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

morning5_bigten

  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

morning5_bigten

  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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Big Ten Team Previews: Purdue Boilermakers

Posted by jnowak on November 2nd, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out the featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Purdue Boilermakers.

Where We Left Off: The last time we saw Purdue, one of the program’s most accomplished players — Robbie Hummel — was riding off into the sunset, marking the end of the “Baby Boiler” era that began when that class began its West Lafayette career in 2007. Purdue also loses fellow co-captains Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson, leaving Matt Painter without three of the Boilers’ best scoring options from the last few seasons. So the cupboard is relatively bare, with a lot resting on the shoulders of senior D.J. Byrd and the Johnson Trio — Terone, Ronnie and Anthony. None of those four have much experience in leading the team, so scoring could be at a premium. It’s safe to call it a rebuilding year for the Boilermakers, but if they can build on the foundation the Baby Boilers set forth, Painter could have this team back contending soon enough.

With Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson gone, much of the scoring and leadership responsibility will rest on D.J. Byrd’s shoulders at Purdue.

Positives: After a pretty significant drop-off in recruiting since the stellar class of Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, Scott Martin (who eventually transferred) and E’Twaun Moore, Painter seems to finally have gotten it back with this incoming freshman class. Rivals has this group ranked No. 20 in the country, which also places the Boilermakers fourth in the Big Ten (Indiana clocks in at No. 5, Michigan at No. 7, Michigan State at No. 13). None of the newcomers — A.J. Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, Raphael Davis and Jay Simpson — were ranked higher than No. 77 (Hammons), but it’s a solid core and a diverse group, with each player listed by Rivals at a different position. All four should get significant playing time this season, giving Purdue fans a glimpse at what could be a very promising future.

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Big Ten M5: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by KTrahan on October 23rd, 2012

  1. The news coming out of Minnesota hasn’t been great recently, first with Trevor Mbakwe’s DUI and then assistant coach Saul Smith’s arrest on suspicion of DUI. Needless to say, the Golden Gophers are ready for the season to begin to put their offseason troubles behind them. However, to lighten the mood, here’s something everyone in America undoubtedly wants to see: Tubby Smith doing “Gangnam Style”. Tubby actually isn’t too bad, though he messes up the parts of the dance a couple of times. Women’s coach Pam Borton clearly had practiced for her routine. The dance was part of the Gophers’ “All Star Friday Night,” which included a dunk contest and a scrimmage to go along with the awful dancing.
  2. Iowa also held its kickoff event — the Black and Gold Blowout — this week, including a dunk contest and a scrimmage. Senior Eric May won the dunk contest with an alley-oop off a header. However, the highlight of the night might have been coach Fran McCaffery entering in a yellow Corvette. Scott Dochterman of The Cedar Rapids Gazette has some good stuff on the Blowout, including this nugget: The Hawkeyes had roughly 5,000 fans show up for the event, but the school averaged only 5,500 fans per game in May’s freshman season. This telling statistic shows that the Hawkeyes have certainly come a long way in two short years under McCaffery, both on and off the court.
  3. Last year, Purdue was one of the smaller teams in the Big Ten, sometimes relying on forward Robbie Hummel to take on a “center” role. That team was successful because of its experience and deadly perimeter shooting, but while this year’s team will be inexperienced, it will allow the Boilermakers to sport a more traditional-looking lineup. In fact, Matt Painter hasn’t had this much depth in the frontcourt in his eight years as coach at Purdue, writes Jeff Washburn of the Journal and Courier. The Boilermakers have added four-star, seven-foot center AJ Hammons, as well as four-star forward Jay Simpson to their frontcourt. Overall, Purdue will have six players who are at least 6’8″ or taller this season. It may be a young team in West Lafayette, but it will certainly be a talented one, as well.
  4. This doesn’t have much of a bearing on current news, but a friend pointed it out the other day and it’s an interesting point. This year, Northwestern will open its season against Texas Southern, and while that’s a game that typically wouldn’t have many storylines, it’s actually quite intriguing for several off-court reasons. Northwestern is one of only 17 schools to have never had a major NCAA violation. Texas Southern, however, is a walking NCAA violation. As pointed out by ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan, “Texas Southern is awful at following rules.” The Tigers were cited for “lack of institutional control” and the report on their transgressions is mind-boggling, as “the university allowed 129 student-athletes in 13 sports during seven academic years to compete and receive financial aid and travel expenses when they were ineligible.” There’s plenty more in the report, but the most hilarious thing is that Texas Southern is considered a “double repeat violator.” So this November, the goody-two-shoes of the NCAA will take on the double repeat violator. It should make for an interesting storyline, regardless of the yawner that is likely to occur on the court.
  5. CBS Sports put out its list of the 50 best point guards in college basketball, and the Big Ten was well-represented with two players in the top four and five overall. Michigan’s Trey Burke was the top-ranked point guard in the conference at No. 3, while Ohio State’s Aaron Craft came in right behind him at No. 4. Penn State’s Tim Frazier was No. 15, Michigan State’s Keith Appling was No. 28, and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell round’s out the Big Ten’s representation at No. 33. Ferrell made the list on speculation alone, but the first four are proven and all obvious choices for the list. The only two point guards better than Burke, according to CBS?  Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan and Missouri’s Phil Pressey, who check in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
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Big Ten M5: 10.16.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 16th, 2012

