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Big Ten Notebook

February 4, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Big Ten Conference Notebook

by Alan Rubenstein

Big Ten Loses Legend

The Big Ten lost one of its all time greats when former Michigan and Wisconsin All-American and Badger Athletic Director Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch passed away in a Madison nursing home at the age of 80. Hirsch grew up in Wausau, Wisconsin, where he earned All-America status for his basketball and football exploits. With World War II being fought at that time, Hirsch enrolled in the Marine Corps and was stationed in Ann Arbor for training. He then transferred to Michigan. At Michigan, Hirsch became the only Wolverine athlete to letter in four sports. He played baseball and ran track in addition to his famous exploits on the gridiron and hardwood.

Hirsch also appeared in four movies including playing himself in the movie based on his own life, Crazy Legs, All American. After his playing career concluded, Hirsch moved on to become the General Manager of the Rams succeeding Pete Rozell. He eventually became the athletic director at Wisconsin. In his 18-year tenure (1969-87), Hirsch extended the Badger sports program from 12 men’s sports, to 25 men’s and women’s sports. He is survived by his wife Ruth, son Winn and daughter Patty Malmquist.

Uncharitable Conversions

Big Ten teams struggled mightily at the free throw line last week. Only four conference teams finished the week shooting over 70 percent from the foul line. Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota each shot in the 70 percent range last week. Although the Boilers shot well in their loss to Ohio State, they only had two attempts in a loss earlier in the week at Indiana. Indiana, Michigan, and Iowa shot in the fifty percent range. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Northwestern shot in the abysmal fifty percentile and Penn State was an unthinkable 37.9 percent last week. Northwestern and Penn State could have built a house with the bricks that were fired up at the Bryce-Jordan Center last week. NU shot 6-14 and Penn State 5-14 as the Lions prevailed over the Cats in overtime.

No Time Constraints

The Big Ten has been working extra hard this season with four overtime games already through three weeks of conference play. The four extra sessions equal last year’s amount for the entire season. Twelve total overtime games have also surpassed the eight that were played last season. Ohio State is the only conference team that has not needed an extra session and Minnesota has needed the most extra minutes with four games requiring time beyond regulation.

Game of the Week

When Indiana and Purdue met in Bloomington, it was the first time they had met with first place on the line in the Big Ten since 1989. Purdue was able to get Indiana to play at its tempo. Indiana’s ability down the stretch was the difference in the outcome. Bracey Wright’s play making ability and two clutch three-pointers by unlikely hero Rodrick Wilmont kept Purdue behind late in the game. IU played cool late and spoiled a 13-point Boilermaker comeback.

George Leach’s first extended minutes have given IU a lift. Leach played 20 minutes in first game back against Ohio State, increased to 23 at Minnesota and then played his second highest total of the season in a 29 minute shift against the Hoosiers arch rivals. In his three games back, The 6’10 senior has increased his season averages by posting 10.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG.

The second half featured ten lead changes and one tie. Ultimately Indiana’s ability to match Purdue shot for shot and some key defensive plays down the stretch were the difference. Purdue’s inability to get to the line also played a huge roll. Ivan Kartelo’s two missed free throws in the first half were the only attempts the Boilermakers had all night. Purdue’s 0-2 performance at the line set school records for fewest made free throws and attempts. A.J. Moye led Indiana with 15. Ivan Kartelo had an encouraging game with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Kenneth Lowe paced Purdue with 13, but his night ended with 15:03 left when he nearly dislocated his shoulder.

Upset of the Week

Gene Keady warned his team that Ohio State would be a desperate team with something to prove. The Boilermakers didn’t pay enough attention to their long time coach, losing 65-59 in what could be a costly home loss. Ohio State did what it does best to beat the Boilermakers, pound the ball inside. Terrance Dials dunk and subsequent three-point play put Ohio State ahead to stay with a minute left. Dials finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, and Velimir Radinovic finished with eight and 16 boards. Ohio State outscored Purdue’s front court 36-20 and held a 30-21 edge on the boards. Tony Stockman led the Buckeyes with 17 points and hit 4-4 from the line in the last thirty seconds to ice the game.

