Big 12 M5: 10.25.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 25th, 2013

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  1. Here’s a great take on the Rick Barnes and Mack Brown situations at Texas by Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. Texas is arguably the best football job in the country and a top 10 basketball job, but both Brown and Barnes have struggled as of late. If it is any consolation for Barnes, he likely has a longer leash than Brown at this point in time. The Longhorn basketball team has little in the way of expectations this year, and like almost every other year, they have little expectations from locals. I wouldn’t be shocked if an NCAA Tournament bid saved Barnes next spring.
  2. Not only does Bill Self have one of the most talented rosters in college basketball, and not only is Bill Self one of the best coaches in college basketball, but Self has as much versatility as anyone heading into this season. He has tall guards, athletic big men, and everything in-between. This is what he told the Lawrence Journal-World‘s Gary Bedore about two of his starting guards, Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden: “We’ve got to get Andrew (Wiggins) and Wayne opportunities to catch in the post. They could be two of our very best post players,” Self said. That’s on a team with McDonald’s All-American forward Perry Ellis and potential top-10 draft pick Joel Embiid down low as well.
  3. From Michael Beasley to Jacob Pullen to Rodney McGruder to… Shane Southwell? Maybe. The 6’7” forward had a good season last year, averaging 8.4 PPG for the Wildcats. But as Ken Corbitt points out, he won’t be able to sneak up on teams this year. He will be the best offensive option for Bruce Weber this season, without a doubt, and his performance could make the difference between the NCAA Tournament and NIT for Kansas State.
  4. Lon Kruger landed a solid commitment from four-star forward Khadeem Lattin yesterday, Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World writes here. Lattin had offers from Texas, Memphis, and Georgetown, among others, according to Rivals.com. The 6’9” power forward will be one of the most talented players for Kruger next season as he tries to make Oklahoma a Big 12 contender for the first time since Blake Griffin was still in school in 2009.
  5. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star gives us the best breakdown of all that is Joel Embiid right here. The Kansas freshman has slowly been gaining attention since this summer, but on a team along with Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, he has remained in the background most of the time. And while he might not start until Christmas or even later, there is a reason NBA scouts think he can become a certain lottery pick in next summer’s draft.

 

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Big 12 M5: 10.23.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 23rd, 2013

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  1. Maybe it was because of the comments that Marcus Smart made about Andrew Wiggins, maybe it was because he actually believed it, or maybe it was because he was just trying to quell any war of words that may have been brewing, but Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford had nothing but  praise for Kansas heading into the season, and he was not shy about claiming the Jayhawks are still the team to beat, even with Marcus Smart leading the Cowboys this year.  ”Winning a Big 12 Championship is something that we strive to do. It’s something we talk about, but we fully grasp that Kansas is still a team to beat.”
  2. One team that has flown under the radar this pre-season has been Kansas State, who had a disappointing exit in last season’s NCAA Tournament after losing to #13 seed La Salle in the Round of 64. As Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star points out here, the last six years of Kansas State basketball have had a go-to guy heading into the season, from Michael Beasley to Jacob Pullen to Rodney McGruder. Now, 6’7″ senior wing Shane Southwell thinks he can be the next guy to star for the Wildcats. He averaged 8.4 points last season and needs to bump that number up into double digits to make Kansas State competitive in the top-heavy Big 12 this season.
  3. Speaking of the top-heavy Big 12, maybe you have heard that there is a pretty good team practicing in Lawrence. Kansas coach Bill Self is no stranger to talent or expectations, and this team has as much of both as any team he has coached in his career, especially after Andrew Wiggins announced his plans to play at Kansas this year before bolting for the NBA. Self is quick to squash the comparisons to all-time greats, but admits he has a once-a-decade (or better) talent on his hands. “He’s not LeBron,” He told Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. “He’s not Durant. He’s not Wilt. He’s Andrew. And Andrew will impact our college game and our program in a huge, huge, huge way.”
  4. It’s clearly a 2-team race at the top of the Big 12 this season, but it appears to be wide open after that. With the departures of Amath M’Baye, Romero Osby, and Sam Grooms, senior forward Cameron Clark has slowly become a leader for the Sooners and head coach Lon Kruger. “Everbody listens to him,” sophomore Buddy Hield told Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman at Big 12 Media Day yesterday. “When he’s got something to say, everybody shuts up.”
  5. With scoring on the decline, the NCAA has been trying to alter little things here and there to fix things recently, and this season’s new emphasis on hand-checking could do just that. It might take a while for teams to adjust, however. “We’ve had two scrimmages where we’ve had Big 12 refs,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg told The Des Moines Register‘s Randy Peterson. “In one of our scrimmages, we were in the double bonus at the 10-minute mark.” Eventually, the new rules should bring forth cleaner games and more offense, and everyone should love that. But November and December could give us slow, drawn-out whistlefests as teams try to adjust.
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The Big 12 All-Drone Team: Five Guys Flying Under the Radar

