What’s the Big deal? (03/03)

Random musings from Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference call:

BILL Self is beating the drum for as many as SIX conference teams to make the NCAA Tournament. “I think that’s very realistic,” the Kansas coach said. “If RPI matters, I think we have six in the top 35 or something like that…” He believes the issue is the perception of the teams in the middle of the pack in the standings. “In my perspective, if you have a couple of teams that are 15-1, your league isn’t very good,” Self said. “We don’t have traditional powers at 8-6, 7-7… Those other leagues have teams traditionally in the hunt every year. We have as good of teams as anybody.”

THIS says it all from Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon: “We don’t have the gumption or fight to overcome adversity… This is new ground for me, new territory. It’s probably the most frustrating season I’ve been though as a coach… You don’t win by 44 one day and then lose the way we did the other day… You can’t do it one night and turn it off the next… It has to come from within… Words are cheap. I want to see some action.” We’re guessing the College Station boosters agree wholeheartedly with his last statement.

INTERESTING comments from Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton. He was asked about his choice for Player of the Year, and he said, “I think it depends on what happens this week… If someone wins outright, I’d lean towards someone on one of those teams. It’s a tough choice.” He paused, but then followed up. “Obviously, you have to consider (Michael) Beasley. He’s as good as anyone in college basketball. He’s one of the two or three I’d consider.”

BAYLOR coach Scott Drew came even stronger than Self on the topic of how many teams in and why: “This is the toughest the Big 12 has ever been… The numbers and the facts speak for themselves. Seven of 12 teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI. Compare how we’ve done against other conferences… I think we’re battle-tested… On the road, it’s tough everywhere — but especially in the Big 12.”

DON’T know why, but Missouri coach Mike Anderson always sounds defensive.

GIVE Pat Knight props for honesty. He was asked if Texas Tech still had a shot at the NCAA Tournament and he said sure, but… “I have to be realistic. I’m just trying to win a couple of more games and get in the NIT. I’m not trying to be overzealous… For how up and down we’ve been, it’d be great for the program if we got to the NIT.”

GUESS it’s not exactly a secret anymore. Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik was asked about defending Michael Beasley, and he said, “The big thing is, he’s obviously going to get his… You have to make sure others don’t have above-average nights.” He was also asked about Beasley’s game and whether it was NBA-ready. “His game is suited for the NBA, without question.”

NO politicking for Frank Martin on Beasley’s behalf for Big 12 (can there be any doubt?) and national (should there be any doubt?) Player of the Year. “I’ve never been that way,” Martin said. “I’m not going to start now. It’s up to the people who make those decisions… He’s had a special year, and it’s not over yet.” He also said Bill Walker, who has scored 10 points in his last two games, is “fine. He played his heart out against Texas.” But he couldn’t make a bucket. “The least of my worries are his mindset. He’s going to overcome adversity… As long as he competes at a high level like he did against Texas…”

BLAKE Griffin underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Sunday morning and he will miss Oklahoma’s final two regular-season games. But OU coach Jeff Capel expects his freshman forward to be back for the Big 12 Tournament. He was asked about his initial thoughts: “My first concern was for Blake… He’s a kid who loves to compete, who loves to work.”

DOC Sadler doesn’t know if freshman point guard Cookie Miller will be available for tomorrow’s game. He is, however, certain that the chance to play in the post-season this year is ahead of schedule, and he’s humbled by this turn of events. “It’s happened faster than I would have anticipated,” he said. “This league this year is so darn tough.” He likened reaching the NCAA Tournament or the NIT to “your spring practice games” — remember, he’s at a football school. “Like any experience, you need to go through it at some point. This year would be a good opportunity.”

IF Rick Barnes was a member of the NCAA Selection Committee, K-State’s recent slide wouldn’t be a big deal. “It’s from start to finish,” the Texas coach said. “I’m not a big believer in the last 12 (criteria)… You’ve got to make sure the entire season counts.”

GREG McDermott wasn’t available, so he was replaced by Iowa State assistant coach Jeff Rutter.