.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Quincy Miller

Posted by EJacoby on June 12th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Quincy Miller

School: Baylor

Height/Weight: 6’9” / 210 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round

Quincy Miller Has Tremendous Upside if he Can Improve in the NBA (Getty Images/S. Lecka)

Overview: Drawing widespread comparisons to Kevin Durant in high school, Quincy Miller tore his ACL during his senior year that left him sidelined for several months and seemed to hamper him throughout his only season at Baylor. The long, athletic, versatile scoring forward flashed many moments of brilliance as a Bear but also appeared limited at times by his knee, role, and inexperience. As a result, Miller’s impact on the team dropped off as the season went along. He scored in double figures in 11 of his first 18 games, but only in just seven of his final 19 games as a frosh. His overall averages of 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks in 24.4 minutes per game failed to meet the lofty expectations placed upon him. That’s why it was quite a surprise when Miller declared for the NBA Draft just days before the league deadline. Had he returned to school, Miller would have been the first option on a good team, capable of proving he’s a star player and potential Top 10 NBA talent. Instead, Miller enters the stacked draft with questions about his knee, his motor, and his ability to take over games. Still just 19 years old, though, with big-time upside, Miller could find his way into the late lottery for the right team. He has the potential to become a massive steal if he falls far in the first round, but he’ll need to stay healthy and play with confidence against the best players in the world as he develops in the pros.

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 04.26.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on April 26th, 2012

  1. Not long after telling the world he would return to Baylor for his sophomore season, forward Quincy Miller has now officially announced he’s changed his mind. Miller plans to enter the NBA Draft, foregoing three years of eligibility in Waco and leaving Scott Drew without his top four frontcourt players from a year ago. Perry Jones III has already announced his intention to skip his final two years, and both Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones graduated. Luckily, Drew will replace his lost bigs with another banner recruiting class, headlined by Ricardo Gathers and seven-footer Isaiah Austin. Having Miller in the fold would have helped, sure, but this at least means more court time for the freshmen.
  2. Frank Martin told the Associated Press recently that his departure from Kansas State had nothing to do with a rift between he and the athletic department, claiming he “didn’t run away from Kansas State” to take a job at South Carolina. Martin can deny this “rift” all he wants, but it still does not rationalize his decision to leave Manhattan for one of the worst programs traditionally in SEC basketball. Maybe he wanted a new challenge in building up a program. Maybe he liked the weather or the state of South Carolina better, and it actually has nothing to do with the people back in Manhattan. At this point, though, it’s all speculation because Martin has stayed very vague in his reasoning. In the end, who cares? The man did what he had to do for his career, and there’s no point in questioning his life decisions now — he’s a Gamecock for the immediate future.
  3. To replace Martin, Kansas State hired former Illinois coach Bruce Weber. It was an interesting hire after the Illini fired Weber, but it’s more interesting when you consider this: He now joins former Illinois coaches Bill Self (2000-03) and Lon Kruger (1996-2000) in the Big 12. That means the last three coaches from Illinois will all coach against each other next season in Big 12 play. Who’d have thought a Big Ten school would wield so much influence over this league?
  4. When TCU hired Trent Johnson, most praised the decision despite the coach’s rather modest tenure at LSU. Johnson proved he can win at a high level at both Nevada and Stanford, though, and he looks like the right man for the job in the Horned Frogs’ first season in the Big 12. Just down the road, however, a rival school has one-upped TCU. SMU hired the legendary Hall of Famer Larry Brown, a winner at both the NCAA and NBA level. This may have an impact on TCU’s program, but remember, Brown probably won’t last very long at SMU because of his age (72 years old). Johnson isn’t the same sort of immediate splash hit as Brown, but he’s probably a better long-term option.
  5. We’re not sure whether to laugh, cry, scream, or simply roll our eyes after reading this: Apparently Bob Huggins may have been drunk during a coaching clinic last week. And this isn’t just pure speculation or some random blogger making the accusation, either. Deadspin reported that eight different people told its source Huggins was under the influence, and that his speech was audibly slurred, included f-bombs, and all other sorts of alcohol-induced behavior. Several tweeters were on the scene making observations, but this one has to be our favorite.
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Morning Five: 04.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 25th, 2012

