Big Ten Weekly Five: 07.12.12 EditionPosted by Deepak Jayanti on July 12th, 2012
- Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery recently signed a seven-year contract extension. McCaffery will make approximately $1.7M after next season and will be rewarded with a raise up to $2M if the Hawkeyes make the NCAA Tournament over the next few years. Iowa has not received an NCAA Tournament bid since 2006, and the university certainly believes that McCaffery is the guy to get them there with this move. Even though the Hawkeyes only finished 18-17 last season, the program certainly has a different competitive feel since McCaffery took over. During the B1G season, Iowa had the highest tempo in the league at 65.1 possessions per game and appeared to maximize the talent available. The addition of two top 100 ranked freshmen — Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell — certainly indicates the program’s upswing.
- Iowa is the not the only program that has increased the overall tempo of play in the Big Ten. New Illinois head coach John Groce plans to have Brandon Paul and Tracy Abrams run all over the place next season. Groce holds practice using a 24-second shot clock to increase his team’s endurance and hopes to make a difference in Champaign immediately. Illinois ranked in the middle of the B1G last season with 63.5 posessions per game but definitely has the athletes on the wings to push the pace. They featured a three-guard lineup with Abrams, Paul and D.J. Richardson but were primarily a jump-shooting offense under Weber, especially in the second half of the season. Groce is trying to change that and hopes to instill confidence into a team that stumbled down the stretch last season.
- High school sensation and arguably the best prep player in the country Jabari Parker apparently isn’t interested in joining the Illini per the latest reports. Parker, a 6’8″ wing, listed his top 10 schools in no particular order this week and Illinois was not one of them. Michigan State is the only Big Ten school that he is considering as he enters his senior year in high school. It is very likely that he only stays in college for one year so Kentucky might be a frontrunner if he plans to follow the footsteps of Brandon Knight, John Wall, Anthony Davis and the multiple “one-and-done” players who roll through Lexington, Kentucky, on their way to the NBA lottery.
- The 2012-13 season schedule is beginning to shape up. ESPN airs a 24-hour hoops marathon to unofficially tip-off the new season and Michigan State is one of the headliners that will participate in the event. Tom Izzo’s Spartans will face Kansas at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on November 13. Izzo is notorious in challenging his teams with tough non-conference scheduling to prepare them for March. MSU is already scheduled to play Connecticut overseas and the matchup with Kansas will continue to shape a challenging schedule for the Spartans who are a pre-season top 10 team next season. Junior guard Keith Appling looks to step up into a leadership role after Draymond Green’s exit and a healthy return of Branden Dawson should give Sparty a defensive stopper against the premier wings in the country.
- The Olympics are upon us and the USA Basketball team has been announced. The Big Ten will be well represented by current Brooklyn Net and former Illini great Deron Williams in London. Williams is one of the three point guards on the team in addition to Chris Paul (former Wake Forest guard) and Russell Westbrook (former UCLA guard). Williams earned a gold medal in 2008 and was joined by Michael Redd who made a career at Ohio State before taking his sweet shooting stroke to the NBA. Another former Illini, Robert Archibald, will be playing for England over the summer. Archibald was a key part of the Illinois team that lost to Arizona in the Elite Eight during the 2000-01 season.