Big Ten media day: Catching up around the conference

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  • November 1, 2013 - 7:14 AM

Today was Big Ten media day which is always interesting and highly hectic. And held really early in the morning.

There will be plenty of coverage from the event to peruse in tomorrow's paper and in the days to come on the blog, but for now I will leave you with a few notes from around the league.

John Groce said expect to see Illinois push the pace a bit more than the Illini did last year, with more depth. "Are we at that point now where we have nine or 10 ready to do that?" Groce said. "Players play players. They've got to earn that. In a perfect world, have we recruited and built ourselves more for speed? Yes, we have. So I think we're headed in that direction. Will we get to the top of that tempo, so to speak, this year? That remains to be seen."

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said sophomore guard Gary Harris -- who decided to stay another year in East Lansing rather than chase the bright lights of the NBA -- could end up as one of the best guards he's ever coached. “There are a couple of unique things about Gary Harris,” Izzo said. “One is his mental approach to things. He's a very humble kid, and he's low maintenance. That's odd this day and age. And the second thing, he's a shooter that guards people. And that's odd in this day and age, or any age, in fact, now that I think back to some of the guys that we've had many years ago. So I just think that he came back because he wanted to come back. He came back to try to accomplish more. He stayed up there all summer, didn't go to the USA stuff or this or that. He just wanted to rehab, get healthy and get better. And he’s a gym rat.”

Indiana coach Tom Crean described why freshman power forward Noah Vonleh is special: "He's got a special work ethic and he's got a special humility," Crean said. "Sometimes the word "sponge" can be used and it'sreally just a lot of hyperbole, when it comes to somebody that really wants to learn the game and get better. Not with him. He's high level in wanting to get better. For somebody with that kind of talent and ability, it's fun to watch. He understands there's things that he doesn't know but he wants to get them. And he wants to get them that day. And the work ethic for an 18-year-old, just two months into his 18-year-old birthday is amazing."

New Northwestern coach Chris Collins said that it's been an adjustment to start to ease his players out of the Princeton-style system that Bill Carmody ran with the Wildcats because such a style requires constant work. "To kind of get out of a little bit of those things has been an adjustment," Collins said. "And really, initially, in the spring, the summer, we held off on putting in a lot of offense because I wanted the guys to really just get out and play and see kind of the guys I was working with, what they could be good at. And, really, we concentrated more initially on our defense. And I wanted them to kind of show what they could do offensively and freelance a little bit."

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said that he's been mostly using Josh Gasser as a wing in practice this year, since Traevon Jackson had such a good season at point a year ago while Gasser was down with an ACL injury. "I think Trae getting that experience at handling the ball and running the team a little bit, I think that's going to help us going into this year, because our front line will be so young," Ryan said. The coach said he'll still use Gasser occasionally at point because he likes his leadership and ball handling, but said the No. 1 hurdle for the redshirt freshman is getting over the mental pain from the injury.


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