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.


79ictjhawk 6 years, 4 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.

actorman 6 years, 4 months ago

I disagree. I found it quite amusing. And it's not like the odds aren't heavily in KU's favor.

nuleafjhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you, 79. It's one thing to be confident, but this is a little obnoxious.

jhox 6 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. You can bet this will be posted in every locker room in the Big 12.

Bville Hawk 6 years, 4 months ago

A column by a local sports writer is not "bulletin board" material. Similar comments by a KU coach or player would be another matter.

Marc Frey 6 years, 4 months ago

ESPN had essentially the same article. No big deal.

jhox 6 years, 4 months ago

It really doesn't matter the source. Coaches are always looking for an edge. I'm not convinced any of that crap works, but coaches will always look for extra motivation for their players. In he case of KU, opponents are always pretty fired up anyway. They don't really need bulletin board material.

Sam Constance 6 years, 4 months ago

The source TOTALLY matters.

Coaches spend most of the year telling their players not to listen too much to what the media and fans say online, good or bad. Makes it kind of hard to then turn around and say "HEY, THIS RANDOM SPORTSWRITER DISRESPECTED YOU!!!!"

"But Coach, I thought you said the media is just a bunch of noise?"

Armen Kurdian 6 years, 4 months ago

Then that's a side bonus. Teams would be motivated to play us even that much harder, making us tougher for the post-season. Bring 'em on.

Alex Thiessen 6 years, 4 months ago

This is why all of the articles he writes this year begin with Opinion:

hawk316 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes, this team is quite good and getting progressively better. Yes, we are likely the class of the Big XII and should win the conference. But I'm a little uncomfortable being crowned champions before the first conference game is even played. As we all know, things...unexpected things...can happen. Let's hope not, but let's at least play the games before we claim the title.

Andy Godwin 6 years, 4 months ago

+1. It is great to be supportive and enthusiastic about this years team, but over confident not so wise. KU winning the conference last year was a bit lucky and fortuitous. Things can happen during an 18 game conference (foul problems, injuries, etc) and predicting no one else in the conference can challenge is just plain cocky.

Robert Rauktis 6 years, 4 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

MinnesotaJay 6 years, 4 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.

PSM 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually, having spoken with Keegan on occasion, I can assure you he abstains from alcohol.

KUFan90 6 years, 4 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!

actorman 6 years, 4 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.

rtwngr 6 years, 4 months ago

Caning is what you get when you have been a very naughty boy. lol

Gary Amble 6 years, 4 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...

drymartinie 6 years, 4 months ago

While it is poorly worded, he is comparing caning to basket-making (as in scoring points).

kusayzone 6 years, 4 months ago

Apparent you never did take that class in college "Underwater Basketweaving" offered to all the jocks. Probably similar to the current North Carolina classes offered to those who dont need to actually attend classes to pad GPA's

rtwngr 6 years, 4 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.

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 4 months ago

Arizona was down by 15 with 10 to go, I was so upset they came back. On the Gamecast, they had Colorado winning by 3, but they reviewed the 3 and it went into overtime...Colorado fell apart.

KGphoto 6 years, 4 months ago

Colorado won that game in regulation. 83-80.

VaJay 6 years, 4 months ago

Yup, Colorado were absolutely hosed last night by the "officials" who apparently were unable to view the screen closely enough to see the Colorado player CLEARLY release the ball with 0.1 left on the clock. What a disgrace.

LAJayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

"Colorado got hosed" is the understatement of the year. That call was a disgrace to officiating. It made the replacement refs in the Seahawks/Packers game look like Hall of Famers.

gchawk 6 years, 4 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.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 4 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".

Bill Kackley 6 years, 4 months ago

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

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 4 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.

mikehawk 6 years, 4 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.

ccarp 6 years, 4 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!

KUfreebird 6 years, 4 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.

Robert Brock 6 years, 4 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.

KGphoto 6 years, 4 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.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 4 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.

vd 6 years, 4 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.

B0B 6 years, 4 months ago

if by "look like" you mean have a Jayhawk uniform on, then you are correct.

that is the only similarity this team has to any Roy team.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 months ago

I was actually thinking that Baylor looks like a Roy Williams-lite team. Likes O a lot, D not so much.

The difference to Coach Self is huge.

Steve Reigle 6 years, 4 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!

justinryman 6 years, 4 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.

Tony Bandle 6 years, 4 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!!!"

jgkojak 6 years, 4 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

Stephan123 6 years, 4 months ago

Duke can not keep up with our superior athleticism.

justinryman 6 years, 4 months ago

Whats funny is the national pundits will say KU doesn't have an answer for Plumlee, just like they did last year when we played KY the second time with Davis.

Pretty sure Withey can answer him and shut him down. Who do they have that can defend Withey is the question they won't bring up.

ku1otaku 6 years, 4 months ago

It's not Plumless who worries me. Its that Kelly guy who ended up killing us in Maui last year.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 months ago

Will Duke make it to the 2nd round this year?

Patrick Bryant 6 years, 4 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.

PSM 6 years, 4 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

Alex Thiessen 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes everyone knows KU is the favorite, but this is complete arrogance. How can anyone wonder why people hate KU fans? Why cant we take Bill Self's advice and keep it classy, let the playing do the talking.

Alex Thiessen 6 years, 4 months ago

We're just lucky that our coaches and players don't think the same way some of our fans do. Every time our team gets a little bit too cocky we lose. But I guess now wouldn't be a bad time to regain our humility. Think about how much Bill has to tell the players that this message board is mainly garbage and they are not nearly as good as they say on here. I think it would be awesome to keep the conference winning streak alive, but if we think it's gonna be easy, then it's probably not gonna happen.

texashawk10 6 years, 4 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.

Jack Wilson 6 years, 4 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:

ArgyleJayhawks 6 years, 4 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.

Steve Gantz 6 years, 4 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!

pepper_bar 6 years, 4 months ago

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

Greg Ledom 6 years, 4 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 6 years, 4 months ago

KU hasn't really "won the league 8 years in a row", unless you consider a tie where you lose the tiebreaker a "win." Do you? See my post below.

Sam Constance 6 years, 4 months ago

There is no such thing as a tiebreaker when you play an unbalanced schedule, and even if there was, that's not how the Big 12 title has EVER been determined.

Try to be less ignorant.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 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.

Darin Bradley 6 years, 4 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!!

pepper_bar 6 years, 4 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.

actorman 6 years, 4 months ago

And what "high stakes," exactly, are you referring to, pepper bar. Most people are smart enough to realize that unless you're on the bubble for the NCAA's, conference tournaments are nothing more than a chance to rake in money. Not only haven't these tournaments been high stakes for KU, but they've barely been any stakes at all. In fact, it's amazing KU has done as well as it has, given how little has been on the line.

SaltLakeHawk 6 years, 4 months ago

Big12 Champs >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Big12 Tourney Champs

Sam Constance 6 years, 4 months ago

I'm still trying to figure out why you think this post is in anyway connected to the post above.

In the post above, you make an ignorant comment about "tiebreakers" in the regular season title race. In this post, you list the last 8 tournament champions with some nonsensical lead-in about "higher stakes than February Championships".

Well, whatever you were trying to, say, it's always funny when a hater's most potent dig is "yeah, well you didn't win the regular season AND tournament titles in 8 straight years, so HA!"

No, this is one KU fan who is quite content with the world believing that KU has been atop the Big 12 regular season 8 years in a row and won the tournament 5 of 8 years. I guess 13 of 16 possible "titles" isn't as good as 16 of 16, but we both know it's miles ahead of any team you could possibly root for.

Sam Constance 6 years, 4 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.

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