Big Ten M5: 02.12.14 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on February 12th, 2014

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  1. Michigan State point guard Keith Appling will miss another round of games this week due to his wrist injury. The Spartans play Northwestern and Nebraska at home, which are games that they should be able to win without him, even given the parity that the league has been defined by this season. Appling injured the wrist in December against North Carolina, and continued to play through the pain. Whether he should have kept playing, Appling showed a tremendous amount of leadership gutting it out while the Spartans were short-handed. If he and Branden Dawson can come back and regain healthy form when they return, the Spartans are a definite National Championship contender.
  2. Wisconsin needs a lot of things to break their way for them to win the Big Ten regular season crown. They sit at 6-5 right now, but they get a chance to avenge two earlier losses this week with games against Minnesota and at Michigan. The Badgers are back to shooting the ball better, and they withstood a horrible stretch of games defensively to make their way back into the AP top 25 after a one-week hiatus. These games could go a long way to cementing a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, along with helping their seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Many Illinois fans have been clamoring for a starting lineup change to get their improving freshmen more minutes. So when Coach John Groce finally pulled the trigger and put Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill into the starting unit, and this resulted in a win, it wasn’t a surprise that the coach decided to continue with this lineup at Nebraska tonight. Nunn especially has really come into to his own after struggling in the non-conference portion of the schedule. He’s gone from 2.9 PPG to 6.9 PPG, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to improve with the added minutes he’s playing.
  4. There’s a reason that Nebraska Coach Tim Miles is in the running for Big Ten Coach of the Year. Despite not having a bunch of top-100 recruits or a program with a great basketball history, he’s gotten his players to buy in and believe in his system. This can be seen in the fact that the Cornhuskers have come back from some rough defeats to win games that they weren’t supposed to win. One such game was at Northwestern on Saturday. The Wildcats do a tremendous job frustrating offenses, but Nebraska came back from 16-point first half to get their first road win of the season. Miles players haven’t quit, and could be in line for a postseason bid because of it.
  5. Amir Williams doesn’t look like or carry himself like Ohio State’s most important player, but the Buckeyes usually win when he plays well. What has to be maddening for Ohio State fans is the fact that they really don’t ever know which Williams will show up. The Buckeyes lost to Michigan Tuesday night and Williams did not have much of an impact. He got 7 rebounds in 29 minutes, but the Wolverines had 14 offensive rebounds. If Ohio State wants to do anything in March this season, Williams absolutely has have more of an impact and show more consistency.
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Big Ten M5: 02.11.14 Edition

