Big Ten Key Offseason Questions: Part II

Posted by Patrick Engel on April 7th, 2016

Part one of our four-part review of each Big Ten team examined key questions for the league’s bottom three finishers: Rutgers, Minnesota and Illinois. Part two tackles important offseason questions for Penn State, Nebraska and Northwestern. (note: Scout.com used for all player and class ranks).

Penn State (16-16, 7-11 Big Ten)

Pat Chambers signed the highest-rated recruiting class in Penn State history, but will it bring immediate results (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

Pat Chambers signed the highest-rated recruiting class in Penn State history, but will it net immediate results? (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

Can the best recruiting class in program history bring immediate results?

Penn State signed a top-20 recruiting class that includes top-40 overall point guard Tony Carr, top-75 overall wing Lamar Stevens, three-star wing Nazeer Bostick and three-star center Joe Hampton. It comes on the heels of a 2015 class that included four-star wing Josh Reaves – who showed great promise in 19 starts as a freshman — and big man Mike Watkins, who had to sit out the year with academic issues. How quickly can all these young players make an impact? Carr is a natural point guard, a good transition player and passer who can get into the paint and find quality shots. He’s not known for long-range shooting, but he’s good enough that head coach Pat Chambers could move Shep Garner off the ball. At 6’6″, Stevens is a hybrid forward in the mold of former Maryland star Dez Wells. He should fit well in the Brandon Taylor role for the Nittany Lions. Penn State’s post offense was a significant weakness this year, but with two of its three centers finishing their careers, Watkins and Hampton will have an opportunity to produce. A potential starting five of Carr, Garner, Reaves, Stevens and Watkins, Hampton or junior Julian Moore is a very good lineup on paper. But the young stars will need to adjust right away for Penn State to finish higher than 10th in the Big Ten for the first time under Chambers.

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Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 01.22.16 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on January 22nd, 2016

After a three-week hiatus, the Weekend Look Ahead is back! The return is well timed: there are four top-notch games that may have lasting impact on both the Big Ten title race and NCAA Tournament seeding. Here are the games to watch in the B1G this weekend:

Denzel Valentine is will try to stop the Spartan's free fall when they host Maryland at home. (Getty)

Denzel Valentine will try to help stop the Spartans’ losing streak when they host Maryland at home Saturday. (Getty)

Northwestern at #25 Indiana (Saturday 12 pm ET, ESPNU). On Tuesday, the Wildcats almost got the marquee win their resume so desperately needs, ultimately losing in overtime at Maryland. Northwestern gets another shot to upset a ranked team on the road when they head to Bloomington on Saturday, while Indiana tries to keep up with Iowa as the only remaining teams undefeated in conference play. In addition to conference race ramifications, this game also treats us to a matchup between Bryant McIntosh and Yogi Ferrell – two of the best point guards in the Big Ten. The Wildcats competed with Maryland largely due to their defense stifling the Terps’ offense (only 0.91 points per possession for Maryland). They’ll have their hands full with an Indiana attack that has been on fire; most recently, it put on a clinic against Illinois in scoring an amazing 1.45 points per possession.

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Andrew White: The Big Ten’s Most Underrated Player

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 17th, 2015

We’ve written a lot about Nebraska here at the Big Ten microsite, perhaps more than a borderline NCAA Tournament team deserves. But there’s some reasoning behind it, as the Cornhuskers have become one of the most interesting stories in the Big Ten this season. They’ve done so despite losing one of the league’s best players from a season ago, but their offense has actually improved without Terran Petteway’s volume shooting. Another major factor in that improvement has been the emergence of Kansas transfer Andrew White, the Huskers’ leading scorer (16.7 PPG) and second-leading rebounder (5.1 RPG). But the 6’7” junior isn’t just a typical star on a middling team — he’s an All-Big Ten caliber player who is playing efficiently in almost every possible way. White ranks among the league’s top 10 in field goals made (seventh), field goal percentage (sixth), effective field goal percentage (fourth), true shooting percentage (10th), three-point field goals made (sixth), free throw attempts (10th), free-throw percentage (sixth), steals (sixth), and points per game (seventh). He hasn’t received much coverage outside of Lincoln, which gives the Nebraska star an early claim as the Big Ten’s most underrated player this season.

