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April 2009

 

Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 23 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Thursday, April 30

Links to click
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Nebraska coach Mark Manning turned down an offer to become Iowa State's wrestling coach.

Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes that he's "98 percent positive" that new Nebraska-Omaha athletic director Trev Alberts will use his new job as a steppingstone to replace Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne.

Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News writes that his recent war of words with Texas A&M is Texas Tech coach Mike Leach being Mike Leach.

Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel says that the Big 12's non-conference scheduling stinks.

Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com writes that it's time for Kansas football to start dreaming big.

Texas coach Mack Brown spoke to more than 150 soldiers, most of whom had recently returned from Iraq, at Fort Hood Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 29

Projected 2010 NFL Draft has Big 12 dominating
Yes, it's a bit silly and way too early, but SI.com has projected the first-round picks for the 2010 NFL Draft. But aside from the silliness and it's-a-year-from-now aspects, the projection has Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford as the first selection and also has four other Big 12 players projected in the top 15 picks and a total of eight Big 12 players in the first round (32 selections).

Hot links
Former Nebraska All-American defensive end Trev Alberts is set to become the athletic director at Nebraska-Omaha. The news is significant because Alberts, who has no administrative experience, could be preparing to become Tom Osborne's successor as athletic director at Nebraska.

Former Duke point guard Greg Paulus, who is interested in playing one season of college football, apparently is set to visit Nebraska to explore the possibility of playing with the Cornhuskers this season.

Cody Glenn, a linebacker on last season's Nebraska team who was drafted by the Washington Redkins, admitted he fabricated a story about his end-of-season suspension.

When the NCAA announced the tennis tournament selections and sites, Baylor's women got to stay home for the first and second rounds but the Baylor men were surprised and shocked they were assigned to play in Tulsa.

Oklahoma clinched a tie for the regular-season softball title. That was a goal that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 28

Links for a Tuesday
Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson are quarterbacks for schools who are heated rivals but at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Honors Banquet Monday night in Oklahoma City they traded quips and displayed their friendship.

Former Nebraska linebacker Cody Glenn, drafted by the Washington Redskins, told the Washington Post that his three-game suspension last season was because he was selling tickets, which would be an NCAA violation. However, the Omaha World-Herald reports that the school says Glenn's suspension was not because of NCAA rules violations.

Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World, in the paper's spring football series, asks this question about Kansas State coach Bill Snyder: Is it possible to be coach of the century in two different centuries?

Monday, April 27

Catching up with some newsworthy links
Baylor's men's and women's tennis teams won Big 12 championships over the weekend in Norman, Okla.

Mike and Mike is a morning show on ESPN Radio. But Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach don't figure to be sharing any microphones after Sherman reacted to Leach's apparent criticsm of the Aggies' coaching staff.

Illinois State athletic director Sheahon Zenger, a Kansas State graduate, issued a statement that he is no longer a candidate for the vacant athletic director's job at Kansas State.

Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler envisions Oklahoma State winning its first 11 games of the 2009 season and setting up a showdown at Oklahoma, which he also thinks will be 11-0. 

Kansas softball coach Tracy Bunge made a surprise announcement Friday; she said she wouldn't return as the Jayhawks coach after this, her 14th season.

Friday, April 24

Brackins returning to Iowa State
More good news for Big 12 men's basketball. Iowa State's Craig Brackins announced Friday morning that he'll return to the Cyclones for his junior season instead of entering the NBA Draft. Here's the story from the Ames Tribune.

Thursday, April 23

Xavier Henry headed to Kansas
Xavier Henry, a McDonald's All-American rated as the nation's eighth-best high school player by Rivals.com, announced Thursday morning that he and his brother C.J. would be attending Kansas next season. Here's Gary Bedore's story posted on the Lawrence Journal-World's website early Thursday afternoon:

Oklahoma City Xavier Henry is headed to Kansas University.

Henry, a 6-foot-6 guard from Putnam City (Okla.) High School, announced his intentions to play for the Jayhawks at a Thursday morning news conference in front of about 50 media members at the high school.

Henry's brother C.J., a 6-3 freshman guard from the University of Memphis, also announced he'll be headed to KU in a speaker-phone interview from Memphis.

"Next year, I'll be taking my game to Kansas," Xavier Henry said in his opening statement at the news conference. "That's all I'm going to say."

He had a lot more to say during interviews for the next 20 minutes.

