We’re flipping things this week and starting with the Bad because, well, I have to write about officiating again, which is my all-time favorite thing to write about, as you know.
Here are the good, bad, and ugly from Week 14 in Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball.
Time For The Big 12 To Talk Officiating
Our Bryan Clinton wrote about whether we have an officiating problem in the Big 12 right now, specifically around men’s basketball.
We can debate whether it’s a problem or not. But, what I believe we have among the conference’s coaches and athletic director is extreme dissatisfaction with officiating and it’s coming to a boiling point.
Kansas State coach Jerome Tang calls out an official by name for what he called the officials’ “chirping” at Cam Carter. Baylor coach Scott Drew is thrown out of a game for the first time in his career for being out of the coach’s box, something that officials admittedly rarely enforce. His athletic director, Mack Rhoades, is hit with a $25,000 fine for criticizing those officials. Then Houston’s Kelvin Sampson storms the court in a game in which Houston has a big lead and gets thrown out for yelling at officials.
Later, he wouldn’t comment on why, saying he didn’t want to get fined. That doesn’t even take into account Oklahoma coach Porter Moser saying “Next” when asked about officiating.
That has all happened in the last three weeks. Something is up. Pete Mundo and I talked about that this past week on the podcast.
If I’m the Big 12, I’m likely buried in complaints if this groundswell is any indication. If that’s the case, it’s time from the Big 12 to address this publicly, and not with a press release with corporate language. This demands the league talk publicly about what feedback they’re getting from coaches and athletic directors and how they’re going to address it.
When you have ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla going long-form tweet about officiating in the Big 12, well, something’s up. And this is a guy who speaks to every Big 12 coach as often as anyone in broadcasting.
Sampson’s tirade was akin to that time former Texas Tech coach Chris Beard falling on the floor while arguing with an official.
But, back in my day, this is the kind of stuff that happened when we were a proper college basketball community.
All That LHN Money Doesn’t Buy Bus Maintenance?
The Texas women got back on the road on Saturday against TCU. But it came with an unusual obstacle, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman’s Danny Davis.
Now, I’m guessing that’s a reimbursable expense? Save your receipts, ladies.
UCFs Gradual Ascent
For the UCF Knights women’s basketball team, it’s been a rough first year in the Big 12. The Knights enter the week 12-10 overall and 3-9 in Big 12 play. But, up until a couple of weeks ago, the Knights didn’t have a win.
Now, the Knights enter this week having won three of their last five league games. The first Big 12 win was against fellow Big 12 newbie Houston. But the last two have come against legacy Big 12 teams.
Last weekend the Knights beat Iowa State at home. Then, on Saturday, the Knights claimed their first Big 12 road win, going into Texas Tech and winning, 69-64.
If you’ve been following the Knights, you know who led the way.
Peterson is one of the leading scorers in the Big 12, averaging 20.3 points per game. Burns is averaging 11 points, but she has scored at least 18 points in her last three games.
This is coach Sytia Messer’s second year as head coach. So she’s still building this program up. But she knows the Big 12 from her days working for Kim Mulkey at Baylor.
If the Knights can hang on and stay above .500 for the season, a WNIT bid would give them extra opportunities to build for next season. The best news is that Peterson is eligible to return next season. She’s unlikely to move as she’s already transferred once.
Given Messer time. In this conference, it’s required. But Peterson, along with this recent surge, gives her a great building block.
Big 12 National Publicity
If you were working in the Big 12 league office last week was a good week.
Ahead of the Kansas-Baylor game, which was in Allen Fieldhouse and featured ESPN Gameday on site, both Jay Bilas and Jay Williams talked about the conference, with Bilas likening the Big 12 schedule to an “NBA schedule.”
Earlier in the week, Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde spent a few days on the road covering the Big 12 and taking you inside why the conference has become the best in the land.
Look, I’m not sure if the Big 12 will claim a national title. But no single conference will be better prepared for March Madness than this one. Of that, there is no dispute.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson is also happy to boost the league’s national profile whenever he gets the chance.
Getting Your Scholarship on National TV
Speaking of ESPN Gameday, Bilas did his “94 feet” segment with Baylor walk-on Austin Sacks. That’s a little unusual as Bilas typically interviews a player from the home team. But, as you can see from the video, there is a good reason why Bilas interviewed Sacks. He was in on letting the long-time walk-on know he was no longer a walk-on.
WVU’s Road Woes
I’ve covered a couple of West Virginia road games when they’ve come to Texas. The Mountaineers haven’t won either of those games. But this is stunning as the Mountaineers head to TCU on Monday.
If you’re looking ahead to WVU’s coaching change — which is going to happen — the Mountaineers simply have to win more on the road in this conference.
Fear The Bye
The mid-week bye is a new thing on the Big 12 men’s schedule this year, as the Big 12-SEC Challenge departed the schedule.
One would think that a week-long rest would be welcome. I’m sure it is. But, so far, it hasn’t been great when it comes to that first game back.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.