Purdue Gets First Chance For Marquee Win Against Oklahoma State

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 28th, 2013

It hasn’t been an ideal start for Purdue, but none of that will matter against No. 5 Oklahoma State this Thanksgiving day. The Boilermakers haven’t been dominant yet this season, but they have overcome some early rebounding troubles to remain undefeated through five games. As turkeys are going into the ovens a bit later today, Matt Painter‘s team will take the floor in its first chance at a resume-building win in the first game of the Old Spice Classic. For a team hopeful to return the NCAA Tournament, a win over Oklahoma State would be a statement win by itself, and guarantee two other games against quality competition (Butler, Memphis, LSU and St. Joseph’s highlight the other top teams in the event). Travis Ford’s team has been very impressive early, averaging more than 100 PPG as the Cowboys have demolished every team it has faced, including Memphis by 21 in Stillwater. For the whole tournament, fellow RTC writer Max Jakubowski projects a seventh place finish for Purdue in the event. Second-to-last wouldn’t exactly be a strong performance for Purdue, but let’s look at some keys for Purdue to have any shot at pulling the stunning upset at Noon ET today.

Matt Painter's team has its first chance for a big win on Thanksgiving against No. 5 Oklahoma State.

Matt Painter’s team has its first chance for a big win on Thanksgiving against No. 5 Oklahoma State.

  • AJ Hammons and Jay Simpson Dominate Inside. It’d be easy to start with Marcus Smart, but realistically, Purdue isn’t going to stop him. So let’s focus first on Purdue’s biggest advantage with its height and big men inside. The Cowboys don’t have a particularly large front line and it’s top players are guards, which means that the Boilermakers need to go inside early and often in this game. If Hammons and Simpson don’t have big games, it could get out of hand very quickly. Read the rest of this entry »
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Purdue’s Rebounding Problems Have Led to a Shaky Start

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on November 20th, 2013

It hasn’t been the ideal start to the season for Purdue despite its 3-0 record. After a disappointing campaign last year, the Boilermakers were hopeful that they would make a big turnaround and push for an NCAA berth this season behind potential NBA Draft pick AJ Hammons and a talented group of sophomores and freshmen. So far, though, the team has struggled against two of its three opponents, sneaking by Northern Kentucky and Rider while blowing out Central Connecticut State. As my fellow Big Ten microsite writer Alex Moscoso pointed out earlier this week, Purdue has experienced the biggest drop in Pomeroy’s projection of expected wins this year, among the 12 Big Ten teams. The projection has fallen to 15-14 (6-12 Big Ten), yet the team has shown an increase in several notable metrics. The Boilermakers’ field goal percentage is nearly 1o points higher and its 3-point shooting is up over last year — as a result, the team’s effective field goal percentage has risen to 55.8 percent from 46.3 percent in 2012-13. It’s defense has also held steady, with opponents’ effective field goal percentage staying in the 45 to 46 percent range. So, what has caused Purdue to start the season so slowly and the metrics-based outlook to change? The biggest answer is that this team’s biggest strength last year — rebounding the basketball — has dropped dramatically.

AJ Hammons low minutes has hurt Purdue, but its drop in rebounding has been the biggest issue (AP).

AJ Hammons’ low minutes has hurt Purdue, but its drop in rebounding has been the biggest issue (AP).

Last year, Purdue ranked 10th nationally in rebounding; this season, Purdue has seen its rank drop to 90th, and the problem lies on the defensive backboard.  average rebounds per game is nearly the same (39.4 to 40.3 RPG), the increase in Boilermaker possessions this season has this total looking worse. More possessions and more shots should mean more rebounds for a Purdue team that once thrived on the glass, but while it is rebounding at an elite level on the offensive end (43.5 percent, 13th best), it has struggled mightily to grab boards on the defensive glass (giving up 40.3 percent of those caroms, 309th in the nation). Part of this can be attributed to Hammons’ early struggles. He missed the first game due to a suspension and in the third game he sat on the bench for a large chunk of time due to foul trouble. In his two games he has averaged only 4.5 boards per game, a subtle but meaningful drop from 6.0 RPG last year. But even if his 40-minute average is still quite strong, as Purdue’s Associate SID notes below, it doesn’t mean much if your future draft pick doesn’t play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten M5: 11.11.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on November 11th, 2013

