From LeVert to Dukan: Five Surprising Big Ten Players So Far

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 15th, 2013

Every season always brings new opportunities for unknown players to become known. If a player performs well, he can become a staple in a team’s rotation and see quality minutes during conference play; if not, he could be banished to the end of the bench never to be heard from again. It’s still very early in the year, but here are five Big Ten players who have been pleasant surprises through one week of the season:

Caris LeVert has been tremendous to start the season. (Getty)

Michigan’s Caris LeVert has been tremendous to start the season. (Credit: Getty)

  • Jaylon Tate of Illinois wasn’t even a recruiting target of head coach John Groce last year. But once Illinois lost out to Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State), Groce went after Tate, who was a high school teammate of fellow Illini Kendrick Nunn and Duke’s super freshman Jabari Parker. After Ahmad Stark’s waiver to play immediately was denied, Tate became the full time backup point guard to Tracy Abrams and he has flourished. Tate is averaging nearly 20 minutes per game and leads the team in assists thus far. Don’t be surprised to see Groce playing both point guards together down the stretch. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Morning Five: 01.13.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 13th, 2012

  1. It’s never good to wish away the weekend, but there is a monster match-up awaiting us in the Big 12 on Monday at Phog. Kansas will host undefeated Baylor on the first Big Monday of the season on ESPN, and the Kansas City Star is already gearing up for the contest. The article brings up an interesting perspective: what if Baylor wins? It’s nearly impossible to win in Lawrence, but it’s hard to win in Manhattan too, which Baylor did last week. And if the Bears can win another road game like this, it would be firmly in the driver’s seat for the rest of the Big 12 race. It may only be January, but who says college basketball doesn’t matter until March?
  2. Billy Gillispie has suspended Texas Tech freshman Terran Petteway for one game after officials ejected him from Saturday’s game against Kansas. Petteway, who threw an elbow and received a technical foul in the incident, will return after Saturday’s game against Texas A&M. Petteway is not a major contributor, but he is a promising freshman who plays decent minutes off the bench. Averaging 4.6 points per game, the forward was held scoreless in his past two games against Kansas and Baylor. So perhaps he’ll be able to clear his mind while he’s on the bench this weekend.
  3. Iowa State did not earn the program-changing victory it wanted when it let one slip away against Missouri on Wednesday in Ames, but the Cyclones’ season is still far from a disaster. At 2-1, there’s no doubt Fred Hoiberg has this team playing better basketball. Still, he’s obviously not happy with any moral victory from Wednesday, instead saying his team “threw the game away.” As the article mentions, Iowa State needed to pull a big victory to really get this season rolling. Kansas State did just that by beating Missouri, and now it’s the Cyclones’ turn to make a statement.
  4. Thomas Robinson is good. Like, really good. And he was really good again in a blowout at Texas Tech this weekend, so much that it’s becoming completely normal for him to record a double-double every single night. From here on out, nothing Robinson does will surprise us. He may not have entered the year on anyone’s National POY radar, but he’s a Naismith contender if we’ve ever seen one. According to Bill Self, “the light has come on” during the past month or so especially, which is impressive considering he was playing very well early in the season, too. As Big 12 play rolls on, Robinson’s star status will only continue to grow. With numbers like he has, how can it not?
  5. When tragedies in sports occur, they usually hang in the news for a few days. If it’s significant enough, we may keep talking about it for a week or so. Then, we move on. Well, we’ve moved on from the Oklahoma State plane crash that claimed the lives of staff members for the women’s basketball team, but head coach Kurt Budke‘s son certainly won’t move on for a while. Brett Budke’s dad died in the crash, and his high school basketball team has now dedicated its season to the sophomore’s family. Even after losing nine seniors, the team is actually ranked in the top-10 and could be in store for a special season.
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Big 12 Team Previews: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by dnspewak on November 2nd, 2011

Projected Finish: 10th

2010-11 Record: 13-19, 5-11 (11th, Big 12)

Head Coach: Billy Gillispie, first season

Key Losses: John Roberson (14.1 PPG), Mike Singletary (12.7 PPG), Brad Reese (11.5 PPG), David Tairu (10.0 PPG)

It’s a fresh start at Texas Tech this season in every sense of the phrase. The school fired Pat Knight after a run of mediocrity, and the roster now consists of one returning starter from the 2010-11 team. The top four scorers are gone, and the program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since Bob Knight led it there in 2006-07. So why the sense of optimism right now in Lubbock? It’s all for one reason: the hiring of new coach Billy Gillispie. After successful tenures at both UTEP and Texas A&M (and a decent two years at Kentucky that most other schools would accept), Gillispie is tailor-made for this job. At this point, his roster is bare: nine freshmen and only a few recognizable faces. The 2011-12 campaign may be difficult, but it won’t stay that way for long.

Gillispie Will Attempt to Rehabiltate His Image in Lubbock

The Stars: This team revolves around forward Robert Lewandowski, the only player on the team who averaged more than 13 minutes per game last season after starting 26 games. As the only senior on the roster, he’s also never been a primary scoring option. However, he’s a big, strong center with a decent defensive presence, and he’s a smart player who makes high-percentage shots. Plus, Lewandowski also lost 25 pounds this offseason, which means he’ll be significantly more mobile. The lighter frame should also help with his stamina, as he seemed to wear down toward the end of last year. He doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional “star,” but he’s got to emerge as the go-to option this season. If not, Tech’s going to have a heck of a time scoring on the offensive end.

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