Welcome back for another edition of Big 12 Hoops' conference call. It wasn't a very busy week in basketball for the conference (especially Baylor, who has realized that if they just stop playing games, people will leave them at their lofty rankings), so our questions stray a little further from the Big 12 this week.
- Is Texas A&M for real? How surprised are you by Mark Turgeon's team's early success?
- What are your thoughts on Josh Selby? How do you think he affects the Jayhawks now that he's eligible?
- Leaders and Legends, eh? And a new logo to top it off? What do you think about the Big 10’s new feel?
- NFL playoff predictions: who's a pretender and who's a contender?
- Cliff Lee left tens of millions of dollars on the table in New York and heads to Philadelphia. Why do you think he did it? Is someone finally standing up to the mountains of bills the Yankees put up? Will this be a trend?
1. Is Texas A&M for real? How surprised are you by Mark Turgeon’s team’s early success?
EP: The Aggies have to be for real, right? College basketball is all about where you play, but still beating Washington at home was a signature win for the program. I still think they are the 3rd best team in the South, which puts them as 6th best in conference. Turgeon can coach. The Aggies, unbeknownst to anyone outside College Station, won 11 conference games last season. I don’t think this is a surprise.
JL: I agree, Turgeon can coach and Khris Middleton & David Loubeau are good so yeah they are for real. I think they will do what A&M always does, make the NCAA Tournament and lose either in the 2nd round or at the Sweet Sixteen level but hey really that is a successful season.
MP: I think they could sneak ahead of Texas. They’re definitely for real. The Aggies are always a very tough team to beat because of their physical, well-defended play. Turgeon’s teams may not run the prettiest offensive sets, but they’ll never roll over and do a great job taking other team’s out of their offense. I think they’re capable of beating anyone, especially in College Station. Consider yourself warned Big 12 teams.
2. What are your thoughts on Josh Selby? How do you think he affects the Jayhawks now that he’s eligible?
EP: If a 9-0 team that’s ranked 3rd in the country can have a weakness, I think for the Kansas Jayhawks it was at the PG position. Selby should contribute, but having never seen him play against Big 12 competition, it is difficult to predict. Will he be this year’s John Wall, a PG that just takes the college game over, or will he be more like this year’s J’Covan Brown, a solid PG but not a game changer.
JL: Well it’s almost like the Yankees or Red Sox making a mid season trade and getting even better, that’s what it feels like here. The #3 team in the country and now their issue is whose minutes get cut and how do we efficiently move in the #1 recruit in the country into our rotation. I think they can only get better with him playing and guys like Elijah Johnson & Travis Releford settling into nice role player minutes. Only possible thing I can see is if guys like Tyshawn Taylor and Johnson have any beefs with their minutes dropping or shots being taken away from them, I doubt it occurs but who knows.
MP: I think Kansas could certainly use a "franchise" point guard, but I’m not sure Selby will be the answer. One, he’s going to be here less than a season (if all goes as planned). Two, I see him as more of a scorer than a facilitator. For some reason (from what little tape I’ve seen of him in high school) he looks like a much better scorer. I think he’ll take some time to find his role in the Jayhawk offense, but they’ll be better for it. I still think this team’s kryptonite will be getting eaten alive in the post (ala UCLA and Arizona) and/or turnovers. Still no coach turns away a blue chip recruit.
3. Leaders and Legends, eh? And a new logo to top it off? What do you think about the Big 10’s new feel?
EP: To start out… Joe Paterno isn’t a ‘Legend’? But Nebraska is? This is the worst idea for divisional names ever. Not only are they stupid, but they’re so close in sounding that nobody is going to remember the difference. I liked the "Bo" and "Woody" division idea.
JL: My initial reaction and I am dead serious here: It’s the Big Ten who gives a crap. I am just burned out on hearing about Big Ten since all the conference realignment stuff. I hope all the teams in the Big Ten start struggling in sports, don’t think I haven’t enjoyed seeing Michigan take a tumble in football. The Appalachian State game what like three years ago was awesome. Sorry I kind of went off on tangent there, I agree the division names are stupid.
MP: I’m speechless really. Why would you start both divisions with L? How could they not have anyone veto those names for the epic level of schlock? I also don’t understand how naming divisions is worthy of a whole televised deal. And the logo is garbage too. I’m done here.
4. NFL playoff predictions. Who’s a contender, who’s the pretender?
EP: Contender, New England Pats. Pretender, anyone for either the AFC or NFC West (sorry Joe)
JL: No need to say sorry I hope if the Chiefs come out of the AFC West that they are a pretender as I can’t stand them. Trust me it’s tough to live in Kansas City and listen to all the Chiefs talk now that they aren’t going 3-13 every year. Although I will say if the Chargers come back and win the division with Philip Rivers as QB they could make the Super Bowl. Pats are definitely a contender and Pittsburgh too. I haven’t watched the NFC as much but have to be impressed with Michael Vick & Eagles even though I am a dog lover and still root hard against Vick. I think the Bears are a pretender, don’t trust Jay Cutler when there is pressure.
MP: The way this year started, I thought there was a lot of parity in the league. It felt like everyone was losing dumb games. For my pretender I’m going to go with the Jets. They’ve racked up a lot of wins against mediocre teams. They have a ton of talent, but their offense has been stagnant recently. I like the Eagles are sleeper contenders because you never know when Vick is going to go off for 400 yards. He’s one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league. As for his troubled past, I’ve moved on. He’s served his time (which was a lot more than most dogfighters every get), and he went bankrupt in the process. I’m not sure he’s a whole new man, but I think he’s definitely learned his lesson and has admitted his wrongs. Back in the playoff predictions, I’m very interested to see how the Falcons do in the playoffs. They’ll probably be coming off cruise control (also known as playing the Panthers twice in four games).
5. Cliff Lee left tens of millions of dollars on the table in New York and heads to Philadelphia. Why do you think he did it? Is someone finally standing up to the mountains of bills the Yankees put up? Will this be a trend?
EP: I have always wondered the difference between, say $100M and $125M. I get the obvious, and the long term effect of an additional $25M as a multi-generational gift, but what can $125M buy you that $100M can’t? I hope the trend starts focusing on playing somewhere where you want to play, somewhere with team chemistry (like for the Colorado Rockies!?!?)
JL: Definitely not a trend I don’t think. I think his wife didn’t like being spit on when she was in Yankees Stadium last year so that had something to do with it. The Yankees can offer a chance to win and pay a lot of money so you will see free agents continuing to go there instead of say someplace like Kansas City (and not the Colorado Rockies!).
MP: Speaking of Kansas City Joe, I’d keep an eye on Greinke: make sure those Yankee wallets don’t start migrating. I’m torn here. I love seeing the Yankees get turned down. But the Braves fan inside me fears for the future. I think it’ll be interesting to see how well the Yankees "recruit" without George Steinbrenner. I know everyone always says it’s about the money, but something inside me says he was a great salesman. He (as the face of the Yankees) knew how to make people come there. I also think they’ll take some heat for the way they handled Derek Jeter’s extension. Will it overpower the seemingly infinite wallet they tap into? I doubt it, but you never know.