Former Houston Coach Makes Strong Accusations Against Another Big 12 School

Posted by dnspewak on August 2nd, 2012

We’ve got a bit of a whodunnit on our hands this week in the Big 12. In light of the recent Central Florida sanctions, a USA Today article about third-party influences in college basketball quoted former Houston coach Tom Penders of accusing a Big 12 school of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to an AAU coach in exchange for a recruit. Normally, we might skim over this kind of news because it is so commonplace in this day and age of Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo, Worldwide Wes, point-shaving scandals and god knows what other sorts of shenanigans programs engage in these days. We’ve all seen Blue Chips. We know the world is a dark, dark place.

Tom Penders Made Some Waves on Wednesday

But this accusation by Penders is different, simply because it is so incredibly easy to pinpoint who the culprits may be in this situation. Penders “declined” to name the recruit in question, but read the following quote from USA Today. He basically does our job for us.

Others move in the shadows of the sport. In six seasons as head coach at Houston, Penders estimated, an AAU coach or his agent asked Penders for money in return for the commitment of a prospect at least 25 times. On one occasion, an AAU coach and his agent visited Penders’ office with two offers: Pay tens of thousands of dollars in return for a player’s commitment, or place an AAU coach on his staff to establish a pipeline. “I threw him out of my office,” Penders said. Penders said the player, whom the coach declined to identify, spent one season at a Big 12 school before being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft. Penders said the AAU coach collected “six figures” from the Big 12 school that chose to engage in the scheme.

So we’re looking for a one-and-done Big 12 player drafted in the second round between 2005 and 2010. As fellow college hoops scribe Rob Dauster points out, that leaves us with three possibilities:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 11.14.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 14th, 2011

  1. The big game from a media perspective on what was essentially college basketball’s opening night was the Carrier Classic. From what we have seen and heard about the scene, it certainly lived up to the hype even if the game itself was a little disappointing. Of course, this game was more about honoring veterans on Veterans Day (something that honestly should be done more than once a year) as well as showcasing college basketball (also something that should be done more than once a year). We think the event did an excellent job of that and we have heard from quite a few non-college basketball fans (yes, we are forced to interact with them on occasion) who saw some of the game on television and thought that it was a really cool setting. We haven’t heard what the TV ratings were for the game, but we assume they will be outstanding for an early season college basketball game as long as they don’t include the nose-dive that certainly happened as soon as the Five for Fighting concert started.
  2. As you may have heard, Mike Krzyzewski tied Bob Knight‘s Division I record of 902 wins on Saturday with Duke’s win over Presbyterian. If you weren’t aware, you must not have been watching ESPN, which ran this news on its scrolls for much of the past 36 hours. And the hype is just getting started as Krzyzewski will be going for the record outright tomorrow night when Duke plays Michigan State in the opening game of the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. While the media is ready to crown Krzyzewski with the title as #1 among the rest, we think that might be jumping the gun a little for two reasons: (1) he is coaching against Tom Izzo, who is pretty good in his own right, and (2) we will be covering the game and Krzyzewski is 0-2 in games at which this editor has been (a ridiculous loss in 2002 to FSU and last season’s blowout loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden).
  3. There was some good news and some bad news on the injury front over the weekend. First, we will start with a little good medical news although it doesn’t qualify as an “injury”: Billy Kennedy, who took some time off to adjust to his new diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, returned to the sidelines yesterday and guided Texas A&M to a 25-point victory over Southern. Arizona also got some good news as Kevin Parrom, who was shot while he was home in New York City in September and also had to deal with his mother passing away less than a month ago, played for the Wildcats for the first time since the incident. While Parrom made an impact on the stat sheet with six points, four rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes, his presence was probably felt on more of an emotional level during Arizona’s ten-point win over Ball State. On the other hand, Louisville got even more bad news on the injury front as junior guard Mike Marra injured his left knee midway through the second half and had to be carried off the court by two people during its win over Lamar. Marra appeared to be relatively upbeat after the game, but an MRI last night revealed a torn ACL and therefore he will miss the rest of the season.
  4. There were a pair of interesting suspensions late last week. The first comes from North Carolina State where C.J. Leslie is being forced to sit out the first three games of the team’s season due to impermissible benefits he received (using a friend’s car and receiving money from that same friend to help pay for the apartment application fees for Leslie’s half-brother). The other is at Marquette where freshman Juan Anderson was also suspended for three games for accepting a free ticket to a luxury suite at a Milwaukee Brewers playoff game. We have heard quite a few people come to Leslie’s defense saying that it is common for college students to borrow cars, but with college athletes the concept of a “friend” can get blurred very easily and we understand the NCAA’s rationale in cases like this (particularly when you consider the payment for an apartment application fee). We haven’t heard many people jump to Anderson’s defense yet because that is a pretty clear violation to most people, although Anderson could have just as easily said a “friend” had an extra ticket and invited him to the game.
  5. On Thursday, we mentioned Jeff Capel‘s $1.75 million golden parachute from Oklahoma. Well, it turns out that Oklahoma also received a parting gift from the Capel era: three years of probation and $15,000 fine. The punishment is the result of an investigation into the actions of former assistant coach Orlando Taliaferro, who failed to report impermissible benefits given to Tiny Gallon and then lied to NCAA officials during their investigation. Taliaferro was hit with a two-year show cause penalty while the school was primarily hit by reductions in its ability to recruit, but is not prevented from playing in the postseason (unless you factor in the resultant quality of their team).
Share this story

