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Big Ten 2002-03 Season Recap

August 9, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Ten 2002-03 Season Recap

by Alan Rubenstein

Youth defined the 2002-03 Big Ten season. Alando Tucker contributed 12.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG as he helped lead Wisconsin to its fist outright Big Ten title since 1947. Dee Brown, Deron Williams and James Augustine were key players from the season’s outset as the Illini captured the Big Ten’s silver medal, cruised home with the conference tournament title and were rewarded with the West region’s fourth seed. Daniel Horton of Michigan earned the Big Ten freshman of the year award after helping pace the Wolverines resurgence.

The biggest surprises of the Big Ten season occurred in Madison and Ann Arbor. A year after sharing the Big Ten title, the Badgers used Kirk Penney’s experience and Tucker’s youthful exuberance to bring home gold. Meanwhile, after a horrid 0-6 start, Michigan righted their ship with a 13-game winning streak. The Wolverines finished the season fourth in the Big Ten. If not for an additional year of probation imposed by the NCAA for the 2003-04 season, the Wolverines would likely find themselves in their first postseason since 2000. If their strong freshman and sophomores classes stick around, Michigan should return to national prominence in 2005.

Entering the season, Illinois’ Brian Cook was tabbed as the favorite to win the Big Ten player of the year. Cook lived up to his hype turning in a memorable season for the Illini. Cook captured the regular season and conference tournament MVP awards as the Illini followed up their regular season runner up finish by winning the conference tournament. The Big Ten game of the year was the showdown for first place between Cook’s Illinois and Wisconsin during the final week of the regular season in Madison. After falling behind by ten points late in the game the Illini staged a furious rally and tied the game with a Cook jumper with nine seconds left. After Brown fouled the Badger’s Devin Harris with four seconds left, the sophomore guard from Milwaukee had the game on his fingers. After missing the first free throw, Harris hit the second to give Wisconsin a one point lead. Cook’s desperation jumper was off line and the Badger faithful rushed the floor as Wisconsin clinched its first outright title since 1947.

Big Ten Conference Tournament

First Round
No. 8 Ohio State def. No. 9 Iowa, 66-64
No. 10 Northwestern def. No. 7 Minnesota, 76-64
No. 6 Indiana def. No. 11 Penn State, 77-49

No. 8 Ohio State def. No. 1 Wisconsin, 58-50
No. 5 Michigan State def. No. 4 Purdue, 54-42
No. 2 Illinois def. No. 10 Northwestern, 94-65
No. 6 Indiana def. No. 3 Michigan, 63-56

No. 8 Ohio State def. No. 5 Michigan State, 55-54
No. 2 Illinois def. No. 6 Indiana, 73-72

No. 2 Illinois def. No. 8 Ohio State, 72-59

First Team, All-Big Ten

LaVell Blanchard, Michigan
Brian Cook, Illinois
Willie Deane, Purdue
Kirk Penney, Wisconsin
Rick Rickert, Minnesota

Player of the Year

Brian Cook, Illinois

Defensive Player of the Year

Kenneth Lowe, Purdue

Freshman of the Year

Daniel Horton, Michigan

Coach of the Year

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Speaking of . . .

Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 22-7, 12-4
Postseason: Lost to Kentucky in Midwest Regional Semifinal

Starters Lost (1):
G Kirk Penney, 6-5, Sr. (16.4 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg)

Starters Returning (4):
G/F Alando Tucker, 6-5, Fr. (12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
G Devin Harris, 6-3, So. (12.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3 apg)
G Freddie Owens, 6-2, Jr. (10.9 ppg)
F Mike Wilkinson, 6-8, So. (9.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg)

2003 can be regarded as the most successful season in Badger history. Their first outright Big Ten title since 1947 and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 bodes well for the future in Madtown. Wisconsin’s trip to the Midwest regional in Minneapolis was secured after a thrilling comeback win over Tulsa in the second round. A Freddie Owens three point field goad with once second left provided the winning margin. Bo Ryan became only the third Big Ten Coach to win back to back Big Ten championships in his first two seasons at the helm.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Record: 24-6, 13-5
Postseason: Lost to Notre Dame in West Region Second Round

Starters Lost (1):
F Brian Cook, 6-10, Sr. (20.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg)

