Getting a jumpstart
Big 12 players and coaches were unanimous in their praise for new NCAA rule changes that allow for more interaction during the offseason.
Each school is allowed to one international trip every four years, which Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State took advantage of this summer. But new rules also allow for an eight-week period during which coaches can provide up to eight hours per week of staff-supervised workouts.
"It helps team bonding. It helps understand roles," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "It helps work on X's and O's early."
The Cowboys took a summer trip to Spain, while Kansas State went to Brazil and the Jayhawks to Switzerland and France. The rest of the league managed to get workouts in at home.
"We did a lot of individual work," said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who took his team to Italy last year and wouldn't have been able to practice this offseason under the old rules.
"You see bad habits, and you're able to correct them before you get started," he said.
The changes were particularly helpful for Big 12 newcomer TCU, which took advantage of the available practice time to install new coach Trent Johnson's system.
"We did a lot of team workouts, a lot of going over plays, just getting used to each other on the court," junior forward Amric Fields said. "Especially with a new coach, it helped a lot."
Breaking in new digs
Kansas State will be in a new practice building by the end of the week.
The Basketball Training Facility adjacent to Bramlage Coliseum had a ribbon-cutting recently, but some administrative details must be wrapped up before the Wildcats can begin practicing on one of the two full-sized courts in the $18 million building.
There are also locker rooms for the men's and women's programs, player lounges and coaches' offices, team film rooms and a 2,500-quare foot weight room and sports medicine center.
The biggest benefit in the eyes of first-year Wildcats coach Bruce Weber? Enough hoops set up in the building for his team to practice free throws.
"When you're in an arena, you have two baskets, and one side basket. You can't get shots up, and free throws," Weber said. "You don't have the time to put in the effort to working on it."