Category Archives: Big Ten Basketball

Ben Woodside: NDSU’s All-Time Leading Scorer

First, Minnesota Golden Gophers beat No. 9 Louisville Cardinals 70-64 on Saturday in Arizona.  Big Ten cred!!

Second, North Dakota States Ben Woodside set the NDSU All-Time Scoring record on Monday night against Northern Arizona.

Woodside scored his 1,814th point with around 13 minutes remaining in the game and then finished with 1820.  He surpassed Denver TenBroek you played from 1999 – 2003.

Woodside had a total of 24 points against the Lumberjacks,  shooting 7-11 from the field and 10-12 from the foul line.  He also dished out 10 assists and had 3 steals.


ACC/Big-Ten Challenge Follow-Up: In Defense of the Big Ten

There have been many college basketball types complaining that the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is lopsided and pointless. 

Some say that the Big Ten will never be able to play to the level of ACC and that the ACC will never lose.  So why play? 

And if you were to quickly glance at only a couple of games, you could easily find evidence to back up that claim.

I understand that North Carolina ran over Michigan State at Ford Field—a somewhat “neutral” site.  Duke finally left Durham to play a road game in West Lafayette, IN and even though is was on the Boilermakers home court, Purdue didn’t even show up to play.

But many of the games were hard-fought and close in the final minutes.  There were many showcased teams that focused on the team concept versus teams with a lot of  individual talent.  It paired four highly ranked teams against each other and featured at least six others who will hear their names on Selection Sunday.

While the ACC has never lost the challenge, to say that the Challenge is pointless is a little ridiculous.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a comment that I thought the Big Ten could win or at least earn a draw in this season’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  I was almost right.  

Even though they did not win, the Big Ten performed better than it has the last few years of this early season basketball extravaganza. (Now that is a great word.)

The difference this season was the scheduling committee decided to have teams face each other that will end up in the same relative position in their respective conferences.  So the matchups were more even in nearly every game.

Since 2003 the ACC has won the challenge; 7-2, 7-2, 6-5, and 8-3 in both 2006 and 2007.  This season the challenge ended up 6-5 in the ACC’s favor.

Each conference has had teams that were head and shoulders above the rest of the opposing conference in years past.  Yet this season, the play of the teams in the middle of the pack in each conference has been fairly level and is what ultimately made this year’s challenge entertaining.

The matchup of Boston College and Iowa came down to a missed free throw in the final seconds.  Maryland came back to beat Michigan.  Northwestern took over the game with their style of play against Florida State.  And Georgia Tech had a last-second heave at the buzzer to steal the game from Penn State, but could not.

In 2007, the three closest games were VT over Penn state by five, Clemson over Purdue by three, and Indiana over GT by four.  The total was a combined point difference of 12. 

In 2008 the three closest games were Wisconsin over VT by two, Clemson over Illinois by two, and Boston College over Iowa by two.  The point difference of those three games was six.  There were also four other games with a total point difference of 16.

As the Big Ten is reasserting itself as a power conference , I would like for the schools to consistently play each other.  Have UNC host Michigan State next year.  Next season Purdue goes to Cameron to face off with Duke.  Send Minnesota to Virginia to continue with the Ralph Sampson story line.

Establishing rivalries would add another layer of significance to the games and prove that each individual game is as important to win as part of the rivalry, not just a part of the challenge.  There are very few non-conference or non-border-sharing rivalries in college basketball and we could use some more.

Every season the ACC is involved in the same old debate about which conference is the best.  The Big Ten has recently fallen very far from an “honorable mention” in that conversation.  And I can not totally disagree.

Yet since the ACC/Big Ten started in 1999, each conference has had a total of eight teams in the ten Final Fours that have taken place in the same amount of time.  With the ACC winning three national championships and the Big Ten only one.

