Basketball media day: Things to know

Basketball media day: Things to know

Why wait to hear what players, coaches and media have to say at Thursday's Big Ten get-together in Rosemont?

1. The Big Ten Player of the Year will be ...

... Cody Zeller — in the preseason balloting. The Indiana sophomore is in the ideal situation to win the postseason award, too; a super talent (a 20/10 season is possible if Indiana’s scoring isn’t spread out too much), strong supporting cast (Tom Crean returns five starters and welcomes a dynamic point guard, Yogi Ferrell) and his team is favored to win the league (the AP Top 25 will have Indiana at No. 1 when it’s released Friday). Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas is our candidate 1A, however. Wired to score, Thomas averaged 19.2 points in five NCAA tournament games and probably will lead the Big Ten in scoring. Like it did with Evan Turner, the Buckeyes’ offense will run through Thomas, albeit at a different position — power forward. Thomas was considered by the Illinois coaching staff to be its toughest matchup last season.

2. Top three teams will be ...
... Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State — although you might see the Wolverines and Buckeyes swap spots. The Big Ten poll only recognizes the top-three teams. But the Big Ten media put together an unofficial poll with all 12 teams. In an unofficial survey of the 24 beat writers — two that cover each program — the Hoosiers received 21 first-place votes and were the runaway favorite. Illinois was picked to finish ninth — ahead of only Northwestern, Penn State and Nebraska. The surprise pick in the media poll was Iowa at No. 7 — ahead of Purdue and Illinois.

3. The most-talked about Illini will be ...
... John Groce. The first-year coach is in charge of rebuilding an Illini brand that hasn’t worried the rest of the league for more than half a decade. It’s an unfortunate truth. Big Ten rivals, mainly those that have been at the top of the league, namely Michigan State, Michigan Ohio State and Purdue, are recruiting this state as hard as the state school. Groce’s job description is a hefty one: Rebuild Illinois into a Big Ten title contender, a process that still figures to take 2-3 years, at the least. His interview table today will be a busy one. And one area in which he excels is delivering a clear, concise plan on how he’ll get it done.
 

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butkus50 wrote on October 25, 2012 at 6:10 am

Most knew how far the BB program at Illiniois had dropped with Weber and his dismissal was years behind schedule. Groce may not have been first choice but think he will be good one.

I hope new AD Thomas does not make same mistake in rebuilding Assembley hall that Guenther did in rebuilding football stadium; reduce seating capacity. I was at Illiniois when assembley hall was built and it was not a good arena when new as I enjoyed Huff much more for basketball. I wish they would build a new BB arena and call it alumni hall and ask the many alumni to contribute to build it; I would certainly send contribution for that.

Zook did good job making Illiniois football relevant again and should have been retained for at least one more season since Thomas obviously did not have a good replacement. Do not fire someone unless you have a pretty good idea of who the replacement may be; that was his mistake that will set back the football program at least five years.