This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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All Big Ten teams; coaches looking ahead to Big Ten tournament

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball Updated: March 6, 2012 - 12:04 PM

 

Izzo was named Coach of the Year

Izzo was named Coach of the Year

 

The All-Big Ten Conference teams (media):

First team:

Tim Frazier, Penn State

Robbie Hummel, Purdue

John Shurna, Northwestern

Draymond Green, Michigan State

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

 

Second team:

Trey Burke, Michigan

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

Matt Gatens, Iowa

William Buford, Ohio State

Cody Zeller, Indiana

 

Third team:

Keith Appling, Michigan State

Aaron Craft, Ohio State

Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan

Drew Crawford, Northwestern

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

 

Player of the Year: Draymond Green

Freshman of the Year: Trey Burke

 

As teams head into the Big Ten tournament, everyone is fighting for something. Some teams, for a new achievement; others for better seeding in the NCAA. Many – including the Gophers – for a Hail Mary shot at the championship game and a miracle run to the Big Dance. With all the drama, there were plenty of quotable coaches on the Big Ten media conference call yesterday.


Some highlights:

Indiana’s Tom Crean, on his case for Cody Zeller to be named freshman of the year: “What Cody’s impact has been on this team – a lot of it has shown up statistically, and there’s no doubt about that – but so much of it has shown up in how we’ve played. And when you take a team that a year ago was 162nd in three point percentage in the country and as of last week we were fourth, and Cody hasn’t even taken a three-point shot, that shows the kind of impact he has, because it’s a lot of the same players have gotten better, but Cody’s made everyone better. And when somebody play the position that he plays that can fill a stat sheet, that can impact the game on both ends of the floor, but more importantly than any of that, that can make everyone better. … He’s the one that has really played by far the most out of anybody that’s new on the team. And I think that impact speaks for itself in the way that he just continues to make us better. When we grade this thing out defensively and when we look at the numbers that really matter for us defensively, especially the deflections, he’s been in the top 2-3, he’s second behind Oladipo for the entire season and there’s rarely been a game when he’s not in those top two or three.

"He’s impacting the game in so many ways of keeping the ball alive for us, getting balls tipped out of the post, all those different things. At the end of the day, this game comes down to 50-50 balls, and he leads our team in getting those.”

Iowa’s Fran McCaffery on his team’s defensive improvement: “You go back to some of those early games where we were really struggling – I think we got exposed against Creighton. They’re a very offensive team, but our offense was abysmal that day and that added into it but our defense was as bad as I’ve seen. And we’ve had a few others – our defense against Campbell, while they played extremely well – was not good. Our defense against Northern Iowa was horrendous. … We were struggling on the defensive end of the floor. And you’re thinking to yourself, if we don’t get this corrected, can you imagine what this is going to be like when we go into Big Ten play – we’re going to get destroyed. And you saw it certainly at Wisconsin, certainly what we were capable of doing. But we had some improvement and then we had some relapses and then it started to get much more consistent. And it starts with our guards – Matt [Gatens] has been terrific. [Roy Devyn] Marble has gotten better, [Bryce] Cartwright got healthy and more capable of putting pressure on the basketball. But I think [Zach] McCabe, [Melsahn] Basabe have gotten better and those two guys have been foul prone, and then Aaron White, he’s a guy that struggled with stamina, and that’s going to affect your defense more than it affects your offense. And he was not playing good defense eary in the season and he got himself to the point where he was going to play harder and be tougher … and he’s made a huge difference.”


Illinois’ Bruce Weber on contemplating the possibility of bringing starters Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard off the bench as he did in the Feb. 26 game against Iowa: “The disappointing thing is that you’re 28-29 games into the season and you have to fight to get the kids to have a competitive spirit. After, I think we got their attention and obviously they played at a high level that game and they responded pretty well in practice in the days after that and that’s why we started them against Michigan and also against Wisconsin. I thought in the second half [Sunday against Wisconsin], Brandon had one of his better halves and Meyers played with energy. We just have to have the sense of urgency that it seemed like we did against Iowa when they came off the bench right from the start. … If that makes a difference, maybe we’ll make it a shot.”

Penn State’s Patrick Chambers on his team’s attitude going into the tournament: “You’re playing with house money. You go in -- no one expects you to win, everyone expects you to lose. And I think our freshmen are really getting better and I think Tim Frazier, he can still get better and he continues to get better. So there’s no pressure. Let’s just go out and have fun, let’s compete, let’s play hard, lets play loose and let’s see what happens over the course of 40 minutes. And that’s the mentality we’re going to take.”

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo on Buckeye William Buford’s last-second shot to push Ohio State over Michigan State on Sunday: “I recruited Buford and I love the kid, but let’s face it, he has not had a very good February. And he made the last shot that was about contested as you get, but he made two other threes that were very, very tough shots and I think that was the difference in the game. When you make those shots … I think Ravenel helped them out a lot too but I think Buford making shots is the difference. They were going in and they were going in at a high level and they went in at critical times; every time we got it up to 5 or 7, even later in the second half, he hit a big three or made a big shot. I think that’s what basketball is. … Give him credit he made them, especially since he hasn’t had what I would call a normal Buford-type February. My hat's off to him.”

 

 

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