March 15, 2009
[ONE // boilers battle back to beat buckeyes]
Congratulations to the Purdue men’s basketball team for claiming the 2009 Big Ten Tournament Championship at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Sunday. After dropping three of their last four regular season games, the Boilermakers responded with an impressive performance in the postseason tournament and bested Ohio State, 65-61, in the final game. Purdue’s Robbie Hummel was named the Most Outstanding Player of the event and joined teammates JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, as well as Illinois’ Mike Davis and Ohio State’s Evan Turner on the All-Tournament Team.
[TWO // nine conference basketball teams set for postseason play]
A record-tying seven Big Ten teams were selected Sunday to participate in the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. Conference Champion Michigan State and Big Ten Tournament Champion Purdue will represent the conference along with Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. The seven teams selected to participate ties a conference record. The Big Ten also had seven teams participate in 1990. The Big Ten was tied with the ACC and Big East for the most participants in this year's tournament. In addition, Northwestern and Penn State were invited Sunday to the 2009 Postseason NIT.
[THREE // postseason honors announced in men’s basketball]
Following a season in which sophomores dominated the Big Ten men's basketball landscape, underclassmen were well-represented on the 2008-09 All-Big Ten teams with all five first-team selections wrapping up their second season on campus. Michigan State's Kalin Lucas captured the conference's highest honor last Monday, as he was named Big Ten Player of the Year in voting by conference coaches and media. Lucas was joined on both first teams by fellow sophomores Manny Harris of Michigan, Evan Turner of Ohio State, Talor Battle of Penn State and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue. Nine of the 15 standouts named to the All-Big Ten first, second and third teams were sophomores while two juniors and four seniors were also honored. In addition, Spartan Travis Walton was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches and two Ohio State freshmen were also honored, with William Buford tabbed as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year by the coaches and media and B.J. Mullens selected as the Sixth Man of the Year by the coaches. Two mentors shared Big Ten Coach of the Year accolades, as Michigan State's Tom Izzo was chosen by his peers and Penn State's Ed DeChellis was honored by the media.
[FOUR // men’s track teams and athletes produce at ncaa championships]
Three Big Ten men’s track and field teams finished in the top 30 at the NCAA Indoor Championships this past week in College Station, Texas. Indiana and Minnesota tied for 14th, while Wisconsin tied for 29th. Three student-athletes finished runner-up in their respective events, as Indiana’s Derek Drouin (high jump), Minnesota’s Aaron Studt (shot put) and Wisconsin’s Craig Miller (mile) each took home the silver. Other top-five performances included Penn State’s Ryan Fritz (3rd, high jump), Minnesota’s Hassan Mead (3rd, 3,000-meter), Michigan’s Adam Harris (4th, 60-meter) and Indiana’s Jeff Coover (4th, pole vault).
[FIVE // women’s track and field teams perform impressively as well]
Highlighted by an individual title from Michigan sprinter Tiffany Ofili, who captured the 60-meter hurdle crown, the Big Ten had eight teams finish in the top 30 at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Penn State led the way with a seventh-place finish, followed by Michigan (11th), Minnesota (T-12th), Illinois (T-27th) and Iowa (T-27th) rounding out the women’s top-30 finishers. Penn State’s Gayle Hunter (pentathlon) and Minnesota’s Alicia Rue (pole vault) finished second in their respective events, while other top-five performances included Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri (4th, 3,000-meter), Bianca Stuart (4th, long jump) and Aja Evans (5th, shot put), Iowa’s Racheal Marchand (3rd, 5,000-meter), Michigan’s Bettie Wade (5th, pentathlon), Minnesota’s Heather Dorniden (3rd, 800-meter), Penn State’s women’s 4x400-meter relay (3rd), Bridget Franek (4th, 5,000-meter) and Aleesha Barber (4th, 60-meter hurdles).
[SIX // big ten wrestling announces postseason honors]
The Big Ten announced the 2009 Wrestling All-Big Ten Team and individual honors at the conclusion of the championship rounds last Sunday. Iowa’s Brent Metcalf earned Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships for the second straight season, becoming the first Hawkeye to earn the honor twice. Metcalf was coached by Tom Brands, who brought home Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive year. Northwestern’s Jake Herbert was awarded Wrestler of the Year accolades, while Andrew Howe of Wisconsin garnered Freshman of the Year laurels. Members of the 2009 All-Big Ten Team included: Illinois’ Mike Poeta, Indiana’s Angel Escobedo, Iowa’s Brent Metcalf and Daniel Erekson, Michigan’s Kellen Russell, Steven Luke and Tyrel Todd, Michigan State’s Franklin Gomez, Northwestern’s Jake Herbert, and Wisconsin’s Andrew Howe.
[SEVEN // northwestern’s pollard wins 250th in sweep]
Congratulations to Claire Pollard, who won her 250th match as Northwestern women’s tennis head coach this past Saturday. The Wildcats helped Pollard reach the milestone on their home court with a 7-0 sweep against No. 35 Indiana. In 10-plus seasons, Pollard has racked up a record of 250-51 and has never won fewer than 19 dual matches in a season during her time in Evanston. She has also led the Wildcats to a Big Ten title every year since her arrival.
[EIGHT // buckeyes’ kalafatis takes home 700th career win]
Speaking of Big Ten coaching milestones, congratulations to Ohio State head softball coach Linda Kalafatis for earning her 700th career win with an 11-3 five-inning victory over Eastern Michigan on Sunday. The win improved Kalafatis’ record to 700-391-2 in her 21st season as a collegiate head coach. In addition, the Buckeyes secured their ninth-consecutive win and improved to 20-3 on the season. They also reached 20 wins in the fewest games in program history (23), besting the previous mark of 25 games in 2002.
[NINE // big ten softball upset part one]
Staying on the softball field, the Big Ten recorded a pair of impressive upsets this past week. Penn State took home a 9-6 victory over No. 12 Arizona over the weekend behind a pair of 3-run homers by senior center fielder Sam Hovanec and sophomore shortstop Desi Giordano. The victory moved the Nittany Lions to 9-10 on the season while the Wildcats dropped to 25-6.
[TEN // big ten softball upset part two]
The other Big Ten softball upset involved the Purdue Boilermakers. They ousted No. 18 Texas A&M on Friday thanks in large part to an impressive pitching performance by sophomore Suzie Rzegocki, who struck out a career-high 11 and allowed just two hits in Purdue's 3-1 victory. The win was the Boilermakers' second over a Top 25 team this year, following a season-opening victory over No. 4 UCLA. The pair of Top 25 wins marked the first time Purdue had knocked off two ranked foes in the same season since 2000.
[ELEVEN // buckeye baseball gets pitt from both sides]
Finally this week, we stay on the diamond but move to the sport of baseball. What a performance by Ohio State sophomore pitcher Alex Wimmers, who struck out 15 batters and went the distance in a 20-3 win over Pittsburgh Friday. Obviously with 20 runs, the OSU offense had a hand in the victory as the 30th-ranked Buckeyes totaled 20 hits. Wimmers recorded the first complete game of the season for an Ohio State pitcher, scattering six hits and allowing three earned runs while walking only two batters and running his record to 3-0 on the season. His strikeout total was the most by any Buckeye since Major Leaguer Scott Lewis struck out 15 in a 2003 game.