Big Ten M5: 11.18.13 EditionPosted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on November 18th, 2013
- Two lost recruits shouldn’t mean that the program is headed in the wrong direction and Illinois’ John Groce clearly understands that. He shot back at several critics at a press conference over the weekend and discussed next year’s recruiting class: Leron Black and Michael Finke. “I understand there was an article written about Illinois basketball being put in its place,” he said Saturday, referring to another newspaper’s headline. He added, “I’m going to tell you what place it’s in. It’s in a great place. That’s what place it’s in.” Black is not a shabby recruit for next season, even though he is only a top-50 consensus selection. Regardless of what happened over the past two days, Groce’s program is headed in the right direction, especially if the Illini manage to win 20 wins this year.
- While Groce didn’t get the prized recruit he went after, Indiana’s Tom Crean seems to believe that Justin Blackmon Jr. will be worth the wait. Crean said that he was stressed until the last minute about Blackmon’s recruitment, bug the freshman shouldn’t disappoint next season. The 6’3″ guard signed the letter of intent on Thursday and will likely start for Crean alongside Yogi Ferrell next year. “I think he’s just scratching the surface athletically,” Crean said. He added, “I think he’s just scratching the surface as a player. In my mind, we got the absolute best player in the state of Indiana, and there was no debate for us for a long, long time that he was that guy.
- In case you were out having a good time on Friday night and assumed that Michigan State would roll over Columbia, you were wrong. The Spartans struggled for most of the game before pulling out a 62-53 win at home. A loss would have been a major letdown after a huge win over Kentucky earlier last week. After the tough win over Columbia, Adreian Payne was vocal about the Spartans’ toughness. “I take it personal because rebounding is effort-related, and we’re not playing tough right now,” said Payne, who led the Spartans by grabbing 11 boards. It is very likely that Michigan State will be ranked #1 on Monday, but they will compete with Kansas for a few votes. A strong win against Columbia would have helped their case more, nonetheless, it is a great start to the season.
- Minnesota’s Richard Pitino is off to a good start after the first week of the season. The Gophers are 3-0 and they were impressive on the road by beating the Richmond Spiders 73-59. Pitino made some key changes on defense by implementing a full-court press and a zond defense which resulted in a 19-0 run to end the game. “We went zone because they were carving our man up really good,” Pitino said. He added, “We couldn’t get stops and we zone and it worked. Their man offense is really tough to guard, [coach Chris Mooney] is phenomenal.” The season will get tougher for Pitino as the Gophers head to Maui for the non-conference tournament next week.
- Last year’s Ohio State match-up with Marquette was cancelled due to weather conditions and the Buckeyes had to play a road game over the weekend. Aaron Craft showcased his overall game by scoring 10 points and dishing out 10 assists. Oh, he also pulled in seven rebounds. Craft continues to be a success for Thad Matta, but he’ll need LaQuinton Ross to step up very soon, if they want to remain competitive against formidable competition. Ross had no points and was 0-6 from the field against a tough Marquette defense. He has to average at least 13 PPG to complement Craft, otherwise, the Buckeyes won’t be able to compete for a Big Ten title.