"I grew up always wanting to go to Kansas," Xavier said. "I switched to Memphis because my brother was going there. Now, with coach (John Calipari) leaving (for Kentucky), we've decided to go to KU. I'm really excited. That's where my whole family played," added Xavier, whose dad Carl, mother Barbara and aunt Vicky all played for KU.

Xavier said he called KU coach Bill Self with his decision after working out in the high school gym two days ago.

"Coach Self was really excited, especially having the both of us. He is ready to get next season started," Xavier said. "He asked me, 'Are you sure?' He wanted me to be serious. I said I'm coming."

Xavier, the No. 8-rated high school basketball senior on Rivals.com and a McDonald's All-American, said the Jayhawks will have a great team next season.

"They said they will be close to preseason No. 1 without us," Xavier said. "Now I think we'll be one of the best teams. I think the sky is the limit."

C.J. Henry said he was equally excited about joining his brother at KU. Barbara Henry indicated that her son will be able to play next season without filing an appeal with the NCAA.

"We're very close. It's going to be fun to play with my brother," C.J. said. "It wasn't going to happen at Memphis. I think Kansas is a good place for us. It's where (Xavier) wanted to go in the first place. It will be a great experience. It will be fun."

Barbara Henry said she will be moving to Lawrence as well.

Wednesday, April 22

Fiesta Bowl angered by NFL scheduling snafu
A scheduling snafu with the NFL and the Arizona Cardinals has angered the officials who run the Fiesta Bowl. The Fiesta is the destination of the Big 12 champion unless that team is playing in the BCS championship game.

This year's Fiesta Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 4 at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Fiesta's agreement with the stadium and the NFL franchise is that the Cardinals won't play a regular-season game within two days prior to the bowl game. When the NFL schedule was released last week, the Cardinals are scheduled to play Green Bay on Jan. 3.

Arizona officials admit they failed to file paperwork with the NFL requesting that the Cardinals not be scheduled at home on Jan. 3. The NFL has said it will not change its schedule.

Fiesta Bowl Chief Executive John Junker said the bowl has requested a letter from the Cardinals organization pledging the scheduling snafu won't occur in the future.

Junker described the scheduling situation as "a huge concern. It is devastating." He said the Fiesta Bowl needs the stadium ahead of time to stage the pre-game party, which attracts 20,000 people, and to accommodate participating teams, game officials, sponsors and the bowl's network partner, who all want access to the stadium the day before the game.

"We dropped the ball on this," said Mark Dalton, the team's spokesman. "We should have known about it, and we didn't. Now, the question is what can we do to make this a workable solution."

Basketball news and views
* The NCAA will reduce the amount of time underclassmen have to decide their NBA Draft decisions. Starting next year, non-seniors will have until May 8 to decide whether to stay in the draft pool. The current rule allows a decision in mid-June; plus non-seniors who are not drafted have until 30 days after the draft to return to school. The earlier, all-inclusive deadline will help coaches settle their rosters by recruiting players during the spring signing period, which ends in mid-May.

* Three Texas A&M juniors - Donald Sloan, Bryan Davis and Chinemelu Elonu - have submitted their names for the 2009 NBA Draft. All three have said they won't hire agents, which keeps open their option to return for their senior seasons. Their decisions to go through the "draft process" to assess their draft status is curious. This year's draft process is different from past years. There is no pre-draft camp where non-senior prospects can scrimmage and show off their skills. And because of the economy, fewer NBA teams are willing to fly in dozens of players for workouts. The best chance the Aggie Trio has of being drafted is playing their senior seasons.

* Xavier Henry will announce his college destination at a news conference at 11:15 a.m. Thursday and Kansas fans are hoping he decides to become a Jayhawk. Henry, a McDonald's All-American, originally signed with Memphis but when John Calipari took the Kentucky job, Memphis allowed Henry back out of the commitment. Henry and his brother C.J., a guard who sat out the past season at Memphis as a non-scholarship walk-on, will join Xavier at the school he chooses. Their father Carl played at Kansas and KU was on Xavier's short list before he originally chose Memphis. Kentucky apparently could be Xavier's choice but several Kentucky media outlets reported that Calipari was informed on Tuesday night that KU was the choice of the Henry brothers.

Saturday, April 18

Lady Bears schedule correction
Baylor's women's team will open the season at Tennessee on Nov. 15, not Nov. 5 as was reported originally by the Waco Tribune-Herald. The game will be billed as the State Farm Hall of Fame Classic, which is typically a four-team event but will feature just the Lady Bears and Lady Vols this year. Baylor also is scheduled to play in the Fourth Annual Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The four-team event will also include Tennessee and Rutgers.

