Big Ten M5: 11.14.12 Edition
Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 14th, 2012
- Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe has gone through a lot over the last 14 months or so. He tore his ACL forcing the talented big man to miss part of last season and was arrested for a DWI during the offseason. As he prepares to lead the Gophers on the court this season, he is motivated by another superstar in Minnesota, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson has also recovered from an ACL injury and is one of the leading rushers in the NFL this season. Mbakwe hopes to mimic Peterson’s performance on the basketball court after going through a long rehabilitation process. Against Toledo Monday night, Mbakwe played 14 minutes off the bench and scored six points. Mbakwe has been wearing a knee brace as he plays but he claims that his knee is “fine” and will continue to see extended minutes as the season progresses.
- The finalists for the Naismith Award have been announced and there are seven Big Ten players on the list – Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Trey Burke, Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, Trevor Mbakwe, and Tim Frazier. Zeller might be the preseason favorite for this award and the last Hoosier to win this award was Calbert Cheaney in 1993. Scott May also won the award in 1976 when he led the Hoosiers to an undefeated season and a national championship. Penn State’s Frazier might finally be getting the credit he deserves on the national stage, but may not continue in the spotlight very long if Penn State is not contending for an NCAA bid.
- You won’t notice any Badgers on the Naismith list and that should not come as a surprise after Jordan Taylor’s departure. But Bo Ryan already has an experienced guard who has stepped up into a leadership role after a couple of games – junior guard Ben Brust. Brust scored 14 points against Southeastern Louisiana over the weekend and will be the most experienced returning guard for Ryan. He came off the bench last season but will see plenty of time on the court after the loss of Josh Gasser to an injury. Brust will have to guide younger guards such as George Marshall and Traevon Jackson through the non-conference season in addition to being the primary defensive guard for the Badgers.
- The first week of the basketball season has been very good for Illinois head coach John Groce. Groce received a commitment from a top 100 forward, Austin Colbert, and the Illini are now 2-0. Overall, the new head coach appears to be pleased with the Illini after two games. Groce may have revived Tyler Griffey’s confidence as the senior forward scored 17 points against St. Francis. A trip to Hawaii will be a test for the Illini as they travel four time zones west and will play USC in the Maui Invitational next Monday. The game against the Trojans will be their first true exam under the new offensive system and if they win, Texas may be their next opponent.
- Another new head coach in the league, Nebraska’s Tim Miles, is willing to consider some scheduling changes over the next few seasons in Lincoln. One of the main revisions could include playing Creighton twice, which hasn’t happened since the 1986-87 regular season. Miles said he hasn’t discussed the possibility with Creighton head coach Doug McDermott, but he for one is willing to consider the change. Creighton clearly has been a dominant program in the Missouri Valley Conference over the last decade or so and beating them would be a great first step for the new head coach. Miles is also focused on trying to convince some of the high school talent in Nebraska to stay in-state rather than go to other nearby schools such as Creighton or Iowa.