Purdue’s interior rotation of Matt Kiefer, Brett Buscher and Ivan Kartelo only combined for 11 points and seven rebounds and made just two of nine shots. David Teague finished with a career high 22 points and seven rebounds for the Boilers. Ohio State also out shot Purdue 51 percent to 36 and was carried by a 16-3 run to begin the game.

Player of the Week

Paul Davis of Michigan State earned his second Big Ten player of the Week Award in three weeks. Davis averaged 25.5 points per game and shot 52 percent from the floor as the Spartans won a pair of games to move within a game of first in the conference standings.

Davis scored seven of his 19 points in overtime to help Michigan State rally from a 23-point deficit to defeat Minnesota at the Barn. Davis’ final two free throws with 5.2 seconds left provided the winning margin. Davis followed that up with a career high 32 points as the Spartans defeated Indiana in the turn back the clock game. He hit 11-of-16 from the floor and 10-of-12 from the line as MSU knocked the Hoosiers off the Big Ten pedestal with an 84-72 victory.

With his pair of awards, Davis becomes the first Spartan to be honored twice in a season since Jason Richardson and Charlie Bell both accomplished the feat during the 2000-01 campaign.

Preview of the Week

For the second consecutive week, Indiana will be involved in the Big Ten’s key game of the week. The Hoosiers return to Bloomington after an 84-72 loss at Michigan State Saturday. Illinois will invade Indiana after a 67-52 home win over Michigan.

The game could decide Illinois’ fate in the Big Ten race. With three losses entering the showdown with IU, the Illini can’t afford to fall another game behind Indiana and already having losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. Once one of the Big Ten’s best rivalries the Illini and Hoosiers will meet only once this season.

Illinois features a high-octane offense that leads the Big Ten in scoring at 75.6 PPG. They live and die with the performance of tits backcourt. Dee Brown has averaged 13.3 PPG, shot 38 percent from the floor and 33 percent from long range in Illini wins, while he has only managed 9.8 PPG, 28.4 percent from the floor and 25.6 percent in the Illini losses. Deron Williams seen his averages dip from 12.8, 44.2 and 45 to 11.4, 34.3 and 25.9 in defeats. James Augustine gives Illinois more of a low post threat than IU has and Roger Powell has been the Illini’s most consistent player.

The Hoosiers have had a much more balanced attack during the Big Ten season than they did during non-conference games. George Leach’s return has taken a lot of pressure off of IU defensively and has provided them with an adept rebounder. The Hoosiers have a 7-2 record with Leach in the lineup and are 4-6 without him. Marshall Strickland has stepped up and given Indiana a secondary scoring option.

Illinois wants a wide-open attack with a game in the eighties. Indiana has the speed and athleticism to run with Illinois, but has a more deliberate offense. The Hoosiers proved they can be successful in a half court game with their win over Purdue.

The outcome is likely to be decided on how well Wright and Strickland fare versus Brown and Williams. Davis credited the Indiana crowd with providing a boost to the Hoosiers in their win over Purdue. Deron Williams will most likely be the one to try and control Wright in a match-up of former high school teammates. With the home crowd behind it, expect a tight IU victory.

Wisconsin (13-3, 5-1)

The Big Ten leaders rode Devin Harris for the second consecutive game and gained a key road victory at Ohio State. Harris followed up his career high 30 against Illinois with a 29-point performance in the Badgers 69-57 victory. Harris finished as the only Badger in double figures. Wisconsin is off to its best start since 1962, and pushed Ohio State into its worst start in the Big Ten since 1998. The trip to Columbus started a five in seven game road span for Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes were unable to translate their dominance of Wisconsin up front to victory. Ohio State had a 41-24 advantage on the boards. J.J. Sullinger with 14 was the only player in scarlet and gray to reach double figures.

Alando Tucker has decided to sit out the rest of the season. His fractured foot has never healed to the level the team wanted to allow Tucker to play without pain. He suffered a stress fracture in preseason practice and appeared in only four games this year. The sophomore will receive a medical redshirt and have three years of eligibility remaining.

