A preview of the 2010/2011 Big 12 men’s basketball season
Part I (teams 7-12)
The more things change, the more they stay the same…
In what will be the final year of play for the Big 12 as we know it, Kansas will once again be the team to beat. It has become a familiar refrain: they lose several key contributors from the previous year’s team, but through excellent recruiting and the continued development of guys who were once just role players, they come back and just keep winning.
Most years, they absolutely dominate this conference. But this year, there are a few teams that could actually challenge the Jayhawks’ league supremacy, beginning with one just down the road. But until one actually knocks them down, they remain the favorites to win the league.
How it’s going to look:
(12): Nebraska Cornhuskers
Clearly, Big 10 Conference commissioner Jim Delany was not made aware of the fact that in order to get the football team, they had to take the basketball team. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure he would have called the deal off.
Fact: Nebraska hasn’t won a conference title since sharing the Big 8 title in 1950. In case you don’t possess basic math skills (which if you’re a Nebraskan, you probably don’t), that was 60 years ago.
Fact: Nebraska is one of only 3 BCS programs (Northwestern and South Florida being the others) to have never won a single NCAA tournament game. Not ever. Not once. Never. Not even by accident. Doc Sadler does return 3 starters from last year’s team, but considering last year’s team won only 2 league games, I don’t know how this is a good thing. Expect more of the same in their final year in this conference.
(11): Colorado Buffaloes
Also a lame duck team, the Buffs are off to the glamour of the Pac-12 Conference (nee Pac-10). A jovial Larry Scott acted as if he had pulled off a major coup by accepting Colorado into his conference, when in fact he did the Big 12 a great favor. In case nobody has noticed, Colorado has pretty much sucked at everything they’ve done for several years, with the exception of dragging down the strengths of schedule for their fellow conference teams. I’ll give them credit, they are the best at that.
For their last season in the Big 12, there is some hope in Boulder, as they do return 2 fairly good players in Cory Higgins and Alec Burks. They won’t be nearly enough and, like Nebraska, Colorado will go out on a low note. And I’m not entirely sure how, but SOMEhow, Cody Hawkins will enter a few of the basketball games this season and immediately throw a couple of interceptions. His dad will say, “That’s my boy!”, and then return to the unemployment line.
(10): Iowa State Cyclones
I remember vividly when noted Iowa State basketball fan Mother Teresa (she once dated Johnny Orr in college) came to Ames to speak. She was introduced to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands, and as she stepped to the podium amid wild cheers, she said, “Thank you so much. Thank you. God Bless you. Thank you. What a wonderful university you have here. By the way, why are the chicks in this town so fat and why does the entire state smell like shit?!” She had a point.
As for the basketball team this year, Fred Hoiberg returns to his alma mater and will attempt to restore the Hilton Magic of old. Eventually, Hoiberg wants to implement a fast paced, high scoring, exciting style of play. With the current roster of players he inherited, however, about the only thing they’ll do quickly this year is exit the conference race.
(9): Oklahoma Sooners
There is a rumor floating around that there are actually other things to do in Norman besides sleep with your sister and watch football, but I have not been able to confirm that. One thing is certain: Jeff Capel’s basketball team has more new faces than the Beverly Hills Ladies Auxiliary weekly luncheons. The good news is that these new players will almost assuredly have more chemistry than the highly disappointing team of last year, which went 13-18 for their first losing season since 1981. The bad news is that none of these new players are named Blake Griffin. Capel should get this team back on track, but it isn’t happening this year.
(8): Texas Tech Red Raiders
As part of my crackerjack investigatory research, I sometimes am forced to employ questionable tactics. Such is the case a few years ago when the rumors were swirling that Bob Knight was about to resign. I knew that if I was going to get the story, I would have to use the old hidden camera/microphone trick. I just needed a safe place to keep it. Somewhere that it would never be noticed, somewhere that it would be safe from inspection, somewhere that not a single person would ever be tempted to look. So I put it on the inside of a Tech cheerleader’s skirt. What I got was Coach Knight telling his son, Pat, that indeed he was abruptly retiring; Pat saying, “But you always tell the kids never to quit”; Bob punching Pat in the Adam’s apple; Pat crying and screaming; Bob saying, “SHUT UP! It didn’t hurt that bad!”; Pat saying, “That’s not why I’m crying. I’m crying because you’re leaving me in charge of THIS team!”. And it’s been downhill ever since.
The good news is that Pat Knight apparently didn’t inherit the dickhead gene from his father – by all accounts he’s a nice guy. The bad news is that he also didn’t seem to inherit any of the coaching genes, either. One thing this team has going for it is that they will have 4 senior starters this year, including F Mike Singletary, the league’s most underrated player. This team can score. The problem is that they gave up an average of 213 points per game last year, which was probably a record.
(7): Oklahoma State Cowboys
The loss of Big 12 player of the year James Anderson is really going to hurt Travis Ford’s team this season. One of the things Ford has going for him is that this team is deep. So while no single player will be able to make up for Anderson’s departure, a continuing rotation will ensure that players will remain fresh as the committee approach will be utilized. As always, another thing in Oklahoma State’s favor is their building, Gallagher-Iba Arena. Named after legendary coach Henry ‘Hank’ Iba and his former assistent, a comedian who smashes watermelons with a giant hammer, this is one of the best venues in the country in which to see a college basketball game. But perhaps the most exciting thing for Cowboys fans this year is the ‘Eddie Sutton Experience’, a very unique program. For only $500, one lucky fan per home game will get the chance to be Eddie Sutton for an evening. Approximately 2 hours before game time, this fan will be escorted to a hospitality suite where they can enjoy appetizers that Sutton enjoyed, such as hot wings, onion rings, and Vicadin sandwiches. This lucky fan will also get a chance to look through Sutton’s favorite drink menu, which is considerably thicker than the Oklahoma State media guide. And finally, this fan will get to sit in Eddie Sutton Seat on Eddie Sutton Court – the exact same seat where he spent so many seasons dozing off during games. Exciting times in Stillwater.
So there you have it, Part I of the Big 12 preview. I do realize that some people don’t take me seriously and I know I have my share of detractors. Many of these naysayers have even started clubs (I believe they are called ‘not-for-Prophet organizations’). But remember, I correctly predicted the outcome of every single NCAA tournament game last year. I mean, maybe not EVERY game, but most of them. Although I didn’t have any of the Final Four teams, I came close. Other than the team I predicted would win it all didn’t get out of the first weekend. Actually, come to think of it, I pretty much suck at this. At any rate, Part II shall follow later in the week…