The Big 12 as a league kicked off basketball season with its annual Media Days, Wednesday at Kansas City's Sprint Center. The event came with the typical fanfare associated with it. All 10 coaches met with the media before breaking down into individual groups with players. It was your usual coachspeak with some interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout.
Nine teams will take their shot at Kansas in a quest to prevent the Jayhawks from winning a ninth straight conference title.
"We have great experience with our senior class that's been through a lot of battles and we have a lot of puppies; seven freshmen, so I think it will be a good team in time," Self said.
One issue that was frequently brought up a year ago was depth, Self thinks that won't be a problem this year.
"We went seven deep and not eight," Self said. "So, this year, I think we can go 10 or 11 deep. We're definitely a deeper team."
Self added that Kansas will have to replace the firepower provided by Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.
"That will be the challenge to me is having the really good players step up and become excellent players, or to have a guy step up and play a more pivotal role," Self said.
Some other highlights:
New Texas Tech interim coach Chris Walker doesn't see his opportunity as just being an interim. He believes in what he can do as coach of the Red Raiders.
"I don't have six months to live, I have six months to give," Walker said.
Kansas State has a new leader in Bruce Weber, who replaces Frank Martin, who left for South Carolina. Weber has a tall task ahead of him as the Wildcats hope to be on par with Kansas and Bill Self, but he's one that embraces the challenge.
"As a coach, you want that challenge. That's the exciting part of it. I hope we make it a rivalry," Weber first said before rephrasing. "It's obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also."
Iowa State will be a team to watch under coach Fred Hoiberg, who begins his third season in Ames, fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance. In a short time, Hoiberg has changed the culture, rekindling days gone by at ISU, a school in which the students make up half of the town's population (60,000).
"You can come here and focus on your basketball and your academics," Hoiberg said.
TCU enters the Big 12 led by a coach in Trent Johnson who has had success at big levels.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford says the injury bug that plagued his team last year is still affecting them early on. Ford says the Cowboys will be playing three or four freshmen, three sophomores, a junior and one or two seniors.
Texas coach Rick Barnes will have a very young team comprised of only freshmen and sophomores. However, Barnes feels the chemistry with this team is better than he's had in a long time.
Baylor enters off an Elite Eight appearance and looking to replace three great players in Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III, but they have an outstanding one in Pierre Jackson, who has drawn praise from the league's coaches.
The Bears will face some tough challenges early, including road game at Gonzaga and defending Nation Champion Kentucky on December 1st.
"That gets us ready for the Big 12," Drew said. "Because playing on the road in the Big 12 is why the Big 12 Conference is special."
After five years, Bob Huggins is back in the conference, except now he leads his alma mater West Virginia into the league after enjoying abundance success in the Big East. Huggins thinks the Mountaineers will feel more at home in the Big 12 because of the similarities.
"I think whoever was in charge of expansion did a great job. They picked schools that were a lot like the other schools in the Big 12," Huggins said. "We're a college town (Morgantown), much like most of the schools in the Big 12."
When all was set and done though, it was Self and Kansas, who rightfully drew much of the praise.
"He just finds ways to win," Huggins said of Self. "When you talk about KU winning all of those, I think there is one guy really responsible and that's Bill."