The screeching of sneakers on the hardwood can only mean two things – basketball season is underway, and Nebraska fans will pretend that the months of December through March don’t exist, and will bide their time until spring football starts.
This promises to be an exciting season in Big 12 country on every campus and in every gym, and with a league in flux, unanswered questions echo off the rafters from Ames to Waco.
Will Kansas continue their dominance?
Is this the year Kansas State takes home a league crown?
Will Colorado have what it takes to be players in March?
Just exactly how many hot white girls does a Baylor recruit get to sleep with on his official campus visit in Waco?
Yes, this league is filled with uncertainties and with the exodus of talents like Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins, Denis Clemente, James Anderson and many others, it’s anyone’s guess who locks down the final Big 12 Championship as we know it.
Returning: G Jacob Pullen, F Wally Judge, F Curtis Kelly, F Jamar Samuels
Losing: G Denis Clemente, F Luis Colon, F Dominique Sutton
Who’s the New Bitch?: G/F Nino Williams, G Shane Southwell, F Freddy Asprilla
Breakdown: Fresh off an Elite Eight appearance, optimism is high in the Little Apple, and for good reason. Coach Frank Martin continues to bring in top notch talent and senior G Jacob Pullen and his iconic beard return to wreak havoc on the league. This is a top ten team and is capable of making a deep run in March.
Reason for Hope: Sophomore F Wally Judge is a former McDonald’s All-American and really stepped up his game late last season. More will be expected from him this year and he’ll need to provide an inside scoring presence to compliment senior F Curtis Kelly.
Turd in the Punchbowl: Since PG Denis Clemente got deported…err…moved on, who takes over the PG spot? If you move Pullen to point, you take away a guy that moves well without the ball. Martavious Irving earned most of the minutes last season when Clemente was out of the game, but he ain’t got what Clemente had.
Prediction: Big 12 champions and potential Final Four squad. Even their awful mascot can’t hold this team back.
Returning: F Marcus Morris and his alter ego, Markieff (who I’ve nicknamed Mar-Queef), G Tyshawn Taylor
Losing: G Sherron Collins, C Cole Aldrich, G Xavier Henry
Who’s the New Bitch?: G Josh Selby. As I’m writing this, he’s still not been deemed eligible by the NCAA. While he may not be very bright, the kid was born to play basketball. He’s a tremendous talent and if he gets a chance to play, KU will factor into the Big 12 race.
Breakdown: Basketball season couldn’t come soon enough, eh KU fans? This KU team features one of the great enigmas in sports. Tyrell Reed enters this season as KU’s most proven outside threat, but with a name like Tyrell, how can this guy possibly be white? Regardless, KU is going to have to get more out of Reed, senior G Brady Morningstar and Taylor if they’re going push KSU.
Reason for Hope: Turner Gill doesn’t coach the basketball team.
Turd in the Punchbowl: The last time this team took the court, they basically pulled down their pants, and collectively took a dump on center court against Northern Iowa. They then proceeded to slip on their own shit for the next 40 minutes and Ali Farokhmanesh will never be welcome in Lawrence as long as he lives. That KU team featured talent galore and a proven senior PG. Tyshawn Taylor is not the impact player Collins was and nobody knows if Marcus Morris can be the man when all the attention is on him. Oh yeah, and there’s that Josh Selby thing…
Prediction: As much as I’d love to say KU will struggle this year, I don’t see it happening. The star power may not be there, but this is still a deep team. C.J. Henry, Xavier’s brother, can really stroke it and Mario Little saw a lot of minutes two seasons ago before red-shirting last year. I’m calling for a second place finish in the league, but don’t be surprised if these guys have another early exit come tournament time.
Returning: G LaceDarius Dunn, F Quincy Acy, F Athony Jones
Losing: F Ekpe Udoh, G Tweety Carter, C Josh Lomers
Who’s the New Bitch?: F Perry Jones. Don’t get too attached to this guy because he’s likely going to be a lottery pick in June.
Breakdown: The other Elite Eight team from the Big 12 got a huge lift when LaceDarius Dunn decided to return to school. That all came crashing down when Dunn decided to relocate his girlfriend’s jaw earlier this fall. Dunn was suspended indefinitely and we’re unsure just how much of him we’ll see this year.
Reason for Hope: Baptists are a forgiving people and might be able to look past Dunn’s transgressions.