  1. Baylor’s Quincy Miller had a pretty good freshman season, but not good enough for him to believe he was ready for the NBA Draft after a single year in Waco. At least that was his decision two weeks ago, just prior to the NCAA’s draft entry deadline on April 10. Proving that such a deadline is in fact the complete and utter joke that nearly everyone already thinks, Miller on Tuesday reversed his decision prior to the NBA’s (the real) deadline this coming Sunday. He will become the tenth 1-and-done player who declared this offseason likely to be selected in the first round in June. The good news, of course, is that Scott Drew will now have additional time to prepare for life after Miller — somewhere down on Tobacco Road, an ACC coach or two must be very pleased about this development.
  2. Speaking of the NBA Draft and dovetailing with the incessant discussion of transfer players last week, FIU’s Dominique Ferguson also announced on Tuesday that he will head to the NBA in the wake of head coach Isiah Thomas’ firing at the school. According to Ferguson, who averaged 8/6 in his two seasons at the school, he preferred to stay in a basketball uniform in Miami but FIU refused to release him to any other institution. He felt this left him no choice other than to enter the professional ranks. We’d like to see a bit more evidence before completely buying his story here, but the power that schools hold over players in this manner is really just shy of unconscionable.
  3. Another ridiculous segue, but far be it from us to question someone’s veracity, especially someone as consistently open and transparent as new South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. In an AP report on Tuesday about how the fiery coach is handling Columbia in his first month on the job, he claims that there was no rift with the AD or other administrators leading to his departure from Kansas State. In the money quote, Martin said, “I’m just telling you, (Gamecocks AD) Eric Hyman put his arms around me and it was hard for me not to feel the passion that he had for building the men’s basketball program. I’ve never been through this before.” Mmmmkay.
  4. Indiana had quite the renaissance in the 2011-12 season, finally breaking through from one of its lowest periods in history to knock off several Top 5 teams in Bloomington and ride the momentum all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Head coach Tom Crean intimated on Tuesday that IU may be bringing back one of its brightest stars to channel its glorious past with its highly anticipated future — former IU NPOY Calbert Cheaney may join Crean’s coaching staff as an associate after spending last season as its Director of Basketball Operations. This would be a nice promotion for the likable Cheaney, who could surely impart considerable wisdom on how to play with expectations given that the Hoosiers should be in everybody’s Top 5 themselves next year.
  5. Finally, the Cincinnati Reds welcomed national championship head coach John Calipari to its baseball game against the Giants Tuesday night, giving the loquacious coach a #1 jersey (pictured here) and displaying the Kentucky title trophy on the premises, but the gesture by the team based on the northern banks of the Ohio River (facing the Bluegrass State) was not without its detractors. Redleg Nation comprises a large geographic area that also includes the fan bases of Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Dayton, and several other Division I programs in addition to Kentucky, so some fans of those programs went on talk radio threatening to cancel their tickets with the baseball club. For what it’s worth, Calipari tossed a nice ball over to the catcher at home plate, as you can see below.

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Morning Five: 04.11.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 11th, 2012

  1. After running the NCAA Tournament for over a decade, Greg Shaheen was replaced yesterday by Mark Lewis. As the article by Jeff Goodman points out Shaheen was widely respected within the college basketball community and was viewed as a good person to work with. We are not privy to the inner workings of the NCAA so we will not comment on how the entire process went down. We can however comment on our multiple interactions with him over the years and have to say that he always dealt with us fairly and when other people in similar positions of power may have been less likely to be as welcoming. We are not sure what his plans are, but there should be plenty of other organizations and companies that take a good, hard look at him for whatever openings they may have.
  2. We may have identified the early 2013 national title favorite as Cody Zeller and Christian Watford announced that they will be staying at Indiana for at least one more year. Zeller was the key to the Hoosiers’ resurgence and in most years would have been a serious contender for most national freshman of the year awards while Watford provided what was widely considered the play of the year with his game-winning three against Kentucky. With those two returning Indiana should be poised to compete with Louisville and Kentucky (depending on their additions today) for next year’s national title.
  3. With spring signing day upon us, we have a couple of articles to take you through the key players. The first is from  Eric Bossi, who takes a look at the ten top uncommitted prospects and where they might be headed.  The second is from Kevin Pelton and looks at the top incoming freshman from the Nike Hoop Summit. The names are mostly the same ones you have been hearing for the past year, but it is interesting to see legitimate criticism of their games, which you rarely see from most recruiting services when they discuss the top prospects.
  4. Apparently adding one of the best freshman classes in the country was not enough for Arizona as they picked up T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne, yesterday. McConnell, who left Duquesne less than a month ago, picked Arizona over Virginia citing among other things his desire to win and compete in the NCAA Tournament. McConnell will not be eligible to play until the 2013-14 season due to transfer rules, but when he does he will have an outstanding supporting cast assuming that most of the incoming freshmen stay in college for more than a year. The addition of McConnell, who will likely be a four-year guy, should also add some stability to the roster over the long-term as many of the more highly rated recruits may not stay all four years.
  5. The Indiana guys may have stolen the headlines, but there were a few others that made significant NBA Draft announcements yesterday. Jeremy Lamb decided that he would leave Connecticut before they had to deal with their 2013 NCAA Tournament ban. The move should not come as much of a surprise and our only question is how long until Andre Drummond joins him. Mason Plumlee will stick around Duke for his senior season, which may have led to Alex Oriakhi announcing that he had taken the Blue Devils off his transfer list. Plumlee’s return is fairly significant in that if he becomes a little more assertive the Blue Devils should be firmly in the top half of the very ACC next season. The last major announcement from yesterday was that Quincy Miller has decided to stay at Baylor for one more year. Miller’s announcement also should not come as a surprise as his freshman year was mediocre enough to scare away most NBA scouts.
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Baylor’s Recruiting Strategy: Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Posted by rtmsf on April 9th, 2012