Starters Returning (4):
F Roger Powell, 6-6, So. (8.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
C James Augustine, 6-10, Fr. (7.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
G Deron Williams, 6-3, Fr. (6.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.7 apg)
G Dee Brown, 6-0, Fr. (12.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.7 apg)

The Illini entered the 2003 season as a virtual unknown. Brian Cook was the only proven player on the Illini roster entering the year. The Freshman trio of Dee Brown, Deron Williams and James Augustine helped lead the Illini to a runner-up finish in the Big Ten and the fourth seed in the NCAA’s west region. Entering the tournament, many expected the Illini to make a deep run into March. The Illini season ended with a loss to a hot Notre Dame team in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. The spring disappointment continued in Champaign. Bill Self left for “A dream job” at Kansas and prized recruit Charlie Villanueva reneged on his verbal commitment after Self’s departure. After being turned down by numerous coaches, Southern Illinois’s Bruce Weber decided to take the trip up I-57 to assume to the Chief role in Champaign. After a season in which freshman started 75 games and sophomores 27, the future should be bright in Champaign.

Purdue Boilermakers

Record: 19-11, 10-6
Postseason: Lost to Texas in South Region Second Round

Starters Lost (1):
G Willie Deane, 6-1, Sr. (18.3 ppg, 5 rpg)

Starters Returning (4):
G Kenneth Lowe, 6-3, Jr. (11.8 ppg)
F Chris Booker, 6-10, Jr. (9.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
G Brandon McKnight, 6-2, So. (5.3 ppg)
C Ivan Kartelo, 6-11, Jr. (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg)

The Boilermakers started the season with a victory over Louisville in the Wooden classic and had conference wins over Michigan State, Illinois and Big Ten Champion Wisconsin. Willie Deane finished second in the Big Ten in scoring as Purdue advanced the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000. Replacing Deane will be a key for Gene Keady in 2004.

Michigan State Spartans

Record: 19-12, 10-6
Postseason: Lost to Texas in Midwest Regional Final

Starters Lost (2):
F Aloysius Anagonye, 6-8, Sr. (7.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
F Adam Ballinger, 6-9, Sr. (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3 apg)
Also, F Erazem Lorbek, 6-10, Fr. (5.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg) declared for NBA Draft, and will play professionally in Europe.

Returning Starters (3):
G Chris Hill, 6-3, So. (14.2 ppg, 3.7 apg)
F Alan Anderson, 6-6, So. (9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G Kelvin Torbert, 6-4, So. (9.5 ppg)

After losing in the first round in 2002, the Spartans fell one loss short on their fourth Final Four in five seasons. Chris Hill showed his potential future stardom with a 34 point, 10 three-pointer explosion against National Champion Syracuse. Davis improved greatly as the season wore on, punctuated by his 11.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg in the NCAA’s.

Michigan Wolverines

Record: 17-13, 10-6

Starters Lost (1):
F LaVell Blanchard 6-7 Sr. (16.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg)

Starters Returning (4)
G Daniel Horton 6-3 Fr. (15.2 ppg, 4.5 apg)
F Bernard Robinson Jr., 6-6 Jr. (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.4 apg)
G Lester Abram 6-6 Fr. G (10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
C/F Graham Brown 6-9 Fr. (5.8 ppg, 4.6 apg)

After a horrendous 0-6 start, Tommy Amaker righted the ship in Ann Arbor as the Wolverines were the talk of the Big Ten throughout the first half of the conference season. Blanchard concluded an outstanding career at Michigan by finishing sixth in the Big Ten in scoring and second in rebounding. The Wolverines received a big blow when it was announced the Michigan would be banned from the 2004 postseason on top of this past season’s ban. Despite that, the faithful in Ann Arbor should keep their heads up as the Wolverines have an outstanding freshman class to build with and the return of Junior Bernard Robinson Jr. Horton was honored as the Big Ten freshman of the year.

