Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Changing B1G Basketball Landscape

If you're looking ahead to next season, it's prudent to start with the reigning champion of the conference...and with IU's recent defections, it makes even more sense to do so.

We all know IU will look different in 2013. I read someplace that they're the first program to ever lose four 1,000 point scorers in one off-season.  That'll leave a mark. So is it more amazing that four guys that reached the millennial mark are all gone in the same off-season, OR that a team that had four 1,000 point scorers (on one starting five) never got past the Sweet 16? You guys can discuss that  question amongst yourselves.

What we do know is that it's difficult to lose four starters...regardless of whom those starters are.  It's even tougher when a team loses its heart and soul; IU has lost both.

We had a ton of IU fans assure us that Zeller was going to stay because he needed to develop.  Bad news, friends: Crean's system wasn't helping him fact, it seemingly was making him worse.  It seems that we weren't the only ones who thought this.  Ex-IU player and coach, and current radio/TVpersonality, Dan Dakich encouraged Zeller to go pro as a way to help him develop.  Zeller wasn't used effectively and his bad habits weren't coached out of him.  As the season progressed, his shoulder got lower and lower when he drove...and officials were all but forced to call the charge on the 7 footer whose shoulder height would have made a running back jealous.

Zeller told the press that he had planned all along to go pro after his Sophomore year...but IU fans told us a different story.  We were told that his parents valued academics so much that he wouldn't leave until he had graduated...He has 35 credit hours remaining. Some told us that he just loved the school too much to leave.  It sounds like he really liked IU, but he loved his teammates, namely those leaving and that made his decision easier.

A word of unsolicited advice to my IU friends and anyone else who wants to adamantly predict the actions of another person: It's not a good idea to try to guess what's in another person's head, especially an 18/19 year old kid.

Zeller wisely chose to leave...and in his decision's wake, IU fans were seriously asking, "Won't IU be better without him?" Many continued, "He was too soft." I mean, why wouldn't someone want to stay and play in front of fans like that??? Ammiright?

Zeller was a very good college basketball player...and now that he's no longer at IU, I hope he does OK on the next level; glad he's gone, wish him no ill will.  Afterall, he officially made an excellent decision yesterday.  All that said, I'd guess that three years ago, the average IU fan would have thought that if Zeller only went to the Sweet 16, his career would be judged as a bit of a failure...BUT, IU fans and media alike are spinning the defections to the NBA as nothing but a positive.  That's kind of fun to watch.

But, IU is just one of the programs in the B1G that will be ravaged by attrition this off-season.

Here is how the top of the conference will change next season:

2013 starting five:
Zeller (So. C)*
Watford (Sr. F)
Oladipo (Jr. G)*
Hulls (Sr. G)
Ferrell (Fr. G)

2014 projected starters:
Vonleh (Fr. F)
Hollowell (So. F)
Sheehey (Sr. G/F)
Abell (Jr. G)
Ferrell (So. G)
2013 starting five:
Williams (So. C)
Thomas (Jr. F)*
Thompson (So. F)
Smith (Jr. G)
Craft (Jr. G)

2014 projected starters:

Williams (Jr. C)
Ross (Jr. F)
Thompson (Jr. F)
Smith (Sr. G)
Craft (Sr. G)
2013 starting five:
Nix (Sr. F)
Payne (Jr. F)
Dawson (So. F)
Appling (Jr. G)
Harris (Fr. G)

2014 projected starters:

Payne (Sr. F)
Dawson (Jr. F)
Valentine (So. G)
Appling (Sr. G)
Harris (So. G)
2013 starting five:
Berggren (Sr. F/C)
Breusewitz (Sr. F)
Evans (Sr. F)
Brust (Jr. G)
Jackson (So. G)

2014 projected starters:
Dekker (So. F)
Kaminsky (Jr. F)
Gasser (Jr. G)
Brust (Jr. G)
Jackson (So. G)
2013 starting five:
Morgan (Jr. F)
Robinson (Fr. F)
Hardaway (Jr. G)
Sauskas (Fr. G)
Burke (So. G)*

2014 projected starters:
-McGary (So. C)
Morgan (Sr. F)
Robinson (So. F)
Stauskas (So. G)
Albrecht (So. G)