Below is the break down for each season with the champions in bold

1999 – Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State (because of violations they have forfeited this appearance) – UConn

2000 – Wisconsin, MSU and UNC,

 2001 – Duke and MSU,

2002 – Indiana and Maryland

2003 – none – Syracuse

2004 – Duke and Georgia Tech – UConn,

2005 – UNC and MSU,

 2006 – none – Florida

2007 – Ohio State – Florida

2008 – UNC – Kansas

So to claim that the ACC is a more dominant conference is false.  They are definitely the most hyped conference and the choice favorites of some ESPN “experts.” 

But here is the reality: there are always going to be conferences who have more high exposure players, more future NBA draft picks, more Hall of Fame coaches.  Yet, that does not guarantee a championship, let alone a trip the Final Four.

We have also seen that players who were not draft-worthy when they were freshmen are now projected as a top-ten pick as a junior.  We have seen juniors who were guaranteed first round picks come back to take one more shot at finally winning the last game of the season.

Now more than ever in college basketball, “the playing field is level,” and every team is a twist of fate away from making a run deep into March or losing in the first round to a mid-major. 

Case in point: UNC is a Ty Lawson or Tyler Hansbrough twisted ankle away from booking flights to Detroit in the spring—even though Detroit will still have snow.

So to the the decision makers of the Big-Ten and ACC: You have a good product, it just needs a little tweaking to get the most out of it.  Just get rid of the East Coast bias, promote rivalries when possible, and continue to make fair match-ups.

Even if the ACC continues to win, it will at least be entertaining.

Tuesday Night Hoopla

78849124KC010_MARYLAND_V_DUThis Game Should Have Been Better

Two minutes.  Jon Scheyer made a three-pointer after two fast paced hard fought minutes.  Two minutes later, Purdue finally scored when Chris Kramer final hit a jumper to make the game 7-2.  It would seem that the Boilermakers were a little to hyped to play Duke Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

In the second half Purdue had another scoring draught of over four minutes and if JaJuan Johnson had not scored eight points in a row, Purdue would have not scored until 10:48 left in the game when E’Twaun Moore hit a jumper.

In the match-up of  star 6’8” sophomore forwards, Duke’s Kyle Singler out-played Purdue’s preseason Big-Ten player of the Year candidate,  Robbie Hummel.  Even if the stat lines don’t look as such.

I must admit, even as a Dukie, I did not buy into Singler until a few games into the season.  Working hard over the summer to add 10 pounds of muscle, Singler looks the part of a McDonalds All-American.  And the game at Purdue furthered my belief that he can lead  and make playes in big games when needed.

Coaches will say that no game is more important than any other.  That’s crap.  And you get see the evidence all over the court Tuesday night.  Players were diving for loose balls, attempting to take charges, giving hard fouls.  Even Singler seemed to be amped up for Duke’s first real test of the season.

Singler finished the evening with 20 points and 12 rebounds – six offense – and hit shots when his team needed them.  Singler was all over the place with hustle plays and guarded Hummel and did not allow any east shots.

Hummel was completely invisible until halfway through the second half and then he ended with 15 points and 8 rebounds.  But his play did not affect the game nearly as much as Singler.  For that matter, all Purdue players games did not affected the out come as much as Singler as Purdue looked rushed in their offense and over-matched by Duke’s talent.

I have never been on to beleieve that stats alone can tell the whole story of a game.  Well, Tuesday night it certainly did.  Two key stats showed how lopsided this game truly was; Duke out rebounded Purdue 43 to 26.  And the Boilermakers shoot 2 for 13 from the three point line and Duke shoot 8 for 22.  Schyer also finished with 20 points.

Colt – 45

Ralph Sampson’s kid is coming to Minnesota.  Tubby Smith had instantly proved his importance to the Gopher Nation as Sampson highlighted the 23rd best recruiting class in the country, but there was another tall post player who was a part of the recruiting class.  And that player has started all seven games and Tuesday night in the Gophers toughest game this season, he had the best game of his short career.

The 6’10” 235-pound Colton Iverson came in to his senior his under the radar in Yankton, South Dakota.  Not many people knew who he was and even fewer knew less about his game.

Iverson stock rose to be ranked among Top 150 recruits after a strong senior season when he averaged 17.5 ppg, 12.9 rpg and 2.7 blocks and a summer where his AAU team won the Hoosier Shootout and he won the tourney’s MVP. His stock so much that even Billy Donavan and the Florida Gators were interested.

