Honors for Conley, Johnson

All-Big 12 specialty teams include two Missouri players.
Tuesday, March 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Junior guard Jason Conley and senior center Arthur Johnson represented Missouri on the Big 12 Conference’s Specialty Teams.

Conley made the All-Newcomer Team and the All-Reserve Team, and Johnson made the All-Defensive Team.

Conley, the Tigers’ sixth man, has scored in double figures eight of the past nine games. Johnson, who holds school records in rebounding and blocked shots, has anchored the Tigers’ interior defense. He grabs 7.5 rebounds per game and leads the team in blocks with 47.

With one block against Kansas on Sunday, Johnson has the second-most blocks in a career in Big 12 history with 244. He passed former Kansas forward Nick Collison.

Sportswriters who consistently follow the Big 12 chose the teams.

COACHES CHOOSE PREPARATIONS: The grueling nature of the Big 12 Tournament represents one of the biggest challenges for a team.

That makes deciding how to prepare for the tournament one of the biggest challenges for a coach. The Big 12’s coaches discussed their preparations for this week’s tournament during Monday’s teleconference.

Kansas coach Bill Self said his amount of preparation for the tournament correlates closely with how far he thinks the third-seeded Jayhawks need to go.

“It depends on in the Big 12 Tournament is your goal to make sure you’re at your best on Sunday?” Self said. “Is your goal to make sure you play on Saturday? I think it varies a little bit because you’re going to have to play more guys. I think you’re going to have to play more guys if your goal is to win three games.”

Self also said he doesn’t plan to push his team hard in practice so that he can conserve their legs. Several of the No. 18 Jayhawks, including starters Wayne Simien (groin) and David Padgett (right ankle), are suffering from minor injuries.

The Jayhawks (20-7, 10-4 Big 12) should prepare well because Self said he thinks his team’s NCAA Tournament seed could improve as many as two spots to a No. 2 or No. 3 seed with a strong showing.

“Who knows where we are?” Self said. “We’re definitely outside of that, trying to play our way into it, but I think there’s more to play for in this tournament than there was even last year.”

Oklahoma and coach Kelvin Sampson find themselves in an unfamiliar situation, for they are playing Thursday for the second time in the Big 12’s seven-year history. The Sooners played their most recent first-round game in 1997 when they finished fifth in the Big 12 with a 9-7 record. In addition, the Sooners (18-9, 8-8) have five players who have never played in the Big 12 Tournament.

As a result, Sampson said he will try to duplicate the Sooners’ routine before regular season games.

“I told our kids, ‘What a great story we’ve got a chance to write; what a great opportunity,’” Sampson said. “We’re not in the same boat as some of the other people. Everybody’s talking about can this team be a No. 1 seed or a No. 2 seed. We’ve been a No. 1 seed; we’ve been a No. 2 seed.

“That’s not the situation we’re in right now. We’re just trying to figure out who is going to play the high post in our zone offense.”

SUTTON LEADER FOR COACH OF THE YEAR: Although it won’t be announced until later today, the recipient of the Big 12 Coach of the Year Award might be a foregone conclusion.

Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, who led the Cowboys (24-3, 14-2) to their first outright conference championship since 1965, has coached the No. 7 Cowboys beyond their preseason expectations. Some coaches said this might be Sutton’s best coaching job in his 34-year history.

“The one constant is that they all guard,” Self said. “I think he has done a great job. I think his entire staff has done a great job, and it should be a slam-dunk that he’s conference coach of the year.”

The Cowboys’ success in Big 12 play might mean more to Sutton than personal accolades, especially considering OSU’s recent history. Sutton said the championship had increased significance because of the memory of crash of a team plane Jan. 27, 2001, in Byers, Colo.

“It’s a special happening, a special experience everyone in the OSU family is enjoying,” Sutton said. “The other day out there, there were a lot of teary-eyed faces as you looked around it’s been so long since we won a championship, but also I think the memory of losing those 10 wonderful people in the airplane crash was certainly on people’s minds.”

The Cowboys clinched the title with a 70-41 home win against Texas A&M on Saturday.

WEEKLY HONORS: Simien earned his second Player of the Week Award this season with his performances in the Jayhawks’ two wins this week. Simien won his first award Dec. 1.

Simien scored 22 points in a 78-67 win against Nebraska on Wednesday and in a 84-82 win against Missouri on Sunday. He also grabbed seven rebounds against the Tigers.

Johnson, who powered the Tigers offense in their two losses this week, received consideration for the award, but Simien won the split vote. Johnson averaged 31.5 points in losses to Texas Tech on Wednesday and Kansas on Sunday.

Similar to Simien, Kansas State forward Jeremiah Massey won Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. Massey averaged 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two wins. He scored 14 and had 10 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 58-48 upset of No. 11 Texas.

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