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Big Ten Notebook

November 17, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Ten Notebook

by Alan Rubenstein

Minnesota will be the first Big Ten team to take the court when they host Missouri-Kansas City of the Mid-Continent conference Monday night. The Kangaroos return dynamic senior Michael Watson. Watson averaged 25.5 PPG landing him fourth in the nation in 2003. 6-10, 300-pound Carlton Aaron also returns. He should provide a challenge for the young Gopher frontline after averaging 9.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season.

Dan Monson is 14-2 in November and 5-0 in season openers while at Minnesota. The Gophers will play the Utah- Georgia State winner Wednesday night in a nationally televised game at 9:30 CST, with the site to be determined.

Minnesota went 2-0 in the exhibition season. As with most early season games, the Gophers had some encouraging signs and parts of their game they need to work on. Freshman Kris Humphries played well beyond his years. Averages of 15.5 PPG and 12.5 RPG indicate that Humphries is ready to take over for Rick Rickert. Ben Johnson appears to be recovered from an injury and illness plagued 2003 season. The 6’3 senior from Minneapolis posted 17.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 3.0 APG in the two exhibition contests. Michael Bauer (10.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG) Maurice Hargrow (9.5 PPG, 3.5 APG) and Stan Gaines (8.5 PPG) also had solid exhibition seasons.

Adam Boone is ready to give the Gophers a new dimension at point guard. Boone’s all around game was impressive in Minnesota’s exhibition games. At 14.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG and seven assists, Boone appears to be ready to assume the reigns of team leadership. After transferring from North Carolina after the 2002 season, many doubted Boone could live up to his potential. The Gophers will have to work on taking better care of the ball. After 24 turnovers in the opener, UM cut that total by ten with only 14 in the second game. Without much offensive firepower, taking care of the ball will be a key for the Gophers.

Northwestern will open the season with a visit from 2003 NCAA participant Colorado. The Buffaloes are led by 7’0 All-American candidate David Harrison. NU’s inexperienced front line will be tested by Harrison. Freshman Vince Scott has showed promise for the ‘Cats and appears ready to contribute immediately. Scott impressed by scoring 27 points in the two victories. With strength on the perimeter, the Wildcats will be looking to run more than usual in 2003-04. Northwestern posted victories over CAPS and the Coaches against Cancer All stars in the exhibition season. T.J. Parker struggled in the second game, after an outstanding opener. Jitim Young appears to be in mid-season form after scoring 45 points, pulling down 19 rebounds in the two games. Young should be a candidate for all Big Ten this winter.

Wisconsin has had the most trying preseason of anyone in the Big Ten. The Badgers lost potential starter and sixth man Boo Wade for six weeks with an injured knee and star sophomore forward Alando Tucker suffered a broken foot. Tucker is expected back in late December, while Wade is likely to make his season debut earlier in the month. The Badger opener at Penn November 21, already a challenge, will become an excellent early season test for the Big Red Machine. Penn has won eight of the last 11 Ivy Leagues titles.

Wisconsin was led by Mike Wilkinson with 24 points and eight rebounds, Big Ten preseason player of the year Devin Harris with 21 points and ten assists and freshman Kammron Taylor 16 points (including hitting four of six from beyond the arc) in their 103-81 win over the EA All Stars.

Michigan got a jump on the preseason with a relatively short trip to Ontario, Canada over the fall break. The Wolverines dominated their opponents scoring an average of 94.3 PPG and winning by an average margin on 35 points per game. Michigan continued their preseason success by overpowering the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBDL 90-57. After getting big contributions from Lester Abram and Big Ten Freshman of the year Daniel Horton in their rookie seasons, look for this year’s diaper dandies to play big roles for Tommy Amaker’s crew. Dion Harris, Courtney Sims and Brent Petway have all shown promise in their exhibition games. The Wolverines also defeated instate rival Michigan Tech 73-61. Michigan will host Oakland in their season opener November 21. The Golden Grizzlies posted two impressive victories in the BCA classic and will take on Xavier for the Championship. Oakland’s Mike Helms finished third in the nation in scoring in 2003.

After splitting their two exhibition games, Ohio State will travel to San Francisco on their way to the Maui Invitational. At Maui, they will see a familiar face when they take on former Michigan coach Steve Fisher and San Diego State. Transfer J.J. Sullinger was the Buckeyes leading scorer in the two exhibition games with 43, while fellow transfer Tony Stockman and Center/Power Forward Terrance Dials backed him up 32 each. Stockman played an all around game, while Dials and Vladimir Radinovic both rebounded well. After moving the ball extremely well in the opener with 24 assists, the Buckeyes managed only 13 in the exhibition wrap-up.

