Feb. 11, 2014
Big Ten Medal of Honor 100th Anniversary Spotlight: Jonelle Polk, Illinois
rded the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1987, Polk has left her mark on Illinois basketball, ranking in the top 10 of various Illini career records, including first in field goals made (815), third in points (1,984), field goal percentage (.562) and double-doubles (40), fourth in rebounds (933) and fifth in blocks (135). She led Illinois in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots in three of her four seasons and was a three-time All-Big Ten selection (1985-87). Polk was tabbed a Fast Break All-American and Illinois’ Female Athlete of the Year in 1986 and led the Illini to NCAA Tournament appearances in her final two seasons. Following her graduation, the Peoria, Ill., native played overseas for four years. She currently works as a manager at Proctor Recreation Center in her hometown.
Tipoff: Just three weeks remain until tipoff of the Big Ten Tournament and teams continue to jockey for position in the conference standings. Eight conference squads appear among the top 50 of the latest RPI report, while six squads are ranked or receiving votes in the latest national polls. Conference teams have combined to score 70 or more points 167 times this season, compared to 131 such performances a year ago. This week, every conference contest will be available to a national audience, with games televised by BTN or ESPN2 or streamed online by the Big Ten Digital Network.
RPI Ratings: Eight Big Ten teams appear in the top 50 of the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, tied with the ACC for the most among all conferences. Purdue leads all Big Ten teams at No. 9 in the standings, up one spot from a week ago, while Penn State remains steady at No. 11. Iowa climbed four spots to No. 27, followed by No. 39 Indiana. Minnesota checks in at No. 41, followed immediately in the standings by No. 42 Nebraska and No. 43 Michigan State, with No. 47 Ohio State giving the conference its eighth top-50 team.
Point Taken: With its teams averaging 71.8 points per game, nearly four points higher than the national average, the Big Ten ranks among the national scoring leaders this season. Combined, the 12 conference programs have already produced 167 70-point outings this season, including 77 efforts of 80 or more. As compared to the 2012-13 season, conference programs combined for 131 70-point outings, with 56 of those resulting in 80-point performances. Iowa leads all conference programs with 22 70-point games this season, Purdue has scored 70 or more points 17 times, Nebraska and Penn State each have score 70 points on 16 occasions and Indiana and Michigan State enter the week with 15 70-point games. Iowa has scored 80 or more points 11 times this year, while Indiana and Michigan State have each recorded 10 80-point games.
Where We Rank: Six Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in the latest Associated Press rankings, which were released on Monday. Penn State leads all conference teams in the standings, appearing at No. 11 this week, while Nebraska and Purdue each moved up in the rankings to No. 21 and No. 23, respectively. Michigan State rounds out the poll at No. 25, with Iowa and Michigan among other teams receiving votes this week. In Tuesday’s USA Today Coaches poll, Penn State checked in at No. 11, with Nebraska jumping to No. 21 and Purdue climbing one spot to No. 23, with Michigan State also receiving votes.
Triple Double Times Two: Iowa’s Samantha Logic recorded her third career triple-double against Penn State last week, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in leading the Hawkeyes to the road win. She posted her second triple-double of the season, having also achieved the feat against Drake on Dec. 21, to become the first Big Ten player to record two triple-doubles in the same season since former Iowa standout Kachine Alexander in 2008-09. It is also the third triple-double by a Big Ten player this year, with Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B. notching her first career triple-double on Nov. 20 against.
Against Ranked Foes: Nine Big Ten teams carry wins against nationally ranked foes this season, including four teams who have recorded three such triumphs. Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State have registered three wins against top-25 squads this season, with Iowa joining the group following its win over Penn State last week. In addition, Nebraska, Ohio State and Purdue have won two games against nationally ranked teams, with the Huskers’ second top-25 win coming against Michigan State last Saturday, while Indiana and Michigan have one victory against the top 25. This season, the Buckeyes have faced nine top-25 squads, the most among Big Ten programs, with Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern having each played seven nationally ranked teams.
Three-Point Specialists: The Big Ten enters the week leading all conferences in three-point field-goal percentage this season, with its programs combining to shoot better than 34 percent from long range. Three Big Ten teams rank among the top 15 in three-point percentage, led by Minnesota, which is second in the country at 42.0 percent, Michigan is 10th nationally at 38.1 percent and Purdue is 13th at 38.0 percent. Individually, three conference standouts are shooting at least 45 percent from long range. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham and Michigan’s Siera Thompson are shooting 47.2 percent from behind the stripe, ranking fourth and fifth in the nation, respectively, while Purdue’s Courtney Moses is 12th in the NCAA at 45.3 percent.
Coaching Milestones: With Iowa’s victory over Northwestern on Monday night, Hawkeye coach Lisa Bluder became the program’s all-time leader in wins. She now has 270 victories in 14 seasons with the Hawkeyes, passing the previous mark of 269 held by former Iowa mentor C. Vivian Stringer. Ranking among the top 25 of the NCAA’s active coaching leaders, Bluder boasts 626 triumphs to lead all conference coaches. Two current Big Ten mentors are their program’s all-time wins leader, Nebraska’s Connie Yori with 232 and Minnesota’s Pam Borton with 229 victories. In addition, Borton needs just three more wins to reach the 300 mark in her career. Northwestern’s Joe McKewon is six victories from 600 and Purdue’s Sharon Versyp is five triumphs from 300.
Good Work: Purdue senior guard Courtney Moses was named to the 2014 Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Good Works Team, it was announced by the WBCA on Tuesday. She and the other WBCA Good Works Team honorees will be recognized during the 2014 WBCA Convention and at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Nashville. While at Purdue, Moses co-founded two community student organizations and participated on missionary trips around the world.
Tournament Time: The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, which begins March 6, returns to Indianapolis and Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season. All 12 teams will take part in the annual event, with the tournament winner earning the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Four opening round games are scheduled for March 6, while the top four teams in the regular season standings will receive byes to the quarterfinal round on March 7, and the tournament championship game will be held on March 9. Detailed tournament ticket, bracket and lodging information can be found online at bigten.org.