Morning Five: 07.29.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 29th, 2011

  1. Yesterday, Oklahoma released a 430-page report (full report here) regarding its investigation into wrongdoing by former assistant basketball coach Oronde Taliaferro, who is accused of committing two major violations while he coached under Jeff Capel (yes, this happened after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco). The first violation was failing to report impermissible benefits to an unnamed player (Tiny Gallon), who received $3,000 from a financial adviser linked to Taliaferro to pay for his high school transcripts and enable him to enter college. The second violation was the standard lying to the NCAA about the first violation. The most important part about this report is that the school concedes that, by definition, it is a “repeat violator” and thus subject to a minimum penalty of having the sport dropped for one or two years with no scholarships provided during those seasons. Of course, the NCAA can override that minimum and impose less harsh sanctions, which is what Oklahoma is hoping for as it claims that Taliaferro acted alone with Capel and the rest of the staff had no knowledge of the wrongdoing. Oklahoma has asked the NCAA to put its basketball program on two years of probation, vacate its 2009-10 season, and take away one scholarship, two official visits, and 10 in-person recruiting days during the upcoming academic year. With the NCAA’s apparent indifference to schools breaking its rules (it’s OK for the schools run by grown men, but not for teenagers) there will be a sizable group calling for the NCAA to take a stand here, but we wouldn’t count on it.
  2. The big winner out of the Oklahoma scandal? It might be Butler, who is the other reported finalist for the services of Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke. With just one year of eligibility remaining the Oklahoma native and all-time leading scorer in Oklahoma high school basketball history may have to think twice about transferring to a program that has asked the NCAA to put it on probation for two years. Clarke was supposed to make his decision by the end of the week and many expected him to select Oklahoma, but with the new report he may wind up at Butler or at the very least will spend some more time before deciding where to transfer.
  3. Speaking of scandals and programs in trouble, UNC athletic director Dick Baddour stepped down yesterday, a day after the school fired its football coach. Although the scandal appears to be just within the football program, Baddour’s decision to leave, which was thought to be inevitable after Davis was fired, may have a significant ripple effect in the college sports community as many athletic administrators will be angling for a move up the ladder when the dominoes start falling as the first athletic director moves from his or her current position to take over at UNC. We doubt that this will have much of an effect on the well-oiled UNC basketball machine, but it may have a much larger effect on many other schools.
  4. With the NBA lockout in place, many former college stars are having to find ways to keep themselves occupied. Nolan Smith is one such player who has chosen to do so by coaching a DC-based AAU team. On Wednesday night, Smith, who had never been ejected from a game as a player, was tossed out of the game with his team down by 19. Smith claims that the “refs were missing some obvious calls.” (Duke haters can make their own jokes here.) Smith’s team ended up losing the game by two (perhaps from the two technical free throws that the other team shot?) and ended up going 8-2 in the tournament. While some might criticize Smith as another arrogant Duke player, it is nice to see that he learned something from Mike Krzyzewski during his four years in Durham.
  5. The top 100 players in Division 1 list by Basketball Prospectus generated a lot of debate (mainly on where individual players were ranked). It appears that there may not have even been a consensus within the Basketball Prospectus office as Drew Cannon, the person who came up with the list, and several other members of the staff engaged in a friendly debate about how to rank players. There isn’t really anything ground-breaking in it, but it is interesting to see how these basketball analysts evaluate players and make their predictions at least on a theoretical level.
Share this story

Who Will Succeed Coach K At Duke?