Andrew White has been the biggest impact player on a better-than-expected Nebraska squad. (Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

Andrew White has been the biggest impact player on a better-than-expected Nebraska squad. (Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

White, the Virginia Player of the Year as a prep senior, was considered among the top 50 prospects in the country when he committed to Kansas in 2012. When he decided to transfer to Tim Miles’ burgeoning program after his sophomore season, White’s career averages of only 2.3 PPG and 1.2 RPG suggested that perhaps he had been overrated. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see that he lost a lot of potential playing time during his second year to future No.1 pick Andrew Wiggins, an entirely understandable situation. Being recruited over by Bill Self — always a possibility in a basketball factory like Lawrence — forced White to move to a school where he has ended up in a better situation. Miles certainly isn’t upset about it.

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Big Ten Weekend Look Ahead: 12.11.15 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on December 11th, 2015

The college football championships are now in the books, which means basketball has center stage for a while. There are just under three weeks left in the non-conference portion of the schedule, so teams are still looking to notch a few resume-enhancing wins before conference play begins at the end of the month. Luckily for Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Nebraska this weekend, they will have those opportunities against top 100 teams this weekend. Here is your weekend preview of those four games.

Mark Loving (left) leads a very mediocre Buckeyes unit into Stoors on Saturday.

Mark Loving (left) leads a mediocre Buckeyes unit into Storrs on Saturday.

  • Ohio State at Connecticut (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, CBS). The Huskies are coming off a tough loss at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, possibly because their coach, Kevin Ollie, received an ill-timed technical in the latter stages of the game. They’ll get another shot against a Big Ten team when the Buckeyes visit Gampel Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. Thad Matta’s young squad has looked its age as the Buckeyes commit a turnover in one out of every five possessions so far this season. If Ohio State can’t protect the ball against a very good Connecticut defense, they’ll slip below .500 with a record of 4-5, something that hasn’t happened this late in the season during the Matta era.
  • Marquette at Wisconsin (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET, ESPN2). If you haven’t yet heard, this version of Wisconsin isn’t your typical Bo Ryan team. Rather, this team, to the consternation of its head coach, shies away from three-pointers in favor of mid-range jumpers. Therefore, this rivalry game may rely on which player wins the battle in the paint between the Badgers’ Nigel Hayes and the Golden Eagles’ Henry Ellenson. While the freshman is bigger and more naturally gifted, the upperclassman knows how to take over a game — Hayes scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a recent loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Look for whoever wins this individual battle to set the tone for the rest of his team.

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Levy’s B1G Layup Line: Week 4

Posted by Adam Levy on December 11th, 2015

The week after the ACC/Big Ten Challenge usually consists of a bunch of major conference teams playing a bunch of cupcakes to beef up their win columns, and that’s exactly what we had here in the Big Ten. Outside of the Iowa vs. Iowa State game last night, it was a pretty uneventful week in terms of competitiveness and good basketball, but one shall always strive for giving some love to those who deserve it and hating on those who suck or continue to suck. It’s week four of the Layup Line.

REPORT CARD

A: Andrew White

Nebraska's Andrew Smith

Nebraska’s Andrew White Has Been a Revelation in Lincoln (USA Today Images)

Nebraska has played three and a half good teams so far in Villanova, Cincinnati, Miami, Creighton (they’re the half, obvi) and lost them all, so I’m not going to bore you with details on how bad they are. However, I will bore you with details on how good their junior guard/forward, Andrew White, was this past week. 30 points, seven rebounds, four steals, four treys and 14/16 from the line in a win against Abilene Christian; 28 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three treys in a win at Creighton. He’s fourth in the Big Ten in scoring just behind Michigan’s Caris LeVert and finds himself in the top five in three pointers made.

What most casual fans don’t realize is that White is a Kansas transfer. He was the 48th best prospect in the Class of 2012 according to ESPN but found himself playing behind the likes of Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden, etc. throughout his first two seasons. He’s a good spot up shooter with an excellent mid-range game. This kid is no joke and could very easily find himself on an All-Big Ten Team by season’s end.

