Posted by jnowak on January 9th, 2013
- Here’s something we don’t see coming out of Wisconsin very often: a player going too fast. The Badgers, known to slow the pace and get the most out of each and every shot clock, have a player in Ben Brust, who sometimes finds himself speeding things up a little bit. “There are times when you’re on the interstate, so to speak, and there are times when you’re in a residential neighborhood and you have to know when you can go faster,” associate head coach Greg Gard said of Brust, who has a 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, but can sometimes get into trouble when he dribbles into traffic. “Time and score of the game. Flow of game. Do we need a basket? Are we on a run? When is the time to slow things down and get a high-quality possession or make the other team guard? All those things come into play. He’s getting better and better at it.”
- Want an easy — and sometimes early — indicator for how Indiana might do on any given night? Watch Christian Watford. The Indiana Daily Student points out that any time Watford is a key contributor, the Hoosiers have rolled. To be more concise, Indiana’s 23-point win against Penn State this week was its smallest of the season in games in which Watford scored 15 points or more. Each of those previous wins were by at least 31 points. Watford has always been somewhat of an enigma, and an “as he goes, the team goes” type of player. So the Hoosiers would do well to get him involved early and often the rest of the way.
- Iowa got smoked when it traveled to Ann Arbor to take on No. 2 Michigan last week. So what is coach Fran McCaffery considering doing to remedy the problem? Possibly keeping arguably his two best players — Aaron White and Devyn Marble — off the floor. McCaffery told the Iowa Gazette he is considering changing some things with his rotation, pointing to the two aforementioned players as culprits in a Hawkeyes’ struggling defense that surrendered 95 points in each of its two true road games this year. Michigan State comes to town on Thursday, and is just the No. 7 scoring offense in the conference (71.1 PPG), but a big scoring output from the Spartans coupled with Michigan State’s typically-stingy defense could be a recipe for an 0-3 start to begin Iowa’s Big Ten campaign.
- One thing college basketball pundits love to debate is the importance of a loss over the course of the season — whether an undefeated team needs to lose at some point, or a team on the roll might want a wake-up call before the NCAA Tournament. Michigan, of course, has not lost a game this season, but with the Big Ten shaping up the way it has, they are almost assured to do so. And what happens then? AnnArbor.com‘s Nick Baumgardner explores that idea in this column, pointing out that Michigan has led in nearly 93 percent of the minutes of action of its contests this season and has not faced a great deal of adversity. This team is young — it relies on freshmen for scoring and as fantastic as he’s been this season, Trey Burke is only a sophomore — and when a problem hits, John Beilein might just welcome it at this point.
- We have posed this very question on this site a number of times since the season started, and the Big Ten Geeks would like to know the same thing — is Ohio State good? As we have mentioned, and as the NCAA-released RPI showed this week, the Buckeyes don’t have a real quality win this season (although they looked better at Purdue last night, certainly). The Big Ten Geeks point out that a strong second scoring option behind Deshaun Thomas hasn’t presented itself at this point and the Buckeyes will need that to contend in the Big Ten. They make a number of other interesting points about the rest of the conference as well. Be sure to check it out.
Posted by jnowak on January 4th, 2013
- Without a doubt, the biggest upset of the early Big Ten season was when scuffling Purdue rose to the occasion and knocked off Illinois in West Lafayette this week. As NBCSports.com‘s Rob Dauster points out, the Boilermakers were able to do so by controlling Brandon Paul — with ball-screen defense, switching and the individual defense of Terone Johnson, who probably turned in the best all-around performance of his career. Illinois goes as Paul goes, but the nearly-3o-minute stretch of play during the game during which Purdue held Paul scoreless was certainly the difference-maker in this one. Will other teams in the conference be able to duplicate such an effort?
- Iowa put up a good fight against Indiana in its conference opener earlier this week, and it was essentially all without a contribution from Devyn Marble. The junior guard missed 13 of the 14 shots he took in the game — a four-point loss for the Hawkeyes — but Scott Dochterman says it hasn’t affected Marble’s confidence moving forward. “It was frustrating, but I’m not going to let it affect my game or depict what I’m going to do next,” he said. “On the final play, as you saw, I kept shooting.” Granted, Marble has been more up than down this season, turning in a 30-point effort against Northern Iowa and a 27-point game against South Carolina State. Considering what lies ahead this season, he and the Hawkeyes will need all the confidence they can muster.
- We know the Big Ten is the toughest conference in the country this season (see: previously-embarrassing Purdue knocking off previously-unbeaten Illinois this week), but what will it take to win the league? In previous years, the Big Ten regular season champion has finished with anywhere from two to five losses (Ohio State won it two years ago with two losses, while Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all tied for first last year each with five losses). USA Today‘s Eric Prisbell and Nicole Auerbach agree that five losses sounds about right for a conference champion again this season, and any team that emerges from the Big Ten with three losses is a certain national title contender. What do you think? How many losses can Big Ten teams afford to have and still have a shot at the conference championship?
