Long Distance Jayhawk

2014-15 Big XII Preview, Part 1 – There Will Be… by longdistancejayhawk
Googling Big 12 Conference brought up this gem. I'm personally super happy we ended up as Otto.

Googling Big 12 Conference brought up this gem. I’m personally super happy we ended up as Otto.

As I’m writing this, there’s snow falling in New York. We’re getting to that time of year when outside is miserable, inside is a little less so, and the basketball starts to really matter1. These are the games where you bundle up, as much to protect from the cold as to protect from the rivalries renewed and the potential blood baths on the horizon. Most years, hell, ten in a row, God’s Faithful have gone into this part of the slog with high expectations and a true belief that we can win the whole league. There’s certainly doubt, but if pressed on the issue, we all know that we would bet good money on Kansas to take the conference crown.

That confidence…where did it go?

The absence of a clearly dominant Kansas squad this season is what makes this year’s Big XII X XII conference slate so intriguing. We aren’t the clear favorite to win it all, though we’re not out of the conversation. Texas, a preseason darling to take the title, is lurking even if they haven’t made a strong, definitive statement on the issue yet. The Cyclones are frisky, playing a type of basketball that I can only describe as Anti-B1G. Meanwhile, the Bears aren’t hibernating and Oklahoma looms as a fringe contender following an impressive season last year. Yet none of these teams have an unblemished record, an achievement unique to the Horned Frogs coming into conference play.

Think about it. The Big XII X XII plays a round robin schedule, two games against each opponent. No one in this conference is a stiff, even poor K-State who barely made it .500 to start league play. There will be blood. There will be hurt feelings, tough games, bad losses, and glorious beatdowns. Don’t let anyone tell you that so-and-so upset so-and-so in this conference. Everyone could beat everyone. There are no upset when the bottom of the league is barely worse than the middle which is barely worse than the top.

This is going to be fun. Bloody, but definitely fun.


  1. TCU – 13-0
  2. West Virginia – 12-1
  3. Baylor – 11-1
  4. Texas – 11-2
  5. Kansas – 11-2
  6. Iowa State – 10-2
  7. Oklahoma State – 10-2
  8. Texas Tech – 10-3
  9. Oklahoma – 9-3
  10. Kansas State – 7-6

Shockingly, we’re not at the top or near it. Sixth is okay. Let’s play the vulture card, hovering in striking distance before swooping down and ripping through this conference one more time. Also, TCU? Really? Congrats, Trent. You’ve certainly turned that sinking ship around.

Now that we know where we stand, let’s get into the rankings. Each of these selections is mine and mine alone. I spent a full day looking at each team, examining their strengths, weaknesses, what got them here. Then, I picked every single matchup for every single team to come up with their conference record. And this…this is what came of all that work.

Also, I’ve decided that each team will be given an official Emoji-nal State this year. This was spurred by a joke you’ll read in like 10 minutes about TCU. Thanks to Jess for taking the time to read all these team profiles and help with the Emoji-nal States.

#10 – Texas Tech Red Raiders

Last Season’s Shame: 14-18 (6-12) – First year of Tubby Smith ends with Tubby’s first losing season as a head coach. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the vodka-fueled dumpster fire Gillespie left in his wake is the real reason for this.
Emoji-nal State:
Texas Tech
Non-Conference Record:
Projected Conference Record: 2-16 
Projected Total:

Ranked Game Record: 0-03
Baller Wins:
Absolutely none. Seriously, look at their schedule. They’ve lost to pretty much any team that you might have heard of, even if it’s because they’re a football school.
Brutal Losses: 
Not to pass judgement on the Missouri Valley Conference here, but an 18-point shellacking at the hands of Loyola University Chicago has to qualify. I have a friend who went there because they have a solid stage production program, so you know they’ve got the finger on the pulse of hoops recruiting.

I know that, looking at the record alone, the Red Raiders look like a strong team. But as you’ll see with pretty much all of these previews, everyone in the Big XII X XII is crushing their way into the conference slate. I mean, K-State (in a minute, I promise) is the worst team in the league right now and even they haven’t managed to completely play their way out of the tournament quite yet. Neither have the Red Raiders, but it’s only a matter of time before the buzzsaw of a stacked league knocks them back to their rightful place in the conference standings.

I honestly wanted to award the continuity of the Tubby Smith era4 and give them a couple of extra wins just for having a competent coach who didn’t get run out of town after a single season (Billy Gillespie). Or the nepotism selection from hell (Pat Knight). I just couldn’t do it. They’ve played mediocre basketball so far this season against some truly laughable opponents. They just can’t be as good as their record here. Once they get into league play and have to go two-fer against the top…hell, even the middle…of this conference, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening and a fun time watching the tournament from Buffalo Wild Wings5.

#9 – Kansas State Wildcats

Last Season’s Shame: 20-13 (10-8) – A solid season for Sexual Frustration that saw them take one each off Kansas and Iowa State. Naturally, they made the tournament, only to get punted in the first round by perhaps the most loathsome Kentucky team in recent memory6.
Emoji-nal State:
Non-Conference Record:
Projected Conference Record: 4-14
Projected Total:

Ranked Game Record: 0-1
Baller Wins:
Slim pickings here, but I’m going to go with a ass beating of Purdue since I can’t honestly count losing by four to ‘Zona as a win7
Brutal Losses: 
Could a team have a harder time winning gimme games? I can’t decide if a 23-point assassination by Pitt is worse than a 2-point edging by Texas Southern. At least Pitt’s a major conference team, one that most likely has a dance invite waiting for them at the end of the season.

I really wanted to put K-State higher than this. I like it when the Wildcats can hang in games and make shit interesting. Mostly that’s because I miss Missouri. Like a lot. But what has K-State done so far this year to engender any faith? Look at the record, which would be totally fine if they’d taken their talent level into, say, Kansas’ non-conference slate. It isn’t fine though. They can’t seem to win winnable games. That’s not a good sign in this conference of death.

One thing that might help is that they’ve been reasonably efficient in scoring a horrific8 68.3 PPG. I don’t see much in them to fuel any faith in them being a defensive juggernaut, but if they can figure that end of the court out, they could prove me wrong. I just don’t see that happening, though. I don’t think this is Bruce Weber’s year and, if that’s the case, he might be moving on to greener9 pastures.

#8 – Texas Christian Horned Frogs10

Last Season’s Shame: 9-22 (0-18) – I don’t think there’s much to go over here. I believe this emoji based Photoshopping tells the tale pretty accurately.
Emoji-nal State:
TCU-Poop on FIRE
Non-Conference Record:
Projected Conference Record: 6-12
Projected Total: 19-12

Ranked Game Record: 0-0
Baller Wins:
Tennessee State University is clearly the highlight of their schedule since I thought it was actually LSU for a minute. Not that LSU’s good at basketball, but that’s a team that’s probably in the running for “everyone else” after Kentucky in the SEC. Seriously. Look at the logos side-by-side and tell me that TSU isn’t totally trying to trick people:

Seriously! Look at that shit! If Knutford University was upset about our Trajan logo, I'm pretty sure LSU should be like double pissed about this business.

Seriously! Look at that shit! If Knutford University was upset about our Trajan logo, I’m pretty sure LSU should be like double pissed about this business.

Brutal Losses: Well, if you haven’t lost a game, you don’t have any brutal losses. Really, that’s just a technicality, but zero losses all the same.

