Rushed Reactions: #10 Ohio State 71, Nebraska 50

Posted by WCarey on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center following Friday’s matchup between Ohio State and Nebraska. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Three Key Takeaways.

osu nebraskas big ten tourney 13

  1. Ohio State is definitely peaking at the right time. Thad Matta’s squad suffered an embarrassing 22-point setback at Wisconsin on February 17 and since then, it has been a different team. The Buckeyes entered the Big Ten Tournament on a hot steak, as they had won their final five games of the regular season. During this winning streak, the Buckeyes notched their signature win of the season by going on the road and defeating Big Ten champions Indiana in convincing fashion.  That hot streak continued Friday in their quarterfinal victory over Nebraska. It is always a good thing in college basketball when you play your best at the end of the season and it sure seems like that is the case for the Buckeyes right now. If Ohio State is able to continue its strong play, it has a legitimate chance at winning the Big Ten Tournament and there is no telling what its ceiling might be in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
  2. Ohio State’s experience is quite evident. The notion that only experienced seniors can hold leadership roles is a common misconception that exists throughout collegiate athletics. Take Ohio State for instance – Reserve big man Evan Ravenel is the only senior on the Buckeyes, but the team does has several experienced contributors. Juniors Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. were all starters on the Buckeyes team that reached last season’s Final Four. Both Craft and Thomas have been playing major roles for the team since the day they stepped foot on campus. The experience and leadership of Ravenel, Craft, Thomas, and Smith Jr. has provided players like LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, and Amir Williams with a calming presence as they continue to develop their games. Experience is definitely worth something in March and that is good news for Ohio State. Read the rest of this entry »
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 25th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. Ohio State’s Sam Thompson getting so high on this alley-oop against Michigan State on Sunday that he was literally staring at the rim when he got the ball. That would have been enough, but then he chose to hammer home right on a poor Michigan State defender – just for kicks. Definitely one of the more impressive athletic plays I’ve seen this year.

Sam Thompson is not shy about attacking the rim

I LOVED…. the hilariousness that is Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery on set. In this week’s gift from above, Raftery comically asks Bilas if he’s “ever been ridden” before. Take a look – it’s just too much.

I LOVED…. everyone realizing that Miami can be very, very average – or in this case, downright bad in a loss to a Wake Forest team that was 4-9 in the ACC going into Saturday. If Miami and Gonzaga somehow play their way into #1-seeds, I don’t think it’s overkill to say that they could be two of the more susceptible #1-seeds ever for a first-round upset. And Miami could even be the likelier of the two because of how much they love the three-ball.

I LOVED…. glancing at the Georgetown schedule and having my jaw slowly drop lower and lower as I looked at their defensive efficiency during this very impressive nine-game winning streak. Check it out – since losing to South Florida on January 19, the Hoyas have allowed 47, 51, 52, 56, 63, 55, 55, 66 and 46 points. That’s pretty stingy, and it bodes well for a Tournament run if they can continue mustering enough offense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten M5: 02.01.13 Edition