Posted by nvr1983 on May 12th, 2011

Over the weekend, Duke announced that recently fired Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel had been selected to be its newest assistant coach. The announcement itself was noteworthy as Capel, who just two years ago was considered one of the hottest names in coaching, had fallen to the point where he was forced to take an assistant coaching position. The question of how Capel had fallen so quickly could be answered in several ways (most notably the departure of Blake Griffin and the disappointing performances of McDonald’s All-Americans Willie Warren and Tiny Gallon), but remains mysterious.

Capel will be returning to Duke (Credit: Bryan Terry/NewsOk.com)

Capel’s return to Durham also raises the more intriguing question of who is next in line to succeed Mike Krzyzewski when he eventually decides to retire, a possibility that was made more clear recently with the retirement of Gary Williams, one of his chief rivals in the ACC at nearly the same age as Krzyzewski. The first question is whether the Duke administration will want to pursue an internal candidate or would look at outsiders. We imagine that Krzyzewski would make a strong push to hire an internal candidate or at least someone with strong ties to the program, but the performance of most of the disciples from his coaching tree has been underwhelming to put it lightly. There have been a number of prominent head coaches (Mike Brey, Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, Quin Synder, and Capel) who have coached under Krzyzewski during his time at Duke as well as two others serving as associates alongside Capel (Steve Wojciehowski and Chris Collins).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Report Card: Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 25th, 2011


 

 

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and contributor.

Year In Review

Before the start of the season, pollsters bought into Kansas State as the sexy pick to take the Big 12 in 2011 on the heels of an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. The Big 12 was not overly impressive in non-conference play, as the Wildcats fell hard to Duke in a de facto home game in Kansas City, and Missouri did the same against Georgetown in one of the more thrilling matchups of the early season.

As league play began, the preseason #3 Wildcats disappointed, starting 2-5, and the usual stalwarts of the Big 12, Kansas and Texas, rose to the top. After topping the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in January, the Longhorns looked to be in the driver’s seat, especially after Kansas was blindsided at Bramlage Coliseum to give Texas a two-game lead. However, Rick Barnes‘ team suffered another late-season collapse, going 2-3 to finish the regular season while the Jayhawks dusted off the competition to pull ahead to take their seventh straight conference crown.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Wildcats bounced back to end the season in third place. The middle of the conference wasn’t settled until the latter stages of the season with Missouri falling lat and Texas A&MColorado and Nebraska treading water. Baylor underachieved, given the talented personnel in Waco, and Oklahoma State never really looked in sync. OklahomaTexas Tech and Iowa State all had awful seasons to finish at the bottom of the standings.

In the conference tournament final, Kansas played its best basketball of the season, topping Texas to gain some revenge entering the Big Dance. Colorado was snubbed on Selection Sunday despite beating Kansas State three times, but the Big 12 still managed to get five teams into the NCAA Tournament. However, only the Jayhawks made it out of opening weekend alive, and they fell short of expectations as they lost to Shaka Smart and the Rams’ reign of BCS destruction.

KU's front line of Thomas Robinson (left) and the Morris twins evolved into a strength, and the Jayhawks struggled most when they weren't utilized on offense. (AP/Jamie Squire)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

2010 One-and-Dones: Was It Worth It?

Posted by rtmsf on July 22nd, 2010

After another summer of loud belly-aching, moaning and groaning about how the NBA’s one-and-done rule is methodically destroying college basketball as we know it, we’re left with the fact that, in reality, only eleven players from the prep class of 2009 found their way into the 2010 NBA Draft pool.  As it turns out, approximately 90% of the RSCI Top 100 players from last year’s freshman class will return to play another season of college basketball in 2010-11.  And this is not unusual.  In the four NBA Drafts where one-and-doners were forced to attend at least one year of college (2007-10), there have been a total of 35 such players, or around nine per season.  There are obvious problems with the NBA’s one-year rule that we won’t get into here, but we shouldn’t be losing our heads over what amounts to a handful of players each season.

