Big Ten M5: 12.18.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on December 18th, 2012

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  1. Iowa freshman shooting guard Mike Gesell recognized that he needed to be more aggressive in coming games and, after a 23-point career-best performance this weekend against in-state rival Northern Iowa, it paid off when he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week. “I knew I had to be aggressive,” Gesell said. “I didn’t shoot as well the last few games, and I knew this whole week I had to stay positive about it and just keep attacking. Personally I know I’m a good shooter. I have confidence in my own game. I just had to stay aggressive.” Gesell is one of three freshman starters for the Hawkeyes, and the trio have proven thus far that they can adjust to the rigors of the college game. Now, the Big Ten season looms. But if Fran McCaffery gets this kind of production out of Gesell on a regular basis, Iowa may be able to surprise some people.
  2. The Big Ten certainly has its fair share of talented, seasoned coaches but this columnist from the Albany Herald says Minnesota‘s Tubby Smith‘s “demeanor and coaching style, along with an intense work ethic, have brought him success everywhere he has landed.” Loran Smith goes on to say that Tubby Smith was underappreciated at Kentucky despite not leading the team back to a Final Four after winning a national title with mostly Rick Pitino’s players. The Gophers are one of the hottest teams in the country in the early part of the season and a Big Ten title contender. Does that solidify their coach’s greatness?
  3. There’s no question about it: Jabari Parker is a game-changer. On the floor, he’s a once-in-a-generation type of recruit who can turn a team from a good squad into a great one. Off the floor, he’s been billed as the type of kid every coach and fan wants to have for their program, and his signing at any of the prospective universities could pay dividends for future recruiting and more. Michigan State is one of those schools, considered by some to be a finalist alongside Duke, with plenty riding on Parker’s upcoming announcement. But Tom Izzo says he “feels great about everything” with Parker potentially making or breaking the Spartans’ recruiting class this year. “It’s a big week, but in recruiting, sometimes you have regrets,” Izzo said Monday, according to MLive.com. “I have no regrets about what we’ve done in recruiting this year. I decided to do it a certain way, and we’ve done it that way. We didn’t sign anybody early. So I actually feel great about everything.”
  4. It’s hard to imagine things going much better for Illinois at this point. Under new coach John Groce, the Illini are undefeated and won the prestigious Maui Invitational earlier this year to move into a Top 10 ranking for the first time since 2006. Ethan Asofsky writes that from the moment Groce stepped onto campus, he’s done things “his way” and it’s paying off in spades. He’s bringing in a talented recruiting class next year even after getting a late start and missing out on Jabari Parker. And he’s implemented a new system that highlights Brandon Paul, who has long been a All-Big Ten caliber player mired in inconsistency. Things are going to get tougher on Illinois from here on out, but at this point, Groce has delivered everything fans could have wanted — and maybe even more.
  5. After dealing with soreness from playing 1,227 minutes during his freshman season, Michigan’s Trey Burke‘s feeling much better this year. This all comes despite the fact that he’s actually played more to this point than he did last year — 371 minutes this year versus 360 last year — but he credits his offseason regimen for getting into better condition. “Last year I thought I was just sore after every game and that was the norm,” Burke said. “Once it got to March, it got serious. My body started feeling it even more. But this year, I’ve definitely noticed a difference.” With a stronger Burke leading the Wolverines this season, the only people who will be sore are fans of opposing Big Ten schools after Michigan’s point guard carves up his defender.
jnowak (138 Posts)


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