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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fifteen Yr Big Ten All-Stars

Ryan and I have decided to create an all-star lineup for each of the Big Ten teams over the past fifteen seasons.  After talking it through, we also decided that we should have a tournament with the teams.  The voters will choose which team advances to the next round.  Seeding is determined by the number of Big Ten titles each team won over the time frame.  The teams that didn't win any titles were just assigned a seed based on our view of how talented the roster is.  The tournament theoretically takes place in Chicago's United Center.

Without further ado, the first game of the Big Ten tournament features a play-in game with 11th seeded Northwestern against 10th seeded Penn State.

Northwestern Pts RB Assts Stls Fg% 3pt% FT%
PG Geno Carlisle 15.8 2.7 3.3 0.8 0.393 0.368 0.766
SG Jitim Young 13.0 4.6 2.0 1.8 0.471 0.305 0.626
SF Vedran Vukusic 14.1 3.5 2.1 1.1 0.478 0.375 0.755
PF Kevin Coble 14.2 5.3 1.7 1.5 0.484 0.390 0.778
C Evan Eschmeyer 18.4   9.6   2.2   0.8   0.601   0.000   0.675
Bench G Cedric Neloms 14.1 4.7 0.9 0.7 0.461 0.231 0.731
F/C  Tavaras Hardy 9.5 5.4 1.9 0.8 0.448 0.208 0.579
G TJ Parker 10.0 2.5 3.0 1.3 0.428 0.333 0.708

Carlisle: Lightening in a bottle, knows how to get to the basket. Transferred to Cal after 2 yrs.
Honors: 1st team All-Big Ten 1996
Young: The best player NWU has had in recent memory.  Guard that knows how to rebound.
Honors: 1st team All-Big Ten 2004
Vukusic: Solid outside shooter, but like most Euro players is a little soft.
Coble: Currently starting for the Wildcats.  This is a guy to keep your eye on b/c he can score from anywhere.
Eschmeyer: The only NBA talent on this team.  Dominated down low but his teams were unsuccessful due to atrocious guard play.  Honors: 1st team All-Big Ten 1997, 1998, 1999
Bench: Parker is super quick and plays sneaky good defense but his shooting was never good, Cedric Neloms led the Big Ten in FTs his Senior year, and Tavares Hardy is another solid big man.

Strengths: Post presence, quickness on the perimeter.  
With Kevin O'Neill running the show, the Wildcats will push the pace and hope for some easy opportunities.  When those opportunities don't present themselves the Wildcats have Eschmeyer to lean on in half court sets.

Weaknesses: Outside shooting. Overall athleticism.
Coble and Vukusic are both good outside shooters but the guards are not.  This may seem a little backwards in that the little guys prefer to shoot from the lane whereas the big guys want the ball outside.  This will cause a problem in creating 2nd opportunities--something the Wildcats need to be successful.

Penn St. Pts RB Assts Stls Fg% 3pt% FT%
G Dan Earl 12.6 2.7 4.1 1.6 0.467 0.383 0.788
G Joe Crispin 15.6 2.9 3.8 1.0 0.381 0.348 0.885
G/F Geary Claxton 15.1 7.4 1.6 1.0 0.443 0.330 0.650
F John Amaechi 15.6 8.9 1.3 0.518 0.694
F Calvin Booth 11.9   6.7   0.8   0.6   0.497 0.100 0.729
Bench G Titus Ivory 15.9 3.8 3.4 1.7 0.441 0.358 0.836
G Pete Lisicky 15.9 2.9 2.9 1.0 0.408 0.374 0.888
F Jan Jagla 10.2 6.9 1.1 0.8 0.414 0.257 0.699

Earl: Solid PG skills.  Good passer, good defender, good shooter.  Nothing outstanding, just solid all-around.
Crispin: Don't let his FG% fool you.  This guy is a shooter.  His numbers suffered from being the best player on a bad team. Honors: 1st Team All-Big Ten 2001
Claxton: Very good rebounder for a guard. Matchup nightmare.  Would have been all 1st team Big Ten if not for a knee injury halfway through his senior season.
Amaechi: A giant on the boards.  Solid shooter from medium range and a solid defensive player. Honors: 1st Team All-Big Ten 1995
Booth: Another NBA bound big man.  Who knew?  Big, round body that other teams will have trouble pushing around.  Not that great of an athlete but good rebounder and FT shooter.  Honors: Defensive POY 1998.
Bench: Ivory and Lisicky are two more little guards that can shoot the lights out when they're hot.  Jagla is a solid bench contributor.

Strengths:  Penn State will definitely light up some scoreboards with their phalanx of distance shooting guards.  Geary Claxton will prove to be a formidable matchup problem for any Big 10 team with his unique size and skills; Claxton sports a true NBA guard body.  The Big Men create a formidable tag team.

Weaknesses:  Penn State basketball has been the weakest program by far since the Nittany Lions entered the Big 10 in 1993.  The team may have a horde of shooters but gaining rebounds and second chances will be highly difficult with their small bench.  An early exit seems inevitable, yet will anybody really care in Happy Valley?

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