Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Four

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 3rd, 2012

Monday’s AP Poll confirmed what most Big 12 fans already knew: The conference isn’t very good right now. Kansas entered the top 10 and Oklahoma State sits at No. 23, and that’s it. Baylor’s win at Kentucky on Saturday should inch the Bears closer to the Top 25, but their overall resume isn’t there yet. As for Oklahoma State, its 81-71 loss last week to Virginia Tech drops them to No. 2 in our weekly power rankings, with Kansas taking its familiar spot atop the Big 12.

1) Kansas (6-1, 0-0)

Ben McLemore Has Helped Kansas Regain the Top Spot This Week (Lawrence Journal-World)

Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 70-57 vs. San Jose State, W 84-78 vs. Oregon State

This Week: Saturday vs. Colorado, 1:00 PM CST

  • Rundown: The Jayhawks have won five in a row since losing to Michigan State in Atlanta and look to be getting better, albeit slowly. Freshman guard Ben McLemore is making his case to be the third one-and-done player Bill Self has had at Kansas, and senior center Jeff Withey is playing the best defense in the country with 5.7 BPG. Saturday’s game at home against Colorado (who beat Baylor last month) should give fans a good gauge on the team’s improvement before winter break.
  • Danger Zone: Point guard play. Bill Self isn’t happy at all with his perimeter defense, and he shouldn’t be. Opposing guards have been lighting up the Kansas D all season. On offense, senior guard Elijah Johnson is playing the point for the first time in his career. He played off the ball for most of last season, deferring to Tyshawn Taylor. Now it’s Johnson’s job to lead the offense and get the ball inside when Kansas needs it, and come March, Johnson’s play could be the difference between consecutive Final Fours or another Tournament flameout.

2) Oklahoma State (5-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week: L 81-71 at Virginia Tech

This Week: Wednesday vs. South Florida, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs. Missouri State, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: Freshman point guard Marcus Smart continued to impress against Virginia Tech last week (18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists), but it wasn’t enough to make up for the team’s putrid night from deep. The Cowboys went 4-23 from three-point range and the Hokies eventually won, 81-71. The schedule softens now, though, and the wins should pile up this month until a New Year’s Eve meeting with Gonzaga in Stillwater.
  • Danger Zone: It’s never a good thing when your freshman point guard leads the team in rebounding. Smart is averaging 7.7 RPG and while it complements the rest of his game nicely, the Cowboys need to find more consistent post play. Smart and sophomore guard Le’Bryan Nash are great, but being 135th in the country in RPG (36.5) won’t lead to sustained success this season.
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Big 12 M5: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 3rd, 2012

