The season is winding down, but the league’s excitement is not. There’s still plenty left to play for, and to talk about. Some highlight from this week’s Big Ten coaches conference call:
Indiana’s Tom Crean on Cody Zeller: “Cody is unique; and I’ve never been around a freshman quite like him. He’s so good at impacting the game in so many ways. [Sunday] is a great example. It wasn’t a great scoring or rebounding game but when you watch the film and you watch how he affects the game with his help defense, with his deflections, with his activity, with his running, with his passing. Just being such a presence on the floor. That’s a strong, strong statement. Cody affects the stat sheet, but he really, really affects the game in ways that don’t come through in the stat sheet. I think the big thing we saw from Cody from game one to game two, he’s shown how quick and willing he was to figure things out. And then he carried it right into the next game against Ohio State. Now he fouled out at the very end – but we don’t get the win without the way he played. And certainly Ohio State was a physical team that day and Cody adjusted to that in a big. I think what’s happened is over a period of time, Cody has shown the more physical you are with him, the better he’s going to be. I don’t think that affects him. I think he relishes it."
Iowa’s Fran McCaffery on the Hawkeyes struggles in slow starts on the road: “I thought we were getting good shots … and if you’re not getting good shots, you’re really concerned because you’re not running your shots efficiently. … I thought in particular [Devyn] Marble in the first half, I thought he didn’t take a bad shot, I think he took shots in his range, I think he took shots at the appropriate time on the shot clock. They didn’t go in. and they normally do from where he shot the ball. And the other thing that’s a little bit of a concern is we didn’t convert in transition [Sunday] in either half. We had multiple transition opportunities, which is normally one of our strengths and we just didn’t do it. That was one thing that was of a concern to me, we just didn’t pass it well on the break.”
Purdue’s Matt Painter on Robbie Hummel, who was named Big Ten co-player of the week: “He’s stayed the course. Even as shots haven’t been going down and things haven’t been going his way, he’s stayed positive and he’s kept plugging. But that’s the kind of kid he is – he’s probably not a kid anymore. It was well deserved. I think anytime your team wins some individual awards are going to follow.”
Painter, on the team dynamic without Kelsey Barlow, who was dismissed a couple weeks ago: “Anytime something happens as a coach it doesn’t make you feel good- - you want to help each and every guy. But you move forward, the thing we’ve been able to do from a basketball standpoint, we’ve been able to put a little more skill on the court in terms of guys shooting the ball. I think it’s allowed a couple of guys – especially Tyrone Johnson -- to play through his mistakes a little more and having more opportunities and obviously that helped us at Michigan. And we’ve made shots … and anytime that happens, you feel better about yourself. But it’s just been two games. So I don’t know if we have enough data to speak on it and have a strong conviction that this is why we’re this way.”
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo on the specialness of this season: “I don’t think there’s any question his is one of the years where I think we kind of came out of nowhere but not being top 25 and deservingly. … For Michigan State, we’ve seen one of the great resurgences over last year, and we’ve seen one of the great leaders [in Draymond Green] that we’ve had here in the last 50 years. He’s right up there in the same breath with [Mateen Cleaves and Magic Johnson] that we already know as far as what he did for this team and this program and this university. You’ll see Draymond at a volleyball game or a hockey game, he’s had sort of incredible impact on helping recruit. He just has that same gene that Mateen and Earvin [Magic Johnson] had. That I think we’re always searching for, but you’ve got to almost be lucky to find it.”
Tubby Smith on Sunday’s game: “One of the worst performances we’ve had in a long time, especially here at home. We didn’t do the job we needed to do – we didn’t take care of the ball the way we needed to. Psychologically, we’ve got to find a way to get our kids back up. Certainly heading to Wisconsin will be a real test of our character.”