Big Ten Morning Five: 02.21.12

Posted by jnowak on February 21st, 2012

  1. If Illinois is to succeed in the Big Ten — whether it’s under Bruce Weber or a different head coach — the Fighting Illini likely need to succeed in recruiting top players out of Chicago. It’s a hotbed of talent — guys like Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose come to mind, with players like Jabari Parker and Cliff Alexander set to come out of the Windy City in the next few years — and right in Illinois’ backyard. But the relationship between the school and the city can be a complicated one, Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. If Weber or the next coach can figure it out, it could mean a huge leap forward for the program.
  2. Is Iowa‘s Matt Gatens the most underrated player in the Big Ten? The senior has been sturdy for the Hawkeyes, scoring a team-high 14.88 PPG and dropping at least 15 in his last six games. Gatens played all 40 minutes in Iowa’s upset of Indiana, scoring 30 points on 10-for-18 shooting. “He was just in a great flow and rhythm,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “He’s not only one of the better shooters or guards in this league. He’s also one of the better ones in the country. That is a four-year guy who has been doing it at a high level — a great guy to have walk into your program.” And the fact that he’s one of three Hawkeyes with fathers that have ties to the program makes it an even better story.
  3. Speaking of Gatens, his performance against the Hoosiers was one thing that stood out to the Indianapolis Star‘s Terry Hutchens in the game. It was yet another disappointing road performance for the baffling Hoosiers, who often seem unbeatable in Bloomington, but mediocre away from home. Among Hutchens’ other notes are Iowa coach Fran McCaffery‘s thoughts on Cody Zeller, the disappearing act of Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls‘ search for confidence.
  4. Nebraska hasn’t finished its first season in the Big Ten, but the Omaha World-Herald‘s Tom Shatel already believes the Cornhuskers are in need of change in the program. He says this difficult task must start with the man who has already worked wonders in the athletic program: Tom Osborne. The former football coach has the opportunity to make Nebraska a winning program, Shatel says, by bringing in a coach who can recruit at a high level and showing that the department is committed to the basketball program like it is to the football team. Could a change be coming?
  5. Without question, Purdue could have used the services of D.J. Byrd and Kelsey Barlow on Sunday against Michigan State, but head coach Matt Painter knew he had a tough decision to make. Byrd will rejoin the team, but Barlow is out of second chances. “It’s disappointing,” Painter said. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s disappointing because when you put in time with guys and you give guys a second chance, that’s what it’s all about. You think about the chances you get in life. You think about somebody sticking by you.”
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