Big Ten M5: 11.12.13 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 12th, 2013

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  1. It was only three years ago that freshman Keith Appling was in the middle of a sexual assault allegation. Even though no official charges came of it, Appling had a very dubious start to his collegiate career. Now, as a senior, Appling has evolved as both a player and a person thanks to the mentorship of coach Tom Izzo. Midway through in Appling’s college career, Izzo and his coaching staff stopped at the point guard’s Detroit home to meet with his family and express what was needed of him as leader of the team. Izzo has a pattern of demanding a lot from players off the court as much as on the court. Some players, like Mateen Cleeves and Draymond Green, take up the challenge and thrive. Other players, like Chris Allen and Korie Lucious, cannot handle it and move on. The bar is set high for players under Izzo and it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful.
  2. Successful coaches are able to consistently have players come into their programs and outperform expectations. John Beilein did this at his tenure in West Virginia and is continuing it now at Michigan. Last year, Nik Stauskas led the league in three-point shooting percentage as an unheralded freshman. At the national championship game, Spike Albrecht came out of nowhere to score 17 points. This year, Caris Levert is emerging as Tim Hardaway Jr.’s replacement acting as a pivotal player on both ends of the court. He scored 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in the Wolverines’ win against UM-Lowell. If Levert can continue to compete at this level, Michigan will be in the race for the Big Ten title all season long.
  3. Outside of Indiana fans, most Big Ten fans may have mixed feelings about Will Sheehey. The reigning Sixth Player of the Year is fun to watch because of his athleticism and frenetic energy. But that energy can quickly turn off fans when it turns to showboating. Look no further than last year’s incident when Sheehey flexed his biceps at Purdue’s Paint Crew. However, it’s not the spotlight that motivates him; it’s the desire to keep competing for Big Ten titles that drives him. Sheehey will need to keep up that leadership, along with his trademark spark, to make the transition from bench player to starter. If he can do that, and lead his younger teammates, Indiana will be competing for a Big Ten title again, just like Sheehey wants.
  4. We at the RTC Big Ten microsite, and most of the media, spent a good portion of the preseason explaining why this is the year that Iowa should make the NCAA Tournament. Well, it only took the second game of the season for the Hawkeyes to give their fan base a scare and make all of our prognostications of their success seem silly. The Hawkeyes were down well into the second half against Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday, and it took the toughness of their upperclassmen to pull out an 83-75 victory. It’s hard to tell whether this is a sign of things to come or if this is just early season jitters. Last year, they missed the NCAA Tournament despite winning 25 games because of their weak schedule. This year, Iowa has a much tougher schedule and will not be able to sneak up on other teams. Another performance like this against a good team may have some of us revising our preseason predictions.
  5. One of the storylines emerging from the first weekend was how the new hand check rule affected the games. Wisconsin seems to think that the new rule worked in their favor in their win against St. John’s on Friday. “[The] new rules worked,” John Gasser said after the game. This is a peculiar statement for this team. The new rule is supposed to make the game more free-flowing and less physical by calling more fouls for grabbing or putting hands on slashers. This is not exactly a rule that would benefit a team like Wisconsin who shoots lots of threes (13th in the country last year) and misses a lot of free throws (63.4 percent last year). To be fair, the Badgers were aggressive against St. John’s. They got to the charity stripe 30 times and shot 83.3 percent. In all likelihood, we’ll have to observe how these new rules play out over the entire season to determine any winners and losers from it.
Alex Moscoso (72 Posts)


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