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 17th, 2013

On Tuesday, CBSSports.com released a ranking of the top 100 players in college basketball for the 2013-14 season. Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart were slotted as the top two players in the list, highlighting the type of talent we will be fortunate enough to see this season in the Big 12. Even for the casual Big 12 basketball fan, Wiggins and Smart are household names, but what about those “other” guys out there? The ones who will take a back seat to the Wiggins and Smart media exposure, but are fully capable of putting on a show in their own right? If we were to take a page out of the Dick Vitale vault, we might refer to this list as the All-Drone Team – guys who will fly a bit under the radar, but certainly remain viable weapons for their respective teams. Here are five Big 12 players to keep an eye on this season:

Markel Brown Isn't Well-Known Outside Big 12 Circles (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Markel Brown Isn’t Well-Known Outside Big 12 Circles (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Markel Brown: 6’3” Senior Guard, Oklahoma State:  While Marcus Smart is the one who garners the national media attention for Oklahoma State, Brown is a vital part of the Cowboys’ success in Stillwater. Brown initially made his mark in college basketball with his knack for throwing down monster dunks, but proved last season that he’s much more than just a high-flying guard, averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting 36% from the three-point line. It was Smart’s play down the stretch in Oklahoma State’s win last season in Allen Fieldhouse that drew praise nationally, and rightfully so, but Brown was the thorn in the side for the Jayhawks in the first half, knocking down five of seven three-point attempts to build a lead. There certainly won’t be a moment too big for Brown this season, given his fearlessness and confidence.  Opposing players and fans alike should refrain from sleeping on him, or they’ll quickly be reminded just how impressive he is at dunking the basketball.


Georges Niang:  6’7” Forward, Iowa State:  Unlike Brown, Niang isn’t a superior athletic specimen, but that’s what makes his European-inspired game all the more impressive. The fact that Niang is a staple in Fred Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system shows his ability to shoot the ball from deep. Add that to his ability to put the ball on the floor and his crafty ways of scoring around the rim and you have a match-up problem for almost any team in the country. Niang will be looked at as a key component this season after the departure of the Cyclones’ leading scorers. The combination of he and fellow forward Melvin Ejim will provide an ability to stretch the floor and test the frontcourt depth of Iowa State’s opponents this year.

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Big 12 M5: 10.17.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 17th, 2013

