ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS— Big Ten basketball is weeks away from returning. The coaches gathered at Big Ten Media day to discuss the upcoming season. Here are the highlights from the morning session in the order in which they appeared on TV.
Commissioner Jim Delany
- 42nd year the Big Ten has lead the conference in attendance.
- Conference moving to 20 game slate, also good for TV.
- 80% of postseason play will be in the Midwest, 20% will be out East.
- Big Ten Tournament could be played other places besides Chicago and Indianapolis after this four year stretch. Other cities will have the opportunity to host if they would like.
- Won’t play the conference tournament early again.
- No coaching changes in the Big Ten this year.
- Challenges in college basketball with regard to November and December games—wants to try and have more meaningful games.
- Wants college basketball to be successful while college football is successful.
- On culture violations “always been an issue. Our approach can’t be the same approach we took in the 80s. We can set up relationships with the companies are cleaner. Expectations can be clearer.”
Wisconsin Head Coach Greg Gard
- All 5 starters are returning and Gard says that has given them an advantage in the offseason.
- On Ethan Happ’s growth “ he brings a lot of experience back, he’s gonna go down as one of the best statistically that has played at Wisconsin. He’s excited about the guys that are around him this year. We will try to utilize him the best we can.”
- On Brad Davison’s off-season: “He’s gone through extensive rehab, he’s back in full now. Leadership and communication are important. He’s taking freshman under his wing. Impactful in so many ways. His fingerprints were all over the improvement last year.”
- On motivation from guys after not making tournament last year, “utilize those experiences to improve and grow, play well down the stretch. There is an experience level that they went through last year that has created an edge. It’s a learning experience and you become better on the other end because of it.”
Rutgers Head Coach Steve Pikiell
- Season tickets, GPA and recruiting is up.
- “When the fifth place team plays in a national championship, that shows you how great of a league this is.”
- “I really like our leadership moving forward. We signed a really good class.”
- “Gio is a leader and will be our exclusive point guard.”
- On National Championship not being in the Big Ten in 20 years: “This league is unbelievable and to win a road game is hard. They said the league as down last year but the fifth place team it made to to the national championship.”
Penn State Head Coach Pat Chambers
- Season ticket sales are sky rocketing.
- Climbing in the right direction, lots of optimism surrounding program right now.
- Returning three fantastic players front line can go against anyone in the country.
- Broke 51 records last year.
- NIT run was very valuable for these guys.
- Pat Chambers: “Non-conference will be the most difficult in my tenure. That, combined with the 20 game slate, should set us up for the NCAA Tournament. That is the next step in our climb.”
- On what the team needs besides the front court to get to NCAA Tournament: “You can’t replace Tony Carr. Tony Carr was first draft choice since 1999. Next step for us is defending better and rebounding better. One advantage that we have is that when that Tony Carr group came in, we didn’t have the leadership. Now we have the leadership.”
- On the freshman and scoring: “Collectively, we can get 20-25 points from those guys.”
Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins
- Team has six new players—four freshman, two transfers.
- Opening brand new arena this year.
- First time in a while there are no new coaches.
- On the next step, “Mindset, consistent work ethic. I’m proud of what we have done over the past five years, learned lessons along the way. Gotta work everyday as if you have never won a game.”
- “We don’t talk about last year. I think that’s redundant. We move forward.”
- On Ryan Taylor and how he can help the offense: “We would get in to ruts. It’s hard to win when you have 6-8 minutes where you don’t score. Ryan is an elite scorer. We have a lot of shooters this year. We will miss BMAC and Scottie Lindsey.”
- Point Guard, “It will be a little bit of both. Jordan Ash and Ryan Greer are point guard type players.”
- “May see us go with more unconventional lineups. We have guys on the perimeter that have length and score.”
- “Certainly we don’t have anyone that can do what Bryant McIntosh did.”
