Big Ten M5: 11.27.13 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 27th, 2013

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  1. Tom Izzo should be on top of the world with the start he’s gotten off to, and while he’s happy about a number of things with his team, he’s also not a fan of the one-and-done college basketball culture today. In an interview that came out Tuesday afternoon, Izzo talked about how he feels sorry for Kentucky’s players and how they’re viewed if they don’t go right to the NBA after one year of college. Izzo also commented on a number of things related to his own team, including the improvement of Keith Appling and the potential of Denzel Valentine. Appling has been a perfect catalyst for the Spartans’ fast-paced offense so far, and has been essential as the team works through the shooting slump of Gary Harris. Valentine is in the running for B1G Sixth Man of the Year, and shows off a versatile game much like former Spartan great Draymond Green.
  2. Minnesota took a tough loss in Maui on Tuesday afternoon, falling 87-73 to Arkansas. It was a somewhat unique match-up for the Gophers because Arkansas is also a team that likes to employ pressure defense and force turnovers. The Razorbacks essentially beat the Gophers at their own game, causing 16 miscues. Minnesota also had trouble with Arkansas’ size, which is something that could be a problem down the road. What the loss showed is that the team will have to get much more out of Joey King, Oto Osenicks, and the recently reinstated Maurice Walker to really get anywhere significant in the postseason.
  3. Illinois  head coach John Groce went over things with his freshmen as basic as how to dress for a flight and how to eat and sleep on the road in advance of their first road trip of the season to take on UNLV Tuesday night. While the Illini has some veterans on the squad, there are also five freshman who see the court a decent amount of the time. It’s easy in Groce’s situation to take things like going over travel etiquette for granted, but he must have done something right in this instance. Freshman Jaylon Tate led the team with five assists as they squeaked out a 61-59 win in the waning seconds. There was no word on whether said freshmen met Groce’s expectations in terms of in-flight decorum, however.
  4. College Basketball Talk announced its Player of the Year power rankings, and Keith Appling came in ninth in their 10-person list. He was the only B1G player selected, with Aaron Craft making it in the “others” category. While trying to avoid doing things like blasting Rob Dauster on Twitter, asking him if he’s ever seen Tim Frazier play, this list shows that Appling is making an impact nationally and people are starting to take notice. Averaging 16.8 points and 5.7 assists per game, all the while shooting 57.1 percent from three for the top-ranked team in the country, should definitely put Appling in the running for postseason superlatives if those numbers stay consistent.
  5. It’s far too early to talk about next season with the present one only being less than three weeks old, but apparently a Louisville-Minnesota tilt is being lined up for the beginning of the 2014-15 season. Furthermore, Rick Pitino said that things are being finalized to play the game on an aircraft carrier (let’s hope indoors). One takeaway was how eager he sounded to play against his son. Usually coaches don’t like playing against someone they are close to, but maybe the Pitino family is wired differently than most others in the coaching fraternity. One thing for sure is that the game would be entertaining, as both high-pressure defenses would make for a chaotic thrill ride for 40 minutes.
Brendan Brody (151 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his second season covering the Big Ten for RTC. He has a strange accent that is the result of being born on the South Side of Chicago, combined with the regional dialect of Northern Virginia from living there for 20 years. His thoughts are sometimes just as jumbled as said dialect. Email him at brendan.brody@gmail.com, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.


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