Posted by KTrahan on February 1st, 2013

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  1. Before the season, Keith Appling wasn’t even a Michigan State captain. Tom Izzo was looking at the veteran point guard to become a leader on an off the court for the Spartans, who had lost last year’s emotional leader Draymond Green. Appling has now earned captain status and Izzo has noticed a big change from his junior point guard. Izzo said Appling is doing a better job of communicating on the floor and showing his confidence after sitting down with former MSU point guard Mateen Cleaves. Appling learned to fight through adversity after a rough past, and now he’s doing it on the court, becoming the leader Izzo had hoped for at the beginning of the season.
  2. Ohio State has had trouble finding players outside of Deshaun Thomas, Sam Thompson and Aaron Craft to step up this season. The Buckeyes certainly have talent, but its supporting players — Shannon Scott, Amir Williams and LaQuinton Ross, to name a few — haven’t been consistent. That has resulted in inconsistent playing time among that bunch. OSU has been searching for an alternative offensive option to Thompson and it appears it may have found its answer in Ross. Ross has seen the court much more recently, and part of that is due to his improved listening to coach Thad Matta. He’s taking in more direction from the coaching staff, and subsequently seeing more of the floor.
  3. There aren’t many legitimate criticisms of No. 1 Michigan right now, considering how the Wolverines have been playing. However, people are always trying to find something wrong with top teams, so the common criticism of UM in recent weeks is that its roster isn’t deep enough. After all, the Wolverines rank 326th in the country in bench minutes, according to Ken Pomeroy. But part of the reason the Wolverines don’t go to their bench much is that the starters have played so well. Now though, in the wake of Jordan Morgan’s injury, Michigan is proving that it has enough depth. Jon Horford started the Wolverines’ game against Northwestern earlier this week and gave his team solid minutes, while freshman Mitch McGary also played well. Michigan may not have a star big man, but its frontcourt has proven it can play well this year, even without Morgan manning the paint.
  4. The press has been Minnesota’s best friend and its worst enemy this season. After struggling with its execution earlier in non-conference play, the Gophers’ press worked very well against Nebraska, returning to the form we saw during the non-conference season. Minnesota struggled to press against teams that like to slow things down like Northwestern and Wisconsin, but the Gophers were able to be successful against Nebraska, which employs the same tempo strategy. The bigger issue against the Wildcats and Badgers was their failure to execute in other areas of the game, such as free throw shooting. That prevented the Gophers from ever going all out with the press in those contests.
  5. It’s tough to find a bright spot out of a 97-60 loss, especially a home loss to your rival when coming off a solid win. However, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons was a bright spot for the Boilermakers in their drubbing at the hands of Indiana earlier this week. Hammons was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, but like most freshman big men, he has been inconsistent in his first college season. However, he was exceptional against Indiana, scoring 30 points and blocking five shots in 28 minutes, showing the potential we’re likely to see from him down the road. While he didn’t get much help against the Hoosiers, his consistency will be key to how Purdue finishes its season.
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Previewing Wisconsin-Ohio State: All Eyes on Deshaun Thomas

Posted by jnowak on January 29th, 2013

Here are a few coinciding items pertinent to Tuesday night’s Wisconsin-Ohio State game:

  1. Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten.
  2. Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is one of the best, if not the best, scorer in the Big Ten.
  3. Beyond Thomas, Ohio State doesn’t have much consistent scoring to rely upon.
This man is the focal point for Ohio State every game. Wisconsin should have that in its scouting report Tuesday.

This man is the focal point for Ohio State every game. Wisconsin should have that in its scouting report Tuesday.

That, in a nutshell, is what to keep an eye on Tuesday when the two teams meet in Columbus. Wisconsin has been an enigma this season, struggling through most of its non-conference schedule before apparently getting its act together at the beginning of Big Ten play. But they’ve suffered some puzzling losses while also managing to win back-to-back games without eclipsing 50 points for the first time in 16 years. Ohio State, meanwhile, has won most of the games it’s been expected to, but faltered in most of the marquee match-ups. In a talent-laden conference like this one, that’s not going to get them very far this year. But on a smaller scale, let’s take a slightly closer look at Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas conundrum and how it impacts both these teams.

There are essentially two ways you can play Ohio State. You can let Thomas get somewhere around his scoring average — he scores a Big Ten-best 20.0 PPG — while limiting the rest of the Buckeyes. Lenzelle Smith Jr., LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson are all possible second scoring options (with all due respect to Aaron Craft, who is a terrific point guard, but that is not his role), though none have performed with any consistency. Only one of them averages in double-figures (Smith, just barely, with 10.2 PPG) and, consequently, the Buckeyes are one of just two conference teams without two players in the Big Ten’s top 30 in scoring (Purdue is the other). Yes, Penn State, winless in Big Ten play, has two players in the league’s top seven. And Nebraska, nearly as bad as the Nittany Lions, has three in the top 20. But I digress.