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  1. Ever watch a John Calipari interview during a game and think that he tries to be “too” humble? Well, Calipari may be at it again with his comments about the upcoming State Farm Champion’s Classic match-up against Michigan State. Calipari said that it was “unfair” for his team to play the Spartans this early in the season because Tom Izzo has a veteran team. Izzo responded, “I agree, I think he should forfeit. If Johnny doesn’t want to play it, I’ll take a win.” While the Spartans have two seniors, Kentucky will field five freshmen in the starting five. Regardless of the diversity of experience, the game will be very close and the Wildcats come in as the #1 team in the country.
  2. Wisconsin had to deal with terrible news a year ago when Josh Gasser was declared done for the season due to an injury. Traevon Jackson stepped in for Gasser and the Badgers still finished in the top four within the conference. This season, however, Gasser’s services are needed in Madison and the guard made a triumphant return against St. John’s on Friday night. He finished with 19 points and eight rebounds to prove that the Badgers will be a handful in the Big Ten once again. It is likely that Bo Ryan will play a three-guard line up with Gasser, Jackson, and Ben Brust, which could be appear to be small on paper. However, Gasser is one of the best rebounding guards and he showed his strength during the season opener.
  3. As we approach the middle of November, we need to keep an eye out for any news about highly recruited forward Cliff Alexander. According to Fox Sports, Alexander’s final decision is down to two schools – Illinois and Kansas. He eliminated Michigan State from his list last week and is expected to make a decision over the next two weeks. Another top recruit, Jahil Okafor, is considering Kansas too. It would be interesting to see if Alexander will choose to play alongside another forward in Kansas, if Okafor chose the Jayhawks. If he chooses to head to Champaign, we may have a contender for the Big Ten title and at least a Sweet Sixteen appearance at Illinois.
  4. The new hand-checking rules in college hoops will be under scrutiny over the first couple of months of the season. The rules could potentially hurt aggressive defenders such as Ohio State’s Aaron Craft. His head coach, Thad Matta, does not think it will affect his senior guard’s intensity. “Aaron Craft plays defense with his mind,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta told Sporting News, fairly scoffing. Craft may get called for more fouls than the previous seasons, but it is tough to imagine a seasoned guard to struggle with the new rules. If he does take a step back on defense, that will certainly impact Ohio State’s chances to compete for a Big Ten title.
  5. Purdue is not expected to compete for a postseason bid because of the youth on their roster. Matt Painter, however, hopes that the “immaturity” issues are in the rear-view mirror after last season. “At Purdue, we have always been able to, when we have had a successful season, play hard,” Painter said. “And at times last season we didn’t do that. You can be young, but you can’t be immature.” Terone Johnson will play a pivotal role on the offense, but he will have to step up as a vocal leader to coach the young team on the floor, if the Boilermakers hope to compete in the Big Ten this year. Forward A.J. Hammons will also need to avoid picking up silly fouls on the defensive end and learn to stay composed against superior competition because his contributions will be needed against the likes of Indiana and Michigan.
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Big Ten Coaches on the Not-So-Hot Seat, Part II

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on October 30th, 2013

Yesterday, we examined why John Groce, Tom Crean and Fran McCaffery are currently not in danger of losing their jobs. Today, we continue our examination of the conference’s coaching landscape.  Specifically, we’ll explain why we expect the head men at Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue to be here next year.  Here’s our take:

Matt Painter's past success, and his very large contract, are among the reasons he'll be in the Big Ten for a while.

Matt Painter’s past successes, and his very large contract, are among the reasons why he’ll be in the Big Ten for a while.

Richard Pitino (Minnesota): This is Pitino’s first year as a head coach in the Big Ten and second year as the head coach of anything. He spent one year at Florida International before accepting the job at Minnesota, but while at FIU, Pitino led the Panthers to their best conference record in school history. He seemed on the way to turning around a program that had won only 26 of 65 games under NBA legend Isiah Thomas.  In April, he got an offer he couldn’t refuse: a chance to compete with the best in the business in the Big Ten. So he accepted and now is set to go through the ultimate learning experience as he coaches against the likes of Izzo, Matta and Ryan every week. Pitino will get the years of learning on the job he needs to try to build something special.  Minnesota wouldn’t make this type of hire without knowing it’ll be marathon and not a sprint. He’s obviously fine right now.

