Oklahoma State loss remains on minds of Big 12 coaches

Monday, February 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma State tragedy continues to reverberate around the Big 12 Conference.

Coach Eddie Sutton missed Monday's weekly league teleconference to attend the funeral of Will Hancock, the team's media relations coordinator, and the Jan. 27 plane crash that killed 10 people associated with the program remains on the minds of Sutton's colleagues. The phone line was mostly silent during Sutton's 10-minute allotment.

Missouri was the first team to play the Cowboys since the crash in a game Monday night that was pushed back two days. Coach Quin Snyder knew it would be an emotional experience.

"I don't think there's any amount of preparation that can mitigate the circumstances," Snyder said. "Our focus has to be on the job we came to do. I think you can do that and still maintain strong feelings for what happened."

Juggling the schedule means that Missouri has three games in a six-day span. The Tigers are at home against Kansas State on Wednesday and play at Iowa State on Sunday.

"Clearly it was important that our game be moved, and scheduling concerns were secondary," Snyder said. "You modify your week a little bit and move on."

Nebraska will be the second team to face Oklahoma State, on Wednesday, and coach Barry Collier isn't looking forward to it.

"It's a great challenge, no matter what the circumstances are," Collier said. "We're all really bothered and still grieving for Oklahoma State's loss.

"The best thing we can all do for the 40 minutes is just focus on the best thing we can do on the basketball floor."

Conference-leading Kansas will be the third team for Oklahoma State, on Saturday.

"I don't really think it'll be a problem once the game starts," coach Roy Williams said. "Everybody has to remember what happened and we have a great deal of feelings for those people."

Announcers from around the Big 12 will fill in on broadcasts for Bill Teegins, who died in the crash, the rest of the season.

Oklahoma's Bob Barry Sr. called Monday night's Missouri game.

Around the conference, it's rematch time for some of the teams.

On Jan. 16, two days after beating Iowa State in four overtimes and cracking the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons, Missouri never had a chance in a 21-point blowout at Kansas State that began a three-game losing streak. The Wildcats come to Columbia, Mo., on Wednesday.

Oklahoma had won five in a row since losing at Texas Tech Jan.

16, and on Wednesday the Red Raiders come to Norman, Okla.

"I don't think it'll be a revenge thing as much as an opportunity to continue to play well and get better," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "One of the things we've always prided ourselves on is being hard to play against and early in January and during that stretch when we were struggling, we just had no control over the flow."

Texas A&M coach Melvin Watkins knows that feeling with the Aggies entering the week on a nine-game losing streak. But he's remained optimistic given the fact six of the first nine Big 12 games were against ranked teams.

"I can see a little light at the end of the tunnel," Watkins said. "As long as they give the effort, I can live with this.

"It is tough, but I know once we get everything in place we've got a chance to be a pretty decent team."

Missouri sophomore Kareem Rush, who had his fourth double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds in a 75-66 victory over Kansas last Monday, was named the Big 12 player of the week. Kansas State's Larry Reid, who averaged 24 points and 4.5 assists in two games last week, was named the conference's rookie of the week.