Big 12 straw poll: Players discuss best and worst in conference


Before the college football season, I found it interesting to read the results of an anonymous poll of Big 12 college football players conducted by The Oklahoman.

The idea was so good, I figured I'd go ahead and borrow it to see the true thoughts of the basketball players in the Big 12.

At Big 12 media days*, I interviewed 20 players from nine different conference schools to get their anonymous opinions on different topics. I interviewed three players each from Kansas, Texas A&M and Missouri; two each from Nebraska, Colorado, Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State; and one from Oklahoma. No players were interviewed from Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas.

With the exception of the first question, players were allowed to vote for their own teams/teammates. A half-vote means that a player split his vote between two choices.

The following are the results of the poll questions, along with some of the explanations that our anonymous players gave about their answers.

* — I interviewed the Kansas players before a practice, not at Big 12 media days.

Kansas coach Bill Self — 5.5 votes (27.5 percent)
• “I think he’s a really good coach — what he did with the team last year, and what he’s done in his career.”
• “Kansas was one of my options early. He recruited me. It seemed like if it wasn’t here, maybe I would go play for him.”
• “He just seems like a laid-back kind of guy — like a real cool kind of guy who can relate to his players well.”
• “There’s something about that guy. There’s just something about him that you draw to him. I respect him.”
• “He looks like he’s a players’ coach. He’s had a lot of success with a lot of players.”

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel — 4 votes (20 percent)
• “I feel like he’s a players' coach, and I feel like he’s in it for your best interest and trying to make you the best player.”
• “It just seems like he gives a lot of freedom to his players. He really has a laid-back mentality, which I can have sometimes.”
• “He’s seems like a down-to-earth
guy. He seems like he lets you go out there and play and make mistakes. He sits there and talks to you about things you did, then he lets you go back out there to not make the same mistakes.”
• “He just seems like an honest guy. I know guys that have played for him, and they liked him. I was a Duke fan growing up. Just being that Duke guy, seeing him hit that big shot.”

Texas coach Rick Barnes — 2.5 votes (12.5 percent)
• “I like his style of play. He’s always been a really good guard coach. I don’t really know him too much. He didn’t really recruit me that much. But I really like watching his teams play. It seems like he gives his guards a lot of freedom, so I think I would like to play for him.”
• “He seems to get his guys to play great defense. They’re always playing hard. They always have a chance to be great every year.”

Nebraska coach Doc Sadler — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “Talking to him today, he’s a cool guy.”
• “They play hard. I like how they play. They play hard-nosed.”

Missouri coach Mike Anderson — 1.5 votes (7.5 percent)
• “Because the style they play. Up the court, high intensity.”

Texas Tech Pat Knight — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “Him and his father recruited me, so it would be a place I was comfortable with.”

Kansas State Frank Martin — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s just so cool and laid-back. He lets his players ride. His team doesn’t seem like a real specific, run-the-play type of team.”

Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “I got recruited by him out of high school when he was at Wichita State, so I know him as good as I would know any other coach.”

Don't Know — 1 vote (5 percent)

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford — 0.5 vote (2.5 percent)

* — It was interesting to see that so many college players desire a coach that is "laid-back" and "down-to-earth". I guess Self and Capel fit both those descriptions best.

Allen Fieldhouse — 6 votes (30 percent)
• “By far. Tradition speaks for itself."
• “I like everything they do. The tradition they have, and the way their crowd reacts to everything. It’s pretty amazing.”
• “Just the tradition going in there. It’s Allen Fieldhouse. It’s electric when you go in there. The fans, they’re crazy. That’s probably the best arena.”
• “By far. It’s electric in there. Even though you’re a visiting opponent, it’s still crazy in there because it gets you up for the game.”
• “It’s always packed. You’re always going to have excited fans. It’s never not going to be packed.”