Tim Miles (Nebraska): I wrote a post last week detailing the situation at Nebraska. In short, Miles has been given state-of-the-art facilities and the resources to secure top-tier assistant coaches that can deliver talented recruits.  And while boosters will expect to see a return on the money they invested, they’re realistic about the task at hand and know it won’t happen overnight. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cornhuskers fare in this, Miles’ second year. If they are able to show noticeable improvement, he and his assistants can sell recruits on being a part of a “program on the rise.” Regardless, the administration is invested both in this program and Miles as the head coach — he’ll be given the appropriate time to turn the ship around.

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Purdue Needs to Feature AJ Hammons to Realize Its Potential

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 28th, 2013

It would probably be a bit of a stretch to say that the days of needing a dominant, back-to-the-basket, seven-foot behemoth to win at the highest levels of basketball are over. That said, the game is seemingly getting smaller and quicker, and there are fewer teams who function with a traditional center. The teams last year in the Big Ten that went the furthest all had size, but you could hardly say that Cody Zeller, Adreian Payne, or Mitch McGary played like normal fives. Purdue is not one of those teams, however, as its second leading scorer and leading rebounder  in 2012-13 is a projected first round draft pick by the name of A.J. Hammons. Hammons is not a new age pick-and-pop big man, as evidenced by his grand total of zero three-pointers attempted so far in his lone year in West Lafayette. He is, however, a 7’0″, 251-pound load on the low blocks who will be the determining factor as to whether Purdue can rebound from a 16-18 season coming on the heels of six straight 20-win campaigns before that.

Hammons

Hammons Isn’t a New Age Big Man By Any Stretch

My colleague already covered how Purdue desperately needs to improve from behind the arc. Guards like Ronnie Johnson, Terone Johnson and transfer Sterling Carter need to improve from distance, but the Boilermakers need to take advantage of Hammons and keep getting him the ball if they really want to be successful this season. Hammons was 12th in the league in usage rate last season, tying teammate Ronnie Johnson at 24.9 percent. For Purdue to improve, he needs to be around the 27 to 28 percent range. For some perspective, Trey Burke was nearly at 30 percent last season. A team’s best player should be using the most offensive possessions, even if he is not a ball-handler. This may be a bit too simple, but big guys like to get the ball. If they’re to be expected to bang bodies all game long , they’d like to get rewarded for their troubles. If they are rewarded, they will be more inclined to be more active defensively and generally more engaged when it comes thankless tasks like setting screens and help defense.

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Three Thoughts on Michigan’s Win Over Purdue

Posted by WCarey on March 6th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between Michigan and Purdue. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Michigan and Purdue both entered Wednesday’s game fresh off huge victories from Sunday. Michigan notched an important 58-57 home victory over Michigan State. Purdue went into the Kohl Center in Madison and spoiled Wisconsin’s Senior Day with an impressive 69-56 win. While Purdue entered the game at just 14-15 overall, its recent play (winners of two of its last three) coupled with Michigan’s recent conference woes made for an intriguing matchup. Prior to Wednesday evening, Michigan carried a solid 24-5 record and a #7 national ranking. The Wolverines have a plethora of talent and their strengths far outweigh their weaknesses, but their play on the road this season has been below average. While losing on the road is essentially part of life in the ultra-competitive Big Ten, a team of the caliber of Michigan carrying a 3-5 road record certainly raises some questions — especially true because in the road game prior to this contest, Michigan lost to a Penn State team that had previously been 0-14 in Big Ten play. With Purdue playing hard and Michigan looking to remain in the race for the Big Ten title, Wednesday night’s action was definitely memorable with the Wolverines battling back from a 12-point second half deficit to defeat the Boilermakers, 80-75. The following are three thoughts from Wednesday evening’s action from West Lafayette.

Trey Burke Led His Team Back Against Purdue

Trey Burke Led His Team Back Against Purdue

  1. Trey Burke Should Be The Leading Candidate For National Player Of The Year. With his team trailing by 12 points almost midway through the second half, the sophomore point guard grabbed control of the game and led his team to the victory. After a rough first half with just four points and two assists, Burke exploded and finished the night with 26 points and seven assists. While Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Georgetown’s Otto Porter are both worthy candidates for National Player of the Year as well, you would be hard-pressed to make a case that either have outperformed Burke this season. In the best conference in the country, Burke has scored 15 or more points in every conference game. That statistic shows that win or lose, Burke is still giving the Wolverines a chance. Even after last week’s bad loss at Penn State, the Wolverines still have a chance to win a share of the regular season Big Ten title and that chance is thanks in very large part to the play and leadership of Trey Burke. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten M5: 03.04.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 4th, 2013

