BIG TEN BASKETBALL
Tueday I.oveber2, 010 / Te-iciganD 3B E
Bulked-up Blake McLimans
ready for Big Ten spotlight
In East Lan-
27, 7 p.m.
Hell doesn't freeze over and a meteor doesn'
Earth. But all jokes aside, Spartan coach TomI
isn't only trying to make his 14th straight tou
ment appearance at the helm of Michigan State
is looking to win it all this year. Senior guard K
Lucas was chosen as the Big Ten Preseason Pl
of the Year. It will be no surprise if the Spart
win their seventh Big Ten Championship un
Izzo and advance to the Final Four again, butI
time they won't lose to Butler ... well, Michi
State fans are hoping they won't lose to Butler.
Lucas... again. The star guard is too clutc
a player for the Spartans to play without. Li
ruptured his Achilles tendon in March and,
sidelined for five months. The injury causedI
to miss the remainder of the season, and no
truly knows if he'll be 100 percent come g:
time against Saginaw Valley State... Maybe Lu
being just 99 percent will spark a Cardinal up
Though I don't see that happening any time be
the Michigan football team posts a shutout, Li
is a player that the Spartans seriously do not w
warming the bench.
The Wolverines lower the rims to throw
Michigan State's shots. And even then it's a stre
But last year, the Wolverines did throw the SI
tans for a loop. Michigan dropped its riv
matchup, 57-56, in a thriller at Crisler Arena.Y
even though the chances of that happening ai
are slim, junior Zack Novak said at MediaI
that we shouldn't be surprised if this team p
off some upsets. Novak said that the squad's in
ligence could overcome its lack of athleticism
games against teams like Michigan State.'
extra IQ points probably won't help the Wolver
too much when they tip off against Little Brot
But with team chemistry, they may hang in th
In Ann Arbor,
t hit Someone can step up and replace the leadership
zzo of last year's Big Ten Player of the Year Evan Turn-
rna- er. Though the Buckeyes have exceptional talent,
;he whether they will have the leadership necessary
alin to replace the nation's most reliable go-to-guy is
ayer unclear. That guy could be senior Jon Diebler, who
ans drains 42 percent of his threes. If Diebler remains a
ider consistent shooter, the Buckeyes will be one of the
this most versatile teams in the Big Ten. With post play-
gan ers like Dallas Lauderdale and freshman Jared Sull-
inger, the Buckeyes could be downright scary. Solid
big men and consistent shooting will be the key for
h of Fifth-year senior David Lighty. The guard missed
tcas most of the 2009-10 season because of a broken bone
was in his right foot and then missed most of the offsea-
him son after re-injuring the same bone. But Ohio State
one says that Lighty should be ready to play in the Buck-
ame eyes' first game. Lighty will be one of the many can-
icas didates to fill Turner's shoes, both as a leader and
iset. running the point. For 10 seasons, Buckeye coach
fore Thad Matta has guided his team to at least 20 wins,
ucas and Lighty has been there for four of them. He has
rant the most familiarity in Matta's offensive scheme
and is the oldest player onthe team. If Lighty doesn't
play, the Buckeyes will have about the same chances
of making the Final Four as Boise State does making
the National Championship game.
off it uses its athleticism. The Wolverines aren't the
tch. most experienced or the most athletic guys on the
par- court. However, Michigan is faster than the mam-
alry moth post players Ohio State will attempt to use to
And its advantage all season. Besides those post players,
gain the Buckeyes need Lighty and junior Nikkola Kec-
Day man to run the hardwood. But Lighty missed a ton
'ulls of time in the offseason and Kecman is out indefi-
tel- nitely after tearing his ACL in June. If those inju-
a in ries continue, Ohio State may have to start women's
The basketball senior Jantel Lavender. She won Big Ten
ines Player of the Year for the 2009-10 season and Mich-
-her. igan doesn't have the physicality to keep up.
Some call them the Nittany Lions and some call them
Talor Battle. The senior guard returns for one more year ac
in an attempt to regain the pride that the entire Penn co
State team lost last year. After winning just three Big Ten tic
games in the 2009-10 season, two of which came against ye
Northwestern and one against Michigan, Battle and four Do
other seniors make up a dark horse in the conference. gl,
Remember, they did win the NIT just two years ago, and pr
the roster still has seven players who were there during w
that era. Maybe the Nittany Lions will rebound. tri
7:3 0 p.m.
There is any justice in the world. Seniors Deme-
tri McCamey and Mike Davis are two of the most
prolific players in the conference. Davis was the
2009-10 leading Big Ten rebounder after collect-
ing nine boards per game, and McCamey was on
last year's all-conference team and led Illinois in
scoring, averaging 15 points per game. Together
the two work as the sickest duo since Kobe and
Shaq. Not to mention that Illinois coach Bruce
Weber is in his seventh year and is one of the many
Big Ten teams known to blow up brackets come
Mr. McCamey. There is nothing more valuable
to Illinois than its all-star guard. McCamey is in
contention with Lucas in for the Big Ten Player
of the Year award. But unlike Lucas, McCamey
seems to be as healthy as ever. As last year's team
MVP and this years team captain, McCamey will
need to be the go-to guy for Illinois. He needs tobe
the backstop for the Fighting Illini. Secondly, Illi-
nois can't lose its new defensive mentality. Weber
has preached nothing but 'D' throughout the
offseason to avoid another 11-game slide, which
caused the Illini to miss the Big Dance last season.
