Williams Blog: Some Big 12 Tourney thoughts

By Chris Williams, Publisher (March 11, 2011)

I am back in Ames. This year’s trip to the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City was a short one for Iowa Staters.

Two days…Bye bye Cyclone Nation.

Here are some quick musings from my time in KC regarding the Cyclones, the league itself and the coaching carousel that is on the horizon. I’ll be posting more “year in review” type of stuff later today and into next week as well.

–       If you haven’t seen it by now, check out this piece on Fred Hoiberg/Iowa State that was published by Kansas City Star columnist Blair Kerkhoff earlier this week. It is fantastic.

–       As the great Dennis Green once said, “they are who we thought they were.” I speak of Scott Drew’s Baylor Bears. If you didn’t know by now, Baylor is currently having a cute little pillow fight with the NCAA regarding the eligibility of star freshman Perry Jones III. Jones was not eligible to play against Oklahoma on Wednesday night, due to the claim that he accepted “improper benefits” while still in high school. Guilty or not, I have no clue. But I do know that losing to a depleted Oklahoma team by an 84-67 final had to be a bit embarrassing. Again…They are who we thought they were. When those talented Bears actually want to lace up their sneakers, they can beat just about anybody. When any sort of adversity hits (like what went down earlier this week with Jones), they curl up into a little ball and take the beating. This scenario was typical Iowa State luck. It could have been ISU vs. the Jones-less Baylor Bears in the first round on Wednesday. Instead, the Cyclones drew Colorado, a team that is playing its best basketball of the season, in the 5-12 game.

–       If you had the first pick in a draft full of only Big 12 players, who would you take? I’d opt for Colorado’s Alec Burks. In two tournament games (vs. ISU & KSU), Burks went off for 29 and 24 points, 16 and six rebounds, all while going 19-of-22 from the free throw line. In my opinion, this is the best player in the league.

–       It didn’t take long for Doc Sadler’s Nebraska Cornhuskers to be ousted from the Big 12 Tournament. Nebraska lost the first game of the tournament, 53-52 to Oklahoma State on Wednesday morning. Now this question looms…We know that Nebraska is going to the Big Ten. But will Sadler go with them? On Tuesday, the hot rumor around Kansas City was the Sadler had some interest in replacing Pat Knight at Texas Tech. While Sadler eventually went on the record to shoot these rumblings down, I keep hearing his name mentioned with potential openings all over America. For the record, I do not believe that Sadler will coach anywhere other than in Lincoln next season. But I still find it odd that his name keeps popping up.

–       Texas Tech has to hire former Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie. They need to give him what he wants, when he wants it and Tech’s administration needs to do it soon. Rumor has it that TCU could open up within a few week’s. Like Lubbock, Fort Worth is Gillispie country. Tech cannot afford to rebuild with some unproven mid-major coach. If Tech wants basketball to be relevant, Gillispie is a no-brainer, stone cold lock to take that program back to the NCAA Tournament. From an Iowa State perspective, let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

–       According to Lubbock Avalanche-Journal sports editor (former Ames Tribune sports editor) Courtney Linehan, Marquette coach Buzz Williams’ name is being mentioned with the Texas Tech job. Can somebody please explain to me why Williams would even take a whiff at this potential gig? Yes, Williams is a Texas native. He’s also coached at schools like Texas A&M, Texas A&M Kingsville and Texas at Arlington along his road to Milwaukee. But right now, he’s coaching in the best basketball league in America at a school where football doesn’t exist. And he’d consider leaving that for Lubbock? I don’t think so….

–       I hate it that Pat Knight won’t be coaching in the Big 12 next season. Besides Fred Hoiberg, Knight is my favorite coach in the league and maybe America. The Big 12 will lose a lot from a personality standpoint next season from within its coaching ranks. Doc Sadler, Tad Boyle and Pat Knight are three of the most charismatic head men in the conference. I’m sad to see all of them go.

–       I think that Texas is Texas again. After a rough end to the regular season, the Horns went on the road to beat Baylor and spanked Oklahoma by 20 in last night’s Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal. Tonight, it is the Horns vs. Texas A&M. Give me Texas by 10.

–       I’m disappointed in Mike Anderson’s Missouri Tigers. In two Big 12 Tournament games, the Tigers played a lot of ugly basketball. Look for Anderson’s name to pop up if the Arkansas job comes open in the SEC. Anderson was an assistant there from 1985-2002 and Razorback head coach John Pelphrey’s job could be in jeopardy for more than one reason.