  1. Indiana legend and college hoops icon, Bobby Knight, is getting rid of some of his jewelery. Knight is auctioning off his three national championship rings and the Olympic gold medal he received from the LA Olympic Committee for coaching the 1984 men’s national team. Knight won titles at Indiana in 1976, 1981 and 1987. One of the best coaches in the history of the game will have his memorabilia auctioned off by Steiner Sports Memorabilia, with the proceeds of the auction going to support his grandchildren’s education and charities.
  2. How will the Illinois’ senior class be remembered by Illini fans? Per Paul Klee, that question will be answered in March. Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey came to Champaign in 2009 as one of the top 30 recruiting classes in the nation. They were supposed to help Bruce Weber take the Fighting Illini back to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond. But the Illini missed the NCAA Tournament twice since then and got only one win in the other year. Paul averaged 14.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG last season but has the potential to become one of the best players in the conference this season. Even though the trio have the talent, they’ve never been able to put a consistent season together. Most Illini fans would agree with Klee that an NCAA Tournament appearance this season would help cement the senior class’ legacy as a solid foundation for the future.
  3. Mackey Arena hosted a Midnight Madness event for the first time since 2008 this past weekend. Head coach Matt Painter talked about his team’s summer trip to Italy and its benefits before the scrimmage began. Forward Jacob Lawson wowed the crowd by winning the dunk competition, and even though Lawson only averaged 2.9 PPG last season, he will play a pivotal role in Purdue’s frontcourt this year. The Boilers sported a 27.3% offensive rebounding rate and will need Lawson to hold his own in the paint in an offense that will feature guards Terone Johnson (9.2 PPG) and D.J. Byrd (8.9 PPG).
  4. How will Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan fill Mike Bruesewitz’s slot in the rotation during the first few games? According to ESPN‘s Eamonn Brennan, Ryan may try to use a combination of sophomore forward Frank Kaminsky, sophomore guard Traevon Jackson, and freshman wing Sam Dekker. Bruesewitz hurt his leg while diving for a loose ball during a scrimmage last week. Kaminsky is a 6’11” forward who came off the bench last season and could use some game action before the Big Ten season begins. The son of former Big Ten great Jim Jackson, Traevon Jackson is a 6’2″ combo guard who should earn some playing time after the departure of Jordan Taylor. Ryan has also praised guard Josh Gasser (7.6 PPG) for his improvement during the offseason and will most likely start at the point to begin the non-conference slate.
  5. During this time of the year, the “other” basketball league in the country (i.e. the NBA) is going through preseason practices as well. Former Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger was drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics and has been prominent so far in preseason action. Even though he dropped to the 21st pick of the draft due to his history of back problems, he is happy to be learning from one of the all-time greats, Kevin Garnett. Garnett will not log heavy minutes until the end of the season due to his knee injuries and so younger players such as Sullinger will be expected to keep the momentum going during the gruelling 82-game season. The 6’8″ power forward averaged 16 points and eight rebounds during the preseason opener in Turkey and will certainly be a focal point of the Celtics’ bench during the upcoming NBA season.
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Big Ten M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 12th, 2012

