Is Bill Self or Mark Turgeon the pick for Big 12 coach of the year? Also, KU-A&M predictions
Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Texas A&M on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Tom, Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon has done a great job to lead the Aggies this year to third place in the conference. Would he be your choice for Big 12 coach of the year?
Tom Keegan: No. Bill Self would be my choice. With suspensions and injuries, the roster has been ever-changing, which should result in choppy play on the court. That and losing two players to the lottery, plus a player who was the all-time winningest player in school history and was the team's leading scorer, makes Self the run-away Coach of the Year in the Big 12. Turgeon's a good coach and has done a good job with this team. Ditto for his best buddy Tad Boyle at Colorado.
JN: Much of A&M's success this year has come from winning close games. The Aggies are 8-2 in games decided by five points or less and 11-4 in games decided by 10 points or less.
That's usually not a formula a team can depend on from year to year, but the ability to hold on in tight games has moved A&M from a bubble team to a sure-fire NCAA Tournament squad this year.
Switching to KU, what will you remember most about each of the KU seniors?
TK: I'll remember Brady Morningstar pestering stars from across the country into bad shooting nights and I'll remember him making so many great passes.
I'll remember him finally, as a senior, getting the credit he's deserved for so much longer than he got it. On a personal note, I remember eating in the Vermont Street BBQ during my first week on the job in the summer of 2005 and in walks a tall skinny kid whose picture I had seen in one of the many Lawrence Journal-World newspapers I had taken home with me after my job interview. I stood up, introduced myself to him and he gave me a nice warm welcome to town. I had gone on a radio show with his father in, I want to say 2001, to talk about my first book, "Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms."
I guess after I've forgotten all the particulars of the many clutch three-pointers Tyrel Reed hit during his career, I'll remember how much more relaxed he became year-by-year in an interview setting.
He came to trust reporters more and more each year and realized nobody was trying to trap him into saying anything and everybody just wanted to hear his intelligent take on things. Really, really nice guy. What I'll remember about Mario Little is how much his mannerisms and tone of voice remind me of Michael Jordan's. Uncanny similarities.
JN: OK, Tom, what's your prediction for this game?
TK: Kansas 79, Texas A&M 68.
Kansas might be due for a bit of a sluggish night, but the Aggies don't have enough firepower to take advantage.
JN: I'll go KU by 21. Though KU probably didn't need any additional motivation on Senior night, a chance to clinch at least a tie of a seventh straight Big 12 championship should give the players an even bigger boost. This feels to me like a game where KU starts with incredible energy and emotion, gets off to a 14-2 start, then cruises. A&M might be great in close games, but I don't envision this one will be close.
All right, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?
TK: Tyrel Reed.
I had a premonition that had nothing to do with winning the lottery. Still waiting for that one. In this latest premonition, Reed caught fire the way Jeremy Case did on his Senior Night and was on the floor longer. Reed kept hitting shots and didn't stop until he had scored 21 points.
JN: I'll go with Thomas Robinson.
Texas A&M big men David Loubeau and Khris Middleton draw a lot of fouls, meaning Robinson should get plenty of playing time if KU falls into foul trouble.
The Aggies also are one of the worst teams in the nation when it comes to getting shots blocked, as a whopping 13.5 percent of their two-point attempts in Big 12 play have been blocked (worst in the conference).
Other than Jeff Withey, Robinson is KU's best shot-blocker, and he should be eager to bounce back after a 10-minute, four-turnover performance against Oklahoma on Saturday. Give me at four blocks for Robinson — along with improved offense — on Wednesday night.
Tracking the picks
Predictions tally (through 29 games)
Tom: 25-4 record, 334 points off (11.5 points off/game)
Jesse: 27-2 record, 355 points off (12.2 points off/game)
Hawk to Rock
Longwood: Tyrel Reed (6th in Keegan ratings)
Valparaiso: Marcus Morris (1st)
North Texas: Tyrel Reed (6th)
Texas A&M-CC: Marcus Morris (5th)
Ohio: Markieff Morris (3rd)
Arizona: Marcus Morris (1st)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (1st)
Memphis: Markieff Morris (4th)
Colorado State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd)
USC: Tyrel Reed (6th)
Cal: Marcus Morris (6th)
UT Arlington: Tyrel Reed (8th)
Miami: Marcus Morris (3rd)
UMKC: Markieff Morris (9th)
Michigan: Thomas Robinson (8th)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (7th)
Nebraska: Josh Selby (9th)
Baylor: Josh Selby (3rd)
Texas: Marcus Morris (3rd)
Colorado: Markieff Morris (5th)
Kansas State: Marcus Morris (4th)
Texas Tech: Markieff Morris (4th)
Nebraska: Mario Little (7th)
Missouri: Tyrel Reed (7th)
Iowa State: Markieff Morris (2nd)
Kansas State: Brady Morningstar (2nd)
Colorado: Marcus Morris (3rd)
Oklahoma State: Marcus Morris (1st)
Oklahoma: Tyrel Reed (3rd)
Average Hawk to Rock: 4.4th in Keegan ratings
Longwood: Markieff Morris (1st in Keegan ratings)
Valparaiso: Brady Morningstar (8th)
North Texas: Tyrel Reed (6th)
Texas A&M-CC: Thomas Robinson (2nd)
Ohio: Tyshawn Taylor (4th)
Arizona: Brady Morningstar (8th)
UCLA: Markieff Morris (6th)
Memphis: Thomas Robinson (1st)
Colorado State: Markieff Morris (1st)
USC: Thomas Robinson (2nd)
Cal: Markieff Morris (2nd)
UT Arlington: Brady Morningstar (10th)
Miami: Tyshawn Taylor (8th)
UMKC: Josh Selby (1st)
Michigan: Tyrel Reed (4th)
Iowa State: Marcus Morris (1st)
Nebraska: Thomas Robinson (3rd)
Baylor: Tyshawn Taylor (6th)
Texas: Josh Selby (8th)
Colorado: Jeff Withey (7th)
Kansas State: Tyrel Reed (8th)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st)
Nebraska: Tyrel Reed (5th)
Missouri: Markieff Morris (3rd)
Iowa State: Brady Morningstar (4th)
Kansas State: Marcus Morris (4th)
Colorado: Josh Selby (6th)
Oklahoma State: Elijah Johnson (2nd)
Oklahoma: Markieff Morris (2nd)
Average Hawk to Rock: 4.3rd in Keegan ratings