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Big Ten M5: 01.28.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on January 28th, 2013

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  1. There may not be a player in the country as impactful as Indiana‘s Victor Oladipo, and that talent was on display Sunday in a huge win against Michigan State at Assembly Hall. Oladipo is essentially the college basketball equivalent of a five-tool player, with the ability to defend, get in the passing lane, pick up loose balls, rebound, score off the dribble and with the jump shot, and make other teammates better with his play-making (and, yes, that’s more than five tools). So why hasn’t his name come up quite as much in the National Player of the Year conversation? Cody Zeller is Indiana’s poster child for the award, but Oladipo has thrived in late-game clutch situations while Zeller has fallen into the shadows. The big man was a non-factor against the Spartans while the guard was the Hoosiers’ difference-maker.
  2. It’s hard to figure where we stand at this point with Minnesota, one of the most polarizing teams in college basketball. The Gophers started the season red hot and emerged as one of the country’s early bright spots. It looked like Tubby Smith would have his best Minnesota club by far — and perhaps the best collection of talent he, himself, had assembled in his career — before the overachieving Gophers hit this current rough patch. So do we chalk this up to us overestimating them early in the non-conference slate? Or is this just the gauntlet that is the Big Ten? Is Minnesota still Final Four-worthy? With all the ups and downs we’ve seen over the course of the first few months, we may not know until all is said and done in April.
  3. For a while now, we’ve known there are two ways to play Ohio State — you either let Deshaun Thomas get his average and try to limit the other players, or try to limit Thomas while letting the supporting cast get its due. Well, Penn State may have thought it would get away with the latter strategy before Sam Thompson and Lenzelle Smith Jr. emerged in the Buckeyes’ 65-51 win over the weekend. The question that remains know is whether Ohio State can maintain this level of scoring from the role players on the team while Thomas still manages his average on a regular basis. If that’s the case, Ohio State probably goes from a Sweet Sixteen-caliber team back to a repeat Final Four candidate.
  4. At long last, Tom Shatel writes, there is a pulse in Nebraska basketball. You could see it in the Huskers largely thanks to coach Tim Miles‘ energy in their win against Northwestern this weekend, and it could be the sign of better things to come for a program that has never been known for its hoops and has the tall order of trying to build itself in the super-tough Big Ten. “Maybe it shouldn’t be amazing,” Shatel wrote for the Omaha World-Herald. “Maybe it should be embarrassing, the idea of cheering effort, celebrating any win. But those who have been around this program for the past depressing decade know the real score: Any pulse is better than no pulse.”
  5. Through something that has been unspeakably ugly for a few games now, Bo Ryan is finding a way to — believe it or not — laugh. Ryan, not known in college basketball circles as a particularly jovial guy, has found reason to grin in the wake of Wisconsin‘s horrible shooting performances of late, including after a close win against Minnesota. In the last two home games, the Badgers shot 33 percent overall, 30.2 percent from the three-point line and 42.3 percent from the free throw line… and still managed a split against a pair of ranked foes.
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Night Line: Buckeyes Hold Serve at Purdue, But Plenty Left To Prove

Posted by BHayes on January 9th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Any Big Ten road win accrued this season holds value, as the conference is an especially treacherous version of its normally solid self here in 2012-13. So kudos Ohio State; you went into West Lafayette tonight and gave the home team only a few sniffs of the upset they sought, and in the process earned your first Big Ten road victory of the year. Purdue may be young and a year or two away from Big Ten relevancy, but good teams will exit Mackey Arena losers this winter; this game was far from an automatic W. Praise the workmanlike effort tonight from Thad Matta’s bunch, but do not mistake it for a cure-all to the recent ails of the Buckeyes. For Ohio State to live up to both preseason expectations and the standard set by Buckeye squads of years past, the performances in the statement games must improve – beginning on Saturday, when arch-rival and undefeated #2 Michigan arrives in Columbus. But does this Ohio State team have it in them?

