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2011 Big 12 Hoops Manifesto



I wanted to put together a  Big 12 preview this year but I didn’t exactly know how I wanted to do it. So what do I do when I’m not real sure where to go on something? If you guessed “trade thousand-word emails with four of my best friends as we discuss what’s up with the last year of the real Big 12” then you nailed it. As it turns out this is more of a manifesto than it is a preview. We’ll leave the previews for Mr. Lunardi and his calculators. Here we go…

1. You need one guy from the Big 12 to hit a game-winner, who you got?

Q: I probably would have said Pullen, but he’s more liable to swipe some clothes or CDs then he is to hit a clutch jump shot at this point. I’m going with Jordan Hamilton at Texas, mostly because I don’t think there is necessarily anyone better in the league in terms of answering this question. And he’s red hot right now.

Brett: Ok, knee jerk reaction is another question: Is this individual creating his own shot or is he spotted up to catch and shoot? In the case of the former I’m taking Jacob Pullen. Dude can stroke, has huge balls, never met a shot he didn’t like, and isn’t afraid to miss. He has a couple seasons of being a go-to guy under his belt and he plays on a good team who always gets opposing teams best effort.  Those guys breed confidence in a fan/coach/onlooker.

In the case of the latter, I’m torn between Keiton Page and Lacedarius Dunn. Keiton, because I know his raw ability first hand and he’s a confident shooter. And I’m a homer. Lacedarius, because he too isn’t afraid to shoot and miss. And dude’s got a swag to him that I really like. Much like Big Game James did, and I always wanted him shooting.

Keiton celebrating the slaying of #1 KU

Nolo: Before the season I would have said either Jacob Pullen or Lace Dunn with a slight edge to Pullen. There are striking similarities between the two.  Both are senior leaders on a squads they lead to the Elite 8 last year and both were picked to lead their teams back to the top of the Big 12 this season. I think Pullen is a better pure shooter than Dunn but not by much. 

Now, though, I’m not so sure.

Both the Bears and the Wildcats have looked shaky in the first half of the season and the actions and suspensions of both Dunn and Pullen don’t say much about their ability to lead a team.  So without further ado, at this point in the season and his career I’m taking none other than Keiton Page.  He has more experience getting off tough shots than anyone in the country due to his size and he’s the best pure shooter in the Big 12.  Say what you want about the size of his high school, but Keiton has valuable experience playing in big games. So call me a homer, but just because I only drink orange flavored Kool-Aid, Powerade, and Gatorade doesn’t mean my choice is that irrational…right?

BJack: Gun to my head? As much as I think that Keiton has ice water coursing through him, with 5 minutes to go I have to go with Jacob Pullen from K-State. Are there guys who have better scoring averages out there? Yes. But none of them played in the K-State/Xavier Sweet 16 game last year. His back-and-forth with Xavier’s Jordan Crawford was epic as they battled down to a dagger three by Pullen in double OT. Until I see another game like that involving a Big 12 school then I’ll go with him every time. He did it on a big stage and defined the moment instead of it defining him.

Pistols Guy: You guys can have Pullen and Lacedarius and Jordan Hamilton (?) and even Keiton, I’m going with the dude who would rip all their hearts out. He hasn’t played in a while so I might need a day or two to knock the rust off but I promise you he’d be lights out once he got going. I’m talking about a guy who once beat Keiton in a 3-point shooting contest down in Waco, and Keiton hit 13 in a row. A guy who Rick Pitino once called Billy the Kid II because of what a killer he was from beyond the arc. I guess somebody should have specified the question to read “you need one player from the Big 12…” because I’m going with Travis Ford.

Billy The Kid II

2. Scariest arena to play at outside of Gallagher-Iba?

Q: When I think scary, sadly I don’t think of GIA anymore. Also, when I hear scary and the Big 12 the first thing I think is Frank Martin, but that doesn’t necessarily imply Bramlage Coliseum, though it does seem to be getting tougher and tougher to win there. I’ve got to go with Allen Fieldhouse. I’ve sat on the bench as a manager there and it was easily one of the two loudest college basketball venues I’ve ever been in. Not even close. All of the students are already there when the visiting team walks in and they’re going nuts. It’s pretty awesome. And as an opponent you fear hearing the entire place whispering…”Rock Chalk….Jayhawk….Kkkkkuuuuu”

Brett: This one feels too easy. And after further consideration…it still is. Has to be Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Hands down. Yes history, tradition, and success of the program are huge factors (not to mention the seats suffocate the court much like Cameron indoor), however what makes “The Phog” the scariest place to play are those ominous moments before the game and at the end of a soon to be KU victory when all 17,000 Jayhawk fans in unison chant “Rooooooooock Chaaaaaaaaaalk Jaaaaaaaaaaayhawk KKKKKKKKKK UUUUUUUUUUU” over and over again. In those moments, “The Phog” makes sure that you understand you will not, and did not, stand a chance.

