Big Ten M5: 11.15.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 15th, 2012

  1. One of the main concerns for the Michigan Wolverines this season was their long-range shooting. After losing Zach Novak and Evan Smotrycz, two of their best shooters from last season, it was unclear if there would be a designated gunner this season. Freshman guard Nick Stauskas was expected to take on that role and his shooting after three games proves that he is ready for the big stage. On Tuesday night, Stauskas shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in scoring 15 points against Cleveland State. John Beilein’s offense requires at least one good shooter from long range and Stauskas might fit well within the system. He has been coming off the bench and will continue to provide a spark to lead the second unit on a very talented Wolverines roster.
  2. Indiana head Tom Crean was already getting paid well before this season but his contract was recently extended with a raise through 2020. The raise bumps his salary to $3.16 million per year, falling in place behind only John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan. Indiana’s athletic director Fred Glass has several reasons to keep Crean in Bloomington for the rest of the decade. He recognizes Crean’s work to make Indiana relevant again on the national stage and his top 20 recruiting class for the 2013-14 season cements the notion that he is not slowing down despite currently enjoying the top ranked team in the country. Glass believes that the next big project in Bloomington is to renovate the Assembly Hall and Crean will help him with the campaign over the next few years.
  3. Throughout the offseason, Michigan State assistant coaches described Branden Dawson’s recovery from his ACL injury ahead of schedule. They might not have been completely honest. His recovery should be described as more than “ahead of schedule” because he has surprised everybody with his progress after only two games this season. Dawson’s double-double in the season opener has caught NBA scouts’ attention, in particular, as he scored 15 points and pulled down 10 boards during 34 minutes of action against Connecticut. At this pace, Dawson may be at 100% game shape by conference season, if he isn’t already. He didn’t slow down against Kansas on Tuesday night either as he played 33 minutes en route to 12 points. With a healthy Dawson and Travis Trice moving forward, the Spartans may be poised to exceed expectations during the conference season.
  4. Illinois fans know better than anybody else that verbal commitments are not finalized until the recruits sign the letter of intent (sorry to bring up Eric Gordon). After just seven months on the job, John Groce has recruited a top 30 class for the 2013-14 season and all five players signed with Illinois on Wednesday. Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan, Jaylon Tate and Austin Colbert are his first official class in Champaign and they could easily become the starting five in Champaign after a couple of seasons. Rivals ranks the class at #10 but that might change over the next few months — nevertheless, Groce has already proven that he can recruit in the Big Ten.
  5. Early season match-ups may result in blowouts for some of the top-ranked teams but the coaches are always picking at the players about their intensity on the court. Ohio State beat Albany 82-60 on Sunday but Thad Matta was not impressed by his team’s defensive effort, especially in the first half. The Buckeyes got beat on several layups and thus Matta called a 30-second timeout to send a message about the Buckeyes’ lack of energy on the defensive end. After the game, Matta also discussed his rotation and said that there could be “20 different starting lineups” this season. Sophomore Sam Thompson started at the small forward position but Laquinton Ross may get a start at some point during the non-conference season as Matta tries to establish his rotations before Big Ten play.
Deepak Jayanti (270 Posts)

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