Michigan State (10-8, 5-2)

Don’t look now, but after their 84-72 victory over Indiana Saturday night, the Spartans share second place with the Hoosiers. Davis led the way for the Spartans against the Hoosiers. His performance was indicative of the play expected of him in the preseason. The Spartans wore jerseys from 1979 and announcers dressed to the era as well. A 25-7 run early in the second half broke the game open as the Spartans shot 60.4 percent from the floor in the game’s final 20 minutes. MSU was able to recover from an eight point first half deficit as a 7-0 run to close the first half trimmed the Hoosier margin to one at intermission. The win was Michigan State’s eleventh straight over Indiana in East Lansing.

The Spartans put themselves in place to play for second place by recuperating from a 23 point first half debt at Minnesota. They chiseled the Gophers lead to 16 at halftime and then used a 21-4 run early in the second half to get back in the game. Davis was supported by Alan Anderson and Chris Hill with 16 each. It took a Maurice Ager three pointer with three seconds left in regulation to tie it. Davis provided the winning margin in the overtime by hitting two free throws after the Gophers’ Jeff Hagen was called for a blocking foul.

The Spartans have played well when it counts. With the game on the line in the second half, Michigan State has shot 60.4 percent from the field. Matt Trannon took the Turn back the Clock game to heart. Trannon usually wears his hair pulled back in corn rows, wore it up in an afro with a head band against IU.

Tom Izzo is on pace to become only the second Big Ten coach to post 200 wins and 100 conference victories in his first nine seasons in the Big Ten. Izzo is 199-86 overall and 97-42 in conference games. Izzo can also become the third coach at Michigan State with 200 victories in the green and white. Izzo’s predecessor Jud Heathcote (340 wins from 1977-95) and Benjamin VanAlstyne (231 from 1927-49) were the other two.

Only Bob Knight of Indiana (with 205) won over 200 games in his first nine seasons. Knight (101 wins in first eight seasons) and current Purdue Coach Gene Keady (100 wins in first eight seasons) are the other coaches who reached the century mark in conference wins in their first nine seasons.

Indiana (11-7, 5-2)

The Hoosiers began the week with the thrilling and always important victory over the Boilermakers. They were unable to carry the momentum into their showdown at Michigan State. The Hoosiers would probably have liked to turn back the clock and have Isiah Thomas play the point for them.

IU was unable to ride Bracey Wright’s 29, as Davis won the duel between two of the Big Ten’s best sophomores. Indiana couldn’t match Michigan State’s shooting. The Spartans finished the night at 59 percent, while the Hoosiers managed only 42.1 percent. The Hoosiers lost despite taking 10 more shots.

Mike Davis had originally planned to participate in the retro look by promising to wear disco era clothing if the Hoosiers beat Minnesota and Purdue. He decided against it, stating the game was too important and he didn’t want to take away from his team’s focus. Davis was going to wear an afro, red sports coat, plaid pants and studded heals.

Illinois (13-5, 4-3)

Before the Illini face Indiana with a chance to move up in the Big Ten standings, they took care of business against Michigan 67-52, at their own Assembly Hall. Using a needed bye in the middle of the week, the Illini came out firing against the Wolverines. Illinois hit on 37 percent of their three point field goals in front of a near capacity crowd. Bruce Weber has been pleading for his team to step up their defense and they finally accomplished that versus Michigan. The Wolverines shot only 35 percent from the floor and knocked home only 3-of-18 from beyond the arc. Michigan’s 52 points was their season low.

Luther Head led the way for Illinois with 18 and had a career high five three pointers. Deron Williams had another solid all-around game with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists and Dee Brown had 13. Bernard Robinson jr. had 14 points and six rebounds to pace Michigan.

With Nick Smith and James Augustine in foul trouble against Michigan, Jack Ingram played his Illini career high of 12 minutes.

Purdue (14-6, 4-3)

The Boilermakers squandered a golden opportunity to make amends for a tough loss at Indiana with the loss against Ohio State. The Buckeyes had traveled to Purdue with their only Big Ten win against basement dweller and winless Minnesota. The Purdue seniors lost all four years at Indiana.

