Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

October 18, 2012

Plenty of changes as Big 12 hoops season nears

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bob Huggins is back in the Big 12, this time with West Virginia. TCU has joined the fold, too, and everyone else converged on the Sprint Center on Wednesday for the league's annual media day.

Which happened to be down the road from Missouri, a school no longer part of the league.

Yes, there's plenty of change in the conference this year. The Tigers and their high-octane offense are gone to the SEC along with Texas A&M, and in their place come the rough-and-tumble Mountaineers from the Big East and a Horned Frogs program rebuilding under Trent Johnson.

Billy Gillispie is gone after one messy season at Texas Tech, done in by an offseason of controversy that left untested and largely unknown Chris Walker to take over a program that appears to be in shambles.

Also gone is Frank Martin, the fiery former coach of Kansas State. Martin left for South Carolina — maybe he couldn't get enough of Missouri and Texas A&M — and in his place is Bruce Weber, who was unceremoniously dumped by Illinois as that program slid into mediocrity.

There is one thing that hasn't change, though: Kansas is still picked to win the league.

The Jayhawks will be reloading after losing bruising forward Thomas Robinson and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor to the NBA, but three returning starters and a crowded class of freshman were enough to make them the unanimous preseason pick to win the Big 12 for the ninth straight time.

"It's a great sense of pride, or source of pride for us," said Kansas coach Bill Self, who agreed to a new contract in the offseason that should keep him in Lawrence for the next decade.

"Our players don't want to be the team that doesn't win it. They put that pressure on themselves," Self said. "There isn't a jubilation of winning the league that you might anticipate with our guys because they take the approach that this is their job. They're supposed to win."

Until they lose, they'll keep getting picked first.

That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of programs, including the two newcomers, salivating at the opportunity to knock the Jayhawks from their comfy perch.

"We'd like to be the first team that doesn't have 'Kansas' on its uniform to win this thing in a long, long time," Huggins said.

The Mountaineers gave Baylor everything it could handle in an overtime defeat early last season, and wound up winning 19 games and reaching the NCAA tournament, where they were ousted by Gonzaga. West Virginia lost leading scorers Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant, but return sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds and Deniz Kilicli, the senior who shaved his sensational beard this offseason.

Huggins is no stranger to the Big 12, either. He returned from exile after a rough ending to his tenure at Cincinnati by taking over Kansas State, which he placed squarely on the path toward success that Martin continued to walk even after "Huggy Bear" left to coach his alma mater.

"We're a lot like the other schools in the Big 12," Huggins said. "We're a state university. We're a land-grant institution. We have great facilities. I think they did a great job of getting people who are like the schools already in the Big 12."

With the exception of location.

"Someone asked who our biggest rival will be. I said, 'Iowa State.' They're the closest," Huggins said. "They're only 800-and-some air miles."

Johnson won't have the same such trouble with TCU, smack in the middle of the Dallas metro area.

His biggest problem will be trying to make the Horned Frogs relevant.

The former coach of Stanford and LSU has taken over a program that joined the Big 12 largely because of the strength of its football team, even though TCU won 18 games last year. Johnson will certainly have a fertile recruiting base, and now has the cache of the Big 12 to lean on.

"It's an exciting time for TCU basketball," Johnson said. "I've inherited a group of young men that have done an exceptional job of buying into everything that we've asked them to do."

Walker said the same thing of the Red Raiders, who've had perhaps the roughest offseason.

Gillispie resigned under intense scrutiny on Sept. 20, citing health concerns and with the university investigating allegations that he mistreated some of his players. The former Kentucky and Texas A&M coach led the Red Raiders to an 8-23 record in his only season in Lubbock.

Walker is working under a six-month contract to serve as interim coach.

Martin walked away from Kansas State amid some controversy, too. Rumors persist that there was a significant rift with the administration, something both sides have denied. Weber was an unpopular hire among the fanbase after struggling his last couple seasons at Illinois, but he takes over a senior-laden Wildcats team led by Rodney McGruder that should push Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and the Longhorns for the regular-season title.

"You want to deal with the best," Weber said. "You want that challenge, and that's the exciting part of it."

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Hooper.jpg Sparking the flame

    Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year

    Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
    Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fishing-team.jpg NSU teams compete in fishing tournament

    Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnson, East win easily at All-State

    Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.

    July 29, 2014

  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Stocks