Turd in the Punchbowl: Other than Dunn of course, rumors are swirling all across the country that coach Scott Drew’s recruiting prowess might be just a little too good to be true. Drew has emphatically denied any wrong doing, but I’m not so convinced. ***CLIFFHANGER ALERT*** (Stay tuned for my shocking expose on Baylor’s recruiting later this month).
Prediction: Even without Dunn, this is still a very talented team and they’re length is giving Jay Bilas a hard on. The 6’7" Acy, 6’10" Anthony Jones, 6"11 Perry Jones, and a slew taller guards, will cause match up problems for conferences foes. The bottom line is if Dunn is in the lineup, these guys will challenge KSU and could land a three seed. Without Dunn, they’re probably a bubble team, but could be a tough out in that cute little tournament called the N-I-T.
Returning: F Gary Johnson, F Jordan Hamilton, 17 different point guards
Losing: F Damion James, C Dexter Pittman, G Avery Bradley
Who’s the New Bitch?: F Tristan Thompson and G Cory Joseph. Thompson won’t make UT fans forget about James or Pittman, but he’s good enough to anchor this team inside.
Breakdown: UT looked like the best team in the country for the first two months of last season, and then they nosedived into the tournament and were bounced after one game. Coach Rick Barnes always reloads, but one has to scratch their head when it comes to the number of point guards on this year’s roster. My guess is that Barnes is assembling a killer squad for the intramural six foot and under league.
Reason for Hope: Well, if one of the point guards goes down, they have a five deep, so they should be good, but look for a breakout year from sophomore F Jordan Hamilton. He looked lost too often last year, but he is the number one scoring threat on this team and can light it up.
Turd in the Punchbowl: With all those point guards on the roster, who’s going to play in the post? Gary Johnson is a nice effort guy, but is undersized at 6’6". Also, who’s going to be the team leader? One would think it would be senior PG Dogus Balbay, but I’m pretty sure nobody else on this team speaks Turkish.
Prediction: Barnes will figure out a rotation for the backcourt with J’Covan Brown and Varez Ward likely seeing time at the off guard position. If Hamilton can fill it up night in and night out, coupled with an inside presence from Thompson and Johnson, UT will be dancing and make the fan base forget about Greg Davis, if only for a month or two.
Returning: G Marcus Denmon, F Laurence Bowers, G Kim English
Losing: G J.T. Tiller, G Zaire Taylor, F Keith Ramsey
Who’s the New Bitch?: G Phil Pressey and G Matt Pressey. They’re brothers, and yes, Matt gets the top bunk because he’s older. Tony Mitchell figures to factor in there too, but triple bunk beds were out of the effing question.
Breakdown: Biggest difference between Quinn Snyder and Mike Anderson (other than the hair)? Anderson actually appears to know how to coach a team. Losing Tiller and Taylor will hurt them defensively, but Denmon, English and sophomore G Michael Dixon Jr. should pick up the slack.
Reason for Hope: Anderson has brought respect and success back to a Missouri program that fizzled out under Snyder. His 40 minutes of hell has caused four seasons of hell for the rest of the conference and this year figures to be no different. Missouri brings in another solid recruiting class and Kim English came into his own as a sophomore and could be an all-conference performer this year.
Turd in the Punchbowl: Anderson will never be able to escape the Danny Glover look-a-like signs on the road.
Prediction: This is a nice team and will be a tough out for anyone, but I’m not sold on their upside. They don’t have a proven inside force like they had with DeMarre Carroll or Leo Lyons, and you don’t lose Tiller and Taylor and improve defensively. They’ll snag a six or seven seed and might even make it beyond the first weekend, but it will be another middle of the pack finish for Mizzou.
Returning: G Dash Harris, F David Loubeau, G B.J. Holmes, F Khris Middleton
Losing: G Donald Sloan, F Bryan Davis
Who’s the New Bitch?: F Kourtney Roberson. Most interesting fact about this guy? He’s former Knicks star, Bernard King’s half brother. That’s right, I said half brother. That wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except the King of MSG was born in 1956. WTF indeed.
Breakdown: Don’t sleep on A&M. They may bore you to death, but they can play. You look at the roster and you don’t really see any names that jump out at you like an Acie Law IV, but these guys will be in thick of things and they do have good depth.
Reason for Hope: The Aggies haven’t missed an NCAA tournament since 2005. With experience returning in the back court and a decent rotation in the post, A&M will have a chance going into February.
Turd in the Punchbowl: Two things: 1) This A&M team is so boring to write about, I keep peaking down the page to Colorado (pretty sure Oklahoma State fans just shit). 2) Is there anything worse than watching an A&M game on TV? We get it A&M, you want an enormous logo at mid court, but does it really need to take up the entire court?