And what about those players — how did it go for them?  We can safely presume that if you’re good enough to be one-and-done, a year in college probably worked out well enough for you (ahem, Tommy Mason-Griffin excepted).  But we’re more interested in the schools.  How did recruiting and ultimately matriculating a one-and-done player work out for those institutions?  Put in real terms, was bringing a player like Derrick Favors on campus at Georgia Tech for one year worthwhile?  What about Calipari’s den of young Cats?  You may recall that we did this school-centric analysis in each of the last three summers (2007, 2008, and 2009), and the basic conclusion that we’ve found is that one-and-done players have generally benefited their schools in the two areas that matter most: 1) wins; and 2) marketability.  Let’s take a closer look at this year’s group.

2010 One-and-Dones

Kentucky – Well Worth It. Say what you want about the meltdown of Calipari’s Cats in the Elite Eight against a tougher, more experienced West Virginia team, but the fact that Kentucky brought in the #1 recruiting class of 2009 and delivered on the implied promise that Cal’s system develops NBA draft picks is why his cadre of one-and-dones (John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton) was well worth it.  And here’s the what behind the why: four five-star prospects arrive in Lexington next year (Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones) and two more are signed on for 2011 (Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague) with several others lurking in the wings.  Not every one of these players will become a one-and-doner, so eventually Calipari will be able to season some experienced talent around his annual lottery pick arrivals (see: 2008 Memphis) to give himself a great chance to win that elusive national title.  As far as the difference in Q rating from the Gillispie era to now, it’s like that $22M/year Tiger Woods lost in endorsements since last November somehow ended up in Lexington as gold-plated streets.  UK has become the program du jour for the young, moneyed and hip, and when the head coach infamously stated that this year’s NBA Draft night was the greatest night in the history of Kentucky basketball, he’s referring to marketability.  The pitch: come to Lexington, play a fun style of uptempo basketball, win 30-35 games, market your brand on television through our deals with CBS and ESPN, have a shot to win a title, meet celebrities such as LeBron James and Drake, and end up shaking David Stern’s hand in a year or two…  not exactly fraught with hard decisions.  If Calipari can keep his program in the headlines for the right reasons, this class will be looked at as the tipping point for a whole new era of Kentucky basketball.  Definitely well worth it.

John Wall Was Only the First of Many Cats to Meet Stern

Marshall – Well Worth It. If you recruit a player who wasn’t even ranked in the RSCI top 100 and he ends up dominating your league as a freshman center to the point of becoming the Conference USA defensive POY and leading the nation in blocked shots, it was well worth it.  Hassan Whiteside’s one year in Huntington led the Thundering Herd to its best season in over two decades, culminating in a fourth-place finish in CUSA, big late-season wins over UAB and Tulsa, and a quarterfinal appearance in the CIT.  For a program that hasn’t been to the NCAAs since 1987, any postseason appearance is a great year, and Whiteside’s patrolling of the paint had no small part in it.  The unfortunate part of Whiteside’s meteoric rise is that the Herd had such a good season that as a result it also lost its head coach Donnie Jones, which may impact the long-term marketability aspect of Whiteside’s year there.  Nevertheless, we doubt anyone at Marshall regrets the year that both Whiteside and Jones resided in Huntington together, so we think that this was a huge boost for a mid-major program not used to having such players around.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 06.02.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 2nd, 2010

  1. St. Bonaventure junior point guard Malcolm Eleby has left the team following charges regarding an on-campus stabbing that occurred back on March 21.  He follows fellow guard Lewis Leonard, who left in May, also implicated in the incident.  The bad news might not be done in Olean, NY, as two other Bonnies have also been hit with charges.
  2. There’ll be no ignoring the elephant in the room at the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City.  Commissioner Dan Beebe started the proceedings yesterday with a “plea for staying together.” Given the starry eyes of the B12 member schools as they watch their Big 10 and ACC counterparts polish their sweet TV deals, this reminds us a little of that scene in Braveheart where clan leader Lochlan rides out in front of the departing Scottish army and begs them, “Stop! Do not flee! Wait until we’ve negotiated!”  We’ll see if the Big 12 can find a way to rally, rise up, and defeat those evil English…
  3. Interesting move, here.  Oklahoma president David Boren sent a letter to the NCAA last week proclaiming that the Sooner program is now in full compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.  Such a letter was a required element at the end of OU’s current probationary period which was said to run out on May 23.  But you can’t blame the OU brass for wanting to put a wrap on that before the NCAA finishes its probe into the whole Tiny Gallon/Jeffrey Hausinger issue with the $3,000 that allegedly went to help Gallon procure his high school transcript.
  4. If you’re a John Calipari-hater by reflex, Mike DeCourcy challenges you to reframe your thinking of the man and his situation.  Mike D — who never told us we were allowed to refer to him like that — isn’t just calling out college basketball fans, here.  He’s challenging all college hoop media, a group of which he’s a member.  We admire this.
  5. Way to go, TBL! Strong work.  We hope that party is still raging.
Share this story

