Dec. 21, 2008
[ONE // penn state volleyball repeats as national champion]
Congratulations to the Penn State women's volleyball team for clinching a 3-0 sweep over Stanford Saturday night and earning its second straight NCAA Championship. PSU defeated the Cardinal by scores of 25-20, 26-24, 25-23 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., to close out its season with a perfect 38-0 record and bring home the Big Ten's third volleyball championship. Penn State's 2008 campaign was perhaps the most dominant season of any team in any sport this conference has seen, based on the manner in which the Nittany Lions performed. What has become hard to fathom is the fact they only lost two games in the entire season, and that came in Friday night's semifinal against Nebraska - in a venue that held roughly 17,000 screaming Husker fans. Penn State is just the sixth team in NCAA history to win back-to-back titles and the fourth to finish a season undefeated. The team finished the season with a 114-2 individual game record and pushed its current NCAA-record match winning streak to 64 dating back to a five-game loss to Stanford on Sept. 15, 2007. Kudos to junior outside hitter Megan Hodge for earning her second straight Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament Championship honor, as well as senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett and junior setter Alisha Glass for their second consecutive All-Tournament Team accolade.
[TWO // big ten shows its national strength in volleyball awards]
In an effort to show how impressive Penn State's second national title run was, just look at the number of All-America accolades Big Ten volleyball recently received. A league-record 11 standouts were named to the AVCA Division I All-America first, second and third teams, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced on Wednesday. Among the selections, five individuals earned first-team recognition, setting another conference record. Four Nittany Lions -- Nicole Fawcett, Megan Hodge, Christa Harmotto and Alisha Glass - made the first team, while Purdue's Stephanie Lynch was also named to the squad. With 11 selections on the first through third teams, the Big Ten shattered its previous record of seven, set in 1996 and tied in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Five first-team members breaks the Big Ten's old record of four, set in 1996 and tied in 2004, and ties the Pac-10 for most among all conferences. In addition, congrats to Penn State mentor Russ Rose for earning his second straight AVCA National Coach of the Year award. He is the first coach in NCAA Division I history to earn the award in back-to-back seasons. Fawcett earned AVCA National Player of the Year honors as well.
[THREE // ten big tenners make ap's football all-america squad]
Ten conference football players, including four Penn State standouts, were named Tuesday as All-Americans by the Associated Press. Half of those selected were first-team honorees, led by both running back selections in Iowa's Shonn Greene and Michigan State's Javon Ringer. Also tabbed to the first team was Penn State sophomore defensive end Aaron Maybin and Ohio State's James Laurinaitis (LB) and Malcolm Jenkins (CB). Iowa tackle Mitch King and Penn State center A.Q. Shipley were tabbed to the second team, while Nittany Lion guard Rich Ohrnberger and all-purpose player Derrick Williams joined Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis on the third team.
[FOUR // big ten football honors awarded at the next level]
Seven former football players from five Big Ten squads were named to the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl teams on Tuesday, including former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints' signal caller, who leads the league in passing, will be joined on the field by former conference standouts Antoine Winfield (Ohio State), Charles Woodson (Michigan), Joe Thomas (Wisconsin), Kris Dielman (Indiana), Nick Mangold (Ohio State) and Steve Hutchinson (Michigan). The 2009 Pro Bowl will be played Feb. 8 in Hawaii.
[FIVE // a true sport]
Certainly All-America accolades and future Pro Bowl honors are individual goals players strive for on the field, but one special award was handed out this week to a Big Ten football player who has excelled in the right way both on and off the gridiron. Northwestern senior wide receiver Eric Peterman was named the 2008 Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) Sportsmanship Award winner on Wednesday during a news conference at the Nicolet Football Center by ARA president Cathy Garcia and selection committee chairman LaVell Edwards. The ARA Sportsmanship Award is presented annually to a Division I college football player who exemplifies sportsmanship both on and off the field. The selection of the winner is made by a blue-ribbon panel comprised of retired coaches, ARA executives and members of the media who cover college sports. The Big Ten has always stressed the importance of sportsmanship on and off the field, so it is very proud of one of its own for winning this award. Great job Eric and best of luck to you and the `Cats in San Antonio.