  1. Did Baylor’s 64-55 win over Kentucky Saturday in Rupp Arena say more about the Bears or Wildcats? The short answer is yes. Winning in Rupp Arena isn’t easy. Kentucky had a nation-leading 55 straight wins at home and the Wildcats entered Saturday’s game at No. 8 in the country. Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson reminded people why he was chosen as the Big 12’s Pre-Season Player of the Year, though, with 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals, but it wasn’t exactly a clinic they put on in Lexington. They shot just 40 % with 19 turnovers. Luckily for them, Kentucky shot 29% and played like a bunch of freshmen. So, while beating a top-10 team on the road in an environment like Rupp Arena is impressive, Kentucky is proving to be less than stellar this season. Also, great teams don’t lose to the College of Charleston.
  2. Bill Self has had some great point guards at Kansas, from Aaron Miles and Russell Robinson to Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor. It’s a big reason why the Jayhawks have won eight consecutive Big 12 regular season championships. Now its senior guard Elijah Johnson’s turn at the point, except Johnson has never had this responsibility while at KU. He has been a shooting guard up until this season, and the position switch has seemed to affect his game early on, especially on defense. “He got whipped,” Self told ESPN’s Jason King after Kansas’ 84-78 win over Oregon State, a game in which Beaver guard Ahmad Starks had 25 points. San Jose State guard James Kinney put up 30 points on the Jayhawks last week, and Chattanooga freshman guard Farad Cobb went 7-9 from three-point range a few weeks ago in Allen Fieldhouse. “That’s something that’s got to improve or we’ll have to change how we play,” Self told King. “We’ll have to play some zone or whatnot.” The fact that Bill Self is even considering playing a zone — something he has rarely played — says a lot about his confidence in the team right now.
  3. Dave Behr of the Austin-American Statesmen wrote a column Saturday on the early struggles of the Texas Longhorns. Motivation seems to be the problem, with head coach Rick Barnes yanking players at the drop of a hat recently in an attempt to grab players’ attention. After losing to Chaminade and USC in the Maui Invitational and beating Texas-Arlington by just 16, motivation isn’t the only thing Texas fans should worry about. Of course, getting sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo back would solve a lot of problems. Kabongo has been suspended by the NCAA while being investigated for possibly receiving improper benefits.
  4. Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg had nothing but good things to say about former Utah transfer Will Clyburn this offseason. Clyburn averaged 17.1 PPG in his one season at Utah and it was good enough to earn him a scholarship in the Big 12. In seven games for Iowa State this season, he’s averaging 17.3 PPG and 8.6 RPG, his best two games coming recently against then No. 18 UNLV and BYU where he finished with 21 and 32 points. As a 6’7″ guard, Clyburn will be a tough match-up for any team he plays against this season. He could also be the key to Cyclones not suffering too big of a dropoff this season with the departure of do-everything guard/forward Royce White
  5. The CBSSports.com crew updated their Top 25 (and one) ranking on Sunday night, and only two Big 12 teams made the cut. Kansas climbed from 13th to 10th while Oklahoma State dropped from 16th to 23rd after losing to Virginia Tech Saturday, 81-71. There doesn’t seem to be any Big 12 teams close to making this list, either. The conference is one Cowboy loss away from having a single team in the (unofficial) Top 25 next week.
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Big 12 Team Preview #7: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by KoryCarpenter on November 6th, 2012

Over the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Iowa State at the #7 position is next on our list.

The Skinny

  • 2011-12 Record: 23-11, 12-6 Big 12
  • Key Contributors Gone: F Royce White, G Scott Christopherson, G Chris Allen
  • Head Coach: Fred Hoiberg, 3rd season
  • Projected Finish: 7th

Replacing Royce White will be crucial if Iowa State wants to continue its uptick in the Big 12.

Fred Hoiberg wasted no time after being hired at Iowa State in April 2010, quickly assembling a group of transfers who sat out the first season before making a big impact a year ago. The Cyclones saw a seven-win improvement in 2011-12 and played eventual national champion Kentucky tough — at least for a half — in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament before losing, 87-71. Now Hoiberg is looking to do it again. Last year’s top three scorers are gone, led by NBA first round pick and do-everything forward Royce White. He has two more excellent transfers eligible to play this season and a solid four-man recruiting class to blend with those transfers. Hoiberg proved he could mesh everything together for a successful season a year ago, but he had a lot of help with one of the most difficult forward match-ups in the country in the form of Royce White. The non-conference schedule plays out nicely for the Cyclones, with a few tough games — a possible game with UNLV in Las Vegas in the Global Sports Classic and BYU in Ames — but plenty of multi-directional schools will be at home to boost the win total while the newcomers learn to play together. Hoiberg said at the Big 12 Media Day that he has accomplished what he set out to do, quickly building up the program with transfers and surrounding them with good four-year guys. It was successful last season and Hoiberg’s roster moves this year proves that he thinks it will work again.

The Personnel

Hoiberg said that he’ll always play to the strengths of his team, no matter the style. Last year, he gave the ball to White just about anywhere on the floor and let him distribute to the shooters, and it worked. White was too big for most guards and too fast for most big men. And when he drew extra attention, Cyclone shooters were ready, knocking down 293 three-pointers on the year. Hoiberg called last year’s team unconventional because of White’s offensive game, something that won’t be the case this season. “We’ll have Korie Lucious, a pure point guard again,” Hoiberg said at Big 12 Media Day. “I’m excited about that. It gives us the opportunity to play a little faster.” Lucious, now a redshirt senior, played three seasons at Michigan State, contributing to two Final Four teams for Tom Izzo while averaging 6.5 PPG and 4.1 APG in 2010-11. He takes over for White, sort of. As Hoiberg mentioned, Lucious is a pure point guard, while White was nothing of the sort. Lucious will look to pass first and score second. He’ll push the tempo, and while he’s not a 6’8″, 260-pound mismatch, he brings his own skills to this Cyclone team. “He’s got that experience of leading a basketball team.” Hoiberg said. “And we’ve got the athletes to get out and run and play with him.”