Morning Five: 06.01.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 1st, 2010

  1. Just ahead of the release of findings from the NCAA’s investigation of the USC basketball (and football) program, Tim Floyd says that he’s not too worried.  Of course, he has no reason to be, since he’s at UTEP now.
  2. If this whole Eric Bledsoe story regarding alleged rent payments and the question of “impermissible benefits” sounds a tad familiar, you may be remembering a story from ZagsBlog.com from a few days ago about Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon and a similar situation.  The problem for Sooner supporters is…this happened while OU was already on probation.
  3. Speaking of Mr. Zagoria…a few days ago he provided further news about Herb Pope, who’s said to be on the road to a full recovery (from what, exactly, we’ve not been told) and more hoops at Seton Hall after that terrifying collapse back in late April, when it was said that his heart actually stopped during a workout.  A relative is supposedly going to hold a press conference soon to discuss exactly what happened. While we admit we’re intrigued by the diagnosis, when it’s revealed, we hope it will show this to be a one-time event and that the guy’s got nothing to worry about in the future.
  4. Mike Miller from MSNBC.com invites the Washington Wizards to consider using that top draft pick on DeMarcus Cousins ahead of John Wall or Evan Turner.
  5. We’ve ridden Bobby Knight pretty hard around these parts in the past, so it’s only fair that we mention the free clinic he held over the weekend for about 80 kids — and their parents — in Duncanville, TX at the new Bob Knight’s Fieldhouse, a project that The General truly cares about and to which he’s deservedly happy to have his name attached.

 

Share this story

Morning Five: 04.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2010

  1. The pickings are getting a little lean on the NBA Draft front, as Louisville’s Samardo Samuels, Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon and Nevada’s Luke Babbitt all declared yesterday.  Babbitt has the best shot at becoming a first rounder, as Gallon and Samuels are not considered by most experts to be in that range.  By our count, these three players make a total of 62 early entries for thirty guaranteed first round spots in the June 24 NBA Draft.  Although the May 8 withdrawal deadline is a complete and utter joke, we hope that many of these players will find the proper counsel needed to make an informed decision about their realistic prospects.
  2. This situation involving the new women’s head coach at Missouri could get interesting.
  3. The three reasons that Kyle Singler decided to buck the trend and return to school despite being a guaranteed first round pick?  1) Duke; 2) improvement; 3) his senior year.  If he played anywhere other than Duke, everyone would be holding this kid up as everything that’s great about college basketball.
  4. Keep an ear to any choice quotes coming from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney today, as he will be holding a press conference in Arizona as part of the annual BCS meetings.  Question we’d pay a reporter to ask: why, sir, must you and your ilk try to ruin everything?
  5. Butler’s Brad Stevens will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Chicago Cubs’ May 10 game against the Florida Marlins, and as if that weren’t enough, he’ll also lead the crowd in the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.  Afterward, Stevens will save a kitten from a tree outside the stadium and offer a homeless man a job.  Seriously, though, good for him so long as he does a little better with the pitch than the Prez did
Share this story

Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

  1. Kansas (13-0, 27-1) - After taking care of Texas A&M in College Station and Oklahoma on consecutive Big Mondays, there is only one game left that I could see the Jayhawks losing (at Mizzou). However, after Kansas dominated the Tigers at home earlier in the year, it looks like KU is in great shape to finish the Big 12 season undefeated.
  2. Kansas State (9-3, 22-4) - This year’s surprise team won two games against some of the conferences’ worst teams. The Wildcats are in the best position to finish second in the conference as of today, but their next three games (at Texas Tech, vs. Mizzou, at Kansas) are definitely not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
  3. Texas A&M (8-4, 19-7) - The Aggies and Wildcats are in similar positions. TAMU has the tiebreaker over Missouri, so if they take care of business down the stretch they will grab the three seed in the conference tournament. However, their last four games are all losable (at Baylor, vs. Texas, vs. Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma). Bryan Davis is coming on strong for this team as of late, and he will have to continue his dominant inside play if A&M wants to hold on to a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament.
  4. Baylor (7-5, 20-6) - I can’t fault the Bears for losing in Stillwater, especially when the best player in the conference is on the opposing team. In my opinion, Baylor has the best chance of any Big 12 team outside the state of Kansas to make the Elite Eight. Watch out for Quincy Acy, he is going to be key for Baylor in this home stretch.
  5. Missouri (8-4, 20-7) - The Tigers got a huge win over Texas at home on Wednesday that probably propelled them into the NCAA Tournament. Of the teams fighting for a first round bye in the Big 12 tournament I think Mizzou is least likely to get the spot because of its two games against Kansas State and Kansas, plus Baylor and Texas A&M have tiebreakers over them. Still, Mike Anderson and this MU team have been proven many critics wrong all season, so there is really no science to accurately predicting how the Tigers will finish.
  6. Texas (7-5, 21-6) - Luckily for the Longhorns they somewhat control their own destiny. If they beat Texas A&M in Lubbock and Baylor in Waco they will most likely finish in the top four of the conference. The problem is that UT has been a pretty bad road team in Big 12 play (3-4 to be exact), so any Longhorns fans that blindly assume they’ll win those two games are most likely hallucinating.
  7. Oklahoma State (7-5, 19-7) - The best news for the Cowboys in the last two weeks has to be the fact that Obi Muonelo has been stepping up his game. In games when Muonelo is in double figures scoring, OSU is 14-3. So it is pretty obvious that he is key to the Cowboys’ success. Outside of Muonelo, James Anderson continues to awe college basketball fans around the nation. He is certainly making a case for why he should be a First Team All-American.
  8. Texas Tech (4-8, 16-10) - The Red Raiders are officially dead after dropping two games last week. To their credit, no one thought they would even be in the discussion come February. Good news for Tech fans is that Pat Knight has this program going in the right direction, and he is recruiting some pretty good players for future seasons.
  9. Colorado (3-9, 12-14) - The Buffaloes picked up a nice win over OU in Boulder on Wednesday, and they have the opportunity to maybe get two more wins before the season is over (vs. Iowa State, at Nebraska). I’d say this year has been somewhat of a success for CU, the Buffs acquired another prolific scorer in Alec Burks and they have been a lot more competitive in conference play.
  10. Oklahoma (4-9, 13-14) - The 09-10 Oklahoma Sooners are the definition of letdown. They were returning one of the best freshman from the 08-09 season, and had a stellar recruiting class around him yet they couldn’t get it done. Tiny Gallon has returned, but with Willie Warren out due to mono it’s hard to see OU pulling off an unprecedented run in the Big 12 Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.
  11. Iowa State (2-10, 13-14) - The Cyclones have lost some heartbreakers this season, but overall it has also been a big letdown. Many people thought this would be the year ISU returned to its glory days and got back into the NCAA Tournament on the back of Craig Brackins. However, Brackins has seemed to have regressed from last season, and while JUCO transfer Marquis Gilstrap has made a huge impact it hasn’t been enough to get ISU even on the bubble.
  12. Nebraska (1-11, 13-14) - One of the more underrated players in the conference is Ryan Anderson of Nebraska. The Cornhuskers’ leading scorer is a great three-point shooter, and does a pretty good job rebounding the basketball for his height (6’4). Outside of Anderson, NU has few bright spots.

Player of the WeekJames Anderson (G), Oklahoma State - Anderson had his third thirty-point game this week in a huge win over Baylor at home. In that game he also pulled down 12 boards and was 80 percent from the free throw line. Since his “bad” game against Texas Tech the Cowboys are 3-0 and Anderson is averaging 27 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Team of the Week – Oklahoma State Cowboys – Travis Ford and his Cowboys need only two more regular season wins to feel good about their chances for an NCAA at-large berth. This last week moved OSU from a team on the wrong side of the bubble to feeling comfortable especially after the huge upset over Baylor at home on Saturday.

