Almost every coach in the Big 12 Conference is hoping for one aspect of his team’s play to improve during league competition: consistency.
“I think we could be a more consistent team,” Nebraska coach Barry Collier said. “Obviously it’s still relatively early in the season, and we’re very respectful of the great competition that’s coming our way.”
The Cornhuskers’ 9-1 start aside, Collier said he knows his team must perform at a higher level to be successful in conference play. Nebraska hosts St. Francis in its last nonconference game tonight.
“We hope we’re 10-1 in a couple days, but that’s about as far as we’re looking,” Collier said. “Wherever we’ll be a month from now, we’re not worried about that.”
Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight said he is looking for improvement across the board, despite his team’s strong 12-2 nonconference record. He showed no interest in predicting how the Red Raiders will play in the coming weeks, though.
“Our whole game has to improve,” he said. “There isn’t any area of the game that we can’t show improvement in ...
“I’m not smart enough to think about where they should be a month from now. I think we have a lot of work to do, at both ends of the floor. We just have to keep working and get better.”
The situation is similar in Manhattan, Kan., but for very different reasons. Kansas State coach Bill Wooldridge wants to see drastic changes in his team’s performance after an embarrassing 93-52 loss to UMKC and a one-point loss at St. Louis last week.
“I would say this team certainly needs to improve in all phases of the game,” he said. “How we start games, how we finish games, how we guard ... I can’t think of anything we don’t need to improve on.”
Oklahoma State assistant coach Glynn Cyprien said the coaching staff is pleased with the play of its guards during the team’s 9-1 start. He said the Cowboys’ interior players, though, must contribute more to handle the physical nature of conference play.
“To be competitive in the Big 12, you have to have consistent post play,” Cyprien said. “That’s something we’ve really emphasized, (because) the top half of the league will have good post play and rebounding all year.”
TIGERS FALL FROM TOP 25
Missouri’s stunning 71-67 loss to Belmont at home on Dec. 30 knocked the Tigers out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season.
After starting the season No. 6, the Tigers (5-4) tumbled down the rankings after losses to Illinois and Memphis last month. The Tigers are among 24 teams receiving votes.
SNYDER AND COACH K?
After scheduling a game against Gonzaga in his hometown of Seattle this season, it seemed likely Missouri coach Quin Snyder would consider a matchup with Duke, where he played for four seasons and was an assistant under coach Mike Krzyzewski for four years. Snyder, though, said he has no interest in facing the Blue Devils soon.
“I don’t think that’s something anybody wants to do,” Snyder said. “There’s plenty of people out there for us without playing Duke.”
WOES IN WACO: Baylor coach Scott Drew knew he would be challenged when he took the Bears’ job in August.
He never could have expected to face an opponent with only five scholarship players on his roster. That was the case when the Bears hosted No. 24 Purdue on Saturday. After senior starters Terrance Thomas and R.T. Guinn were ruled academically ineligible, the Bears were left with 10 players, including five walk-ons. The Boilermakers won 76-65.
Drew seemed focused on one thing when he spoke about conference play.
“We need to see more players out there,” he said with a laugh. “We don’t need any more injuries, illnesses, sicknesses or academic problems.”
Almost as an afterthought, Drew addressed a more comomon problem.
“And we need to take better care of the ball,” he said.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Texas Tech swingman Andre Emmett and Texas forward P.J. Tucker earned conference weekly honors for the third time Monday.
Emmett averaged 22 points in two Red Raider wins and was named Big 12 Player of the Week. This is the second consecutive week he was voted the top player.
Tucker scored 27 points and had 15 rebounds against George Washington in his first start withTexas, earning him conference rookie of the week honors. He leads the Longhorns in scoring at 15.3 points per game.