Mizzou Arena — 4.5 votes (22.5 percent)
• “It’s a cool arena, a pro atmosphere. A pro feel.”
• “It’s just new. It just has that new feeling to it. Even though it’s not as big as a pro arena, it’s laid out like a pro arena. I like playing in there.”
• “I think it just looks better, has a better structure. It’s pretty much state-of-the-art.”
• “It looks better than the Kansas arena.”

Reed Arena — 4 votes (20 percent)
• “I like the big T-star in the middle of the floor.”
• “It’s rocking. I like the floor. The floor is springy.”
• “Their atmosphere, and their Jumbotron is humongous. It’s nice.”
• “I shoot the ball well there.”

Gallagher-Iba Arena — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “I shoot well there.”
• “Just the atmosphere. It goes straight up. It’s a real nice court. I think it’s one of the best courts in the Big 12.”

Erwin Center — 1.5 votes (7.5 percent)
• “It looks the nicest, but it’s so quiet in there that it’s easy to play in there.”

Lloyd Noble Center — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “It’s a shooter’s gym. The ceiling’s not too high. It’s kind of compact. The walls aren’t really far. The depth perception’s not bad. It’s really good. When it leaves your hand, it’s like, ‘Oh man, this is good.’”

Bramlage Coliseum — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “My freshman year, it was extremely loud when they beat us. I just think it’s a really tough environment to go in there and play in.”

Coors Events Center — 8 votes (40 percent)
• “It’s kind of dull in there.”
• “There’s nobody there. It’s terrible.”
• “Every time we go there, there’s never anyone there.”
• “I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard people say the atmosphere isn’t what they thought it would be. It’s just a little old.”
• “It’s hard to breathe. I don’t really get a feel for Colorado.”
• “It’s just so small. I don’t even think the seats match with the (school) colors.”
• “I played there one time, and it was just so empty. You have to get yourself up for the game.”
• “By far. It’s so dead in there. It’s not even really fun to play there.”

Hilton Coliseum — 5 votes (25 percent)
• “They have dead spots on their floor.”
• “There was nobody there when I went. Nobody there. It was empty.”
• “I don’t like the floor. It’s not springy. And it’s Ames, Iowa.”
• “Their court is slippery. I tripped on the court one time, because they put the court together, and there’s gaps in the court. I was like, ‘Oh my god. This is horrible.’”

Ferrell Center — 4 votes (20 percent)
• “It looks dumb. It looks like something that we’d play in in high school.”
• “Those stands are so far from the court. It doesn’t seem very enclosed.”
• “I don’t like how it’s laid out inside. It’s kind of spread out.”
• “I didn’t feel like a normal college-game atmosphere. It was just a little different. I still know they get the fans and everything, but it’s just my least favorite arena.”

Don't Know — 2 votes (10 percent)

Mizzou Arena — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “I just don’t like it.”

Kansas — 10 votes (50 percent)
• “All the props, things in the stands, papers going everywhere, balloons. Nobody else ...”
• “Every time I’ve been there, they’re always there. Loud. Real active. That kind of sets them apart from our fans. We have an alumni side where they kind of just sit there. They, all the way around, they have people just up and about.”
• “They show up hours before a game. Before we even get there, their student section is already packed.”
• “They’re devoted. They’re there before we get there and they stay still after we leave.”
• “They’re with them everywhere they go. Dedicated fans no matter what. Ups and downs, they’re going to be there.”
• “They’ve got the funniest fans. The signs and posters they have, stuff like that ... sometimes I look up and laugh.”
• “They’ve said some wild stuff to me.”
• “They’re always going to be excited.”
• “They’re always loud.”

Kansas State — 3 votes (15 percent)
• “Their fans are always amped up.”
• “Their student section is ridiculous. They have the whole side. They have cheerleaders. The whole game, the fans are just yelling. You have to face that. They’re just yelling, and they’ve got dances.”
• “They dive down the steps to get to the games. They rush in.”

