Conference call thoughts: January 10

The Big 12's coaches met with league media Monday morning during their weekly teleconference. With conference play underway, Missouri coach Quin Snyder, Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton and Kansas State coach Jim Wooldridge discussed the challenges their teams face in the coming weeks. Check inside for selected quotes from the coaches.

Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton

On Missouri and the Tigers' youth going into their first road game: "When you look at Missouri, the thing that has impressed me is their staff has just done a remarkable job as far as their defensive play. I think that's one reason they've improved the last few games. I hope that freshman guard, Horton, will have the shakes a little bit, but he's a very talented player. Horton, Grimes and Brown are really very talented players."

On how he prepares his team against a streaky shooting team like Missouri: "We don't prepare any different against any ball club. We know their personnel and how we want to play them. We assume that they're going to have a strong shooting night so we're going to have to get out there and get after them…

"Hopefully our defense will stand up and make them shoot one of those 27 percent games, but I doubt that because they've improved over the last few weeks."

On the similarities between Horton and John Lucas: "I think Horton's going to be an outstanding player down the road, but he's a freshman. In this league, there aren't any weak sisters. When he gets on the road, we'll just have to wait and see how he plays. But I think he has the potential to be an outstanding player."

Missouri coach Quin Snyder

On preparing Horton for the Gallagher-Iba atmosphere: "I don't think there's any way to completely prepare anybody before they go through that experience. The one thing in the Jason situation is that he's going to have Jimmy out there with him. In Jimmy's case (as the starting point guard as a freshman in 2002), we started Paulding, Ferguson, Bryant and Johnson. We didn't have all of our ball handling support out there. We need to really handle the ball collectively."

On Horton's improvement over the past few weeks: "The last month has been a really good month for him. Being out for as long as he was, really from last spring almost to the start of practice, had a big effect on his conditioning and his timing. I think his conditioning still has to improve. With Spencer Laurie being out, he has been forced to play more minutes than we would like to play him. I'd like to see him be more consistent pressuring the ball and staying in front of the ball. When he's focused on it, he does a good job of it…

"The second thing is, when he gets a little mentally tired, he's not always attacking. When he's attacking, he's a different player and we're a different team. When he's more passive at the point, we're not as crisp. He sets the tone on both ends of those things…

"He's doing a really good job, all things considered. As soon as he became willing to take coaching, he began to kick it into gear."

On the challenges Horton will face against Lucas: "Like a lot of point guards, sometimes when you give the ball up or when your guy doesn't have the ball, you (tend to) relax. Those are habits that, as you get against better competition, your concentration has to improve. Lucas does a great job of playing without the basketball. If you're standing defensively, he's going to take advantage of it. If you let down mentally, he's going to make you pay by knocking down shots…

"Probably the biggest thing for us is taking care of the basketball. Lucas at times is a one-man fast break; he goes from end to end so quickly. He's just incredibly efficient with the ball. That's something that Jason is really working on in his own right. That will be a big step for us, as it relates to us not giving up easy baskets and having an opportunity to stay in the game."

On if Sutton attempting to tie legendary coach Henry Iba's win total would effect the Tigers on Tuesday: "If there's a way to make it harder for us, that would probably be the only way. They're absolutely dominating every facet of the game. The only team that's had any success against them -- Gonzaga -- didn't get them at home and made tons of plays. And Oklahoma State didn't play one of their better games. I can't see how it could be harder than how they make it, just how they are. But Mr. Iba's record might be one way."

Kansas State coach Jim Wooldridge

On the Wildcats' strong 10-2 start: "It's just a building block. Hopefully we can use it to do better as we move through the season. We let one get away the other night (at Nebraska) and that's disappointing. We would have been in a much better position today at 11-1 as opposed to 10-2. If we can take advantage of the next couple of months, we'll have something going."

On if his team is ready to turn the corner and be competitive in Big 12 play: "I think we can. Again, it's opportunity in front of us. If we can get guys healthy and improve ourselves in practice and in games…my word is opportunity. It's right there in front of us; hopefully we can seize on that."

On Missouri: "I haven't seen a lot of them, to be honest with you. They apparently are a team that's improving from week to week. They've got some shot-makers and Kleiza's a playmaker. They've got some weapons and I think their athleticism is pretty good. That's about all I can tell you right now."

On the improvement of Cartier Martin, who scored 23 points in the Wildcats' loss to Nebraska on Saturday: "He continues to take steps in the right direction. His overall play has improved dramatically from where we started the season. I think his confidence is moving to a high level. His overall game is improving and he's learning how he has to play to be a good player. He's producing some good numbers for us right now."


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