Deshaun Thomas Is Averaging 20 A Game, But Are Other Buckeyes Ready To Help Shoulder The Load?

Deshaun Thomas Is Averaging 20 PPG, But Are Other Buckeyes Ready To Help Shoulder The Load?

Like it or not Buckeyes, the recent success of your program has created a standard of significant height, one that can really only be matched by a handful of programs across the country. That recent excellence, combined with the returns of starters Aaron Craft, Deshaun Thomas, and Lenzelle Smith prompted pollsters to rank Ohio State fourth this preseason, and few blinked an eye. The Buckeyes have done nothing that ranks as truly cringe-worthy thus far, but they also can’t lay claim to a victory over a team likely to make the NCAA Tournament field (unless you are bullish on Washington winning some games in the Pac-12). Ohio State has also whiffed on their three big-time chances for statement Ws (at Duke, Kansas, at Illinois). The polarizing nature of the schedule is partially to blame here, as Craft and company have had no opportunities to prove their worth against solid Tournament teams (giving Illinois the benefit of the doubt here as “elite,” partially because that game was in Champaign). Still, we are comfortably into the New Year and Ohio State, a team some still consider to be among the nation’s best, has absolutely nothing of major substance on that resume.

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Big Ten M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on November 9th, 2012

  1. The preseason top 50 players for the Wooden Award has been announced and nine Big Ten players were included on the list. The full list can be found here but clearly the B1G dominates the list which should come as no surprise because there are five teams ranked in the Top 25 from the league. Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State have two players each on the team, while Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Illinois’ Brandon Paul and Penn State’s Tim Frazier round the up the rest of the nine. Paul and Frazier might not lead their teams to the NCAA Tournament but both of them are expected to stuff the stat sheets and should average at least 15 PPG this season.
  2. Speaking of Indiana, Tom Crean is hoping that the suspensions of Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin will be reduced after the NCAA hears their appeals. Both freshmen were suspended for nine games for accepting benefits from a booster. After losing Derek Elston for a few weeks due to an injury, Crean needs their help in the frontcourt to protect and complement Cody Zeller. The Hoosiers won’t struggle too badly without them but a long suspension will derail their plans to improve by conference season with a full rotation of players. Indiana’s game against North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, for example, will be tough but they have enough talent to overcome the Tar Heels without these two freshmen.
  3. The college hoops season tips off today with Michigan State battling Connecticut at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. This is a big game for Tom Izzo not just professionally but also at a personal level. One of Izzo’s relatives, Michael Izzo, works at the commissary office and will meet the head coach along with his family. Izzo is also happy that the troops overseas will get to see an exciting match-up between two historic programs in college hoops. As for the game itself, Michigan State’s Gary Harris will showcase his talents for the first time on the national stage and the Spartans will look to lock down the Connecticut backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright if they want to pull of an opening win today.
  4. Ohio State is considered a top 10 team in the country mainly due to the talents of Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. Not only do the Buckeyes have two potential All-Americans on their roster but they also have great depth at the wing position. Thad Matta will wait until tonight’s tipoff to decide who starts at the small forward position for the season opener against Marquette. Sam Thompson and Laquinton Ross are the finalists for that spot and both are great choices due to their gifted athleticism. Ross was highly ranked out of high school and is supposed to have great offensive skills while Thompson is a very tough defender. Lenzelle Smith Jr. will play at the scoring guard position alongside Aaron Craft in the backcourt.
  5. Minnesota’s Tubby Smith has to be glad that the season is finally here after all of the off-court troubles he’s had to deal with over the last couple of months. But on the flip side, he will also be under intense scrutiny to perfrom and the fans will expect him to show some results on the court. He is owed $2 million this season and needs to prove that he is worth such a big paycheck. Trevor Mbakwe is definitely confident that the Gophers will prove their worth on the court and he has a great supporting cast as well. Rodney Williams can get to the basket in several different ways and Andre Hollins will be great on the perimeter. Smith needs to win consistently over the next two months to divert all of the negative attention back to winning actual basketball games and prove that he has control of the program.
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Big Ten Team Previews: Ohio State Buckeyes

