Big Ten M5: 01.18.13 Edition
Posted by jnowak on January 18th, 2013
- The Columbus Dispatch‘s Bob Baptist writes that Ohio State senior center Evan Ravenel is excelling in a situation that the Buckeyes haven’t had much success from in recent years — the bench. Thad Matta has vowed all year to get his reserves more involved, and whether or not that has been the case, Ravenel has found a good place for himself. Ravenel started Ohio State’s first 11 games at center, but has since been replaced by Amir Williams, who is three inches taller. But it may be a win-win for OSU, as Ravenel came off the pine to help the Buckeyes respond to a loss at Illinois with good games against Purdue and Michigan. “When he was starting, I thought he had done some good things, [but] maybe not [with] the consistency we needed,” Matta said. “But I think he’s really, really played well the last few weeks.”
- Illinois’ new coach John Groce has certainly gotten a rude welcome to Big Ten play this year. After putting together an impressive 12-0 stretch to begin the season, we have learned the Illini do indeed have plenty of flaws and their Big Ten cohorts have exploited them. Granted, when three losses in four games come at Purdue, against Minnesota and at Wisconsin, it’s not much to be ashamed of. But nobody is feeling sorry for anybody in the conference this year, and the Illini don’t see any cause for alarm just yet. [Ed. Note: This was written before last night’s debacle against Northwestern.] Illinois still has wins against Gonzaga, Ohio State, and Butler on its resume, and Groce isn’t panicking. “We’re not changing,’’ he told the Chicago Sun-Times this week. “We’re not going to panic because we didn’t play well in one game. I know what the heck we’re doing. We just need to do what we’re doing a heck of a lot better. And we need to come out a lot more aggressively.’’
- If there’s one common thread linking all of Michigan State‘s Final Four teams in the Tom Izzo era — think of the Flintstones from 1999-2001, the 2009 Final Four team, and even last year’s No. 1 seed that fell short — it has been leadership. And Izzo knows when the leadership isn’t right, the team’s likelihood for success drops significantly. He’s not afraid to admit that this year’s group has been lacking in that department, which is why he’s compelled to “RG3 it” and make Keith Appling a captain, alongside Derrick Nix and Russell Byrd, midway through the season. Appling is arguably the Spartans’ best player, and on the floor at nearly all times. Nix is an up-and-down senior whose leadership has not impressed Izzo for much of the year, and Byrd’s play has been a disappointment and kept him on the bench lately. Appling is the Spartans’ top scorer, floor general and a natural choice to serve in a captain’s role.
- Fans who follow the Big Ten closely each year may not be surprised by what has come as a shock to others around the country: Wisconsin is entirely relevant in the Big Ten race despite how poorly they may have played during their non-conference schedule. This is always the case for the Badgers, but the constant has always been the man at the helm. Paul Fanlund knows better now than ever that it is difficult to doubt Bo Ryan, particularly after the monumental upset the Badgers pulled off at Assembly Hall this week. Given everything the Badgers have been through this year — the injuries, the players lost from last season, the losses during the non-conference — is this Bo Ryan’s best coaching job yet? Is it still too soon to tell?
- The Indianapolis Star sums it up perfectly: “to every fan (re) action, there is an equal, opposite reaction.” Meaning, for all the e-mails Terry Hutchens has received after a bad Indiana loss that blames the players, there will be just as many at some point blaming the coach. In this case, he’s been receiving more that say Tom Crean was outcoached by Bo Ryan at Assembly Hall, but Hutchens isn’t sure if that’s the case. Sure, the Badgers made some important in-game adjustments, but that doesn’t mean the Indiana players aren’t responsible for holding up their end of the bargain. And sometimes, good players — he references Ryan Evans’ shot late — make tough plays. But how about that hand shake?