1. Quote of all quotes! The highlight of the 2011 Big 12 Media day belongs to Coach Kim Mulkey. Coach Mulkey on not playing Texas A&M after playing them every year since 1974 and playing off the comments of Texas A&M president: “If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him, and then he asks if he can sleep with me, the answer is: NO!
2. Trace Atkins, the country music singer, had a secret crush on Kim Mulkey till now. He remade a Lou Rawls love song and dedicated it to this “little girl” from La Tech on his new CD. Track #13. Check it out! Trace was a walk-on football player at La Tech but Kim didn’t give him the time of day! Now he’s reconnecting and might show up at Baylor to sing the national anthem!
3. Hallie Christopherson, Iowa State sophomore is a graphic designer with forward thinking creativity. No surprise Coach Bill Fennelly is creative in his game planning. He recruits left brain and right brain players. Get well Coach Fennelly! You were sincerely missed at media day!
4. Kansas did some interesting off season conditioning involving boxing. I asked Monica Engelman if she knew what a squat thrust was? Nope! Kids got too many funky training techniques. Bring back the old-school squat thrusts!
5. Brittany Griner has always been a self-proclaimed “motor head”. She likes to tinker with cars and motorized things. She once tweaked the governor on her go-cart for speed. She gets around campus on her longboard, her second since arriving at Waco. She lost the first one under a campus bus. Ok? If Coach Mulkey is ok with it, me too. Griner’s working on a hook shot. Oh boy! Could be unstoppable! Swin Cash was a big help with the national team experience in Italy and she really enjoyed Coach Auriemma.
6. K State’s Brittany Chambers was a first team All Big 12 performer last year. She has added to her game and added 10 pounds to her frame. She’s shooting the floater and getting her shot off quicker. She also spent some time conditioning with a fork lift. K State lined up a couple of forklifts and did some pull ups as only K State can do. You had to jump up and to grab the bar set over 9 feet. Coach Deb Patterson is literally setting the bar!
7. OSU Sophomore Point Guard Tiffany Bias is going to be a fashion designer. Short of calling herself a fashion diva, she’s “ok” with Coach Budke and the orange jacket that he pulls out for the big games! Loves orange! Expect them to be the surprise team from Big 12 on the national scene, not in the Big 12. The coaches already know!And, Toni Young has the red light when it comes to dunking. She is under the “no-dunking” rule at OSU.
8. Tyra White, Texas A&M’s returning leading scorer is trying to put the NCAA Title game on the shelf but have become celebrities on their own campus. Tyra watched the title game 4 times alone and hundreds of times she has seen “the shot” she made late. Her new focus is the free throw line. Her routine is 3 dribbles, 1 spin, 1 dribble then swish. Will her ft% climb this year?
9. Texas’ Ashley Gayle is set to become the best shot blocker in Texas history. That means a high risk-high reward defense will be more dangerous. A veteran backcourt with a high defensive basketball IQ will transfer to more offense. Expect this to be the highest scoring team Coach G has put on the floor in her time at Texas. By the way, did I mention 6’5 Cokie Reed is back! Good things for Texas this season.
10. Texas Tech has 12 players returning and will finish higher than their pre season 6th place prediction. Don’t sleep on Mallard, Morris and Smalls. This is a team that beat Baylor and OU late last season. This team appears to be a hungry, hard working group!
11. The only Big 12 Wade Trophy Winner in the history of the league is back on the sidelines at Texas. Edwina Brown is an assistant coach and according to the Texas backcourt, she’s already had an impact teaching a few old school tricks.
12. The Big 12’s survival creates a renewed energy for the season for all Big 12 Coaches. The major change in scheduling, playing each team twice, will be a challenge for many but will allow the Big 12 to have a true champion. I’ve been an advocate for in conference RPI with unbalanced schedules. The Big 12 has been the most consistent completive regular season race with the best conference RPI the past 4 years. Will the round robin help or hurt NCAA at large opportunities?
13. OU will be without 4 year starting point guard Danielle Robinson yet still have firepower at the guard positions with Whitney Hand and Aaryn Ellenberg to play with pace. No one sliced up the court in transition and answered the 3 W’s of a good point guard like DRob. Who to get it to, when to deliver and where are the 3 W’s. One of my all time favorite features from the Big 12 was with DRob at center court in the Lloyd Noble Center “breaking it down”.
Plus one! 12 consecutive years the Big 12 has led the nation in attendance. The home court is fantastic in this league. It’s one of the many reasons I enjoy working in the Big 12 the past ten years. They love hoops and its fun for the fans and the TV crews.