Big 12 notebook: New faces
BY GUERIN EMIG & KELLY HINES, World Sports Writers
Thursday, October 18, 2012
10/18/12 at 2:40 AM
Four of the Big 12's head coaches weren't in the league last year, but none is newer than Texas Tech's Chris Walker, who was named Billy Gillispie's interim replacement two weeks ago.
"People look at it as if I've been diagnosed with cancer," Walker said. "It's not like I have six months to live. I've really flipped it and said it's six months to give.
"I'm head coach for the first time in the Big 12. I'm going to give everything I have to the university, to the players and the community of Lubbock."
Huggins back: West Virginia may be new to the Big 12, but fifth-year coach Bob Huggins is not, after being at the helm at Kansas State in 2006-07.
"We're a lot like the other schools in the Big 12," Huggins said. "We're the state university. We're a land-grant institution. We have great facilities.
"I think they did a great job of getting people who were like the schools that are already in the Big 12. We're a college town, much like most of the schools in the Big 12."
While that may be true, the Mountaineers have some long road trips ahead of them.
"They asked me who our rivalry in the conference was going to be, and said it's probably Iowa State," Huggins said. "They're the closest. Only 853 air miles."
Weber vs. Self: It didn't take long for Bruce Weber to be asked about Bill Self on Wednesday. His second question from the media dealt with the first-year Kansas State coach going head-to-head with his apparent rival, whom he followed at Illinois.
After Self's players were gone from the program, Weber marked the end of his predecessor's era with a "funeral" that made national headlines.
"It was difficult to follow him," Weber said. "He did a tremendous job at Illinois. ... Bill was truly missed there when he left. But we kind of got our own thing going."
Weber said Kansas State's athletic director brought up the situation with Self during Weber's interview and asked why he would want to deal with it again.
"As a coach, you want that challenge," Weber said. "It's obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. So it should be fun. He's done a great job, and hopefully we can compete with them."
Drew rooting for Jones, Thunder: Led by Big 12 preseason player of the year Pierre Jackson, Baylor was picked by league coaches to finish second in the conference despite losing three players to the NBA.
Perry Jones is now a rookie forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder after being taken 28th overall in the 2012 draft. He scored 17 points in Tuesday's 120-98 exhibition win against Charlotte.
"We knew he was going to be successful in the NBA," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "Can't wait to watch them in the postseason. The Thunder had a great run last year.
"But that organization and that team are great situations for Perry Jones. We love it being close to Baylor Nation so we can follow them."
KU prepares for another run: The two central players on Kansas' national runner-up team of a year ago are gone. How does that make the Jayhawks different as they prepare their run for a ninth straight Big 12 championship?
"We went seven deep. This year I think we can go 10 or 11 deep," coach Bill Self said. "We're definitely a deeper team. I think we potentially shoot it a little better. But we don't have the star power. You don't have guys that can go out and get you 36 between the two of them over the course of the season like Thomas (Robinson) and Tyshawn (Taylor) did.
"That will be the challenge, having the really good players step up and become excellent players. We'll miss Thomas and Ty without question. But usually guys when they get the opportunity step in and make the most of it."
Longhorns await NCAA ruling: Guard Myck Kabongo continues to practice with Texas while the NCAA investigates whether he received improper benefits as a result of his relationship with agent Rich Paul.
Longhorns coach Rick Barnes confirmed as much with reporters Wednesday at Big 12 Media Day, but wouldn't provide any more details.
Yahoo! Sports first reported that Kabongo worked out for Paul over the summer, after making a trip that former Texas teammate Tristan Thompson has since admitted paying for.
Thompson has also said Kabongo's brother has since reimbursed him for the expense.
Replacing Royce: Iowa State has a rather large hole to fill now that Royce White plays for the Houston Rockets. White didn't just make the Cyclones' most important shots last year, he pretty much ran their offense, unusual for a player 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds.
This year, coach Fred Hoiberg will run what he calls a "more conventional" offense, with former Michigan State player Korie Lucious at the point.
"And I'm excited about that," Hoiberg said."It gives us the opportunity to play a little bit faster. Royce was great. When he had the ball... in some cases you had a seven-footer guarding him. But it was a little slower pace.
"With Korie, he's played in two Final Fours and he's got that experience. We've got the athletes to get out and run with him. So I'm excited about what we have this year."