Big 12 Basketball Tipoff sparks beginning of 2021-2022 season
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas is a Big 12 team that has a solid amount of experience coming back which is leading to a strong team chemistry, even with transfer Remy Martin from Arizona State.
Martin was considered the number one ranked transfer in the off season, averaging over 19 points per game last year at Arizona State before deciding to take his talents to KU for his final year.
“I think Remy is a guy that adds an energy, a speed, a fun way that others will enjoy playing with him,” said KU basketball coach Bill Self. “I think he’s pretty darn good at playing fast and I think he can create some plays that you can’t coach.”
Players agree, Martin’s infectious energy will elevate this year’s squad.
KU senior guard Ochai Agbaji said, “I think out of everything, he’s brought a different kind of leadership to our team just from day one, he’s just brought this energy and this passion for the game that he brings to practice and it’s fun playing with him.
“It’s just a different philosophy and a different system that he’s still not yet accustomed to that he’s got to get comfortable with. But when he does, he’s got a chance to be one of the better players around,” said Self.
Martin will round out coach Self’s team filling the hole of an experienced, high-caliber point guard.
With Baylor as the reigning national champs, Big 12 basketball touts itself as the toughest conference in the country.
Looking at the top 25 preseason poll, the Big 12 has three teams ranked within the top eight, something no other league can say.
“We talk about it being the best conference, but I think it’s proven by data as well as being the hardest or the toughest conference in American,” said Self.
K-State’s head basketball coach Bruce Weber said, “With us, we’ve got our 18. This year we’re playing Wichita, at Nebraska, Mississippi, you’ve got the two games here and Marquette. So we’re not too far behind as far as having a lot of major games.”
“Having good players, having yourself surrounded by good players is always good because you have a lot of threats on the floor so the defense has to respect that in a way,” said Agbaji. “That’s a lot of threats around me and around David so that’s a good way to look at it.”
K-State senior guard Mike McGuirl said, “Anybody could have a breakout game on any given night. We’ve got so much talent, so much depth.”
“I think over the last six or seven years, if you were going to take what our conference strength is over those particular years, we’d rate at a 1.4 or a 1.6, whatever it’d be,” said Self.
A Big 12 team has made it to the Final Four in four of the last five NCAA Tournaments and when it was cancelled in 2020, Kansas was the favorite to win it.
A big key for K-State basketball this year is a little bit of experience coming back. That’s in large part thanks to returning senior guard Mike McGuirl.
Even though the Wildcats ended last season with a little momentum, putting up a hard-fought game against Baylor, the fifth year senior wasn’t happy with the season outcome. McGuirl thinks they’re capable of more.
As the team’s second leading scorer and one of the top rebounders, the Cats, including McGuirl say they have business to finish.
“It was the biggest, the best recruit we had to get him to come back, there’s no doubt,” said Weber. “You know, experience. At first we had to talk with him a little bit. His dad, his coach, his family were very supportive in coming back. He texted me yesterday and said, ‘Thanks for believing in me and we’re going to have a special season.’ So I’m really happy to have him back.”
MIKE MCGUIRL, SENIOR GUARD
“That it’s a blessing that this happened, this COVID year,” mentioned McGuirl. “And yeah I think everything works out for a reason and I think this year will be a lot of fun.”
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