Expectations on Sophomore Big Ten Stars Should Be Tempered

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on October 29th, 2013

This year’s sophomore class in the Big Ten includes a number of players who will have huge roles on their respective teams. Some are stepping into roles involving greater expectations, such as Yogi Ferrell at Indiana and Glenn Robinson III at Michigan, due to players leaving for graduation or the NBA. Others have a good bit of talent returning around them, like in the cases of Gary Harris at Michigan State and AJ Hammons at Purdue, and they will try to meld their skills into the team concept as they help their teams compete. There’s a common assumption that freshman college basketball players will make a “jump” in their learning curves between their first and second years in a program, but there’s a lot of dispute over just what that jump actually entails.

Yogi Ferrell Leads a Strong Sophomore Group in the Big Ten

Yogi Ferrell Leads a Strong Sophomore Group in the Big Ten

How big of a jump can a team expect from players who already produced plenty as freshmen? The best way to analyze this would be to look at all Big Ten freshmen’s changes in their statistical profiles from their first to second years, but without going overboard with too much analysis on this, it makes just as much sense to review the all-Big Ten Freshman teams. As you can see below on the attached Excel sheet (click through to open the entire document), the devil is in the details. For freshmen who already substantially produced in their first collegiate year, the “jump” that we were expecting doesn’t really show up during their sophomore seasons.

All-B1G Freshman to Sophomore Stats

Increases in production are minimal from these players: an addition of less than one point per game, less than half an assist and less than a third of a rebound. In terms of shooting percentages, there is a notable decrease both overall and from the three-point line. For teams like Indiana and Michigan that are expecting big bumps from their returnees playing larger roles, these trends could be a sign of worry. In terms of points production, no single player had a greater than four-point per game increase and only four out of the 21 who stayed for their sophomore seasons saw an increase of more than two points per game.

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Big Ten M5: 02.04.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 4th, 2013


  1. There  are a few points each season at which it seems like a good time to re-evaluate where things stand in the conference, both on a general and individual scale. With the Big Ten season halfway complete, the Big Ten Network‘s Brent Yarina put together his choices for all-conference honors here. Without giving too much away, let’s just say the top teams in the conference are well-represented and there aren’t too many surprises on the first team. But there are some interesting choices for individual honors that may surprise you, especially considering how we thought the Big Ten would shake out heading into the season. What would be your choices at this point?
  2. Without question, Michigan has often looked this season like one of the best teams in the country. But it’s also appeared vulnerable, particularly in hostile road environments. Both of the Wolverines’ losses this season came against top teams on the road — against Ohio State, then at Indiana this weekend — and the Detroit Free Press‘ Drew Sharp believes Michigan can learn a bit from this most recent loss. Sharp writes that the Wolverines have failed in two huge spotlight opportunities, but can come away with some valuable lessons. He also makes the point that they may have no choice but to do so, with the difficult stretch they have coming up.
  3. When Illinois jumped out to a 12-0 record, it no doubt surprised just about every college basketball fan, at least to a certain extent. And while it was reasonable to expect that the Illini would stumble at least somewhat once they hit Big Ten play, they had compounded some signature wins that many figured meant Illinois was more for real than we expected them to be. But, as Herb Gould writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, this is hardly that same team anymore. The Illini can’t win on the road nor can they win at home, and suddenly those quality wins against Gonzaga and Butler may be the only thing keeping them afloat in their quest for an NCAA Tournament bid.
  4. Purdue has fallen on some hard times, especially earlier this season, but could things be slipping even further now? It had looked for a brief stretch in mid-January that the Boilermakers were starting to get things together and click a little bit, but their last two games have taken them a few steps backward. Jeff Washburn notes in his blog that after Indiana and Northwestern combined to score 172 points in Purdue’a last two games, even Tuesday’s trip to lowly Penn State could be a challenge. And beyond that, there are plenty more games against the conference’s heavyweights on the docket to worry about.
  5. Considering how Minnesota began the season, it’s hard to imagine that back-to-back wins would be something of an accomplishment, but at this point it does mean something. The Gophers had been sliding a bit in the conference and, though their two straight wins helps keep them afloat in the Big Ten race, they still have some things to sort out. Andre Hollins called the team’s performance against Iowa this weekend “stagnant,” and Amelia Rayno points out that the kinds of mistakes that nearly cost them the game against Iowa will not fly against teams like Michigan State, who the Gophers draw this week.
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