Big 12 Hoops Conference Call

Here's a useless fact: we are in week 2 of the Big 12 season and two of the four road wins belong to the Baylor Bears. But there's more ground to cover than just the Bears. This week's Call addresses whether Oklahoma's pretending or not, the surging Cyclones, the surprising 'Cats and more coming up after the jump.

1. The Oklahoma Sooners have come back down to earth after starting conference play 0-3. Can they save their season?

2. Will Missouri's lack of depth hurt their chances of being a true national contender?

3. There's no team that has hung around the middle of the Big 12 like the Texas Longhorns. Will they stay there at season's end or will they progress/regress?

4. Don't look now (just kidding, you can look) but the Cyclones are 2-0 in the Big 12 heading into a major matchup with Mizzou. Is it time to believe in them...again?

5. K-State continues to impress early on. Who is the MVP so far?

1. The Oklahoma Sooners have come back down to earth after starting conference play 0-3. Can they save their season?

E. Carnes: I think that's up to Steven Pledger. As Pledger goes, so goes Sooner Nation. And if he isn't going to be able to score big against teams like OK State, then Oklahoma has a real problem. I'm not quite ready to call time of death on Oklahoma's season yet, but if they drop either of their upcoming games against Tech or A&M, I'll say it's over.

Evan Pfaff: OU has turned into the type of girl you hope you never meet at a bar. Pretty hot until the lights come on after last call, then RUN. FAST! To their credit they’ve had a pretty brutal conference schedule. Mizzou, KU, Bedlam. But truthfully in this conference you never get a night off, and their 38 point loss to Mizzou shows how far they are from that team I once thought they were. In the Ok State game, Steven Pledger only scored 9 points. There is no way that team can win if Pledger isn’t hovering around 20 points. Romero Osby has been good, but it appears that the transfer of Calvin Newell Jr. has realy had a negative effect on the Sooners. Also, my preconference surprise of the year, Cameron Clark, hasn’t shown us anything we didn’t see last season. In fact he’s shooting a worse percentage, scoring less points and averaging more turnovers per game than last season. So in a longwinded way, I’m saying that I don’t really see any stretch in their schedule where they can win two games in a row, so no, they can’t be saved.

Nathan Kotisso: I think E hit the nail on the head. When Pledger scores 17 points or more, the Sooners are 7-0. When he gets 16 or less, they're 2-5. And starting the gauntlet that is Big 12 play 10-for-35 shooting won't cut it either. I know it takes a team to win but Pledger has got to be on every night. Almost made me regret doing this.

2. Will Missouri's lack of depth hurt their chances of being a true national contender?

EC: I agree — I think it's more concerning that they're so dependent on having a good shooting night. When the shots are falling, I think Mizzou can hang with the best in the nation. But if they're cold, it doesn't seem like they have a plan B.

EP: My fear for Mizzou at the onset of the season was height. I was never worried about depth. They play 7, but with only two post players. So if I were nervous at all about their depth it’d be in getting an injury or in foul trouble with their big men. What I am worried about is that it seems like if they don’t shoot lights out, they can easily lose games they should win. That will hurt their national chances, though if they’re on…

NK: They didn't expect to be this good in the first place but no, they've gone 7 deep for pretty much the whole season, so it shouldn't hurt them. What they do have to worry about their how they'll matchup with a Perry Jones III, Thomas Robinson or another interior presence. They are still the second best team in the conference and a top 10 team at the least.

3. There's no team that has hung around the middle of the Big 12 like the Texas Longhorns. Will they stay there at season's end or will they progress/regress?

EC: In Austin, we don't call it "regressing," we call it "peaking early." But I think this team will keep improving because 1) I'm an optimist and 2) there have been a lot of stupid freshmen mistakes which, presumably, will decrease as the season goes on. I think Texas will still finish in the middle of the pack, but next year is the real endgame for this team.

EP: Ah, youth. I don’t see Texas cracking the top 4 in the conference, nor do I see them falling below 6th. So… yes, they will be in the middle at the end of the season. They aren’t better than Baylor, KU, Mizzou or K-State, so they might see themselves fighting with ISU for the Big 12’s 5th tournament seed.

NK: Middle is probably where there'll end up, but they are still talented enough to grab the last B12 bid to the NCAAs. They will regress if freshman Sheldon McClellan continues his bad shooting deeper in Big 12 play.

4. Don't look now (just kidding, you can look) but the Cyclones are 2-0 in the Big 12 heading into a major matchup with Mizzou. Is it time to believe in them...again?

EC: I just checked Iowa State's schedule and was kind of surprised to see they haven't lost a game since the beginning of December. I guess they've been flying under my radar for a while. I think the Cyclones could easily knock off Mizzou if the Tigers have an off shooting night. So, yeah, I guess it's time to start trusting Fred Hoiberg's master plan.

EP: Like youth, it takes time for a bunch of transfers to meld together, so this is probably what Fred Hoiberg expected when the season tipped off. They have experience and talent and those things can’t be overstated in college hoops. So while I don’t think they will win the conference, I think they will be able to hold serve most nights at home and steal a few away from Hilton.

NK: I've been a closet supporter of the Cyclones all year long. If they are able to pull off the upset tonight vs Missouri, national people will start taking them seriously."Rolls" Royce White is the steady force along with other gifted transfers. The Mayor's bringing Hilton back! YEAH!

5. K-State continues to impress early on. Who is the MVP so far?

EC: I think I'd go with McGruder, although Jamar Samuels is a close second. But if you asked me a few weeks ago, it would have unquestionably been Gipson. I like that there's not a clear-cut MVP, though. It's more fun to watch when it's not the [insert star player's name here] show.

EP: Of the team? Gotta be Rodney McGruder, though I don’t think they have a clear cut team MVP. Thomas Gipson has had a great start of a career but Jordan Henriquez looked great against Mizzou starting in his place, Will Spradling is a serviceable guard and JamSam leads the team in boards. So if I were playing pickup and had the first pick, I’d go with McGruder, but wouldn’t complain about any of those four.

NK: McGruder, Samuels and Spradling have all been impressive this season, but I am totally surprised by what I've seen of Jordan Henriquez. This is a player (back when it was Henriquez-Roberts) who didn't see many minutes his first two years but is making the most of his starting spot. He's still very raw offensively but is an intimidating force, locking in 2.5 blocks a game. Henriquez is my guy.

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