Now that the Big Eight Conference basketball season is nearly history, it's time for the envelope, please. . .
PLAYER OF THE YEAR Doug Smith, Missouri. He's the incumbent and the 6-10 senior did nothing to quash his re-election. Perhaps Smith was a little less spectacular this season, but he was admirably more consistent. Smith could have played out the string knowing Missouri couldn't go to the NCAA Tournament, but didn't. Without him, the Tigers could very easily have finished in the Big Eight basement.
NEWCOMER OF YEAR Sean Sutton, Oklahoma State. Yeah, yeah, I know Oklahoma's Jeff Webster is the only newcomer to finish in the top ten in scoring, but score is about all Webster can do. Sutton was the only new face on an OSU team that finished 7-7 in the league last year. What does that tell you?
COACH OF THE YEAR I've always believed this award should go to the coach of the league's regular season champion. So it's either OSU's Eddie Sutton or Kansas' Roy Williams. . .in spite of the noteworthy job Danny Nee did at Nebraska.
BIGGEST SURPRISE Rich King, Nebraska. After three seasons of sand kicked in his face, the 7-2 stringbean must have decided he wasn't going to take it anymore because he finally fulfilled his considerable potential. Without King's emergence, Nebraska would doubtless have been the same old Nebraska.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT Brent Price, Oklahoma. After a 56-point explosion against Loyola Marymount in December, Price was the odds-on favorite for newcomer of the year. Then he started throwing bricks and couldn't stop the slide, shooting just over 30 percent in conference games.
BEST FREE THROWER Darwyn Alexander, Oklahoma State. Cowboys' junior guard has missed only 10 charities all season (79 of 89) and leads the Big Eight at 88.8 percent. It's the third straight year above 80 percent at foul line for the 6-0 junior.
WORST FREE THROWER Johnny Pittman, Oklahoma State. It's feast (Alexander) or famine (Pittman) at Okie State. Pittman has made 22 of 81 foul shots. That's an unbelievably bad 27.2 percent. Maybe Pittman should try shooting 'em underhanded like Wilt Chamberlain.
GOOD HIT, NO FIELD Doug Collins, Iowa State. Cyclone senior is averaging over 15 points a game and shooting about 53 percent from the floor, but he's the only Big Eight player in triple digits in turnovers (109).
GOOD FIELD, NO HIT Brent Price, Oklahoma. OU's transfer from South Carolina is shooting only about 39.5 percent in all games (see above), but he leads the league in steals (2.8 per game).
GOOD HIT, GOOD FIELD Alonzo Jamison, Kansas. Jayhawks' junior forward ranks second in steals (2.4) and third in field goal percentage (.611).
THOU SHALT NOT PASS Jeff Webster, Oklahoma. OU's red-shirt freshman has a grand total of six assists in well over 700 minutes of duty. No other Big Eight regular is in single digits in assists.
ALL SOUTHPAW TEAM Stevie Wise and James Hunter, Colorado; Doug Collins, Iowa State; Darryl King, Kansas State; Anthony Peeler, Missouri. (Kansas' only left-handed player is reserve guard Doug Elstun).
ALL FRESHMAN TEAM Jeff Webster, Oklahoma; Eric Piatkowski, Nebraska; Richard Scott, Kansas; Patrick Richey, Kansas; Melvin Booker, Missouri. Honorable mention to KU's Steve Woodberry and MU's Jevon Crudup who played in only 15 games because of a broken wrist.
GOOD NEWS OR BAD NEWS? Four of the top five scorers on last-place Kansas State's team are seniors.