Two major surprises this Saturday. The first involved Lonnie Kruger, completing a sweep of his alma mater in Manhattan. Coached Steven Pledger into scoring 30 points en route to a 63-60 victory. K-State, having dropped 1 and ½ games in the REAL Standings directly attributable to the Sooners, is now fighting for its post-season life with a projected league record of 9-9.
The other surprise was in Ames. No, not KU falling to Iowa St. Anyone who didn’t see that as a REAL possibility going in was not paying attention. In the most recent version of the REAL Standings, it was noted that it would be helpful if Royce White would duplicate his foul trouble vs. Mizzou and limit his PT to 27 minutes. No such luck. He played 36.
The surprise came from press row when Fran Fraschilla (or Fra-Fra as his close friends call him) stated that the game he was covering reminded him of Wednesday night’s game between Mizzou and Okie St. His reasoning? KU had controlled much of the game, yet was in danger of losing it in the game’s final moments.
Dare I dub this statement Fran-tasmagorical? If Fran thought KU was in control of this game for more than a matter of seconds, when the score was 47-41, he was confusing the game in this dimension with one from a parallel universe visible only to him. For a good 38 of the game’s 40 minutes, the Jayhawks were scrambling just to hang around. They not only never controlled the game, they were frequently out of control on offense and unable to control rebounds—particularly those on missed Iowa St three pointers.
At least Fra-Fra was attempting to talk about the game he was covering, unlike—well, you know. . .
In short, the Jayhawks’ shortcomings were on full display while the mental toughness, sheer effort, and basketball IQ needed to pull out close games on the Road took the day off.
However, as one wise Jayhawk fan noted after the game: We weren’t going 18-0 anyway. This is almost certainly true. Too little margin for error for a team that gets nothing from its bench, especially when one of its two superstars has less than a superstar kind of day.
Nor are the Hawks going 17-1. But neither will anyone else. There is not a complete team in the conference, or, even, the country. The question is whether the Hawks will show up in enough of their remaining games to actually achieve their projected 14-15 W’s; if so, that might be enough, based on the deficiencies of their primary rivals, for another league crown.
In other words, no time to panic, just as it was not time for Mizzou to panic last Wednesday. There will be plenty of time to panic after the first Home loss by either team, if and when that happens. And, as a subjective matter, I can see Mizzou having trouble protecting its Home “turf” against both Iowa St and Baylor, which could be decisive unless either KU or Mizzou sweeps the other.
Speaking of Mizzou, they won as projected (vs. Tech), as did A&M (over Okie St in College Station) and Baylor (over Texas in Waco).
Tier 1: Baylor, KU, Mizzou
Tier 2: Iowa St, K-State, Texas
Tier 3: Oklahoma, Okie St, Texas A&M
Tier 4: Texas Tech
REAL BIG 12 STANDINGS
KU (7-1) Projected L’s: at Mizzou, at Baylor At Risk games: at K-State
Mizzou (6-2) Projected L’s: at KU At Risk games: at UT
Baylor (6-2) Projected L’s: at Mizzou At Risk games: at UT, at ISU
Iowa St (5-3) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at K-State, at Mizzou
At Risk games: at OU, at Okie St, vs. Baylor
Texas (3-5) Projected L’s: at KU At Risk games: vs. Mizzou, at A&M, at OU, at Okie St, vs. Baylor
K-State (4-4) Projected L’s: at ISU, at Texas, at Baylor, at Mizzou At Risk games: vs. KU, at A&M
Oklahoma (3-5) Projected L’s: at KU, vs. Mizzou, at ISU, at Baylor, at Texas
At Risk games: vs. ISU, at Tech, vs. Texas
Okie St (3-5) Projected L’s: vs. Baylor, at KU, at Mizzou, at OU, vs. KU, at K-State
At Risk games: vs. ISU, at Tech, vs. Texas
Texas A&M (3-5) Projected L’s: vs. Baylor, at K-State, at ISU, vs. Mizzou, vs. KU, at Okie St, at OU
At Risk games: vs. UT, at Tech, vs. K-State
Texas Tech (0-8) Projected L’s: at Texas, at K-State, at KU, At ISU, vs. Texas, at Baylor, vs. Mizzou
At Risk games: vs. Okie St, vs. OU, vs. A&M
ON THE TUBE
Mizzou at Texas****: (8:00p.m.—ESPN) (At-risk game)
Texas just might have more fans in Kansas Monday night than in the Lone Star State.
Okie St at Texas Tech **: (7:00p.m.—Big 12 Network) (At-risk game)
If Tech doesn’t win this game, when will they?
K-State at Iowa St****: (8:00p.m.—Fox Sports) (Projected W: ISU)
Iowa St might be known for Hilton Magic, but after two losses to Oklahoma, K-State is the team that needs to pull a W out of its—uhh--hat.
Baylor at A&M***1/2: (8:00p.m.—ESPN2) (Projected W: Baylor)
The Tier 3 teams are becoming downright feisty at Home. The REAL Standings template projects this as a Baylor W, but the Fighting Calipari-Lites are certainly capable of dropping this game and falling further behind KU and Mizzou,
Oklahoma at KU ***: (8:00p.m.—ESPNU) (Projected W: KU)
Reportedly, Lonnie was the Darrell Sproles of his day. He wanted to go to KU, but was not recruited by the Jayhawks. At least Ted Owens had a good reason for overlooking the all-state guard from Silver Lake: He already had the more highly rated Tom Kivisto lined up to be his PG from ’72-’74.
Lonnie went on to become two time Big 8 POY in 1973 and '74 as K-State won back to back conference championships. Made everyone around him better. He was like having a coach on the floor. Jack Hartman with a jump shot.
Meanwhile, Kivisto led the Hawks to the 1974 conference championship and Final Four. Probably a fair trade.
Imagine, however, the ripple effect that might have been: Larry-Roy-Lonnie? Larry-Lonnie-? Kruger Field at Memorial Stadium?
Here’s hoping Jayhawk fans aren’t yearning to change history around 10 o’clock Wednesday night.