Posted by KTrahan on October 30th, 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 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Where We Left Off: Last season, Ohio State got off to an impressive start, beating No. 8 Florida in the second game of the season and blowing out No. 4 Duke by 22 points in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. However, a Jared Sullinger injury brought the Buckeyes back to earth in Lawrence, Kansas, and they dealt with some periodic inconsistency in the Big Ten. However, OSU still made a run in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Cincinnati and Syracuse en route to a Final Four loss against that same Kansas team. The Buckeyes lost Sullinger and William Buford, but return a number of returning solid players, putting them in position for yet another deep NCAA Tournament run.

Thad Matta Has Gotten to the Point of Annual Final Four Expectations in Columbus

Positives: The biggest positive on Ohio State is how much talent the Buckeyes return. You know you’re a good team when you can bury top recruits on the bench and still have one of the best teams in the country. Junior forward DeShaun Thomas is a favorite to become this season’s breakout player of the year and OSU also returns top junior point guard and defensive dynamo Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes also have a lot of talent in junior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who was somewhat inconsistent last year, but showed his potential at times. Add in sophomore forward Sam Thompson and sophomore center Amir Williams, and this could still be the most talented lineup in the Big Ten. If OSU can put things together by the end of the season, this will be a very dangerous team in March again.

Negatives: What this Ohio State team has in talent, it lacks in experience. Craft is experienced at his position by now, and while Thomas brings a lot of hype, he wasn’t a superstar last year. Then there are Smith and Thompson, who were at best inconsistent last season, and center Amir Williams, who is also talented but barely played last year. The story is the same on the bench, with players like LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott, both highly-touted recruits who have yet to prove themselves on a college floor. This team is full of talent but short on experience, and in college basketball, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

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Who’s Got Next? Elite Talents Commit, Top Classes Crumble and Prospects Discuss Realignment

Posted by Josh Paunil on September 28th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a 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. Once 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 at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Head coaches around the country are watching their top recruiting classes crumble before their eyes. Elite prospects are beginning to commit to big-name schools, initiating the domino affect across the college basketball recruiting world. Recruits are also speaking out on conference realignment and how it will affect their college decision. The first fall edition of Who’s Got Next? brings you this and more as we draw closer and closer to the fall signing period in November.

What They’re Saying

  • Wichita Heights head coach Joe Auer on senior Perry Ellis committing to Kansas: “He (Ellis) adores [Kansas assistant] coach [Danny] Manning, he watched how he handled the Morris twins. He was studious in watching how they developed.”
  • Senior shooting guard Archie Goodwin on committing to Kentucky: “He (head coach John Calipari) told me he wants me bad and I’m a top recruit for him. No matter what, he wants the ball in my hands and he feels like me committing will probably get the ball rolling for the rest of the class. It’s got to start somewhere.”
  • Junior shooting guard Brannen Greene on conference realignment: “I don’t care what conference I play in, I’m more so looking at the program. I think it’s great for the ACC [though] and it’s a shocker. If UConn and Louisville were to join, it would be an amazingly competitive conference!”
  • Junior point guard Isaiah Lewis on conference realignment: “It matters in my recruitment a lot. Certain schools that are recruiting me may go to a conference that I don’t think fits my game. I’ve been hearing a lot, I’m hearing Kansas may go Big East, West Virginia is going to the SEC and UConn is going to the ACC.”
  • Junior small forward Troy Williams on conference realignment: “It doesn’t affect my recruitment, they’re all moving to better conferences to get players and play better teams.”
  • Junior power forward Chris Walker on setting his decision date: “After I commit, I’m hoping to get someone like [Class of 2013 guys]  [center] Nerlens Noel, [shooting guard] Brannen Greene, [guards] Andrew and Aaron Harrison, [power forward] Julius Randle, [point guard] Kasey Hill or [small forward] Jabari Parker to come with me.”
  • Sophomore stud Jahlil Okafor on his recruitment: “I’m a big fan of Kentucky, but I haven’t heard from them. I really like what Kentucky has to offer. They have a lot of history, and they have a track-record for getting players to the NBA, and that is my ultimate goal. They also have a great fan base and the entire state is high on basketball. Ohio State has been recruiting me pretty hard, but Arizona, Georgetown and Illinois are right in there too.”

