Big Ten M5: 01.07.13 Edition
Posted by Deepak Jayanti on January 7th, 2013
- Gophers’ forward Rodney Williams reached a career milestone of 1000 points on Sunday night’s win against the Northwestern Wildcats. Williams has been an effective forward since his sophomore season when he averaged 6.8 points per game, but has seen his production nearly double the next two seasons. The 6’7″ forward has also been on several highlight reels as he is known for his athleticism around the basket. Even though he is not a true power forward, he has been a good rebounder as he averaged 5.6 RPG last season and has pulled down 6.1 RPG so far this year. Williams gives Tubby Smith plenty of flexibility on defense because he is athletic enough to guard either a wing or a true forward.
- After the loss to Purdue to open the Big Ten season, Illinois head coach John Groce stressed defensive intensity and mental toughness. The Illini turned it around and thumped the Ohio State Buckeyes 74-55 on Saturday afternoon. Loren Tate of the News-Gazette adds that Assembly Hall, also known as “House of Paign,” was rocking again as Groce took on his mentor Thad Matta. Sophomore center Nnanna Egwu led the charge with 16 points and 8 rebounds as the Illini dominated for most of the game. When asked about the Purdue game during the post-game press conference, Groce said, “We can’t get too low or too high. Today the guys responded.” The Illini can’t rest easy because they play another top 20 team as the Gophers visit Champaign on Wednesday.
- The Michigan State Spartans had some trouble against Purdue on Saturday for 30 minutes but pulled away to beat the Boilermakers 84-61. Despite the win, head coach Tom Izzo remains level-headed and understands that the conference season is just getting started. Izzo said after the game, “We didn’t lose by 13 at Minnesota. It was a two-, three-point game with a couple of minute left. We didn’t win by 20 today either.” The Boilers kept the game very close and freshman center A.J. Hammons scored 20 points in addition to pulling down 7 boards. Even though the Spartans pulled away, Izzo and the rest of his team understand that there is plenty of room to improve especially on defense.
- It is one thing to have a lot of depth on a roster but it is not always easy to efficiently incorporate every valuable player into the rotation. The Hoosiers’ depth was one of their key strengths this season but with injuries and suspensions, Tom Crean hasn’t had time to set his rotations after two months of basketball. Now that Derek Elston is back from his injury and Hanner Perea along with Jeremy Hollowell are not sidelined due to violations, Crean is trying to slowly move them into the flow of the conference season. Perea (2.4 PPG and 2.6 RPG) was supposed to compliment Cody Zeller in the frontcourt, but has been rusty since returning from his nine-game suspension. Elston on the other hand has been through the rigors of the conference season and can certainly help on the defensive end by keeping Zeller from defending the best big man on the opposition.
- Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is one of the highest paid coaches across the University of Wisconsin system. Ryan’s 2011-12 salary was $2.1 million and while there were 39 coaches that made at least $100,000. Former football head coach Bret Bielema earned $2.8 million, but left for Arkansas after leading the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls. Ryan’s boss and the athletic director Barry Alvarez made $1.1 million last year. Ryan is arguably the best head coach in the conference and has never finished worse than fourth in conference play. He has transformed the Badgers into a formidable basketball program and has been rewarded by the University over the years.