Willie Warren confirms return
Big 12 freshman of the year Willie Warren and his mother met with Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel for 40 minutes Saturday to discuss his future. After the meeting, Warren confirmed he would return to play for the Sooners next season. The conversation with Capel was more about the expectations for Warren and the team next season.

Oklahoma third in men's gymnastics
Oklahoma finished third in the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships Friday night in Minneapolis. Stanford won the team championship with Michigan finishing second. OU sophomore Steven Legendre won the individual all-around title. Legendre took first place in the floor exercise and vault and edged out California’s Glen Ishino by 0.5 points for the all-around title. "Obviously it feels pretty good to win that, and it’s nice when you’re hard work pays off, but it’s overshadowed at this point,” Legendre said. "But I guess we just weren’t the best team out there.”

Friday, April 17

Wrestling move: Sanderson leaves Iowa State
Penn State Friday hired Iowa State coach Cael Sanderson as its new wrestling coach. Sanderson Sanderson will be introduced officially as head coach at a news conference Monday. In three seasons coaching the Cyclones he led them to three Big 12 titles and a top five in each of the last three NCAA championships. A former Iowa State wrestler, Sanderson was a four-time NCAA champion and became the first NCAA wrestler to go undefeated (159-0) with more than 100 wins.

Basketball news and notes
* Oklahoma's Willie Warren told the Oklahoman in a text message that he'll return to the Sooners for his sophomore season. Warren had been considering making himself eligible for the NBA Draft. The Big 12's Newcomer of the Year, Warren averaged 14.6 points and 3.1 assists per game. He should be the focal point for an OU team that must replace three starters, including national player of the year Blake Griffin.

* Texas A&M junior guard Donald Sloan said Friday that he will submit his name for the NBA Draft but will not hire an agent. That leaves open the possibility that he could return to College Station for his senior sesaon. Last season, Sloan averaged 11.8 points a game (second on the team) and led A&M with 3.1 assists per game.

* Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey said at the team's Lady Bear Appreciation Banquet Thursday that Baylor would open the 2009-10 season by facing Tennessee on Nov. 5 in Knoxville, Tenn. Mulkey also told those at the banquet that the Lady Bears have been invited to play in the State Farm Classic in mid-November at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

* Texas hoped that Tayler Hill, considered one of the nation's top girls high school basketball players, would choose to accept a scholarship offer. However, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Hill, a 5-10 point guard over averaged 30 points a game for South High in Minneapolis, has decided to attend Ohio State.

* Here's what ESPN.com's Andy Katz wrote about two high school players who have yet to select a college: "Xavier Henry, the one-time Memphis signee, is deciding between Kansas and Kentucky. St. John's is waiting desperately for Henry to make up his mind. If Henry goes to Kansas, the Red Storm are fairly confident they can land program-changing shooting guard Lance Stephenson. If Henry goes to Kentucky, then Kansas may get Stephenson. It's an interesting dynamic considering that St. John's coach Norm Roberts is a former assistant and good friend of Kansas' Bill Self. But this is business. In a perfect world for all parties, Henry goes to Kansas and Stephenson to St. John's - and in an indirect way one friend can help another. Roberts could use some good news by landing a marquee New York City recruit that would help not only on the court but also in attracting more local fans for the Red Storm this season."

Wednesday, April 15

Hot links
Tim Griffin, ESPN.com's tireless Big 12 blogger, has this entertaining Q and A with Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

Brooklyn Pope, who spent her freshmen season playing at Rutgers, will transfer to Baylor and be eligible to play starting with the 2010-11 season.

Texas junior forward Damion James announced Wednesday that he will make himself available for the NBA Draft but will not hire an agent. That means James could return for his senior season. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman discusses' James' decision-making process.

Men's basketball recruiting gets high praise
ESPN.com, using rankings compiled by Scouts Inc., has listed the top 100 high school basketball recruits. Eight Big 12 schools have signed 19 of those top 100. The Big 12 could add to its recruiting haul; top 10 recruits Xavier Henry, Lance Stephenson and John Wall have Big 12 schools listed among their final choices.