This Week’s Predictions

Kansas State at Texas Tech (Tuesday February 23,  8:00 PM ET) - I usually wouldn’t see Kansas State losing this matchup, but they have been cutting it close against lesser opponents recently. If the Wildcats let up at all in this contest they will be on the wrong end of the scoreboard. On top of that, Mike Singletary is one of the better players in the conference and he usually plays very well in Lubbock. It isn’t a Big 12 Weekly Update if I don’t mention Jacob Pullen, but I think he will have a tough time against the Red Raiders who still haven’t given up hope on making the Tournament. By no means will a win get TTU instant consideration for a bid, but Pat Knight will have his players going hard like it’s a tournament play-in game. So I’m picking a huge upset here, and saying that the Red Raiders take down one of the hottest teams in the nation on Tuesday.

Winner: Texas Tech

Nebraska at Iowa State (Wednesday February 23, 7:30 PM ET) - Both teams are on long losing streaks and they really want a win. You never know what can happen with a talented team like Iowa State if they can put together a run before the conference tournament starts. Nebraska is an abysmal road team, and I don’t see them putting up too much of a fight, even against Iowa State.

Winner: Iowa State

Colorado at Missouri (Wednesday February 23, 7:30 PM ET) - The only team the Tigers have really dominated in conference play is Colorado. Mike Anderson has never lost to the Buffaloes in his tenure at Mizzou, and I don’t see it happening for the first time in Columbia with his team playing their second to last home game of the season. Keith Ramsey had a big game in the first matchup between these two teams so look for him to be a key part of Missouri’s attack.

Winner: Missouri

Texas A&M at Baylor (Wednesday February 23, 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) - Here is a tremendous matchup that has huge implications for first-round byes in the conference tournament. Neither team can afford a loss, especially Baylor, because teams like Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma State are nipping at their heels attempting to overtake them in the conference standings. It provides a great inside matchup between Bryan Davis and Ekpe Udoh, and also a great guard matchup between Donald Sloan and B.J. Holmes of A&M vs. LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter of Baylor. These teams are about as even as any in the conference, so I will go with the home team in this game and say the Bears win an overtime thriller.

Winner: Baylor

Oklahoma State at Texas (Wednesday February 23, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) - If any of you remember the Big Monday game between these two teams a few weeks back, you must recall James Anderson’s stellar first half performance. Then OSU faded in the second half and Texas took care of business in Stillwater. UT has a lot to play for because they still think they can win out, including the Big 12 Tournament, and maybe get a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which would be a tremendous accomplishment at this point in the season. Damion James is the key to UT’s success, as he had an ok performance against Mizzou and the Longhorns lost that game on the road. If UT wants a big win they need James and Dexter Pittman to play like they were at the beginning of the season. I don’t like how Texas has been playing lately, but you still have to go with the Horns in Austin.

Winner: Texas

Iowa State at Colorado (Saturday February 27, 1:30 PM ET) - It’s a possible CBI Final preview in Boulder on Saturday. I like the Buffs in this game because they are the better team, and believe it or not they are not easy to beat at home.

Winner: Colorado

Baylor at Oklahoma (Saturday February 27, 1:30 PM ET) - The Bears should watch out here because it is the definition of a trap game. Norman will be loud as always, and the possibility of having Willie Warren back (although there is no way he would be close to 100 percent) is scary for BU fans. Tommy Mason-Griffin of OU is one to look for in this contest, as he has been the most efficient player for the Sooners all season and can be deadly from behind the arc. All that said, I don’t see any scenario in which Scott Drew lets his team lose focus and let this one slip away.

Winner: Baylor

Texas at Texas A&M (Saturday February 27, 2:00 PM ET ESPN) - The Longhorns seem to always struggle in College Station, then again so does most of the conference. I think Texas has the advantage of many mismatches in this game, for example UT’s experienced frontcourt against TAMU’s relatively inexperienced one. It’s hard for me to pick against the Aggies at home though, especially when the game is going to be sold out against an intrastate rival.

Winner: Texas A&M

Texas Tech at Nebraska (Saturday February 27, 4:00 PM ET) - The Red Raiders should be hot coming off the Kansas State game and will blow out the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. NU is just overmatched athletically against every team in the Big 12, so its hard to think they will win any more games this season.

Winner: Texas Tech

Kansas at Oklahoma State (Saturday February 27, 4:00 PM ET CBS) - The best player in the conference will be going up against the best team in the conference on Saturday in Stillwater. Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are looking to stay undefeated, but James Anderson and Obi Muonelo should provide a tough roadblock for the Jayhawks to break through. I love Travis Ford and what he has done with the Cowboys’ program, and there is no doubt that Stillwater will probably be one of the louder places in the country this weekend, but I’ve learned my lesson picking against KU before. This team is too good, and they always find a way to win the big game.

