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6C Thursday, November 8, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Sophomore DeShawn Sirr
every test life has given hii
Beilein's brightest pL
to lead the Wo
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.corm
Big Ten preview
Talk around campus has focused on the arrival of new Michigan coach John Beilein and how quickly he can complete his latest rebuilding project. But
what about the rest of the Big Ten? After two heavyweights - Michigan State and Ohio State - fell to Division II schools in the past week, the confer-
ence appears more wide open than originally thought. Here isa preview of what to expect from every team not named Michigan in the Big Ten.
By H. JOSE BOSCH
Daily Sports Writer
During last Thursday's exhibi-
tion against Ferris State, sopho-
more DeShawn Sims took the first
3-point shot of the season before
much of the crowd had a chance
to settle into its seats.
He had no reason to wait.
Sims stepped out of the shower
that morning and knew he was
going to take that shot.
It's quite a thought to have
considering Sims didn't make
any of the seven 3-pointers he
took last season.
]jut that's the kind of confi-
dence that comes from someone
who is self-motivated.
From a kid who was the man of the
house at 11years old.
From someone who wants to show that
his unremarkable freshman season was an
And Sims, who was living away from home for the first time, felta
"I think the day that he found out, he really broke down a lot," said
his mother, Lolita Pruitt. "He felt he should've been (there) more for
his brother, but it's not his fault at all."
Now, a year later, Sims described the difficulty he had being around
for his family and his teammates.
"I didn't really balance it," Sims said. "I just went through it
because I knew I had a responsibility with my scholarship and I had
a responsibility at home. So I had to try and make time for the home
thing and basketball."
Sims was there for his family, and two days after his brother's
death, he was there for his teammates in an exhibition game against
Michigan Tech. To a casual observer his line was unimpressive - four
points, two rebounds, one assist. But it was the most impressive per-
formance of the evening.
"I was confident (he'd recover), but again, you always, in the
back of your head, you never know how people are going to handle
things," said Sims's coach at Pershing High School, A.W. Canada.
"We always expected him to pull through, but he actually did abet-
ter job than everyone thought."
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Ring, ring. The first set of NCAA sanctions didn't slow down Kel-
vin Sampson, and it will be hard for teams to hold back his Hoosiers
this season. Indiana has the Big Ten's second-best senior (forward
D.J. White) and, more important, if recent history is an indicator
(Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, etc.), its best freshman (guard Eric Gor-
don). If Gordon lives up to his billing, the sky's the limit in
The media picked Michigan State first in the conference at Big Ten
Media Day. But that was before the Spartans lost to Division-Il Grand
Valley State. Although the game was just an exhibition, the defeat has
to pose some serious questions about the nation's No. 8 team. Led by
Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Drew Neitzel and rising sopho-
more Raymar Morgan, Michigan State has enough talent to rebound.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta had an idea he was going to lose Greg
Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. to the NBA following the Buckeyes' run
to the NCAA Finals. But lost in the shuffle was the unexpected early
departure of talented guard Daquean Cook. Add the graduation of
senior Ron Lewis, and Ohio State must replace last year's four lead-
ing scorers. And it looks like it might be harder than expected, judging
from the Buckeyes' upset loss to Division-Il Findlay Tuesday. Luckily for
the-Scarlet and Grey, Matta seems to have the golden touch when it
comes to recruiting these days, having brought in another loaded class
this season. There probably won't be as many wins as a year ago, but
expect Matta to have Ohio State back in the Dance.
Wisconsin returns most of its frontcourt - specifically senior Brian
Butch and junior Marcus Landry - so the Badgers should be able
to bang on the interior with the best of the conference. But there's
nobody to replace the crunch-time scoring of now-departed Alando
Tucker and Kammron Taylor. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is known for
making a lot out of alittle, but thecupboard is more bare than he's
been used to during his years in Madison.
Purdue replaces the inside-out punch of Carl Landry and David
Teague with a stellar recruiting class. There shouldn't be too many
masterpieces for Matt Painter's squad this season considering its
reliance on freshmen. But the future is bright with so many talented
Seniors Brian Randle and Shaun Pruitt will provide experience and
athleticism up front for the Illini, but the backcourt is awash in question
marks. Illinois' would-be starting shooting guard Jamar Smith will miss
the season as a penalty for an aggravated DUI last year. Six scholarship
players join the roster this season, but none of them have attracted the
attention walk-on Jeffrey Jordan has. If the last name looks familiar to
basketball fans, that's because he is the son of Michael "Air" Jordan. If
the big men deliver, this year's Illini squad could be a force to be
Since hes currently paying for twofootball coaches, former basket-
ball coach Dan Monson and current coach Tabby Smith, Minnesota
athletic director Joel Maturi must be banking on Smith leading the
Golden Gophers up the Big Ten ladder. With all five starters returning,
Smith has a chance to do that. A lot of chatter around Big Ten Media
Day surrounded the potential of the.Golden Gophers. But high pressure
and expectations led to Smith's exit from Kentucky. Did he leave one
bad lit for another?
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Indiana senior D.J. White is the Big Ten's best returning big man for a loaded Hoosier squad.
Last season, Iowa was the Big Ten's surprise team. But after losing their
two best players - senior Adam Haluska graduated and freshman
Tyler Smith transferred to Tennessee - it'll be surprising if the Hawk-
eyes finish outside the Big Ten basement. New coach Todd Lickliter
replaces Bobby Knight-disciple Steve Alford and plans on instilling his
defense-first philosophy from the get go. But defense can only take you
sofar when your leading returning scorer, junior Tony Freeman, didn't
even average eight points per game.
It's the same thing in State College year in and year out. Players and
coaches have a different variation of "This is the year Penn State rises
from the bottom of the Big Ten." Well, this season the team better fol-
low through on its promise or coach Ed DeChellis will be on his way out.
Led by seniors Jamelle Cornley and Geary Claxton, the Nittany Lions
have two players who have proven they can make an impact against the
best of the Big Ten. Too bad that's about all Penn State has. Expect the
Nittany Lions to muster little more than a meow this season.
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody is regarded as one of the nation's
top offensive schemers. The Wildcats keep games close with a lack
of talent thanks to their Princeton-style offense. But Northwestern
lost two of its best players, Vince Scott and Tim Doyle, to graduation.
That's doesn't bode well for a team that won just two games in the con-
ference ayear ago. Luckily for Carmody, expectations are notoriously
low in Evanston, so barring a winless season, his job is safe.
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