Nov. 7, 2012
Garnering Preseason Honors: Prior to Big Ten Basketball Media Day, the conference announced that Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and Penn State’s Alex Bentley shared conference Preseason Player of the Year accolades from the coaches, while Hill earned the nod from a selected media panel. It is the second straight season Bentley was named Preseason Player of the Year. Hill was named a first-team All-Big Ten performer last year after averaging a conference-best 20.4 points per game and leading the Buckeyes to a 25-win season. Bentley was a first-team All-Conference selection for the second time a year ago, leading the Lady Lions to their sixth Big Ten Championship. Bentley was 11th in the Big Ten in points (14.1 per game) and fourth in assists (4.7) last season.
Lady Lions Tabbed as Big Ten Favorite: The conference coaches and a select media panel voted Penn State as the preseason favorites to win its second consecutive Big Ten Championship, it was announced at Big Ten Media Day. Reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year Coquese Washington and the Lady Lions return four starters from a team that finished with 26 victories and claimed the conference championship last season. Penn State returns nine letterwinners from a team that finished the season ranked ninth in the coaches poll, and enter this year eighth in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll.
Where We Rank: Seven Big Ten teams are ranked or receiving votes in the preseason Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. Penn State leads all conference squads, appearing at No. 8 in both polls, while Nebraska and Ohio State were voted Nos. 18 and 19, respectively, and Purdue was selected 21st by the AP. In addition, Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State are also receiving votes from the media. In the coaches poll, Purdue and Nebraska appears at Nos. 18 and 19, respectively, Ohio State checks in at No. 21 and Michigan and Iowa are also receiving votes.
The Fantastic Four: Four of the five first-team All-Big Ten selections from the 2011-12 season return in 2012. Last season’s coaches and media selections on the first team, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and Penn State’s Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas look to earn repeat honors this season. Hooper, Hill and Lucas were named first-team All-Big Ten choices for the first time a year ago, while Bentley became a two-time selection. She aims to become the first Lady Lion to earn three first-team All-Big Ten honors since Tanisha Wright from 2003-05.
Strength in Numbers: Including the four first-team All-Conference members coming back for the 2012-13 season, 20 All-Big Ten performers return to their respective campuses for the new season. Second-team All-Big Ten honorees Morgan Johnson of Iowa, Rachel Banham of Minnesota and Lindsey Moore of Nebraska, along with third-team laureates Karisma Penn of Illinois, Jaime Printy of Iowa, Dannielle Diamant of Northwestern, Nikki Greene of Penn State and Taylor Wurtz of Wisconsin will help lead their respective squads this season. Michigan’s Jenny Ryan and Rachel Sheffer, Nebraska’s Emily Cady, Northwestern’s Kendall Hackney, Ohio State’s Ashley Adams, Penn State’s Mia Nickson and Purdue’s KK Houser and Sam Ostarello were each named honorable mention All-Big Ten selections a year ago.
Returning With Hardware: Two players that garnered one of the conference’s major postseason awards at the end of last season return to their respective squads in 2012. Reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Amber Stokes of Ohio State is back to anchor the Buckeye defense which held opponents to 38 percent shooting last season. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was the conference’s seventh leading scorer last year at 16.1 points per game and was voted to the All-Big Ten second team a year ago.
Keep a Close Watch: Five Big Ten women’s basketball standouts were named to the Wade Trophy Watch List, awarded annually to the nation’s most outstanding player. Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and Penn State’s Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas were named to the list, which is composed of 25 of the nation’s premier players. Nebraska and Penn State are among six schools to have two or more players named to the list, making the Big Ten one of only two conferences to have two programs with multiple standouts selected. The Big Ten’s five players named to the watch list is tied with the Big 12 for second among all conferences, behind only the Big East.
CLASS Acts: Four Big Ten student-athletes were named candidates for the 2012-13 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Iowa’s Jaime Printy, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill, Penn State’s Alex Bentley and Purdue’s Drey Mingo were chosen as candidates for the award, and the winner will be announced during the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans, La.