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Considering the Highest Impact Transfers in 2012-13

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 23rd, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

There were few topics more thoroughly dissected and debated this offseason than transfers. The discourse began not one month after the coronation of last season’s National Champion Kentucky Wildcats with Jared Uthoff’s highly-publicized transfer tug-of-war with Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. It continued when the NCAA released word (via ESPN’s Outside the Lines program) of its intentions to review transfer guidelines as part of a larger concern over a the growing frequency of player movement, much of which – as quantified  by SI.com’s Luke Winn – is characterized by a nontraditional upward flow, whereby players seek to improve their competitive situations by jumping to better teams in high-major conferences. There is a growing fear, one that bears out in Winn’s numerical analysis, that coaches are using the pool of dissatisfied players in lesser conferences as a secondary recruiting market, that mid-major teams will increasingly suffer the possibility of having their players lost to a “poaching culture” of high-major powers plucking the lower ranks’ top talents.

After being overtaken by Kendall Marshall, Drew left UNC to reignite his career in Los Angeles (photo credit: US Presswire)

This is a legitimate concern. The NCAA will likely implement policies to cut down on the various loopholes and pathways in which players are allowed to relinquish their initial commitments in favor of joining a new program, or at least skew the cost-benefit analysis of making such a move towards staying put, but those changes may not come to bear for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we’re left with a college hoops landscape where established players with proven track records can pack their bags for greener pastures. This year’s batch includes several players who could alter their new teams’ seasons in important ways. The list of newly-eligible transfers is long and varied, so I highlighted 10 newcomers whose first seasons in new locales should find immediate success. As is the case with all of these preseason lists, the qualifications for inclusion are at best fuzzy, and at worst, flawed. There are a lot of transfers, so narrowing the list wasn’t easy. So before you rage against your favorite team’s new hot shooting guard being left out of the group, remember to take into account the sheer numerical backdrop from which any selective transfer-based analysis is grounded.

Herewith, in random order, the list:

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The Most Ridiculous Top 100 Player Ranking You’ve Ever Seen: Big 12 Style

Posted by dnspewak on October 17th, 2012

CBS Sports made an ambitious attempt earlier this month at ranking the top 100 players in college basketball, a fun but mostly impossible task good for heated debate and preseason discussion. At the risk of seeming unoriginal, it gave us the bright idea at this microsite to attempt something similar — a top 100 list of Big 12 players, which essentially spans almost every single player on all 10 rosters. Before you proceed, please understand this list is simply for fun. It’s not intended to be taken completely seriously, but it’s supposed to offer a guideline for the talent in this league from top to bottom. Direct all complaints to Danny Spewak (@dspewak), the genius who decided to write this. I’m looking forward to the criticism. 

1.    Pierre Jackson, Baylor (PG): The preseason Big 12 Player of the Year was, inexplicably, not a unanimous choice on the all-conference team, which is almost as bizarre as his coach not starting him until Big 12 play a year ago.

2.    Jeff Withey, Kansas (C): Considered replacing Jeff Withey with FakeJeffWithey at this spot because the latter has more Twitter followers.

3.    Rodney McGruder, Kansas State (G): If he ever finds himself nostalgic for a Frank Martin tirade, at least he’ll have this to look forward to during his senior year.

4.    Myck Kabongo, Texas (PG): Had his family not chosen to mis-spell his first name, he’d probably be number one on the list.

5.    Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (G): I’ve never seen him play, but I’ve read more than enough sappy articles about his intangibles to know he’s a Smart pick in the top five.

6.    Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State (G): Travis Ford just read the past two selections and had a heart attack.

7.   Isaiah Austin, Baylor (C): Unlike the Kabongos, the Austin family spelled its son’s first name correctly, something Isiah Thomas cannot brag about.

8.   Sam Grooms, Oklahoma (PG): Averaged more assists per game than Pierre Jackson, but since he doesn’t score much, he’s obviously a bad basketball player.

 9.  Aaric Murray, West Virginia (C): It won’t get you cool points to know he’s a good player now because he doesn’t play for La Salle anymore.

10.  Will Clyburn, Iowa State (F): Everybody wants him to be Royce White, but he doesn’t have a Mohawk, so that really won’t work.