What Alex Poythress Is Saying

  • On Kentucky: “Kentucky is a good school, I like their offense. Coach [John] Calipari is a good coach. He’s a pretty good guy. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s been around basketball a long time.”
  • On Vanderbilt: “Vandy has been recruiting me for a long time. I’m close with the coaching staff.”
  • On Memphis: “Memphis is a basketball city. I like how it’s a basketball city and they play up-tempo ball.”
  • On Florida: “Florida is a good school. Coach [Billy] Donovan is a good coach. I like how they use their wings.”
  • On Duke being dropped from his list: “Actually, they said they weren’t recruiting me anymore. They sent me an email saying they were going to back out of recruiting me so I said, ‘OK.'”

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RTC Summer Updates: Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 8th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Big Ten correspondent, Will Green.

Readers’ Take

Summer Storylines 

  • Sully’s Back, But With Demands – In the year 2011, in the age of ‘now,’ in a profit-first educate-yourself-later society, amidst a flittering of teenage NBA draft picks, ferocious freshman phenomenon Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school. How quaint. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing quaint about Sullinger, his (rightly) assumed sense of on-court leadership, his brutally physical style of play, or that Ja Rule-esque snarl that makes him look like a squirrel who just ate a questionable nut. But seriously, it’s highly unlikely that anyone other than Jordan Taylor will stand in the way of Sullinger winning the Big Ten Player of the Year Award, and rightfully so. He has spent the better part of the off-season slimming down and getting faster. The best player on the best team in the conference simply can’t suffer a slump; he’s worked too hard and has clearly made a commitment to improving his game before leaving for the pros. The question is less about what Sullinger’s level of performance will be than it is about the effect his performance will have on other members of his team. Last year, his 17 /10 were a reflection of consistent contribution that was also part of a greater team-wide cohesion. Jon Diebler, David Lighty and even Dallas Lauderdale each had pronounced and vital roles on last year’s team. They’re all gone now. While some of the supporting cast and several new stars-in-the-making will join Sullinger, will increased reliance upon him make OSU more of a one-man show? Or will the Buckeyes continue to roll out a team-focused squad with four scorers in double figures and a core group of five guys who notch 30 minutes a game? Whatever happens, Sullinger will be back and he will be better than last year. Consider yourself warned.
  • Welcome, Nebraska – On July 1, Nebraska officially joined the B1G, an acronym whose ludicrousness we continue to subconsciously validate by pronouncing it ‘Bih-one-ggg’. If you’re scoring at home, UNL’s entry makes for 12 teams in the Big Ten, a conference that shouldn’t be confused with the Big 12, which only has ten teams now since Nebraska left it. Now that we’ve all scratched our heads for second, we should pause to consider how massive the amount of potential football revenue must have been to persuade the intransigent Big Ten to alter its ranks. The Cornhuskers’ inclusion marks only the second change in league makeup since the 1950s. So how will the other 11 schools adjust to the adjustment? Football-wise, they should all watch their backs. On the basketball court, though, it probably won’t have a big (or should we say, a ‘B1G’) impact. Sadly for Husker fans, their roundball team loses two of their top three scorers and has some major offensive issues to solve in a league whose tempo of play limits even the country’s very best offenses. Head coach Doc Sadler continues to recruit a healthy mix of transfers and high school players, but over his five-year tenure nine of them have left due to reasons other than matriculation or the NBA. Nebraska has had some encouraging moments in recent years, including a five game improvement in Big 12 play from 2009 to 2010 (from 2-14 to 7-9). The team’s defensive efficiency would’ve finished fourth and it’s adjusted tempo would’ve finished fourth slowest in last year’s Big Ten. In some respects, Nebraska feels like a perfect match for the conference. And yet, for many of those same reasons, it might be a little out-matched in its first few years.
  • Ed DeChellis Leaves For Navy – Nowadays, stories like these are rarer than that bloody slice of carpaccio you once had at a fancy restaurant: a coach leaving a higher paying, higher-infrastructure, higher strength-of-schedule situation for a middle of the pack team in a unambiguously low-major conference. Make no mistake: Ed DeChellis didn’t become the new head coach at Navy. He stopped being the head coach at Penn State. Unless they’re ousted via scandal or especially egregious results you simply don’t hear about power six coaches voluntarily leaving for a “lesser” job. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. Or is it? The answer to that question centers around just how much “less” of a job the Navy coaching position really is, and if anything DeChellis might have done warranted the move. The wink-wink nudge-nudge consensus is that while DeChellis didn’t necessarily knock anyone’s socks off, the school refuses to take basketball seriously. Some have lambasted the athletic department’s commitment to DeChellis and the program overall at a school that’s known best for intense linebackers and an 84 year-old Italian-American man. It will be interesting to observe new head coach Patrick Chambersin his first few seasons and see whether or not he runs into a similar set of struggles as DeChellis did during his tenure. If the holistic drawbacks of coaching in University Park really outweigh the benefits to the extent that someone would walk away from the position, then PSU has bigger problems to fix than figuring out how to win in the Big Ten this season. But if anyone can overcome whatever said “drawbacks” may or may not be, it’s Chambers.