Winner: Kansas

Missouri at Kansas State (Saturday February 27, 8:00 PM ET ESPNU) – Everyone in Manhattan has been waiting to get revenge on Missouri since the Tigers upset K-State in Columbia back in late December. Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels will be the key players for K-State if they are going to destroy MU like they’re capable of doing. I think Mizzou comes in and plays tough for the first 30 minutes, but then they will hit a second half scoring drought and the Wildcats will pull away with a big conference win over a rival.

Winner: Kansas State

Share this story

Nothing Says Celebration Like Ripping Off Dillard’s

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

It’s been that kind of a year for Jeff Capel’s Oklahoma Sooners.  As soon as things start looking up, there’s an equal but opposite reaction that brings his team back to reality.  Oklahoma has experienced plentiful growing pains this year in large part due to the difficulties that Capel has had getting through to his star player Willie Warren, but also undoubtedly because of their numerous talented freshmen he has had to rely on.  Gifted though the quartet of Tommy Mason-Griffin (13/3/5 APG), Tiny Gallon (10/8), Steven Pledger (7/2) and Andrew Fitzgerald (4/2) are, with freshmen comes spectacular ups and downs, and this crew is no different.  On and off the court

Tommy Mason-Griffin and the Other Frosh Stepped Up Saturday

On Saturday afternoon at 3pm local time, OU tipped it off against its bitter rival Texas, running out to a twenty-point halftime lead behind the stellar play of the aforementioned guard Mason-Griffin and wing Cade Davis.  The Sooners cooled off in the second half, but they were still able to utilize some great free throw defense (10-27 for UT) and some timely buckets down the stretch to hang on to win, 80-71.  The freshman four stepped up in this one, combining for half of the Sooners’ points and two-thirds of their assists.  It was without question the Sooners’ biggest victory of the season, and one that Sooner faithful hope would springboard OU back into the Big 12 picture and contention for a late run at the NCAA Tournament. 

Cause for celebration, right?  The game ended at around 5:30 pm.  Give a reasonable amount of time for players to shower, dress and venture home, and you figure most everybody is gone by 7 pm.  Surely some players went out to eat with their families; still others may have had a date with a girlfriend; and perhaps some just went home and chillaxed for a while.  Not freshmen Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald, though.  They went to the mall.  But not only did they go to the mall, they were so excited by the big win and their individual performances (Fitzgerald: started and contributed 3/2/1 asst in 19 minutes; Pledger: 9/4/1 in 24 minutes off the bench) that they decided to steal some shirts from a local Dillard’s.  Allegedly, of course.  At 8:50 pm, the two players were watched by store security as they placed two shirts inside a blue plastic bag with the clear intent to conceal them. 

Pledger & Fitzgerald Making Smart Decisions

Not even four hours after the biggest win of their entire lives, these two knuckleheads thought they were entitled to some free shirts.  Instead of receiving a conga line of well-wishers and fans back in the dorms like campus deities, they’re busy getting written up by some rent-a-cop for petty larceny.  We’re sure that they’ll learn from this mistake, but at what cost to Oklahoma?  Tomorrow night’s game against Texas Tech in Norman is a must-win, and Jeff Capel now needs to make the decision on what punishment he’ll hand down to these two clowns.  If he’s harsh and suspends them, he’ll be extremely shorthanded for that game; if he lets them play, then there’s an implication that stealing things from department stores is ok.  We’re not sure which way he’ll turn, but we do have one question in all of this…  was Royce White visiting from out of town? 

Share this story

Tiny Gallon’s Not-So-Tiny Hello to America

Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2010

Oklahoma hasn’t been all that impressive this year, so there hasn’t been a lot of hype for their talented corps of freshmen — Steven Pledger, Andrew Fitzgerald, Tommy Mason-Griffin and Tiny Gallon.  The 6’9, 300-lb Gallon has been particularly impressive, averaging 12/9 while shooting 60% from the field in thirteen games this season.  It was one of his few misses, though, that made his Q rating jump off the charts overnight.  From last night’s OU game against Gonzaga…

That’s just nuts.  It didn’t even look like he put his full body weight into it.

Share this story