Perhaps no team was as affected by the way block/charge calls were made last year than Iowa State was.
In Ohio State's third-round NCAA Tournament win over the Cyclones in March, Iowa State's Will Clyburn was called for a charge late in the game, swinging the momentum toward the Buckeyes.
Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg was happy the block/charge rule was altered so defenders are no longer allowed to slide into the offensive player's path at the last moment. The defender now has to be in position when the offensive player starts his upward motion with the ball.
Hoiberg wasn't sure how much difference the change would make.
“We'll see how it's impacted once the games start,” Hoiberg said. “It is, in my opinion, the toughest call in the game.
“I think it's a good rule change. We'll see how it's called.”
DEPTH IS SOONERS' STRENGTH
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger doesn't anticipate depth being a problem on this year's team.
“I think there'll be healthy competition among the guys in this group,” Kruger said. “We'll be deep on the perimeter and a lot of new guys on the interior. I think the competition for time will be very, very high.”
Among those new interior players are Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler of Bridge Creek, a pair of Kansas junior college players — Edson Avila and Keshaun Hamilton — as well as Texas junior-college transfer Dominique Elliott.
“We'll have a young team relatively with only two seniors and a couple of juniors, but those young guys from last year got a lot of good minutes,” Kruger said. “So they've got pretty good experience for such a young group.”
SELF DOESN'T ANTICIPATE RIVALRY RENEWAL
With the first Big 12/SEC Challenge set for this year, it would seem an ideal way for traditional rivals Kansas and Missouri and Texas and Texas A&M to resume their series.
But Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team is matched up with Florida this season, said there was never a discussion of the Jayhawks meeting the Tigers as part of the inaugural event.
“That would never come up,” Self said. “I don't think Texas is going to play A&M either.”
Instead, Missouri is matched up with West Virginia. Texas will host Vanderbilt and Texas A&M will play Oklahoma in Houston.
Most matchups will take place Dec. 2-10, though Alabama will host Texas Tech on Nov. 14 and the Sooners will play A&M on Dec. 31.
“Eventually, we want to be able to condense it and hopefully it'll be something that's very similar to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and get that type of media attention,” Self said. “It also forces you to improve scheduling, which I think all the coaches are good about.
“It gives you an opportunity for a great nonconference win where before you'd be playing a guarantee game.”
FIELDS STILL WORKING BACK
Former Putnam City West star Amric Fields looked poised for big things last year for TCU.
But in just the third game of the season, Fields injured his knee and was out for the remainder of the season.
Fields has yet to be fully cleared after a recent setback that Horned Frogs coach Trent Johnson said required another procedure to clean up the meniscus in the right knee.
Johnson said he hoped Fields would be ready to go by October if not sooner.
“Amric is very talented, very skilled,” Johnson said. “He can cause a lot of problems as far as a matchup because he can play in the perimeter, he can play in the post.”
Fields was the Mountain West's Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore before TCU made the move to the Big 12.
SMITH GETTING ACCLIMATED
New Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith had a lot of work to do when he arrived in Lubbock.
Smith is the Red Raiders' fourth coach in four years after replacing interim coach Chris Walker following Billy Gillispie's resignation last September after just one season.
Texas Tech hasn't had a winning record in the conference since 2007 and hasn't had a winning record overall since 2010.
“It takes awhile to make them believe that, ‘You can win fellas,'” Smith said. “There's a lot of negative talk. There's a lot of things that have happened but that's in the past, let's move forward.
“It was a challenge making sure these guys were comfortable with me. You've got to re-recruit players that are already there, then you've got to go out and sign players.”