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  1. As we mentioned earlier this week, Kansas will hold an open scrimmage this Saturday, but one new development is that the Jayhawks will have a couple VIPs in attendance. According to The Kansas City Star’s Rustin DoddJahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, two of the top five prospects in the class of 2014, will check out the scrimmage as part of their official visits. Okafor, a center, wowed scouts and writers over the summer with his advanced footwork and fundamentals, while Jones is considered among the top point guards in the class by several recruiting services. The two have long been rumored to be a package deal, and when one of the nation’s best coaches schedules an open scrimmage that just so happens to fall during your visit, you know things are getting serious. The event will also be a nice chance for the many KU fans who were shut out of “Late Night At The Phog” to get a look at their favorite team.
  2. West Virginia will also debut its squad in front of a home crowd this weekend. The Mountaineers may not be a factor in this year’s Big 12 race, but with many new faces coming in, fans will have a chance to get acquainted tomorrow night. This season’s team figures to be very perimeter-oriented, although not to the extremes of Huggins’ 2006-08 WVU squads. Eron Harris and Terry Henderson combined to shoot 37% from distance on 231 attempts last season, Gary Browne will look to improve on his frosty 20.4% clip from last season, and 6’10″ Kevin Noreen will also step out from time to time.
  3. The Big 12 coaches slotted Kansas State fifth in their preseason poll last week, and while that’s a respectable goal after losing three core players from a conference championship team, the Wildcats will need seniors Will Spradling and Shane Southwell to become vocal leaders if they are to realize their potential. Both Spradling and Southwell held supporting roles in the past, opting to let their play speak for itself, but their performance will be especially important on a team that’s lacking in post depth and bringing in five freshmen.
  4. CBS Sports contributor and friend of RTC Jon Rothstein spent some time with Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg on Wednesday. The Cyclones will pester opposing defenses with big, versatile shooters like Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim, but the piecemeal backcourt of Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, freshman Monte’ Morris and JuCo transfer K.J. Bluford shouldn’t be trifled with, either. We’re not sure if the Cyclones’ offensive production will match last season’s performance, which landed them sixth in the country in offensive efficiency, but we can’t rule it out, either. This unit will score, but improvement on defense is imperative if Iowa State is to crash Kansas and Oklahoma State’s party at the top of the standings.
  5. While we’ll be keeping very close watch on Marcus Smart, it can be easy to lose sight of the benefits his presence will bring to Oklahoma State‘s future. The attention Smart has brought the OSU program has already yielded one ESPN Top 100 recruit in Jared Terrell, and recent commitment Mitch Solomon could find himself on that list with a good senior season. Additionally, Oklahoma State remains in the hunt for big fish such as Myles Turner and Devin Robinson. There are certainly other factors at work, but it’s nearly impossible to argue that Smart’s play last season and his surprising decision to stay in Stillwater have given the program a level of exposure it wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
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Big 12 M5: 10.15.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 15th, 2013

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  1. The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy became the latest national writer to go in-depth with Andrew Wigginsthough he also got some interesting quotes from Bill Self and Wiggins’ teammate, Perry Ellis. All three continued to downplay the non-stop hype surrounding the freshman phenom, citing his still-nascent sense of aggression, his transition from an interior player to more of an all-around threat, and the relatively low likelihood of him stuffing a stat sheet the way Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley did before him. Our guess is that their efforts won’t stop opposing coaches from making him a focus of their game plans, nor will it keep the national media from putting him under a microscope, but in just a few weeks, Wiggins will finally have the chance to let his game speak for itself.
  2. Kansas State will likely take a step back this season after two key players graduated, and a third, Angel Rodriguez, opted to transfer. Those departures will put pressure not only on seniors Shane Southwell and Will Spradling, but also on newcomers Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwandu. KSU’s student paper, The Collegian, caught a glimpse of the new-look Wildcats during a scrimmage Monday afternoon and came away impressed by Foster and Iwandu. We have to apply the official RTC disclaimer regarding putting excessive stock into practices, but if the Wildcats’ five-man freshmen class develops faster than anticipated, it will greatly help KSU’s chances of staying competitive with the top four teams in the conference.
  3. It’s common knowledge that the head coaching situation at Texas is one of the shakiest in the Big 12 (and maybe in the country), but the lack of stability is about a lot more than simply Rick Barnes‘ recent trend of disappointing seasons and whiffs on the recruiting trail. The entire administration will be in a state of flux following the retirement of athletic director DeLoss Dodds, and university leaders understand the onus is on them to take a calculated approach in finding the next AD. We understand that football always drives the bus when it comes to big decisions in college athletics, but we’re looking forward to the day when the Longhorns return to a state of perennial contention on the hardwood. Texas simply has too many resources to struggle for as long as it has, so hopefully it isn’t too long before the Frank Erwin Center is buzzing again, regardless of who is at the controls.
  4. Yesterday, we talked about the transition of Iowa State from a transfer-laden team to one of home-grown talent, but one of its most important players this season will once again be a newcomerDeAndre Kane, formerly of Marshall. The fifth-year point guard filled up the scoring column for three seasons with the Thundering Herd, though not always efficiently. After a rift emerged between he and head coach Tom Herrion, the two sides parted ways over the summer and Kane ended up in Ames. Whether Kane benefits from the change of scenery or reverts to his frustrating style of play could play a huge role in deciding the Cyclones’ fate in the Big 12 race in 2013-14.
  5. Bob Hertzel of The Exponent Telegram (WV) spoke with West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins about a few storylines surrounding the Mountaineers this preseason, including their schedule, personnel and shooting environments as they get ready for their second trip through the Big 12. The most interesting nugget from the piece is Huggins appearing to doubt himself in lining up a tough schedule for his team, which is thin on experience as well as depth, especially down low. Non-conference tilts against Gonzaga, Missouri, Purdue and either Saint Louis or Wisconsin pepper the Mountaineers’ slate, so the margin of error will be razor thin as West Virginia looks to return to the Big Dance after a surprising one-year layoff.
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Big 12 Team Preview #4: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 9th, 2012

This week, we’re bringing you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Kansas State at the #4 position is next on our list. 

