June 28, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // celebrating the big ten's finest]
We ended last week's column without knowing who was going to take home the Big Ten's biggest award in Athlete of the Year. We found out that Friday when the league honored Iowa wrestler Brent Metcalf and Northwestern lacrosse standout Hannah Nielsen as the Jesse Owens Male and Suzy Favor Female Athletes of the Year, respectively. Metcalf was the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and the Championships and helped the Hawkeyes earned their 21st national title. At that event, the 149-pound champion was named the NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Wrestler and later took home the Dan Hodge Trophy, given each year to the nation's best wrestler. Metcalf was also the first Hawkeye to earn the league's top honor since 1986. Nielsen earned the Tewaaraton Trophy and the Honda Lacrosse Sports Award, both given to the nation's best collegiate lacrosse player. She led the Wildcats to their fourth-straight NCAA Championship and is the
first NU woman to earn the top Big Ten accolade since 1987.
[TWO // three conference standouts taken in first round of nba draft]
Three Big Ten standouts were taken in the first round of Thursday's NBA Draft. Indiana's Eric Gordon, the conference's Freshman of the Year, was taken seventh overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, while teammate and Big Ten Player of the Year D.J. White was picked 29th by the Detroit Pistons and later traded to Seattle. Prior to White's selection, Ohio State's Kosta Koufas was taken 23rd by the Utah Jazz. The 2008 draft marks the fourth time Indiana has had multiple first-round selections, while Koufas was the fourth Buckeye freshman taken in the first round in two years.
[THREE // pennsylvania avenue welcomes pennsylvania state]
Congratulations once again to the Penn State men's and women's volleyball teams and the Ohio State fencing program on their NCAA Championships this past season. Each team was able to visit the White House this past Tuesday for a tour of the grounds and an opportunity to meet President George W. Bush for NCAA Champions Day. The team captains of both teams presented the President with a jointly-signed Nittany Lion No. 1 volleyball jersey and a red, white and blue volleyball, before taking a group photo. This past season PSU became the second school in NCAA history to have its men's and women's volleyball programs capture the national title in the same school year.
[FOUR // a new journey set to start]
After watching Tubby Smith take his Minnesota basketball squad to the postseason in his first season, Big Ten fans will now have a chance to watch the Illinois football team make another run at the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten Network will air its original series "The Journey" this fall and follow head coach Ron Zook and the Illini every step of the way. The season-long, all-access series debuts at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 2. New episodes will air Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. and the previous week's show will precede the new episode. Last winter, "Minnesota Basketball: The Journey" gave Big Ten followers and in-depth look at the golden Gophers and their first-year head coach.
[FIVE // pair of former hoops stars make olympic team]
Two former Big Ten basketball stars will team with some of the NBA's elite this summer at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Illinois' Deron Williams and Ohio State's Michael Redd were among 12 members named to Team USA this past week. The Big Ten pair will team up with greats like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd to help the U.S. regain Olympic gold. Williams, a second-team All-American in 2005, averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists in his third NBA season last year. Redd tallied scoring averages of 21.9, 19.5, and 17.5 in his three years at OSU and was taken 43rd overall by Milwaukee in the 2000 NBA Draft. Team USA opens Olympic play against China on Aug. 10.
[SIX // three men's gymnasts earn sports on usa squad]
Last month we highlighted six Big Ten gymnasts that had hopes of making the U.S. team for the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer. Last weekend, we learned three were named to the Olympic squad. Illinois' Justin Spring, Ohio State's Paul Hamm and Penn State's Kevin Tan were among the six qualifiers, while the Buckeyes' Raj Bhavsar was named as a replacement, should one of the six miss the competition. Spring was the NCAA Nissen-Emery Award winner in 2006, while Tan was a five-time All-American and an NCAA still rings champion in 2003 and 2004. Hamm captured the all-around competition at the 2004 Summer Games, becoming the only American man in Olympic history to win the gold medal in that event. Guiding the six-member team will be Ohio State head coach Miles Avery.
[SEVEN // bashore to represent big ten field hockey in olympics]
This past Sunday also provided an Olympic moment for former Indiana field hockey player Kayla Bashore. The Hoosier was named to the 16-player U.S. Olympic team and will be the Big Ten's lone representative in the sport at the Summer Games. In her five years at IU, Bashore received All-America status twice and was named Big Ten Player of the Year in 2005. Congratulations to Kayla and best of luck this August in Beijing.
[EIGHT // future golden gopher makes usa wrestling history]
We stay with the Olympic dream theme, but switch it up from former Big Ten student-athletes to future ones. Minnesota wrestler-to-be Jake Deitchler recently turned heads at the Greco-Roman wrestling Olympic trials by becoming the first high-schooler in 32 years to earn an Olympic berth in the sport. Deitchler began training with Golden Gopher grapplers when he was in the eighth grade and immediately felt Minnesota was the place for him. Now, the school that has won three NCAA Championships since 2001 and sent wrestlers to every Olympic games since 1976, boasts an Olympian recruit. Best of luck to Jake and his career in Minneapolis.
[NINE // from the boards to beijing]
Speaking of future Big Ten student-athletes turned Olympians, congratulations to Purdue recruit David Boudia on winning the 10-meter platform at this past weekend's Olympic Team Trials in Indianapolis. This past winter we featured Boilermaker head coach Adam Soldati and the emphasis he puts on mentoring Olympic-caliber athletes. It appears he now will have a special treat with the incoming Boudia, who scored 1642.20 points through three rounds and 18 dives this past weekend to earn the bid. Indiana senior Christina Loukas placed first in the three-meter springboard competition and also was honored with a spot on the U.S. Diving team. Loukas took home the title with 1092.10 points, an impressive 89.25 points ahead of the runner-up. Several Big Ten swimmers will compete at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., this week to compete for spots on the Olympic Team at the USA Swimming Trials.
[TEN // staying in the pool]
Speaking of swimming and the Olympic Trials, former University of Michigan men's swimming head coach Jon Urbanchek will be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame at the conclusion of the Trials. Urbanchek has coached 26 Olympians, with 10 of them combining for 17 medals, including seven golds. During his stint in Ann Arbor from 1982-2004, Urbanchek was 163-34 overall and 100-4 mark in Big Ten competition. His posted 13 conference championships in 22 years, including 10 straight from 1986-95. The 1995 season also ended in team winning the national championship and Urbanchek being named the NCAA Coach of the Year.
[ELEVEN // he is...penn state]
Finally, we end this week with, well, swimming of course! While one Big Ten swimming coach is set to be honored as a Hall of Famer, the conference welcomes back one of its own. This past Monday Penn State announced John Hargis as the head coach of the Nittany Lions men's and women's swimming program. Hargis was an assistant at PSU from 2003-06 and was serving as the coach of the women's swimming program at Arkansas-Little Rock prior to his hiring. He is just the second head swimming coach at Penn State since the men's and women's swimming programs were merged into one following the 2000-01 season. Welcome back to State College and the Big Ten, John, and best of luck with the Nittany Lions.