Nice piece by Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com on how the Big Ten is excelling at developing NBA players. It’s also nice that most are guys who stayed at least two years. Lesmerises says it’s those guys in the middle – good enough to go early but not sprinting out the door from day one – who have elevated the play in the Big Ten.
Can’t get enough college player union talk? Good. Here’s more: David Jones of Pennlive.com talked to a law professor about Northwestern’s fight to unionize. Long story short: expect a long battle. Jones writes that “many hoops remain through which the process must jump before we see college athletic unions at even the private institutional level, let alone for public universities such as Penn State. Even if NU players vote to unionize, there certainly will be appeals.”
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The Big Ten released its ABC/ESPN schedule of night games. And—big shock—Ohio State led the way with three prime-time slots. Nebraska and Penn State each have two. Michigan and Michigan State have one, while Iowa and Wisconsin have none. Weird how Iowa hasn’t had one since 2009.
Badgers quarterback Joel Stave missed the Wisconsin spring game with injury. And Tanner McEvoy took advantage by excelling. It has been a weird career for McEvoy, who arrived from a JC as a quarterback, moved to safety and is now back at quarterback.
Uh-oh: Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave has been shut down for the rest of spring practice with a shoulder issue. He says he’ll be OK for fall camp. Too bad. Stave needed all the work he could get after an, ahem, uneven 2013 season. Tanner McEvoy has assumed the No. 1 chair. The quarterback spot in Madison bears watching.
UConn’s win last night showed how good Michigan State could have been. Don’t follow? Well, it’s about guard play. The Huskies rolled to the title behind the backcourt tandem of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. The Spartans had a similarly skilled backcourt in Keith Appling and Gary Harris.
Wisconsin’s season ended one game short of the national title game. The loss to Kentucky on Saturday was close, painful and soon won’t be forgotten in Madison. Still, as Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, there are many good memories from one of the best seasons in school annals.
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How about those Minnesota Gophers! In his first year on the job, Richard Pitino led the Golden Gophers to the NIT title, as Minnesota downed Larry Brown and SMU last night. Yes, Pitino inherited some nice talent from Tubby Smith. Still, Pitino acquitted himself as a coach. The guy has a bright future. And, think of this: He’s just 31. Now, if Pitino can recruit like he can coach, Minnesota could be on to something.
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Lots of excitement in the Dairy State, as Wisconsin gears up for its first trip to the Final Four since 2000. And that also has stirred memories of the coach who led the Badgers there: Dick Bennett. Yes, his style wasn’t always exciting. But the guy could coach. I miss him.
In case Wisconsin fans need a reminder, the Badgers will be facing a young and hot Kentucky team in the national semifinals on Saturday. One month ago today, Kentucky lost to a South Carolina club that would go on to finish 13th in the SEC. UK shot 27 percent in the 72-67 setback. Now, look at the Wildcats.
Still trying to catch your breath after that wild weekend of hoops games? The Big Ten had a great chance to get three teams into the Final Four. Alas, only one made it: Wisconsin, perhaps the least likely of all.
Lots going on at Indiana recently, with the recent announcement that Jeremy Hollowell and Austin Etherington will transfer. Even bigger: Noah Vonleh is going to turn pro after just one season. Earlier, Luke Fischer bolted. Last season, Remy Abell and Maurice Creek transferred. Jeff Rabjohns of Peegs.com has a nice recap of all the activity.
Getting to the Sweet 16 has become old hat for Michigan State. Mlive.com points out that in the past 17 years, only one program in the country has been to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 more than Michigan State. That program is Duke, which has gone 13 times to Michigan State’s 12.
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Well, Iowa’s first taste of March Madness didn’t last long. Heck, it wasn’t really even a taste. More like a sip, as the Hawkeyes were bounced in a play-in game by Tennessee. I guess it shouldn’t be a shock. The Hawkeyes lost six of their last seven games entering the tourney. Conversely, the Volunteers arrived in Dayton, Ohio, with some mojo. It’s just too bad it all had to end like this for Iowa, whose season once glowed with such promise.
Pat Harty of HawkCentral.com wonders if an Iowa win over Tennessee on Wednesday will put a feel-good note on that 1-6 run-up to the NCAA tourney. It certainly couldn’t hurt. This Iowa team has been through a lot. A victory vs. the Vols would be the Hawkeyes’ first NCAA win since 2001.
I have made no secret of my affinity for John Beilein. I love the fact he paid his dues by coming up the back roads of his profession, grinding his way up the ladder. He’s a terrific coach who knows how to win in March. The secret to his success? It’s right here.
Everyone is talking hoops. And why not? But here’s some spring football for ya. First, Nebraska, where work has begun on developing the offensive line—among other things. And many are watching the quarterback spot, where Tommy Armstrong is the man to beat. It will be a big shock if he doesn’t keep the job. Would Bo Pelini dare hand over the reins to a neophyte like Johnny Stanton in his critical season? Nah.
Getting named Coach of the Year by his Big Ten peers was sweet for Nebraska’s Tim Miles. Maybe even better: His contract calls for him to get a $50K bonus for it. That’ll buy a lot of Runza’s. But his contract stipulates Miles will get the loot for being “consensus” Coach of the Year. John Beilein was voted the honor by league media. Hmmmm. Regardless, Miles still expects to cash in.
The debate will rage: Who is the Big Ten Coach of the Year? The Big Ten media bestowed the honor on John Beilein. The Big Ten coaches bequeathed the award on Tim Miles. Probably a good idea to just split it. A great case can be made for each guy. Personally, my vote would have gone with Beilein, who just isn’t comfortable with these things. And he means it, too.