Indiana Hoosiers

Record: 20-12, 8-9
Postseason: Lost to Pittsburgh in Midwest Regional Second Round

Starters Lost (2):
F Jeff Newton, 6-9, Sr. (14.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg)
G Tom Coverdale, 6-2, Sr. (11.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.4 apg)

Starters Returning (3):
G Bracey Wright, 6-3, Fr. (17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
G Marshall Strickland, 6-2, Fr. (6.5 ppg)
C George Leach, 6-11, Jr. (6.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg)

The Hoosiers bid farewell to a great senior class. Newton, Coverdale and Hornsby all played big roles in IU’s run to the 2002 national championship game. Coverdale was the epitome of what Indiana basketball is all about, a tough, hard nosed defensive player with phenomenal shooting range. The highlight of the Hoosier season was their overtime victory over Maryland at Conseco Field house in the Big Ten-ACC challenge and the title at the Maui classic. Wright, who scored in double digits 22 times, is a future superstar.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Record 18-14, 8-8
Postseason: Lost to Texas Tech in the NIT Semifinals

Starters Lost (3):
F Rick Rickert 6-11 So. (15.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) – Declared for NBA Draft
G Kevin Burleson 6-3 Sr. (6.7ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.8 apg)
C/F Jerry Holman 6-10 Sr. (9.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

Returning Starters (2)
G Maurice Hargrow 6-4 So. (13.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.8 apg)
F Michael Bauer 6’8 Jr. (11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.3 apg)

Star forward Rick Rickert was not enough to save the Golden Gophers from a mediocre season. The Rickert era in Minneapolis was short-lived as the sophomore forward entered the NBA draft. After an abysmal loss to Northwestern, the Gophers were able to right their ship with a trip to the NIT Semifinals.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 17-15, 7-9
Postseason: Lost to Georgia Tech in NIT first round

Starters Lost (3):
G Brent Darby 6-1 Sr. (18.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.4 apg)
G Sean Connolly 6-5 Sr. (11.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
F Zach Williams 6-7 Jr. (9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) – Transferred to Wright State

Returning Starters (2):
C Velimir Radinovic 7-0 Jr. (9.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
F Matt Sylvester 6-7 Fr. (5.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

Brent Darby led the way for an inexperienced Buckeye team a year after capturing the 2002 Big Ten tournament championship. Darby put on a show at the 2003 tournament as OSU fell one game short of capturing their second consecutive tournament title. Illinois derailed the Buckeye express in the championship game. The departures of Darby, Connolly and Williams leaves gaping holes in the Ohio State lineup. The return of Radinovic and the addition of Stockman should help quell the tide in 2004. Darby led the Big Ten in scoring in 2003.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Record: 16-13, 7-9
Postseason: Lost to Georgia Tech in NIT third round

Starters Lost (1):
G Chauncey Leslie 6-0 Sr. (15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.9 apg)

Starters Returning (4):
G Jeff Horner 6-3 Fr (8.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.5 apg)
F Glen Worley 6-7 Jr. (10.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
C Jared Reiner 6-11 Jr. (9.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
F Greg Brunner 6-7 Fr. (7.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

A trying season for Steve Alford began with the season long suspension of Point Guard Pierre Pierce. Freshman Jeff Horner filled the point guard slot admirably, finishing third in the Big Ten in assists.

Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 12-17, 3-13

Starters Lost (3):
C Aaron Jennings, 6-10 Sr. (11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
G Winston Blake 6-5 Sr. (7.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
G/F Jason Burke 6-8 Sr. (6.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.7 apg)

Starters Returning (2):
G Jitim Young 6-2 Jr. (13.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
G T.J. Parker 6-3 Fr. (11.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.7 apg)

After finishing 16-12 in 2002, the Wildcats stumbled to 12-17 in 2003. Home victories over Indiana and Purdue and their first round win over Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament highlighted the season for NU. Jitim Young was named third team all Big Ten and T.J. Parker was named to the all-freshman team. The health of Vukusic and Duvancic will be a key next season. Young was forced to play forward for most of the season for the undersized Cats. Blake had a disappointing year after being of the Cats heroes in 2002.

Penn State Nitanny Lions

Record: 7-21, 2-14

Starters Lost: (2)
G Sharif Chambliss 6-1 Jr. (14.7 ppg) – Transferred to Wisconsin
G Brandon Watkins 6-1 Sr. (13.7 ppg, 3.7 apg)

Returning Starters (3):
C Jan Jagla 7-0 So. (9.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
G De Forrest Riley 6-6 Fr. (7.9 ppg)
C/F Robert Summers 6-11 Fr. (3.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

A disastrous 2003 season cost Nittany Lion Head Coach Jerry Dunn his job. De Chellis returns to Penn State where he used to be an assistant after leading East Tennessee State to the NCAA Tournament this past season. The loss of Chambliss was a big blow in Happy Valley, as De Chellis will have to make over virtually the entire backcourt.


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