On Sunday’s debut of the second episode of “The Journey,” our crew looked at a number of Big Ten stories. One of them involved tracking Zack Novak and Michigan as they knocked off Wisconsin and another looked at Illinois’ Meyers Leonard. Watch those segments here and be sure check our TV schedule and check “The Journey” posts on BTN.com. You can also watch the show on BTN2Go.
It’s early in the conference season, but not so early that teams don’t have something they need to work on. To get them in shape, let’s hand out some homework assignments. Illinois: Yes, this team can defend. Even when its opponent shoots 59 percent from two-point range (as Nebraska did on Saturday), the Illini will usually hold the other side to under a point per possession. But can they score? In conference play, Illinois has yet to score over a point per possession. A big part of that is the dropoff of the big man, Meyers Leonard: Two-point percentage
Illinois picked up a much needed victory at Northwestern, but they sure didn’t make it easy on themselves. The Wildcats came out executing their offense to the tune of 1.13 points per possession in the first half, a very solid showing against a good Illini defense. John Shurna was at the forefront of the attack, putting up 17 first half points. Northwestern built a double digit lead before a late Illinois run made it closer at the half. In the second half, Illinois’ defense finally showed up. Northwestern managed just three points in the first nine minutes after the break,
It’s no secret that Illinois’ Meyers Leonard is blessed with a lot of athleticism. The 7-foot-1 big man moves and leaps unlike most guys his size, and he displayed it once again Wednesday at Northwestern. Late in the first half – a frustrating one for Leonard and the Illini – the breakout sophomore jumped out of the gym on a one-handed slam. Look at how high he got up there. And listen to that rim rattle! As BTN color commentator Shon Morris put it: “I think that rim is going to file assault charges.” Watch the dunk now and see
Every year, it’s a test of one’s will to avoid drawing any conclusions prior to the beginning of conference play. For instance, two years ago the Texas Longhorns jumped out to an undefeated mark before beginning their conference slate. Non-conference opponents included Pitt, UNC, and Michigan State. After opening conference play with wins over what turned out to be the bottom of the Big XII, Texas sat atop both polls (I still don’t understand the point of polls in college basketball) and was generally recognized as the best team in the country. Yet, the team finished with 10 losses and
And they’re off! Conference play began last night, and we’ve already been treated to a close game and a Wisconsin blowout–two things we’ll probably see plenty of over the next two-and-a-half months. Let’s get to the details. In the first B1G conference game of the season, Illinois and Minnesota played an entertaining–if not always well-played–double-overtime thriller. Late in the first half, it started to look like the Illini would run away with the game, taking a 13-point lead before a banked three by Rodney Williams cut it to 10 at the break. Still, Illinois put together a very nice half of
Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard has been turning heads all season long, but now that the Big Ten season underway, the rest of the Big Ten is about to see what this guy is all about. In Tuesday night’s Big Ten opener against Minnesota, the athletic 7-footer flashed his unusual skills on a highlight-reel alley-oop. Leonard set a pick, rolled to the hoop, and threw down a perfect pass from guard Brandon Paul with relative ease. Watch the play now.
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. Player of the week: Draymond Green, Michigan State – Green scored a career-high 34 points and added three assists and three steals in a big road
Nearly a month into the men’s hoops season, it’s clear the future of the Big Ten is in good hands. I say this because of the conference’s loaded sophomore class, one headlined by possible NBA departures Jared Sullinger and Tim Hardaway Jr. This class is so good, so deep and so talented, it would give a team comprised of the Big Ten’s best seniors (Jordan Taylor, William Buford, John Shurna, Robbie Hummel and Draymond Green) a run for its money. It might win, actually, due to its depth, athleticism and Trevor Mbakwe’s injury. Sullinger, Hardaway Jr. and Aaron Craft received
The Big Ten Conference announced its latest Men’s Basketball Players of the Week for Nov. 28-Dec. 4. Three players were honored, including a player who has now been honored three times this season. See all the recipients in this post. Also, check out the women’s honorees. Co-Players of the Week: Meyers Leonard, Illinois, C – So. – 7-1 –Robinson, Ill. – Robinson Averaged 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 75 percent from the floor in a pair of Illinois wins last week Recorded 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting with six boards and a game-high three blocks in