B: Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner

It’s finally time for some Penn State love. It has been an up and down season for the Nittany Lions so far, but they had a decent week by beating Eastern Michigan and Canisius and playing a very underrated George Washington team close on the road. They may not be any good, and they may not have any supporters whatsoever (because, you know, Penn State basketball), but amidst all of the negativity throughout the Pat Chambers era arises a two-player nucleus that has made some noise this season.

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Nebraska’s Offense is Better Without Terran Petteway

Posted by Patrick Engel on December 11th, 2015

Folks in Nebraska are accustomed to seeing their Cornhuskers start the season slowly, and this year has been no exception as Tim Miles’ team is now 6-4 for the second straight December. Despite the identical record, the numbers show that this year’s team is better than the disappointing 13-18 group of a season ago, and the improvement centers on the absence of Terran Petteway. Yes, the Nebraska offense is actually better without the services of last year’s leading scorer.

Andrew White has replaced Terran Petteway as Nebraska's go-to scorer (Photo Credit: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

Andrew White has replaced Terran Petteway as Nebraska’s go-to scorer (Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

Before the season, we touched on the possibility of Nebraska’s offense improving without Petteway in the lineup. The basis for such a prediction was that his high usage rate – he took 33.4 percent of the Cornhuskers’ shots when he was on the floor – and less-than-stellar shooting (39.6%) hurt Nebraska’s overall offensive efficiency. Sure enough, the absence of a high-volume, low-percentage scorer has helped Miles’ squad spread the ball around among a corps of talented newcomers and improved returnees. This increased sharing of opportunity has led to better ball movement, which has in kind also led to better shooting percentages and a more sustainable and efficient offensive operation. Last year, Petteway was one of three Nebraska players to take more than 20 percent of the team’s shots when he was on the floor. This year, Nebraska has five players at above 20 percent — proof positive of a Cornhuskers team dividing its allocation of shots better than it did a year ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Starting Five: Five Big Ten Teams Feeling Good About Feast Week

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 30th, 2015

The non-conference portion of the schedule hasn’t been great to the Big Ten so far this season, but Feast Week gave some of the league’s teams positive feelings about the future. Here are five schools that can feel good about themselves after the week that was.

John Groce got his lineup back in full, and his squad looked much better. (USAT Images)

John Groce got his full lineup back and his squad looked much better as a result. (USAT Images)

  1. Illinois: The Illini have a lot of extra dead weight to shed from their 3-4 start to the season, but anyone who watched their win against UAB and the first 30 minutes against Iowa State saw that this is a different and better team with a full complement of players. Kendrick Nunn looked rusty but he averaged 18.5 PPG in the two games — a healthy Nunn, Leron Black and Jaylon Tate showed the potential that exists here. The knee injury to Mike Thorne, Jr., however, is a real downer.
  2. Maryland: After struggling with teams that they shouldn’t have struggled with, the Terps finally put it all together against Rhode Island on Wednesday night in the championship game of the Cancun Classic. It appears as though Maryland’s on-court chemistry and offensive movement are improving with the realization that they any member of the starting unit can carry them for stretches — Rasheed Suliamon and Robert Carter Jr., for example, had moments where they looked like the best players on the floor. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Ways the Big Ten’s Bottom Tier Can Move Up

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 5th, 2015

Along with Rutgers, Minnesota, Penn State and Nebraska finished among the bottom four of the league standings last season. Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, they appear to have more than one fix they need to make in order to climb out of the Big Ten basement. The other three cellar-dwellers, however, are in better shape, with each having a reasonable chance to move up the ladder if a few things break their way this season. Here are three things that, if enabled, would allow the Gophers, Nittany Lions and Cornhuskers to make their way into the middle of the pack.

Richard Pitino needs heavy contributions from his freshmen to exceed expectations(Getty).

Richard Pitino needs heavy contributions from his freshmen to exceed expectations. (Getty).

Freshmen Playing Above Expectations (Minnesota): Richard Pitino did not sign a single top 100 recruit this year, according to 247sports.com, as the Gophers brought in the 11th best recruiting class in the league. Yet, given the team’s heavy personnel losses, freshmen will by necessity play a crucial role in the success of this year’s team. None started in the Gophers’ recent scrimmage against Minnesota-Crookston but the newcomers scored 31 of their team’s 74 points in an easy win. Jordan Murphy led the way with 19 points and nine boards on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, while fellow newcomers Dupree McBrayer, Kevin Dorsey and Ahmad Gilbert all contributed while playing at least 14 minutes each. Some recruits play above their rankings and some classes pan out better than expected. If Pitino’s incoming class can play better than its ranking and develop a couple solid Big Ten players as soon as this year, the Gophers are poised to finish in the middle of the pack. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is the Loss of Terran Petteway Addition by Subtraction?