After getting injured earlier in the week against Indiana, Kenneth Lowe sat out the game against the Buckeyes with a sprained elbow. A report in the Indianapolis Star has Boilermaker reserve Matt Carroll unhappy with his playing. Carroll wondered why he agreed to redshirt last season, only to sit on the bench most of this year. Carroll did receive any playing time in the Boilers first five conference games. Gene Keady is unhappy with his fundamentals. Carroll has as many turnovers (seven) as rebounds (ten).

Iowa (11-7, 4-3)

With their 77-58 blowout of Penn State on Saturday, Iowa moved into a three way tie for fourth. Jeff Horner continued his push for all conference with another great all-around performance. Horner had 20 points, eight rebounds, and five rebounds and hit four of six from long distance. Hawkeye guru Steve Alford said that Horner was the key to victory. Pierre Pierce nearly matched Horner’s all court game with 17, seven rebounds and six assists. Glen Worley continued to fill Jared Reiner’s shoes with 14 points and five rebounds.

Iowa exploded to a 45-22 half time lead on 70 percent shooting, including 10-of-14 from three point range. They were able to jump to the big lead by holding the Nittany Lions scoreless for the game’s first six minutes and seven seconds.

Iowa had a similar performance offensively, but did not play as well on the defensive end in a 90-84 loss at Michigan earlier in the week. The Hawks shot 58 percent and made 19 of 26 from the free throw line. Pierce finished with 23, seven rebounds and four assists and Worley with 18 and seven as five Hawkeyes reached double figures. The second half was a parade to the free throw line. Iowa and Michigan combined for 33 shots from the charity stripe after halftime.

Sean Sonderleiter has become the latest Hawkeye who will miss time. Sonderleiter sat out the win against Penn State and it is not known if or when he will return. He is still enrolled in at Iowa and his loss lowers the amount of scholarship players available to Alford to seven. He is apparently leaving the basketball team to deal with some family issues. The 6-9 senior had been under a lot of stress since last summer when his sister died. Sonderleiter had been playing well in Reiner’s absence with averages of 5.4 points and 4,4 rebounds as was leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage, making 73,1 percent of his shots.

Alford wants the Big Ten to enforce the Big Ten’s new policy against taunting opposing players. Pierre Pierce has heard some harsh words on the road in reference to him sitting out last season due to a sexual assault case. The punishment for ignoring the new rule can include the elimination of a university’s student section.

Michigan (12-6, 3-4)

Michigan could be the poster child for the Big Ten. Win at home, lose on the road and fail to get a rhythm going. The Wolverines are only two games out of second, one out of fourth and a game ahead of tenth. Lester Abram’s 24 points led five Wolverines in double figures, as the Wolverines used their best offensive performance of the year to defeat Iowa in Ann Arbor. It was the Big Ten’s highest scoring conference game of the year. They won despite allowing 18 points more than their average. Michigan hit on 10-of-22 from three point range.

They weren’t able to sustain their sharp shooting against the Illini The Wolverines went from a season high 90 versus Iowa, to a season low 52 at Illinois. Bernard Robinson jr., led Michigan with 14 points and six rebounds and Abram had 12. The loss was Michigan’s eighth in a row to Illinois and eleventh in their last twelve to the Illini. The loss in Champaign also snapped a three game Michigan winning streak.

Penn State (9-9, 3-4)

The Lions have followed the 2004 mantra for the middle of the pack teams as well. Penn State began the week with an exciting 63-61 overtime victory over Northwestern. Northwestern seemed to have the answers for Penn State. T.J. Parker scored five points in the last minute and twenty seconds, including a three with thirty seconds left to force the overtime. After four lead changes in the overtime, Penn State seemed to gain control when two Aaron Johnson free throws put the Nittany Lions up three with 29 seconds left. When Jitim Young hit a three with ten seconds remaining, it appeared the game might be headed to a second OT. Ndu Egekeze tipped in Ben Luber’s miss with 1.2 seconds left on the clock after Luber drove the length of the floor to give the Lions the win.

