Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 11:59 am
Jeff Goodman sat down with Michigan State hoops coach Tom Izzo to preview the Carrier Classic and to discuss several topics including the benefits of the Big Ten expanding, his $1 million contribution to the program and more.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:12 pm
By Matt Norlander
An under-the-radar suspension is being reported by David Jones of PennLive.com.
After a few days of speculation, Jones got confirmation from the school that new head coach Pat Chambers has indeed suspended sophomore guard Jermaine Marshall for the time being. The statement from the school to Jones read as following:
Coach Chambers has indefinitely suspended Jermaine Marshall from the Nittany Lion basketball team for a violation of team rules. Marshall has not participated in team practices since they officially began on Oct. 14 and is not currently with the team. There is no specific timetable set for Marshall’s return to the team. Coach Chambers continues to review Marshall’s standing with the team. Penn State and Coach Chambers will have no further comment on Marshall until his standing with the team has been resolved.
Clearly right now there is The Team, and there is Marshall, who played nine minutes per game and averaged 2.5 points. Chambers is out to make Penn State more than an occassionally feared foe in the Big Ten. He wants to build the program into something respectable year in and out. We're seeing the first evidence of his heavy fist.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:45 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:40 am
By Jeff Goodman
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Thad Matta says he's the toughest player he's ever had. That includes his time at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State.
Yet there was Aaron Craft, standing on the sidelines, sitting out practice on Monday after taking an elbow from Deshaun Thomas the previous day.
I'm just giving Craft some you-know-what because it was just ironic Craft missed the one Buckeyes practice I'll be at this preseason.
And even though walk-on point guard Alex Rogers was terrific, this is a completely different team without Craft.
I'll have more on him later this week, but there's just nothing that the unassuming sophomore point guard doesn't do on the court. He leads, makes his teammates better, can lock guys up and has also (reportedly) improved his perimeter shot.
Anyway, here are my thoughts and observations following Ohio State's practice:
- I've already chronicled Sullinger's new look and how it'll benefit him this season.
- Matta wants - and needs - William Buford to be more aggressive and get to the line with more frequency. He's the lone upperclassman who has played on this team and needs to become more assertive than he's been in the past.
- The most surprising performance came from Lenzelle Smith, a seldom-used guard a year ago who may just be the frontrunner to earn the fifth and final spot to start this season. The other four will almost certainly go to Sullinger, Buford, Craft and Thomas. However, Smith has shot it well, he's strong, athletic, plays with a motor and can defend. "I need him to be out Ronald Nored," Matta said. That's a high expectation, but Smith can be a quality glue guy who brings multiple assets to the table this year.
- Don't be shocked if Matta throws Craft and freshman point guard Shannon Scott out there together at times. They are both small floor leaders, but both shoot it well enough - and Craft is about as good of a defender as you'll find, so the Buckeyes could probably get away with it on the defensive end.
- Matta called freshman forward Sam Thompson the "most athletic player I've ever coached." It's easy to see why. He's a high-flyer, but his skill level is further along than many people gave him credit for. Plus, Thompson is a high IQ guy - so look for him to get playing time this season. "It's freakish," Matta said of Thompson's athletic ability.
- One of the new big men will need to step up to take the minutes vacated by veteran Dallas Lauderdale. The candidates: BC transfer Evan Ravenel and freshmen Amir Williams and Trey McDonald. Right now the minutes would go to Ravenel because of his experience, but the 6-foot-11 Williams could catch him - if he learns to play hard - later in the year. "I think Amir can help us rebound the ball and affecting shot around the basket," Matta said. "He's still learning."
- Sophomore J.D. Weatherspoon has the athletic ability, but will also need to play hard consistently to get in the rotation.
- Ohio State assistant Chris Jent is a huge addition to this coaching staff, replacing Brandon Miller - who left the business. Jent said he wouldn't have left the Cleveland Cavs if it wasn't for the combination of Matta and being at his alma mater. He also said it'll allow him to be a more well-rounded coach. "It's an opportunity to coach the other side of the ball," said Jent, who was coaching the defense with the Cavs.
- Diebler is now in Greece while David Lighty is playing in Italy.
- I hate to admit it, but Greg Paulus kicked my @#$ in ping pong. In fact, I may retire after my performance - which was just truly embarrassing. At least know we've found a sport than Paulus can actually play.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 4:58 pm
By Jeff Goodman
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Jared Sullinger came into Columbus a year ago at 290 pounds. Now he's at 265.
Luckily for the Ohio State sophomore, though, he hasn't lost the large derriere that makes him extremely difficult to defend in the paint.
Sullinger has slimmed down. He's talked about it all summer, but I saw it with my own eyes on Monday afternoon in practice, when the svelte favorite for National Player of the Year honors showcased his improved agility.
"He's really toned up," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "He told me yesterday how much better he felt after five practices."
Ohio State strength coach Dave Richardson showed me the before and after photos - and it's impressive how Sullinger has changed his entire body. He's gone from 24 percent body fat to 12 percent now.