Last year wasn’t a season to remember for the Horned Frogs. Going out backwards in Cofnerence play is pretty hard when you consider that even the Red Raiders managed to win a game or two here and there under Pat Knight’s stewardship. Winning a single Conference game should be difficult, but not impossible. Hell, last year’s 0-18 TCU team was just a year removed from a two win campaign that saw them take a game off of Kansas in perhaps the worst regular season performance of the Toupee era. See, that was a horrible team that still managed to fight their way out of a paper sack and win two games. So going un-feated? That’s a pretty heady accomplishment.

Now, if you thought that Trent Johnson’s squad was going to try and give Towson a run for their money for longest losing streak11, you were dead wrong. And I mean dead fucking wrong. Rather than continue to roll over, the Horned Frogs went the opposite way and have won every single game they’ve played this season. All of them. Look, I know, I didn’t believe it myself, but there they are: a sterling 13-0.

It’s super impressive. It’s also unsustainable.

Look, Trent Johnson might finally be turning the TCU program around. However, it is a long road from complete and total doormat to respectability and even further to contending for a conference title. I can’t put faith in Johnson, a .532 career coach, to turn it around completely. One huge red flag, aside from the quality of competition, is their leading scorer, Anderson, is the only Horned Frog to average double figures on the season. That’s troubling coming into league play where the competition is better and defenses aren’t going to be fooled by Anderson. Expect TCU’s scoring to dry up considerably12.

The bulk of their scoring is on the guards and the team as a whole is shooting a staggering 48.5% on the season. That’s great! It’s just that I don’t trust that number when it comes to playing against quality competition. Amric Fields is going to need to get better on the production side of things, improving from his current 8.0 PPG. He’s hitting at an insane clip (59.6%), so if he can increase scoring without damaging the percentage, TCU should improve in conference play. I think six games is more than enough improvement13.

#7 – Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last Season’s Shame: 21-13 (8-10) – A trainwreck of a season that featured a seven game losing streak at the worst possible time, Marcus Smart (justifibly, in my opinion) attacking a fan, and a mercy killing at the hands of Gonzaga in the tournament. I’m sure I had OSU slotted to get out of the first round, but I also ignored my own “don’t back any team that melted down for seven straight games” rule.
Emoji-nal State:
Non-Conference Record: 
Projected Conference Record: 7-11
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 0-1
Baller Wins:
A 74-72 OT win over Missouri. Missouri isn’t good at all, but I’m going to give props to any team that protects the world from Missouri joy.
Brutal Losses: 
A 26-point skull fucking by a middle-of-the-SEC-pack Gamecocks squad.

This team is a run-and-gun nightmare. Who needs assists when you can have two dudes average 17+ points? Fuck ball movement, jack it up, boys! Oklahoma State features Le’Bryan Nash has come into his own this season, averaging 17.9 PPG after averaging 13.8 in his first three season in Stillwater. He’s finally the player that everyone thought he would be and he’s doing it on an insanely efficient 47.5% shooting. Meanwhile, Phil Forte III is morphing into a reasonable approximation of Keiton fucking Page v2.0. More skills, better all around game added to a bombing white dude. Between Forte and Nash, there’s a shade shy of 35 points of production. No other duo in the cofnerence that I noted was combining for more.

Oklahoma State is good and they’ve clearly found a rythm for what they want to do on the court. My main issue is the lack of assists, though. Currently, they’re 64th in the country in scoring while 240th in assists. That’s not good. I’m sure Oklahoma State is going to be fun to watch and a nightmare for slow teams in the Big XII X XII, but how can they continue their path to victory when teams force them into full 35-second offensive sets? If they’re not able to get into a flow, I don’t see how they keep the scoring up. They’ll fall off a bit in conference, but that, as it has been with most of these teams, be a function of the toughness of the league, rather than them being a shitty team14.

#6 – Oklahoma Sooners

Last Season’s Shame: 21-10 (12-6) – A very good regular season capped by two quick tournament exits. Oklahoma deserved better last year than getting bounced in the first round by North Dakota State.
Emoji-nal State:

Non-Conference Record:
Projected Conference Record: 8-10
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 1-2
Baller Wins:
A convincing 10-point win over UCLA made all the more convincing when you consider it was in the Battle 4 Atlantis and their totally tits ballroom-cum-basketball court15. Also, they continued the theme of Oklahoma protecting the country from Misery happiness by curbstomping them by 19 in early December.
Brutal Losses: A two-point loss against the Creighton Bluejays, all the more shameful since Dougie McBuckets wasn’t there to score like 150 points and make it an actual rout. Also, Creighton’s going to be terrible this season, which will only make this loss look worse as the season wears on.

I like this team! Seriously! This isn’t a misprint or anything, I genuinely think Oklahoma’s a good squad this year and they’re the Maginot Line for the conference. You want into the Tournament? You need to overcome Oklahoma to ensure your entry, my friend.

The Sooners have been slowly building a decent contender, one that’s primed to erase the memory of that shit squad that Kansas routed three seasons ago16. I really like watching Buddy Hield play. Ditto Cousins. Hell, I’ll even (flow…thoughts arrive like butterflies) give some love to Spangler, who manages to be both an annoying shit and a really good fundamental college player. This season, Oklahoma does a lot of things well, and isn’t atrocious at anything while they’re at it. Lon Krueger is definitely continuing the upward trajectory of the program, even if, numbers wise, this is going to look like a bit of a slip.

One huge caveat, though: Oklahoma took advantage of a weaker Big XII X XII last season that saw a number of teams that should have performed better go into tailspins of various magnitudes. Is that door still open this season? Personally, I say no, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Sooners manage to sneak into the top three by the end of the season. Which is what made picking teams this year so hard. Everyone looks solid and at least one team that looks solid has to collapse. I feel like Oklahoma is the team most likely for that to happen, even though I think they’re really good. But being the dividing line between the good and the great isn’t to say they’ll have a bad year. Just more proof of how rough this conference slate is going to be.


That wraps up part one of my two-part MEGA Big XII X XII preview. Come back this afternoon for part two.



1 – And now, it’s snowing when this gets posted, too. Funny how that works. Of course, the snow’s a minor annoyance comapared to be a horrible cold snap coming. Consider yourself lucky if you get to drive places rather than walk to the subway in brutal cold. Back

2 – Yes, I’m well aware that I just blamed Tubby’s first losing season on picking up the chunks of limbs scattered around Lubbock following the departure of Billy Gillespie, but there’s just no way, no fucking way he manages to right that ship this season. The Big XII X XII is just too strong. Like, to the point where this preview is packed with some total judgement calls, rather than any strong feeling about a particular team. Back

3 – I mentioned it on Twitter, but I wrote this prior to the Big XII X XII Conference season starting…but then published it after the season started. So, yes, I’m aware that Tech just got through dropping their conference opener to Texas, but for the purposes of this, let’s just stick with non-conference ranked wins. As if I believed that shit held any water. Back

4 – Two years without a DUI or a player assault! Let’s pop some champagne! Back

5 – Hopefully, Tubby springs for a trip up to the city and a huge post-season feast for his squad at the Buffalo Wild Discotheque up in Times Square. Back

