Big Ten Women's Basketball Weekly Release - Dec. 10
Dec. 10, 2013
Big Ten Medal of Honor 100th Anniversary Spotlight: Iowa's Lindsey Meder
Tipoff: With just three weeks remaining until the start of the 2014 Big Ten campaign, conference squads are looking to finish the non-conference portion of their schedules on a high note. Each conference team will enter this week's slate of contests with winning records, with the Indiana Hoosiers one of just 18 teams in the nation that can still claim a perfect record. Big Ten freshmen are making immediate impacts for their teams this season, while numerous conference veterans are approaching career milestones. This week, eight conference matchups are scheduled for live coverage on BTDN.
Where We Rank: Four Big Ten teams appear among the top 25 of the latest national rankings, according to the Associated Press (AP) and the USA Today Coaches polls. In the latest AP vote, Penn State paces all conference teams at No. 12, with Purdue and Nebraska appearing at Nos. 18 and 19, respectively. Iowa jumped four spots to No. 21 this week, with Michigan State also receiving votes from the media. In the coaches rankings, the Lady Lions are ranked 12th, followed by Nebraska at No. 16, No. 23 Purdue and No. 24 Iowa.
Hoosiers Rolling: Indiana is one of just 18 teams in the nation that still holds an unblemished record this season, as the Hoosiers have won their first nine games. It is Indiana's first 9-0 start since the beginning of the 1994-95 campaign, a year in which they advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In addition, it is the first time Indiana has won nine consecutive games at any point of the season since 2008-09.
Winning Ways: All 12 conference teams enter the week with a winning record, making the Big Ten the only conference that can claim such a feat. Iowa carries a 10-1 mark into this week's slate of games, making the Hawkeyes one of just five teams in the nation that enter the week with at least 10 triumphs this year. Minnesota is one victory away from its 10th triumph, currently boasting a 9-2 record, while Nebraska is 7-2 on the year. Four Big Ten teams carry 6-2 marks, including Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, while Michigan is 6-3. Michigan State is 5-4 and Illinois and Ohio State are 6-5.
30 for 30: Five of the conference's eight 30-point efforts this season came in a 10-day span following the Thanksgiving holiday, including three last week. Indiana's Larryn Brooks scored a Big Ten-best 37 points in the Hoosiers' victory over Virginia Tech during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last Wednesday. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper poured in 33 points against Utah State on Sunday, as did Penn State's Maggie Lucas against Georgetown. Lucas is the only conference player with two 30-point games this season. Iowa's Melissa Dixon finished with 32 points against UNC-Wilmington on Nov. 30 and Minnesota' Rachel Banham had 36 versus Chattanooga on Nov. 29.
Fresh Faces: Big Ten freshmen are making immediate impacts on their squads this season, as numerous newcomers appear among the conference's statistical leaders. Seven Big Ten freshmen rank among the conference's top 25 scoring leaders, led by Indiana's Larryn Brooks, who is fourth in the category at 18.8 points per game. Six others, Illinois' Jacqui Grant, Michigan's Siera Thompson, Michigan State's Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska, Minnesota's Amanda Zahui B. and Northwestern's Nia Coffey are each averaging more than 12 points per game. Zahui is the Big Ten leader in rebounds at 11.2 per game and is among a group of six newcomers to rank in the category's top 20. Coffey, Powers and Grant are each averaging better than 6.8 rebounds per game, while Penn State's Alex Harris is averaging 6.8 rebounds and Iowa's Ally Disterhoft is averaging 6.5 boards per contest. Zahui is also leading the Big Ten with 2.9 blocks per game, a list that includes five freshman in the top 15.
Maggie 2K: Penn State senior Maggie Lucas achieved a rare career milestone against Georgetown last Sunday, reaching 2,000 career points. She becomes just the 17th player in Big Ten history to reach the scoring plateau and is the first Lady Lion since Tyra Grant in 2010 to reach the 2,000-career points milestone. It marks the fifth straight season a conference player has gone over the 2,000-point mark. Meanwhile, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper enters the week needing 154 points to reach the landmark.
Approaching Career Milestones: In addition to Penn State's Maggie Lucas, other Big Ten players and coaches look to surpass career milestones in the coming games. Wisconsin's Morgan Paige is 24 points shy of becoming the eighth active player with at least 1,000 career points. Penn State's Dara Taylor is 10 assists away from reaching 400, while Purdue's KK Houser needs 22 helpers to reach the mark. Minnesota's Micaëlla Riché is 10 rebounds shy of 500, while Lucas needs six steals and Taylor is 13 swipes away 200.
Coaching Records: Three Big Ten coaches could reach landmark career victories in the coming weeks. Now in her 14th season at Iowa, Lisa Bluder enters the week needing eight victories to match the school record 269 triumphs held by current Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. Michigan's Kim Barnes Arico is two wins away from recording the 300th victory in her career, while Minnesota's Pam Borton needs eight triumphs to reach 300.
Statistically Speaking: Minnesota's Rachel Banham is the national leader in three-point field-goal percentage at 58.8 percent, according to the latest NCAA statistics that were released on Monday. In addition, numerous other conference players rank among the national leaders in various statistical categories. Penn State's Maggie Lucas is second in free-throw percentage at 96.3, Kiana Johnson is third in the country with a 4.44 assists-to-turnover ratio and Illinois' Amber Moore is ninth with 3.4 steals per contest. Minnesota's Amanda Zahui B. (2.90), Iowa's Bethany Doolittle (2.64) and Northwestern's Nia Coffey (2.63) are ranked 14th, 24th and 25th, respectively, in blocks per game, while Iowa's Samantha Logic is 13th in assists per game (6.7) and Northwestern's Ashley Deary is 17th (6.5). Penn State's Dara Taylor (17th, 3.13) and Purdue's KK Houser (21st, 3.00) rank among the nation's top 25 in steals per game.
Challenge Accepted: It was another competitive edition of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, with ACC squads combining for a narrow 7-5 victory in the seventh annual event. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin each won their contests against their inter-conference foes, with the Wolverines claiming a road triumph against Virginia. Big Ten teams claimed four of the six victories on the second night of the challenge.
Putting in the Work: Five Big Ten players are among 84 women's basketball players around the nation that were nominated for the 2014 Allstate Women's Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Team, it was announced last week. The second annual award recognizes a select group of student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through civic service. Illinois' Sarah Hartwell, Iowa's Kathryn Reynolds, Northwestern's Meghan McKeown, Purdue's Courtney Moses and Wisconsin's Morgan Paige are among this year's nominees. The 10-member Allstate WBCA Good Works Team will be announced in February.