  1. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery is very optimistic about this third year in the Big Ten. He strongly believes that the depth on his roster will put Iowa back on the map and ready to contend for a postseason bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tough to disagree with the coach because returning wings Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White averaged 11.5 PPG and 11.1 PPG, respectively, last season. Another wing Zach McCabe should increase his production from 7.8 PPG. In addition to the returnees, Iowa’s top 25 recruiting class consisting of center Adam Woodbury will be an important part of the rotation. Depth is key for McCaffery’s offense which is designed to push the tempo of the game and consistently attack the basket. Iowa’s 65.8 possessions per game was the best during the Big Ten season in 2011-12.
  2. Another coach who is trying to push the tempo of the game is Illinois’ John Groce. The first-year coach would prefer to play an uptempo game but doesn’t believe he has the personnel yet to execute it. According to Groce, Illinois needs multiple guards who can comfortably handle the ball and strive for consistent movement. Returning guards Tracy Abrams (4.3 PPG) and Joseph Bertrand (6.5 PPG) have been working on their ball-handling skills but it might take some time for Illinois to reap the benefits on the court. The Illini averaged 63.6 possessions per game during the conference season but ranked towards the bottom of the league with a 20.9% turnover rate. The tempo will certainly increase in Champaign this season but the fans can only hope for the team to be more competitive than the 2011-12 disaster.
  3. Penn State fans don’t necessarily pay attention to basketball until bowl season is done. But there are several reasons to be excited about Pat Chambers’ team this season and Onward State lists five of them. Senior guard Tim Frazier (18.8 PPG and 6.2 APG) is obviously the best player on the team and arguably the best guard in the Big Ten. But the development of a couple underclassmen – Ross Travis and Jermaine Marshall – will be key for Chambers in his rotation. Ross, who was a true freshman last year, averaged only 4.4 PPG but showed flashes of brilliance during certain plays. Marshall should build upon his 10.8 PPG to play second fiddle to Frazier on the offensive end. Nittany Lions fans don’t have high expectations but certainly hope for improvement over last year’s performance as Chambers continues to build a solid foundation in State College.
  4. After a four-year hiatus, Purdue will bring back the Midnight Madness event to Mackey Arena tonight and the players are excited to resume this tradition on their home court. This is a very important event for the Boilermakers because there are several new faces on the team. Forwards Jay Simpson and A.J. Hammons hope to add some size to the frontcourt and will have ample opportunity to earn playing time. Another freshman guard, Ronnie Johnson, will join two other Johnsons – Terone (9.2 PPG) and Anthony (5.4 PPG) in the backcourt. Head coach Matt Painter is also hoping that the event will help with the recruitment of 2013 player the Boilermakers want, Bryson Scott. The event will incorporate both men’s and women’s basketball team along with the football team who will host Wisconsin on Saturday.
  5. Purdue’s in-state rival Indiana will have their own event, “Hoosier Hysteria,” on October 20 in Assembly Hall. ESPN SportsCenter anchor and a former IU graduate Sage Steele will emcee the annual event. The event will also benefit charities as fans are encouraged to bring canned food items for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Both the women’s basketball coach, Curt Miller, and fifth-year head coach, Tom Crean, will address the fans and introduce their respective teams. There is plenty to celebrate in Bloomington nowadays as the Hoosiers are ranked #1 in the preseason polls by most publications. Sophomore forward Cody Zeller (15.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG) has been the center of media attention as he has been a consensus preseason All-American pick and may end up being a top five pick in next year’s NBA Draft Lottery as well.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 08.28.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on August 28th, 2012


  1. ESPN has released a list of the 50 best college hoops programs over the past 50 years. The order is based on a scoring system that awards points for national titles, Final Four appearances and conference titles, but also penalizes the program for any NCAA violations or sanctions. The details of their exhaustive scoring system can be found on the ESPN blog. How did the Big Ten fare in this system? Indiana is the only top 10 team on this list, coming in at #7. Michigan State is ranked #11, with Michigan at #13 and Ohio State at #15, which adds up to four B1G teams in the top 15 of this list. College hoops fans love these types of lists and this leads to hours and sometimes days of debates about the efficiency of the scoring system or the historical significance of these programs. 
  2. Speaking of questions that could spark a debate, how about this one: “If you pick any active coach to lead your program, who would it be?” CBSSports.com conducted an anonymous poll among coaches and this was one of the questions posed. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo placed first with 27% of the vote followed by Kansas’ Bill Self at 23%. Now, the criteria on which the coaches voted is tough to decipher but Izzo’s rank should not come as a total surprise for a guy who has been so clutch in March and demands the respect of his players and rest of the coaches around the country. Izzo has won over 70% of his games at Michigan State and has created a culture of tough-nosed Spartan basketball since the mid-90s. 
  3. Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers have released their non-conference schedule for the 2012-13 season. They will participate in the 2K Sports Classic  at Madison Square Garden after playing a couple of home games against opponents that have yet to be determined. The Boilers will play 10 games at home during the non-conference schedule and some of the key match-ups include contests against Xavier and West Virginia. The overall schedule is challenging yet does not seem to overbearing which is helpful for a team that has lost at least three starters from last season. They will field a young squad that needs some time to gel together before conference play begins and playing several tough but winnable games at home will be a huge confidence boost to youngsters such as Anthony Johnson and Terone Johnson. 
  4. Former Iowa Star Matt Gatens is heading overseas to play for a Spanish team, UCAM-Murcia. The team is located in Murcia, Spain, and Gatens has signed a one-year contract with the club after playing for the Phoenix Suns summer league team in July. Gatens hit for 41% shooting from beyond the arc and his long-range abilities make him a good fit for the European style of play. In recent years, some other former Iowa alumni such as Luke Recker and Jared Reiner have played in Spain as well. Gatens gives a lot of credit to Fran McCaffery for his improvement during his senior season as his scoring average increased from 12.6 PPG to 15.2 PPG. Many players take another shot at the NBA after a few seasons in Europe and Gatens has already indicated that he won’t give up his dream of playing in the US again after his time in Spain.
  5. Big Ten fans are aware of the new additions to the Michigan rotation in the 2012-13 season, specifically incoming freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson, III. Both of these freshmen will be part of a great starting five as they will collaborate with returning players such as Jordan Morgan, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Trey Burke. But John Beilein needs production from his bench in order to make a serious run at the Final Four and redshirt freshman Max Beilfeldt might be able to contribute after sitting out last season. The 6’7″ forward enoyed a successful high school career, averaging 20 PPG and 11.2 RPG during his senior season. The departure of Evan Smotrycz leaves some playing time for others and Beilfeldt might be one of those new faces in the rotation. MGoBlue‘s Morgan Bailey caught up with the redshirt freshman wing this offseason as he is eager to contribute to a potential national championship contender.
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