Friday, January 4, 2013


Opinion: Race for second place in Big 12 begins Saturday


The Big 12 basketball race for second place begins Saturday with four conference games. To the victor goes the pleasure of playing on the opposite end of the bracket as Kansas in the conference tournament, played in the Sprint Center (March 13-16).

It’s not a race Kansas has any interest in joining. Anyway, at the moment KU’s focus is trained solely on Sunday’s nonconference game against Temple, which knocked Syracuse from the ranks of the unbeaten. The conference season for KU and Iowa State opens Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse, by which time the race for second place already will be under way.

Ranking the contenders (odds of winning the race for second place appear in parentheses):


Oklahoma State (2/3): Freshman point guard Marcus Smart, 6-foot-4 body by Greek sculptor, leads the Cowboys in rebounds (6.2) and assists (5.2) and averages 13.4 points per game. As is the case with just about all of his teammates, especially leading scorer, sophomore forward Le’Bryan Nash (14.4 ppg), the gap between how skilled a three-point shooter he thinks he is and reality is a wide one, but other than that, there’s plenty to like about a team rich with fast, strong players.

Baylor (4/1): Quick, explosive point guard Pierre Jackson’s a handful to guard and a legitimate candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year honors, but he remains a little on the streaky side as a long-range shooter. He shot a combined 3-for-13 from three in losses to Colorado and Charleston. Freshman Isaiah Austin, a 7-foot-1 long-range shooter and productive rebounder, softens the blow of losing Perry Jones. But if the Bears are going to win the race for second place, they must develop a hunger to defend that matches their desire to score. Opposing three-point shooters have a too-high .369 accuracy rate and an overall percentage of .428.


Kansas State (10/1): Bruce Weber doesn’t receive the credit for it that Frank Martin did because his voice isn’t as low, his glare not as mean, but he has the Wildcats playing hard-nosed defense and hitting the boards with passion. The upset of Florida was huge, but the Wildcats lack scoring punch.

Iowa State (25/1): Utah transfer Will Clyburn dropped 32 points in a 21-point victory against Brigham Young and had 21 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort vs. UNLV. He also went scoreless in 24 minutes in a nine-point loss to Iowa. If he can recover the three-point touch he had for Utah, and if Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious can become steadier at the point and develop more of a pass-first mentality, the Cyclones could become a tough out.

Texas (50/1): Myck Kabongo isn’t eligible to return until Feb. 13 and without him Texas doesn’t have a playmaker capable of breaking down the defense to create high-percentage shots for teammates. Consequently, the Longhorns have an abysmal .402 shooting percentage. They play tough defense, but can’t score.

Remember all the panic about how the Longhorn Network would turn UT into an unbeatable force in every sport? Forget it.


Oklahoma (500/1): Unless Billy Tubbs or Sherri Coale happens to drop in to catch the game, the Sooners simply don’t have any star power in the Lloyd Noble Center.

West Virginia (500/1): It’s great to have fiery, candid Bob Huggins back in the Big 12, but has Huggy Bear lost his recruiting touch? These Mountaineers make basket-making seem as difficult as caning a chair.

TCU (1,000,000/1): Trent Johnson will recruit better talent to the Horned Frogs roster than he works with now and when that happens, he’ll figure out how to make them competitive.

Texas Tech (1,000,000/1): Billy Clyde Gillispie’s coaching future looked so bright when Texas A&M’s Acie Law stepped back and hit that three-point shot over Brandon Rush in Allen Fieldhouse. Now the state of the Red Raiders roster only begins to tell the story of a talented former coach’s decline.


Sam Constance 1 year, 3 months ago

Come on people, no self-respecting coach is using some hometown sportswriter's article as any kind of bulletin board material for their team.

