Big 12 Coaches Talk About The New Hoops Season: What They’re Saying Upfront

On Tuesday this week, the National Basketball Association got its 2013-14 season under way, and a week from now the new  college basketball season will tip off, including all 10 Big 12 men’s teams.

At the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., last week, the Big 12 coaches and some of the players met with reporters and talked about the coming season. Here is a sampling of what they had to say about their team’s prospects and the forthcoming season:

Oct 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Travis Ford answers questions during the Big 12 media day at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor coach Scott Drew on losing point guard Pierre Jackson, the Big 12′s leading scorer last season:

“First of all, we return a great front court, and that makes it easier for all guard play. But in practice, we’ve had six different people run the point at different times. I think instead of maybe being so dominant with the ball in one person’s hand, I think we’ll share it a little bit more this year.”

Fred Hoiberg, coach of Iowa State, on whether Big 12 basketball is being underrated nationally this year:

“Obviously Kansas and Oklahoma State are very talented. Throw Baylor in there, as well. There is so much length and talent on this three teams. Then I think there are so many unknowns with the rest of us. I think we all lost quite a bit. I think you could ask of the 10 coaches, and I think they’d all tell you those (preseason) rankings really don’t mean much. We’ll see in a couple of weeks who was slighted and who was picked where they should be.”

Oklahoma third-year coach Lon Kruger on how the Big 12 shapes up this year in men’s basketball:

“Everyone thinks their league is great, and ours is no different. Obviously, a lot of new players. That’s exciting. There will be some turnover in terms of rosters in some cases; in other cases, (a) pretty good chunk of the minutes returning. But when you look at the roster with Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor all returning a lot of people, I think they understandably are thought to be at the top of the league. But then I think (there is) great balance as well after that. Everyone has there expectations and predictions early. To see how those either become reality or not, (it’s) exciting to watch that.”

Kansas coach Bill Self on the extremely high expectations of No. 1 overall recruit Andrew Wiggins:

“He hasn’t asked for any of it. If you talk to him, he’s about as humble and low-key a guy that deflects attention as much as anybody I’ve been around. But when you hear those things (all the media attention and hype), it’s not fair. It’s because he’s not bad. I don’t even know of one player that I can think of that he’s like that guy. He’s just Andrew. Thalt’s all he needs to be is just try to be himself and not live up to what other people think he should be.”

Coach Travis Ford of Oklahoma State describing his team’s attitude and motivation this season:

“We have a lot of motivation for our basketball team, which we talk about. Our motivation is to be better than we were last season. We didn’t end the season the way we wanted to. But we had a lot of positive moments last season…We don’t hide from, yes, we are supposed to be a pretty good basketball team this year. But we’ve got to understand it in the fact that we’ve not won anything. We still have a lot of motivationb to try to win a Big 12 championship, a regular season, a tournament and try to go deeper in the NCAA Tournament.”

Texas head coach Rick Barnes on the difference being the hunter or the hunted in terms of team pressure and preparation:

“I guess when it gets down to the motivational part of it, I guess there’s always more pressure when you’re being hunted. I’ve learned,too, that I think it can work for you, as well. The one thing if you’re being hunted, you know you’ve got to be ready every single night, and that alone prepares you for what you need to do in every aspect. On the other hand, if you’re hunting somebody, you better be prepared too because you know those opportunities are there, and you’ve got to be ready.”

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins on his team’s transition to the Big12 last season from the Big East:

“I think people assumed sunce I’ve been in the league for a year (with Kansas State in 2006-07) that I kind of new what was going on. I was kind of hoping that I did. It was an entirely different league when I was there. We had a North division and a South division, and you played everybody in the North twice and played the South once. The travel was harder than I thought it was going to be. (And) let’s be honest, officiating in this league compared to the officating in the Big East was night and day. The atmospheres were night and day. You go from a league where you play maybe half of your games in NBA arenas that are downtown, away from campus, and you don’t have the sudent involvement that you have in the Big 12. I think the atmospheres in the Big 12 are far tougher to play in than they are in leagues where you don’t play on campus.”

Editor’s note: Starting Monday, Nov. 4, I will begin previewing all 10 conference teams and the 2013-14 Big 12 men’s basketball season.

Topics: Big 12 Basketball, Bill Self, Bob Huggins, College Basketball, Kansas Jayhawks, Lon Kruger, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Travis Ford, West Virgtinia Mountaineers

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