6 – I mean, every year they’re loathsome, but usually, they have the good graces to be unstoppable, like this year. If this year’s team doesn’t win it all, then they probably died in a plane crash or something. They’re that good and that makes them loathsome. No, last year’s Kentucky squad was a different breed of awful. That team of world-beaters managed to stumble their way to 11 losses. Eleven! All this while over-zealous Wildcat fans are getting tattoos to commemorate a 2014 Championship that never came…except that it very nearly became a reality. What’s worse than that? The universe finally give us what we all want (Kentucky shame) and they very nearly turned it into yet another National Championship. What I’m saying, there’s clearly no higher power or anything. Back

7 – Even though, as terrible as this team is, that’s totally a win. Anytime you can take a favorite for the title down to the wire, you’re doing something right. Even if only for a minute. Back

8 – Yes, yes, I know…Kansas struggles to score and all that jazz. Look, I’m freely admitting this is one of those “pot calling the kettle black” situations. Back

9 – Read: somewhere with a solid base of talent that’s already been recruited so he can look competent for a couple years before his inability to recruit becomes apparent and, like shampoo, he’s lat(h)er-r(un)se-repeat. Further reading: see Illinois tenure of Weber, Bruce. Back

10 – From here on out, I think the teams are not evenly matched, but considerably closer then the previous two. As such, the next seven previews are probably going to be more in-depth than the last two. Look, I want to bring you the kind of analysis you deserve, but seriously…Texas Tech and K-State are garbage and there’s no need to spend too much time worrying about them. Back

11 – Trent Johnson certainly isn’t winning any coach of the century awards for his career body of work, but he isn’t a slouch either. TCU retaining his services despite the debacle of last season is a testament to how little of a shit TCU gives about their basketball programt17. Back

12 – Somehow, they’re 47th in the country, scoring a ridiculous 75.2 PPG. Again, look at the competition they’re playing. I’m pretty sure a pickup team could notch that many points against the types of teams TCU has gone against so far this season. Back

13 – Seriously, having TCU end up in the seven spot might have been the toughest call here. I think they’re legit, but I think they’re legit the way that Baylor is three out of four years. Good players, well coached, terrible situation. If you moved TCU back into a mid-major, I’m pretty sure they’d be ripping limbs left and right. In the BigXII XII? They’re in a shitty situation and there’s little hope for more of the redemption narrative that’s taken place in their non-conference slate. Back

14 – It should be noted that I think this is the line for tournament teams from the BigXII X XII. Oklahoma State is probably in, but they have work to do. Same with the next team on the list. Back

15 – Full disclosure: I watched a lot of that tournament over Feast Week, thanks to my parents’ beloved UNC playing in the tournament. I tried to explain that they should be prepared for quite possibly the worst aesthetic basketball ever. Seriously, Atlantis…you’re not broke. Build a goddamned basketball court. Back

16 – I remember watching that one at my friend Jane’s spot with her former roommate Kyle. It was a typical game watching experience with Kyle, since he loved to make fun of Kansas’ dominance. In this particular matchup, Oklahoma fans left Lloyd Noble with like 15 minutes left in the second half. I’d like to blame an incoming snowstorm on the mass exodus that left the stands empty for a convincing KU win, but that’s not true. No, Oklahoma was just a train wreck that game (and really, that whole season). Back

17 – And honestly, they shouldn’t care too much about it since they’re like a reverse Kansas in that regard. Sure, they had some rough season on the gridiron the last couple of years, but the absolute demolition they delivered from start to finish on Ole Miss in the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Did they deserve to be in the playoffs? Probably. But they shouldn’t be disappointed with the hardware they did take. I mean, it isn’t like the hoops team’s going to be bringing anything home for the trophy case any time soon. Back


Big XII Preview, Part 1 – If Thine Enemy Hunger… by longdistancejayhawk
Out with the old patsies and in with the new.

Out with the old patsies and in with the new.

A new year dawns and we’re finally getting to the part of the season where games start to me so, so much more.

We’ve been dealing with crap matchups, terrible non-conference games, and just a general lack of urgency on the part of anyone playing ball for too long now. That’s not to say that people aren’t interested in college hoops1. No people still care before conference play. It just isn’t quite the same. There’s something about remembering particular players and teams that have given your team trouble. It’s even more rewarding to beat a team that’s given you fits. For instance, was there a game that meant more to God’s Faithful than the Missouri game at the Fieldhouse last season?

My point exactly.

Even taking on Ohio State for a second round in the tournament, this time with Sullinger playing and a trip to the title game on the line, didn’t have quite the release of beating Missouri and in such spectacular fashion. There’s really no substitute for the thrill of conference play. In honor of our conference season beginning this Saturday, I’m dedicating two days to previewing the Big XII X XII, breaking down all the teams, from worst to first, as I try to see the future. As with most things, I’m going to be totally right, so if you’re looking for easy money with your bookie, feel free to use this as a guide.

Before we get into the meats of these potatoes2, let’s take a look at where the various constituents of our hallowed conference sit3.

STANDINGS AT THE END OF THE NON-CONFERENCE (tklastthreegamesstandings)

  1. Kansas (11-1)
  2. Kansas State (11-2)
  3. Oklahoma State (10-2)
  4. Iowa State (10-3)
  5. Oklahoma (9-3)
  6. TCU (9-4)
  7. Baylor (8-4)
  8. Texas Tech (7-4)
  9. Texas (8-5)
  10. West Virginia (7-5)

Yep, that’s right. We’re at the top, as it should be. A couple of thoughts on this list before I break it down. TCU is way too high. They barely score and they haven’t played anyone of note (more in a bit), so #6 in the conference is not at all sustainable for the Horned Frogs. Texas seems pretty low, which I don’t expect to last. Though, I also don’t think Texas is that good from a chemistry standpoint. Talented, sure, but they don’t seem to work well together (more on that later as well). Finally, West Virginia…what the fuck? You were supposed to give us a challenge, not suck shit in the cellar of the conference. Step up your game!

Alrighty, let’s get down to business. Again, these are all the important details about each team and how many conference games I think they’re going to win. Keep in mind, this is in reverse order. Today’s post counts down teams ten to six. Keep an eye out tomorrow for the rest of the conference.

#10 – Texas Tech Red Raiders

Non-Conference Record: 6-4
Projected Conference Record: 3-15
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 0-0
Baller Wins: 
Florida A&M sets the tone for them going into conference play; unfortunately, it’s actually the opposite tone for a still hopeless Red Raider squad
Brutal Losses: 
Probably a 15 point loss to Arizona State. I don’t know how many more ways I can say it: no one short of the worst of the worst should be losing to the Pac-12

Bobby Knight (en), coach of the Texas Tech Red...

Bad news, Tech fans. The General’s not coming back to save your garbage program.

Texas Tech is currently sitting at the eighth spot on the non-conference record. That seems a little ambitious for the perennially bad Red Raiders. Ever since the General used his grandson to announce his retirement, Texas Tech has been awful. First, they suffered through the Pat Knight era and now they’re being coached by Chris Walker, after the Billy Gillespie era ended in Hindenberg-esque fashion4. There’s no way that they manage to win many conference games. For one thing, they’ve completely overhauled their roster. I’m not saying Walker’s a good or bad coach, but he’s not John Calipari here. It would be unreasonable to expect him to coach an almost entirely new squad of players to a slew of conference victories. Especially when the conference is so top heavy. I just think there’s been too much turmoil at the program to turn it around in, what? Six weeks since Gillespie resigned?