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  1. March is upon us and as teams wind down their regular season over the next week, they will also honor the senior classes during the last home game. Illinois seniors – D.J.Richardson, Brandon Paul, Sam McLaurin, Tyler Griffey – did not want to lose their last home to Nebraska, a team that they couldn’t afford to lose on Saturday. Fortunately for them, Tracy Abrams chipped in 16 points to lead the Illini to a 72-65 win over the Cornhuskers and the seniors were very emotional in Champaign. “I was under my shirt crying,’’ said guard Brandon Paul, who evidently shed a few tears after the grind-it-out victory. The Illini finish the regular season with two road games against Iowa and Ohio State; they could use one more win to lock in a good seed for the NCAA tournament.
  2. While the Illini seniors won their last home, the Badgers’ senior class were upset by the Boilermakers on Sunday. Matt Painter’s team stunned the Badgers by beating them 69-56 and dominated for most of the second half at the Kohl Center. Mike Breuesewitz, Ryan Evans, and Jared Bergren shot a combined 9-24 from the field in a loss that will be booked under the “bad” category by the selection committee on Selection Sunday. “They were just hitting tough shots. This game kind of reminded me of the Cornell game my freshman year,” Evans said, referring to the 2010 NCAA tournament game in which the Big Red shot 61.1 percent from the field and 53.6 percent from three in an 87-69 defeat of the Badgers.
  3. Senior guard Julian Welch (3.3 PPG and 1.6 APG) of the Gophers had a great performance on Saturday against Penn State by scoring 10 points and dishing out seven assists. Welch hasn’t seen much playing time during the season so far because Tubby Smith has used a tight rotation, but this performance could catapult his minutes over the next few weeks as they get ready for the postseason. “It’s just been hard for him to get into the lineup,” Smith said. “It’s always tough when you’re a senior and a junior college transfer and the expectations were to play a lot more. But he showed a lot of character in stepping up today. I’ve got a lot more confidence in him now.”
  4. Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes have had some issues offensively over the past two weeks and the first half against Indiana over the weekend was no different because they only scored 14 points. The Hoosiers led 26-14 at the halftime and pulled away to win 73-60 at home as they inch towards a Big Ten title. “I wouldn’t call it a freeze-up,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “It was a really good defensive effort by a good defensive team.” The Hawkeyes can’t afford to fall behind in the first half on Tuesday against the Illini because they could really use that game to make a case for the Selection Committe that they deserve a bid to the NCAA tournament.
  5. Speaking of the Hoosiers, freshman Yogi Ferrell scored a career-high 19 points and dished out five assists against the Hawkeyes. Senior guard Jordan Hulls has struggled against Iowa, shooting 0-17 during the two games this season, but Ferrell had a huge offensive game. After the game, head coach Tom Crean said,  “Tonight he went to the rim and didn’t try to get the contact. In the Minnesota game, he tried to get the contact, and he didn’t get either. Tonight he really focused on making the basket, and he did a much better job with that.” Ferrell hasn’t carried the offensive load this season but having a game like this one should help his confidence as the Hoosiers get ready to make a run at the Final Four and potential the national title.
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Big Ten M5: 02.15.13 Edition