Most coaches spend every waking hour drilling it into their team that the media and sportswriters are all a bunch of noise. Turning around and using a local paper's writeup for motivation really contradicts that whole philosophy.


pepper_bar 1 year, 3 months ago

Lest we forget, other teams have sometimes had success against KU when there's been higher stakes than February Championships on the line. Here are the last eight Big 12 tournament champions:

2005: Oklahoma State (defeated Texas Tech) (KU was the #2 seed in the conference tournament this year)

2006: Kansas (KU was the #2 seed in the conference tournament this year)

2007: Kansas

2008: Kansas (KU was the #2 seed in the conference tournament this year)

2009: Missouri (defeated Baylor)

2010: Kansas

2011: Kansas

2012: Missouri (defeated Baylor)

Obviously, KU has been on an impressive conference run over the last decade, but it's hasn't been quite as complete as some fans would like the world to believe.


d_bradley27 1 year, 3 months ago

Though Keegs is not a player or coach he is seen as having an affiliation with the program which makes this article bad. Opposing teams will use this as fuel. And opposing fan bases will have yet another thing to point to regarding " KU arrogance". There are other ways to generate debate. This was a miss. National writers can write this kind of crap b/c they're not as close to the program. Keegs should know better.... or should he??

Here's to taking it one game at a time. Crush Temple!

Rock Chalk!!


Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

This is just the (attempt at) humorous article about the coaches, writers and everyone else unanymously voting KU the pre-season pick to win the conference. This isn't anything new folks. Ying to the Yang.


Greg Ledom 1 year, 3 months ago

Although I rarely like anything Keegs writes (this included), there is nothing here that he writes that anyone else has already supported, e.g. writers across America, coaches, etc. We've won the league 8 years in a row with a much more talented conference than what will be playing out this year. Will we lose along the way, chances are, but we won't be denied an amazing ninth league title. RCJH


pepper_bar 1 year, 3 months ago

...and when football season starts, all the other conference teams will be trying to avoid ninth place. Tenth is already clinched.


Steve Gantz 1 year, 3 months ago

Where can I put a dollar on Texas Tech and Texas Christian? It'd be 2 dollars well worth spending if somehow they surprised us all!


ArgyleJayhawks 1 year, 3 months ago

Troll hard, Keegan. I disagree with your assessment of Smart...he is as good of a three point shooter as he thinks he is.


Jack Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

A couple late afternoon thoughts here ..

-"Who cares if people hate KU fans?" -- perhaps the best quote of the day. I, for one, don't.

-Arrogance? Sure, we're arrogant. But there is a reason for that. It's called winning. It called 8 Big 12 titles in a row. Sorry. I expect to win. I expect top recruits. I expect a national championship. I admit arrogance.

-Humility. My word. I would rather be humble about it. Prove it on the court. Be respectful of an opponent before the game, during the game, and after. You can be arrogant, with humility. It's called quiet confidence. There are times when a response is necessary, for example when a stray Mizzou fan finds his way here. It's like a deer straying in front of the pack of wolves. It's over, but part of natural selection.

-Superstitions? Look, your crimson sock being on your right foot and your blue sock on your left will not affect anything in the universe. But it's like chicken soup.

-Irony/Coincidence. Call it whatever you'd like. But it is odd how those that run their mouths too much get their just desserts. But Keegan ain't it. He's writing a column. It's entertainment. Really, I see very few KU fans being disrespectful to others because we happen to be very good, all the time. EJ says this .. right, it's bad. But he isn't. Counting one's chickens too early has many examples in the sports world .. we suffer a torn ACL to a starter, and a broken wrist to another, we might have a small change in circumstance.

-Humility. Back to humility. KU fans are generally humble because, in part, our football team has grounded us in reality. Thank you, those helmeted sacrificial lambs, for at least that.

-Odds: Kegan posts odds. TCU/Texas Tech each 1,000,000/1? Can I get a trifecta bet .. KU/TCU/Tech for $100? Texas at 50/1 to finish 2nd? Hmmm. I might drop a grand on that. Here's a link for another site with some suggested odds to win the league:


texashawk10 1 year, 3 months ago

Can anybody realistically say they don't think this year is the best opportunity for KU to run the table in the Big 12. Baylor has a couple of nice wins over BYU and Kentucky, but Kentucky is at best the #3 team in the SEC this year and BYU is a WCC team now that'll be a borderline tournament team. Okie St. has a nice neutral court win over NC State, but that's it. KSU has the Florida win and nothing else to brag about. Right now, Gonzaga is the second best team in the Big 12 with wins over Okie St., Baylor, KSU, OU, and WVU.