For further proof that the Red Raiders aren’t going to be much of a factor in the conference, look at their record and how they got it. They’re just one game over .500 right now and they haven’t beaten anyone of note. Add to that the fact that they’ve dropped games to McNeese State, a mediocre Arizona State, and a exceptionally meh Alabama and you’re left with a very uninspiring entry into the meat of the season. If you’re down in Lubbock hoping for something to distract you from the fact you live in Lubbock, basketball isn’t it this season.

Might I suggest drinking or fly fishing?

#9 – Oklahoma Sooners

Non-Conference Record: 9-3
Projected Conference Record: 4-14
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 0-1 (a 72-47 blasting by Gonzaga)
Baller Wins: 
It must be heartening that they were able to beat the Mountaineers once outside of conference play. Perhaps there’s a team worse than the Sooners in the Big XII X XII…you know, that isn’t TCU…
Brutal Losses: 
From a points perspective, that loss to Gonzaga must have sucked; from a pure embarrassing standpoint, definitely losing to SFA

Don't expect big things from this Sooners squad. Kruger will tyrn things around. But not this year. And probably not next year either. But some year, yes...yes, he will.

Don’t expect big things from this Sooners squad. Kruger will turn things around. But not this year. And probably not next year either. But some year, yes…yes, he will.

This is the first of two bold opinion alerts that will happen over the course of my Big XII X XII previews: I don’t think Oklahoma is that good. I know they’re sitting pretty high at 9-3, good enough for fifth place in the conference. I see that. I’m not stupid, so lay off me. I’ve seen maybe one total game of the Sooners this season, broken over a couple of different actual games, and I saw absolutely nothing to inspire confidence in their ability to win a ton of games. I can testify that their fans certainly don’t see much to be excited about either as the Sooners are constantly playing to an empty Lloyd Noble. Which is sad because that team has been good as recent as four years ago.

Here’s the thing about almost all of their wins coming into conference play: they’re not quality. First off, almost all of the wins were barely there wins. Oklahoma, for instance, has only beaten three teams by more than ten points5. Let me recap for those in the back, that means that six of their nine wins have been by ten or less. Against teams that shouldn’t be keeping it that close. Look, I get it. There are times when you just can’t seem to shake another team or they’re better than you expected6.The problem I’m seeing is that this is happening too often for the Sooners to be a legit contender. Expect them to lose both games to at least four , possibly five conference teams (Kansas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State) and split the rest of their series.

Again, this is a bold prediction. I’m willing to go down with this ship because I think the Sooners are pretenders.

#8 – Texas Christian Horned Frogs

Non-Conference Record: 9-4
Projected Conference Record: 5-13
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 0-0
Baller Wins Largest Margin of Victory: 
A total blasting of Centenary, which is D-III. Look, TCU looks so bad that any time they can basically double anyone’s score is probably a victory for them
Brutal Losses: 
An absolute shellacking at the hands of the Big XII X XII-killer Northwestern

Somehow this thing manages to be both adorable and absolutely disturbing at the same time.

Somehow this thing manages to be both adorable and absolutely disturbing at the same time.

Where the hell did TCU come from7? I have yet to see this team on TV and suspect that I’m only going to get a chance to see them when they finally play God’s Team. So, I’m basing pretty much everything I’m about to say on looking at stat lines and making educated guesses. This team seems to struggle to score. They actually have victories where they didn’t break 50 points (44-39 over Prairie View A&M, 47-45 Navy) while doing the same in three of their four losses. That’s not what you want to see from your team, especially going into conference play where you’re going to have to contend with Kansas or Oklahoma State. If you’re having trouble hanging points on Navy, you’ve got a huge problem.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “If they’re so bad, why are they eighth in the league?” That’s an excellent question, glad you asked. In their last couple of games, they’ve shown improvement, scoring over 60 in their last three. If you add the fact that they seem to be winning close games, it might be a sign that they’re just a stout defensive grinderman team. Which is boring as fuck to watch, but could result in a few upsets around the conference. In any event, I highly doubt these higher scoring lines are a complete turnaround, but it does bode well for them being able to actually hang with some of the mid-table teams in the conference. I’m not expecting this team to set the Big XII X XII on fire this season. Not by a long shot.

#7 – West Virginia Mountaineers

Non-Conference Record: 7-5
Projected Conference Record: 6-12
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 0-2 (34 point slaughter by the Zags8, a 15 point drubbing by the Wolverines)
Baller Wins: 
In a total absence of anything resembling a quality win, I guess I’ll go with the Marist game, where Huggy Bear’s squad shover their collective feet up the Ginger Foxes’ asses and walked them around like boots
Brutal Losses: 
Quite a few to choose from, but I’m feeling like losing to the Duquesne Dukes was pretty rough since they’re a marginal NIT team this season

In the most fitting recruiting of all time, Deniz Kilicli looks almost exactly like the dude who dresses as a mountaineer for WVU.

In the most fitting recruiting of all time, Deniz Kilicli looks almost exactly like the dude who dresses as a mountaineer for WVU.

Didn’t I say that I had two bold predictions coming over the course of this two-parter? It might actually end up being three, if you want to count the fact that I’m feeling good on West Virginia leapfrogging up three spots from their final non-conference spot into the seventh seat at the table. To start the season, the Mountaineers have been pretty horrific. They lined up a tough non-conference schedule, taking on #3 Michigan and #13 Gonzaga…and losing both. Those are acceptable loses, as is the Davidson one. But losing to Oklahoma? I don’t know, that seems kind of bush league.

So, what makes me thing they’re going to turn it around come conference time? Two words: Huggy. Bear. I’m not anything approaching a Bob Huggins fan9. I don’t think there’s any way that even a devoid of talent WVU team doesn’t manage to crack off a couple of big wins, finish the season strong, and give their toothless hillbilly fans something to look forward to next year. West Virginia isn’t going to be good. Pretty far from it actually. But they’re definitely going to be better than their soon to be bitter rival, Oklahoma10. All told, I don’t think six wins is unrealistic for them. I think the biggest problem is that too many of their wins are going to come from working the lesser teams in the conference, coupled with the odd upset here and there. All that translates to is an NIT berth, if you’re lucky.

#6 – Iowa State Cyclones

Non-Conference Record: 10-3
Projected Conference Record: 9-9
Projected Total: 

Ranked Game Record: 0-2 (8 point edge by the Cincinnati Bearcats, 12 point loss to UNLV)
Baller Wins: 
Pummeling BYU by 21, while Cougar fans kept wishing Jimmer would return
Brutal Losses: As their only unranked loss, I suppose it’s Iowa

In Year Dos of the Fred Hoiberg Experiment, the Cyclones look to be staying strong. Will they go up or down from last year? Only a few hardwood bloodbaths will answer that question.

In Year Dos of the Fred Hoiberg Experiment, the Cyclones look to be staying strong. Will they go up or down from last year? Only a few hardwood bloodbaths will answer that question.

Oh, Iowa State…you’re the last of the cellar dwellers. Unlike your leg-broken bretheren, mouth breathing and waiting for the sweet release of death11, you’re almost in the hunt. You’re right there, scratching at the door while the big boys get wasted and puke in buckets just on the other side. The side where the lights are on, the food is readily available and people actually know who you are outside of Ames12. Your non-conference record is admirable, if a little disappointing given that you probably could have beaten either UNLV or Cincinatti. Or both. You held your own against these worthy foes, but you didn’t manage to win. And that’s why you’re on the outside looking in.

