Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
We haven’t had a great slate of games over the last couple of weeks because of final exams and the holidays but the break this week gives us a chance to evaluate the Big Ten teams as the non-conference season comes to an end. The Big Ten Microsite has already looked at the top coaches over the first month of hoops and graded each team’s performance when compared to their preseason expectations. Today, we take a look at the All-Big Ten team after the first 12 games of the season.
Trey Burke is one of the main reasons why the Wolverines are off to a 12-0 start. (AP Photo)
- Trey Burke (17.4 PPG, 7.1 APG): Burke made several adjustments to his game during the offseason and it has paid off during the Wolverines’ 12-0 start. The sophomore point guard has better offensive talent around him compared with last season as freshmen Glenn Robinson III (11.4 PPG) and Nik Stauskas (13.4 PPG) are playing a hugely significant role in John Beilein’s offensive sets. Rather than carrying the bulk of the offensive load, he has become a true facilitator and is playing the role of a true point guard this season. He has averaged 7.1 APG so far this season, a big increase from his 4.6 APG average last year. If all the assists have not been impressive enough, he has also managed to limit his turnovers to only two per game, a decrease of about a miscue per game last year. Involving scorers like Robinson, Stauskas, and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the offense is not an easy task, but Burke has quickly developed a knack in understanding when to become a facilitator and when to take over the game.
- Cody Zeller (16.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG): Zeller was a unanimous selection for the preseason All-America team and he hasn’t disappointed by leading the Hoosiers to an 11-1 record. His statistics are not necessarily outstanding on their face but he is the foundation of Tom Crean’s offense — just because he doesn’t score 20 PPG does not mean his impact on the game is minimal. Opposing coaches still design their defensive schemes around the sophomore forward and always have the weak side defender looking to help when Zeller makes a move in the paint. Because of Zeller’s presence in the paint, the Hoosiers’ three-point shooting has been very impressive, particularly from guards Will Sheehey (36% 3FG) and Jordan Hulls (53% 3FG). It is crucial for the Hoosiers to understand their specific roles in the offense because of their deep roster and Zeller sets a great example by being very selective with his shots (62.6% eFG). The Hoosiers usually play a lineup with Zeller along with four guards and wings and he has been very effective on the boards by improving his rebounding average from 6.6 RPG last season to 8.1 RPG this year. Read the rest of this entry »