Avery Bradley, who has signed with Texas, is listed as the No. 1 recruit. According to Scouts, Inc., Bradley "is the most complete player in the class and is a difference-maker both offensively and defensively ... plays with great intensity each and every possession, and from a defensive standpoint he is an absolute lockup on-the-ball defender ... (he) scores, defends and makes everyone around him better."

The top 100 players (listed with their ranking) who have signed with Big 12 schools:
  1. Avery Bradley, Texas
  8. Jordan Hamilton, Texas
11. Keith Gallon, Oklahoma
15. Wally Hudge, Kansas State
24. Tommy Mason-Griffin, Oklahoma
28. Elijah Johnson, Kansas
40. Thomas Robinson, Kansas
50. Karron Johnson, Oklahoma State
53. Shawn Williams, Texas
57. Raymond Penn, Oklahoma State
68. Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma
70. Naji Hibbert, Texas A&M
75. A.J. Walton, Baylor
77. Chris Colvin, Iowa State
81. Roger Franklin, Oklahoma State
82. Khris Middleton, Texas A&M
84. Steve Pledger, Oklahoma
89. Cory Jefferson, Baylor
90. Kourtney Robinson, Texas A&M

Monday, April 13

Aldrich, Collins returning for 2009-10
Kansas figures to be a strong favorite to contend for the 2010 national championship after junior Sherron Collins and sophomore Cole Aldrich said they'll pass on entering the NBA Draft. They made the announcement Monday night at the Jayhawks' annual awards dinner. Kansas will return its starting lineup from a team that won the Big 12 regular-season championship and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The KU roster could become even stronger. Two of the nation's top high school prospects - Xavier Henry and Lance Stephenson - are considering Kansas as a possible college destination.

Bowled over
Congratulations to Nebraska's bowling team. The Cornhuskers defeated Central Missouri, 4-1, Saturday night in Detroit to win the school's fifth national bowling championship. Junior Cassie Leuthold was named the tournament's most valuable player. The National Tenpin Coaches Association selected Leuthold along with teammates Valerie Calberry and Danielle van der Meer as All-Americans. Nebraska also won national titles in 1991, 1995 and 1997 as a club team.

Tuesday, April 7

Valero Alamo Bowl to be played Jan. 2
For the first time in its history, the San Antonio-based Valero Alamo Bowl has secured a January game date. The 17th annual bowl game will kickoff at 8 p.m. CST on Saturday, Jan. 2 and will be televised by ESPN. The game features teams from the Big 12 and Big Ten conferences.

"The Big 12 welcomes the opportunity to be showcased in the Valero Alamo Bowl in a January match up," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said. "The game has been a mainstay in our bowl line up and we look forward to another quality experience for our participating team."

The Alamo Bowl has been played on a Saturday six times in the last 10 years but always between the dates of Dec. 28-31. The last two times the game has been played on a Saturday, it has drawn the top two sports crowds in Alamodome history.

Sunday, April 5

More awards for Blake Griffin
University of Oklahoma sophomore Blake Griffin recieved the 2009 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award the State Farm/NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) National Player of the Year and the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year in ceremonies held Sunday in Detroit.

"I don't really know what to say," Griffin said following the awards program. "This has been an incredible past four days, and the Naismith Award is the perfect way to cap off the trip."

Sunday night's honors concluded a busy Detroit awards tour in which Griffin also claimed the Rupp Trophy (Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky), the Oscar Robertson Trophy (U.S. Basketball Writers Association) and the AP Player of the Year Trophy, and was named the Chevrolet Player of the Year. The John R. Wooden Award winner will be announced Friday at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Louisville 61, Oklahoma 59
The Sooners had their shot at reaching the championship game. Nyeisha Stevenson's fast-break 3-pointer from the left wing rimmed out at the buzzer and No. 1 seed Oklahoma suffered a bitter 61-59 loss to third-seeded Louisville Sunday night in the NCAA Women's Final Four. The Cardinals trailed 34-22 at halftime but Oklahoma made just seven of 26 shots in the second half. Stevenson's shot came after Louisville's Candyce Bingham made one of two free throws with 7.6 second remaining. Ashley Paris rebounded the miss, passed to Danielle Stevenson who found an open Stevenson whose shot found too much iron.

Missouri's Mike Anderson NABC co-coach of year
Missouri coach Mike Anderson and former Memphis and current Kentucky coach John Calipari were named National Association of Basketball Coaches Association co-coaches of the year for the 2008-09 season. The awards were announced and presented Sunday night in Detroit. Anderson's Tigers finished with a school-record 31 victories and advanced to the West Regional final. Ironically, Anderson and Missouri handed Calipari a defeat in what turned out to be his last game as Memphis' coach when the Tigers won the West Regional semifinals.

