Dec. 25, 2011
[ONE // boilers ready to bowl]
Big Ten football teams are ready to go bowling this week and first up for the conference is Purdue. This past week, BigTen.org posted its first of 10 bowl game previews, an in-depth look into the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, featuring the Boilermakers and Western Michigan. Returning to postseason play for the first time since 2007, Purdue heads to Detroit with its 16th all-time berth in bowl action. The Boilermakers take to Ford Field at 4:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 27, with coverage on ESPN. It is the program's first postseason appearance under third-year coach Danny Hope, and the team returns to the site of its last bowl game, the 2007 Motor City Bowl, where it defeated Central Michigan. The Boilermakers hold a winning record in postseason competition, boasting an 8-7 mark. The Big Ten has split its two previous bowl games in Detroit.
[TWO // everyone agrees]
Five Big Ten football players were named consensus All-Americans this past Tuesday, including one unanimous selection, as compiled from All-America teams chosen by the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation. The Big Ten was one of only three conferences with five or more consensus All-Americans, as the SEC led all conferences with nine honorees followed by five picks each for the Big Ten and Big 12. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus was one of seven unanimous first-team All-Americans. He was joined by two more Big Ten consensus All-Americans on the defensive line in Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Penn State's Devon Still. On offense, Michigan center David Molk and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball were both named consensus All-Americans.
[THREE // honored for his courage]
Speaking of national recognition, congratulations to Michigan State's Arthur Ray Jr., who was named this past week the winner of the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award. Ray, a senior offensive lineman from Chicago, returned to football this season, four years after bone cancer derailed his career. Ray signed with Michigan State as a highly recruited lineman from Chicago's Mount Carmel High School in 2007, but was soon diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. Through nine surgeries - including four bone grafts - countless rounds of chemotherapy and several outbreaks of infection, he was unable to practice or play. For almost two years, he was unable to walk without crutches. He had been given a medical disqualification and remained on scholarship with Michigan State. But last April, doctors cleared him to resume football. On Sept. 3, when the Spartans opened the season against Youngstown State, starting left guard Joel Foreman - a fifth-year senior and a team co-captain - asked Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio if he could give up his position to his friend. Foreman had started 22 straight games and 36 of 38 in his career. Ray participated in only the first play, but blocked two players. He has since played against Florida Atlantic and Indiana, and continues to practice with the goal of earning more playing time.
[FOUR // men’s basketball earns 15 wins in 17 matchups]
Big Ten men’s basketball finished up the non-conference slate this past week by posting a 15-2 record over 17 games. No. 17/18 Indiana scored large-margin victories over Howard (107-50) and UMBC (89-47), second-ranked Ohio State garnered wins over Lamar (70-50) and Miami-Ohio (69-40), while No. 20/19 Michigan and No. 19/20 Michigan State combined for a 3-0 mark on the week. The two conference losses came in top-25 action with No. 24/25 Illinois falling 78-74 to No. 9/8 Missouri and No. 23/21 Creighton besting Northwestern, 87-79.
[FIVE // women’s hoops also garners 15 wins]
Of the 20 non-conference contests Big Ten women’s basketball teams took part in this past week, the league garnered 15 wins, including three by Ohio State and two by Iowa and Purdue. In Thursday’s 86-80 win over Mississippi Valley State, Iowa netted a school-record 14 3-pointers en route to the win. Ohio State’s Tayler Hill scored her 1,000th career point while Samantha Prahalis recorded her 800th career helper to give OSU a 79-57 victory over Washington State on Thursday, marking the Buckeyes’ second undefeated non-conference record (13-0) in school history. In the Boilermakers’ two victories, Sam Ostarello combined for 29 points and 18 rebounds in a 66-47 win over Oakland on Tuesday and a 73-36 rout over IPFW on Thursday.
[SIX // a look back at the volleyball campaign]
With a complete season recap posted on BigTen.org this past week, the conference volleyball season has officially closed yet another successful chapter. Big Ten volleyball advanced a conference record-tying eight teams to the NCAA Championship, with Illinois advancing to its first NCAA Championship final. In all, the Big Ten racked up a 17-8 record in this year's tournament. The league led the country with seven volleyball teams ranked in the final AVCA Division I Coaches Poll of the 2011 season, including three top-10 squads, which also paced the nation. After reaching the NCAA Championship final, Illinois closes the season ranked second in the country. Joining the Fighting Illini in the top 10 were No. 9 Purdue and No. 10 Penn State, who each advanced to the tournament's regional semifinals. Nebraska closed the season at No. 12, while Minnesota ranked 15th. Michigan tied for 20th in the final poll, while Ohio State rounded out the group of ranked teams at No. 23. Michigan State also received votes in the season's final rankings. Individually, nine Big Ten players were selected as AVCA Division I All-Americans, while 12 earned All-Region honors.
