Big Ten M5: 12.30.13 Edition
Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on December 30th, 2013
- As we get ready to kick off the conference season, expect to see the statistic which shows Bo Ryan’s stunning record in the Big Ten: Wisconsin has never finished worse than fourth in the conference during his tenure. Numerous hypothesis have been tested to understand his secret to success – everything from the swing offense to their tempo to their home court advantage at the Kohl Center. So, why not just ask Ryan about the secret? “The way we play hasn’t changed,” Ryan said. He added, “We just try to get the best look we can. I’m going to record me saying that and the next time I’m asked that question, I’m going to push the button and it will say that we take what the defense gives us.” Whatever it may be, barring any injuries, we can expect Wisconsin to finish in the top-3 again this year.
- Back injuries, specifically spasms, can get the best of any basketball player, especially big forwards. Severe ankle sprains may be the only other injury that could nag a player for months, in addition to spasms. When Mitch McGary finally decided to undergo back surgery, it wasn’t a total surprise because of his history with the back problems over the past six months. McGary said, “My back problems have been a daily challenge ever since late August. We have worked hard rehabbing the injury and I thought that everything was proceeding in the right direction until the last two weeks.” Even though there is a small chance that he returns this season, he shouldn’t be expected to make an immediate impact because it might just take a couple of months of rehab for the back issues to completely disappear.
- Speaking of injuries and their lasting impact on a player, Branden Dawson, may still have a few issues from his knee injury that he endured almost 20 months ago. Dawson continues to play a significant role for Michigan State – averaging 10.3 PPG and 9.3 RPG – but Tom Izzo still plays it safe with his minutes to keep him fresh. During the win 101-48 win over New Orleans, Izzo benched Dawson during the game for precautionary measures because he collided with a teammate during practice. Izzo said, “He’s fine, there’s no bones cracked or anything like that. He just got a bad bruise. He should be no problem.” A healthy Dawson and more importantly an assertive Dawson will help Michigan State contend for a Big Ten title and a Final Four appearance.
- Predicting a team’s performance over the first two weeks of Big Ten play based on their final set of non-conference games can be tough, especially if the final games include weaker competition. Outside of the comeback win over Notre Dame, Ohio State‘s competition over the past two weeks included UL-Monroe and Delaware. Even though these games don’t mean much with regards to preparation for the conference season, they can still be used to fine-tune certain aspects of the game such as the half-court offense. After the win over UL-Monroe, Lenzelle Smith iterated this notion; he said, “Today was about establishing ourselves. We know what’s getting ready to come down the pipeline with the start of the start of the Big Ten. (Our opponents) have real bullets now.” Smith (13.4 PPG) will need help offensively from LaQuinton Ross if Ohio State hopes to contend for the Big Ten title.
- Indiana‘s offense has been versatile under Tom Crean’s watch over the past two seasons, but their defense remains a consistent question mark. Victor Oladipo, who is one of the best rookies in the NBA, was able to shut down the best player on the team last season, but the Hoosiers defense appears to be porous this season. Big Ten Geeks describe some of their concerns with the Hoosiers’ defense, specifically their inability to stop the opposition from attacking the basket. Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams are excellent shot blockers, but the first layer of perimeter defense is letting the wings get into the paint too easily, which could get the freshmen into foul trouble during conference play. Vonleh’s 9.5 RPG are very important for Indiana and if he gets into foul trouble, they will lose one of their main advantages on the offensive end – offensive rebounding.