Big 10 Hoops Media Day: Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue

tom crean

Thursday was Big Ten basketball media day, and with it came a set of special quotes and soundbites. Sure, this day is all about college basketball message control. The Universities and SIDs trying to manipulate the information they want you to have, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting and articulate statements out there.

When you get all the coaches and some of the top players in one conference room, you’ll have lots of gems. In fact, I’m going to do a separate post or two on the Michigan State Spartans Tom Izzo. but here’s some of the better non-Izzo soundbites.

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Big Ten Basketball Season to Take a Small Step Down This Year

Jared Sullinger

Since 2009, we all saw this coming. Back then Big Ten basketball was dominated by a large group of sophomores that would only raise the conference profile higher to it’s peak in 2011. And we knew that once that group was gone (Kalin Lucas, Talor Battle, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Durrell Summers, Demetri McCamey etc.) the next year would see the conference take a small step backward.

Taking a look at the list of players who appeared at this year’s conference media day only verifies that fact. Preseason player of the year, and 2012 NBA Draft lottery pick Jared Sullinger was slated to appear, but did not come to Chicago due to a midterm, according to one Ohio State SID official. (So I guess those of you who believe in the sanctity of academics over athletics won this round?)

To me that was the scoop/story of the day right there, even though it was an afterthought exchange mentioned in passing. When the conference POY is supposed to be here, but isn’t, kind of overshadows the rest of the day’s events, eh?

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Coaches Rock Upon the Mic Right at Big 10 Media Day

bruce weber erin andrews

Many college basketball experts believe the Big Ten will be the best conference in the nation this year. And on paper, it certainly looks that way, as they have a first team all conference squad of players who have ruled the Big Ten since they were sophomores. Now they have reached their prime.

And when it comes to coaches, the Big Ten has a fine a pedigree as any. Minnesota’s Tubby Smith was at Big Ten Media Day yesterday, and we discussed the current media landscape, where credibility and lack of credibility lies within it, social media, the meta of social media, the human nature of communication, the meaning behind medium of communication.

Just like I did with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. But those are separate posts for another occasion. For now, let’s highlight what was said at the podium by the other coaches. And we’ll actually talk basketball here. Really, I promise.

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Despite Media Day Reports, Joe Paterno Still not Dead

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As I went through my Big Ten Media Day audio and transcript of legendary Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno, I thought “wow, some of my media brethren are ghouls. There’s a lot in here about death and illness.”

And this is very important because the 83-year-old Paterno is THE “get” of Big Ten Media Days. He’s like a college football version of Yoda, Jackie Mason and Rodney Dangerfield combined.

He summed up the day’s theme best at the dais:

“what did Mark Twain say, the rumor of my death has been over-exaggerated or something, I forget.  I used to know a little bit more about those. I really ?? I didn’t lose any time.  I had, as I said, the problem I had was not having control of some things, and I had to be careful that I didn’t get myself in a position where I would embarrass myself.”

JoePa was so detailed about his “ailments,” because the media fixated on it.

By Paul M. Banks

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2010 Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Ohio State– Yes, it’s kind of boring that the 5 time consecutive conference champion is the overwhelming favorite yet again. But this is not a boring team, they’re a legitimate national title contender. Half their secondary is nominated for the Thorpe Award (nation’s best DB), half their DL should be taken in the first couple rounds of the NFL Draft, They have the two best LBs in the Big Ten…well you get the idea. Because it’s the same story on the other side of the ball too. The Big Ten is once again there’s for the taking.

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Big Ten Media Day 1 Wrap Up – Bigwig Edition

Big Ten Conference media day
While the coaches were guilty of a lot of your typical coach-speak — interjected with humor and frivolity too, though — the heavy hitters at the first day of Media Day were certainly Bill Carollo (the Big Ten Coordinator of Officials), Mark Silverman (The Big Ten Network President) and Jim Delany (the Big Ten Conference commissioner).

Carollo and Silverman were two of the most interesting guests of the entire two-day process, and when Delany wasn’t busy talking about expansion and the Big Ten Championship Game (coming to you live from somewhere in December of 2011!), he had some nuggets as well.

Some of the more interesting tidbits below the jump. [Read more…]

Big Ten Media Day One Wrap-up, Coaches Edition

big ten conference
Check out that snazzy graphic above.  Study it.  Love it.

And then realize that this is the last year that it will be relevant and current.

Much like the conference expansion dominated the news after the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Big Ten’s expansion to add Nebraska was the dominant topic of Big Ten Media Day on day 1.

It got a little tiresome, quite frankly. [Read more…]

Ron Zook on The Rose Bowl, Being Relaxed and Martez Wilson at Media Day

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Perhaps the fate of University of Illinois football coach Ron Zook DOES lie in this year’s performance. He’s not feeling the pressure to win now, however, either way.

“No, I don’t, to be honest with you,” Zook said at Monday’s media day press conferences. “I think everyone that stands up here today has got pressure.  Obviously some of us have more than others.  I think the thing that you try to do is you do the best you can do.”

The problem with that statement is that over the last couple of seasons, Zook’s best hasn’t nearly been good enough. [Read more…]

2010 Big Ten QB Power Rankings

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It’s Big Ten Media Day! The first of two actually!  You know what that means: football season will soon be here! So let’s talk shop.