Illinois will welcome cross state rival Western Illinois to the Assembly Hall to open their season. In their only exhibition to date, the Illini defeated the Illinois All Stars 91-66. Dee Brown led the charge with 26 points and seven assists. Deron Williams with 16 and Nick Smith with 12 were the only other Illini to finish in double figures. The Illini was particularly impressive from beyond the arc and on the boards. They shot 8-13 from three point range in the second half and had a 40-26 rebounding edge for the game.

It was also announced this week that Chief Illiniwek is here to stay. Trustee Frances G. Carroll decided to push the vote back to July when most students will be home for the summer break. Carroll and her supporters believe that the mascot is degrading to American Indians.

Indiana looked impressive in its final preseason tune-up before hosting UNC Greensboro in the season opener November 21. As he did through most of his freshman year, Bracey Wright led the Hoosiers to victory over the Southeastern All Stars with 26 points and eight rebounds. Marshall Strickland contributed 14 and A.J. Moye ten. Jessan Gray-Ashley, who nearly red shirted, showed he will warrant time on the frontline this winter with 12 points and six rebounds. The Hoosiers struggled in their exhibition opener surviving with an overtime win against Athletes in Action. Wright and Strickland were the only players IU has in double figures. Freshman Pat Ewing Jr. did impress with eight points, ten rebounds and four blocks. George Leach, who was expected to lead the young frontline, has not been lived up to expectations with only nine points and 11 rebounds during the preseason schedule.

With most of his roster returning, Steve Alford hopes that his Iowa Hawkeyes can climb the Big Ten standings this winter. Outstanding balance in their two exhibition games shows Iowa is ready to challenge for an NCAA tournament spot in March. Pierre Pierce has shown no signs of a year long layoff by posting averages of 18 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5 APG. After leading the Big Ten in rebounding in 2003, Jared Reiner felt snubbed by preseason all Big Ten team. Reiner’s averages of 17.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG in the preseason indicate he could be ready to be considered among the Big Ten’s elite players in 2004. Greg Brunner (9.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG), Jeff Horner (11.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 6.0 APG) Brody Boyd and Glen Worley are all capable of leading the Hawkeyes on a given night. The balance that Alford will receive this winter could be the best in the Big Ten. They open the season by hosting UNC-Ashville November 23.

Depth was also expected to be strength for Purdue this season. In their first exhibition game only three Boilermakers finished in double figures. Brandon McKnight showed he is ready to become one of the better point guards in the Big Ten with 16 points and four assists in the 70-63 exhibition victory over Global Sports, Kenneth Lowe played an all around floor game. He tied for team high honors with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. David Teague, who made some big shots as a freshman, might be ready to become an integral part of the offense as a sophomore finishing with 12. The Boilers will begin the season by hosting Samford before traveling to Alaska for the Great Alaska Shootout.

Penn State suffered a big blow in the early part of preseason practice when leading rebounder Aaron Johnson under went surgery for a detached retina late last month. It’s not known how long the 6’9 sophomore will be out.

With a young team, new coach Ed DeChellis will do a lot of teaching this winter. The Lions received some surprises and disappointments in their 90-78 loss to Team Nike in their exhibition opener. De Forrest Riley-Smith showed that his outstanding freshman season was no fluke. The 6’6 sophomore from Cincinnati needed only one more rebound to post a triple double finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. Sophomore point guard Brandon Cameron also played an outstanding game and showed he will be capable of running De Chellis up-tempo game after scoring 17 points and pulling down five rebounds. Freshman guard Marlon Smith also showed promise by matching Cameron’s 17 points.

Michigan State has had a very eventful and productive preseason. The first of two exhibition games brought the Harlem Globetrotters to town with a special guest. Former Spartan All American Earvin “Magic” Johnson helped paced the ‘Trotters to a 97-81 victory.

The school honored the 1979 National Championship team as Larry Bird of runner-up Indiana State watched as the honorary coach for Harlem. MSU also unveiled a new Bronze statue of Magic outside the Breslin Center.

After falling to the Globetrotters and getting pounded on the boards 43-21, Tom Izzo looked for improvement from his seventh ranked Spartans.

MSU barely survived with an 85-81 win over Nike Elite. The favorite to win the Big Ten, the Spartans showed their array of offensive firepower with four players averaging double figures in their two exhibition games. Michigan State will host Bucknell on November 21 before traveling to Kansas and then hosting a reunion of the 1979 Final Four (MSU, Indiana State, De Paul and Penn) in the Coca-Classic thanksgiving weekend.


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