On The Mend: Big Ten Medical RoundupPosted by Max Jakubowski on November 1st, 2013
With the season rapidly approaching, the dreaded injury bug is something that coaches lose sleep over. Not only can an injury hurt a team’s chances of winning, but it also throws off rotations and can possibly lead to chemistry issues.
- Big Ten teams have been fortunate enough to not have any serious injuries so far. Michigan State’s Gary Harris gave the country a scare when he hurt his ankle back in early September, and he was already recovering from a shoulder injury that nagged him for all of last season. He now looks to be fully recovered from the ankle injury as he poured in 15 points in an exhibition matchup on Tuesday. Harris is the only player on the Spartans’ roster who can create his own shot, so losing him for any time period would be a blow to Michigan State’s Big Ten conference title hopes.
- The Spartans’ in-state rival Michigan also has one of its key players dealing with an injury. Back pains and big men never go well together, and in Mitch McGary’s situation, that is exactly the case. John Beilein recently gave an update on McGary’s health, and there is not definite timetable for McGary’s return to the court. The Wolverines have very little frontcourt depth behind him so this could spell trouble if he’s not 100 percent to start the year. Still, Beilein has to be careful to not rush his sophomore star back, as a nagging back problem all year would really hurt Michigan’s chances to get back to the Final Four. Michigan’s first real test is at Iowa State November 17 and then a major showdown with Duke a few weeks later. He should be ready to go for those contests, but Michigan has to be cautious with him (and his back).
- Wisconsin starting forward Frank Kaminsky recently was cleared to return to practice after injuring his left foot earlier in the month. The Badgers can ill afford to lose him for an extended period of time, as they are one of the weakest teams in the league when it comes to frontcourt depth. Bo Ryan figures to trot out a three-guard lineup this season with Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and freshman Nigel Hayes seeing time. Kaminsky did a solid job backing up Jared Berggren last year, but this year he inherits the bulk of the minutes. Ryan will lean on “Frank the Tank” to try to slow down some of the Big Ten’s elite big men when the Badgers are on defense.
- Penn State has one of the country’s best offensive backcourts in Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill. Look out for Pitt transfer shooting guard John Johnson as well, who will provide some major spark from three-point land. Johnson sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules and then subsequently injured his foot over the summer. Johnson seems to have made a full recovery and will be a great complement to Frazier and Newbill. With those two penetrating, Johnson can spread the floor and become a major threat from beyond the arc. Pat Chambers landed a steal in Johnson and it should show if the Nittany Lions can make a jump in the conference this year.
- Tim Miles is hoping his first major transfer at Nebraska will lead to better results in Lincoln. Walter Pitchford, a 6’10″ transfer from Florida, is dealing with a shoulder problem. Pitchford participate in the secret scrimmage versus South Dakota State, but it wasn’t clear how effective he was. If Nebraska wants any chance to make it out of the basement of the Big Ten standings this year, it will need Pitchford fully healthy and ready to go. Nebraska needs to be tough defensively in order to avoid another last place finish in conference play this year. With Pitchford in the lineup, the Cornhuskers have a legitimate big man who can handle opposing power forwards on defense.
- Indiana is still awaiting word on freshman Stanford Robinson. Robinson was held out of the Hoosiers’ exhibition game this past weekend but Tom Crean is hopeful that Robinson will return soon. He and fellow freshman Troy Williams are two coveted wing players that the Hoosiers believe can make up the production that Victor Oladipo left behind. Yogi Ferrell is expected to make a big leap in his scoring production this year, but that only happens if Robinson and Williams can prove to be effective slashers who can spread the floor and create room for Ferrell to operate.