By Paul M. Banks

1. Terelle Pryor, Ohio State. No surprise here. You know all about this kid. But seriously, WHY DIDNT THEY BRING HIM TO MEDIA DAY???

2. Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin. Has little to no NFL potential, and he’s about as exciting and flashy as Ben Stein, but he commanded last year’s number one offense, and scoring offense, in the Big Ten. As good as he was last year, he still needs to cut down on big game interceptions.

3. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State. His early season position battle with Keith Nichol seems to have really faciliatated his development. He’s a true dual threat. Trying to stop him this fall will be like hitting on a woman out at a bachelorette party- your outcome will just not be favorable.

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Big Ten Basketball Media Day Musings

izzo

By Paul M. Banks

The Big Ten is light years stronger than it is in football. So the theme of the day was the strength of the conference, most specifically, the talent in the class of 2011. This year’s preseason all-conference team was similar to last year’s postseason all-conference team; all five were sophomores then and juniors now. Imagine how strong the conference will be when those guys are seniors. With the exception of Ohio State’s Evan Turner, who’s a projected lottery pick now, all of them should be back for what could be a magical 2010-2011 season. But from top to bottom, the conference is extremely deep, and 8 of the 11 teams could make the NCAA tournament this year, and 7 qualified last year.Evan-Turner

Also today, the slightly less credible and slightly more biased of the two major polls, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, was released. If you don’t think it’s more fickle than the AP poll, take a look at who’s playing on an ESPN network in a given week, and look at how much lower they’re ranked in the AP poll. Michigan State, last year’s national runner-up, got ranked #2 with 3 first place votes and Purdue was #7. Michigan #15, Ohio State #17, Minnesota #18 with Illinois just missing the top 25.

Of course, the grand marshal of the Big Ten b-ball media day parade is Tom Izzo, the dean of coaches who’s been at Michigan State for 15 years. He is to this day what Joe Paterno is to football media day. H to the Izzo made a big statement when he took the microphone.

“I’ve been in the league now 26, 27th year as a GA on up. And I definitely thought early it was great when I first got in with all those great coaches, and then maybe we had a little bit of a lull. And then in ’99, 2000, we had two teams in the Final Four and I thought it was really good but I think this is the best it’s been since maybe that date. And because of that, I honestly see nine or 10, eight, nine teams that realistically could win the league. And, yeah, some are better than others right now. When you look at Purdue, Ohio State. I think Michigan is going to be much improved. I think Illinois will be much improved. And Purdue, with everybody back, we won it by four games last year, but understand Robbie Hummel made a lot of that possible.

And he’s back healthy and Matt’s done an incredible job with that program. And you just start looking around. Bo’s teams are always going to be good. Northwestern, I mean, Bill’s — I told him I was going to put pressure on him. This is his year to get there. And I think it is. I really honestly do.”

That’s right, Izzo said Northwestern will make the tournament for the first time in school history! And this was another storyline that was often revisited during the day. Last year, I wrote a story saying NU could make the tournament. I took some criticism on NBC’s site and even got called-out by one of my own writers. The next week, Northwestern beat a ranked team, then beat Izzo’s Spartans at Michigan State. Then every major media outlet covering college basketball did the same story I did two weeks earlier. I never received any validation from my detractors, and unfortunately, the Wildcats faded down the stretch and didn’t make the tourney.

Here’s how Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody responded to Izzo’s optimistic prediction.

Q. Tom Izzo just said this is the year for you guys to make the tournament. There’s a lot of that talk. Do you welcome that pressure?

COACH CARMODY: Yeah, I don’t think it’s that much pressure. If you have some good players, which I think we do, we look forward to it. That’s why you’re here. There’s 330 Division I teams and that’s everyone’s goal right now to get in the NCAA. It’s going to be a tough year in the conference. That’s the only thing. I think we have probably one of our better teams coming up. But just looking around from top to bottom that the league is very strong and so it’s going to be difficult. But I don’t see it’s really pressure. I think the guys sort of embrace that.

Look for a lot more on that storyline, as well as plenty of Michigan State and Northwestern coverage this winter.

But getting back to Izzo, he’s the rock star of the one-on-one interviews during the two hour period of media availability. There’s always a line for him, and a crowd listening to what he says. Protocol dictates you wait your turn to get up and talk to him. Unless you’re that old white douchebag with the ugly, creepy hair that used to be a Chicago Tribune columnist, then you just jump in and cut people off- same with some other old douche on the other side of me. Izzo was all class though, he saw what happened.TomIzzoGrandRapids

He made sure the collegiate female reporter, who was there longer than I, got all her questions in, in turn. And when one of the old jackass reporters tried cutting me off, I leaned in to make sure that didn’t happen. Izzo was smart in reading my body language, and patted me on the shoulder when my turn came up. He was most accommodating, and like I said before, all class. Last year’s Big Ten player of the year, and this year’s POY Kalin Lucas, is fortunate to have such a fine coach.

But like forwards battling down low for a rebound, reporters have to aggressively push and shove for position too. All in all, it was a fun and productive morning, even more so than Big Ten football media day.

And I enjoyed it much more than those two afternoons in July because 1.) Unlike in football, practice has already been going on for a couple weeks, so you’re already more in the mood for the event

2.)  You can feel the added national relevance here, and that additional buzz feels nice.