Late last week, it looked like former Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor, who went undrafted in Thursday’s NBA draft, would sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. There’s been a change of plans, according Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin, as Taylor has signed with the Atlanta Hawks. Polzin reports the decision had to do with Atlanta’s more favorable summer league schedule.
BTN’s Jim Jackson caught up with six Big Ten names working out at the NBA’s pre-draft combine in Chicago. Jackson talked to Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Draymond Green, Jordan Taylor, Meyers Leonard, and Robbie Hummel. If you’re running games down at the gym, that’s a pretty good first six right there.
Josh: It’s time to reflect on another season of Big Ten hoops. I think the rest of college basketball has finally taken notice of something that’s been true for the past 18 months or so–the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Still, you look at the conference today, you see two great teams, 3 pretty darn good teams, a team good enough to make the Dance, and then mediocrity. Heck, even a couple of pretty bad teams. I mean, it’s hard to say the conference underachieved, but here goes–the conference underachieved. Sure, this is still the best action you’ll find, and it’s not close, but we’re still talking about a league that’s probably going to get 6 bids, with only a couple of standout teams. Does that sound much different than the past decade, when the Big Ten wasn’t measuring up to the likes of the ACC and the Big East?
Aaron Craft is a very good defensive player. Let’s get that out of the way. Whatever you think of the next few paragraphs, remember that we all agree that Craft’s defense would improve just about any collegiate basketball team.
With Saturday’s win over Michigan, Purdue has seemingly punched its ticket to the Dance. At 9-7 in conference play, the Boilermakers are probably right where most expected them to finish this season–still solidly in the field of 68, but not a serious contender for the conference championship. But how they got to this point is very unexpected. Ever since the Baby Boilers arrived at West Lafayette, defense has been the calling card of this team:
This past week on The Journey, presented by GMC, we looked at the legendary Indiana-Purdue rivalry with the Paint Crew and went behind the scenes of Draymond Green’s return from injury against rival Michigan. Also, we met the Minnesota natives on the Badgers as they went back home to Minneapolis and got to know Lenzelle Smith Jr., Ohio State’s jack of all trades. Right now, watch a clip on Green and Mateen Cleaves and see bonus clips in this post. And don’t forget to follow the Jouney on Twitter @BTNJourney.
Indiana made a living at the foul line in a chippy 13-point win over visiting Illinois. For about 30 minutes, this was a tight, back-and-forth game, with six lead changes and 14 ties. Over the final 10 minutes, however, the Hoosiers took advantage of the foul-riddled Illini to pull away. Indiana not only got to the foul line at an astounding rate; it also shot incredibly well from there, going 35 of 42 (83 percent). Paired with the Hoosiers’ customary accuracy from the field and a low turnover rate, it powered Indiana to a scorching 1.26 points per possession, the highest allowed by the Illinois defense all season.
Illinois picked up a much needed home victory over Michigan State, and Illini fans would probably appreciate if the discussion ended right there. It was about as ugly as basketball can get, with turnovers and missed shots aplenty. The Spartans had more missed shots than points, and their 26.7 effective field goal percentage represented the program’s worst shooting night in at least 15 seasons (I only have eFG data back to 1997-98). To top it all off, conference player of the year contender Draymond Green, who hadn’t played anyway much due to foul trouble, left the game late with an apparent injury. Green has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee and is considered day-to-day, which is certainly better than many of the possible alternatives.
The Big Ten Conference released its Men’s Basketball Players of the Week for Jan. 16-22 action on Monday morning. See the winners and what they did to win the honors in this post.
After a long break in which it moved into first place, Illinois saw its offense lay an egg in a losing effort at Penn State. It was clear that, despite the rousing win over Ohio State, this is still the same Illinois team we’ve watched all season. Let’s again roll out what we’ll have to start calling the Illini table:
Crazy. There’s no other way to describe what has been a topsy-turvy Big Ten chase this season, and Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor has lived it. His Badgers entered the season with high hopes but struggled through a three-game losing skid from Dec. 31 to Jan. 8 that included two losses on Wisconsin’s home court, a rarity.
For now, football is in my rear view window and the road for me ahead has plenty of Big Ten hoops. In my first installment of my Big Ten Three-Pointers, my aim is to fire up 3-pointers from around the Big Ten as I look back at the previous week’s news and then ahead to what’s coming. Ready, set, shoot …
Wisconsin and Michigan State squared off last night in a game that will not help the Big Ten’s national image. Via a combination of slow pace, good defense, and missed shots that both teams would normally make, the Spartans and Badgers labored for points. It took Michigan State over 13 minutes of game time to break into double digits–and even then they were only down two points. Wisconsin’s shooting nightmare that began against Iowa persisted, and it truly looked like the first team to 50 would win.
Five Big Ten men’s basketball players have been named candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, handed out annually to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. The list includes Michigan’s Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Penn State’s Tim Frazier, Purdue’s Lewis Jackson and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor. See the complete list of candidates here.
It’s another light week for college basketball with many students enduring finals, and the Big Ten is no different. Still, we got a few interesting games last night that are worth discussing, plus the quiet period provides us a nice chance to catch up on some individual player stats. Let’s jump right in.
It’s time to release my latest Big Ten men’s hoops power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands right now and who would win on a neutral court. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina or leave your comments below. Watch Gus Johnson call Ben Brust’s sixth 3-pointer from Saturday’s win over UNLV now and see the rankings in this post.
Every Sunday night during the hoops season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina recaps the week that was on the men’s hardwood and hands out his weekly honors. See Brent’s latest installment, for action from Dec. 5-11, in this post. Also, watch Christian Watford’s last-second 3-pointer to stun No. 1 Kentucky and the resulting celebration Saturday at Assembly Hall. And get ready for the coming week of Big Ten action with our Big Ten scoreboard.
Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor is no stranger to making highlight-reel plays, but Friday night the preseason All-America compiled one of the better sequences of his fantastic career. It started with a steal that he converted into a layup, then he stole the ensuing inbound pass and dished to Jared Berggren for a big slam. So, in a matter of 10 seconds, Taylor picked up two steals, two points and an assist. Watch the outstanding sequence here.
Every Sunday night during the hoops season, Brent Yarina recaps the week that was on the men’s hardwood and hands out his weekly honors. See Brent’s first installment, for action from Nov. 14-20, in this post.