Posted by KTrahan on February 15th, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. It’s been a rough few weeks for Glenn Robinson III, one of Michigan’s highly-touted freshmen who started the season strong, but then fell into a cold stretch. As Robinson III has struggled, so has his team, which has dropped consecutive games after finding itself at No. 1 in the nation just a few weeks ago. Robinson III’s five-game struggle has resulted in lower shooting and rebounding numbers, and it’s affected the Wolverines’ entire offense. When he scores at least 10 points, Michigan is 15-0; when he scores less than 10, the Wolverines are 5-4. Over the past five games, he has averaged just 6.2 points per game. Other players need to step up, as well, but for Michigan to turn things around, Robinson III needs to regain the form he showed earlier this season.
  2. Illinois has been wildly inconsistent on offense this year. The Illini are guard-oriented, so they’ve relied a lot on outside shots. When those shots are falling, they’ve been good, but there have also been some bad losses, most notably a double-digit home loss to Northwestern. However, Illinois has been on a recent surge, with wins over Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue. The key for the Illini has been offensive efficiency, and they graded out nicely in that area in the win against Purdue. The effective field goal percentage wasn’t great, but the Illini did well with their points per possession and turnover rate. John Groce’s team must continue to put up solid tempo-free stats in order to finish out the season strong.
  3. Indiana’s depth heading into the year was pretty incredible and one of the main reasons the Hoosiers were considered one of the best teams in the nation. While Victor Oladipo has stepped up more than most expected, the rest of IU’s squad wasn’t all that consistent. However, things are starting to get put together, with Cody Zeller and others playing better. Christian Watford is one of those players who has stepped up, and that was evident in the Hoosiers’ blowout of Nebraska. Watford has scored in double figures in 17 straight Big Ten games dating back to last season, and he’s done so in the last 15 games this year. He gives an IU team full of weapons yet another scoring option, and that wealth of options is what makes the Hoosiers so dangerous.
  4. Matt Painter wasn’t happy with much Wednesday night. Not with his team, and certainly not with the officials. Purdue fell to Illinois and the Boilermakers were forced to finish the game without their coach, who was ejected with around eight minutes left in the game. The issue wasn’t in doubt at that point, so Painter was really just trying to light a fire under his team, which has lost five of its last seven games. The Boilermakers have a very young team and were expected to struggle, and now their streak of six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances looks to be in serious jeopardy. Now, it’s about building momentum heading into next year, and Painter hopes Wednesday night’s loss ignites some sort of spark.
  5. Early this season, Minnesota looked like it could have been one of the top 10 teams in the country. However, a recent, long losing streak has started some talk of the Golden Gophers falling back onto the bubble. Tubby Smith still needs to get more consistency from his team, but Thursday night’s overtime win over Wisconsin has to be encouraging for a team that was desperate for a win. Minnesota’s star guard Andre Hollins got his mojo back and led to Gophers to the win in an overall gutsy team performance against the rival Badgers. Even after falling behind by 10 points — a tough deficit to come back from against Wisconsin — Minnesota stayed patient and used strong defense to crawl back into the game. It wasn’t pretty, but it ended up being a possible season-saving win for the Gophers.
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Big Ten M5: 01.21.13 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on January 21st, 2013

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  1. The Iowa Hawkeyes were not going to be denied a win on Saturday night as they beat the Wisconsin Badgers, 70-66. There was an emotional feel to Carver-Hawkeye arena as the Hawkeyes honored 1993 captain Chris Street‘s death during halftime. The Hawkeyes built a 16-point lead early in the game and it was too much for the Badgers to recover. Bo Ryan’s team held their first four B1G opponents to 50.5 PPG but Fran McCaffery’s offense put up 70 points as sophomore Aaron White scored 17 points of his own. White was very aggressive by getting to the free throw line and shooting 13-of-15from the charity stripe.
  2. Even the best of the freshmen have been known to hit a slump during the heat of the conference season. Michigan State freshman Gary Harris (12.6 PPG) hasn’t been shooting very well lately and head coach Tom Izzo believes that he might have hit the “wall.” During the Spartans’ 59-56 win over Ohio State, Harris shot 0-of-5 to begin the game but pulled himself out of the slump to finish with eight points for the night. Harris made the necessary adjustment at his coach’s urging to attack the basket rather than settle for jumpers as he shot 4-of-5 from the field during the rest of the game.
  3. Speaking of the freshman wall, another first-year guard who has had a rough patch lately is Michigan’s Nik Stauskas. Stauskas was shooting over 50% from beyond the arc has made just 3-of-13 attempts from the perimeter over the last three games. But regardless of his mini-slump, both Stauskas and his coaches are not too concerned at the moment. When asked about Stauskas’ shooting, head coach John Beilein responded, “We will just keep working with him.” Coaches around the conference understand Stauskas’ strengths and have been trying to take his three-point shot away while also making him work on the defensive end to disturb his rhythm. It appears to be working.
  4. The Ohio State Buckeyes might not win the Big Ten title this season, but Deshaun Thomas has shown that he is the best scorer that the league as to offer. Thomas scored 28 points during the Buckeyes’ three-point loss in East Lansing over the weekend — that’s 50% of his team’s total points! But if he can get some consistent help from his teammates, they might be good enough to become a top 15 team for rest of the season. Lenzelle Smith had six points to support Thomas, but a couple more buckets by the rest of the supporting cast might have helped the Buckeyes leave town with a great win. Sophomore Shannon Scott has been pushing the ball in transition and is another candidate to step up as a second scorer for Thad Matta.
  5. Matt Painter’s Purdue Boilermakers are young but seem to be improving and it showed in their dominant win (79-52) over West Virginia on Saturday. One of the key contributors in the win was redshirt sophomore guard Anthony Johnson, who scored 12 points in just 20 minutes. Painter was impressed by his backup point guard’s performance on both ends of the floor, stating, “Anthony played half of the game and had zero turnovers.” Johnson responded, “Credit to my teammates for giving me the ball in the right positions.” The Boilermakers will continue to be a tough out at Mackey during the next few weeks and can strive to play spoiler in the tough conference race.
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Controversial Foul Call Not Purdue’s Only Problem in Rough Start