The 1-3-1 works. If the Wolverines' aggressive
defense can slow down a very fast-paced Illinois
offense, Michigan has a shot. Last year, Michigan
lost 51-44. But a number worse than the score was
the rebound ratio. The Illini out-rebounded the
Wolverines 50-35. Even with-that, Michigan kept
it close by forcing 17 turnovers. That's the defense
upon which the Wolverines must capitalize if they
are going to upset the 13th-ranked tean in the
country, and that's if those turnovers can be con-
verted into points - something that Beilein has
noted as a weakness of last year's team.
At Big Ten Media Day, Hoosier coach Tom Crean
knowledged how difficult it is to play against a "Beilein-
'ached" team. But Crean's sincerity has reason tobe ques-
oned, as few teams struggled against the Wolverines last
ar. Also, Crean has a competent leader in junior guard
aniel Moore, who played alongside Michigan's Stu Dou-
ass in high school. Moore put up 18 points in the team's
eseason scrimmage, and he should be a force to reckon
ith in conference play. In the end, it may not matter how
icky Beilein's scheme is. Crean has his card.
By LUKE PASCH
Take one look at Michigan's depth
chart, specifically the big men down
low, and try not to shudder.
It's an uneasy truth for Michi-
gan fans: the Wolverines' frontcourt
options are downright inexperienced.
There are just five of them, none of
whom has stepped on the hardwood
at the collegiate level. And those
five - two redshirt freshmen and
three true freshmen - will match up
against some of the most formidable
low-post talent in the nation.
The team's depletion of big bod-
ies obviously wasn't planned. The
coaching staff couldn't have antici-
pated the career-ending hip surgery
that seven-footer Ben Cronin under-
went prior to last season, nor the
abysmal all-around performance of
last year's squad, which eventually
nudged Manny Harris toward the
NBA a year early.
Still, Michigan coach John Beilein
doesn't appear overly concerned
without an established force down
low to start the season. His hope
is that at least one player from this
humble coalition of forwards will
grow up quickly to become a reliable
body in the frontcourt.
And he may just find his go-to guy
in redshirt freshman Blake McLi-
mans, a 6-foot-tO power forward
from Worcester, Massachusetts.
When McLimans was recruited,
he had nearly all the qualities of an
elite Division-I forward - he worked
the post effectively, floated to the
perimeter to drain mid-range jump-
ers and the occasional three-pointer
and averaged a remarkable nine
rebounds and five blocked shots per
game at Hamburg H.S. in New York
(where he played for three years
before moving to Worcester).
He resembled a young Dirk Nowit-
"Dirk's obviously my favorite
player," McLimans said last month.
"I guess I can see myself playing like
him, working the inside and outside.
I've played a few three-on-three
tournaments in Buffalo, and people
called me Dirk's brother."
But there was one significant dif-
ference between McLimans and
Nowitzki - bulk.
When McLimans arrived on cam-
pus in 2009, he weighed in at a mere
215 pounds. Scouts labeled him skin-
ny, lanky and awkward - not the
typical adjectives used to describe a
future starter in the Big Ten. Small-
framed bodies wouldn't bode well
against such premier forces down
low as Purdue's JaJuan Johnson,
Michigan State's Draymond Green
and Illinois's Mike Tisdale.
But after a year of matching up
against All-Big Ten stars in Har-
ris and DeShawn Sims every prac-
tice and a grueling offseason during
which he put on nearly 25 pounds of
muscle, McLimans may be ready for
those key matchups.
"Blake's made great strides,"
Beilein said at Big Ten Media Day in
Chicago last Thursday. "He's getting
the body of a 6-foot-10 center in the
Big Ten. (He) still has not had enough
experience with the lights on for us
really to know what to expect ... but
he's got a really nice outside shot that
could help us spread the floor."
And to complement his shot,
McLimans will be paired with a solid
talent underneath in Detroit-native
Jordan Morgan, a 6-foot-8, 240-
pound redshirt freshman who aver-
aged more than 10 rebounds a game
in high school.
Morgan will be expected to make
his presence felt in the key when
McLimans drifts outside.
"Jordan and I go at it in practice
every day," McLimans said. "He
makes me better, and I make him bet-
ter. Even though we're competing for
time, we definitely encourage each
other because it's all about the team."
It seems like a perfect match for
the Beilein system which puts a high
premium on shooting - Morgan will
flex his muscles in the paint, allow-
ing McLimans to show off his out-
side shot, as well as some finesse in
That's at least the ideal scenario
for the Wolverines. With such a
young corps of forwards, nobody -
not even the coaching staff - can
offer a confident prediction of what
will work and what wont.
But early on, don't be surprised
if it's the relatively unknown McLi-
mans who starts turning heads.
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Kevin Coble - the Wildcats' leading scorer for three
years - quit the team this July, and he will not suit up for
his fifth-year senior season. Coble gave Northwestern its
best shot to make its first tournament in school history.
Now', Coach Bill Carmody is back at square one without
a definitive leader, But don't count the Wildcats out quite
yet. Junior forward John Shurna returns after earning
All-Big Ten Second Team honors last year. Shurna set the
program record for points in a season with 619 in 2009-10,
and looks to score even more this year.
Redshirt freshman Blake McLimans is expected to establish his position in both the post and along the periweter this season