Baylor and OSU are the only two teams that if they play their "A" game against KU, KU needs to play their "A" game to beat. KSU doesn't have the offense, Texas doesn't have the offense even when Kabongo comes back, ISU doesn't have the defense, WVU doesn't have the offense, and OU, Tech, and TCU are all just bad teams. Barring injury, there's no a single good reason why KU shouldn't go undefeated in Big 12 play this year. This is the weakest Big 12 in a long time, maybe ever and the gap from KU to 2nd place is the biggest it's ever been.


THE_REAL_DEAL_WITH_BILL_MCNEIL 1 year, 3 months ago

You guys are making way too big of a deal about this article. KU is going to win the Big 12 easily, probably going 18-0, and everybody knows it.


PSM 1 year, 3 months ago

The Big 12 blows this year. It's pretty obvious KU will win it for the 9th straight time. Keegs is just having fun and calling it like he sees it


Patrick Bryant 1 year, 3 months ago

I like the article for 2 reasons: 1. if other schools are looking at - great as that says we are very relevant. (I rarely look at other schools web sites) 2. if it gets the other schools fired up we need that as we need everyone's best game so we are tournament ready.


jgkojak 1 year, 3 months ago

Did you all watch Colorado take AZ to overtime - the same CO team we crushed.

I think we're a top 5 team, and by the end of the year we'll be a 1 seed easily - Duke, Michigan, KS and Indiana.

We can beat Michigan, Indiana is even, Duke worries me


Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

Matching headline:

Race for second place for the Pulitzer prize starts this week. Thomas Keegan has all but sewed up his Pulitzer in sports column commentary.

Mr. Keegan, although aware of his contemporaries reaction to this statement, is fully confident that there will be no blow-back from any kind of intranet material.

Keegs, as he is affectionatly called by his admirers, has set the journalistic bar so high that the rest of the sports columnists in America need to simply turn off their laptops and go have a beer!!

Mr.Keegan was not available for comment but a voice could be heard beyond a closed door, chanting over and over, "I AM THE GREATEST!!!"


justinryman 1 year, 3 months ago

Look I am sure this team set goals for the season. Some of those that I could guess would be:

Going undefeated. Every team wants that.

Winning the Big12 Conference regular season and Tournament.

Going undefeated in league play.

Elite 8.

Final 4.

National Title game.

National Title winners.

OK that's just a few that pop in my head at this moment. This article isn't something new or arrogant, it is titles an opinion piece. Plus ran a story yesterday by Jason King as stated above about how everyone else is playing for second. Will that be on bulletin boards in 9 other schools too?

If you are a Div. 1 athlete and need a "opinion piece" to build your game up, you probably aren't playing in a major conference.


iamakufan 1 year, 3 months ago

I was stunned when I saw this headline. Pure arrogance. This surely will be on nine bulletin boards around the conference. Talk about stirring up the nest!


vd 1 year, 3 months ago

We look like numerous Roy williams jayhawk teams. Best team in the nation in December, early exit in March. This could be a year where a loss is better for the team then a victory.


Jonathan Allison 1 year, 3 months ago

"I'm not superstitious. I'm only a little stitious." -Michael Scott, The Office

But this article does make me nervous. Coaches and teams DO use public media as bulletin board material. Hence post-game player comments about how "everybody doubted us", etc.

However, it is true that it's all over ESPN, CBSSports, Fox Sports, and everywhere that Kansas is the runaway favorite to win the league. This article provides only a little added ammunition due to the fact that it's posted on

And, can anyone other than me honestly say that they're more concerned about winning our 10th straight title than winning #9? I mean, a team that within the starting 5 has already been a part of a combined 13 conference championships counting redshirts (4 for Releford, 4 for Withey, 3 for Elijah, 1 for Young, 1 for BMac) should be able to win the league handily.

Next year could be similar to '05-'06 when Rush, Wright, Chalmers, and Downs were freshman, and Kansas tied Texas for the conference title after losing 55-80 to the Longhorns in February.


KGphoto 1 year, 3 months ago

Same article minus the Snob-Hillish slap in the face of second place. I don't have a real problem with it, but anyone yapping about how bad KState hates us need look no further for a reason.


Robert Brock 1 year, 3 months ago

Good coaches make a difference. That's why KU is in great shape and why OU - with mediocre players - will be the most improved team in the conference. They won't be a title contender, just better than expected.