Nolo: Allen Fieldhouse.  This is the best basketball venue I’ve ever been to. We seem to still get Gallagher Iba rockin’ about once or twice a year, but Phog Allen is special no matter who the Jayhawks are playing. From the time you enter the gym and walk past the pictures of James Naismith and Wilt Chamberlain until the ball is tossed up underneath a sea of banners that seem to never end, and all the way through the “Rock Chalk” chant you suffer through as your team gets pounded into oblivion, you’re caught in some sort of basketball time capsule that couldn’t be more perfect.

In Allen Fieldhouse, they don’t need a giant Jumbotron or gimmicky contests during timeouts to keep the fans entertained. The fans know when to cheer.  They know when to stand. They know how to will their team to a victory possibly better than any fans in the country. They just understand basketball.  There’s no noise-o-meter prompting the crowd to get louder before a big possession. They don’t need it. They know when to cheer when to stand without having a “brought to you by…” promotion telling them when to do so. They don’t want those things. The people in Lawrence understand tradition. They understand that some things are perfect just the way they are.

BJack: Hands down Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Chants of “ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK, KU” make my skin crawl and I’ve never even stepped foot on the campus, much less been lost in the “Phog”. It is home to champions and they take their basketball seriously (I would too if I had KU football in the Fall, and well, lived in Kansas). The scene is rabid and I can promise they would never have to have a “bring the rowdy back” campaign. Ever. It’s the home of “James Naismith Court” who we can thank for this little game we love. To add to the scariness, Bill Self is 122-6 at home, that’s a .953 winning percentage for those keeping score at home. Traditions? Check. History? Check. Pants-wetting panic for visitors? Check. It takes a game like Randy Rutherford’s in ’95 (45 pts, 11 threes) to silence those hostiles. Scariest place to play in the Big 12? You bet.

Pistols Guy: Allen Fieldhouse is the “yeah, duh we’re going to take Stephen Strasburg #1 overall because he throws 104 MPH” pick of the litter. I’m going to go with Mizzou Arena though. Consider this, dating back 7 years to when Quin Snyder’s hair was flopping around all over Norm Stewart Court the Tigers are 97-19 in Columbia including perfection in ’08-’09 and I literally cannot name a single player from any of those teams. Couple that with the fact that I think OSU went like 0 for the 1990s against Stewart and Anthony Peeler (who was actually there for the entire 1990s) and I’m scared to death of that place.

3. Which 2010 Big 12 team will go deepest in the dance?

Q: The easiest pick always seems to be Kansas, yet they also seem to either go to the Final Four or lose before the second weekend. I feel like there are some real threats this year between Texas, A&M, K State, and obviously Kansas. But I’m going with Mike Anderson and Missouri and yes, I know they lost their Big 12 opener at Colorado. However, I love the way the Tigers play and it is really hard to prepare for them on a quick turnaround like the second game of an NCAA weekend. I say the Tigers make the Final 4 or at the very least a regional final.

Brett: Man, tough question. I think I’m gonna go with Texas. And I know what you’re thinking – who even plays for Texas? Well that my friend, is partly why I choose them. They have good depth, came into the season with little expectation nationally and aren’t all that well-known outside of those who follow UT hoops (including yours truly). But I like their style of basketball and unlike recent years, there’s isn’t really a target on their back within the conference or nationally. They’re winning games and winning fairly big (see: Arkansas). What do they have to lose right? That could make them dangerous.

Nolo: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Mizzou.  I love the way they play.  They throw 10 guys out there and run the entire 40 minutes. They aren’t the most talented but they play harder than any team in the conference. I know they had a slight slip up against Colorado but it’s tough to get up for an early Saturday day game at that altitude that far away from home.

I know Kansas (and probably even K-State and Baylor) have more talent, but Kansas is led by a group of seniors that have more tattoos and DUI’s amongst them than Bill Self has tournament wins and Baylor has great talent but no discipline, horrible coaching, and a wife beater at the two. I HATE Baylor. As far as K State goes, they are talented as well but seem to have a bunch of head cases and Frank Martin is about one more free pair of Jordan’s away from a Dennis Green style “THEY WERE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!!!” press conference.  At least we have that to look forward to. I can’t wait!

