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Big 12 Tourney Preview: The Good and the Bad

Since we've already seen every team in the Big 12 twice during an excellent regular season that validated once again the awesomeness of the round robin, I really see no reason to do a standard preview for this week's tournament.

Instead, in the little bit of time I have as I prepare for my long journey to Sprint Center, I'm going to offer up something a little different.

The theme of this year's season has been inconsistency, and it's pretty obvious we're going to need to see the good version of Kansas State if the 'Cats are going to advance. That's what happens when you most likely have to beat three of the top 11 teams in the country to win the conference title.

I wish I knew how K-State could avoid falling victim to its bad tendencies, but other than an occasional lapse in effort, it's not an easy thing to pinpoint. You'd like to think the 'Cats will respond to the magnitude of the situation and feed off the energy of what should be at least a decent Purple crowd, but you just never know with this team.

What we can see is whether individual players have brought their best games, which is why I've put together a handy list of characteristics to look for to see if we're getting the Good or Bad versions of K-State players.

Note that this isn't a list of strengths and weaknesses, meaning you won't see anything about the inability of Will Spradling to take anyone off the dribble, because it's not something he's crazy enough to try even when he's at its worst.

If you see some of the Good characteristics, it may be safe to sit back, relax and grab a cold one. But if you start seeing too much of the Bad, you're probably going to want a six-pack. Or maybe liquor and a shot glass.

For a look at my list, starting with Angel Rodriguez (who else?), click the jump.

Angel Rodriguez

Good Angel

  • sees the floor well, makes good passes
  • gets all the way to the rim on his drives
  • makes open, spot-up threes
  • moves his feet defensively and uses quick hands to his advantage
  • Frank isn't screaming in his face as he comes out of the game

Bad Angel

  • uses bad fundamentals and tries to make passes that have no chance
  • puts his head down and loses the ball or shoots floater he can't make on his drives
  • forces threes as if he's Denis Clemente or Jacob Pullen
  • attacks too much and picks up fouls 30+ feet away from the basket
  • sullenly looks away as Frank not-so-calmly tells him why Will Spradling is a better PG.

Will Spradling

Good Will

  • somehow disguises his poor lateral quickness and doesn't become a liability on defense, probably by taking lots of charges
  • makes his open jump shots
  • doesn't look rattled by pressure when dribbling
  • finds open teammates who can do a lot more than him.

Bad Will

  • looks like a JV player trying to guard the varsity
  • forces up long jump shots and can't make anything
  • dribbles as if he's stuck in molasses compared to his quicker defender
  • misses free throws because his confidence is so completely shot.

Jordan Henriquez

Good JO

  • defends the lane like Anthony Davis without the freakishly unfair wingspan
  • confidently and athletically grabs rebounds over everyone else
  • dunks the ball anytime he has it within 2 feet of the basket
  • steps out and makes the 5-10 foot jump shot
  • makes his free throws actually look like they have a chance of going in.

Bad JO

  • moves with all the coordination of a 7-foot 16-year-old
  • doesn't rotate over quickly enough and tries to swat everything, leading to foul trouble
  • treats the basketball like a snow globe near the rim, carefully laying it in
  • inexplicably fades away while shooting over shorter defenders
  • shoots free throws as if he's trying to break the rim and/or backboard

Jamar Samuels

Good Jamar

  • creates matchup problems with every 4 in the league because of size/athleticism
  • attacks the glass as if he knows this will be his last game
  • finds holes in the defense and makes mid-range jumpers
  • plays straight up defense and helps when Will Spradling gets beat off the dribble
  • smiles and doesn't look at the official when a call doesn't go his way

Bad Jamar

  • looks lackadaisical or apathetic
  • jumps over the back or initiates contact unnecessarily on defense
  • thinks he should be a 3-point shooter first, and a post player second
  • acts as though it's illegal for him to pick up a foul

Rodney McGruder

Good Rod

  • Looks like a First Team All-Big 12 player

Bad Rod

  • Looks like a Second Team All-Big 12 player

Martavious Irving

Good Tay

  • Actively defends and pressures the ball without fouling
  • Shoots the 3 with a trajectory that goes above the rim and occasionally goes in
  • Attacks the basket hard when he finds an opening

Bad Tay

  • Expends excessive amounts of energy without actually defending
  • shoots a 3 that looks similar to an Alex Gordon line drive
  • appears to have just learned the art of dribbling

Thomas Gipson

Good Gip

  • uses his big body and good fundamentals effectively to score inside
  • rebounds and passes with the intelligence and tenacity of a junior or senior

Bad Gip

  • Doesn't get noticed until you look at a statsheet
  • travels every time he is thwarted on his first post move

Shane Southwell

Good Paradox

  • Resists the temptation to shoot outside of 15 feet
  • Attacks the basket when available but primarily looks to deliver crisp, accurate passes
  • absolutely locks down his defender

Bad Paradox

  • gets the misguided notion that he can make tough floaters and long jumpers
  • tries impossible passes and moves a little too quickly
  • looks beatable on defense