Someone Decided The Big 12 Pre-Season POY Wasn’t Good Enough to Be First Team All-Big 12.

11. Rico Gathers, Baylor (F): The mere thought of lifting weights with this guy scares me.

12.  Ben McLemore, Kansas (G): His Rivals.com profile has as many stars (4) as the IKU constellation (I had to Google that).

13.  Jordan Henriquez, Kansas State (C): Averaged about two-and-a-half blocks per game, but he should play with a handicap because of his 7’6’’ wingspan.

14.  Elijah Johnson, Kansas (G): His first name is not mis-spelled, it’s just cool.

15.  Steven Pledger, Oklahoma (G): He scores the basketball.

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Critiquing the Preseason All-Big 12 Awards

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 10th, 2012

College basketball’s back, baby.

But how do we know when it’s actually back? The 24-Hour college hoops marathon? Please. Midnight Madness? Not a chance. You know the season’s here when the coaches do the pointless deed of releasing their preseason all-conference awards. Feel the excitement!

Are the coaches always spot-on with their picks? Lord no but they mean well… usually. There’s a lot of good here but it has its share of stuff to pick at. So I present to you a critique of the preseason all-Big 12 awards.

Pierre Jackson has rightfully earned the Big 12 preseason player of the year award. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Here, I find it easier to start off with the good stuff first. So let’s start at the top with Player of the Year, Baylor’s Pierre Jackson. Initial reaction is: nicely done, guys. A quick guard who took the league by storm blowing past defenders, shooting a cool 40% from three-point land, and squeezing in a highlight dunk or two. Scott Drew couldn’t be happier with his senior point guard’s emergence as a big-time player especially going into a season with three fewer NBA Draft picks than a year ago.

Much like the freshman of the year award, Newcomer of the Year is one of the hardest to choose. Last year the coaches masterfully selected Iowa State’s Royce White, who ended up being a first-round pick in June’s NBA Draft. This time around the coaches went with Oklahoma’s Amath M’Baye, a 6’9″ transfer from Wyoming. You may have never heard of the man before but after some help from YouTube, M’Baye could best be described as an athletic freak of nature. NBADraft.net has him going as a mid-second rounder in 2013. His numbers suggest that he’s not a natural scorer and has been horrid from three-point territory. Given his long frame, he seems to play like a guard stuck in a forward’s body.

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What To Make of the Big 12’s Big Monday Schedule

Posted by dnspewak on July 27th, 2012

Nine games. That’s all we know right now with regards to the 2012-13 Big 12 hoops schedule — nine games, all part of ESPN’s legendary Big Monday presentation. The four-letter network released the Big Monday schedule this week, meaning we now have five months to let the anticipation build. Want to feel a little giddy during the slow summer months? Take a look at the schedule below and imagine the possibilities: Bob Huggins returning to the one city in the world that cannot stand him, a Week One showdown between the league’s top dogs, and a prime time game at revitalized Iowa State.

Huggins Heads Back to K-State on Big Monday

Before we break down the schedule on a game-by-game basis, there are two noticeable absences from Big Monday this year. First, there’s no TCU. Not a major surprise, but it’s a sign the program clearly still has some work to do to gain relevance in the Big 12. Big Monday also won’t carry the Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. It makes perfect sense, of course. Oklahoma hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2008-09, when Jeff Capel and Blake Griffin led the Sooners to the Elite Eight. And Oklahoma State lost 18 games a year ago and hasn’t danced the past two seasons. Plus, according to preseason projections — often a terrible barometer to use, by the way —  there won’t be many critics or even coaches within the league willing to choose either team to finish near the top of the league. So yes, it’s understandable that ESPN would not give a Big Monday slot to a Bedlam game. Perhaps both games will get prime Saturday slots. Who knows? Still, there’s a magic to Big Monday, and a rivalry as sacred as Bedlam deserves that magic. So that’s our plea to ESPN: give Bedlam a Big Monday slot, and give it to them every year. With that rant out of the way, here’s a look at all nine games:

  • January 14, Baylor at Kansas: A year ago, an undefeated Baylor team had a chance to make a statement to the Big 12 during a road trip to Lawrence. Win that game and Scott Drew’s program would have arrived. Predictably, the Bears crumbled under the wrath of Allen Fieldhouse. They fell behind immediately. Thomas Robinson wowed the crowd with one of his inhuman, highlight-reel dunks. It got ugly, and from there, Kansas never looked back. This game could represent a similar opportunity for Baylor to change the dynamics of the Big 12 race in 2013. It’s a lot of pressure to put on one game, but even in July, it’s obvious to see the importance of this first Big Monday game. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Summer Update: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by dnspewak on July 10th, 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. We begin with Danny’s update on Iowa State: 

Iowa State Cyclones

2011-12 Record: 23-11, 12-6 (3rd place)

Fred Hoiberg is having a better summer than you. After every basketball writer in America questioned his risky strategy to recruit four Division I transfers to his Iowa State program last year, the Fab Four silenced the naysayers and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. Hoiberg may lose the bulk of his starting lineup to graduation and the pros, but The Mayor has successfully changed the basketball culture in Ames in the span of just one season. So yes — he’s probably having a terrific summer by basking in his team’s 23-win season. And, more importantly, Hoiberg’s bosses rewarded him with a contract extension to give him some extra stability and millions of dollars in cash. That doesn’t mean there’s not work to do while the weather’s still warm, though. Hoiberg’s job now requires him to mix a large class of newcomers with a few returning veterans to keep Iowa State from becoming a one-year wonder.

The Mayor Is Smiling This Summer After an NCAA Tournament Appearance

Summer Orientation: It’s important to stay realistic about summer league basketball, but these statistics for Will Clyburn are too gaudy to ignore. The 6’7’’ wing, eligible next season after transferring from Utah, put up 111 points in two games in the YMCA/Capital City League this summer. He scored 63 in the first game and 48 in the next. For all you math majors, that’s a 55.5 point-per-game average over two contests. Small sample size? Certainly. And summer league? It’s not the NBA. But it’s encouraging for the Cyclones to see Clyburn excel, especially since that league features several of his Iowa State teammates. Former Cyclone Royce White even says Clyburn, a former All-Mountain West honoree at Utah, will make the team better this year than last.

Clyburn has already set a league record for points, but he’s not the only Cyclone making headlines in this league. Freshman Georges Niang actually held Clyburn to 28 points (measly, right?) when the two faced each other in the Y, and there are high hopes for this four-star stud forward from New Hampshire. Fellow froshs Sherron Dorsey-Walker and Naz Long are also earning some experience in this league before their first college seasons, and three-star forward Kerwin Okoro just joined the league in late June.

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Utah: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 17th, 2012

What Went Wrong

Much of what went wrong in the Utah program that led to this season’s 6-25 debacle happened prior to new head coach Larry Krystkowiak’s first game on the sidelines at the Huntsman Center. Two years ago, following a disappointing and underachieving 14-17 season, five Utes, including the team’s two leading scorers, transferred out of Jim Boylen’s program. Then, following a 2010-11 season that took a step down from there with a 13-18 record that led to Boylen’s demise, six more players, including leading scorer and rebounder Will Clyburn, bolted from Salt Lake City. As a result, when the Krystkowiak era tipped off in November, there was a serious lack of talent in Ute basketball uniforms. Throw in the fact that 7’4” former Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year David Foster missed this season with a foot injury and Utah had to rely on just three returnees with any experience– point guard Josh Watkins, center Jason Washburn, and guard Chris Hines – along with six newcomers and a handful of walk-ons. Then Watkins, who was the team’s leading scorer and assist man, was dismissed prematurely in January. In short, this Ute team never really had a chance in its first year in the Pac-12. Even in a conference with a talent level near historic lows, the Utes just didn’t have the horses to hang with the bulk of the conference.

Jason Washburn, Utah

Jason Washburn Was A Lone Bright Spot On An Otherwise Miserable Ute Team (Associated Press)

What Went Right

There was a time, well into December, where it was questionable whether the Utes had a chance at earning so much as a single win against a Division I team. Then they strung together two straight home wins against Idaho State and Portland (admittedly, two really bad teams) before going on to win three conference games, including wins over Washington State and Stanford that go down as significantly improbable events. As absurd as it may seem, that 6-25 record is actually an overachievement for this team.