Posted by Alex Moscoso on February 11th, 2014

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  1. After losing five games in January, Ohio State has managed to right the ship this month and win its last three games with impressive wins at Wisconsin and at Iowa. Senior guard Aaron Craft has been leading the way and was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 12.0 points, five assists, and 4.5 steals per game against Purdue and Iowa. Those numbers do not capture Craft’s most valuable attribute, of course — his lock-down defense. In the past three games, he helped lead the Buckeyes’ perimeter defense in holding Wisconsin, Iowa, and Purdue to a combined 11-of-50 from the three-point line (22 percent). The Buckeyes’ offense has been their season-long weakness, but as long as Craft gets near double-figures every game, Ohio State should be able to maintain their current winning trajectory.
  2. Wisconsin also had a big week as the Badgers managed to end their losing skid by winning at Illinois and then coming up with huge weekend win against Michigan State. It’s been an atypical season for the Badgers. They’re still on pace to make yet another an NCAA Tournament, but this season Wisconsin relies on its offense more than its defense, and Bo Ryan plays some of his freshmen substantial minutes. None of these first-year players have had a bigger impact than the big man from Toledo, Ohio, Nigel Hayes. He won his third Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor after chipping in 14 points in both games this week. Maybe more impressive is the fact that he ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (58.2%). This season may not look as promising as it did a month ago for Wisconsin, but with Hayes getting a ton of playing time this early in his career, he’ll pay dividends in the years to come.
  3. Continuing with the theme of breaking streaks, Illinois managed to end its eight-game losing streak against Penn State on Sunday. What may be the more lasting storyline was the emergence of the Illini’s freshmen guards, Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill, who combined to score 30 points. John Groce finally decided he had to switch things up and threw both freshmen into the starting lineup for the first time this season. The pair responded in kind and gave hope to a fan base that certainly needed it. Illinois is all but out of the NCAA Tournament picture at this point, but if his guards can continue to play well the rest of the season, it will set things up nicely for the program as early as next season when more talented transfers and recruits join the team.
  4. Tim Miles must be mostly pleased with the performance of his Cornhuskers after winning its first conference road game on Saturday against Northwestern. As he continues to build the program in Lincoln, he may owe a big thanks to his junior wingman Terran Pettaway, who is quickly becoming a household name around the Big Ten. Pettaway continues to rank in the top five in scoring and field goal percentage in the conference, but what is most impressive about the junior is his keen ability to affect the game even when things aren’t going his way. On Saturday, he kept the confidence to hit the game-winning shot despite a poor shooting performance (5-of-16) and committing five turnovers. If Pettaway can continue to play well, the Cornhuskers have a realistic chance of finishing the conference near .500, a major leap for the historically moribund basketball program.
  5. Win or lose, Minnesota is always fun to watch. A lot of it has to do with the Gophers’ style of play — a pressing defense and a hyperactive offense — but they also have entertaining players. The main draw might be Andre Hollins, but DeAndre Mathieu can also put up a show. He’s exciting because of the athleticism and motor he packs into his 5’9”, 165-pound frame. But he’s also vital to the success of the Golden Gophers. The split for Mathieu in a win compared to a loss are night and day (e.g., 57% vs 42% FG%). Mathieu seems to enjoy taking on the more important role and is comfortable taking big shots late in games.  He’ll need to have more good days then bad if Richard Pitino’s team wants to challenge for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Julius Randle Out Three Months, Andrew Wiggins Plans Visit To Florida State…

Posted by CLykins on November 30th, 2012

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will discuss the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists, and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.

1. Julius Randle To Miss Three Months. Julius Randle, the No. 4 overall ranked prospect in the class of 2013, is expected to miss three months after fracturing a bone on the top of his right foot. From Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas), Randle suffered the injury during the Thanksgiving Hoopfest on November 24. He underwent surgery on Tuesday and is targeting a return to the court either during the high school playoffs for Prestonwood, or the postseason all-star games for the senior class at the latest. Among the schools pursuing the 6’9” power forward include Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas. Randle has already made visits to Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma and has finalized visits to Texas (December 15-16), Kansas (December 28-30) and NC State (January 25-27), with a spring decision most likely. One day prior to his injury, Randle had notched a double-double in his first and possibly only game for Prestonwood this season with 27 points and 13 rebounds in their season-opener.

Julius Randle is considering Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas

 2. Andrew Wiggins Scheduling Florida State Visit. The No. 1 overall ranked prospect in the class of 2013 and widely regarded as the best high school basketball player in the nation, Andrew Wiggins is planning his first official visit to Florida State. Although the date has yet to be confirmed, it is likely that the visit will come in the first weekend of December. Since his reclassification into the senior class, Wiggins has received new interest from the likes of Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio State. However, throughout his entire recruitment two schools have been viewed as the leaders for the 6’8” small forward, Florida State and Kentucky. When speaking of the Seminoles, the Wiggins name is synonymous with their program as both of Andrew’s parents — former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and former Canadian Olympic track star Marita Payne-Wiggins — attended Florida State. A member of Huntington Prep (West Virginia), Wiggins most recently participated alongside teammate and Florida State commit Xavier Rathan-Mayes at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge in front of Seminoles’ head coach Leonard Hamilton and associate head coach Stan Jones. With a hectic playing schedule ahead of him, Wiggins is expected to plan more visits when he can in the future with a spring decision targeted.

