Big Ten M5: 11.04.13 Edition
Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 4th, 2013
- It is clear that Michigan State‘s upcoming season will be something special. Anything short of a Final Four will be considered a disappointment because Tom Izzo’s roster is loaded with stars such as Gary Harris and Adreian Payne. But what about next year? It appears that the 2014-15 season may not be able to meet high expectations because the incoming freshmen class doesn’t have elite talent. There are a couple of players ranked in the top 100, such as Javon Bess, but Izzo will need some offensive talent after departure of Payne and the potential exit of Harris. It is likely that Harris will leave for the NBA and after the graduation of Keith Appling, Spartans will need some young talent to pick up the pieces.
- Speaking of Tom Izzo, he has a very interesting relationship with Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. Over the years, both of the coaches have been very close in head-to-head match-ups and they compete for the Big Ten title every season. At the Big Ten Media Day, Ryan was asked about his conversation with Izzo before the day had begun, and Ryan was fairly humorous with his response. When asked about their breakfast together, Ryan responded, “I ate scrambled eggs. I watched him, he ate the potatoes and bacon. I didn’t know if it was a Northern Michigan thing or what. “The Badgers may not be a Final Four favorite, but they’ll give Michigan State a run for their money during the conference season. It is a known fact that Ryan’s squads have never finished worse than fourth in the conference standings and this year won’t be any different.
- Recruiting has been smooth for Tom Crean over the past two years. After commits from Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh, it appears that the Hoosier recruiting machine was on a roll, but he did not have a signature recruit for the 2014-15 season. James Blackmon Jr. committed to Indiana and he will be an excellent guard for Crean next season. With Blackmon, Crean has his fourth straight class with a McDonald’s All-American in Bloomington – a streak that should continue if Indiana makes the NCAA Tournament again this year. With Vonleh and Yogi Ferrell, the Hoosiers should return to the postseason again and Crean will pick up where he left with with regards to recruiting as well.
- More on the recruiting front, top-5 forward for the 2014-15 class, Cliff Alexander, eliminated Michigan State as a potential candidate. After this recent move, his final list is down to Illinois, Kansas, DePaul, and Memphis. Alexander is a 6’8″ forward who would immediately make either Kansas or Illinois a contender for the Final Four. John Groce already has two top-40 recruits for next season and if Alexander were to pick Illinois, they will not just make the Tournament, but they will make a serious run at the Final Four. Alexander is the third top-five recruit to reject Michigan State; Jahil Okafor and Tyus Jones being the other ones who considered the Spartans at one point.
- Tyus Jones did not seriously consider Minnesota because the program is in transition, as new head coach, Richard Pitino, is trying to make his mark in Minneapolis. His similarities to his father, Rick, continue to be documented and will be analyzed further as he coaches at the big stage in the Big Ten. “People ask me all the time, ‘Was it tough being Rick Pitino’s son?’ ” Richard said. “And it’s not. I’m extremely proud to be his son. I’m extremely fortunate to be his son. I embrace it every single day. I would be silly to hide from it.” Pitino will create his own identity in Minnesota, but will have to figure out a way to stay relevant in the Big Ten this year. Andre Hollins will be one of the best scoring guards in the league, but outside of his contribution, Pitino will have to find other ways to put up some points.