Blog Entry

Baylor all-access ends with an epic Big 12 final

Posted on: March 13, 2010 1:04 am
Edited on: March 13, 2010 9:44 am

(My week of being embedded with Baylor ended Friday with the Bears' 82-75 loss to Kansas State. Now the focus shifts to the third meeting of the season between Kansas and Kansas State.)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It had to be this way. They didn't pack the Sprint Center since Wednesday to watch a couple of outsiders play in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

And so it will be Kansas-Kansas State in the final Saturday. Never mind the Sunflower State rivalry will be played out for a third time this season in the Show-Me State. That is a mere detail with KU 40 miles away and K-State two hours away. Despite the best efforts of Texas A&M and Baylor, the day's semifinal losers, it's on between the Jayhawks and Wildcats in a conference final for the first time since 1981.

Here's what it means nationally: Some mild interest with two top 10 teams matching up. Kansas is still going to be a No. 1 seed. Kansas State could still finish as high as a No. 2 seed.

Here's what it means to those of us who have watched these rivals take shots and lob insults at each other for what seems like forever: Heaven.

It figures to be one of the best sports days in the city's history. Fans will be able to eat (and drink) all day at the still-new Power and Light District, literally across the street from the Sprint Center.

They will migrate over to the arena with more than full bellies. If there isn't extra security here, I'll be surprised.

"It's what you practice for," K-State coach Frank Martin, fresh this week from signing an extension, a just reward for coaching up the best K-State squad in 22 years.

"I've got to think that it's going to be the best environment of any conference championship game in the country."

The last time this game was this big was, well, last week. On March 3, the rivals met ranked together in the top five for the first time since 1958. Prior to that game nine days ago, you have to go back to '88. Kansas and Kansas State met in a regional final in Detroit to decide who would go to the Final Four. KU, of course, won going on to win the championship with Danny (Manning) and the Miracles.

Manning is now a KU assistant coach. K-State is still waiting for its miracle. Kansas State last won the conference tournament championship in 1980 when Rolando Blackman was starring.

With all day left to get "ready" for the 5 p.m. CT tip, it will be an epic day.

But not without forgetting Baylor. It was not pleasant to see hanging heads in their lockerroom after the loss to Kansas State. In my  four days with the team this week I've learned that Bears' coach Scott Drew likes chicken parmesan, rims on his Escalade and the 1-1-3 zone.

I've learned that two rabid guards from down South -- LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter -- are called the "The Louisianimals."

I've learned that Baylor's bus driver is from Scotland and its best big man (Epke Udoh) is from Michigan, by way of Oklahoma.

I haven't learned how to deal with separation anxiety. As jazzed as I am about Saturday, my time with Baylor ended too soon. It might have been foreshadowed at Friday's scouting meeting.

I found out that assistant Jerome Tang's son is named Ivan Seven Tang, aka Seven. The religious significance is that the number symbolizes perfection. Nine-year-old Seven didn't get to come here because his uncle died and he had to travel to Houston with his mother.

Seven loves the Bears and he would have loved to see them attain tournament perfect. But it would have depressed little Seven to see Baylor end its run losing by a little ... seven to be exact.

Thanks Bears. Now let's bring on the Show-Me version of the Sunflower Shootout. It had to be this way.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Feb 16, 2010
Posted on: March 13, 2010 12:53 pm

Baylor all-access ends with an epic Big 12 final

It should be fun.

The Sprint Center will be rockin'!!
They know each other well.  Both are physical teams. 

Frank Martin is right, this WILL be the loudest conference final.


Since: Jan 9, 2010
Posted on: March 13, 2010 12:01 pm

3rd time's a charm?

KU is good.  Very good.  Good enough to beat their in-state rival that has spent the latter half of the season in the top ten at least twice.  Hopefully, only twice.  It's nothing short of amazing what Frank Martin has meant to the little apple, and what he has done to revitalize a once storied basketball program.  A big 12 tourney title would be a huge stepping stone for the cats to get back to hanging banners from the rafters.  Something that has been missing for way too long for the Diehards donning their purple and white gear, year, after year.  This is the matchup that needed to happen for this tourney.  A chance for KSU to get over on their arch nemisis in a game with more implications for the cats than the hawks, or a chance for KU to prove again that they are the best team in Kansas.  Win or lose, Kansas is still not only the best team in the state, but either the first or second best in the nation, depending on the results of today's game and how Kentucky does in the SEC tourney. 

Buckle up for another wild ride folks,  I think this one will rival the OT game that was played in Manhattan earlier this year


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