March 6, 2011
[ONE // big ten network names illinois’ grange conference’s top icon]
In the world of college football, he has been called the greatest player of all time, is a charter member of its hall of fame and his sensational career vaulted the sport into the national consciousness for the first time. Now, Illinois’ Red Grange, the “Galloping Ghost,” has been named the No. 1 Big Ten Icon by the Big Ten Network. Presented by Discover and hosted by Keith Jackson, the Big Ten Icons countdown of the conference’s top 50 student-athletes concludes at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, following the network’s coverage of that day’s action in the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.
[TWO // buckeyes capture third-straight women’s basketball tournament title]
The Ohio State women's basketball team has captured the Big Ten Tournament title for the third-straight season. The fifth-seeded Buckeyes defeated No. 2 seed Penn State, 84-70, Sunday afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The 14-point win tied the largest margin of victory in Big Ten Tournament finals history, which was set back in 1999. Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis led Ohio State, with Lavender recording 23 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists, and Prahalis posting 23 points, 9 assists and 3 rebounds. All week long BigTen.org followed the action in the Big Ten Tournament Blog, which can be found by clicking here.
[THREE // ohio state’s lavender shares player of the year award, make history]
The Big Ten Conference announced the women's basketball all-conference teams and individual award winners this past Monday. Michigan State's Kalisha Keane was selected as the Big Ten Player of the Year by the conference coaches, while Ohio State's Jantel Lavender earned top billing from the media. Lavender's award marked her fourth Player of the Year honor, making her the only women's or men's basketball player in conference history to earn the award four times. She is also the only women's basketball player among the Big Ten, ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10 or SEC to accomplish the feat. Michigan State's Lykendra Johnson earned Defensive Player of the Year accolades from the conference coaches, while Spartan head coach Suzy Merchant received the nod from her peers and the media as conference Coach of the Year. Penn State's Maggie Lucas was also honored with the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award by the coaches and media and the Sixth Player of the Year award by the coaches. In addition, All-Big Ten, All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams were announced along with 11 Sportsmanship Award honorees.
[FOUR // penn state earns first-ever big ten wrestling championship]
On the heels of five individual weight class titles, the Penn State wrestling squad earned its first-ever Big Ten Championship on Sunday in Evanston, Ill., winning in thrilling fashion by just one point. The Nittany Lions scored 139 points, followed by Iowa (138), Minnesota (109.5), Wisconsin (103.5) and Michigan (86.5) in the top five. Rounding out the field was Illinois (64), Northwestern (62), Ohio State (57), Purdue (51), Indiana (50), and Michigan State (49.5). Penn State also swept the Big Ten individual awards, as 157-pounder David Taylor earned conference Wrestler and Freshman of the Year accolades, 184-pounder Quentin Wright was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships and head coach Cael Sanderson picked up Coach of the Year honors. For a complete recap and a list of All-Big Ten honorees, click here.
[FIVE // buckeyes earn men’s basketball crown; tournament bracket released]
Congratulations to the Ohio State men’s basketball team on capturing the outright conference championship this past week. The Buckeyes earned a share of the title on Tuesday with an 82-61 rout of Penn State, led by Jon Diebler’s 30 points from a conference-record 10 3-pointers. Diebler then poured in seven 3-pointers on Sunday in a 93-65 drubbing of No. 10 Wisconsin to give the Scarlet and Gray the outright championship. Later on Sunday, the Big Ten released the bracket for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Ohio State earned the top seed, followed by No. 2 Purdue, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Illinois. Rounding out the bracket is No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Michigan State, No. 8 Northwestern, No. 9 Minnesota, No. 10 Iowa and No. 11 Indiana.
[SIX // hoosiers highlight men’s track and field honors]
The Big Ten announced this past Tuesday the 2011 All-Big Ten men's indoor track and field teams and individual award winners. Highlighting the list, Indiana sophomore Andrew Bayer was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Indiana junior Derek Drouin earned the nod as Field Athlete of the Year. Wisconsin's Jay Cato was tabbed Freshman of the Year by the conference coaches while Minnesota head coach Steve Plasencia was named Coach of the Year by his peers. The conference coaches also recognized a pair of student-athletes for their performances at this year's Big Ten Indoor Championships as Bayer and Drouin took home Track and Field Athlete of the Championships laurels, respectively. The conference also announced All-Big Ten first and second teams at the conclusion of the Championships on Feb. 27. Eleven Sportsmanship Award honorees were also announced.