- Minnesota has just one loss this season, is ranked in the top 10, has a slew of signature victories already — including a rare win against Michigan State to open the Big Ten slate — but could the Gophers still be flying under the radar? The Star Tribune‘s Amelia Rayno reports that some national pundits (namely Jay Bilas of ESPN) believe Minnesota is still underrated. “I think the Gophers have plenty more to prove before they can be introduced to that level of respect, but right now, they’re doing all the right things,” Rayno writes in response. “There’s no need to talk about the Gophers being underrated right now. Perhaps they were at the beginning of the year, but now, they’re gaining more respect week after week.” What do you think?
- Quick: Who is Indiana’s most valuable player? The easy answer, of course, is preseason National Player of the Year sophomore center Cody Zeller. But midway through the season, could another candidate have emerged for the Hoosiers, who remain that same title contender? ESPN‘s Andy Katz points to Victor Oladipo as somewhat of a surprise — surely, we’ve known he was important to the Hoosiers, but perhaps not this important — and calls Oladipo a “game-changer” who makes winning plays. It’s been perplexing for much of Zeller’s career that he hardly ever seems to be the go-to guy down the stretch, which is precisely a trait that Oladipo possesses.
Posted by jnowak on November 6th, 2012
- According to Penn State star Tim Frazier, the Nittany Lions may have something in newcomer D.J. Newbill that the team hasn’t seen in some time — swagger. Frazier, an All-Big Ten player in his own right, has already come away with a strong impression of Newbill, who transferred from Southern Mississippi to Penn State. “He’s just got that Philly swagger in him,” Frazier said at Penn State’s media day on Monday. Second-year coach Pat Chambers echoed Frazier’s thoughts: “I’m going to use a very popular word right now: Swagger,” Chambers said, according to an Associated Press report. “He just has that ‘Philly chip.’ He’s got that toughness. He’s from the streets of Philly. He’s going to grind. He’s never going to give up.” Frazier could use a little help with the scoring load and it looks as if Newbill — who averaged 9.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG in 30 minutes per game as a freshman at Southern Miss two years ago — could be the man for the job.
- The Iowa basketball program hasn’t had much success in recent years and, as The Gazette‘s Mike Hlas points out, much of that has to do with the failed tenure of previous head coach Todd Lickliter. But if one good thing did come of those years, it was the recruitment of Devyn Marble, a player who appears poised to lead the Hawkeyes this year as a junior. “When I met him the first time I was really impressed with him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “So much of being a great player is who you are as much as what you can do.” Of course, this young Marble has plenty of shoes to fill — namely those of his father, Roy, who is Iowa’s all-time leading scorer. Marble may not reach that level of play in his Hawkeye career, but if he can give Iowa what it needs this season — a vocal leader — then the Hawkeyes surely will be better off for it.
- In most cases, nobody likes to be called a pest. But sometimes, particularly if you’re playing for Bo Ryan, that can be a term of endearment. Forward Mike Bruesewitz has regularly fulfilled that role for the Badgers, but with the senior forward out 4-6 weeks with a leg injury, Wisconsin needs another player to step up. Enter Zach Bohannon. The scrappy junior guard impressed in the Badgers’ first exhibition, tallying 13 points but his six rebounds (four on the offensive end) may have been what stood out the most. Bohannon isn’t much of a scorer, but if he can scratch and claw his way onto the stat sheet, he could become a valuable player both before and after Bruesewitz returns. “He’s a digger,” Ryan said. “If you get lazy with a rebound, it’s gone around him.”
- Michigan State freshmen Matt Costello and Kenny Kaminski are paying tribute this season to their friend Dorian Dawkins, who died on the Michigan State campus three summers ago at the age of 14. From Diamond Leung’s poignant story for MLive.com, Kaminski wears No. 30 so as to say “3 and nobody else” in honor of Dawkins, who was an AAU teammate of the Spartan duo who also dreamed of one day playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State. Together now, Kaminski and Costello carry memories of Dawkins with them every time they take the floor.
- One of the most concerning aspects of Illinois‘ season last year were their inconsistencies, particularly with the knowledge that the Illini had so much potential and squandered it so often. There’s a new regime in Champaign under head coach John Groce, but there are still plenty of lingering concerns. Illinois was admittedly sloppy in an exhibition win against Division II West Chester (PA) on Sunday, and maybe the most troubling aspect were the 21 turnovers (five from senior Brandon Paul) to just seven assists. Paul has the potential to be one of the best players in the Big Ten this season, but brain lapses like those exhibited against West Chester will surely haunt Illinois again this year if not corrected soon.