-McGary is still deciding if he'll stay or go to the NBA

Other notes:
-Illinois graduates two guys who started for most of their careers in Paul and Richardson...and they lose an additional role player starter in McLaurin. In addition to these guys, three more guys have decided to transfer out of the program.
-Iowa returns four starters.
-Minnesota will hired Richard Pitino after reportedly being rejected by two or three coaches; will return three starters.  As of right now, Minnesota has an incoming class of zero.
-Northwestern hired Collins after Carmody continued NU's tradition of never making the NCAA tournament. They lose two starters, but Crawford will return from injury.  If I were a betting man, I'd put a quarter on Sobolewski being formed into an unlikable Hurley, Collins, Wojohowski type of player.
-Nebraska opens their new arena and looks to continue some of their improvement from the end of the season...loses two starters.
-Penn State loses only their sixth man...Chambers incoming class is one of the strongest for PSU since they entered the conference.  BUT PSU, during that same period has never had a player rated higher than 3-stars.
The Forces of Good:
-Purdue's incoming Freshman class of Stephens (IL), Smotherman (IN) and Scott (IN) were all named to their all-state teams.
-Painter noted that he hopes everyone will return who is able to...of course, Purdue will lose Byrd and Anthrop to graduation.
-Rumors around Purdue transfers and defections are still just rumors...but the one that seems to have the most credence still, is Marcius. His locker has been cleaned out and he's been less involved in team activities, we've heard...Painter expressed that he wants him back, and told him so in his post-season interview.

But if he leaves, I guess I can't blame him. In spite of playing hard and being extremely productive down the stretch of the regular season, Hammons still started in the CBI.  Marcius might have taken that as a bit of a sign that his effort and productivity mattered less than Hammons potential, which is a shame.

If you follow us on Twitter, you might have seen AJohn's sentiment that he's looking forward to coming back and being a part of a team that gets much better in the off-season. BUT, his body language were indicative of a guy that struggled with consistency, focus and toughness at times. On top of that, he, along with Hale and Lawson, were rumored to be guys that didn't see eye-to-eye with Painter.

Keep in mind, all of those rumors are mere conjecture...But their lack of playing time during the last ten games of the season is something that was on display for all to see. We'll see what happens, I guess.
BS' Early Prognostication

Here's the way I see the B1G shaking out in 2014 (as of right now):
1. aOSU
When was the last time you saw a Bucknut line-up with all Juniors and Seniors?? They'll be monsters.

2. MSU
Lots of returning talent...but MSU will be a much smaller team (top-to-bottom) than most Izzo squads.

3. Michigan
UM will have shooting, experience and good size...but even if McGary returns, they still lose a lot. Burke made everybody better and Hardaway did a lot of different things that helped the team.

4. Iowa
We all know Coach Fran is a pretty good coach.  Well, good coach plus a ton of veterans equals success.

5. Purdue
A few years ago, who would have thought a top-5 finish would be viewed as a success? In the wake of '13, in a tough conference, a top-5 season will probably mean Purdue will be ranked in the top-25...all while leaning heavily on Sophomores and Freshman.  A 21-23 win season should act as a stepping stone for a good one in '15. Painter really needs the team to get back to basics and needs them to win now.

6. Wisconsin
I never bet against Bo Ryan being in the mix for the B1G title...until now.

7. Indiana
Sheehey will go from annoying sixth man, to the guy that IU needs to be all-conference.  If he can make the leap, IU will be in the top third of the conference, if not, IU will struggle.  Also, Ferrell will need to play like UM's Burke for IU to be anywhere near where they were in '13.  All that said, IU will have a lot of talent on the roster, but their lack of leadership will hurt.

8. Illinois
Losing seven players in one season, regardless of how much they played, is a difficult pill to swallow for any program.  The Illini will need Bertrand, Abrams and Egwu to take big strides in the off-season in order for Illinois to make the tournament again in 2014. Illinois might get 20 wins next season...but how they get there will be much different than this season.  Don't look for Illinois to start out quickly next fall.

9. Minnesota
There will be growing pains for Goldy next year.  They'll still have some athletes that make jaw-dropping plays, but Minnesota fans might miss Tubby come March as Minnesota goes to the NIT.

10. Nebraska
Miles' team scratches and claws to more progress, but stays in the bottom-third of the tough B1G.

11. Northwestern
The Collins era begins in a fashion that's familiar to Northwestern fans.

12. Penn State
The cavernous Bryce Jordan Center stays mostly-empty for yet another winter as Penn State struggles to run with the thoroughbreds of the nation's best conference.
More Guessing...

All Conference Team:
McGary UM
Payne MSU
Marble Iowa
Harris MSU
Craft aOSU

2nd Team:
Dekker Wisconson
Sheehey IU
Smith aOSU
T. Johnson Purdue
Appling MSU

*Denotes POY candidate in 2013


QuadBoiler said...

I have to believe McGary is going to choose to leave. I think staying will make him a better player but with this year's weak draft, next year's strong draft and UM's run to the national championship game, I think he's gone. Even if he takes a big jump next year, Michigan won't be as good and he will end up going in a similar spot or lower in the draft. We will see how much of a salesman Beilein can be I guess.

zlionsfan said...

