Big Ten Weekly Five: 08.03.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on August 3rd, 2012

  1. Minnesota will be one of the most intriguing teams to watch in the Big Ten next season after the momentum the team built in the NIT thanks to some young players who will now be mixed back in with returning star Trevor Mbakwe. The Golden Gophers are spending their summer months playing together, and Amelia Rayno has some updates from the Howard Pulley Pro City league end-of-summer tournament. She reports that Rodney Williams says Mbakwe has practiced with the group a few times and “he wasn’t moving too fast yet, but he didn’t look like he was too nervous out there.” If Mbakwe can get back to his old double-double self and complement Williams and youngster Andre Hollins, Minnesota could do some serious damage.
  2. How would you like to be the guy asked to step in and take over Robbie Hummel‘s spot at Purdue? That unenviable position will likely be filled by committee, in the form of sophomore Jacob Lawson and redshirt freshman Donnie Hale. The two will have big shoes to fill after Hummel’s five seasons with the Boilermakers, helping bring Purdue back to the upper echelon of college basketball. “We’re both trying to get out there and play just as hard, just so coach knows we really want that spot,” Lawson told the Indianapolis Star. “With me and him battling, it’s going to be a battle every day.” Lawson has appeared in 30 games, including four starts, but replacing Hummel’s versatility and leadership will be anything but easy.
  3. In the wake of the punishments the NCAA handed down to Central Florida, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo spoke to USA Today about the landscape of the game today and how his job is impacted by AAU basketball and agents. Izzo said in the story that he has “absolutely” lost out on bringing recruits to Michigan State because he’s refused to “cheat” and said there are plenty of other coaches around the country who have gone down the same road. “A lot of people have lost players,” Izzo said. “And I am not saying that cheating is 80 percent of the game. It’s probably 20 percent. But it’s probably 70 percent of the top 20 percent [of player recruitments]. College basketball is a business. This [recruiting] is a business now because it leads to ours.” Third parties are a part of the game now more than ever before — with everything from shoe companies to summer showcase tournaments wanting a piece of the action — and that just means more pressure for everybody.
  4. All the basketball fans watching Team USA at the Olympics in London right now are going to be left with a four-year void once the games are finished in a few weeks.‘s Jeff Goodman got a head start on the anticipation for the 2016 games and his potential roster has some Big Ten names heavily in the mix. Goodman prognosticates that Michigan point guard Trey Burke and Indiana center Cody Zeller could be among the starting five on that team, which is likely to go to 23-and-under starting at those games. If that’s the case, players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant would not be eligible. And if Coach K is ready to call it quits? How about Tom Izzo taking over? Basketball in Rio de Janeiro could have a very Midwestern feel come 2016.
  5. New Nebraska coach Tim Miles says recruiting is going well, although he’s still waiting on his first commitment. There are bound to be some growing pains for a program that just joined the Big Ten and didn’t have a real smooth go of it in its first year in the conference. The school fired Doc Sadler, but has the benefits of a brand new basketball facility to help draw players to Lincoln. Miles told the Omaha World-Herald that Nebraska, which has five scholarships available for 2013-14 and then just one for 2014-15, is looking to build a contender. “We’re recruiting in the right places,” he said. “We want to bring in guys who will help build a winner.”
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