Big Ten Season Grades: Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue

Posted by Jonathan Batuello on April 16th, 2014

With the end of the season comes a chance to look back at what happened and look ahead to next year. Here we have broken the conference into three corresponding tiers based on this year’s finish and will give each a final grade and look at a key question for 2014-15. Today we’ll examine four teams that are hoping they don’t replicate this year’s bottom four finish: Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue.

Indiana

Yogi Ferrell had a great 2013-14 campaign and will need to replicate that for Indiana to be successful next year. (Darron Cummings, AP)

Yogi Ferrell had a great 2013-14 campaign and will need to replicate that for Indiana to be successful next year. (Darron Cummings, AP)

Grade: D. The Hoosiers lost so much with the departures of two lottery picks that maybe we all expected too much. Still, with Noah Vonleh (another likely lottery pick), Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey and “The Movement,” quite a bit more was expected from this group. Failure to make the NCAA Tournament (or even the bubble) and falling to the bottom tier of the Big Ten represents a very bad year for the Hoosiers. The program’s one bright spot was the emergence of Ferrell as not only the team’s best player but also one of the best in the conference.

Key 2014-15 Question: Who plays inside? Indiana will have plenty of guards on its roster next season. It brings back Ferrell and Stanford Robinson and its recruiting class includes McDonalds All-America shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. and shooting guard in Robert Johnson. With Vonleh and Jeremy Hollowell now gone, though, this team will lack an inside presence. Hanner Mosquera-Perea hasn’t really panned out and Troy Williams is a wing who doesn’t dominate inside the paint. Tom Crean is still recruiting in the hopes of filling this hole with a late commitment, but as of now, the Hoosiers could be looking at a four-guard lineup next year.

Northwestern

Grade: B. A “B” may seem high for a team at the bottom of league but this group of Wildcats was expected to do absolutely nothing in the Big Ten this season. Recall that at one point the question was if they could win a single Big Ten game. Chris Collins did plenty to change that notion quickly, as he made the team’s identity about defense and pushed it to win six games in conference play (and at one point had pundits wondering if it could make its way onto the NCAA bubble). It was a big and unexpected turnaround that has the Wildcats looking to break the NCAA drought sooner than later.

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Joking Aside, Indiana Makes the Wrong Move in Turning Down the CBI

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 17th, 2014

Indiana was at the top of the list of the most-discussed NIT snubs once the field of 32 was announced in the aftermath of the NCAA Tournament bracket reveal yesterday. The Hoosiers fell from a #1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament to one that couldn’t even make the NIT this season. Word was also released that Indiana had been invited to compete in the even less prestigious CBI, but had declined the invitation. Athletic Director Fred Glass said, “Finances wouldn’t be an issue if we thought it made sense, but we’re Indiana, we don’t play in the CBI.” This is the certainly the wrong approach to take, and there are several reasons why turning down the chance to play more games is the wrong move here for Indiana.

The momentum that was built up over the last two seasons came crashing to a halt this season for Tom Crean's Indiana team. (Getty)

The momentum that was built up over the last two seasons came crashing to a halt this season for Tom Crean’s Indiana team. (Getty)

First, in the interest of complete fairness, several other schools such as Maryland, Marquette, Washington and UNLV reportedly turned down the CBI as well. But those schools didn’t spout off about how they were essentially too good to try to improve in a postseason tournament that very few people notice. Indiana has an outstanding basketball history, as everyone knows. The school is one of a handful of “blue-blood” programs with an extended legacy and multiple national championships. But the days of Bob Knight heading a national contender every season are long gone. The program under Tom Crean has gone 101-97 in his six years at the helm. It is true that he inherited an absolute mess upon arrival, but it’s not like the Hoosiers have been at the top of the sport for a significant amount of time only to have one bad season. The horrific teams of Verdell Jones and Tom Pritchard would have killed to have had an opportunity to play in whatever postseason tournament they could get into. You’re not all the way back to complete relevancy by simply having two good seasons out of six.