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Big Ten M5: 11.15.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 15th, 2012

  1. One of the main concerns for the Michigan Wolverines this season was their long-range shooting. After losing Zach Novak and Evan Smotrycz, two of their best shooters from last season, it was unclear if there would be a designated gunner this season. Freshman guard Nick Stauskas was expected to take on that role and his shooting after three games proves that he is ready for the big stage. On Tuesday night, Stauskas shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in scoring 15 points against Cleveland State. John Beilein’s offense requires at least one good shooter from long range and Stauskas might fit well within the system. He has been coming off the bench and will continue to provide a spark to lead the second unit on a very talented Wolverines roster.
  2. Indiana head Tom Crean was already getting paid well before this season but his contract was recently extended with a raise through 2020. The raise bumps his salary to $3.16 million per year, falling in place behind only John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan. Indiana’s athletic director Fred Glass has several reasons to keep Crean in Bloomington for the rest of the decade. He recognizes Crean’s work to make Indiana relevant again on the national stage and his top 20 recruiting class for the 2013-14 season cements the notion that he is not slowing down despite currently enjoying the top ranked team in the country. Glass believes that the next big project in Bloomington is to renovate the Assembly Hall and Crean will help him with the campaign over the next few years.
  3. Throughout the offseason, Michigan State assistant coaches described Branden Dawson’s recovery from his ACL injury ahead of schedule. They might not have been completely honest. His recovery should be described as more than “ahead of schedule” because he has surprised everybody with his progress after only two games this season. Dawson’s double-double in the season opener has caught NBA scouts’ attention, in particular, as he scored 15 points and pulled down 10 boards during 34 minutes of action against Connecticut. At this pace, Dawson may be at 100% game shape by conference season, if he isn’t already. He didn’t slow down against Kansas on Tuesday night either as he played 33 minutes en route to 12 points. With a healthy Dawson and Travis Trice moving forward, the Spartans may be poised to exceed expectations during the conference season.
  4. Illinois fans know better than anybody else that verbal commitments are not finalized until the recruits sign the letter of intent (sorry to bring up Eric Gordon). After just seven months on the job, John Groce has recruited a top 30 class for the 2013-14 season and all five players signed with Illinois on Wednesday. Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan, Jaylon Tate and Austin Colbert are his first official class in Champaign and they could easily become the starting five in Champaign after a couple of seasons. Rivals ranks the class at #10 but that might change over the next few months — nevertheless, Groce has already proven that he can recruit in the Big Ten.
  5. Early season match-ups may result in blowouts for some of the top-ranked teams but the coaches are always picking at the players about their intensity on the court. Ohio State beat Albany 82-60 on Sunday but Thad Matta was not impressed by his team’s defensive effort, especially in the first half. The Buckeyes got beat on several layups and thus Matta called a 30-second timeout to send a message about the Buckeyes’ lack of energy on the defensive end. After the game, Matta also discussed his rotation and said that there could be “20 different starting lineups” this season. Sophomore Sam Thompson started at the small forward position but Laquinton Ross may get a start at some point during the non-conference season as Matta tries to establish his rotations before Big Ten play.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 08.10.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on August 10th, 2012