Posted by Patrick Engel on October 30th, 2015

Over the course of two seasons at Nebraska, Terran Petteway established himself as one of the Big Ten’s best scorers. His 18.1 points per game led the league in 2013-14, and only Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky (1,308) and Penn State’s D.J. Newbill (1,262) outpaced Petteway’s 1,143 points in the last two years. For a Nebraska team coming off a very disappointing 13-18 season (including a 5-13 mark in the Big Ten), head coach Tim Miles’ task of finding a suitable replacement isn’t easy. But here’s the twist: Nebraska’s offense might be better without him.

Terran Petteway could score, but his below-average efficiency numbers hurt Nebraska's offense. (Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports, via btn.com)

Terran Petteway could score, but his below-average efficiency numbers hurt Nebraska’s offense. (Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY Sports)

Petteway shot only 39.6 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from three last season. His 217 three-point attempts tied him for most in the Big Ten and represented 46.6 percent of his total field goal attempts. Four of the Big Ten’s top 12 scorers had three-point attempts account for at higher percentage of their total field goal attempts than Petteway, but the lowest three-point percentage among that group was 36.6 percent (Travis Trice), a full 5.3 percent higher. The other three came in at 38.7 percent (James Blackmon Jr.), 40.8 percent (Yogi Ferrell) and 41.8 percent (Denzel Valentine) — all considerably better than Petteway.

The junior also posted a 94.8 offensive rating last season, good for fourth on his own team but also the second-lowest offensive rating among the 47 players who averaged at least 18 points per game. To his credit, he posted a solid 22.4 percent assist rate, drew 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes, and got to the free throw line nearly six times per contest. But his usage rate was 32.3 percent, an alarmingly high number for a player who doesn’t shoot the ball very well. Petteway’s high number of low-percentage shots manifested in him leading the Big Ten in missed three-pointers with 149. All of these statistics amount to a single conclusion: Petteway may have scored a lot of points, but he wasn’t a very efficient scorer.

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Big 12 M5: 02.06.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 6th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Talented players waiting their turn at Kansas is not a new thing. Four of this year’s five starters did exactly that before getting a chance to prove themselves, and freshman guard Andrew White is beginning a similar cycle this season. During Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State, White was called upon late in the game for his sharp-shooting ability, and he delivered with six points in the final minute. But as Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal points out, there isn’t a spot in the rotation for him. Senior Travis Releford and freshman Ben McLemore provide enough defense and scoring on the wing, thus Bill Self needs a point guard off the bench, not a three-point specialist. Next year, however, with the entire starting five gone (assuming McLemore leaves early) and a number of freshman on the roster, White looks to have a starting spot sealed up.
  2. Donald Pepoon of the Kansas State student paper, The Collegian, talks about the lackluster student attendance at recent Kansas State home games, which he calls “embarrassing.” The Wildcats are #13 in the latest AP poll, but as the picture in Pepoon’s article clearly points out, students don’t seem to care. Not only is Kansas State highly ranked, but they are now 7-2 in the Big 12, hold sole possession of second place in the conference, and have a chance to share first place next Monday with a win at Kansas. What else is there to do in Manhattan for a few hours on a random weeknight? The team is good and the fans have shown they can fill up Bramlage Coliseum for big games. Go support your team.
  3. Iowa State rolled through Oklahoma Monday night much like they have beaten a lot of teams this season — with three-point shooting. The Cyclones were 40% from three-point range (11-of-27) against the Sooners and won comfortably, 83-64. Bryce Miller of IndyStar.com thinks the Cyclones are now poised for a run in March, and while one game does not a season make, Iowa State’s ability to get hot from three-point land makes them a dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament should they make it. Miller wonders where the team that struggled against Yale earlier in the season and lost to Texas Tech recently was on Monday against Oklahoma, talking up the Cyclones as if they’ve put their struggles behind them. The problem is, teams that rely so heavily on the three can find themselves down quickly in the NCAA Tournament. The team that lost to Texas Tech isn’t gone, it was just hiding for a night. Whether it returns in March remains to be seen.
  4. CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm recently updated his bracketology and the six Big 12 teams — Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State — remain in the dance. Kansas is still a #1 seed despite its loss on Saturday, while Oklahoma State has jumped three spots into a #6 seed in the Midwest Region. Kansas State remains a #5 seed, and the other three teams — Oklahoma (#9), Baylor (#11), and Iowa State (#11) — are all on the bubble according to Palm. Iowa State gets the unlucky draw of playing in one of the four play-in games against North Carolina.
  5. In what originally looked to be a big game but eventually turned into an afterthought, West Virginia defeated Texas on Monday night, 60-58, in Morgantown. Mountaineers senior forward Deniz Kilicli had 14 points and four rebounds, going 6-of-8 from the field in the win and pleasing his head coach Bob Huggins. “I think the last two games were the best two all-around games that Deniz has played,” Huggins told Geoff Coyle of WVillustrated.com. It’s too little to late for the senior and West Virginia’s season, but any positive momentum Huggins can take into next year has to be a plus.
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Who’s Got Next? Commitments For Kansas Continues, Jarnell Stokes To Decide Soon…