    The Buckeyes, led by big man Jared Sullinger, are easy favorites in the Big Ten.

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Conference Report Card: Big Ten

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 13th, 2011


John Templon is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap

  • Coming into the season, the Big Ten was considered the best conference in America. Michigan State was expected to be in the Final Four again and Purdue, Ohio State, and Illinois were expected to be among the nation’s elite. Then the season started and the conference slipped a bit. The Big Ten didn’t live up to its lofty billing, with the exception of Ohio State, which sat at #1 in the polls for a large part of the season. Of course, Robbie Hummel’s knee injury didn’t help Purdue. Illinois wilted under the weight of too much talent and not enough leadership, whereas Michigan State just never seemed to find its footing against a difficult schedule.
  • As conference play went on, all the teams beat up on each other, creating a mess in the middle and leading to four teams (Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State and Penn State) receiving seeds between 8-10 in the NCAA Tournament. The conference went 2-2 in those games. But the disappointment in the NCAA Tournament came from the top seeds that failed to live up to expectations. Ohio State, the #1 overall seed, was dispatched by Kentucky in the Sweet 16 in Newark. Then again, that was better than Purdue managed to do, as the Boilermakers fell to VCU in Chicago. Wisconsin made it to New Orleans, but Brad Stevens outcoached Bo Ryan and the Badgers lost to a lower-seeded team once again.
  • Those losses meant the Big Ten finished a season of much promise with zero teams in the Elite Eight. Much like the conference’s well-publicized bowl game problems, the postseason left a sour taste after many teams played good basketball during the regular season.

The postseason was a struggle for everyone in the Big Ten, even Final Four regular Tom Izzo and his Spartans, which had to make a late run to even crack the field.