In the Minnesota’s  win against Virginia, the Gophers looked for Iverson on offense and he responding finishing 5 for 6 from the floor, 4 for 6 from the foul line for 14 points.  He also grabbed seven rebounds and four of which were offensive.

Iverson altered more shots than he blocked (2) but along with Ralph Sampson and Damian Johnson, the Gophers frontcourt finished with seven blocks, 14 rebounds and 20 points.  Compared to the four best Cavalier post players who had 11 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.

Quick Hits

Miami’s Jack McClinton’s best shot of the night?  After starting off the game 4-4 from distance, McClinton took a shot at Ohio States guard Anthony Carter and slapped Carter in the face.  After a quick conference with the refs, McClinton was ejected.  Ohio State won 73-68.

The Memphis Tigers blew out  the Marist Red Foxes 100-61.  Here is the stat-line for Memphis guard Tyreke Evans: 10 for 13 from the floor, 2 for 4 from behind the arc, 2 for 6 from the chariot stripe – weak, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and 24 points.   Marist was tough.

In the same “why the hell are you playing each other” vein,  Notre Dame beat South Dakota 102-76.  Notre Dame’s Randy Ayers finished with 35 points, 6 rebounds, shot 9 for 14 from distance and 12 for 20 from the field.

New Jersey Institute of Technology lost again.  Stony Brook outscored the Highlanders, 60-39.

By the end of the Tuesday the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was all tied-up at 3-3.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Wisconsin beat Virginia Tech on a last second shot by Trevon Hughes to give the Big Ten a “commanding” 1-0 lead over the ACC.  Check here for a ESPN’s recap and highlights.

Tonight is No. 4 Duke at No. 10 Purdue in a game I will watch with anticipation.  I will recap that game and the Ohio State at Miami game or Virginia at Minnesota for Fox tomorrow.

Here is the complete schedule and not all games out on TV.

Monday, Dec. 1

Wisconsin at Virginia Tech

Tuesday, Dec. 2

Duke at Purdue
Clemson at Illinois
Ohio State at Miami
Virginia at Minnesota
Iowa at Boston College

Wednesday, Dec. 3

North Carolina vs. Michigan State (from Ford Field)
Indiana at Wake Forest
Michigan at Maryland
Florida State at Northwestern
Penn State at Georgia Tech

Minnesota Golden Gophers Men’s 2008-09 Basketball Preview

In Tubby Smith’s first season coaching the Golden Gophers, they won 20 games. With his first recruiting class, they almost cracked the top 20 (25 on Can anyone say Immediate Impact? In his first full year at the University of Minnesota, Smith changed the culture of college basketball and the players bought in from the beginning. Winning 20 games was even more proof that hiring Smith was the greatest coaching hire in U of MN history.

Moving into the 2008-09 season, the natural step in this Smith revolution is higher expectations. Minnesota is the new “it pick” in the Big Ten with many experts picking them in the top third of the league. With a good core of returning players with; sophomore guards Al Nolen and Blake Hoffarber, juniors forward Damian Johnson, and guard Lawrence Westbrook, the Gophers had added a talented recruiting class that adds quality depth, something lacking in previous seasons.
2007-08 Recap

Record: 20-14 (8-10 in Big Ten)

2007-08 Statistical Leaders
Points per game: G – Lawrence McKenzie – 11.8
Rebounds per game: F/C –Dan Coleman – 5.8
Assists per game: G – Al Nolen – 3.5

Key Players Out:
Lawrence McKenzie, Guard (11.8 ppg and 2.6 apg)
Dan Coleman, Forward/Center (11.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg)
Spencer Tollackson, Forward/Center (9.3 ppg and 3.7 rpg)

Key Returning Players:

Al Nolen, Guard Soph. (4.3 ppg, 1.9 steals pg, and 3.5 assist pg)
Blake Hoffarber, Guard Soph. (8.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, and 42% 3 point shooting)
Damian Johnson, Forward Jr. (7.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 1.4 blocks pg)
Lawrence Westbrook, Guard Jr. (8.5 ppg, 1.9 steals pg, and 3.5 assist pg)