Posted by Josh Paunil on December 21st, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Elite Class of 2013 Shooting Guard Selects Kansas

Bill Self Must Have Dazzled Brannen Greene On the Junior's Unofficial Visit (Jeffrey Greene)

Brannen Greene Not Satisfied, Recruiting Others To Join Him. Class of 2013 shooting guard Brannen Greene announced his commitment to the Kansas Jayhawks this week which makes him the third highest rated recruit to come off the board. The 6’6″, 180-pound Georgia-native joins shooting guard Conner Frankamp as head coach Bill Self‘s two commitments in the junior class and will see playing time at both guard positions and small forward. Greene is a guy who has good athleticism and versatility and shoots the ball very well from the perimeter. He’s also a very intelligent player who has great character and is supremely coachable. The good news for Kansas fans is that he has already started recruiting guys to come join him. A trio of top-10 juniors is currently at the top of his wish list which includes shooting guard Allerik Freeman and power forwards Chris Walker and Julius Randle. The Jayhawks are also very close to getting a commitment from Class of 2013 point guard Isaiah Lewis who could verbal Monday (see more below). In addition to Lewis, Kansas looks to be in the lead to land Walker’s services and could get Freeman as well. Perhaps the only recruiting trouble Bill Self could run into in the Class of 2013 is if he will have enough scholarships available.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior Shabazz Muhammad on who’s standing out to him: “UNLV stands out, Kentucky, Duke and UCLA, all really stand out to me from a player’s standpoint. Kansas also really has a great program too, and I’m excited to take my official [visit] up there and see [head] coach [Bill] Self and his staff.”

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Who’s Got Next? Jarnell Stokes Thinking College, Andrew White To Kansas & More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on December 8th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Jarnell Stokes Going To College In January ‘Definitely An Option’

Jarnell Stokes Has A Lot On His Mind. (Nation of Blue)

Stokes Exploring His Options. Class of 2012 power forward Jarnell Stokes saw his chances of playing high school basketball for Southwind High School (TN) disappear last week, and this week he’s strongly considering graduating high school early and enrolling in college in January. Remember, Stokes has yet to commit and has a top six of Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Connecticut so he’d have to commit very soon. The 6’8″, 250-pounder says he’s been preparing to attend college next semester and that he has other options available to him that he doesn’t want to reveal just yet. Four of the schools Stokes is considering — Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida and Tennessee — have athletic scholarships available for Stokes if he were to enroll in January and he could also qualify for an academic scholarship at Memphis, leaving Kentucky as the only school that he’d have to pay for. Stokes says he has no timetable right now and doesn’t know when he’s going to commit, but he’s going to have to make a decision in the next few weeks regardless of what he wants to do.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior Andrew White on committing to Kansas: “I think it was a huge opportunity there to play. I have a great relationship with the staff. They’ve been good to me.”

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