Team-by-Team Grades

A’s:

  • Michigan (A): Before the season the Wolverines were expected to compete with Iowa and Indiana to avoid the basement in the Big Ten standings. By the end of it, they were scaring #1 seed Duke in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a remarkable job by JohnBeilein to get a young team ready to play. Darius Morris was the engine of the turnaround. The sophomore point guard scored 15.0 points per game and dished out 6.7 assists per game while leading a team composed of mostly freshman and sophomores. Tim HardawayJr., a freshman, was the team’s only other double-digit scorer at 13.9 points per game. Michigan didn’t have a single senior on its roster this season and, with two more talented backcourt recruits in CarltonBrundidge and TreyBurke coming in, it appears to be ready to be a big player in the conference moving forward although they are still waiting on Morris to officially decide on whether he will enter the NBA Draft.
  • Ohio State (A-): The Buckeyes didn’t get it done in the NCAA Tournament, but they were the #1 team in the polls for most of the season and had the best freshman in the country in Jared Sullinger. The loss to Kentucky certainly put a damper on the season. Still, Ohio State went 34-3 with its only two regular season losses being at Purdue and Wisconsin in conference play. David Lighty, DallasLauderdale, and JonDiebler all graduate, but if Sullinger is serious about sticking around the Buckeyes will be a national title favorite again next season. Especially considering they have two McDonald’s All-Americans in point guard ShannonScott and center AmirWilliams coming in along with small forwards SamThompson and LaQuintonRoss. It’s Thad Matta’s typical reload instead of rebuild plan.
  • Penn State (A-): Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade makes the Nittany Lions’ season a success. Even though they lost to in-state rival Temple in the second round, 66-64, it was a thrilling game to end a satisfying season that included victories over Wisconsin (twice), Illinois, and Michigan State (twice). Oh, and a loss to Maine. Talor Battle finally got his chance to go to the NCAA Tournament and finished his career with 2,213 points, 624 rebounds, and 517 assists. He’ll certainly be missed next season along with frontcourt veterans David Jackson and JeffBrooks. Thus, Penn State has some size coming in with two 6’11 centers in PatAckerman and PeterAlexis, but the program is probably due for a bit of a backslide.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.20.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 20th, 2010

Dear NCAA,
We promise that we have not had any contact with recruits outside the parameters set forth by your upstanding institution.

Sincerely,
Rush the Court

  • Obviously the big news this past week has been the punishment of Bruce Pearl and the effect it would have on Tennessee‘s ability to recruit. It looks like some players including RTC favorite Adonis Thomas are beginning to express some reservations about going to a school that is sure to be closely followed by the NCAA.
  • The big actual recruiting news is that Arizona landed Josiah Turner, the #3 ranked point guard in this year’s class. Now Sean Miller faces an interesting dilemma — how to fit all his scholarship players onto a roster in light of the NCAA sanctions against them stemming from the Lute Olson era. One of the recruits that many expect the Wildcats to be in contention for is LeBryan Nash, but it appears like the talented small forward is leaning towards Oklahoma State over Arizona, Kansas, and Baylor.

    Sean Miller will be counting on Turner to turn the Wildcats around

  • Speaking of point guards. . . Austin Rivers, the de facto #1 point guard in the country and possibly the top player in the country, has narrowed his list down to three schools — Duke, UNC, and Kansas – after eliminating Florida from consideration. Some are speculating that Duke, which many consider to be the leader in the Rivers sweepstakes, could land both Rivers and Quinn Cook. [Ed. Note: Is Coach K cool with his star player and a potential recruit hanging out with Michael Beasley, a player of questionable character?]
  • Ohio State received a commitment from Sam Thompson, one of the top small forwards in this year’s class, with a little help from Evan Turner, who apparently has been texting Thompson to convince him to go to Columbus [Ed. Note: Is this allowed by the NCAA?].
  • With all of these top recruits committing it is interesting and somewhat refreshing to see Norvel Pelle, the #2 center in this year’s senior class, just beginning to take home visits.
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