Big Ten M5: 11.26.13 Edition
Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 26th, 2013
- Minnesota, under the leadership of first-year head coach Richard Pitino, has had a hot start to the season. They have won their first five games which includes an impressive road game at Richmond. As nice as their start has been, the Gophers ran into reality when they lost 75-67 to #8 ranked Syracuse in their first-round game at the Maui Invitational. As we mentioned in yesterday’s M5, the term “good loss” gets thrown around a lot, but if there is such a thing, then this game might classify as such for Pitino’s squad. The Gophers were competitive throughout the contest and only down a basket with less than three minutes to go to a top-ten team on national television in one of the premier non-conference tournaments. If they can beat Arkansas today and win the next game, they’ll leave the Maui 2-1; a successful tournament for Minnesota by any measure.
- We have had some big performances from some notable Big Ten players this season thus far – players like Gary Harris, Andre Hollins, Nik Stauskas, etc. So when Frank Kaminksy was named Big Ten Player of the Week yesterday, it stuck out since most haven’t heard of the junior big man from Wisconsin before his offensive outburst last week. Kaminsky is, at best, the fourth best scoring option for the Badgers – behind Sam Dekker, John Gasser, and Ben Brust. Bo Ryan was merely hoping Kaminsky would be able to improve his rebounding enough to make up for the loss Jared Berggren. But Kaminsky averaged 26 points and 4.7 rebounds last week, which includes a 43-point showing against North Dakota. If you can believe it, Wisconsin is averaging over 80 PPG. There’s no doubt that having four players who can possibly fill it up is a major reason for their new high-powered offense.
- The rubber is about to meet the road for Iowa. Since the preseason, they have had a lot of hype because of all their returning players. Thus far, they have lived up to the hype behind a high-powered offense and for their troubles, they were ranked in the AP poll (#25) this week, the first time since 2006. But all of their wins have come against inferior mid-major opponents. Yesterday, they flew to down to the Bahamas where they will participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Fran McCaffery says they are treating this like a business trip. They will need to be all business when they meet undefeated Xavier on Thursday. The Musketeers will be Iowa’s first real test against a high-major team with an NBA-level stud in Semaj Christon. Last year, Iowa was punished by the NCAA selection committee for not having a challenging non-conference schedule. With other teams like Kansas, Tennessee, and Villanova also in the Battle 4 Atlantis, that will not be the case this year.
- Purdue is desperately trying to avoid missing consecutive NCAA tournaments since 2004-2006. They are not off to the steadiest of starts despite their undefeated record. One facet of their game where the Boilermakers are steady is leadership. Senior guard Terone Johnson is the leader of this team and is setting the right tone for Purdue. He just recently scored 1,000 career points which makes him the 47th player to do so in the school’s history. But Johnson has never measured success in personal accomplishments. He wants the Boilermakers to challenge for the Big Ten title in his final season. While most don’t see this as a realistic goal, in order to at least make the tournament, Johnson is going to need to exercise some of his leadership on his younger teammates. Specifically, he will need to motivate sophomore big man A.J. Hammons to exert full effort throughout the game and avoid foul trouble if they are to return to being Big Ten contenders.
- Just three years ago, Jereme Richmond was being billed as the key component to returning Illinois back to Big Ten contenders. He had just finished a prolific high school career and was about to take Champaign by storm before heading to the NBA. Now, Richmond is about to spend significant time in jail. Yesterday, he was sentenced to three years for threatening his parole officer. His downward spiral has been as fast as it has been sad. Richmond does not come from a typical broken home. He has two parents who have, at least stated publicly, wanted to keep a level head on him in the face of his recruitment by universities since before he started high school. The only takeaway from this sad story may be that no matter how talented someone may be, it can all come apart with a handful of bad decisions.