Nebraska — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “They’re just loyal. Loyal fans. High energy.”

Texas Tech — 2 votes (10 percent)

Baylor — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “They’re always energetic.”

Oklahoma State — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “They’re on top of the opponents all game. From the minute you get off the bus, they’re on top of you, cursing you out, saying anything they can to throw you off your game.”

Missouri — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “They’re at every game.”

Colorado — 8 votes (40 percent)
• “Whenever I see them play on TV, it doesn’t seem like there’s too many of them at the game.”
• “They really didn’t have any student crowd. They didn’t have anybody backing them up when they were playing.”
• “Everywhere else we went in the Big 12, their fans were haggling us. We went to Colorado, they were kind of, like, cool. I thought they were cheering for us at that point in time.”
• “There are none there.”
• “It doesn’t seem like they bring as many people."
• “They aren’t ever there.”

Baylor — 4 votes (20 percent)
• “They throw stuff at you while you’re playing.”
• “They have this guy named The King, and he was the biggest heckler I’ve ever heard of in my life. We had a dude on our team ... he just killed him. It was awful. You heard him the whole game. It was awful. Personal stuff. He knew everything about you. Everything.”
• “They’re crazy. They just have this group that’s always yelling your name. And they know personal stuff. Like, how do you know personal stuff?”
• “They throw trash on the floor, things like that. If you want to treat your arena like that, it’s fine. But that’s why it’s got the worst fans.”

Nebraska — 4 votes (20 percent)
• “Just because they know everything about you. It’s a personal relationship with them.”
• “They’re personal.”
• “They don’t get loud. They don’t really say anything that’s funny. They’re just there.”
• “They were yelling at us so much last year, it was crazy. I just don’t like them.”

Kansas State — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “K-State’s pretty bad, as far as making fun of people."
• “Those fans are raunchy, man. They’re aggressive. Warming up, they’re saying all kinds of stuff. The worst one was my freshman year. One of my seniors was shooting around, and they were talking about his mom. I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s ruthless.’”

Texas A&M — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “They stay on you the whole game. And they’re always moving. They’ve always got some kind of cheer for every minute of that clock.”

No Selection — 1 vote (5 percent)

No selection — 5 votes (25 percent)

Texas' Dexter Pittman — 3 votes (15 percent)
• “If you fall, he’ll help you off the ground.”
• “One time he elbowed me in the head, and he helped me up. Texted me that night and asked me if I was OK.”
• “I’ve known him for a while. Even during the game, he’ll be like, ‘How you doing? You doing OK? Everything going good?’ He’s probably the nicest player in the Big 12.”

Iowa State's Craig Brackins — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “I’ve kind of gotten cool with him over the years. His personality, he’s just talking during the game, he was like, ‘You’re kind of cool, man.’ Sometimes you play people that are really aggressive, talking and saying stuff. This guy really didn’t have any hidden agendas."
• “He’s a cool guy.”

Missouri's J.T. Tiller — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s real nice and humble. Laid-back. He was in a camp with me this past summer, and we kicked it a lot.”

Texas' Justin Mason — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s a friend of mine.”

Baylor's Tweety Carter — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s just a cool dude. During the game, he’ll talk to you. When you’re in the heat of the battle, he’ll be all nice and stuff. He’s a cool dude."

Baylor's Josh Lomers — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s just so jolly. All the time.”

Oklahoma State's Keiton Page — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “Page is cool.”

Kansas State's Luis Colon — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s hard-nosed on the court, but outside of the court, he’s really chill.”

Kansas' Xavier Henry — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s always laughing and playing around.”

Colorado's Cory Higgins — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He never says anything. He never gets an attitude if you foul him or anything. He’s just there to play basketball.”

Myself — 1 vote (5 percent)

Missouri's Marcus Denmon — 0.5 vote (2.5 percent)

Missouri's Michael Dixon — 0.5 vote (2.5 percent)

No selection — 8 votes (40 percent)
• “No one’s ever dirty, really. Not intentional.”