Key Players In:
Devron Bostick, Guard Fr.
6-5 210 Racine, Wis./Southwestern Illinois CC
Devoe Joseph, Guard Fr.
6-3 170 Ajax, Ontario, Canada/Pickering
Colton Iverson, Forward Fr.
6-10 235 Yankton, S.D./Yankton
Ralph Sampson III, Forward Fr.
6-11 220 Duluth, Ga./Northview
Paul Carter, Forward So.
6’8” 195 Little Rock, Ar./Missouri State-West Plains JC

Smiths first recruiting class addresses the lack of talent and depth in the front court. Losing Tollackson and Coleman is a huge lose, but the addition of Sampson and Iverson should turn out to be an up-grade. Sampson was a late bloomer in high school, but he has shown a nice jump shot out to about 17 feet. While not as physically gifted as his father, Virginia All-American and NBA player Ralph Sampson Jr., he is strong and athletic enough to be a defensive force and seems to have a solid grasp of the game. Iverson comes to campus with a offense game stronger than Sampson. He has good post moves and is an aggressive all-around rebounder, but he needs to improve on defense.

The only player returning from last season that is over 6’7″ is the 6’9” center Jonathan Williams. While he is a senior, he has not been off the bench to often, averaging only 13.1 minutes and 3.0 points per game. Johnson is the most experienced and athletic forward on the squad. While only standing 6’7”, Johnson averaged 1.4 blocks and 1.7 steals per game, saw most of his minutes last season at power forward. Incoming sophomore Carter, who is an athletic slasher with a decent perimeter game, will have a hard time finding time and but if he is one the court, it will be at PF.
Sampson, Iverson, Williams, and Johnson will be competing for the PF and C starting spots.

The backcourt will be the strength of the Golden Gophers. The Gophers will look to Westbrook to pick his scoring to fill the void left by McKenzie. Westbrook has the range to do it and has a greater ability than McKenzie to get to the basket. Smith will look to Nolen to not only increase his numbers on offense, but also put constant pressure on the opposing ball handler. Both of these players are expected to see the majority of minutes at PG.

If Hoffarber never makes another basket in his life, he would still be a Minnesota basketball legend. As a sophomore in high school, Hoffarber hit a last second shot while sitting on the three-point line, not only did it send the championship game into a second overtime – which his team went onto win – he also won an ESPY. In his first season in college, he again hit an important last second shot in the Big-Ten tourney that won the game for the Gophers – click here to see both highlighted on ESPN.

Last season saw Hoffarber receive more playing time than many expected, as he was used mostly as a 3-point specialist. But he needs to expand his game of the dribble if he wants to see more playing time. Bostick will come in a provide help in scoring and could potentially make the starting line-up at SF.

Joseph will add even more outside shooting plus the ability to get to the rim but majority of his minutes – at least early in the year – will be off the bench. Junior Jamal AbuShamla contributed 13.1 minutes and 3.4 point a game last year, but might be hard-pressed get off the bench unless he improved his game while playing the Jordon National team, if he did, he will add depth at SF.
The early portion of Minnesota’s schedule is filled with cupcakes. Match-ups in December with Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Louisville in the Stadium Shootout, will be the toughest games until they run into the big boys of the Big Ten to start conference play – Michigan Sate Dec. 31st and Ohio State Jan. 2nd, which are both at home. Other than Purdue, the rest of the Big Ten is pretty mediocre and the Gophers should be able to add a couple wins to the 20 season of last season and improve on their 8-10 record in conference.
For the first time in a while, the Golden Gophers have quality depth and could go 11 eleven deep. And depending on the situation, you might see Smith go to a four guard line-up or go “small” with Johnson as the big.

G Nolen, SG Westbrook SF Bostick PF Johnson C Sampson III
F/C Iverson, F AbuShamla, C Williams, F Carter, G Hoffarber,G Joseph