Posted by Deepak Jayanti on December 27th, 2012
- Branden Dawson’s recovery from ACL surgery has to be one of the biggest stories of 2012 in Big Ten basketball. Dawson tore his ACL on March 4, underwent surgery and pushed through a grueling rehabilitation process over the summer in order to return to the court in early November against Connecticut. After only eight months of recovery, few expected him to return to the court and contribute immediately, but he has averaged 9.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG so far this season. Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton took a deeper look at Dawson’s recovery over the past few months and believes that the talented sophomore will be the key to the Spartans’ success during the Big Ten season. Sophomore guard Travis Trice has been a close friend to Dawson during the process and has reminded him about how “lucky he is” to recover so quickly from what could have been a career-threatening injury.
- Back in the 1980s, the Detroit Pistons implemented a defensive scheme called the “Jordan Rules” that were designed to contain the (arguably at that time) greatest player of all time. Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks might have used the unofficial “Thomas Rules” during their weekend win over Ohio State by holding Deshaun Thomas to just four field goals in the game. Thomas could barely get open for a shot against the Jayhawks and didn’t make a single attempt during a 10-minute stretch during the game. When asked about Self’s defensive strategy, Thad Matta added, “they were doubling him 16 feet away from the basket.” Matta has until the end of the season to make the necessary changes with his team, and the first step would be to insist that Thomas look for other ways to score rather than settle for jumpers.
- Michigan freshman Mitch McGary has had some growing pains during the first 12 games of his career, but he recorded his first double-double against Eastern Michigan on December 20 and it might be a sign of good things ahead for the freshman forward. Despite being a top-ranked high school senior, McGary has had to accept a role off the bench backing up Jordan Morgan in the frontcourt. He has averaged 5.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG in just 14.6 MPG during the Wolverines’ unbeaten start this season. The Michigan coaching staff has been patient during his development and McGary’s main concern nowadays is to stay out of foul trouble, as it’ll be a tough challenge for him to be effective defensively against talented older forwards such as Cody Zeller and Trevor Mbakwe.
- It is a well-known fact that the Big Ten season will be tough on everyone because of the conference’s legitimate depth. Iowa will have little time to get used to the season as their first three games will come against ranked opponents. The Hawkeyes will face Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State to tip things off after finishing with a 11-2 record during the non-conference part of their schedule. Fran McCaffery has done an excellent job in leading a young team to that many wins including crucial wins over Northern Iowa and Iowa State. Star wing Roy Devyn Marble (15.7 PPG) will need to step up during that trio of games if the Hawkeyes hope to pull off an upset or two, especially at home.
- Hoosier fans have been very excited about forward Will Sheehey’s contributions this season: 12.3 PPG and 4.0 RPG in just 22.5 MPG. Tom Crean might be getting another player next year whose offensive skill set is similar to Sheehey and may fit perfectly into his offensive system – Troy Williams. Williams is a 6’7″ forward who has a good jumper and will be part of another top five recruiting class for the Hoosiers. It was an impressive signing for Crean because Williams chose Indiana over Kentucky and North Carolina, two schools that continue to scoop up top recruits in every class that comes available.