Not to belabor the obvious … oh, well, why not? What else are sports writers good for? The top three South teams – Oklahoma (6), Baylor (5) and Texas A&M (4) – all have more or as many conference wins as the bottom four North teams combined. Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado all have one victory apiece.
That’s how it stands through Wednesday, when President Bush’s luck remained unchanged (he was rooting for Baylor against OU), Texas’ frustrations continued to boil, the Cowgirls topped the Tigers and, in a battle of the Big 12′s western-most outposts, Texas Tech defeated Colorado.
BTW, I was alerted to a thread on the RebKell message board about continuing debate in regard to Kansas State point guard Shalee Lehning’s WNBA potential. It’s not the first and won’t be the last, of course.
There is interesting discussion of what makes for a good point guard at the next level. (Remember, though, it’s a message board, and some folks on there dilute even good analysis by being inexplicably hateful. Such is life on message boards.)
Analyst Bob Corwin – alias Bob Scouting Report - has a fair view of Lehning, in my opinion. He believes that Lehning’s court sense, leadership and battling spirit _ terrific as they are to see at the college level _ will not off-set her deficiencies in shooting and defense.
People who mostly follow the college game sometimes have difficulty fully realizing just how good players have to be to stick on a WNBA roster. There are only 13 teams – with the demise of the Houston Comets – and a lot of players with many years of professional experience to fill the roster spots.
Defense is everything in the WNBA, whether people like it or not. Further, as much as Lehning’s rebounding has helped a program that has had only one consistently good true post player in her time in Manhattan – Marlies Gipson – a point guard at the next level cannot crash the boards the way Lehning does in college.
The post players in the WNBA are rebounding machines – they simply have to be – and a point guard cannot afford to consistently get behind on transition defense in battling WNBA-caliber posts for rebounds. It’s defensive suicide.
Lehning has immense desire and basketball smarts. Even though they play very different positions, she is the women’s college version of UNC men’s player Tyler Hansbrough in that they play as if their very souls were on the line every game. Really, I think Lehning would dive head-first into a pit of cobras to get a loose basketball. (But even Bill Laimbeer hasn’t found a way to add a cobra pit to the hoops court.)
Whether what Lehning can do is enough to make it in the WNBA, we’ll see. I think Corwin’s view is accurate, just based on what I’ve seen in watching the WNBA since its inception. That said, Lehning shouldn’t care what we think. Her future won’t be determined by any of our analysis. She will make her case on the court, and the WNBA coaches will decide.
Now, for the power rankings:
1. Oklahoma, 6-0: Getting a win in Waco should really pump up the Sooners.
2. Baylor, 5-1: Wednesday’s loss was disappointing, but a learning experience on offense
3. Texas A&M, 4-2: Next up is a three-game North division swing.
4. Kansas State, 5-1: Patiently battled Nebraska’s defensive strategy Wednesday and wore down Huskers.
5. Texas Tech: 3-3: Pulling out a victory at Colorado is a good sign for Raiders.
6. Iowa State, 3-2: A week to gear up for K-State could be bad news for Wildcats on Saturday.
7. Oklahoma State, 2-3: Be interesting to see how Cowgirls match up with Texas Tech.
8. Texas, 2-3: Uh-oh. With upcoming road games at Baylor and OSU, 4-game loss streak very possible.
9. Colorado, 1-5: Beat Missouri, pushed Texas Tech. There’s something vaguely positive going on. Maybe.
10. Nebraska, 1-5: Next up is trip to Boulder, where Huskers have won three in row after two consecutive decades of losing there.
11. Kansas, 1-4: Saw good signs in loss to K-State, but a week to prep for trip to TAMU probably won’t make much difference.
12. Missouri, 1-5: Played OU well twice last year, including win in Big 12 tourney. Sooners will be looking for revenge.