Welcome Aboard: This season, three new head coaches join the conference with impressive resumes as each boasts 250 or more victories in his or her coaching career. Matt Bollant assumes the head coaching duties at Illinois after spending the last five seasons at Green Bay. There, he guided the Phoenix to five straight seasons of 26 or more victories, highlighted by back-to-back 30-win seasons the last two years, and four NCAA Tournament berths. In his 10-year head coaching career, Bollant boasts an overall record of 282-55. Indiana welcomes Curt Miller to the bench this season. Miller had spent his entire head coaching career at Bowling Green, where over 11 seasons he compiled a record of 258-92 and led the Falcons to five NCAA Tournament appearances. Since the 2003-04 season, each of Miller’s teams won 21 or more games, including 31 victories in the 2006-07 campaign. Kim Barnes Arico enters her first season on the Michigan sidelines, carrying 270 career victories over 16 seasons as a head coach. Arico spent the last decade at St. John’s, where she led the Red Storm to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including each of the last three seasons.
Filling up the Stat Sheets: The Big Ten returns seven players who averaged 15 or more points during the Big Ten season a year ago, led by Ohio State’s Tayler Hill, who finished second in scoring with 20.3 points per game. Penn State’s Maggie Lucas ranked third at 19.4 points, while Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper and Minnesota’s Rachel Banham each averaged 18.1 points per contest. Wisconsin’s Taylor Wurtz was sixth in the conference in scoring at 16.0, Iowa’s Morgan Johnson was seventh at 15.7 and Northwestern’s Dannielle Diamant averaged 15.5 points per game, which ranked eighth in the Big Ten a year ago.
Crashing the Glass: An impressive list of skilled rebounders returns to the Big Ten this year, as nine of the top 10 leaders during the 2012 conference season return to their respective campuses. Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper led all Big Ten rebounders last season, pulling down 9.6 boards per game. Penn State’s Nikki Greene ranked second in the Big Ten at 9.1 per game, one of two Lady Lions to appear in the top 10, joining Mia Nickson, who was eighth at 7.5 boards per contest. Purdue’s Sam Ostarello was third last season at 8.8 rebounds a game, while Iowa’s Morgan Johnson (8.1) and Samantha Logic (7.9) ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Northwestern’s Dannielle Diamant was seventh (7.7 rebounds per game), Ohio State’s Ashley Adams was ninth (7.4) and Indiana’s Sasha Chaplin (7.3) rounded out the top 10.
Pass Masters: Seven of the Big Ten’s top 10 assist leaders from the 2012 conference season return to their squads this season, six of whom averaged four or more assists per contest a year ago. Iowa’s Samantha Logic, Michigan State’s Kiana Johnson and Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore all ranked second in the conference a season ago, each averaging 4.7 assists per contest. Indiana’s Andrea Newbauer was fifth in the Big Ten last year at 4.2, while Penn State’s Alex Bentley and KK Houser ranked sixth with 4.1 assists per game, and Northwestern’s Karly Roser rounded out the top 10 at 3.6 per game.
Defensive Standouts: The Big Ten featured several of the nation’s top defenders a season ago, and many are back this year. The conference’s leaders in steals and blocks during the Big Ten season return, as Penn State’s Alex Bentley led the conference with 3.1 steals, and Ohio State’s Ashley Adams recorded 3.3 blocks per game a year ago. In total, seven of the top 10 steals leaders return from last season, while nine of the top 10 shot blockers are back for the 2012-13 season. Illinois’ Adrienne GodBold and Karisma Penn, Michigan’s Jenny Ryan, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill and Purdue’s KK Houser each averaged more than two steals per game, while Penn, Indiana’s Quaneisha McCurty, Iowa’s Morgan Johnson, Michigan’s Rachel Sheffer, Northwestern’s Dannielle Diamant and Kendall Hackney, Penn State’s Nikki Greene and Purdue’s Sam Ostarello are among the top 10 shot blockers from 2011-12 returning this season.
Watch Us Here: The Big Ten will continue to receive extensive national broadcast coverage this season, as approximately 65 games will be televised live nationally through the conference’s media agreements. BTN, ESPN and CBS Sports will televise 47 Big Ten Conference games, while nearly 97 percent of the intra-conference schedule will be available nationally through televised coverage or streamed online at BTN.com. For the sixth straight season, every game of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be nationally televised.
Tourney Town: For the first time, the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held in the Chicagoland area as this year’s event will be staged at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The 19th edition of the tournament will be held March 7-10, featuring 11 games over four days. Thursday and Friday will feature four games each, with the semifinals contested on Saturday in advance of Sunday’s championship game. The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the 2014 event.