Basketball

2/16 12 Thoughts on This Week in the Big 12: Most Underrated Point Guard, Charlie Strong’s Great Hires + More!

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1.  Monte Morris is the best point guard in the country not enough people are talking about. He has 131 assists to just 28 turnovers this season. Morris was lights out against West Virginia on Saturday, 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting, with 5 assists, and only 1 turnover against the Mountaineers non-stop backcourt pressure. Morris is only a sophomore, and for Iowa State’s sake, I hope he spends at least one more season in college. But, either way, strong point guard play is invaluable in March. They may not win the Big 12, but Iowa State has as good a chance as anyone in the Big 12 to make a deep run in the NCAA’s, and Morris is the reason why.

2.  Well that was a tough weekend for the Oklahoma teams. First, Oklahoma State went on the road and lost to 1-10 (in conference) TCU by 15 points, then Oklahoma fell to Kansas State, who had lost five in a row. Both OSU and OU were the two hottest teams in the Big 12, on three and five game winning streaks, respectively. Losses like this either turn into character builders in preparation for Conference and NCAA Tournaments, or start a spiral to the finish line ending up with an early exit in March.

3. Staying with the Oklahoma teams … the fifth foul call against OU forward Ryan Spangler was one of the strangest, worst, bizarre, (fill in your negative adjective choice here) fouls I have ever seen.  It came at the 8:17 mark of the second half, and Spangler’s loss sucked out much of the Sooners energy down the stretch. I don’t intend to take away credit from K-State, or a great game-winning trey from Marcus Foster, but Spangler’s foul out was the game changer that ultimately gave the Wildcats the edge.

4.  It’s hard to find a worse Division I college basketball atmosphere than TCU has at their temporary home of Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. It is a 5,000-seat high school facility in Fort Worth that is being used by TCU men’s and women’s teams while the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum is undergoing a $65 million renovation. So, it’s become the perfect storm for a horrendous atmosphere: bad basketball team (2-10 in conference), playing in a high school arena fifteen minutes off campus. Granted, with TCU leaving the Mountain West Conference for the Big 12, it was time to upgrade Daniel-Meyer, which was by far the worst facility in the Big 12. In the end, it’s a temporary inconvenience that will greatly help recruiting for Trent Johnson.

5. Before switching to football… here’s our Big 12 tweet of the week. Bizarre times indeed with conference realignment. Hate that the Border War is no more.

2-16 tweet

6.  I love the hires by Charlie Strong to fill out his staff at Texas. He brought in Brick Haley from LSU to coach the defensive line. Haley was recently demoted by Les Miles, who replaced Haley with noted recruiter Ed Orgeron. But, Haley helped coach up one of the best position groups in the country. Haley helped LSU extend a nation-best streak of having a defensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft to 11 straight years in 2014.

Also, Strong welcomes in longtime Gilmer Texas High School coach Jeff Traylor as TE/Special Teams coach. Traylor will drastically help the Longhorns recruit the East side of the state, where they have lost some traction to Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Texas A&M. Two great hires for Strong. The Longhorns will be back in business sooner rather than later. Now, just find a quarterback…

7. Good news for the Big 12 as Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt joins the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Hocutt replaces former West Virginia AD Oliver Luck, who left for a job with the NCAA. As you may recall, following his team’s snub, Baylor coach Art Briles complained that there was no one on the committee from Texas. Well, Hocutt was born in Sherman, Texas, was an All-Big 8 linebacker for Bill Snyder at K-State, holds a Master’s degree from Oklahoma, and now works in Lubbock. Safe to say Briles got his wish.

8. Speaking of the College Football Playoff, TCU coach Gary Patterson came out in support of a six-team playoff. The idea being each of the Power Five Conferences get one team in, with another ‘at-large’ bid. I hate the idea. I will get into this more in-depth in this week’s podcast. But, it makes Patterson and the Big 12 sound like whiners and sore losers, and takes away from the regular season across the country. More to come on this mid-week…

9. Losing Jerry Montgomery as defensive line coach leaves a massive hole on Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ staff. Montgomery was his best recruiter who also helped Mike Stoops swap from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme two years ago. Montgomery left to join the Green Bay Packers as a defensive assistant. Good gig, but I’m not sure co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma isn’t a better job. Some fans are wondering if this is another sign of the deterioration of OU football under Bob Stoops. I don’t believe so. I think it’s just a guy with NFL aspirations, and he saw his chance to latch on to an NFL staff. Nothing more, nothing less.

10. Former Kansas and Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis said earlier this week to the South Bend Tribune that it’s “highly doubtful” he’ll ever coach again. Geez, talk about a fall from grace.  Weis coached Tom Brady to three Super Bowl rings, parlayed that into a mostly mediocre run with Notre Dame, followed by an unsuccessful stint as Florida’s offensive coordinator, and then a miserable tenure in Lawrence, Kansas. Wes is now 58 years old, and I don’t blame him for wanting to leave the game. He hasn’t been successful nearly a decade, and may just be burnt out. Plus, Weis is still going to collect another $5.6 million from Kansas, and when all is said and done he will make $19 million for not coaching Notre Dame (fired, with buyout). Amazing. Charlie Weis truly is College Football’s Most Successful Failure. Please find me his agent, ASAP.

11. On a more serious note, our prayers go out to Iowa State defensive lineman Mitchell Meyers, who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Meyers began chemotherapy on Friday. The cure rate is reportedly 90%, and Meyer’s excellent overall shape should supposedly help his cause. But, we wish nothing but the best for Meyers with his fight, which will take place in Ames so he can stay in school.

12.   After a blazing 6-1-1 start the past two weeks, my picks against the spread went 2-3 on Saturday. Blame Baylor for getting embarrassed in the second half in Lawrence, and while Texas held Tech to 41 points, they only scored 56 themselves! Back at it Saturday, with picks up Friday night/Saturday morning.

 

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