Big 12 Basketball

Big 12 Basketball Week 5: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang.

Week 5 is officially in the books as the Big 12 Conference continued both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons for 2023-24.

We had some incredible games this week. We also have some incredible controversy.

Here are the good, bad, and ugly from Week 5 in Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball.

 

The Good

Katrina Merriweather vs. Xavier

Katrina Merriweather is in her first year as Cincinnati’s women’s basketball coach. But it’s not her first year at Cincinnati.

No, Merriweather took the job in part because it gave her a chance to return to her alma mater, where she played point guard for four years. He played in four straight postseason tournaments and she helped Cincinnati win its first NCAA Tournament game as a graduate assistant.

This weekend was a big one for Merriweather, as both the Cincinnati men and women faced Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout. It was even bigger for Merriweather, who had never lost to Xavier as a player or as a Cincinnati graduate assistant. That’s a 5-0 record.

Actually, make that 6-0. The Bearcats beat the Musketeers, 69-47, improving her record in the rivalry game.  

Jerome Tang Handling Controversy

Few coaches seem equipped to handle controversy like Kansas State coach Jerome Tang.

In the wake of Nae’Qwan Tomlin’s departure from Kansas State basketball, Tang didn’t come out looking like the bad guy (we’ll get to that), as he not only got students to stop protesting Kansas State president Richard Linton’s office and residence, but he sat on his couch and asked the team’s fans to “move forward with love” in a video that got more than one million views.

Tang seems to know the right buttons to push, even sending his congratulations after Tomlin got his degree from Kansas State on Saturday.

Robinson in the Rafters

Kansas beat Missouri on Saturday, but at halftime Kansas raised the jersey of Thomas Robinson to the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse.

Robinson’s pro career has seen him play for six different NBA teams and more than 10 teams overseas.

But at Kansas he was a consensus All-American who totaled 1,026 points and 763 rebounds from 2009-2012. Robinson wore No. 0, and he’s now the second Jayhawk to have that number retired. Drew Gooden was the first.

Kansas isn’t done retiring numbers this season, either. The program will retire the number of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Bill “Skinny” Johnson on Jan. 22 when Kansas hosts Cincinnati.

 

Hope for Battle?

The RaeQuan Battle transfer saga may not be over just yet. West Virginia interim head coach said on Saturday those magic words — “based on new information.”

If you’ve been paying attention, we all know what happens after the NCAA utters those words.

Words on Hilton

The Iowa State women hosted Iowa on Wednesday and ESPN broadcast the game. As part of the game, ESPN asked several Big 12 players and coaches this question: “What is the toughest place to play in the Big 12?”

Ten different players and coaches ESPN spoke to said Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas guard Holly Kersgieter, who has played in the league for five seasons, said it best:

“I don’t like that place … at all.”

That last look on Kersgieter’s face, that heavy sigh? Man she was feeling it, knowing she has to go back there on Jan. 3.

But, that’s Iowa State and that’s Hilton Coliseum. That’s the homecourt advantage you want. You WANT players and coaches to know it’s gonna be tough. And Iowa State has cultivated that for decades. I mean, DECADES.

That was after the Iowa State men beat Iowa the next night. At Hilton.

The Bad

Wes Miller vs. Xavier

Wes Miller has done some great things since he’s arrived at Cincinnati. He’s in his third season with the Bearcats. He’s won 48 games in two-plus seasons, he’s taken the Bearcats to the third round of the NIT and he has his eye on getting them back to the NCAA Tournament this March.

But, the Bearcats lost their first game of the season Saturday, falling to Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout.

Miller is now 0-3 against Xavier. That’s not the start you want against your top rival. Plus, Cincinnati has now lost its last five against the Musketeers.

 

Nae’Qwan Tomlin Leaving K-State

Back to Kansas State and Tomlin. The good news is that Tomlin got his degree on Saturday. His teammates couldn’t be there, as they were in Baton Rouge to face LSU (a game the Wildcats won). But Tomlin got a hearty round of applause from the Kansas State people that were there.

Obviously, there was nothing bad about Tomlin getting his degree. That’s great news. But the bad news is he won’t play for Kansas State again after athletic director Gene Taylor said that Tomlin “could no longer continue with the program.” Those are words few Kansas State fans believe came from Taylor.

Tomlin is now in the transfer portal and he could be the hottest commodity in the mid-semester transfer market that, well, really doesn’t have a precedent for a player that is eligible to play immediately.

The Ugly

Devan Cambridge Is Out

Texas Tech lost its talented forward Devan Cambridge for the season due to a knee injury. That’s a significant loss for the Red Raiders, as Cambridge was averaging a career-high 10.5 points before the injury.

He scored nine points in his last game against Omaha. It’s possible he could be back in 2024-25, as his injury came before the medical redshirt deadline. So he can shoot for one.

Who gets his playing time? That’s an interesting question. The vast majority of the Red Raiders are listed as guards, with just one forward coming off the bench in Robert Jennings. The Red Raiders could go small, which would be to their benefit in the guard-driven Big 12.

I’m interested to see if KyeRon Lindsay gets more run. He’s listed as a guard, but he’s 6-foot-8, actually taller than Cambridge. His length and quickness could be a real asset in a 10-15 minute role off the bench.

 

The Future With Dr. Linton

If you were paying attention to the Kansas State-Nae’Qwan Tomlin saga, then you know who everyone in Manhattan believes is the villain — Dr. Richard Linton, who is the K-State president.

He started as president in 2022 and battled cancer earlier this year.

On Friday, a couple of days after Taylor released what was supposed to be the only statement after Tomlin’s release, and a day after Tang’s chat on the couch, Linton released his own statement.

He responded directly to the backlash, which included student protests outside his office.

“The NCAA Board of Governors has required each member institution to adopt a ‘serious misconduct policy’ covering a number of potential allegations, including Title IX. Under the university’s serious misconduct policy, the university president is involved in collaboration with the athletic director and head coach when making a final decision concerning a student-athlete’s conduct and team membership. 

“The decision to release Nae’Qwan from the men’s basketball team was made in full compliance with all applicable policies,” Linton said. “When decisions like this are made, a range of factors are considered, including the entire history of a student athlete’s behavior.”

“There remains much we cannot share with the university community under federal laws, namely FERPA, which protects a student’s right to privacy while attending a university. I know this is difficult, as you want to understand all that has transpired. But in the absence of being able to share any more specifics, I hope that the details I am sharing today help bring resolution to any lingering questions.”

He is right that there is quite a bit we don’t know, especially the “entire history of a student-athlete’s behavior” he reference. Kansas State fans may not be able to reconcile any of this until we know more.

But, until then, Linton will get the lion’s share of the blame for what happened. And if Tang decides not to intervene next time, it could get, well, ugly.  

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You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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