It’s no secret among college basketball observers that the recruiting prowess of Baylor’s Scott Drew has been largely looked upon with a skeptical eye. In just the past three recruiting cycles, Drew has signed top 10 prospects Perry Jones, III, (2010), Quincy Miller (2011), and Isaiah Austin (2012), making the Christian school in Waco, Texas, one of the premier destinations for elite high school basketball recruits in the country. To those skeptics, Baylor’s quick ascendance from Big 12 doormat to national relevance perhaps signaled that Drew’s recruiting bounty may have been achieved through extraordinary measures — some of which may have been counter to the rules and regulations of the NCAA.

Baylor's Drew Is Feeling Some NCAA Heat, But Does He Care?

The critics appear to have some basis. According to a report released today by ESPN.com’s Jason King, both Drew and Baylor women’s basketball coach, Kim Mulkey, presided over staffs who rampantly and repeatedly violated NCAA rules via text and phone communication with prospects during impermissible periods. Most of these contacts were alleged to have occurred during a 29-month span from 2007-10, but the total number of violations are staggering — 738 impermissible text messages and 528 impermissible phone calls between the two programs.

In a bit of an ironic twist, it was Baylor women’s star Brittney Griner – the Anthony Davis of the women’s game — who in 2008 as a high school star originally notified the NCAA about Baylor’s impermissible contacts. She eventually signed and matriculated at the school anyway, leading the Bears to a flawless 40-0 title season in 2011-12. Since the majority of these contact violations occurred from 2-5 years ago, and the men’s program has since reached two Elite Eights and the women’s program has made an Elite Eight, a Final Four, and won a National Championship, is it wrong to suggest that the illicit contacts performed by Baylor staff to entice elite recruits such as Jones, Griner, Miller, et al, was well worth the risk?

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Grading the Big 12′s 2011-12 Season: Top Half

Posted by rtmsf on April 6th, 2012

Yesterday we gave you our season grades for the bottom half of the Big 12. Today we bring you the top half.

5. Kansas State (22-11, 10-8)

McGruder Led a Surprising K-State Team This Season

FINAL GRADE: B+

Despite all of the personnel question marks and the graduation of star Jacob Pullen, you had the sense Frank Martin would figure something out. He certainly did, as his team weathered a mid-season swoon to finish strong and reach another NCAA Tournament. Martin may have left for South Carolina after the season, but his final Kansas State team fought hard in 2011-12 despite a load of adversity. A December championship at the Diamond Head Classic helped the Wildcats enter the Top 25 before Big 12 play, but poor offensive execution and a lack of consistency on the defensive end doomed the Wildcats during the winter. They weren’t playing like Martin’s teams usually did. They weren’t tough, and it showed, starting 1-3 in Big 12 play and dropping four home games in Manhattan. Oklahoma swept them. Things were getting ugly, and they hit rock bottom after a home loss to Kansas on Big Monday on February 13. That’s when Martin turned this thing around and solidified an NCAA Tournament berth. The Wildcats got back to the basics: defense, rebounding and delivering a knockout punch to opponents. Rodney McGruder stepped up his play as the team’s star, helping it win four of five games to close the season, including road wins at Baylor and Missouri. The controversial suspension of Jamar Samuels left Kansas State without its best forward in an NCAA Third Round game against Syracuse, but it’s impressive that this team even reached that point. With McGruder presumably returning next year, first-year coach Bruce Weber will have a lot to work with. Angel Rodriguez should be even better as a sophomore, and Will Spradling and Jordan Henriquez should grow, too.

