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Big Ten Notebook

January 14, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Ten Notebook

Entering Conference Play
Illinois begins its defense of last year’s Big Ten co-championship hosting the Minnesota Gophers. While Gopher stars, Dusty Rychart and Rick Rickert may not have the same name value as Illinois’ Frank Williams or Corey Bradford, the Gophers are off to another fast start following last year’s 15-3 beginning.

Minnesota must be wondering what they did to gain the ire of the Big Ten schedule makers. After an inevitable struggle against Frank Williams, Corey Bradford, and the rest of the Illini, the other co-champions, the Spartans from Michigan State invade Williams Arena. Somebody should buy head coach Don Monson some antacid. Michigan State will attempt to reclaim their fifth straight Big Ten championship this year, but will have to do so at the outset without forward Adam Bollinger.

Wisconsin’ Kirk Penney will attempt to keep his Badger’s four game winning streak intact as the Badger’s travel to Iowa to challenge last year’s conference tournament’s winners. In other games, Mike Davis’ squad opens at Northwestern, Tommy Amaker begins his Big Ten career in Happy Valley, and Ohio State begins their conference play at Purdue.

Indiana Coach Cries Foul

Indiana head coach Mike Davis’ comments after losing to Butler caused something of a stir Saturday night. Davis was quoted as saying, “the bottom line is if you come and watch every one of my games, and you watch the games, and you watch how we get (treated) every where we freaking go in clutch situations, you’ll see.” Through some creative spinning, it was suggested that Davis’ comments dealt with racism.

This only enraged the coach further. Apparently, he directed the comments at the referees for their lack of respect because of his youth, and not because he’s a black head coach. The Big Ten is looking into the matter, and will not make any comments until the end of the week. If you ask me, the whole situation has become overblown. At what point does the politically correct nature of this country end? A coach can’t even criticize poor officiating without someone bringing that racism card out into the forefront again. This guy has enough problems trying to fill the shoes of a legend. Let the coach do his job, and leave the fabricated allegations to the gossip magazines.

Michigan State’s Road Woes Continue

It’s a good thing that the Spartans have an unprecedented home-winning streak in East Lansing, because there has been no success for them on the road. Playing for the first time without Adam Bollinger, who is out with a sprained ankle, Michigan State was completely worked over by the Stanford big men in a loss at the Pete Newell Challenge. Stanford’s 7-footer Curtis Borchardt and 6-8 Justin Davis fought mightily in the paint, and after the dust had settled, three of MSU’s forwards were seated on the bench after having fouled out.

The Spartans have always relied on their toughness to compensate for any shortcoming they may come across. With the Big Ten schedule looming, they must find a way to recapture the vigor and ferocity in which they were accustomed to playing if there is any hope of reclaiming the conference crown.

Penney Earns 2nd Consecutive Player of the Week Honors

So Kirk Penney doesn’t like to share. A week after the junior guard from Wisconsin shared player of the week honors with Illinois’ Frank Williams, Penney reclaimed the award for himself. Penney’s first career double-double pushed the Badgers past Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Penney helped Wisconsin to another victory over Tennessee later in the week by pouring in another 16 points. Penney is the first player since Ohio State’s Scoonie Penn in 1999 to accomplish the back to back honors.

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