My mailbag has been stuffed as much as I was last Thursday after the Thanksgiving turkey.
A lot of folks have asked my opinion on a number of topics and I hate to keep the public waiting.
Q — You’ve gotten to see the Class 4A Division I sub-state basketball pairings today. What do you think?
A — All I know is that I’d much rather go to Hays than Ulysses — is that even in Kansas? For the MHS boys, Hays should prove formidable, but I think the Bullpups’ incredible balance and teamwork should be able to offset 6-7 Brady Werth. I have no idea what to expect on the girls’ side from the Bullpups as there’s so many unknowns. I think it’s going to be fun to watch this team develop as the season goes along.
Q — Who’s going to be the good 4A D-I boys team that could be staying home?
A — Miege and defending Class 4A D-II champion Eudora are in the same sub-state, so one of them will be spectating. The Topeka Hayden sub-state is brutal — Hayden, Abilene, Ottawa and Wamego. On the flip side, Winfield should thank its lucky stars as it has expected run-of-the-mills Rose Hill, Wellington and Mulvane to “contend” with. Andale also won’t have to expend much energy with Augusta, El Dorado and Circle.
Q — What did you think of Conner Frankamp’s decision to transfer to Wichita State?
A — I was disappointed when he left KU because it’s apparent the Jayhawks aren’t a great outside shooting team. The way he came on during the NCAA Tournament, I really thought he would be the first guard off the bench. But when Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk signed late, that was a signal that Frankamp’s minutes would be cut. They do a lot of the same things, except Svi is seven inches taller. I think Wichita State is a perfect landing spot since he’ll have one year as an apprentice to Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet before being “the man” in his final two years.
Q — What are you expecting from the Royals next week when the Winter Meetings heat up?
A — The Royals already have done some tinkering by shedding Billy Butler and Aaron Crow. James Shields probably will be gone soon as he’s out of their price range. A guy I’d like to see them pick up is Pittsburgh lefty Francisco Liriano. I think he’d be a perfect fit, though he does have problems at times staying healthy. A big bat in right field is the top priority because you just can’t expect the Royals to be so successful again scoring on singles and doubles. With the financial windfall from the playoffs and World Series, plus losing the salaries of Butler and Shields, Royals GM Dayton Moore should have some extra cash in his pocket to spend.
Q — What are the Chiefs’ chances of making the playoffs?
A — I don’t think 9-7 can get them in and I don’t see them winning more than two of their last four, if that. That Oakland debacle will be the one that haunts them. Quite frankly, this looks like a team whose needle is on “E.” The lack of overall talent and key injuries on defense are catching up with them. My guess is this: if they can somehow beat Arizona this weekend they’ll make it, a loss and they’re done.
Q — Who is going to make the Super Bowl now that we’ve arrived at the three-quarter pole?
A — I’m sticking to my preseason prediction. I think it’s a rematch of last year with Denver taking on Seattle. The Seahawks’ defense is ferocious again and I think Seattle is just a little better than Green Bay. It’s Denver and New England in the AFC, with everybody else an afterthought.
Q — What’s going to happen when Kansas State plays at Baylor Saturday night?
A — If Bryce Petty doesn’t play for Baylor, Kansas State has a shot. It’s going to come down to whether or not the Wildcats can run the football. Are they the team than ran for one yard against West Virginia or the one that had nearly 200 against Kansas (which really isn’t saying much)? It’s still tough to pick against the Bears, especially since Kansas State hasn’t played well in Waco in recent years.
Q — Is Clint Bowen going to get the KU football job?
A — Who wants it besides him? I really haven’t heard any rumors of anybody beating down Sheahon Zenger’s door. Like I always say, the players make the coach (except maybe in Bill Snyder’s case). If you give Clint Bowen Alabama’s players, don’t you think he’d be a Top 5 team? It’s all about recruiting and I think Bowen’s passion for KU is impressive. Give him a shot. He’ll come at a much cheaper price tag, so when they have to get rid of him it won’t be like paying off Charlie Weis (or Turner Gill for that matter).
Q — Are the Kansas Jayhawks going to win the Big 12 basketball title yet again?
A — I think this is a down year for Big 12 hoops. Kansas is slightly down, as are Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State. Look for Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma to be slightly up. West Virginia is about the same, while Texas Tech and TCU will have their annual battle for the cellar. It wouldn’t surprise me if Texas emerges by a hair over the Jayhawks and I still think Kansas State, even though it hasn’t shown it, has the talent to make a run at a Top 3 spot. The sleeper? Oklahoma.