Prediction: A&M’s team this year is like the girl that you settle for after options 1-5 leave the bar with some douches wearing Tapout shirts; you’re okay with her and even a little proud of her, but she’s nothing to brag about and she probably won’t tongue jack your shitbox. The NCAA streak will end. I foresee NIT in your future.
Returning: G Cory Higgins, G Alec Burks, F Marcus Relphorde
Losing: G Dwight Thorne II and coach Jeff Bz..eh..Bze...eh…their old coach.
Who’s the New Bitch?: G/F Andre Roberson. He was a late signee and could play right away, but this team will rely heavily on the returning roster and Roberson might be relegated to towel waving and high-fiving guys when they come off the floor
Breakdown: The Buffs play in the worst venue in the Big 12. I just wanted to get that out there. On the outside, the Coors Event Center looks like something the Millennium Falcon would land on. Inside, there hasn’t been much to cheer for in recent years, but this team will scrap and has a chance to dance, which I’m sure excites every hippy douche in Boulder.
Reason for Hope: Between Higgins and Burks, CU should have one of, if not the best scoring back court in the conference. Each is a lock for 15+ points a night and more than capable of taking games over.
Turd in the Punchbowl: I’m not sure if anyone will notice or care when CU takes their Rocky Mountain oysters to the Pac-12 next year. This at least saddens me because the home game against Colorado has been one of the few guaranteed league wins for ISU the last ten years.
Prediction: If Bzdelik were still in town, I’d probably bump these guys up a spot, and they still could easily finish in the top half of the league, but nobody knows what to expect under Tad Boyle and don’t underestimate the "F you" factor these guys will face in conference road games. Make sure you represent the Big 12 well in your last hurrah as a conference member when you’re playing A-10 schools in the NIT.
Returning: G Keiton (Bedwetter) Page, G Ray Penn, F Marshall Moses
Losing: G James Anderson, G Obi Muonelo
Who’s the New Bitch?: G Markel Brown. He’ll be looked to right away to pick up the scoring slack now that Anderson and Muonelo are gone.
Breakdown: You show me a pudgy, 5’7" white kid that looks like Ollie from Hoosiers, and I’ll show you a kid that still wets the bed. Be that as it may, Page can shoot, and his range and points will be needed if OSU is going to make a third straight trip to the dance.
Reason for Hope: I’m pretty sure if there were a royal rumble with every player in the conference, Marshall Moses would be one of the last standing. Dude is big, physical and has some meathooks on him.
Turd in the Punchbowl: Senior F Matt Pilgrim is at it again. After multiple off the court incidents, coach Travis Ford announced in late October that Pilgrim had been suspended indefinitely for yet another team violation. At least we’re talking about Eddie Sutton getting OWI’s anymore though, right?
Prediction: The Pokes will score a lot of points and entertain the hell out of the Gallagher-Iba faithful. Problem is, they’ll also give up a lot of points and frustrate the hell out of that same rowdy bunch. Come January, we’ll see just how much these guys miss Anderson and Muonelo. Better luck next year!
Returning: G John Roberson, F Mike Singletary, F Brad Reese, G David Tairu
Losing: F Nick Okorie, F Darko Cohadarevic
Who’s the New Bitch?: G Javarez Willis. He’s Karl Malone’s nephew, so that has to count for something, right? No word yet on if he’s into "hunting little Mexican girls".
Breakdown: Singletary and Roberson are forces to be dealt with, but the supporting cast is pretty weak. It’s kind of like how Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel carry How I Met Your Mother –except without Bob Saget narrating.
Reason for Hope: Pat Knight learned a lot from his father. Thankfully, choking kids and throwing chairs are a couple of things he didn’t. Wait, what am I talking about? That shit is awesome. Get to it Pat. You’re letting your sweater-clad father down.
Turd in the Punchbowl: It’s hard to rip on Pat Knight because after all, he did call out former ISU G Lucca Staiger when he quit on the Cyclones last season. We appreciated those comments in Ames, but I still have to call a spade a spade, and the good, honorable, decent folk in Lubbock aren’t going to put up with very many more 4-12 conference campaigns.
Prediction: The Red Raiders have a puncher’s chance as long as Singletary and Roberson are in the lineup. They could surprise and be on the bubble, but D’Walyn Roberts, Tairu and Reese (aka Lilly, Ted and Robyn) are really going to have to come through.
Iowa State (SURPRISE HOMER PICK!)
