Kansas CITY, Mo. - Unlike football where coverage drags out for days, the Big 12 held it’s annual basketball media day on Wednesday – a chance for reporter to get their preseason content from opposing coaches and players.
Scout.com was on hand in Kansas City and brings you some of the biggest storylines from each Big 12 member.
West Virginia: Keeping Staten fresh
After playing over 37 minutes a game last season, the Mountaineers will closely monitor and hope to bring senior star Juwan Staten’s minutes down this season.
“I think he wore down a little bit at the end of the year playing all those minutes,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. “I'd like to be able to rest him some more, have him fresher at the end of games.
“I think there were times where he was just spent at the end of games. Where we really needed him sometimes to go and get the ball, he just couldn't. I think if we could keep him fresher, we want the ball in his hands, obviously, at the end of games. He's a guy that can make free throws down the stretch, and he's a guy that's not going to turn it over.”
The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 18.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assist per contest last year, helping West Virginia make the NIT.
TCU: Lighter load for Anderson
Decimated with injuries last season, TCU guard Kyan Anderson had to put the Horned Frogs on his back at times last year, scoring over 20 points 11 times during the season.
With TCU healthy, the addition of multiple transfers, and a few talented freshmen, Anderson will have some load taken off his shoulders, which might ultimately make him a more productive player in 2014-15.
“He always kept playing and kept competing, and his percentages, whether it was scoring or shooting free throws, will improve,” said TCU head coach Trent Johnson. “The big thing for him, which is the big thing for us, is being able to defend. I think we're going to have an opportunity to score. He's a leader of this basketball team, and the next thing he needs to do is improve his ability to guard, which will improve our chances of winning.”
Anderson averaged 17.0 points and 4.5 assists last season for the Horned Frogs who finished 9-22 overall.
Texas: How Turner can be even better
“He's really starting to understand what that position calls for,” claimed the head coach. “ (He) really trying to understand not only what he has to do but what his teammates have to do all the time.”
In addition to becoming more of a leader at the point guard spot, Taylor worked on shooting the basketball this offseason.
“People have always questioned the fact, can he shoot it? He can shoot it,” said Barnes. “He's a player that his whole life he's been able to get the ball pretty much where he wants it, and he does have really a good midrange game. I think he's terrific across the baseline. When he's open on the perimeter, when we're screening the ball or whatever it may be, he's got to take open shots, and he will.
“We told him a year ago that we need him to shoot the ball when he's open, but his idea was always to try to get into the lane, try to penetrate, and create for his teammates…He's a guy that we really believe, when he shoots it, it's going to go in. So he's improved there a lot.”
For more on Texas from Big 12 Media Day, visit LonghornDigest.com
Iowa State: Deeper than a year ago
After losing his top two scorers (DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim) from a year ago, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg has the challenge of replacing nearly 41 percent of his scoring from last season.
”You don't replace those guys with just one or two players. You have to do it by committee,” said Hoiberg. “The thing I've been most pleased with our practices to this point is just how competitive they've been, the way guys have been getting after each other. I think we'll have a little more depth this season.
”We'll have the ability to play 10, maybe even 11 guys, and we'll have versatility to play different types of lineups. You can go small. You can go big. It's a group that's going to go out there and compete any time they take the floor. It's just the makeup of our guys.”
Entering his fourth season as head coach, Hoiberg is 90-47 overall with the Cyclones and has his team viewed as a top 20 squad.
For more on Iowa State from Big 12 Media Day, visit AllCylones.com
Texas Tech: Consistency is a good thing
Entering his second season, head coach Tubby Smith and staff have already become somewhat of a constant in Lubbock.
“I guess this is the first time in five years the coaches will have been there for two years in a row. So we'll see how it goes,” said Smith. “Consistency and continuity is the key to any program that has had long tradition and built tradition and success over a long period of time. You'll find that a coach has been in place for a long period of time, and they've been able to grow their program.”
The Red Raiders finished 14-18 in year one of the Smith era and things might be just as tough in year two.
”The biggest challenge is to get everybody on the same page, from fans right on down to -- up to the administration,” said Smith. “We lost some talented players through graduation and to transfers. So getting those guys to understand that you've got to trust in the coaching staff, trust that we're going to get things done, trust in the administration and the things that we're doing, that we're making the necessary changes or improving the areas that we need to improve on to recruit the talented players.”
For more on the Texas Tech from Big 12 Media Day, visit RaiderPower.com
Oklahoma State: Hickey should help right away
“He seems to be very hungry for this opportunity to be able to play in the Big 12 and play at Oklahoma State in a system,” said head coach Travis Ford. “I think, that's going to fit him pretty good.”