It also doesn’t help that Royce White left for the greener pastures of the NBA13, leaving you without a star. It isn’t that the rest of the squad is bad, just that you’re missing a crucial piece. But I have faith in Hoiberg to keep you competitive, to keep you always in the conversation of best in the Big XII X XII. And who knows, a solid overall record, .500 in league play, and a solid conference tourney showing might be enough to get you a slot in the Big Dance. It’s not outside of reach for you guys. Keep fighting. Keep playing hard and you might get to come join us in the regular part of the house, rather than cellar.


Well, there you have it, part one of the Big XII X XII preview. Tomorrow, I’ll thrill you with part two. Until that time, I want everyone to know that I actually do know some of the players on the other teams, I just didn’t want to get too specific about the whole thing14.



1 – If I’m any indication, as well as the people who read this blog, enthusiasm is at a pretty high level already. But like most things, it could be better. It could matter for more than just a win to pad your resume. It could matter because you hate those shit bags from Norman. It could matter because Royce “Cray-Cray” White may be gone, but Iowa State still beat us at Ames and I’m still pissed about it. It could matter because all of these teams have history, demons, and ghosts surrounding previous games, previous vintages. This is when the war comes home, when these aren’t just fun games where you drop 40 on another team while seeing who can do the most hand-behind-head-BJ pose on a fastbreak dunk. This is when it matters and everyone of these shit bags must pay for having the balls to think they can stop the inexorable march towards a ninth straight Big XII X XII title for God’s Team. Shit…I think you all know who’s coming out on top of this one…or do you? Back

2 – Way better in my head than on paper, but given how much work a massive two-part preview is, there’s no time to turn back now. Onward and upward! Back

3 – You will, undoubtedly notice the addition of TCU and West Virginia. I’d like to welcome both of them to the conference. It’s been nice to see them struggle to score (TCU) or struggle to win (WVU) as we come into conference play. It’s going to be nice to have four extra wins on our resume. Plus, it’ll be nice for K-State to finally have a rival, even if, like us, it’s more of a one-way affair. Back

4 – Everything about that whole situation was fucked. First off, Gillespie managed to get 15 people associated with the program to leave. Then, he was accused of abusing his players by making them practice while injured among other things. Just before he was due to meet with Kirby Hocutt, the TTU AD, he was hospitalized for heart attack symptoms (probably brought on by the stress of the fact that they were probably going to fire him). Eventually, he had to check himself into the Mayo Clinic, at which point, he also resigned from the program permanently. Between him and Mike Leach kicking players in the jerries like he was D-Wade, I’m pretty sure the Red Raiders program is either snakebitten or only attracts psychopants coaches. There’s no in between. Back

5 – If you’re leveling the criticism at KU that we play nothing but chumps in the early going, do me a favor and look at Oklahoma’s pre-conference schedule. Go ahead, the tab will still be here when you come back. Satisfied? Yeah, that’s a pretty strong group of powderpuffs if ever I saw one. Back

6 – The faithful should have no problem conjuring up that actually entertaining, if nailbiting, Kansas tussle with Long Beach “The Beach” State last season. Casper Ware was an incredible player who made that one a fucking game. In case you were wondering, Ware is playing in Italy right now. Which is a shame because I really liked him and was hoping he’d make it to the Association. Back

7 – That’s a rhetorical question. I know they came from the Mountain West after reneging on their planned jump to the Big East. I’m more curious about where TCU managed to find a team that, based on their score lines, looks like a 1950s squad. Hey, Horned Frogs, you know you can dribble, right? Back

8 – Gonzaga might just be the Big XII X XII’s kryptonite this season. Based on their track record against our teams, I think we should do everything possible to avoid playing them in the tourney, including setting their bus on fire. You know, just in case. Back

9 – For one thing, he made things interesting at K-State for one year…until he bolted. Then, he’s spent most of his career wearing wind breakers on the sideline. Wind breakers. Who the fuck are you? Paulie Walnuts? I feel like he has to be mildly uncomfortable when he comes out for the pre-game handshake and Toupee’s on the other side wearing a $25,000 suit. Like, where are his wife and kids? Do you think they cringe when they see him out there, coaching these kids while dressed like he’s grabbing his paper in the morning? I know I would be embarrassed. Back

10 – When they first announced that the Mountaineers were coming to our conference, Schuyler and I joked a lot about the idea that now K-State would have a legitimate rival. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that most Wildcat students aren’t even going to think about it on that level. Maybe I’m alone in my rivalry narrative. Or maybe I’m creating it to try and make K-State fans feel less inferior to the real university of the state of Kansas. Who knows? No matter what, if K-State takes a hatred towards WVU, I can all but guarantee that the Mountaineer fans will not reciprocate (a pretty normal state of things for them). Now, I’m interested in whether or not Oklahoma becomes a conference rival, thanks to a loss at the hands of the Sooners in the Old Spice Classic earlier this year that adds a third game on top of the two in conference matchups. Things could get intriguing if they were to, say, meet up in the Big XII X XII tournament in March as well. Back

11 – You know, or the off season. Back

12 – I think it should be painfully obvious at this point…but the extremely bold prediction I’m making in part 2 is that Texas isn’t nearly as shitastic as they seemed to be earlier this season. It’s definitely hard to put them in the top five, but I did. Either one of two things is happening: 1.) I’m right and they’re better than they look; 2.) Sith Lord has pulled me in again with his…I don’t know, dark magic? It certainly isn’t charm that gets me to back him so often and irrationally. Back

13 – And has been trying his best to set said pastures on fire. Back

14 – Or not. I mean, 3,000+ words…about the conference…and I’m not even done. Anyway, here’s a short list of enemies I’m excited/terrified to face, either because they’re good or because they’re the kind of person that pisses me right the fuck off: Texas Tech – vaguely remember Jamal Williams…so, actually, no one15; Oklahoma – Steven Pledger, Romero Osby, Jimmy Bo Fraschilla; TCU – not to re-betray your trust in my analysis, but I’d like to reiterate that I haven’t actually seen this team play; West Virginia – Jabarie Hinds, Deniz Kilicli; Iowa State – Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee. See, I know some of these players. Back

15 – To paraphrase Mr. Show, it’s perfectly understandishable based on the turmoil swirling around that program. Back

OU: For a Team So Woefully Bad, They Certainly Tried in the First Half by longdistancejayhawk

Tyshawn is giving a cautionary warning to any Mizzou shit stains out there. He will drill thrills and he will be looking at you through his asshole. Okay, I'll admit, not my best joke.

Last night, I grabbed drinks with Hope and Ty, who are decidedly not sports fans and definitely not KU basketball fans1. We went to this spot in my old neighborhood called Boat that I really like. Boat, in case you’re not familiar with bars in Carroll Gardens, is a kind of hipster-type dive bar2 that has a loose nautical theme. I say loose because of the name and some of the decor has anchors on it. That’s really about it, theme wise. The most defining characteristic is the fact that the outside of it is red. Anyway, the spot boasts cheap beers, High Life in bottles, a fire place in the back3, and Big Buck Hunter. You know all the things needed for a solid evening4. That said, Boat doesn’t have a TV and since I was trying to be a gentleman and hang out with friends, I decided it would be okay to miss the first half of the OU game last night. Thank god I did, since from the feed I was able to watch this morning, we did not play all that well in the first. The second, the part that I saw, we kicked the shit out of them with dunk after dunk, so I think I saw the better part of the game.