Oklahoma 34, Louisville 22 (halftime)
The Sooners jumped to a 16-2 lead to build their halftime edge in Sunday night's Final Four semifinal game in St. Louis' Scottrade Center. Oklahoma's defense limited Louisville to 22 percent shooting in the first half; the Cardinals missed their first 13 shots and didn't get their first field goal until the 12:35 mark. Lousville trimmed the lead to 24-18 with 3:54 remaining but the Sooners scored on their last five possessions.

Saturday, April 4

Good news, bad news
Kansas set an attendance record but the crowd of 16,113 went home unhappy as South Florida (27-10) defeated the Jayhawks, 75-71, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse to win the WNIT. The crowd was the largest crowd in Big 12 history.

Danielle McCray had 24 points for Kansas (22-14) and pushed her tournament total to 147, a WNIT record.

"The fans were camping out when we got here," Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "They were screaming every time one of our players walked in from the parking lot and the players were a little shocked by that. This is the most basketball-crazy place in the world."

Kansas went on a 13-2 run to pull within 67-66 with 2:22 remaining but could never take the lead.

"It was amazing," McCray said of the crowd. "Just walking up to the gym and seeing people clapping for you. I don't think I've ever seen people wait in line to get into the game, except for boys games. I wish we were able to pull out the win to show our appreciation."

Friday, April 3

Blake Griffin wins another award
Oklahoma sopohomore Blake Griffin was named the Associated Press' player of the year Friday in Detroit. He received 66 votes from the 71-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.

Earlier Friday Griffin was presented with the Oscar Robertson Trophy at the Detroit Athletic Club. The award was presented by The Big O himself. The Robertson Trophy is voted on by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. And Thursday riffin was presented with the Adolph Rupp Trophy by the Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky as the organization's player of the year.

Self, Anderson win coach of the year awards
Kansas coach Bill Self was named the The Associated Press' college basketball coach of the year while Missouri coach Mike Anderson was named the 2009 Clair Bee Coach of the Year. Both awards were announced Friday.

Self's team won the national championship in 2008 and this season had to replace the top seven players from that team. Even with the roster turnover, Kansas finished 27-8, won its fifth-consecutive Big 12 regular-season title and reached the Sweet 16 before losing to Michigan State.

Anderson led Missouri to the best season in school history. The Tigers, predicted to finish seventh in the standings, finished third with a 12-4 record. Missouri's final record of 31-7 was the best in school history. The Tigers' season ended with a loss to Connecticut in the West Regional final.

Links for a Friday
The shooting accuracy that helped fuel a magical postseason run disappeared in Baylor's NIT championship loss to Penn State.

Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Dexter Pittman's decision to return for his senior season should excite Texas fans.

Former Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale has been elected as a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kansas senior point guard Ivana Catic, who arrived in the United States from Serbia five years ago, ends her college career Saturday in the championship game of the WNIT.

Thursday, April 2

Penn State defeats Baylor for NIT title
The most successful run in Baylor's postseason history came up half a dozen points short. The Bears, who held a 29-25 halftime lead, couldn't hold on in the second half as Penn State won the NIT championship with a 69-63 victory in Madison Square Garden Thursday night.

Guards LaceDarius Dunn (18 points) and Curtis Jerrells (14) led Baylor (24-15) in scoring but the duo didn't shoot like they did in Tuesday night's semifinal victory over San Diego State. Dunn and Jerrells were a combined 11-of-33 from the field and 6-of-21 from three point range.

Penn State (27-11) had a big edge at the free throw line, making 18-of-28 while the Bears were just 5-of-6.

Wednesday, April 1

Kansas women advance to WNIT title game
Backed by the fifth-largest crowd to watch a women's game in Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas held off Illinois State for a 75-72 WNIT semifinals victory Wednesday night. Danielle McCray continued her stellar postseason play with 31 points while Krysten Boogaard added 18 points for Kansas.

The Jayhawks (22-13) will play host to South Florida at 1 p.m. Saturday in the WNIT championship game. Kansas' victory gives the Big 12 a team in both the WNIT and the NIT championship games. Baylor faces Penn State Thursday night in the NIT title game in New York City.

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