BJack: I think the obvious choice is Kansas. More than likely they are going to roll through the Big 12 again with maybe a couple losses at most (especially since K-State and Paylor don’t appear to be who we thought they were). Plus they have Bill Self at the helm. I remember watching his teams at Tulsa in person and falling in love with his style of basketball. He got them to the Elite 8 and was a forced brick away from beating a Joe Forte led UNC to get to the Final Four…with Tulsa. Tulsa! I miss the OSU/UT/KU battles for Big 12 supremacy but it appears that it’s a one team show at the moment. So there it is. I’m going Jayhawks. Not because they are playing as ridiculous as their mascot, but because I think Jeff Boschee is still playing for them…

Pistols Guy: I really want to say Texas here but I can’t take Rick Barnes seriously. Not after he bludgeoned the Durant/Augustin combo to the point that they couldn’t even get out of the first round of the NCAA tournament. I’ve never forgiven him for that. I really think Baylor has one more deep run in them before Scott Drew’s house of cards comes tumbling down all over Carlton Dotson’s jail cell. Whoa, too soon? Seriously though, Baylor is going to get it together. Perry Jones is too talented, Quincy Acy is too experienced, and LaceDarius is too hell bent on pounding his girlfriend in the face streaky for them to not make a run. They miss Tweety “I’m open when I step foot in the gym” Carter for sure but if they can get a favorable 7-8 seed and Lace gets hot then I think they can go to another Elite 8. And, yes, it kills me to say that. No pun intended.

Everyones favorite Baylor sharpshooter!

4. Who has the best uniforms this year?

Q: Not the cream colored OU uniforms that make me think of 1978 Oklahoma high school girls 6-on-6 ball. Terrible. If KU were still Nike this wouldn’t even be a question. I’m going to go with Texas. I’m really intrigued by the font that spells out T-E-X-A-S across the chest and I like the longhorn on the waist of the shorts. Good stuff.

Brett: 1. Kansas State’s black jersey’s – just ill. 2. Oklahoma State’s orange jerseys – homer pick, and I’ve always liked them. 3. Tie between Colorado’s gray jerseys and Texas’ white jerseys

Nolo: The best uniforms in the Big 12 belong to Texas. Mizzou still haven’t made the switch to the tight tops and baggy bottoms and their colors don’t give them much to work with.  I’m not sure that Iowa State plays on tv so unless you live in Ames you probably don’t know what their uniforms look like. I sure don’t. I think K-State’s unis are wildly underrated. The purple accents, like the orange accents in OSUs unis, aren’t overwhelming but they’re a nice touch.

OU decided to actually go with cream in their uniforms instead of white which is about the most interesting thing that’s happened to their program all year.  That ought to ignite the 2,500 Sooner fans who bought this week’s Groupon.  Colorado’s unis are actually pretty cool considering how terrible their program is, but none of them come close to Texas who essentially has the basketball version of Nike ProCombats. Their basketball all whites join their football all whites as my favorite Big 12 uni in their respective sports.

BJack: Best unis go to Texas. I love ’em. They are the new Nike Elite series (which used to mean something when OSU was a part of it I guess) and I think are pretty legit. I love the horns on the back, the clock tower, and even the “cowboy” lettering on the front. It all just works. And the crazy thing is that I really don’t like UT. I mean, we battle them in EVERYTHING and if I’m honest, come up short more often than not. But I can’t argue against those threads. I think it’s a cool throwback look that honors the history of the state while also being cutting edge in material. I bleed orange, not burnt by any means, but I’d do something regrettable to get OSU in a uni like that. Maybe get Page some new shorts that don’t leave an inch of skin showing between his shorts and socks while I’m at it. Side note: worst jerseys are easily Tech’s for me. They say “Red Raiders” where the name goes and look like Leach designed them in a dark closet with his fat girlfriends.

Texas’ nasty new all-whites

Pistols Guy: I feel like I could answer somebody or something from Texas to every question. K-State gets my vote though. It’s downright impossible to make purple look good (just ask Pat Fitzgerald) so K-State did what they should have done all along: gone black and white and let the purple pop. Maybe I’m just comparing these to how bad things used to be but I’m a big fan of this year’s version.

5. Who makes the dance and why?

Q: Just out…Colorado…they’re 10-0 at home and they’ve got a couple of NBA-caliber guys, but they’re still Colorado and until Chauncey Billups’ children are suiting up for the Buffs they’re out, oh and have fun in the Pac 10, because I’m not seeing it getting much better for them there in football or basketball. Here’s who’s in… KU – Duh. Missouri – See my answer to #3…I like what Mike Anderson has done at Missouri and I feel like they’re sneaky good, no one that blows your mind individually, but a really tough team to beat. Texas A&M – Turgeon has done a solid job year in and year out in College Station…I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his rise there, especially because I didn’t expect him to do as well as he has since leaving Wichita State.