"It's motivating," Sullinger said when he sees the pictures.
Now Sullinger drinks water, turns down pizza and it's paid off.
There should be significant differences in Sullinger's game this season:
1) Explosiveness - He's never going to be a high-flyer, but he's hopeful he won't be considered an "under-the-rim" guy anymore. "I'm a lot quicker and I think I'll have the ability to go over the top of players now."
2) Endurance - He's in better shape and should be more effective late in the game - even if he logs big minutes.
3) Defense - Sullinger said he would rate himself a "4" on the scale of 1-10 on the defensive end last season. It's clear he's taking more pride in that end of the court - and the departure of 25 pounds should help as well. "I believe I can guard when I want to," he said. "I need to put my mind to it."
4) Footwork - Sullinger's footwork has always been impressive, especially for his size, but now it'll be even better with less baggage.
5) Perimeter Game - Sullinger will still do most of his work in the paint, but Thad Matta has given him the "green light" to shoot 3's.
Sullinger said the NBA lockout had no impact on his decision to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season. He told Matta throughout his freshman campaign that he'd be back - and was even willing to sign a contract.
Then Matta found out that Sullinger told reporters after the loss to Kentucky in the Elite Eight that he was definitely coming back as the pair were walking to the bus.
"He was like, 'Oh, sh#t. We've got a chance to be really good."
Especially now with the new-look Sullinger.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 11:20 am
By Matt Norlander
Each year, the details behind Michigan State's opening-night festivities are always kept close to the vest. In particular, the costume and theme of Tom Izzo's appearance is of the utmost importance to Michigan State senior officials.
This year, in what I'm taking as an over-the-top homage to the fact the film is being remade, Izzo decided to feel the need, the need for some Top Gun. The school claims the the choice was made because this runs with the fact Michigan State will play UNC on an aircraft carrier on Veterans Day, but I think Izzo's always considered himself the Maverick of Michigan.
Who else wouldn't love to see Izzo say to Michigan coach John Beilein ...
"That's right! Bei ... lein. I am dangerous."
What I don't need to unintentionally envision: the Big Ten coaches playing bare-chested beach volleyball. So now you carry that with you as well.
The entrance video apparently put Izzo in place of Tom Cruise in a Top Gun-style trailer (I am trying to get this for you). The photo below is chopped due to the wide-shot, but it's approximately 50 former players and managers that were at the event. Former Spartans Mateen Cleaves and Shannon Brown are behind Izzo's wife and daughter in the middle.
Photos via MSU athletics
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 9:01 pm
By Matt Norlander
Though we've not yet heard official word from the White House (UPDATE: Now we do.), according to Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, President Obama will indeed make an appearance at next month's Carrier Classic.
"Honored to have Pres. Obama at the Carrier Classic as we pay tribute to those men & women who serve our nation and our freedom. #whitehouse," Hollis tweeted. He also sent a direct tweet to Magic Johnson, saying "White House confirmed today President Obama will attend 11.11.11 Carrier Classic between Michigan State & North Carolina."
On Friday, we told you Obama had been formally invited by the event's organizers. It's a little surprising the news is coming out so early -- someone asked me if this was a national security risk by putting the RSVP out there so publicly so soon -- but I'd imagine that ship will be as secure as Fort Knox.
The game is the first of its kind. Basketball on an aircraft carrier on Veterans Day on the ship that laid Osama bin Laden to rest.
You can bet apple pie will be part of the media buffet.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 9:52 am
By Matt Norlander
Our television overlords released today the terrific slate of games we've got assembled for the upcoming season. Bookmark/print out this page so you know what's coming when.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 5:23 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 5:26 pm
By Jeff Goodman
You've got to feel for Mo Creek.
Indiana's junior guard suffered a torn Achilles and, according to sources, is expected to miss the season following surgery on Monday.
The Hoosiers, via a statement, said that Creek was injured "away from the basketball court."
One source told CBSSports.com that it was a "freak injury that occurred away from the court" and that "Creek wasn't doing anything wrong."
What matter, though, is that this is a huge hit. Not only to Creek, who has now suffered three significant injuries in his two-year college career, but also to a Hoosiers program that appeared primed to make a leap forward this season.
"This is a devastating blow for someone who has worked so hard to get himself in a position to help this program again," Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a statement.
With a healthy Creek, Crean & Co. could have made a move this season. This is a veteran team that has added a frontcourt stud in Cody Zeller.
Put a healthy Creek with a motivated Christian Watford and Zeller - along with the other pieces in Bloomington - and you've got a team that could crack the top half of the Big Ten.
Especially with the Big Ten losing a bunch from a year ago.
Now it's going to be a challenge for IU without Creek.
Creek had surgery for a broken patella in December of 2009 and his season ended prematurely a year ago - in January - due to a stress fracture in his right patella.
When healthy, Creek can be a guy who you can build around. He averaged 16.4 points as a freshman prior to his first injury. However, he's played just 30 games in two seasons and now it looks like he'll miss this entire year.