Posted by KTrahan on November 16th, 2012

The first thing that Purdue fans will likely blame for the Boilermakers’ 89-81 loss Thursday night is a controversial flagrant foul call on D.J. Byrd. The call gave Villanova four straight points, which the Wildcats wouldn’t have been able to get without the call. Whatever you think of the officiating — the call in question was an elbow by Byrd — that wasn’t the only thing that factored into the loss, writes Jeff Washburn of the. Lafayette Journal and Courier.

Matt Painter Would Surely Like to Have the Bucknell and Villanova Games Back

One call doesn’t win or lose a game, and had the Boilermakers been crisper at the finish or been less sluggish at the start, they likely would have won the game. Purdue used a 21-4 second half run to get back into the game, but, as Washburn points out, “rushed some shots, and at times, played like its hair was on fire, as Painter likes to say, meaning that the Boilermakers played at a helter-skelter pace when it was not necessary.” Purdue also shot just 57.1 percent from the free throw line — whereas Villanova shot 80.5 percent — allowing the Wildcats to stay in the game. The loss drops the Boilermakers to 1-2 with the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic against Oregon State coming up Friday night.

This is a very young Purdue team, so nights like Thursday night figured to happen early in the year. When three freshmen see significant minutes, and one starts and plays 32 minutes, you can expect some inconsistency. This team has a lot of talent, and it will be very good a few years down the road. However, the Boilers have a lot of growing up to do in order to be competitive in the Big Ten this season.

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Big East M5: 11.14.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 14th, 2012

  1. The first Naismith Award watch list, comprised of 50 players, was released yesterday. While it is difficult to take a ton of stock in a list that is so long and backed by so little in terms of on-court results, it’s always interesting to see who is highlighted. Seven current Big East players have been chosen for this first watch list.  Louisville has three players included, with guard Peyton Siva, center Gorgui Dieng, and forward Chane Behanan all named. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter Williams, Notre Dame center Jack Cooley, Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, and Georgetown forward Otto Porter were also included.
  2. Villanova‘s Jay Wright and Purdue’s Matt Painter each look forward to their teams’ upcoming match-up in the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, as they believe the two programs are in a similar place early on this season. Jay Wright explains how the two teams, who are generally known for quite different approaches, mirror each other: “We’re similar to Purdue in that we have a lot of young players, and a lot of returning players who are taking on new roles… Right now, we are an inconsistent team, probably like a lot of people are early.” Villanova has started the year 2-0, but wins against the District of Columbia and Marshall aren’t enough to get people excited about Wildcats basketball again. A win over a quality Big Ten opponent surely would be.
  3. Marquette got a big boost from an unlikely source in its 84-63 victory over Colgate Sunday: sophomore Juan Anderson. Anderson has been a bit of a forgotten man in the Golden Eagles program, at least he had been before coming one point and rebound short of a double-double in the game against the Red Raiders. Anderson missed much of last season due to surgery and an NCAA suspension, and he was supposed to miss the beginning of this season again after undergoing another surgery, a fact that makes his performance all the more impressive.  Buzz Williams was impressed with Anderson’s play as well, and indicated that we’d see more of the forward in the future: “His energy level is what helps us… He had energy last year; he just didn’t have purpose to his energy. I think now he better understands how to play with that energy and have purpose in what he’s doing… I’ve been telling him the last few weeks that he needs to put me in a position where I can’t keep him off the floor, and the way he’s going to do that is by doing the things he did today.”
  4. Many basketball pundits are high on Notre Dame due to their experience — the Irish return four players from last season’s starting line-up. The prestigious Rush the Court: Big East Microsite preseason rankings place Notre Dame in at #3 after perennial powers Louisville and Syracuse. For all of the experience that Mike Brey returns, there are lingering questions about the team’s depth. Enter: Garrick Sherman and Cameron Biedscheid. Notre Dame was very sluggish in the first few minutes against Monmouth on Monday, until Sherman and Biedschied entered the game and sparked a 12-0 run. Sherman led the Irish with 22 points, while Biedschied added nine points and five assists. If Notre Dame can count on consistent performances like that off the bench, Brey’s squad may be more dangerous than originally thought.
  5. Many former college basketball players who aren’t lucky enough to carve out careers in the NBA are long-forgotten, but many of these athletes have long, fulfilling careers overseas. DePaul athletics highlighted former Blue Demon stars Will Walker and Krys Faber, a pair who are playing exceptionally well in Bulgaria and Uruguay, respectively.  Walker plays guard for BC Beroe, while Faber has become a 20/20 machine for Atletico Welcome. While both players certainly have NBA aspirations, they’re making the best of their current situations. It is refreshing to see Walker spreading an important message to up and coming athletes: “no matter what, always remember it’s a blessing to be playing professionally. Don’t take any of it for granted because there are hundreds of guys wishing for a spot.”
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Big Ten M5: 11.12.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 12th, 2012

