Author: Wendell Barnhouse

Don’t blink or you might miss significant change in Big 12 standings

Fact One: Heading into this week, there were four teams tied atop the Big 12 standings with 4-1 records – Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma. In three days, that changed. Fact Two: The weather in Texas is known to change just as quickly. The saying is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 30 minutes.” The northern part of the state experienced temperatures around zero Tuesday night and by Saturday the high temperature is expected to be in the 70s. The only connection that can be drawn between these two facts is that predicting Big 12 basketball and the weather are both fools’ errands. The team in first place heading into Saturday is … defending champion Kansas. Yes, the Jayhawks are still flapping their wings despite dire predictions of their demise. Kansas survived an upset bid by Kansas State Saturday then traveled to Morgantown and overcame a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat West Virginia. Your Veteran Scribe is old enough to not be surprised, but stunning the Mountaineers – especially considering the double-digit deficit – was totally unexpected. That made West Virginia 4-2. Tuesday night, K-State bounced back from losing in Allen Fieldhouse by stifling Oklahoma. The Trae Young Scoring Circus turned into The Trae Young Traveling Bakery as the freshman produced a dozen turnovers in the Sooners’ 87-69 loss. Then Wednesday night, Texas Tech’s shooting went...

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Texas hit hard by Andrew Jones’ leukemia diagnosis

ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla coached at Manhattan, St. John’s and New Mexico. Few know the hoops game as well as he does. And this is his go-to advice for active coaches: “Your No. 1 job description is not coaching or recruiting, but ‘crisis management.’ You are paid to handle adversity.” Adversity for coaches typically involves injuries, suspensions, losing streaks and hot seats. Dealing with life-threatening illnesses for star players is not on the syllabus at coaching clinics. Wednesday afternoon, hours before Texas was to play No. 16 TCU in Austin, the news broke that Longhorns sophomore guard Andrew Jones had been diagnosed with leukemia. There are several types of the disease but that has not been announced. The survival rate of those afflicted by leukemia has improved in recent years and Jones’ age group has, statistically, the best chance of survival. Still, it was stunning and heart breaking. Jones had entered his name in last spring’s NBA Draft but then returned to school armed with the knowledge of what the pro scouts wanted him to improve. Jones worked hard on his game in the off-season and was UT’s top scorer and 3-point shooter before suffering a broken right wrist in mid-December. He missed four games but when he was cleared to play, Jones was lethargic in practice and games. A week ago, coach Shaka Smart mentioned that...

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Here we go again (?) – Kansas looks vulnerable and its Big 12 streak is in jeopardy

(WRITER’S NOTE: I realize that we’re three days from the national championship game of the Southeastern Conference, but with the Big 12 again failing to participate, the time has come to pivot to basketball.) Each of the last two years, just after the calendar has flipped, Your Veteran Scribe has written a column (for a different outlet) predicting that Kansas’ streak of winning Big 12 Conference regular-season titles would end. You know what they say about a broken clock being right twice a day … well then YVS has been wrong twice in the last two years. Never one to learn a lesson, the third time will be the charm. Please, no wagering. The Jayhawks started the season ranked in the top five and the prohibitive favorite to win the Big 12 for the 14th consecutive season. Kansas is currently tied with UCLA for most consecutive league titles but the Bruins’ baker’s dozen was accomplished in an eight-team league (14 conference games) and at a time when The Wizard’s rule was absolute. What the Jayhawks have accomplished under coach Bill Self in an era where rosters are regularly turning over and the competition is tougher is truly remarkable. But nothing lasts forever. The signs point to this being the year when KU’s Phog over the Big 12 lifts. Tuesday night in Lawrence Texas Tech told the Jayhawks they were...

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Texas-sized AD hires

At a time of year when the football coaching carousel is typically revolving in a blur, last weekend brought two athletic director moves in the Big 12 that were sudden and stealthy. Last Saturday, Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman broke the news that Texas had hired TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte. Next to the Longhorns’ flirtation with Nick Saban, it’s one of the biggest transactions to involve UT since Darrell Royal came to town. And 48 hours later, TCU announced that it had promoted Jeremiah Donati, Del Conte’s top assistant, as its new AD. Donati’s speedy promotion didn’t create the waves in Fort Worth like those in Austin but the quick and clean decision making indicated TCU has a clue of what to do as a big-time school. That was in doubt at the beginning of this decade. With conferences changing membership like a teenage girl changes outfits, TCU hoped to move up to the Power Five level. It thought it had done so by joining the Big East but soon after that decision, the Big East lost Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC and was headed toward football extinction. Del Conte winding up at Texas is ironic because it was Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds who helped TCU earn an invitation to the Big 12. In September of 2011, the Big 12 needed at least two new members after...

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Who’s the best freshman in college basketball? It might be Oklahoma’s Trae Young

Starting with the 1988-89 season, the United States Basketball Writers Association has presented a freshman of the year award. In July 2010, the award was named for Oklahoma’s Wayman Tisdale, who was a freshman All-American in 1985 and who passed away in 2009 at the age of 44. This season might be the first time that a Sooner wins the award named for the former OU star. While Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, Texas’ Mo Bomba and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. received the bulk of the pre-season attention, Oklahoma’s Trae Young has dominated the first month of the season. The 6-foot-2 freshman from Norman is the first hometown player to play for the Sooners in half a century and thus far his numbers have been astounding. He scored 43 against Oregon in the PK80 tournament; that’s the fourth-most by an OU freshman – the top three rookie point totals were posted by Tisdale. And the man who coached the incandescent Tisdale is impressed. “He has some special talents without question,” Billy Tubbs told The Oklahoman. “Trae could have made me a lot better coach if he had been around,” Tubbs said. “I don’t know if there’s a point guard I’ve seen — and I don’t see everybody — that’s any better than Trae. I was really hoping he was coming to OU.” After reaching the 2016 Final...

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Notes

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TMG Guest Lecturers

A check on this week in Big 12 basketball from Wendell Barnhouse. Read More…

Larry Stewart, longtime LA Times Media columnist, reflects on Keith Jackson. Read More…

Wendell Barnhouse on Texas in aftermath of Andrew Jones’ leukemia diagnosis. Read More…

In his first guest appearance, TMG welcomes Chris Foster, former colleague of Rankman, on cults, coaches and the power of Troy (Aikman). Read More…

The final regular season week in review from TMG Guest Lecturer, Tom Luicci. Read More…

Special contribution from USC grad student, Anthony Ciardelli, on 50th anniversary of USC vs. UCLA 1967 game for the ages. Read More…

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