KUfreebird 1 year, 3 months ago

First off Toms going to write whatever he wants and its always entertaining to me. If your a division one basketball player you should never be effected by a newspaper article and this goes for both KU and the rest of the big 12. Second kackley is right whoever wanted to bench Travis after three games is an idiot hes our best defender by far.


ccarp 1 year, 3 months ago

One game at a time fellas. No matter how good teams are, we will get their best shot. Play our game and focus on the opponent in front of you. That said, we have a big game Sunday. Conference play can wait. RockChalk!


mikehawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Note to Bill Self...Do not let your players or coaches see this article, and when you see Keegs, ask him what the heck is he thinking. If I've learned anything playing and watching sports all of my life, is that nothing is guaranteed and teams who believe it is inevitable to be crowned, seem to always go down because of the tenacious hunger of another team(s). An article like this one was probably similar to the Oklahoma writers the day before and the day of the 1988 championship game. This is where the expression "this is why we play the games," comes from. Come on Keegs, I don't like to wrag on you as so many others do, but this article is just silly. I dare you to ask Coach what he thought of it if he doesn't say something to you first. Note to KU fans...if you want to refer back to this article at end of league play and can't find it, check in any Big 12 team locker room. It is hanging there.


KGphoto 1 year, 3 months ago

LOL the Oklahoma breakdown.


jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

I like the article...Tom is just writing it like he sees it. I would say that it is the current belief in the sports world as well.

He didn't say that KU doesn't have to go out and win the games.


Bill Kackley 1 year, 3 months ago

Anyonewho thought Travis should have been benched after the thitd game was an idiot.


Jonathan Allison 1 year, 3 months ago

so after all of the explanations on caning a chair I assume that this is refering to the assembling process of wicker furniture, which is much like grand scale basket-weaving, hence usage of "basket-making".


gchawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Being a former baseball player, I have enough inherent superstitions to immensely dislike this article, comparable to the Sports Illustrated jinx. I just view this as fodder for our opponents, and while some may view the Big XII as being a little weaker this year, I still believe that when any of the teams play us, they are all worthy opponents. Makes me wonder if Keegan might have an ulterior motive for writing this article.


rtwngr 1 year, 3 months ago

Jason King of ESPN has an article on the Big 12 and he says he wouldn't be surprised if the Jayhawks win the conference by 4 or 5 games. His exact words are, "It's not even close." BTW, Colorado took Arizona into overtime in Arizona last night.


Gary Amble 1 year, 3 months ago

Caning a chair is the process weaving a cane material to the seat of a typically wooden chair. More difficult than weaving a basket? I don't know. I don't think I could do either...


actorman 1 year, 3 months ago

If I thought the team had that attitude I'd be worried. But there's no way that Self will let them get to that point. I see nothing wrong with Keegan focusing on the other teams. And let's face it: the Big XII is pretty weak this year. It's hard to believe that any of the other teams can seriously challenge KU for the title.

I did have one question, though: does anyone understand what "These Mountaineers make basket-making seem as difficult as caning a chair" means? I don't even know what "caning a chair" means, much less what it has to do with Huggins or West Virginia.


KUFan90 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm worried we all (fans and the team) will have a rude awakening in the near future. All this talk about how darn good this team is...either it will go to their heads, or they will hit a rut, or some unexpected loss(es) will happen.

Teams and players go through hot and cold spells. Remember how everyone was just about ready to boot Travis off the team after 3 games? Now they are ready to put him in the NBA draft.

Sure, the team is playing great right now. Let's enjoy it while it lasts. Let be realistic and think they won't go undefeated the rest of the year. And let's for darn sure not already hand them the Big 12 title before they have even played a single conference game!


MinnesotaJay 1 year, 3 months ago

I hope this isn't a case of famous last words. Geez! The only thing I can conclude with certainty from this piece is that Keegan isn't a teetotaler.


Robert Rauktis 1 year, 3 months ago

"It's not like they're anything, they're Baylor." - Kenny Gregory

(2 days later after Kansas got it's clock cleaned.)

"It's not like they're Duke, they're Kansas." - Baylor player


79ictjhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm not one who's dumped on Keegan before, but this is just stupid. Yes, I know were favored to win the conference. And the info on the other teams is informative, but you don't write an article like we already won it before even playing one conference game.


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