The Good: Gravey Boat was sitting behind the bench! Did anyone else catch that? The fucking Gravey Boat was sitting right there, corpulent and out of shape as always, watching the game in an Adidas track jacket. My god…the memories came flooding back when I saw his cornrow bedecked head staring listlessly onto the court last night. The only thoughts that had to be going through his head were “Cheese burger…meatballs…I wonder if Charles Meatballs Barkley is here…he could tell me how I can still eat all those hot wings with a side of meatballs while still being on the Meatball Watchers plan5“. Okay, that’s not what he was actually thinking. I’m guessing he was really thinking “Look at this Withey kid. Guy’s a block monster. I bet if I’d played like that all season, and not just in two tourney games people would remember me more for being a dominant center than being an out of shape shit bag who coasted through college…except for those tourney games. Yeah, Jeff, give me a call when you block 20 in the tournament…wait, he’s coming over here…why’s he talking my girlfriend…I don’t like this…” Yeah, that’s more accurate.

Releford pumps the crowd up. Is there anything this man can't do? I can't wait for the improbable run to the Final Four and the inevitable Super Bowl Shuffle style jam we release that involves Releford screaming like ODB at the beginning of "Triumph".

Okay, so I checked the stat sheet and they credited WITHEY! with just the one block. Bad move, guys. Any coeds that go missing between now and the Missouri game on Saturday, well, the blood’s on your hands. I watched the second half of that game and he was blocking more shots than just one. Actually, he and T-Rob were double handing a lot of blocks, so maybe they just couldn’t figure out who got the blocks. Anyway, Withey, who has blossomed from frustrating player to absolutley awesome defensive big, had a good night swarming the Sooner offense in the second half. At the beginning of the season, Andrew and I started calling him “WITHEY!” only because it worked two ways: he was being awesome and you loved what he was doing; or he was awkwardly swatting at a ball and hitting someone in the face. I’m glad to say that the second form of WITHEY! seems to have vanished, leaving just the seven foot tall wrecking ball of a man. Also, according to the announcers last night, he put on 30 pounds of “muscle and strength”. This is great on the basketball court and for when he’s got a fake cast on and braining an unsuspecting Johnson County sweatheart before dragging her back to his basement for a little round of “put the lotion in the basket”. Whatever motivates you, buddy.

All jokes aside, Withey’s maturation is indicative of this season’s squad. We’re still sloppy and prone to mistakes, but we’re no longer trying to do too much. We can pace the game better than early on, not letting ourselves push tempo needlessly. I’m actually kind of enjoying watching the development of the team, which is a testament to Toupee, Manning, Dooley Doo, and Kurtis Blow6. This team, frustrating as they can be at times, is actually kind of loveable in a “hey, we’re doing the best we can with what we have” kind of way. Will I remember this team for the rest of my life? Maybe. Will I tell my kids about the incredible season we had with a squad of role players and former bench players taking appreciable minutes? Maybe. Will I gush for twenty minutes when they show highlight reels of KU during games ten years from now and I see Travis Releford’s meticulously groomed facial hair7 trying to raise the roof after a particularly awesome dunk? Absolutely.

The Bad: Well, Gravey Boat was there, so the stink of five triple cheeseburgers immediately behind our bench probably  distracted our boys during the first half. That and the kid with a bag of popcorn that was as big as he was sitting immediatley behind Junebug. There should be a “no food or drink behind the home team bench” rule instituted in Allen Fieldhouse. Look, I didn’t watch the first half but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we didn’t play well in the first half. I mean, the Sooners, the woeful, painful, their own fans don’t give two shits about them, Sooners were only down by three at the half. Are the Sooners the worst Big XII team? Absolutely not. But they’re not good. We shouldn’t have let them hang at any point in this game and we certainly shouldn’t have had an eleven point lead that we let dwindle down to three going into the half. We also shouldn’t let three guys on the Sooners, or any team for that matter, score in double figures. It’s embarassing. Granted, the announcers did point out that OU has three guys in the top of the conference in scoring, so I guess it’s understandable that they’d get theirs. But we should have keyed in on them and stopped them from scoring. Even if we limited one to, say seven or eight, the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was in the first half. Really, though, that’s my only complaint about the way we played.

Here’s something to chew on though: OU seemed to have a defensive strategy that admitted they aren’t good at protecting the rim. At one point during the second half, T-Rob got a particularly painful looking charge call against him. Osby, one of the Sooners’ better players, stepped in front of T-Rob to take the charge. The announcers said something along the lines of “Osby is really good at getting in position to take the charge” and they went on to discuss that he’s averaging like 2.5 drawn charges a game. That’s incredible since I’d say in a given game you barely see one charge called. Look, I’m not telling Osby to not get charges8. They can turn into points. It’s just that, with only one block and four steals on the game, it seems like the Sooners live and die defensively based on whether or not the opposition’s bigs are running into him, full steam ahead. Perhaps Kruger should train his guys to raised their arms once and a while or have help defenders collapse on guys like Robinson. I’m no basketball guru or anything, but I think there’s more to defense than just drawing charges.

Witherin Bill Self Quote of the Night: Even in a win where we threw down alley-oop dunks like it was a posterizing competition, Toupee is never satisfied:

I’m leaving out of here more excited about our team than before the game started. I didn’t think the last couple of weeks we had been that good. We’re going to have to be better Saturday night than we were tonight, but we were pretty good.

Yeah, you’re right, leading by 30 and ultimately winning by 22 wasn’t the best performance I’ve seen either.

Robinson, don't do that. Flexing in front of Jeff only makes him angry and likely to murder a couple of GSP residents.

JCTD Award: Since I might have imagined all those blocks from WITHEY!, I don’t think I can give the award to him. Sure, he had a solid night, what with 15 points and just looking like a bad ass, but I wanted something to back up what I thought I saw. Maybe he didn’t block a ton of shots. I don’t know. However, a certain Jayhawk made his mark in this game by nabbing his 15th double-double of the season and managing to get at least one mark in each statistical category. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Beast from the East, the adonis amongst boys, the dark chocolate to WITHEY!’s pristine white variety, is your JCTD Award winner. Robinson came out last night, pissed about the fact that ISU quintuple teamed him into obsolescence last Saturday, and knocked down 20 points, ripped down 17 boards, hurled up four assists, poked the ball out twice, and swatted one away from the bucket. The man could do no wrong last night, and for that, I salute him! Keep it up, buddy. Don’t let the bloodthirsty seccsionists of Missouri keep you down. Explode and take their starting five down to nothing but ash.

Looking ahead: Does anyone really need me to tell them what’s next? As if you didn’t already know, we’re tussling with Missouri at 9pm EST. I’m a ball of anxiety right now. You see, it’s been so long since the Slavers were ranked so fucking high so late in the season. Also, I saw a guy who looked like the love child of David Carradine (RIP) and Larry David yesterday. Did I mention that the weather was fucking gorgeous and warm on February 1? Jesus. Is the apocalypse coming? If we don’t win on Saturday, something’s fucked about the world and, well, I’m going to immediately join a fucking Mayan apocalypse cult.



