Big Ten M5: 12.24.12 EditionPosted by Deepak Jayanti on December 24th, 2012
- Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas had a tough second half against Kansas on Saturday. The junior forward shot just 4-of-16 from the field and ended up with only 16 points as he was smothered by the Jayhawks’ Travis Releford coming off screens. Thomas said afterward, “they just played hard,” when asked about his frustrating game. Thomas cannot afford to have off nights during the Big Ten season if the Buckeyes expect to contend for a conference title. Even though Bill Self’s defensive schemes were designed well to defend Thomas, the junior should have been more patient and adjusted his game when his jumpers were not falling.
- Despite Illinois’ first loss to Missouri (83-72) on Saturday night, the senior guards – Brandon Paul and D.J.Richardson – are very happy with their new offensive system under head coach John Groce. Both players understand that they have the green light to shoot and believe Groce’s uptempo system has given them more confidence in their game. Even though Groce encourages guards to shoot unlike his predecessor, Bruce Weber, Paul still needs to be selective with his shot selection and engage his teammates throughout the game, as he dished out five assists against Missouri. Richardson’s stated goal during the offseason was to become the defensive player of the year in the Big Ten and assume the challenge of guarding the best wing from the opposing team. Even though Missouri’s Phil Pressey had 11 assists during the game, he was held to just 3-of-19 shooting from the field as Richardson did an admirable job defending him for most of the night.
- Michigan’s Trey Burke has averaged 17.4 PPG and is shooting 51.9% from the field so far this season. Even though Burke has been more of a facilitator as exhibited by his 7.1 APG, he is still one of the best closers in the game. According to ESPN.com, in fact, he is the second toughest player in college hoops to defend after Louisville’s Russ Smith. Burke has dished out 51 assists over the last seven games while turning the ball over only seven times. That is an incredible assist to turnover ratio for the sophomore! Per Seth Greenberg, Burke is one of the best in the game in bringing up the ball at “warp speed” in transition but can “stop on a dime” and change direction making it very tough for defenders to keep him out of the lane.
- Tom Izzo and Michigan State have not lost a non-conference game at home since 2010 to Texas. The Longhorns returned to East Lansing on Saturday, but Derrick Nix made sure that this year’s outcome would be different, as the Spartans won 67-56. Nix’s presence in the post proved to be very important because the Spartans shot just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. The senior forward was impressive as he played 32 minutes and scored 25 points while pulling down 11 boards against the big UT front line. Izzo has insisted that Nix’s post game will be important despite the team’s depth at the guard position and it paid off against the surging Longhorns, who had entered the game coming off an upset win over North Carolina in Austin.
- Indiana freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell missed the second consecutive game on Friday against Florida Atlantic. According to head coach Tom Crean, Hollowell is “dealing with a private matter that is in no way related to academic, behavior or disciplinary issues,” as Hollowell sat on the bench in his sweats for that game. In limited action, he has averaged 5.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG so far this season. Crean did not miss him, though, as the Hoosiers thumped Florida Atlantic 88-52 in Bloomington. Their next game against Jacksonville should not be much of a challenge either, but Hollowell’s services may be needed for their home opener at Iowa on December 31.