Baylor's Josh Lomers — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “He’s just dirty.”
• “He does everything illegal that’s possible in basketball.”

Oklahoma State's Marshall Moses — 2 votes (10 percent)
• “He’s just real physical. He elbows you, hits you in your nuts. He does a lot of stuff to you to get you out of your game.”
• “He does stuff on purpose.”

Nebraska's Ryan Anderson — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “Any chance he gets, he’s going to give a little shot to you. No matter if it’s a routine foul, he’s going to make it a little harder foul than it has to be."

Texas' Dogus Balbay — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He just be hacking.”

Kansas State's Denis Clemente — 1 vote (5 percent)

Kansas State's Luis Colon — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He busted my lip, and I sprained my ankle messing with him, man. But it’s unintentional. He doesn’t really mean to do it. He’s just clumsy. Sometimes big men are just clumsy. He’s just clumsy like that. But it seemed like it was dirty in the heat of the game.”

Texas' Jai Lucas — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “(From other times I’ve played against him), he’s always slapping at me, grabbing me pulling my jersey.”

Texas' Justin Mason — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He just does little stuff to get on your nerves, especially if he’s got to guard you all game — whether he’s hitting your elbow or pulling your shorts off a screen ... just little stuff to bother you all game.”

Texas Tech's big men — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “They put their knees out on screens. Going for rebounds, 'bow our bigs in the back. All that.”

Missouri's Zaire Taylor — 1 vote (5 percent)
• “He’s like the dirtiest dude ever, grabbing my jersey, pushing me.”


CaramelMacchMan 10 years, 1 month ago

I can see Jesse Newell(<Talented individual) working for a big network one day... I hope He stays with and work with LJW.

I agree with aralls! Prolly one of his best piece of pie right here.

CaramelMacchMan 10 years, 1 month ago

I know he(Newell) got it from somewhere but he brought it out.

Kyle Rohde 10 years, 1 month ago

Love reading this stuff but it sure would have been better if you'd gotten to talk to guys from all 12 schools!

gamblinggringo 10 years, 1 month ago

Great stuff. My favorite read of the morning.

jasonsgill 10 years, 1 month ago

Jesse, just wondering if the guys you interviewed knew you were from LJW? Thanks! Great side of the story we usually don't see...

Martini_Boy 10 years, 1 month ago

I would have liked to see two more questions specific to the whiniest player and fans.

Some arenas and some players just scream, SLAP ME!!! with the way they act on every call...

Jesse Newell 10 years, 1 month ago

jason — Yes, I introduced myself to each of the players as Jesse Newell from the Lawrence Journal-World. I don't think that influenced any answers because the poll was anonymous, but I guess you never know.

KGphoto 10 years, 1 month ago

New poll.

Sharpest journalist at LJW?


Jessie - 1 vote (100 percent) • I just think he has a fresh outlook. You know? He's a true fan and he asks the questions that are interesting to other fans.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 1 month ago

WOW...a LJW journalist who actually talks about games that have happened within the last decade.....what a concept!!! :}

Omegatron 10 years, 1 month ago

This poll would've been better with a larger sample and representation from all 12 schools. I would have interviewed 3-5 players (36-60) from each school.

Other then that I Iike the poll.

ku_foaf 10 years, 1 month ago

Didn't Colon hit a K-State student who was trying to tell him he was a fan on the campus? Funny choice for nicest guy.

actorman 10 years, 1 month ago

Frank Martin is "cool and laid-back???" Clearly they don't have enough marijuna testing in the Big XII.

Thanks for doing this Jesse, it's very interesting reading. My only suggestion would be to have the limit on all questions that players can't vote for their own team. I think that would give us an even better picture of what players think. It's great to see that KU wasn't mentioned in any of the negative categories, but I was surprised that Misuse didn't get any mentions among the worst fans.

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