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Pac-12 Team Previews: Utah

Posted by AMurawa on October 26th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

Utah Utes

Strengths.  Size. Oh man, does Utah have a lot of size. Start with a 7’3” behemoth in the middle in David Foster, add 6’10” junior Jason Washburn who can spell Foster or play alongside him, and toss in – well, there’s really not all that much size behind those two. But with those two prowling the lane, the Utes have an imposing frontcourt duo that are a threat to block any shot taken in the paint.

Weaknesses. Where to begin? First, this is an inexperienced squad, featuring three incoming freshman and three junior college transfers who are expected to get time. Second, while the Utes return senior Josh Watkins at the point, he struggled in his first season in Salt Lake City last year, shooting under 30% from beyond the arc while turning the ball over too much. And, lastly (for now at least), even though Foster and Washburn are big, they’re injury-prone, struggle with conditioning and are of limited effectiveness on the offensive end.

David Foster

David Foster Is An Intimidating Defensive Player, But Utah Is Missing Offensive Firepower (credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Nonconference Tests.  The highlight of the nonconference slate is a berth in the inaugural Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas, where they will open with Harvard in the first round before facing either Massachusetts or Florida State on day two, with a third opponent to be determined. Beyond that, there is the in-state rivalry game with BYU, a couple of games at WAC opponents (Boise State and Fresno State) and not much else. Which is good – this team deserves a bit of a break in the non-conference. Read the rest of this entry »

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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)

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Morning Five: 04.13.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2011

  1. A number of players made NBA stay/go decisions on Tuesday, beginning with RTC NPOY Kemba Walker, who formally announced that he will be heading to the League after his junior season, the most celebrated in UConn men’s basketball history.  The point guard projected as a lottery pick will sign with an agent soon, leaving no possibility of an encore performance in Storrs.  On the other side of the country involving a player in the same high school class as Walker, UCLA point guard Malcolm Lee announced that he too is leaving for the NBA and will sign with an agent.  Despite being a top recruit three seasons ago, Lee never quite became the superstar he was supposed to be, and is currently only projected as a second round pick in this summer’s draft.  UCLA head coach Ben Howland had counseled Lee to return for his senior season, but he decided that it was time to move on from Westwood (maybe he didn’t want to play in the LA Sports Arena — we wouldn’t blame him).
  2. Two other athletic phenoms will also be entering this year’s NBA Draft, as Georgia’s Travis Leslie and Florida State’s Chris Singleton announced on Tuesday their intentions to leave college a year early.  Leslie formally made his announcement yesterday, joining all-SEC forward Trey Thompkins in leaving Mark Fox’s program, while Singleton hasn’t officially announced yet but was apparently outed by his school’s media relations department in this report about his upcoming Wednesday press conference.  Both players are likely first round selections.
  3. In a phenomenal indication as to just how difficult it is perceived to win at The U, Harvard’s Tommy Amaker decided on Tuesday he’d rather stay in Cambridge as the head coach of the Crimson rather than moving south to Coral Gables as the Hurricanes seek to replace Frank Haith.  Amaker must figure that if he can get Harvard to the NCAA Tournament next season (a distinct possibility), he’ll have a much better choice of winning jobs at his disposal — probably a smart move.  Now, Miami is said to be looking at Mike Davis (Alabama-Birmingham), Tony Barbee (Auburn), Donnie Jones (UCF), Billy Kennedy (Murray State) and Rob Jeter (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) as possible new candidates.
  4. There was a big piece of transfer news on Tuesday, as former Utah star Will Clyburn announced that he will be matriculating at Iowa State next year and become eligible to play in Ames for the 2012-13 season.  Expressing a desire to move closer to his home town of Chicago (and having played JuCo ball at nearby Marshalltown CC), the all-MWC forward who averaged 17/8 last season is excited to join a program under Fred Hoiberg that he feels is moving in the right direction.
  5. Billy Donovan’s Florida staff suddenly looks like a dream team of sorts as the school announced the hiring of former Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey and former St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts on Tuesday.  Pelphrey and Donovan, of course, are very close, with the duo coming up together at Marshall and earning their stripes later at Florida in the 1990s, building UF into a national power before Pelphrey moved on to South Alabama and Arkansas.  Both Pelphrey and Roberts found themselves in tough situations, but it’s safe to say that these will be short-lived stopovers for them until other big-name schools offer them another chance.  It’s certainly better than sitting on your couch.
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