The Skinny

  • 2011-12 record: 22-11, 10-8
  • Key contributors lost: Jamar Samuels
  • Head coach: Bruce Weber, 1st season
  • Projected finish: 4th

Bruce Weber is an amazing example of a coach falling up. (AP)

Let’s remind ourselves how we got to this point.

March 8: Illinois loses its final game of the season, a 64-61 loss to Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Illini finished the year 17-15 after starting off 15-3. By this time, Bruce Weber’s postgame press conferences were depressing to watch and listen to. He put everything in his job and even his opponents knew that, but you could sense his time in Champaign was coming to a close. The next day, Weber was relieved of his duties as head basketball coach of the University of Illinois. Fast forward to the 17th, amidst the madness of March, Kansas State lost in the third round to one-seeded Syracuse 75-59. They were without Jamar Samuels that day because he accepted an inpermissible benefit. Because their season was over, they were down but since they had a lot coming back next season, it wasn’t that bad.

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Big 12 Summer Update: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by dnspewak on July 16th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writers Danny Spewak (@dspewak) and Jeremy Pfingsten (@jeremylp21) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. Next on the list — Danny’s update on Kansas State. 

Kansas State Wildcats

2011-12 Record: 22-11, 10-8

Last March, I watched my first Frank Martin practice at the Sprint Center as Kansas State prepared to face Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. When I arrived in the middle of drills, Martin disappointed me. I wanted to see that nightmarish glare and personality I’d seen on television so many times, but he hadn’t cursed, screamed or even raised his voice yet. That lasted all of about 10 minutes. Almost on queue, Martin lashed out like the madman we all knew and loved, directing his anger not at one particular player but at the entire team in general. It was vintage Frank Martin. This summer, though, all of those returning Wildcats who dealt with Martin’s contentious personality will have a major transition to make. Martin mysteriously and unexpectedly left for a job at South Carolina, leaving KSU’s identity as a rough, tough, aggressive program in shambles. It’s now up to Bruce Weber to continue that culture by implementing his own style of play during the offseason. A highly successful coach at Southern Illinois and during the early part of his tenure at Illinois, Weber’s main challenge is convincing a talented group of returners he’s the right man for the job after his Illini program fell apart under him at the end of his tenure.

Bruce Weber Will Have to Find a New Color For His Tie at Kansas State

Summer Orientation: The most important “Summer Orientation” in Manhattan has to do with Weber and his staff. Shortly after accepting the head coaching job, Weber assembled a familiar crew of assistants. Most notably, he hired Chris Lowery, an old buddy of his from SIU who just lost his job with the Salukis after a downturn in the once-proud program (which Weber helped build). The two coached together at both Illinois and Southern Illinois, but Lowery’s not the only Saluki working on staff this summer. Brad Korn, the director of basketball operations, was a main contributor at forward under both Weber and Matt Painter (who took over in 2003-04) at SIU. And speaking of former players, full-time assistant Chester Frazier started for three years under Weber at Illinois. Weber also hired Alvin Brooks III, who had been working at Sam Houston State, to round out his staff.

Right away, Weber hit the recruiting trail and found Darrell Johnson and Michael Orris. Both have already made their way to campus, according to the Kansas City Star. As late spring signees, neither player is necessarily considered a traditional blue-chip recruit, but they both had several offers from other power-conference schools and immediately establish regional recruiting ties for Weber’s staff. Orris is from Chicago, and Johnson is from St. Louis, two areas Weber and Lowery could continue to hit hard in the future. Orris, a 6’2” point guard, had signed to play with Weber at Illinois before switching his commitment. The 6’8” Johnson, on the other hand, decided to sign at KSU in April.

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