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Big 12 Notebook

March 3, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Mitch Schneider

Schneider misfires: “My bad,” he says.

Before I delve into news and notes around the Big 12, please accept my apology for naming Ralph Sampson the head coach of Oklahoma in last week’s notebook.

Kelvin Sampson, not Ralph, is the head coach at OU, and has been for the last nine years.

Ralph Sampson doesn’t coach at any university; though he did dominate the game of collegiate basketball when he was a 7-4 center at Virginia from 1980-’83 (Sampson was a three-time National and ACC player-of-the-year).

No need to worry, Sooner fans, the right Sampson is still in charge in Norman. Again, sorry for pulling a Homer Simpson in regards to the two Sampsons. D’Oh!

[Ed. Note: Like we read Schneider’s stuff. Just kidding, Mitch.]

Now, on to some real news.

Jayhawks’ Simien re-injures his wing

Wayne Simien, Kansas’ sophomore forward, is officially done for the year.

The 6-9 postman re-injured his right shoulder in KU’s 85-45 win over Texas A&M last Wednesday. Simien’s shoulder – which he dislocated on Jan. 4 – popped out of its socket again less than five minutes into the first half.

After the shoulder separated, it did go back into place. However, doctors agreed the next day it would be best for Simien to sit out the remainder of the season.

“We tried to allow the youngster to play, and you have only so many years to play,” Kansas coach Roy Williams told the Associated Press. “The [injury] was like a fly on a horse’s rear end: There’s not much to it.”

Simien, who missed 11 games this season after first injuring the shoulder, averaged 14.8 points and 8.2 boards this year. His absence will further stretch an already thin Kansas bench, and setback a Jayhawk squad that is looking to repeat as Big 12 champs.

Jeff Graves, another 6-9 forward, will continue to start in Simien’s place. He is netting 5.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Pair of Buffs return to the herd

Last week, Colorado fans were treated to a double-scoop of good news.

On Thursday, David Harrison, the Buffs’ 7-foot center, announced his intentions to return to CU for his junior year in 2003-04. There was speculation that Harrison would turn pro after this season, but the sophomore has decided to stay, citing his love for the college game as well as the University of Colorado.

And on Friday, CU guard James “Mookie” Wright was officially reinstated. The senior was suspended earlier this year for his alleged role in a dormitory incident back in October (see “Big 12 Notebook – Jan. 15”). Colorado’s Office of Judicial Affairs lifted the suspension, ruling Wright had met the imposed disciplinary requirements.

In his first game back, Wright scored eight points on 4-7 shooting, helping the Buffs notch their first conference road win against Baylor, 72-59. In 14 games, Wright is averaging 6.3 points and 3.7 assists per game.

As for Harrison, the big man leads the Big 12 with 77 blocks (2.9 BPG), which is also a Colorado season record. Harrison is also scoring almost 14 points per contest, and is pulling down more than eight boards a game.

For Buffalo coach Ricardo Patton (or any other college coach), it’s always nice to hear you’re getting your 7-foot center back for at least another year.

Red River Rivalry, Part Deux

It doesn’t get much bigger than this.

On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns (20-5, No. 3 in the latest RPI) travel to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners (20-5, No. 4) in, arguably, the most exciting match-up of the 2003 Big 12 regular season.

The winner of this game will likely: a. clinch second place in the Big 12 standings (assuming Kansas wins out); b. capture a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament; and c. move even higher in all major polls.

In their first meeting nearly a month ago, UT ended an eight-game losing streak to OU by dusting the Sooners at home, 67-61. Longhorns’ forward James Thomas led the way with 11 points and 16 rebounds, overshadowing the 23-point effort by Oklahoma’s Hollis Price.

Since that game, both schools have gone 4-1.

In their upcoming contest, all eyes will fall upon the match-up of Texas’ T.J. Ford (14.8 PPG, 7.1 APG) against Oklahoma’s Price (19.3 PPG, 44% 3-pt.). Both players are two of the best guards in the nation, and both are capable of extraordinary feats on the hardwood.

Texas and Oklahoma tip off at 3:30 p.m. EST. Check your local listings, and don’t forget to oil your spurs.

OSU’s Sutton: in a class by himself

If you happen to have missed the final minutes of Kansas’ 79-61 victory over Oklahoma State last Saturday in Lawrence, you failed to see one of the classier moves ever made by a head coach.

On Senior Night, Jayhawk seniors Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison exited the game with 55 seconds left (after combining to score 43 points). The Allen Fieldhouse crowd roared, and Hinrich and Collison were treated to hugs from their teammates and coaching staff.

But as KU’s All-American duo made its way down the bench, another unsuspecting fan paid his respects to Hinrich and Collison.

That fan was Cowboys’ coach Eddie Sutton, who ran over to the Jayhawks’ bench to personally embrace each player. The Lawrence crowd made even more noise following Sutton’s warm gesture.

“Those two guys are the type of people we would all like to recruit as coaches,” Sutton told the AP. “They have just had a remarkable career. I wanted to tell them they brought a lot of class not only to the University of Kansas, but to the Big 12.”

It may have been Hinrich and Collison’s night, but Sutton stole the show, as well as the hearts of the Jayhawk faithful.

Intriguing match-ups of the week:

Wednesday, March 5 – Oklahoma State at Colorado
Saturday, March 8 – Texas at Oklahoma
Sunday, March 9 – Kansas at Missouri


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