Returning: G Diante Garrett, G Scott Christopherson, C Jamie Vanderbeken
Losing: F Craig Brackins, F Marquis Gilstrap, C Justin Hamilton, F LaRon Dendy
Who’s the New Bitch?: Basically everybody. Word is, these guys had to wear name tags for the first week of practice. F Melvin Ejim and G Darion Anderson will step in right away and should make an immediate impact.
Breakdown: Coach Fred Hoiberg’s first squad will be thin in the post, but an experienced back court and the absence of former coach Greg McDermott can only mean things will most certainly get better.
Reason for Hope: The Mayor, as we affectionately call Hoiberg, has not coached a single game at any level in his career, yet is still an upgrade over McDermott. While the Cyclones will take their lumps this year, they’ll provide a few head scratching moments that will make you say, "how in the hell did those guys just win that game?"
Turd in the Punchbowl: The NCAA, in all it’s infinite wisdom has yet to clear Minnesota transfer, and former five star stud, Royce White. White has one-and-done potential and could provide a significant upgrade on the inside.
Prediction: The Magic will be restored at Hilton Coliseum, and while this team may not knock off KSU or Baylor at home, Hilton will once more become the feared venue it was when Norm Stewart, Eddie Sutton and Roy Williams were roaming the Big 8 sidelines. Unfortunately, there may be a few more moral victories than actual victories, but have you seen the ’11-’12 roster? Consider yourselves warned.
Returning: C Jorge Brian Diaz, F Christian Standhardinger, G Brandon Richardson, G Lance Jeter
Losing: G Ryan Anderson, G Sek Henry
Who’s the New Bitch?: C Andre Almeida. A 6’11" 315 lb behemoth? Oh shit, I just stopped having nightmares about Aleks Maric about a month ago.
Breakdown: Coach Doc Sadler gets his guys to compete. That’s all well and good, but he doesn’t often get them to win. Putting my disdain for Nebraska aside for a second, I do like Sadler, but Lincoln is where basketball dreams go to die.
Reason for Hope: Standhardinger (can we get this guy a nick name?) and Diaz had nice freshman campaigns, and there is a lot of experience returning, but they mostly experienced losing as they finished dead freaking last in the conference with a 2-14 clip. Whoops, this is supposed to be the hope section. Umm, at least this is the last year the Huskers have to be cellar dwellers in this conference. Just think, you get to stink up a whole new league starting next year.
Turd in the Punchbowl: These guys are the turd in the punch bowl. Anderson was their only real scoring threat last season and just like in football, Nebraska will not receive a nice send off in any Big 12 arena this winter.
Prediction: Sadler will channel his inner Norman Dale and fundamentally, Nebraska will run the best lay up line in the league during warm ups. If you like the WNBA, then this Nebraska team is for you. Nebraska Basketball: Where below the rim lay ups and set shots happen. I LOVE THIS GAME!
Returning: A bunch of stiffs
Losing: Trust me, these guys are better off for leaving
Who's the New Bitch: Who cares?
Breakdown: You're going to suck again
Reason for Hope: All your fans are busy going to Creighton games anyway.
Turd in the Punchbowl: Everyone is going to miss kicking your ass.
Prediction: Go fuck yourself
Returning: G Cade Davis, Coach Jeff Capel and the mascot. That’s it.
Losing: G Willie Warren, G Tony Crocker, F Tiny Gallon, G Tommy Mason-Griffin
Who’s the New Bitch?: Who isn’t? Everyone is new. You know that scene in Major League where they see the roster for the first time and wonder who these guys are and comment about how most never had primes? Ladies and gentlemen, you’re 2010-2011 Oklahoma Sooners!
Breakdown: Jeff Capel is a good coach, but even he won’t be able to turn this chicken shit into chicken salad.
Reason for Hope: G Steven Pledger and F Andrew Fitzgerald at least offer a couple guys that have played Big 12 minutes, and then there’s…well, that’s about it. I suppose Blake Griffin could win Rookie of the Year. That’s pretty cool, right?
Turd in the Punchbowl: No Willie Warren. No Tony Crocker. No Tommy Mason-Griffin. No Tiny Gallon. No chance.
Prediction: It’s going to be a long winter in Norman and there’s a chance these guys may not win a conference game. But don’t despair Sooner fans. You’ll have ample opportunity to watch good basketball if you take short drive north where the Thunder and Kevin Durant will be en route to another 50 win season. And if you’re truly a glutton for punishment, Blake and the Clips will be rolling through on February 22nd.