Five Big Ten Players Who Need to Increase Their ProductionPosted by Brendan Brody on December 16th, 2013
Late last week we took a look at seven Big Ten players who have put forth surprising performances over the first month of the season, so now it’s time to check in on five more Big Ten players who need to start playing up to the expectations they were afforded in the preseason. These five players were candidates for preseason accolades by various pundits, but none has played all that well to this point. If their respective teams want to enjoy deep NCAA Tournament runs in March, they will need to contribute at a much higher level than they have so far. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time to turn things around. It’s only mid-December.
- Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (13.0 PPG, 9.3 FGA, 32.4% 3FG, 3.9 FTA). Many thought that Robinson would have a breakout 2013-14 campaign, but Michigan’s close home loss to #1 Arizona on Saturday was the first time all season he looked like he might — 20 points and four rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting. For the most part, he has spent way too many possessions standing still on the perimeter instead of looking to attack the basket. Saturday’s game might be a start, but Michigan as a whole seems to still be figuring things out with the departures of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., but they need Robinson to play like a star if they want to come close to duplicating last year’s success.
- Will Sheehey, Indiana (10.2 PPG, 1.7 APG, 21.4% 3FG). To his credit, Sheehey has been really good defensively this year. For example, he absolutely locked down spectacular shooter Travis Bader last Tuesday in the Hoosiers’ win over Oakland. Where he needs to get his mojo back is on the other end of the floor. It was expected by many analysts that Sheehey would be able to pick up a good deal of the scoring slack. And although he put together his best offensive game of the season over the weekend with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, he’s having a horrible season putting the ball in the hole. On many possessions he seems to end with either a missed easy layup or a blocked shot. His shooting percentage has dropped nearly four percent and the career mid-30 percent three-point shooter is nowhere near that mark this season. If Sheehey can improve his scoring average by three or four points per game on good shooting in league play, Indiana will be in much better shape come March.
- Gary Harris, Michigan State ( 17.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.3 TOPG, 40.2% FG, 27.9% 3FG). To be fair, Harris hurt his ankle against North Carolina and has been on the mend ever since. He leads the Spartans in scoring, but he just hasn’t yet played up to the level of the preseason B1G POY. The main problem is that his outside shot just simply isn’t falling, which impacts his overall game. Instead of just letting the game come to him, he’s been forcing some things and turning the ball over too much as a result. On a team that has the experience and pieces around him to become a title contender, Harris needs to become a more efficient player upon his return for Michigan State to make the Final Four.
- Derrick Walton, Michigan (8.4 PPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 A:TO, 0.4 SPG). It’s difficult to put any freshmen on this list because you never really know what you’re going to get from them. Still, Walton came in with a heady reputation, and despite the fact that his numbers are comparable to Trey Burke’s freshman season at this point, he needs to do more than a one-point, one-assist effort against Arizona. Nik Stauskas and Spike Albrecht have logged a good deal of time handling the ball, and that’s partially because Walton isn’t doing a great job distributing to his teammates or avoiding turnovers. He’s shot the ball at a pretty good clip (37.5% from three), but the Wolverines need a true floor leader to emerge at some point. If the light eventually goes on for Walton, the Wolverines have the pieces to become very dangerous later this season.
- Ray Gallegos, Nebraska (8.0 PPG, 40.9% 3FG, 7.3 FGA, 25.0 MPG). With an influx of transfers and new players this season in Lincoln, last year’s second-leading scorer, Gallegos, is playing significantly less minutes (from 37.5 to 25.0 MPG). He’s averaging 4.5 fewer points from last year even though he’s shooting the ball much better from deep (nearly 10 percent higher), and, although an early injury must be factored in, it’s a mystery why he his playing time has dropped so precipitously. The emergence of Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields certainly has something to do with it, but Gallegos needs to earn back some of those minutes and become Nebraska’s primary shooting option to avoid the bottom half of the B1G.