Texas – They’re good, they’re always about this good, and they pretty much always make the tournament, so they’ll do so again. K-State – Frank Martin isn’t not making the tournament with Jacob Pullen, plus I can’t imagine the practices these guys go through after a loss. Baylor – I still think they have to be cheating because I don’t understand why any of these kids would want to go to Waco (and this is different than Stillwater because OSU actually has tradition). But they’re there and they’re pretty dang good, though not nearly as good as last year (they lose in what used to be the 2nd, but is now the 3rd round). OSU – I’m confident in this now mostly b/c they got a huge win against K-State, who no one necessarily expected them to beat. That and they get four games with OU and Tech, which gets them to 5 wins, and they still have 5 other home four of those and you’re at worst 9-7…Big 12 teams that go 9-7 in league go to the dance.

Brett: Kansas makes the dance because they are the most talented, most deep, most athletic team in the league. And they have, arguably, one of the best coaches nationally. Texas makes the tournament because they are a really really good team. They too have loads of talent, but maybe aren’t as well known as say KU. They are well coached and expect to be playing in late March. Baylor makes the dance because they have the ability to kill people – and no, not in a Carlton Dotson kind of way – when all cylinders are pumping in unison.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma State dance because they are really hard to beat at home and are really scrappy teams. They are just good enough to fall in the 8-12 range seeding wise. Mizzou gets in. They continue to surprise people year after year and just will not go away. They are a great team – maybe another Elite 8 great team, who knows. I’ve got Colorado on the Bubble Watch but last 4 out. I like them a lot though. Not sure I have great reasons, they’re just fun to watch.

We’re all high on Mizzou (not in a Josh Howard kind of way either)

BJack: I think the Big 12 gets 5 teams in this year: Kansas, K-State, Texas, TAMU, and Baylor. As much as it pains me to say it I think OSU finishes 6th and misses out. Geez, that hurts to even write that. I think they have a ton of potential and could surprise some people in individual games but lack the depth for a full season high-quality ball.

I think the five listed have two things on OSU at the moment: 1) Experience. 2) Talent. I love what Ford is building here (or rebuilding) but I don’t think they have the horses to make a run for it. I’d love it if I’m wrong and I’ll eat crow if I am. And maybe I’ve been an OSU fan for so long that I can’t help but wait for the 10 1/2 to drop from the sky on me. I was pumped to see us beat K-State and think it’s a great win for us. I’m equally glad Frank Martin didn’t physically commit any of the felonies I could see were running through his mind. I’m convinced that he and Pelini would eat their children to stay alive.

Pistols Guy: In the last five years the Big 12 has received 7, 6, 6, 4, and 4 bids respectively. In that time only Texas in ’09, Kansas State in ’07 (10-6), and Colorado in ’06 won at least 9 games and didn’t get in.  A&M even got in at 8-8 in ’08. That being said, I think the league gets 8 teams for two reasons. First, there’s only one dominant team. 11 other teams can survive and get to 9 wins if they only have to face one other dominant team. Second, the rest of the country is down, the ACC isn’t what its been, the Pac-10 is terrible, and even Michigan St. isn’t doing its annual waltz through the Big 10. While we’re here, it feels like Carolina hasn’t made the tournament since Tyler Hansbrough was spewing his teeth all over Cameroon Indoor and that feels like it was 85 years ago.

Anyway, I have KU in because they’re a top 5 team and they could get to 7 conference wins at home every year at Phog Allen with the five of us suiting up. Mizzou and A&M both make it because they’ll protect home court and pick up a few on the road. Texas and Baylor are both locks, mostly because they both get OU and Tech twice. K-State, shaky as they’ve been, has to go because it would be an abject disaster for them to miss it with Pullen and Kelly and that preseason #3 ranking. I really think Colorado gets in, mostly because theyonly have to go 7-7 the rest of the way to get to the magic number. Which leaves us with OSU. Let me get us 8 more real quick. Tech twice, OU twice, Iowa St. at home, one of Texas at home Mizzou at home and CU in Boulder, and two of A&M at home Baylor at home, Nebraska on the road, and at Baylor. See there, wasn’t that easy?

Here’s your 2011 Big 12 schedule.

Thanks for reading our manifesto, although I can promise you we had more fun writing it than you did reading it.

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