  1. The schedule for the Big Ten – ACC Challenge for next season has been announced. The annual showcase event features excellent match-ups including a game between two preseason Top 10 teams – NC State and Michigan – in Ann Arbor on November 27 on ESPN. Both of these teams have high expectations headed into next season and Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke has been vocal about the Wolverine’s chances to potentially win the NCAA title. The 14th annual Challenge has been one of the best non-conference events between the two legendary powerhouse conferences and the Big Ten will be going for its fourth straight overall victory this time around. Other top match-ups include North Carolina at Indiana and Ohio State at Duke. Duke will be looking for payback against OSU after getting thumped in Columbus, 85-63, in last year’s game.
  2. Speaking of television schedules, ESPN released its “Gameday” schedule for the 2012-13 season and it includes a stop in Bloomington on February 2, 2013. Michigan will visit Indiana on that Saturday as both of the teams should be in a tight race for the B1G conference title by early February. Indiana is the clear favorite to take the championship with several key returning starters — Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo — along with the highly rated freshman guard, Yogi Ferrell. Michigan also returns three key starters in Jordan Morgan, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Trey Burke to go along with another top 20 recruiting class next season. The “Gameday” event should only boost the media attention that this game with receive in addition to being a potential Top 10 match-up midway through the season.
  3. A few years ago, a highly rated recruit named Eric Gordon de-committed from Illinois and chose to go play at rival Indiana instead (sorry Illinois fans). Trey Lyles, a top 10 forward in the 2014 class from the state of Indiana had committed to the Hoosiers a couple of years ago, but he now has de-committed and is looking at other options. The 6’9″ forward has not ruled out Tom Crean’s Hoosiers as one of his destinations but wants to explore things further before making a final decision. Lyles has been ranked in the top 50 by CBSSports.com and will continue to get more attention by other programs due to his versatility on the floor. Crean has proven himself as an excellent recruiter dating back to his days at Marquette and this decision may just end up being minor hiccup if Indiana continues to surge and make the Final Four during the 2012-13 season. Crean was able to convince a top 20 class with Yogi Ferrell to come to Bloomington during their down years so the sky is the limit for recruiting once IU is back on the national stage with more postseason success.
  4. More on the recruiting front, new Illinois head coach John Groce continues to receive good news from some of the top high school prospects. Kendrick Nunn, a top 75 recruit in the 2013 class has narrowed down his final five destinations and Illinois is one of them. Nunn is a 6’2″ shooting guard and his high school teammate, Jabari Parker, is arguably the best high school player in the class. Illinois will be adding former Drake wing Rayvonte Rice for the 2013-14 season and Nunn’s commitment should improve Groce’s efforts to bring Illinois back to the top-tier of the Big Ten after the last few disappointing seasons under Bruce Weber. Groce will have stiff competition from his former mentor, Thad Matta, as Ohio State is also on Nunn’s final list in addition to Marquette, Memphis and UCLA.
  5. Shifting topics from potential newcomers in the B1G to recent alumni of the conference, former Purdue star Robbie Hummel will be playing in Europe in the near future. Hummel will sign with a Spanish club and will begin his professional career outside of the NBA. He was drafted #58 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves but chose to try Europe first. Hummel’s game fits very well in Europe which rewards forwards with shooting range and the ability to hit the boards as most of the European forwards seem to possess both skills. He shot 38% from beyond the arc last season but also averaged 7.2 RPG. Hoops fans should not be surprised to see Hummel come back from Europe after some professional experience to add value to an NBA franchise due to his high basketball IQ and well-known perserverance.
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Morning Five: 09.30.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 30th, 2011