[SIX // news from the hardwood]
This past week was a significant one for both the Big Ten men's and women's basketball teams. The women opened up their intraconference season on Saturday as Indiana earned its seventh-straight win with a home victory over Northwestern. On the men's side, the Big Ten took to the Big Stage this week and knocked off a few well-respected programs on national television. Among the notables were Purdue taking 2008 Final Four participant Davidson, Michigan State upsetting Texas on its home floor, and Minnesota staying perfect with a shocker over Louisville. Minnesota's Al Nolen scored 18 points, included 13 from the free throw line, to help the Golden Gophers earn a 70-64 victory over No. 9 Louisville on Saturday. Durrell Summers hit a 3-pointer with 18.6 seconds left to lift the No. 19 Spartans over the fifth-ranked Longhorns 67-63 at the Toyota Center. Purdue's Robbie Hummel had 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 13 Purdue past national scoring leader Stephen Curry and No. 22 Davidson 76-58 on Saturday as well.
[SEVEN // big ten network adds to greatest games list]
The Big Ten Network announced this week schedule additions to its popular Big Ten's Greatest Games program. The Greatest Games slate features five Big Ten national championships, including Indiana's title games in 1981 and 1987, Michigan's championship game in 1989 and Michigan State's titles in 1979 and 2000. Additional games from the NCAA Elite Eight and Sweet 16 will air throughout the winter, as will memorable regular season classics. Many episodes of The Big Ten's Greatest Games will include insight and memories from legendary players and coaches along with reporters who were on hand to cover the event. Log on to bigtennetwork.com for more information.
[EIGHT // yeagley makes waves in big ten soccer]
Like that is a shocking headline, right? Well, as former Indiana football coach Lee Corso might say, "Not so fast my friend." Yes, legendary Indiana men's soccer coach Jerry Yegley was recently named the head coach of the NCAA College Cup 50th Anniversary Team, but this past week his son Todd was the one making news across the soccer landscape. Todd Yeagley, a former National Player of the Year who also won two NCAA championships as an assistant coach at Indiana, was named head coach of the Wisconsin men's soccer program, UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez announced Thursday. The 36-year-old Yeagley comes to Madison following a six-year stint as assistant coach at his alma mater. He becomes the fifth head coach in the history of the UW program. Congrats to Todd and best of luck to you next fall.
[NINE // big ten baseball tournament heads off campus]
The Big Ten and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission announced Thursday that Huntington Park, the home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, will serve as the host site for the 2009 Big Ten Baseball Tournament. The event will mark the Big Ten's first neutral-site baseball tournament since 1994. Since the inception of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament in 1981, the event has been played at the site of the regular-season champion or the champion from a pre-selected division, with the exception of 1993 and 1994 when it was held in Battle Creek, Mich. From 1981-99, the tournament field consisted of the conference's top four teams. In 2000, the field expanded to include six squads. More information on the move off campus, view the conference's official press release here.
[TEN // another penn state coach, another national award]
Penn State women's golf coach Denise St. Pierre was recently awarded the Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award, the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) most prestigious honor. The award was presented to St. Pierre at the NGCA Hall of Fame Banquet in Las Vegas. The honor is given in recognition of individuals who have contributed to the evolution and growth of women's collegiate golf. Congratulations Denise!
[ELEVEN // start with penn state, end with penn state]
Finally this week, it only seems fitting that after starting the week in review with the dominance and national accolades of the Penn State volleyball team, we should end it by doing the same with Nittany Lion head coach Joe Paterno. This past Tuesday Penn State announced Paterno has earned a three-year contract extension and can now pace the State College sidelines in the years to come. Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo also sat down with Paterno for a segment this week to discuss just how he got involved in coaching. Be sure to catch that video by clicking here. Last but certainly not least, we want to wish a Happy Birthday to JoePa, who turned 82 years young on Sunday!