Yarina: My All-Big Ten most improved team
We’re fast approaching the end of the regular season, so that means it’s time to start considering an All-Big Ten most improved team. Who would make your 2013-14 team? Mine is headlined by a quartet of sophomores, including Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Nik Stauskas. See my full team, plus vote for your most improved player, in this post.
G: Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. Ferrell has done a masterful job picking up the scoring load in the absence of last season’s four 1,000-point scorers. Don’t hold the sophomore’s drop in assists or rise in turnovers against him, either, because the former is the result of Indiana lacking other consistent scorers and the latter is the product of having the ball in his hands far more often.
2012-13 stats: 40%; 7.6 ppg; 2.8 rpg; 4.1 apg; 0.8 spg; 2.1 topg
2013-14 stats: 43%; 17.9 ppg; 2.9 rpg; 3.7 apg; 0.7 spg; 2.6 topg
G: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. A week or two ago, I tweeted that Valentine and Nigel Hayes will be battling for Big Ten Player of the Year in a couple years. It was a bold claim, but whoever Valentine’s main competitors are, I like his chances. This is an exciting/flashy player who has triple-double ability and a game that should continue to develop.
2012-13 stats: 45%; 5.0 ppg; 4.1 rpg; 2.4 apg; 0.8 spg; 0.3 bpg; 2 topg
2013-14 stats: 41%; 8.3 ppg; 6.3 rpg; 3.9 apg; 1.1 spg; 0.4 bpg; 1.8 topg
G/F: Caris LeVert, Michigan. My coworker Stephen Bardo is trying his best to spread the LeVert love, and it’s a pretty easy sell. The sophomore has gone from an huge afterthought to Michigan’s second-best player. Yes, better than NBA prospect Glenn Robinson III.
2012-13 stats: 32%; 2.3 ppg; 1.1 rpg; 0.8 apg; 02. spg; 0.1 bpg
2013-14 stats: 44%; 13.3 ppg; 4.4 rpg; 2.7 apg; 1.2 spg; 0.3 bpg
G/F: Nik Stauskas, Michigan. Perhaps you’ve heard Michigan lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the NBA, plus Mitch McGary to injury? Despite being without all of that top-end talent, Stuaskas, somehow, has improved his efficiency and is Michigan’s best distributor. The only complaint would be his recent four game funk, in which he averaged an inexplicable six shots per game.
2012-13 stats: 46%; 11.0 ppg; 3.0 rpg; 1.3 apg; 0.6 spg; 1.1 topg
2013-14 stats: 49%; 17.0 ppg; 3.4 rpg; 3.5 apg; 0.7 spg; 1.9 topg
C: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. Sam Dekker gets most of the headlines, but Kaminsky has been Wisconsin’s most productive and most complete player. Who predicted that in the preseason? Exactly. The fact Kaminsky’s improved shouldn’t surprise – he is a Bo Ryan big, after all – but no one could have predicted this kind of jump. I mean, he’s 54 percent from the field despite shooting 64 3-pointers.
2012-13 stats: 44%; 4.2 ppg; 1.8 rpg; 0.8 apg; 0.4 spg; 0.5 bpg
2013-14 stats: 54%; 13.2 ppg; 6.4 rpg; 1.3 apg; 0.7 spg; 1.7 bpg
|About Brent Yarina||BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.|