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Big 12 basketball: Turner not at Texas to be ‘the program,’ Barnes says

Myles Turner of Euless Trinity did not go to Texas to be “the program,” coach Rick Barnes said.

“Right from the beginning of the recruiting process — and he told us this — he wanted to be a part of the program where he could be a part of it, but not necessarily him be the program,” Barnes said at Big 12 basketball Media Day.

Turner, a 6-foot-11 forward, was the Longhorns’ prized recruit after averaging 18 points and almost 7 blocks a game as a senior. He was ranked the No. 2 recruit in the nation by ESPN scouting services.

“I think he would also tell you that, when he visited campus, the one thing he felt was that he was able to be around other players that felt the same way, that they just wanted to have a great team,” Barnes said. “They wanted to win, and they would know that their individual goals would be met by buying into each other.”

Texas is expected to return everyone but guard Martez Walker from its NCAA tournament team last season. Walker withdrew from school after being suspended while facing misdemeanor assault charges involving his girlfriend.

Tech continuity

Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said it matters that his coaching staff returns as he tries to build continuity.

“I guess this is the first time in five years the coaches will have been there for two years in a row,” he said.

He said the benefit is evident already.

“We have a lot of new faces. The returning players and the veteran players understand the drills and what we want done, and they’re able to communicate that to the other players,” he said.

Tech has posted four consecutive losing seasons. Last year, the Red Raiders were 14-18, 6-12 for ninth place in the conference.

Baylor challenge

Baylor coach Scott Drew said replacing the loss of more than half the scoring and rebounding numbers from last season is the kind of challenge coaches like.

“That means you have a lot of things to work on and a lot of opportunities to help new guys take a step forward,” he said.

Drew said the Bears have been unselfish so far.

“I would think we’ll be a team that will be tougher to prepare for because there won’t just be one or two people you can focus and key on,” he said. “I think every coach will tell you preparing for a team that has six double-figure scorers is tougher than if there’s just one or two. Really, all of them enjoy seeing their teammates score. There’s not a ball stopper or someone that really demands the ball.”

OSU foursome

Oklahoma State will ask for a lot from the foursome of Michael Cobbins, Le’Bryan Nash, Phil Forte and Anthony Hickey, coach Travis Ford said.

“They have a lot of big-game experience. They’ve played in a lot of big games in their career,” he said. “All four guys, we’ve talked to about needing to have the best years of their career to this point.”

Cobbins is back from injury. Nash will be a four-year starter. Forte shared the Sixth Man of the Year award in the conference last year, and Hickey was a three-year starter at LSU.

Ford said also that with Cobbins and Anthony Allen, the Cowboys will have the best shot-blocking group he’s coached.

Oklahoma defense

Coach Lon Kruger said the Sooners have work to do on their defense.

“Last year, we knew we could score,” he said. “We had confidence on the offensive end. I think that took away from the sincerity a little bit on the defensive end, and we can’t afford to do that.”

OU ranked seventh in scoring defense in conference games last year, allowing 74.4 points on average.

“We’ve got to cover better. We’ve got to get stops. We’ve got to rebound the ball better, be a little more physical that way,” Kruger said. “I think our guys do have a much better understanding of the value of all that.”

By committee

Iowa State won’t easily make up for the loss of its two best players, conference player of the year forward Melvin Ejim and all-conference guard DeAndre Kane, coach Fred Hoiberg said.

“You don’t replace them with one or two players. We’ll have to do it by committee,” he said.

Hoiberg thinks he has the roster to do it.

“I think we’ll have a little more depth, the ability to play 10, maybe even 11 guys,” he said. “And the versatility to play different types of lineups. You can go small, you can go big.”

Preseason coaches’ poll

Team (1st place votes) Pts
1. Kansas (6) 78
2. Texas (3) 74
3. Oklahoma (1) 67
4. Kansas State 53
5. Iowa State 51
6. Baylor 36
West Virginia 36
8. Oklahoma State 27
9. TCU 15
10. Texas Tech 13