Marlon Smith continued his strong play, as he and Luber played all 45 minutes. Smith had 23 points to place four Lions in double figures. Jan Jagla broke slightly out of his slump for one game with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The win meant that Penn State was at .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2001. The Cats and Lions also went to overtime last season. Johnson also had a strong game with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Penn State had another thump on the road with the 19 point loss at Iowa. Jagla hit only five of 17 shots from the floor to finish with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Smith had 22, but Penn State shot only 33 percent from the floor and 20 percent from outside the arc.

Northwestern (8-10, 3-4)

The Wildcats played well at Penn State but were unable to steal a win. Their 6-for-14 performance from the free throw line normally would have spelled doom, but Penn State shot only 5-14. Their seven for 31 three point shooting also hurt them. Young finished with 16 points and seven rebounds while sitting only three out of 45 minutes. Evan Seacat finished with 13 points and kept the Cats in the game early with three key three pointers. His 13 was one off his season high.

The best cure to a tough loss is to welcome the last place team in the conference. Minnesota brought a 0-6 record to Evanston. The Wildcats rode Jitim Young in the second half for a 61-47 victory. Young scored 26 of his season high 31 points in the second half as NU outscored Minnesota 39-21 in the final stanza after trailing 26-22 at the intermission. Young had 12 straight NU points at one point of the second half and also finished with eight rebounds. The senior from Chicago used a very efficient 10-13 from the floor and 10-15 from the line. Turnovers played an important role. Northwestern ran the Princeton offense to near perfection with only four, as Golden Gophers had 17 turnovers. Bill Carmody can also be proud of the defense his team played, holding Minnesota to 35 percent shooting and 4-of22 from three point range.

Ohio State (10-10, 2-5)

After falling at home to begin the week, Ohio State will try to use the win over Purdue to boost them to better things the remainder of the season. Earlier in the Week, the Big Ten’s co-leader, Wisconsin paid a visit to Columbus and showed why they would have the summit of the Big Ten to themselves at week’s end. The Buckeyes were unable to use a 41-24 rebounding edge to take control of the game. The 1-5 conference start was Ohio State’s worst in the Big Ten since Jim O’Brien’s first season in 1998. After being left behind in their loss at Iowa, Tony Stockman returned to the Buckeye lineup but only contributed six points on 2-8 field goals. Similar to Minnesota at Northwestern, turnovers played a big factor. The Badgers turned the ball over 13 times to the Buckeyes 21.

The win at Purdue could get the Buckeyes back in the Big Ten race. Although they are unlikely to catch the Badgers for first, they are only two out of second, which could prove big come seeding time for the Big Ten Tournament. Last season the Buckeyes made it to the championship game after being seeded eighth going into the tournament. Forward Matt Sylvester will out for four to six weeks with Plantar Fascia in his foot.

Minnesota (8-11, 0-7)

With an 8-4 non-conference record Minnesota’s postseason aspirations seemed very real. Seven conference games later without a win and it appears that the only way the Gophers can go to the postseason is by capturing the Big Ten tournament.

Kris Humphries has had a magical freshman season in Minneapolis and might be on his way to several Big Ten records, but the Gopher’s season appears to be at a loss. Last weeks transfer of Maurice Hargrow has limited Dan Monson’s rotation.

Teams have collapsed on Humphries. The future Big Ten freshman of the year scored only 12 points and took only nine shots in the loss to Northwestern. Humphries scored only one point after the break as Northwestern dominated the second half. He was the only Gopher to finish in double figures in his lowest scoring output of the season.

The loss earlier in the week to Michigan State was even more disappointing. The Gophers blew a 23 point first half lead and Adam Boone missed at runner at the buzzer in overtime as Minnesota fell 78-77. The Gophers had built a 21-4 lead to begin the game and extended it to 37-14 before the Spartans began their furious rally. The Gophers settled in 43-27 at halftime. As has been the case all year, Humphries paced the Gopher attack with 28 points and eight rebounds, and Boone finished with 16.

In the loss to Michigan State, Michael Bauer passed Sam Jacobson to become the school’s all time leader in three point field goals with 174. Aaron Robinson earned his second career start and finished with nine points. The other time he was on the court for the jump ball was last season versus Illinois.

     

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