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Morning Five: 09.23.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 23rd, 2013

morning5

  1. We usually do not pay attention to the announcements of recruits moving teams off their list, but Cliff Alexander‘s announcement that he was taking Kentucky off his list caught our eye. Alexander, the #2 overall recruit in ESPN’s rankings, claims that he took Kentucky off his list because they were no longer expressing interest in him. While it is possible that Kentucky might not be interested in the #2 overall recruit we have to wonder if Alexander’s expressed interest in being a package deal with Jaquan Lyle, the #22 recruit on ESPN’s list, may have been the driving force in Kentucky’s decision to stop pursuing Alexander. We wouldn’t feel too bad for Alexander as the list of schools–Kansas, Arizona, Memphis, and Connecticut–currently pursuing him and that are still high on his and Lyle’s list is pretty impressive, but the package deal may eventually turn a few others off.
  2. Indiana fans can rest a little easier after Robert Johnson committed to Indiana on Friday. Johnson, a 6’3″ guard from Richmond, choose Indiana over North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida State. The addition of a 4-star recruit might not seem like a big deal for a program the caliber of Indiana’s, but given the rough recruiting week the Hoosiers had just experienced (losing out on Isaiah Whitehead and having Ahmed Hill and Stephen Hurt take them off the list) the announcement was a big deal for the program especially when combined with some earlier decommitments by even more highly regarded prospects. The Hoosiers will still need to do some more work to make this year’s recruiting haul a success, but Johnson’s commitment should at least calm down the Indiana fan base.
  3. Even Travis Ford knows that Oklahoma State caught a break when Marcus Smart decided to return for his sophomore year instead of being a likely top-5 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but even he cannot hope for a repeat occurrence next spring. So the announcement that Jeff Newberry would be committing to Oklahoma State is a big one for the program as he appears to be the successor to Smart at the position. Newberry, one of the most highly sought-after point guards in junior college, plans on entering Oklahoma State in time for the 2014-15 season after picking the program over Connecticut and Texas Tech. He originally committed to Ole Miss where he redshirted his freshman season before bouncing around junior colleges.
  4. The news that the medical staff at Wichita State had denied D.J. Bowles medical clearance should not be considered much of a surprise given the fact that he had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator inserted on September 12 after collapsing during a team workout on September 3. To their credit, the school has already stated that they will be honoring his scholarship, which not every school would do. What is unknown is whether Bowles will attempt to go to another school and get clearance as Emmanuel Negedu did when he moved from Tennessee to New Mexico.
  5. Many members of the media latched onto Mike Krzyzewski’s statements to Dana O’Neil and focused on his statements against transfer waivers as an outright statement against student-athletes being able to transfer. What was largely ignored and what Gary Parrish decided to focus on was the second part of Krzyzewski’s statement that he would be ok with transfers being eligible immediately as long as everybody is treated equally. As Parrish points out letting the student-athletes transfer freely wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. We seem to let every other college student transfer freely without any penalty regardless of their scholarship situation (yes, schools do hand out academic scholarships too). Obviously there will be concerns about the system being abused, but it already is and the ones who are being punished are almost always the students. Would it really be that bad if a school got the short end of the stick once?
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Checking in on the… MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC Conferences.

Unlike its black college counterpart, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference knows how to effectively manage its early season maulings. The conference is a combined 15-36 so far, not bad given early season opponents have included Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky and Oklahoma. The MEAC is quickly emerging as one of the mid-major conferences to watch. They may not be primed to run upset city, but they are quickly preparing to take up residence.

THIS WEEK

Hampton University and Morgan State University are the cream of the crop in the MEAC. The two teams have wins over George Mason University and Marshall University, and will begin a stretch of competition against comparable mid-major teams. You know, the Mount Saint Marys and Akron Zips of the world.

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