  1. College hoops’ opening day was supposed to feature two of the best Big Ten teams against formidable opponents, but only one of them was able to play on Friday. Michigan State‘s game in Germany against Connecticut started at the scheduled time but the Ohio State Buckeyes never got past the warm-ups against Marquette because the Carrier Classic game was cancelled due to condensation on the court. Referee John Cahill discussed the problem with both of the head coaches and decided that the conditions on the deck of USS Yorktown were too risky for the players and it was called off. According to reports, the athletic directors will discuss scheduling the game again but it likely won’t be during this season. The Buckeyes would have had their hands full against a Marquette squad who may not win the Big East but will be competitive throughout the year.
  2. Even though the Spartans were able to play their game at Ramstein Air Base, it was not a pleasant one. They not only lost the game to Connecticut but might also lose sophomore guard Travis Trice for a couple of games because of a minor concussion suffered during the game. After having played about 18 minutes off the bench, Trice left in the second half after getting hit on the head. He will go undergo further tests but Spartan fans can expect Tom Izzo to slowly bring him back into the rotation due to the nature of the injury. Trice will be an integral part of the Spartan backcourt this year, therefore any major setback will mean more minutes for freshman guard Denzel Valentine.
  3. It is never too early to make changes and Purdue head coach Matt Painter is quick to pull the trigger on his rotations. The Boilermakers were upset by Bucknell on Friday, 70-65, and Painter decided to shift his lineup for their next game against Hofstra on Sunday. Senior Dru Anthrop and freshman Rapheal Davis started that game and the Boilers won 83-54. Painter has several underclassmen on his roster and Purdue fans can expect several combinations of starting lineups during the non-conference season until his team’s identity is established. Junior guard Terone Johnson missed the first game due to an ankle injury but returned for the Hofstra game and contributed six points in the victory.
  4. While Purdue lost its home opener, Illinois beat Colgate 75-55 in Champaign on Friday night. The win was expected but the home crowd took the occasion to execute the “Orange Hush” during the game. In this coordinated event, the fans remain silent until the Illini score their 10th point, a tradition that exists at John Groce’s Alma Mater, Taylor University. Once the home team scored the 10th point, the crowd erupted in a celebration. The fans at Taylor University call it “Silent Night” and go through the tradition in one game every season. The Orange Krush and the home crowd carried this tradition to Champaign and it was a nice gesture to welcome Groce and his family to Champaign.
  5. Life is pretty good for Tom Crean nowadays. His contract has been extended through 2020 and his athletic director Fred Glass announced the extension to the home crowd after the Hoosier starting lineup was announced on Friday. His base salary will increase to $3.16 million per year after the contract extension. As if the #1 ranking in the country wasn’t enough to justify Crean’s presence in Bloomington, he backed it up by proving his recruiting prowess as top high school recruit Noah Vonleh committed to Indiana to join the Hoosiers in the 2013-14 season. Vonleh is a 6’8″ forward who was also considering Ohio State, Georgetown, North Carolina, Syracuse and Connecticut.
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