1 – Both of them went to VCU. Hope, who I’ve known longer, didn’t even realize that her school had a basketball team until 9 months ago when I started sending her text messages about how I wished her campus would burn to the ground. That and I wished she’d never been born so I wouldn’t have to be saying such hateful and ludicrous things to a friend of mine. Yeah, I didn’t take losing to pompous shit bag Shaka Smart so well, even if I did know that we were going to lose that game five minutes into the first half. Back

2 – Yes, Lindsay, if you’re reading, I just admitted that I like a hipster bar. What do you think about that? I’d love to put you on the receiving end of a well-time “Go fuck yourself” email, but after Greg looked so offended about my comments on your looks and brains yesterday, I don’t know that I can say that. Back

3 – Not that we needed it yesterday. Did anyone else practically die of joy yesterday when you realized that it was like mid spring weather? I wanted to take my laptop outside at work and try to boost a wireless signal and work in the park rather than sit in the office yesterday. So, so nice. In a totally unrelated story, global warming? Total myth. Back

4 – The acme of these things coming together was one night when James and I went to Boat. James is a man who loves a $3 High Life as much as the next person, but he loves Big Buck Hunter more. That and he’s a monster at the game. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen (slightly better than Sean since James doesn’t shoot wildly like Sean) and can hit just about everything on every map. Anyway, we were hanging out at Boat one night, trading rounds. He decided to derail our round system by laying down the following bet: “I bet the next round that I get all perfect sites this round.” I agreed to the bet. James pumped his money in the machine and went hunting…expect that he missed the first buck. The first fucking buck! He hit every single buck after that, going 14 for 15 on the hunt, but owing me that drink. I still bring this up to him all the time. And now, I’ve put it out there for the whole enterwebbes to enjoy. So, enjoy! Back

5 – I’m seriously worried about Charles Barkley ever since I saw his Weight Watchers ad. He says meatballs three or four times in 30 seconds. Do you think he replaced his obsession with gambling, booze, and Taco Bell with meatballs? I think we should get him on the next Celebrity Rehab for his dangerous addiction to meatballs. Back

6 – Andrew and I watched some of the Kentucky-Tennessee game on Tuesday at Mulhollands. I’m mentioning Mully only because I want to get a sandwich or something named after me. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Andrew brought up an interesting point about Kentucky, and Calipari in general. He feels, and I agree with him, that pretty much every Calipari team starts the season as good as they’ll ever be. Of course, he gets incredible recruits because he’s a junk car sales man rocking a blood oath with Satan, so as good as they’ll ever be is pretty fucking good. The thing is, watching them week to week, you never see them mature. You never really see them work on any of the deficinces that they have and, so, for me, the whole experience of Kentucky basketball isn’t as entertaining as watching a lumpy, mishappen Kansas team go from drop kicking the ball into the Beware the Phog banner to being a capable team full of guys who know their roles an execute. It’s part of why I think Kentucky tends to get beaten in the tournament (and really any team that loses just 2-3 games going into the tourney and never gets challenged too much on the way there). They don’t develop because they don’t have to, but that also gives everyone they face down the stretch plenty of footage of what they do well and what you can exploit. To me, it’s the mark of King Slimeball being an excellent recruiter and a lazy coach. Back

7 – After watching two Bulls games this week, I realized that Carlos Boozer must be training these kids on how to get a crisp line on you beard. Seriously. Look at Relly. Look at Boozer. They’re practically rocking the same look and it’s so immaculate that there’s got to be some kind of masters class in beard grooming that they both attended. I’m guessing that the professor emeritus in beard trimming is Jerome Betis, based on that cheesy Papa John’s ad where Peyton Manning’s broken neck is reffing the coin flip between the Bus and Papa John “I’m killing America with butter garlic basted pizza crust” Schnatter. Back

 8 – In much the same way I never would have told Pony Boy to not have that herky-jerky free throw shot that drew so many lane violations two seasons ago. Granted, a charge call going your way is more valuable than a lane violation, but it’s kind of nice to have something quirky about your team. Back

Sooner or Later by longdistancejayhawk

Blake Griffin, a maestro of dunks, if not badass facial expressions.

Growing up in Oklahoma, I have a love/hate relationship with their sports teams. On the one hand, Bob Stoops and his utter mastery of the college game is something breathtaking to behold. Even when his teams are injury riddled or not up to their usual standards, they’re always entertaining1. On top of that, they always have some kind of story, this year being the season-long memorial to fallen linebacker Austin Box. That’s the kind of thing that makes you get what makes a team important, not only to each other, but to their fans. So, yeah, I grew up being steeped in the culture of OU football.

Sadly, though, their fans can be sanctimonious pricks2, especially when you point out that their bucktoothed idea of crimson is something more akin to burgundy or maroon. And cream? Really? I’ve seen your jerseys. Shit’s white, not cream. The other thing is that, for all the dominance and enterainment the Sooners have offered me on the football field, their fans act like it’s their god-given right to waltz to the BCS every year, even when they’re not that good3 Get off your high horse, guys. You can’t win every year. I can’t even imagine what happened back in Oklahoma for the last month, after Oklahoma State got the BCS nod and the Sooner had to settle for dispatching Iowa in the Insight Bowl, while Justin Blackmon snagged four TDs, kissed a cheerleader and thanked a poor girl with leukemia for being a bad ass. It was just a strange year for college athletics in Oklahoma4.

Justin Blackmon, in recreating his own VJ Day Kiss, plants a solid on some Cowboy cheerleader. OU fans, take note: this is the man from OU that lead the Cowboys to an incredible finale over Andrew fucking Luck while you guys had to settle for an Insight Bowl and watching from home.

So, yeah, I kind of miss Oklahoma being relevant in basketball. OSU is almost always a contender, because, while football it the lifeblood of that school, they understand that a legacy of good basketball can be as rewarding as football5. For a brief few moments there, I thought that the Sooners were giving a shit about basketball. In fact, right before I moved to Brooklyn, the office I was working at had a copy of the Sooners promotional material. They talked a lot about how historically good the Sooners had been. They had reason to think that they’d be good for at least the foreseeable future with Blake Griffin and a fresh coach in Jeff Capel. Then things went south. In addition to having solid seasons during the tow Griffin years, Capel capped off his career at OU by losing more than winning and ultimately retreating to Duke and a spot on the bench as an assistant coach6. And now we’re left with a team in transition. The Sooners made the wise hire of Lon Kruger, who is famous for coaching UNLV and not faking birth certificates. I really want Kruger to make OU something to be, if not feared, at least a game I circle on my calendar. The Sooners are not at the point right now, despite the chili party I’m throwing for the game.

I blame this man for the emptying of the arena any time the Sooners can't win a game. It's just the way his reign at OU went. Plus, I mean, he looks fucked up in this shot.

I always looked forward to Kansas/Oklahoma match ups. Even if the teams weren’t even, I knew that the atmosphere would be good because the fans would still come out. But that hasn’t been the case the last couple of season. After Griffin left and Capel ran into some recruiting issues, the quality of play decreased. Like any fan base spoiled by it’s football teams glory, the Sooner fans stopped caring. This fact was never more apparent than last season when God’s Team went down to Norman. We beat the ever loving shit out of OU that day. With more than twelve minutes left in the game, Lloyd Nobel Arena emptied out, as fans young and old decided to try to beat traffic. The only spectators left in the stands wore Crimson and Blue. And that’s what OU needs. They need a coach and a program that makes you want to stay, even if the team is losing. In my four years at Kansas, I never left a game until the final buzzer sounded. Granted, I didn’t see many losses, but I never would have left. I would have kept thinking that something magical could happen, that Langford would get an alley oop that would break the game open, that Russ Rob would hit a three to spark a late game run. Even if those things happened and we still lost, I wanted the team to know that I appreciated what they did. I wanted them to understand that playing the game and screaming as hard as you can on every possession, even a hopeless one, was worth it for me. That’s the magic of the sport.