  1. When Delvon Roe came out of high school he so highly sought after that his decision to spurn North Carolina for Michigan State led Roy Williams to reportedly call Roe out for having “lied” to him in Williams’ autobiography. Unfortunately, Roe never lived up to expectations in East Lansing as he battled to overcome a series of knee injuries. Yesterday, Roe announced that he was retiring due to ongoing knee injuries and his desire to pursue other interests. We wish Roe the best in his future endeavors, which appear to be geared towards acting at this time.
  2. Two weeks after the ACC held a series of meetings that threatened the continued existence of the Big East, the presidents of the remaining Big East schools will reportedly meet to “talk about the future and how to go forward as a strong Big East” according to Connecticut president Susan Herbst. This meeting comes a week after the presidents and athletic directors in the Big East met to try to figure out which schools to poach from other conferences to replace Syracuse and Pittsburgh. We find it amusing that Herbst sent the e-mail informing the Associated Press of the meeting, which makes her the public representative of the meeting, since the previous person who the public viewed as the face of the Big East was Mark Nordenberg, the chancellor at Pittsburgh and one-time chair of the conference, because Herbst is widely thought to merely be a puppet acting on the wishes of Jim Calhoun and has already stated that the school is essentially looking out for its own good.
  3. You can expect to see a very different Old Dominion team when the season starts as they will start the season without any of their five starters from last season as Kent Bazemore will be out for the first month of the season while he recovers from fractured left footy. So don’t be surprised if you see Old Dominion struggling early in the season especially when they could potentially play Kentucky on November 20 in a game that would normally pique our interest. You also shouldn’t be surprised if Old Dominion is in the thick of the CAA race in late February with a full strength Bazemore playing alongside two additional players–Richard Ross and Donte Hill–who may become eligible for the spring semester.
  4. The recruitment of Rodney Purvis has been nothing if not interesting. The 6’4″ guard out of Raleigh, North Carolina is widely considered one of the top 20 players in the nation had previously committed to play atLouisville before backing out of that commitment and taking the Cardinals off his list completely. Purvis is set to make another commitment later today and is reportedly deciding between North Carolina StateMemphis,Connecticut, and Virginia Commonwealth. Most people are expecting Purvis to end up at UConn, but if he decides to go to NC State expect to see headlines similar to what you saw when Cody Zeller decided to go toIndiana a year ago.
  5. If you want to know why we don’t get too worked up over all these verbal commitments we would like to point you in the direction of Kendrick Nunn, a shooting guard in the class of 2013, decommited from Texas A&M late on Wednesday. Nunn announced his change of heart on Twitter and stated that it was not a reflection on his relationship with the Aggie coaching staff. As we have stated numerous times, it is ridiculous to expect that teenagers won’t have a change of heart when they make a decision so early. We understand why fans get excited with verbal commitments, but they shouldn’t be shocked when that same player decommits.
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Who’s Got Next? UConn Grabs Calhoun, Tough Week For Tech, & Teague Carries Indiana…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 14th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-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. Twice 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 in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Freshmen and sophomores dominated in Colorado Springs last week during the USA U-16 developmental team training camp while the best point guard in the Class of 2011 hit a buzzer beater to win a fiercely competitive interstate all-star game. A few top ten stars in the Class of 2012 also announced new lists, new visits and new favorites as Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies continued their dominance on the recruiting trail. An article on the fastest rising junior in the country was another must-read as we take you into this edition of Who’s Got Next?

What They’re Saying

Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) spoke about his Kansas visit. (NY2LA Sports)

  • Junior Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) on his Kansas visit: “It was really good, I really like it there. This trip was really for my mom. She hadn’t been there yet and I wanted her to see it.”
  • Sophomore standout Allerik Freeman on some schools on his list: “Florida is a great program with a great staff. NC State is on the right tracking trying to get back to the national spotlight. Georgetown has a rich tradition, and great staff with a nice offense. Tennessee is a place where my game fits in great.”
  • Omar Calhoun, Sr., on his son, junior Omar Calhoun, Jr., committing to Connecticut: “After spending time with [head] coach [Jim] Calhoun and the rest of the coaching staff, we felt it was a place we needed to be. He believes he fits well… coach Calhoun has had a tremendous amount of success with NYC guards.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on what’s factoring in on his decision: “I want to go somewhere I can win. Playing time is also important.”
  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#7) on his Missouri visit: “It was great and fun. The visit was not what I expected!”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on Kentucky head coach John Calipari: “He’s just a great person. He helps people excel and fulfill their dreams.”
  • Junior Jordan Price on his commitment to Auburn: “I just felt like it was the best fit for me and my family. It’s not too far away from my home so family and friends can come watch.”
  • Class of 2012 center Landen Lucas on his Kansas visit: “Loved it! [Assistant] coach [Danny] Manning stood out because of how well he develops bigs and gets them to the next level.”
  • Don Showalter on players who stood out at the USA U-16 Developmental Team tryouts: “[Class of 2013 Watch List power forwards Jabari] Parker and [Aaron] Gordon really stood out, they are really, really good players. They are going to be the best players in the tournament, no question. We started there and built around them.”
  • Senior Norvel Pelle on why he committed to St. John’s: “I wanted to get the best of both worlds. It’s a perfect opportunity with their new class of freshman and being in New York. I have a good relationship with the whole coaching staff and we try to connect on a daily basis. They’re all down to earth and chill.”

What We Learned

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