4. Iowa State (23-11, 12-6) 

FINAL GRADE: A

The Transfer Effect worked to Iowa State’s benefit this year. In December, we wrote a piece questioning Fred Hoiberg’s recruiting tactics, as he’d brought in four Division I transfers this season. It took a while for everybody to get acclimated, resulting in a couple of losses to Drake and Northern Iowa during an inconsistent non-conference stretch. But once league play began, this team took off. Royce White took the nation by storm with his wild hair and versatile play, showing an ability to run the Cyclones’ offense as a sort of point-forward. He emerged as one of the most fascinating and entertaining players to watch in college basketball, but the team around him helped add to the fun. These guys shot lights-out from beyond the arc, including senior Scott Christopherson, who finished with the highest three-point percentage in the Big 12 (45.5%) for players with more than four attempts per game. Hoiberg added a fresh energy to this program, leading ISU to a victory over Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament. His team even briefly competed against Kentucky before falling apart late in that matchup. There was no fairy-tale March run for The Mayor, but given time, his program may eventually reach those heights. The 2011-12 season marked a major turning point for the Cyclones.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 21st, 2012

  1. After heckling Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez with racial slurs during the first round of the NCAA Tournament, five members of the Southern Mississippi band have lost their scholarships and will no longer participate in the band. This is refreshing news for Rodriguez, who deserves justice after facing taunts of “Where’s Your Green Card?” As Rodriguez mentions in the article, this slur was especially ridiculous because Rodriguez is from Puerto Rico– an American territory, knuckleheads. “Nonsense” is what Rodriguez calls it, and we agree. Both offensive and ignorant.
  2. Winning the Coach of the Year award won’t make Frank Haith feel better about getting Norfolked (yes, we did use that joke yesterday, too), but he has to be proud after all of the criticism he heard when he took the job. Now, it’ll be interesting to see how Haith does with his own roster next season, including several big name transfers. It worked for Fred Hoiberg, who now has his Iowa State program on the upswing. It’s up to guys like Earnest Ross, Keion Bell, and Jabari Brown to help the returning players continue the success of this Missouri program.
  3. There’s also another newcomer for the Tigers next year: Eric Moeller, a 6-foot-10 big man from St. Louis. He’s a preferred walk-on, but adding a center with this kind of size is never a bad thing. It should especially help in practice, and who knows? Moeller may push for a spot in the rotation eventually if he can add some weight. Right now, he’s just a shade over 200 pounds.
  4. Now that it’s over, it’s time to reflect on Kansas State’s 2011-12 season. Before the year, it was very difficult to gauge Frank Martin‘s team. Without Jacob Pullen, we knew Rodney McGruder would need to be the man. During non-conference play, McGruder embraced this role as his team cracked the top-25. Despite an up-and-down regular season, the Wildcats still overachieved by clamping down when they needed to, earning another NCAA Tournament appearance. It wasn’t easy, but with Martin, it’s always a grind. That’s a compliment, by the way: the guy simply wins, no matter how pretty it looks.
  5. Dick Vitale apparently forgot Baylor and Kentucky still need to win Sweet 16 games to face each other, but he says the Bears would be a stiff test for John Calipari‘s team in the regional final. The Wildcats would enter that contest as the obvious favorite, but watching Anthony Davis against Perry Jones, Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy would be a dream matchup for CBS.
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Big 12 Morning Five: 03.19.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 19th, 2012

