Answering your sports questions

By Steve Sell
December 10, 2014

My mailbag runneth over.

I continue to receive your emails, phone calls and texts wondering what my pea brain thinks about important sports topics of both local and state-wide interest.

Can’t let the public down...

Q — What’s your impression of the McPherson High boys basketball team after two games?

A — I found it funny Tuesday night as I was walking out of the Roundhouse to hear somebody say the Bullpups won by “only” 17 points. I think people should get a handle on reality and realize a 17-point margin is huge for most teams. The Bullpups have raised the bar so high that everybody is unfairly expecting them to win every game by 40 points. All I can say is I think this could be one of the most special MHS teams I have covered in my 36 years. The addition of Payton Stephens to a tremendous cast of returnees gives the Bullpups a physical presence the likes haven’t seen in years. He is just so powerful and runs the floor so well. I hope people come out in droves and watch this team because it’s like going on a thrill ride everytime it takes the court.

Q — And the girls?

A — I think this could be one of the most fascinating seasons I can remember in terms of watching a team grow up right before our eyes. It kind of reminds me of the 1996-97 season when then-coach Scott Schaefer threw caution to the wind and started sophomores Kristina Barrow, Candace James and Courtney Rierson. All they did that year was win a state title, the first of three in a row. Now I’m not going to say the Bullpups are going to win a state title this year, but it’s going to be intriguing to see how players like freshmen Taylor Robertson and Mandi Cooks develop, as well as the passel of sophomores who can augment the juniors and seniors. I can’t even begin to put a number of wins to this team until I see it for a couple of more games. Coach Chris Strathman has a lot of parts, it’s just figuring out how to make all the pieces fit the puzzle. I know one thing is for sure — the Bullpups have a lot of good years in the future.

Q — The Chicago Cubs have signed coveted pitcher Jon Lester. What does this mean?

A — It means let the dominos start to fall. Everybody was waiting to see Lester set the market and the Cubs gave him id="mce_marker"55 mil for six years. Max Scherzer is still out there and he could receive as much or more. I think he’ll go to the Yankees because they’re the only team left that can afford him since the Los Angeles Dodgers have such an enormous payroll already and Boston has shelled out big bucks for Kung Fu Panda and Hanley Ramirez. 

Q — What are the Royals going to do?

A — “Big Game James” Shields is practically certain to leave Kansas City and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t go to Boston, which desperately needs an ace and he won’t cost nearly as much as Lester and Scherzer. Kansas City can’t afford to stand pat, which is a mistake a lot of teams make after going to a World Series. The Royals aren’t going to be able to single and double teams into submission. They need a big bat in the outfield and a quality starter to supplant Shields. They better get moving, because the Chicago White Sox appear to be serious as they have been the stars of the offseason. Remember, the AL Central is probably baseball’s easiest division to win.

Q — How far can the Wichita State Shockers go this year?

A — They’ll go as far as their Big 4 takes them. Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton do about everything for this team. Evan Wessel is the perfect complement as he does all the dirty little things that go unnoticed, but the bench is greener than the fairways at Augusta National. The Shockers are still very good, but I can’t see them getting out of the Sweet 16 because they’re awfully small in the front court.

Q — What are your impressions of new KU football coach David Beaty?

A — He’s doing and saying all the right things and I’m glad he kept on Clint Bowen and Reggie Mitchell as assistants. Let’s face it, if he wins more than two games next season he ought to be Big 12 Coach of the Year. It’s amazing how threadbare the cupboard is. If you thought KU was bad this year, next year will be even worse. No matter the quality of players Beaty brings in, the Jayhawks are so talent deficient when compared to Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma and TCU it’s not even funny. Their offensive and defensive linemen are mostly NCAA Division II types and for all the good things Michael Cummings did at quarterback, you’re not going to be a bowl team with him. He just happened to be a better alternative than Montell Cozart. But Beaty knows Texas and he’s been around the Big 12 long enough to know what it takes to win. He has to sell top prospects that they can be the start of one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. Sound familiar, Kansas State fans?