The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

Week 15 is officially in the books as the Big 12 Conference continued both the men’s and women’s basketball seasons for 2023-24.

We have a big game on Big Monday that is worthy of the Big 12’s new profile, Brittney Griner returns to Waco, Iowa State’s Addy Brown gives Kansas State the kiss and Mike Boynton is back to talk about NIL at Oklahoma State.

Here are the good, bad, and ugly from Week 15 in Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball.

 

The Good

The Big Monday Move

Last week during our basketball podcast, Pete Mundo and I talked about the fact that Iowa State’s game with Houston was set for 6 p.m. on Monday on ESPNU. Neither of us was happy about it. We suggested that the game be moved to the Big Monday spot, going to the point of saying that the Big 12 should push for it to be moved.

Well, I don’t know if the Big 12 did anything about it, but the next day the game was moved to the 8 p.m. Big Monday window on ESPN, replacing Kansas State vs. Texas.

This is the perfect week for a Big Monday showcase for the conference. Kansas has the mid-week bye. ESPN likely thought that snagging Texas for that slot when it made the schedule in October would be a solid ratings boost. But given the fact that Iowa State and Houston are tied for the Big 12 lead, moving the game was the right call.

 

Big 12 basketball scheduling is much different than football. Everything is set in advance and moves like this are rare. I’d love to see more of it, though. The Big 12 should be a fixture during every significant night of ESPN programming when it comes to men’s basketball. For years the 8 p.m. central window on Mondays has been the Big 12’s spot and it’s time for ESPN to be more flexible with which teams are in that window.

In other words, it shouldn’t just be Kansas every Monday. Let’s mix it up. Heck, let’s make it a Big 12 doubleheader some weeks.

Something to think about as the league expands to 16 teams next season.

Welcome Back, BG

On Sunday, Baylor finally retired Brittney Griner’s No. 42. It’s been a long time coming for the former national champion, national player of the year, Big 12 Player of the Year, and two-time First Team All-American.

 

It’s a richly deserving honor for Griner, who is one of the most impactful players in the women’s collegiate game and was a defensive game-changer in the paint.

In fact, Baylor coach Nicki Collen said she would accept nothing less than Baylor’s best defensive performance of the season — and she got it as Baylor blew out Texas Tech.

Baylor continues its season on Wednesday at home against Kansas.

The Tao of Shay

Shay Holle is one of those players that slide under the radar in the Big 12. But every time Texas has done something great the past three years, Holle has been in the starting lineup.

Holle moved back into the starting lineup right before Big 12 play and with Rori Harmon’s injury in January, Holle again gave Texas exactly what it needed. She’s averaging 7.7 points per game. That’s less than half of what Texas’ leading scorer, freshman Madison Booker, averages.  

But Big 12 coaches know Holle’s value.

One of my long-time colleagues in the business, The Austin American-Statesman’s Cedric Golden, gave her the column treatment on Sunday, and one paragraph hit the perfect note.

“Holle’s story is one of service. She’s not a diva or even a demonstrative celebrator of great plays. To the contrary, she punches that hoops clock and does the work, rarely changing expression.”

Holle is a senior, but because she started her career in 2020-21, she has a COVID waiver to use. It would not surprise me at all to see her return for another season, though it would be in the SEC and not in the Big 12.

Let’s Talk Big 12 Attendance

On social media last week we had quite the discourse about Big 12 attendance, thanks to a couple of posts from Greg Wrubell, the voice of BYU sports.

The first was about average home attendance during Big 12 games.

BYU is leading the way by several hundred fans over Kansas. Some complained that there wasn’t enough context. So, later, Wrubell posted home attendance by capacity.

The big takeaway is that 11 of the 14 Big 12 programs are either drawing or selling tickets at 90% of their capacity, which is just incredible for an entire conference. And while it is easier for smaller venues like Houston, TCU, and Baylor, the teams with huge venues are keeping up, too.

The one outlier is Oklahoma State, which is barely selling or drawing tickets above 50% of its capacity.

It’s great news for a conference that has the best product going.  

Give Him the Kiss

Iowa State’s double-overtime win over Kansas State on Wednesday was one of the most compelling games of the year in Big 12 women’s basketball. It also featured one of the best moments and it took a day or so for someone to put all the video together.

The game was on Valentine’s Day and Iowa State’s Addy Brown was at the free throw line. A Kansas State fan creatively tried to heckle Brown by wishing her a Happy Valentine’s Day.

She just drained the free throw and then blew him a kiss.

By the way, Brown didn’t miss any of her free throws that night.

The Bad

Boynton Nudges On NIL

Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton Jr. might be the one men’s coach who has something to worry about from a coaching security perspective (not including West Virginia’s Josh Eliert, who is leading that program on an interim basis and is almost certainly not getting the full-time job).

This past week Boynton talked with the Tulsa World about his job security and also talked about how his program needs more support from a Name, Image, and Likeness perspective.

In Bill Haisten’s piece, Boynton was quoted after a paragraph noting that Boone Pickens Stadium was receiving more upgrades.

“I’m coming up on the end of my seventh season as the head coach,” Boynton said. “What have you heard about (the possibility) of any significant upgrades for the men’s basketball program in seven years?”

It’s an enlightening piece. Boynton doesn’t name schools, but he admitted that at least 10 Big 12 schools are operating at $1 million or more in NIL expenses. Oklahoma State, he said, has about $500,000 committed.

Boynton also said that recruiting isn’t the problem. And I would agree. Boynton knows how to recruit and it’s reflected in his class rankings the past few seasons.

His problem now is retaining talent and he all but admitted it to the World and in the video below.

Boynton made it clear he needs more NIL resources. Oklahoma State’s alumni base has the resources to help him out. The real question is whether Boynton will be around to enjoy them next season.

The Ugly

Lady Raiders Hit Single Digits

As noted earlier, Sunday was a big day for Baylor as they retired Brittney Griner’s No. 42. The Bears didn’t want to disappoint their former star and they didn’t. But, man Texas Tech took one on the chin.

Texas Tech scored just 32 points in the game and only managed more than 10 points in a quarter one time, with 14 points in the fourth. In the first three quarters combined the Lady Raiders scored 18 points.

Tech shot 29.5% from the floor and 23.5% from the 3-point line. They were 66.7% from the free-throw line, but that’s incredibly deceptive as Tech shot just three free throws (yep, three). What really hurt the Lady Raiders was their 29 turnovers. It was just a bad day all the way around for Texas Tech.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.