I would be surprised if McGary leaves ... yes, he had a fantastic tournament, but he started just 2 games during the regular season. I think bigs in particular have to develop more in college; McGary can post up on smaller, weaker guys, but I don't think he has the size or the skills to succeed inside yet in the NBA. (There's also a question about stamina: the average college season is about four times the length of his starts, and an NBA season can be 12-14 times as long.)

Payne is still deciding whether or not to return; I'm not sure which would be better for him. Chad Ford has Harris as thinking about declaring as well. He may be in a position similar to Robinson, where he might be more inclined to go if Payne goes (as Robinson might go if the other three Michigan guys go) so as not to be part of a rebuilding project, or he might be more inclined to stay if Payne goes because he'd be even more responsible for the team.

BoilerBloodline said...

Interesting to see that you don't have Hammons on your all conference team? I think he's a shoe in for second team and if he continues to develop, he should be first team.

boilerdowd said...

Bloodline, the way he ended the season was what skeptics of the kid saw during high school. If Purdue hits rough water, I'd be surprised if we didn't see more loafing. There's no doubt he has the potential to be all B1G...if he wants to. If he plays like he's capable of playing, not only will he be all conference, Purdue will be a Final 8 team and he'll be gone after next season.

Kind of a range, eh?

Good discussion/debate Z & Quad...I think Robinson and Harris would be foolish to leave now. They'll both get better with another, Harris' injured shoulder won't help him in work outs at all.

BoilerBloodline said...

Gotcha! J&C is now reporting that Purdue has granted Marcius' request to transfer. Looking at it from Matty's eyes, he has to feel like he dated a wallflower for a few years and once she started dressing current and putting make-up on, all the other guys started asking her

WinamacBoiler said...

If he's going to get his masters at a good school i can't blame him. if not, i will (whether i can or not).

Wilson06 said...

So... inside info and I don't want to go into how I know what I have heard because I am very skeptical. BUT... This would be from an incredibly reliable source to me...

Sheehey is transferring....

I guess we will see?

boilerdowd said...

Heard the same thing, source isn't reliable though. If he's graduating in May, that'd be the only way that makes sense. If he's doing it because he has a hard time with Crean, he'd all of a sudden become a guy that I kinda like.

Wilson06 said...

Well I don't want to go into much detail, but I would believe my source over anything on the internet unless it was quoted from his mouth...

So I guess we will see.

J Money said...


Plang said...

What a second - I just heard that Sheehey is leaving IU. And I just read it on the interwebnet!

On a serious note - all the IU fans I have to deal with around my place (all 3 of them) are being very quite after their exit from the tournament. It is a nice kinda silence...

boilerdowd said...

The silence has been golden, indeed.

Kodiak33 said...

...just like a golden

boilerdowd said...

Not exactly...ummm...not at all, really.

J Money said...

Becoming quite what, Paul?

Row Boilers said...

Did I miss the news of two additions to Painter's staff? 1. A shooting coach who can teach any of this year's team to shoot a jump shot outside 8 feet, or a free throw. 2. A defensive coach. Absent astronomical improvement in those two areas, or massive contributions from the newcomers, we do not look to improve much next year. A 5th place finish implies an NCAA bid, neither is likely until at least two shooters emerge and the whole team learns, or decides, to play good D.

QuadBoiler said...

zlionsfan, I should have clarified, I don't think it would be in his best interest to leave for many of the reasons you stated, I just think the mindset of a 20/21 year old who will probably not be in this position again will be to leave. As far as posting up smaller, weaker guys, he seemed to do pretty well against Withey and Young in games vs Kansas and Florida respectively. I think it's tough to tell what goes through these kids' minds but I wouldn't be shocked at all to see him go.

zlionsfan said...

Yeah ... the most important thing, I think, is that these are almost all 19- to 23-year-old kids, many of whom are at the athletic peak of their lives, and virtually all of whom are getting bad advice from at least one person somewhere.

My feeling is that at least 80% of the early declarers leave too soon. Of course, some of that comes from bad luck on their parts, with respect to the other guys who declare, but sometimes you should just know. For example, if Marcus Smart (who is apparently thought highly of) and Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke all declare, and you are a point guard, perhaps you should not leave just yet.

There are some kids whose draft value has peaked, so they should probably get out now, and others who would probably develop a lot more under a coach who knew what he was doing ... but most kids would benefit from another year in college ball. Besides, what would you rather do: be a kick-ass player in college ball, with all that that implies, or be a benchwarmer in the NBA, playing in a season three times as long for a team not half as good?

The flip side of that is that as we get older, it's easier to look at things critically. Would I rather have to deal with schoolwork and playing in State College and Lincoln and East Lansing, or make seven figures and play in New York and Chicago and Los Angeles? At 20, there's no question what I would have chosen (in an alternate universe where zlionsfan had game). Later, school.

conk said...

Remy Abell transferring

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