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 Ruleesque 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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Morning Five: 03.31.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 31st, 2011

  1. Despite multiple premature reports to the contrary Matt Painter decided to stay at Purdue as he turned down Missouri‘s soft deadline (note to other programs without a real draw–don’t try to play hardball when you have no bargaining power). We still aren’t sure why everybody was so concerned that Painter would leave Purdue as we can’t think of a single advantage the Missouri job wold offer over Purdue especially given the current state of the two programs. Despite the Missouri administration’s attempts to throw out big names as potential replacements for Mike Anderson we expect that they will probably end up having to hire a coach from a mid-major program or an assistant coach looking to get his big break.
  2. Along the same lines all the athletic directors out there can stop calling Buzz Williams as the Marquette coach signed an extension. Williams had been named as a potential candidate for several jobs including Oklahoma and Arkansas, but in the end he decided to stay in the Big East despite the team’s competitive disadvantage against other team’s in the conference due to its location. Details regarding the extension are not available at this time, but we are pretty sure that Williams was well taken care of by the Marquette administration.
  3. We are going to start sounding like a broken record pretty soon, but another underclassman decided to declare for the NBA Draft yesterday without hiring an agent. This time it was Boston College guard Reggie Jackson who opted to explore his NBA prospects. Unlike some of the other recent players to semi-declare Jackson is in a rather interesting position as he could potentially play his way into the first round at which point he would face a dilemma as to whether or not to leave his name in without being a guaranteed 1st round pick despite what any NBA executive might tell him.
  4. Two Penn State basketball players–Tre Bowman and Taran Buie–were charged yesterday for their involvement in a fight last month that also involved two members of the football team. Buie didn’t contribute to this year’s team as he was suspended in December while Bowman played sparingly as a freshman last year, but will probably be expected to help pick up the enormous void left by the departure of Talor Battle.
  5. The Kansas basketball team may have had a difficult day on Sunday when they were upset by VCU, but that pales in comparison to Kassie Liebsch, one of seven former employees of the athletic department involved in a ticket scam the funneled tickets to brokers and other individuals in return for financial compensation. While two of her co-defendents pleaded out and were sentenced to probation for failing to report the crime to authorities, Liebsch was sentenced to 37 months in prison as well as having to pay back nearly $1.5 million. Four of her other co-defendents are still awaiting sentencing.
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