Good Monday, faithful subjects. Let your hearts be lightened, as your benevolent despot has returned!
It’s been a brutal summer for your erstwhile bossman. June was mostly taken up with working a stretch of 25 out of 26 days at the Real Job™, and then the weekend following that nightmare was taken up with catching up with Real Life™ things which had to be addressed, and this weekend was — finally! — a chance to just vegetate and rest.
If you can avoid doing this yourself, it’s very much recommended.
Anyway, as we careen headlong into the 2021-22 calendar and things start picking up on the fall sports front, it’s time to get that preseason conditioning in order. So join us as we run down the news!
It’s somewhat old news now, but it’s worth examining what was said last week at Big 12 Media Days. Chris Klieman noted that Chabastin Taylor missed spring ball due to injury, but that he’s expecting good things from Kade Warner, Jaelon Travis, and Keenan Garber to make up for any issues Taylor’s recovery may cause downfield. We’re also probably going to see offensive linemen moving from one position to another during games to take advantage of the strengths of the second string.
Most importantly, Klieman reminded us — in the process of declaring him the team’s most improved player over last year — that when Will Howard was thrust into the starting role at quarterback he’d pretty much had six weeks to prepare and learn the offense. So it might be worth remembering that as we think back on 2021 and perhaps be even more impressed by Howard’s good performances.
On the expanded playoff, Klieman didn’t come right out and say it but I get the impression that his internal monologue on the issue is that if you sneak into it you’d better win it. He noted the difficulty that the additional schedule puts on recruiting because coaches are busy game-planning instead of sitting in high schoolers’ living rooms.
In other news from Media Days, the Big 12 officially announced that Horns Down will draw a flag if used by a player to taunt Texas players (or fans), and unofficially signaled that if teams are unable to field a team in conference games due to COVID issues they may just have to forfeit rather than reschedule.
It was one and done for Purple and Black at The Basketball Tournament on Friday. With the Wildcat alums leading the Creighton-derived Omaha Blue Crew 59-57 and the Elam Ending score pegged at 60, a prayer three from Deverell Biggs found the net and ended P&B’s run. Thomas Gipson was the leading scorer for the good guys with 19.
Earlier in the year the field for the Hall of Fame Classic at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City was announced, and we gushed over the sheer history involved with K-State, Cincinnati, Illinois, and Arkansas in the field. On Thursday, the semifinal pairings were announced and the Cats will take on the Hogs in the second game on November 22. It’ll be the first hardwood meeting between the two schools in 30 years. K-State leads the all-time series 8-3, but Arkansas won the last two in 1990 and 1991 and they’re coming off an Elite Eight appearance.
The game will air on ESPN2 at roughly 8:00, depending on how long the Cincinnati-Illinois opener lasts. The losers of those two games will face off at 6:00 the following night, with the winners taking the court 30 minutes after that game concludes.
The good, the bad, and the not-news:
Bill Beckner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on Latrobe native Zach Kokoska as he prepares to begin his pro career as a Rockie. Rocky? Good lord, what is the officially-approved singular of Rockies? Anyway, it’s not likely that Kokoska will go down as the greatest personality to come from Latrobe, as becoming more iconic than Arnold Palmer or Mister Rogers is a big ask. But maybe he can make it to Denver, hit a lot of dingers, and move into third place.
K-State’s done a good job stealing excellent arms from the state of Arkansas, and they had another one lined up in the person of Batesville righty Gage Wood. But on Wednesday night, Wood announced that he’d flipped, choosing to stay home and ply his trade as a Razorback. It’s a big loss for the BatCats, as Wood was named the 5A co-player of the year in Arkansas this season.
There’s only a couple of days left in KSHB’s 100 days of Kansas City Olympians feature, but another Wildcat got in just under the wire: third baseman Craig Wilson (‘92), who played on Team USA at Barcelona ‘92, the first time baseball was ever an official medal sport.
Track and Field
Speaking of the Olympics, three Wildcats will be representing their countries in Tokyo, although none of them will be sporting the Stars and Stripes. Laura Galvan, former cross-country star, made her way onto Team Mexico and will become the first former Wildcat to compete in two events since Thane Baker way back in 1956. Galvan will compete in the 1500m and 5k races.
Shalysa Wray won’t be hard to spot during the opening ceremonies. She is one of only five athletes representing the Cayman Islands, and she’ll take part in the 400m. As this year’s Games will feature teams being led by both a female and male flagbearer, she’s got a 33% chance of claiming that honor; if so, she might very well be the first Wildcat to perform that duty.
Finally, former Wildcat Shadae Lawrence will be representing Jamaica in the discus pit for the second time, having also competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Just missing qualification were women’s hammer expert Janee Kassanavoid and former high jump medalist Erik Kynard, each of whom finished fourth at the US Olympic Trials last month.