  1. News has leaked regarding the Jamar Samuels situation at Kansas State: He may have received $200 from an AAU coach to pay for food. On the surface, the NCAA’s decision to rule Samuels ineligible is fairly straightforward. He received impermissible benefits as an amateur, and thus he was not eligible to play against Syracuse. There’s a gray area here, though, and these are the kinds of stories that make Jay Bilas’ Twitter account blow up. Should we penalize a kid from a family with no money for getting access to some free food? Some might say the NCAA makes millions off of these players already and should cut a guy like Samuels some slack. Others may argue that giving Samuels special treatment ignores that hundreds of other Division I athletes that probably use school stipends to eat and don’t get $200 from former coaches. We’ll let you be the judge.
  2. Missouri lost. It’s over– a terrible way to end a dream season, but it’s over. So now what? There are a lot of questions for the Tigers to ponder as they move to the SEC and lose five seniors. Frank Haith should still have a promising roster with four transfers joining the team, but replacing Ricardo Ratliffe with newcomers in the frontcourt will be especially difficult and the impact of Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Steve Moore and Matt Pressey cannot be overstated. The return of Laurence Bowers will help, and point guard play will be a major strength with Michael Dixon and Phil Pressey. Recovering from this disappointing effort in the NCAA Tournament won’t be easy from a mental standpoint, however.
  3. With Missouri off to the SEC, we’re now learning that the Big 12 tried to put a stop to all of the realignment. Just a warning: there’s a lot of legal mumbo jumbo and secretive documents involved in this story. But if you’ve got some time, the drama involved in this process is top-notch stuff.
  4. It’s been a few days since Texas bowed out of the NCAA Tournament, but the way it lost resembled the rest of the Longhorns’ season. They fell behind early. They couldn’t score outside of J’Covan Brown. And even after a rally, they couldn’t finish the basketball game, collapsing late. It’s a tough way for Rick Barnes to go out this season, but with the bulk of this young roster presumably returning, he has to be excited to build off this NCAA appearance during the 2012-13 campaign.
  5. Brady Heslip was the unknown commodity for Baylor heading into the season: an obscure Boston College transfer overshadowed by the arrivals of Quincy Miller and the return of Perry Jones. After torching Colorado for nine threes — and not to mention a surprisingly solid season in the backcourt for Scott Drew — Heslip isn’t unknown anymore. Here’s the perspective from his old buddies in the Northeast, who surely miss watching him play now.
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Rushed Reaction: #3 Baylor 80, #11 Colorado 63

Posted by AMurawa on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Brady Heslip. Quick scouting report: guard him. He doesn’t make it easy for the opposition, running full steam off screen after screen, but when he gets the ball in his mitts with a clean look from deep, it’s as good as in. On Thursday night, he hit five threes from deep in helping the Bears over South Dakota State, but on Saturday he took it to a whole new level, drilling nine-of-twelve from deep against a variety of defenders, almost all of them coming off a screen and knocking down a catch-and-shoot jumper. The Bears don’t beat South Dakota State on Thursday without Heslip, and they probably don’t get out of this round without him either.
  2. Breaking open a tight one. With 11:12 remaining in the second half, Colorado was up 54-51 and the Bears looked flustered, tentative and about ready to cave in. But, following a missed free throw, Quincy Acy kicked ahead a pass to Heslip for a game-tying three to jumpstart what would turn into a 24-6 run. There were a couple more Heslip threes mixed in there, a nasty Acy dunk, and countless heady plays by junior point guard Pierre Jackson. A game that once looked like a battle to the finish turned into a laugher awful quick.
  3. Size kills. While Heslip is the big story, and rightly so, it was Baylor’s dominance on the boards that kept the Bears around. While the rest of the team save Heslip combined to shoot a 38.5 eFG%, they put in their time doing work, grabbing 44.7% of offensive rebound opportunities and 77.4% on the defensive end. The most well-known of the Baylor bigs continued to struggle, as Perry Jones registered a quiet seven points and four rebounds, but Acy, Quincy Miller, Anthony Jones and even guard Deuce Bello picked up the slack.

Star of the GameBrady Heslip. It’s a no-brainer. He led all scorers with 27 points, all on three-pointers. There’s very little else on the stat sheet for Heslip, but when you knock down nine threes, often barely even disturbing the net, there’s little need to do things like pass the ball or grab rebounds.

Sights & Sounds. Of the fans in The Pit who came to support one of these two teams, it is probably not an overestimate to say that 90% of them were supporting Colorado. Baylor came close to filling up their one section they were awarded, but the rest of the place was either CU fans, New Mexico fans or neutral observers. Speaking of Lobo fans, when the game ended and the place cleared out, they turned on the end of the UNM/Louisville game on the big screens and the Lobo fans in attendance stuck around to try to cheer their team back from an 11-point deficit.

What’s Next? Baylor moves on to the Sweet 16 in the Atlanta regional, awaiting a date with either Lehigh or Xavier on Friday. They could be on a collision course with Kentucky, and they may be one of the few teams in the country that matches up athletically with the Wildcats, although Kentucky still has to get by Indiana, one of the two teams to beat them this year, first.

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