I want OU to get that magic back.


I’ll be perfectly honest with you: I have no idea what’s happening in the NFL these days. I mean, on a literal level I do. The playoffs start this afternoon and I know who the teams left standing are. But so much of the season and who made it to the playoffs seems to be a crap shoot. I was talking to my buddy james the other day and we couldn’t come up with a single dominant team. The Packers and the Saints look like the best teams, but if the Packers defense isn’t forcing turnovers and giving Rodgers great field position, it’s hard to tell whether or not they can win. It’s why I think the Packers clashing with the 49ers could be a bad combo for Green Bay. The same goes for the Saints. Drew Brees had a monster year7 and could carry that into the post-season. Or he could be facing off with Matt Stafford in a shoot out that his defense loses for him. Of every playoff year, this is the one where I feel like we’re looking at the biggest crapshoot.

So, why not try and pick the games this week?

NFL Playoff Round One Picks

Cincinnati at Houston

The Texans limped into the playoffs on third-string rookie QB T.J. Yates’8 unprepared shoulders. It’s been a bumpy ride for the Texans, who took the AFC South for the first time ever. They should probably write Peyton a thank you card for not playing this season. Anyway…fuck, I have no idea what’s going to happen in this one. I mean, the only thing I can think is that Simpson’s going to make another crazy TD catch and Green will pull down 8 for 100+ yards. Which I think will be the difference maker in this one. The Texans are trying to get by and the Bengals are just doing the same shit that lead them to 9-7 and a playoff berth. In this case, I think Cincy’s aerial game will carry the day.
Cincinnati 27, Houson 17

 Detroit at New Orleans

There’s nothing more to say about Drew Brees and his record setting year. In fact, he’s going to probably end up piling on more yards during this contest. The Lions are kind of frisky, but I don’t think Stafford’s going to be able to hang with the Saints. Look at what happened to the Lions in most blowouts this season. Sure, they made the score close to avoid embarassment, but if you were watching the games (specifically the first Green Bay game), they were playing catch up from the opening kick. Expect that to happen again.
Detroit 35, New Orleans 45

Atlanta at New York Giants

Living in Brooklyn means I’m treated to every Giants game (and, sadly, the Jets) because DirecTV apparently pick up signal through the one fucking tree in the gay bar behind my apartment’s back patio9. I mentioned this in an email to some friends and I’ll let my buddy Brian explain this one:

Rooting for the G-Men is like visiting an ex-girlfriend. She’s going to give you what she’s going to give you and you can never quite predict what that is. Sometimes she leaves you feeling great, like it used to be, like you always knew it could be. Other times she leaves you coldtiredalone, so dejected you can’t even fume, and you wonder why you ever called.

There you go.
Atlanta 23, New York Giants 20

Pittsburgh at Denver

How flagrantly will James Harrison try and take The Tebow out of this game? What’s wrong, James? Do you not like the all-mighty savior Jesus Christ and his football scion Tim Tebow? Get the fuck out of here you godless piece of shit.
Pittsburgh 10, Denver 13



1 – Early in the college season, a bunch of my ex-pat Jayahwk friends and I went to 4th Down to watch football. I’m going to blame Jane for pushing for this abortion of bridge-and-tunnel frat guys on a Brooklyn jaunt. Basically, everyone there seemed to be waiting for the keg stand station to open up so they could spike some girl’s drink without feeling the prick of their conscience since “oh, bro, I was so hammered last night I went home with a total dog” was in full effect. I was not impressed with this place in the slightest. It was like Brother’s and I prefer my sports bars to include a fireplace and bunch of lowlife regulars grousing about how Eli Manning’s contract is going to sink the G-Men. I digress…during the first drive of that game, OU was scary. I’d seen bits and pieces of them up to that point and I’d been impressed with how they were moving the ball at will. However, during that opening drive, they controlled the tempo and slowly marched down the field while effectively using up half of the first quarter. Then, of course, they had injuries and flamed out. Whatever. That one moment was such a Bob Stoops moment that you really can’t deny just how fucking good the guy is at coaching. Back

2 – If you’re not a Jayhawk, fuck you. I get the irony of that statement. Back

3 – Again, let’s ignore the fact that I think that every year about KU basketball. Also, in my defense, I never thought we were even close to a title contender this year. Which naturally means we’ll somehow make the Championship, despite the fact that our second best player is My Best Friend and he spends most of his non-basketball time taking to Twitter to complain about women. Dude, you’re in your twenties, you’re the point guard for the University of fucking Kansas. You shouldn’t be bitching about women breaking your heart or whatever. Put your jersey on and go hook up. Right now. You don’t need to be marrying anyone! That’s why it’s your fucking twenties! Reading his Twitter feed is kind of like watching someone have a prolonged nervous breakdown, except that the success of your team is riding on it. Back

4 – People outside the Sooner State (which should be enough of an indication where most of the resident’s loyalties lie) probably don’t know this, but OSU is basically the little brother with asthma that the Sooners make fun of and challenge to feats of strength. Typically, it doesn’t go well for the asthmatic. Except for this year. Like I said, a weird year for Oklahoma college athletics. Back

5 – Well, that and T. Boone Pickens’ money. Any Jayhawk fan out there that gives a shit can vividly remember refreshing their Google search for “bill self osu coaching” in the immediate wake of our National Championship victory. Think about if OSU had made good on their commitment to basketball and lured Self away right after he’d lead us to the holy land? Wouldn’t that have been 100x worse than Benedict “I don’t give a damn about North Carolina” Williams leaving us right after the loss to Syracuse? I seriously sat there, worried that the joy I was feeling at taking the title would quickly be replaced by a hole where I once made fun of Bill Self’s toupee. It was an uneasy time. Back

6 – Hey, Duke fans…get ready for the Jeff Capel era! Even though Coach K will probably coach until he’s two hundred, buried both his children and maybe a grandchild and watched both Dean Smith and Roy Williams devolve into doddering old men thanks to the pact with the devil, no one on Duke’s coaching staff has head coaching experience (that’s a statement I just made without doing any research other than “I remember Jeff Capel coaching OU, so he must be the only one with HC experience), so he’s the clear frontrunner in the event that K steps down. All I can tell you is that you better hope to fucking Jesus Christ that his recruiting pipeline on the east coast is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than it was in the midwest or that “storied” Duke program is going to be back where it was prior to the Coach K era. Back

7 – Not to diminish Brees’ accomplishments, but I think a lot of what made him successful are the rules that allow him to throw the ball much more effectively than Marino did. It’s a lot like an record in baseball. It tends to be subjective based on the area when the feat was achieved. Back

8 – My parents will be happy to know that he was a Tar Heel once upon a time. And by once upon a time, I mean eight months ago. Back

9 – That’s not a disparaging comment at all. Excelsior is the gay bar in Park Slope and it has a pretty good happy hour. Plus, if you’re the only straight guy there, you’ve got much better odds on picking up any women you see hanging out. Back