Jan. 16, 2011
[ONE // finalizing the football season]
With the bowl season now complete, the Big Ten was one of only three conferences to place two teams among the top eight in the final Associated Press (AP) and USA Today coaches polls. The Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC each placed two programs among the top eight in the final national rankings, with Ohio State ending the year rated fifth in both polls while Wisconsin was tabbed seventh by the AP and tied for eighth in the coaches poll. The Big Ten placed at least one team among the final top 10 for the ninth consecutive year and produced at least two top-10 programs for the seventh time in the last nine seasons. In addition, the final Big Ten football release has been posted on the conference’s website, highlighting the fact the Big Ten was one of only two conferences to win three BCS games in last two seasons. The Big Ten also matched a conference record with eight bowl teams, including two in BCS for sixth straight year, and set records for conference attendance.
[TWO // michigan gets its man]
Speaking of football, the University of Michigan has found its man to lead the Wolverines’ football team. Athletic director Dave Brandon announced Tuesday the hiring of Brady Hoke as the 19th coach in the 131-year history of Michigan football. Hoke arrives in Ann Arbor after spending the past eight seasons as a head coach at Ball State (2003-08) and San Diego State (2009-10). Hoke was named the 2010 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Aztecs to a 9-4 overall record and 5-3 conference mark. For the full release on Hoke's hiring, click on this link.
[THREE // penn state’s brown drives away with honda award]
Penn State senior volleyball standout Blair Brown won the 2011 Honda Sports Award for volleyball this week, designating her as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in the sport. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 36th year. Brown is the third straight Penn State player to win the award, following Nicole Fawcett in 2009 and Megan Hodge in 2010. It is the fifth time a Big Ten player has won the honor as the Nittany Lions' Lauren Cacciamani won the 1999 award and Illinois' Mary Eggers in 1998. Brown won Big Ten Player of the Year honors this season and ended her career as a three-time AVCA All-American and a four-time national champion. This past year she led Penn State with 521 kills, averaging 4.24 kills per set on .320 hitting.
[FOUR // seven soccer standouts selected for next level]
Seven former Big Ten men's soccer players were chosen in the MLS SuperDraft, which took place on Thursday in Baltimore. The field of selected conference players included four first-round selections, one second-round choice and two third-round picks. Indiana forward Will Bruin was taken 11th overall by the Houston Dynamo, while former teammate Rich Balchan was chosen with the next pick by the Columbus Crew. Penn State forward Corey Hertzog was selected 13th overall by the New York Red Bulls. Columbus also took Michigan forward Justin Meram 15th overall, rounding out the Big Ten players taken in the first round. Michigan State defender Colin Givens was selected by the Colorado Rapids with the 18th pick of the second round. Former Ohio State teammates Matt Gold and Konrad Warzycha were both chosen in the third round, with Gold getting picked by Toronto FC with the seventh selection and Warzycha going to Sporting Kansas City with the 10th pick.
[FIVE // buckeyes stay perfect to earn sole big ten lead; spartans take two overtime thrillers]
What a week of Big Ten men’s basketball! Ohio State ended the week in sole possession of first place – and likely as the No. 1 team in the nation following a Duke loss – after two thrilling wins over Michigan and Penn State. The Buckeyes held on for a 68-64 victory over the Wolverines on Wednesday and fought off the Nittany Lions, 69-66, on Saturday. OSU is now 5-0 in conference play and one game ahead of Michigan State and Purdue at 4-1. The Boilermakers fell 70-67 to Minnesota on Thursday, while the Spartans earned a 64-61 overtime thriller against Wisconsin on Tuesday and then held off Northwestern 71-67 in an extra session on Saturday. The Badgers rebounded to top Illinois on Saturday, 76-66, after the Illini dropped a 57-55 heartbreaker to Penn State on Tuesday. In other Big Ten action, Indiana notched its first conference victory of the year with an 80-61 result over Michigan, while Minnesota and Northwestern both defeated Iowa this week.
[SIX // big ten trio on point for cousy award]
The Big Ten ranks second among all conferences with three players - Illinois' Demetri McCamey, Michigan State's Kalin Lucas and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor - named among the 20 finalists for the 2011 Bob Cousy Award, it was announced on Wednesday. The Bob Cousy Award is given to the top collegiate male basketball point guard annually spanning across all divisions within the game by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The selection criteria emphasize leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals as being critical parts for the game of basketball as a point guard.
[SEVEN // an iconic buckeye]
From the backcourt to the frontcourt now, Ohio State's Jerry Lucas was named this past week as Big Ten Icon No. 8. The countdown of Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover, continued on Sunday with a profile of the Middletown, Ohio, native who was a three-time All-American, three-time Big Ten Most Valuable Player, two-time National Player of the Year and two-time Final Four MVP for the Buckeyes. After leading Ohio State to its second straight NCAA final, Lucas became the first college basketball player to win Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, beating out Roger Maris in the same year he broke Babe Ruth's home run record. Learn more about the latest Big Ten Icon by viewing Lucas’ locker here.
[EIGHT // doing the splits]
Talk about a competitive week in women’s basketball! With all 11 teams in conference action this week, nine of the squads played two league games, and seven of those teams notched both a win and a loss. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin all went 1-1 on the week, while Michigan (1-0) and Penn State (2-0) earned perfect marks. Minnesota lost its lone contest on the week and Indiana dropped both of its games. Among the highlights this past week was Northwestern’s 63-53 win over No. 24 Ohio State, which marked the Wildcats first win over the Buckeyes since 1999. OSU responded on Sunday with an upset of its own, defeating No. 9 Michigan State, 67-53.
[NINE // big ten duo among wooden’s midseason top 20]
Congratulations to Iowa's Kachine Alexander and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender, who were named to the John R. Wooden Award midseason top 20 list on Tuesday morning. Alexander and Lavender have guided their teams to top-25 status this season, as Alexander is averaging 14.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, while Lavender leads the Big Ten in scoring (23.8) and rebounding (11.7). The finalists will be announced in March, with the winner being honored on April 8.
[TEN // a true legend and leader]
During the same week the Big Ten confirmed it would test out its Legends and Leaders divisions for the 2011 football season, a timely article was posted Sunday on a legendary leader of Big Ten football. Dave Parry, the conference’s longtime coordinator of officials and now the national coordinator for College Football Officiating, will retire from his post on Feb. 1. Al Lesar of the South Bend Tribune wrote a nice commentary Sunday on the nearby Michigan City, Ind., resident, who made his name in football on integrity and the pursuit of excellence he wanted for each of his officials. Parry was also an integral figure in pioneering college football’s instant replay system, which was introduced by the Big Ten under his watch.
[ELEVEN // learning about a legacy]
Finally this week, Steve Batterson of the Quad-City Times penned a nice article on Minnesota basketball head coach Tubby Smith prior to the Golden Gophers’ win over Iowa on Sunday. On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Batterson writes about how Smith continues to teach his players on Dr. King’s legacy and how things were much different when the Minnesota mentor grew up as one of 16 kids in Maryland. "My players have been given a great opportunity to play Division I basketball, and it is because of the pioneers who came before them that they have this chance," Smith said in the article. "I would hope they would understand that it all came about because of the sacrifice of others who came before them." It’s a great read and one of importance as we pause to honor Dr. King on Monday.