Unlike many transfers, who sit out a year but get to practice with the team, Hickey has needed the summer to get acclimated with his teammates for a run at a NCAA tournament appearance right away.
“He understands what he's walking into,” said Ford. “He fully grasps what this is all about. And in practice, to be honest with you, with how he's played, he looks like he's been there for a couple of years, how he's led and talked to guys. But when you're a three-year starter in the SEC, you immediately get that respect.”
The addition of Hickey should help provide some relief from the loss of Marcus Smart to the NBA, who averaged 18.0 points and 4.8 assists a game last season.
KANSAS: New faces, same story
Kansas doesn’t rebuild, they restock and it should be the same story this year as head coach Bill Self looks to replace the No. 1 and No. 3 players in the NBA draft.
“We're obviously a much different team than what we were last year, lost three quality guys, but we recruited fairly well and have four newcomers who we think will all be good players, and our returning guys have improved,” said Self. “I think we'll be a fun team to watch play, a lot different than what we've been in the past because we don't have the same size we've had in the past.
This will be the fifth year in a row where Self has lost at least one first-round NBA draft pick from his roster the previous season.
“We take a lot of pride in, wherever they come to us as, whether it's a (Andrew) Wiggins or maybe a Brady Morningstar or Tyrel Reed, our job is to get them as close to their ceiling as possible and as quickly as we can,” said Self. “That's something that our coaches work very, very hard to do.
Kansas went 25-10 a year ago and despite losing three key players, are expected to start the season inside the top ten.
OKLAHOMA: The key to the next step
Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger has taken the Sooners to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and once again made them a threat to win a Big 12 championships. For the fourth-year head coach, 2014-15 is about taking the next step.
“The key is always players. The experience that they gained from last year, I think, will help,” said Kruger, who saw his team lose to North Dakota State in overtime last March in the NCAA West Region. “They know how tough it is to win conference games. They know how tough it is to win postseason games. They want to do that. They worked awfully hard in the off-season in preparation for the start of practice.”
If Oklahoma takes the next step, a large reason why will likely be because of junior guard Bubby Hield (16.5 ppg 4.4 rpg), who partook in both Kevin Durant and LeBron James’ skill camp over the summer.
“I thought as a freshman, Buddy was a little bit more aggressive in attacking the rim and going to the offensive boards,” said Kruger. “Last year a little more perimeter oriented and shot the ball and had a good year. I think we'll see him combine the two and attack a little bit more off the dribble and make him more effective in shooting the ball. I think we'll see a more well-rounded game out of buddy. He's worked awfully hard at it.”
For more on Oklahoma from Big 12 Media Day, visit SoonersIllustrated.com
KANAS STATE: Transfer Edwards could be a highlight reel
After averaging over 17.5 points a contest his sophomore season, shooting over 50 percent from the field, guard Justin Edwards decided it was time to leave Maine and face some stiffer competition. A year later, Edwards is ready to contribute for the Wildcats after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
”I believe he scored a thousand points there in two years. I know he scored a lot. He was one of the better players in that conference,” said Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber. “Very explosive. He gained 16 pounds last year, a lot of it through weight training that he hadn't done much in the past. He can get to the basket. He'll -- I promise you one thing, he'll have some dunks that we'll get on ESPN.”
Weber hopes that Edwards and his 46-inch vertical can give the Wildcats another scoring punch alongside sophomore Marcus Foster.“He's got to develop, just a day-to-day guarding people, staying intense, those are the things that he'll continue getting better at, I hope,” said Weber. “If he can do those things, he's going to give us a lot.”
Baylor: Scoring by a committee
After losing three double-digits scorers from a year ago, Baylor head coach Scott Drew says his squad will still be tough to prepare for in 2014-15.
“I think every coach will tell you preparing for a team that has six double figure scorers is tougher than if there's just one or two,” said Drew. “I think this year's team, they compete, they work hard every day, and at the same time, really all of them enjoy seeing their teammates score. There's not a ball stopper or someone that really demands the ball.”
To get this offensive committee going, Baylor returns senior point guard Kenny Chery, who averaged 4.7 assists per game last season.
“When you have a senior point guard, like in football if you have a senior quarterback, it just makes things move a lot better,” said Drew. “Kenny is someone that's become a lot more boisterous in practice. So he's done a great job of helping the young guys on where they need to be and how they need to do things. Very excited about his senior year.”
Baylor made a run to the Sweet Sixteen last season, but will have to mesh very quickly to see the same results in 2014-15.
Stick with Scout.com over the next few days as we continue our coverage from Big 12 and Big Ten basketball media day.
Photos taken by Scout.com's Josh Harvey