[SEVEN // closing the books on men’s soccer]
The Big Ten also enjoyed a successful 2011 men's soccer season capped by Indiana and Northwestern earning a trip to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. After winning both the Big Ten Championship and Big Ten Tournament, the Wildcats earned the conference's automatic bid, while the Hoosiers earned their 25th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and advanced round of 16. Noted in the season in review feature posted this past week, Indiana and Northwestern earned spots in the final NSCAA/Continental Tire National Rankings with IU clocking in at No. 10 and the Wildcats at No. 22. Nine Big Ten student-athletes were named to the All-Great Lakes Team and Indiana’s Chris Estridge was named to the 2011 NCAA Men's Soccer All-America Team.
[EIGHT // wrapping up women’s soccer]
Recapping the Big Ten women’s soccer campaign, the conference enjoyed a successful 2011 season highlighted by three squads earning bids to the NCAA Championship. Illinois earned the conference's automatic bid after winning the Big Ten Tournament. Big Ten Champion Penn State joined Ohio State in the championship field. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions earned wins in the first and second rounds before falling in the Sweet 16, while the Fighting Illini won their first-round tilt, bowing out in the second round. In the final polls, PSU finished ranked at No. 8 and Illinois was 19th. Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo and Penn State's Maya Hayes and Christine Nairn were named to the 2011 NCAA Women's Soccer All-American Team, while Hayes was tabbed as a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist. Along with Hayes, Wisconsin's Laurie Nosbusch earned Capital One Academic All-America honors, and Michigan State forward Laura Heyboer was selected as a finalist for the Lowe's Senior Class Award.
[NINE // warm welcome for a new wildcat]
Sticking with women’s soccer, the Big Ten extends its warmest welcome to Michael Moynihan, who was named Wednesday as the new head coach at Northwestern. Previously an eight-time Horizon League Coach of the Year at Wisconsin-Milwaukee over a span of 15 years, Moynihan accumulated a 193-84-38 record, including an 86-8-5 (.894) mark in Horizon League games. Under his tutelage, the Panthers qualified for nine NCAA Tournaments and captured 13 Horizon League Championships, including the last 12 in a row. In 2011, Moynihan’s Panthers won a school-record 19 matches, including a perfect 8-0-0 record in conference action, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round.
[TEN // diamond notes]
Two notes from the diamond hit the Big Ten baseball wire this past week. On Monday, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Purdue all received votes in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Preseason Poll, while MSU third baseman Torsten Boss was named to the Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America third team, Collegiate Baseball newspaper announced on Tuesday. Boss earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition a season ago after helping the Spartans to a share of their first conference title since 1979.
[ELEVEN // making an impact]
The BTN announced this past week a powerful new original series called Impact the World, which will debut on Jan. 10. The new series shifts the focus from the playing field to the world stage, where Big Ten professors and students are making their presence known. “Impact” will take viewers on a journey around the world to illustrate how breakthroughs at all 12 Big Ten universities are improving lives. In fact, the series will highlight 24 stories from all 12 Big Ten universities that demonstrate the benefits of Big Ten scientific, medical and sociological advances to people in the U.S. and around the world. Watch a promo for the series, which is hosted by actor Dennis Haysbert, by clicking here.
[TWELVE // joining the board]
Finally this week, USA Football, the sport's national governing body in the United States, announced Tuesday that Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has joined its board of directors. Delany is in his 23rd year as Big Ten commissioner and will help oversee an organization that has educated more than 75,000 youth football coaches through its online courses and single-day coaching clinics since 2006. USA Football, with members in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., conducts more than 80 football events annually across the country. The independent non-profit offers education for coaches and game officials, skill development for players, resources for youth football league commissioners, and manages America's national teams in the sport for international competition. More than 60 countries on six continents possess a national federation of sport dedicated solely to American football.