It's not a typical Monday morning for the newspaper folks. Usually we're lucky to get a story or two, but with tonight's Big Monday tilt with Texas, there's plenty to discuss.
Blair Kerkhoff asks, "Who's the man: Beasley or Durant?" An interesting question, and one I proposed to debate with Texas blogger PB over at Burnt Orange Nation. However, PB made an excellent point: there really is no Right Answer, or if there is, it's incredibly obscure, in that debate. Both players are incredible talents with different games. For a bare-bones statistical comparison, see this sidebar to Kerkhoff's story.
Also from the KC Star, K-State beat writer weighs in on K-State's difficult week ahead. This week's games against Texas and KU are the second and third legs of what I have dubbed The Run of Truth, so named because it would define our chances to win the league title. We're already in trouble because Saturday's loss to Baylor means Texas controls its own destiny, but if we can somehow right the ship--quickly--we can put some pressure on them and the 'beakers.
Speaking of conference title hopes, the Topeka Capital-Journal's Austin Meek breaks down that race and the remainder of the season.
From the Wichita ink-barrel, Jeffrey Martin makes the obvious point that K-State needs to find a cure for its disastrous 0-2 week at home tonight. If the Cats can pick up tonight's game, they will, for all intents and purposes, lock up an NCAA tournament bid. If they don't, they are completely eliminated from the conference tournament race and the pundits will begin to doubt whether K-State is a tournament-worthy team. Protecting home court tonight is crucial.
Also from the Wichita Eagle, here is the Texas Scouting Report.
No chance to discuss K-State would be complete without some stories about Michael Beasley. First, there is an excellent feature article from USA Today. Gotta love this quote...
"The love you get in little old Manhattan, you couldn't get in the whole state of California. These people really care," he says. "I've got a home now. ... I will always be a part of Manhattan, Kan."
You do have a home now, Mike. For as loooooooooong as you want to stay.
A little to the south, or north for me, the Dallas Morning News' Chip Brown notes that Beasley may be overlooked in the player of the year race. I agree, for several of the reasons he mentions in the article. First, a freshman (Kevin Durant) won the award last year, and there's already evidence that some people don't want the award going to another freshman who is likely one-and-done. Second, Beasley doesn't play for a traditional ACC powerhouse team (and a little more on that in a second). Finally, some people tend to get confused about what the criteria really are for the "player of the year" trophy. Jay Bilas explains...
"I think Beasley is the best player," Bilas said. "But it depends on what you believe player of the year to mean. Is it the best player? Or the best player on the best team? If that's the case, people might argue for Tyler Hansbrough.
"I still think there's a freshman bias out there, and I don't know why. I would vote for Beasley right now."
Also included in that article is a quote from Frank Martin, essentially noting what he perceives as an East-coast bias among those who vote for the award. Over at Burnt Orange Nation, PB makes the argument that Martin's point is not a valid criticism for essentially two reasons. First, two Texas players have won POY in the last five years. Second, the Big 12 has a good television deal. The only problem with that is it assumes an equality of perception between K-State and Texas that doesn't exist. With Rick Barnes at the helm for 10 years now, Texas has been a perennial power in the Big 12 and on the national scene, going to the Final Four in 2003. In that same period of time and, indeed, not since 1988 has K-State been relevant to the national discussion. Also, while the Big 12's TV deal for basketball is undoubtedly helpful, it would be wrong to equate K-State's exposure with Texas'. Tonight's game will be Texas' third straight Big Monday appearance, while it will be K-State's first this season. K-State has played in its fair share of national broadcasts, but Wednesday games against Texas Tech don't generate the same buzz as a Big Monday game with a KU or Texas A&M.
All that said, PB is dead-on when he says that Beasley has every opportunity to force the voters to choose him as POY with big games this week. Tonight he plays on Big Monday--at home--and Saturday he plays in the primetime GameDay telecast against that school down the river. He has his shot.
Oh yeah, and the Big 12 once again snubbed Beasley as player of the week, giving him his fifth-straight "rookie of the week" honor instead. The player of the week honor went to Texas' D.J. Augustin. I guess player awards do depend on how well your team performs, rather than your individual performance.
I'll be back in a little while with a "Kicking the Tires" preview of Texas, and the open game thread to follow.