[SEVEN // indiana, ohio state and purdue in women’s track and field]
The Big Ten Conference office also announced this past Tuesday the 2011 All-Big Ten women's indoor track and field teams and individual award winners. Highlighting the list, Ohio State junior Christina Manning was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Indiana senior Faith Sherrill earned the nod as Field Athlete of the Year. Purdue's Dani Bunch was tabbed Freshman of the Year by the conference coaches while Buckeye head coach Karen Dennis was named Coach of the Year by her peers. In addition, Manning was tabbed Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships, while Sherrill took home Field Athlete of the Championships laurels for their outstanding performances at the postseason event. The conference also announced All-Big Ten first and second teams at the conclusion of the Championships. Eleven Sportsmanship Award honorees were also announced.
[EIGHT // big ten hoops stars up for national awards]
Three Big Ten basketball standouts were named this week as finalists for major national awards. On the men’s side, Purdue senior JaJuan Johnson and Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger are among the finalists for the 2011 Oscar Robertson Trophy, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced Monday. The Oscar Robertson Trophy is awarded to the USBWA's Player of the Year and has been handed out since Robertson won the inaugural trophy in 1959. The Big Ten is one of three conferences with multiple representatives, having won the award last season with Ohio State standout Evan Turner. The presentation of this year's award will take place on April 1 in Houston in conjunction with the NCAA Men's Final Four. On the women’s side, Purdue's Drey Mingo was named Thursday as one of 10 finalists for the 2011 V Foundation Comeback Award. The award is presented in conjunction with ESPN and the recipient will be announced during ESPN's basketball tournament coverage in early April. On Nov. 23, 2010, Drey was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis and placed in intensive care. Less than 48 hours before, she recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals to help Purdue to a 67-58 victory over DePaul for the Preseason WNIT championship. Remarkably, Mingo has fought her way back to the court and led the Boilers at the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament this past week.
[NINE // welcome to the hall]
This past Monday two former Big Ten basketball standouts were named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction class of 2011. Indiana legend Bob Knight and Michigan standout Cazzie Russell were among six other Hall of Fame inductees. Knight recorded 902 wins during his coaching tenure at first Army then Indiana and finally Texas Tech. His Indiana squads won three NCAA national championships. He is a four-time national coach of the year and coached the 1984 United States Olympic men's basketball team to a gold medal. A member of the 1965 NCAA Final Four all-tournament team, Russell was a three-time all-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year for Michigan. He led the Wolverines to two appearances in the Final Four. Michigan lost to Duke in the 1964 national semifinals and to UCLA in the 1965 championship game. Russell averaged 27 points and nine rebounds over his three-year career. The Class of 2011 will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Nov. 20 at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City as part of a three-day celebration of college basketball.
[TEN // honoring two student-athletes, one commish]
Minnesota cross country and track runner Mike Torchia and Purdue swimmer Allie Smith were named Tuesday as the recipients of the 2011 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award presented by the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership. The award is an annual scholarship recognizing one male and one female Big Ten senior student-athlete pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership. It is given out in conjunction with the Big Ten Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. The Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award is named for the former Big Ten Conference commissioner who served from 1971-89. While leading the Big Ten, Duke spent much of his time working to improve academic standards and graduation rates for student-athletes. Each Big Ten institution was asked to nominate one male and one female student-athlete for 2011, with a $5,000 scholarship awarded to each winner. Torchia and Smith will be honored during a presentation at halftime of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game on Friday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. ET.
[ELEVEN // the celebration continues]
Finally this week, we close by how we began it so to speak. On Monday, the Big Ten concluded its Black History Month campaign after spending the entire month of February honoring African-American student-athletes who have made an impact on each conference campus. But when looking back at the milestone achievements of African-Americans in Big Ten athletics, another celebration of Black History Month continues on the court, on the field, on the diamond and in the classrooms across the Big Ten universities. BigTen.org took a look at some of the current Big Ten student-athletes whose everyday contributions to forwarding the conference mission also continue to build a rich tradition of black history in Big Ten athletics.