- Vic Law got up and asked a question in Chris Collins’ press conference. Vic, “How will you use Vic Law this year? ”Collins (laughing), “ I hope he plays defense.”
Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles
- On his team confidence as a preseason top 25 team heading in to this year and how it is different compared to other years, “The last group was a good group. Had some things go monumentally wrong during the season. I feel like we are better equipped this is a good group with a high ceiling.”
- James Palmer All- Conference “James has been very impressive. Ball skills have improved. Everyday habits are very good.”
- On Top 4 Talent this year “I like this group because I really think that all of these guys are getting better. We have four guys in this league that anyone could take.”
Minnesota Head Coach Richard Pitino
- On Jordan Murphy: “I know he wants to play in the NBA. I know you’ve got the numbers. Can you show them how hard you play every game?”
- On Isaiah Washington: “He’s been really good. He’s grown a lot on the court. As difficult as the injuries were, it thrusted him in to meaningful year. He’s got a great opportunity in front of him.”
- “I thought we were there last year. I thought last year was going to allow us to build some momentum with the new facility. Experience is not irrelevant.”
- On the addition of Rob Jeter to his staff, “He sees the big picture very well. That’s what you get when you hire a former head coach. He knows how to recruit the area.”
- On graduate transfer Brock Stull from Milwaukee who didn’t join the team until September, “It will take some time with Brock Stull but I expect him to be ready to go.”
- On going to 20 game slate, “I do like it. I think its good for everyone. We have to figure out how to capture our fans in November and December. Last year, from studying the NCAA Tournament, they were looking at how many quality wins you have. I think a lot of the power five or power 6 conferences will go to that.”
Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon
- “Special year in Maryland basketball. 100th year in Maryland basketball. We will do it right throughout the season.”
- “I think its a team that our fan base is going to love. Might be the youngest team I’ve had but we’re excited.”
- On playing Loyola Chicago in the non-conference. “We are playing that game in Baltimore. I got way back with Porter. It is a great game for us. To add that game will be a great challenge.” Says he is excited to play in Baltimore because a lot of his players are from there and he was excited to add that on the schedule.
Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo
- Have more experience this year.
- Says the team last year lead the nation in most statistical categories but it wasn’t enough
- “ Jaren and Miles taught this team that you can be great without being entitled.”
- On court hearing,”Its sad what’s happened. The problem I have is it is sad for college basketball and college sports. You shouldn’t be commended for what you are supposed to do. Its not healthy for college sports.”
- “Cassius is one of the smartest. He’s one of the best we’ve had with his basketball IQ and putting it all together. I don’t look at anything negative.”
- On preparation for this season: “I thought in all honesty this season was important to get Nick back in the fold after testing the water. I see some guys coming back half in when they get back from testing the waters. Josh and McQuaid are grinders.”
- More on Cassius Winston: “I’m trying to get him to become more selfish.”
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery
- solid veteran group, addressed some of needs in recruiting .
- on Defense “It needed to be and it was our focus this summer. Good year to have extra time to work with our team.” Focused on ball screen and transition defense.
- On Tyler Cook and his feelings about not being on the preseason team, “The thing about Tyler Cook that’s been most impressive to me, looked in to making the jump, the critical thing is when you come back, to come back with the right attitude. He has really impressed me. He recognizes the jump he needs to make. He probably should be upset.”
- “Isiah Moss is really talented. I’d like to him play both ends. Has the ability to score points in bunches. He’s been through this league.”
Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann
- Believes league is deep and poised for a great year.
- On his new team and 6 new players. “We’re in the midst of trying to do that. Only 1 full practice with everyone.”
- On his feelings on this being an “on-the-radar year: “The nature of our business is your being evaluated on a game to game basis. People are curious about how we are going to transition about how we are going to transition from four really good seniors.”
- Luther Muhammad “Luther Muhammad was a really important recruit for us given our lack of guard depth. He’s gonna play an important role from day one for us.”
- “We tried to put last year as quickly as possible in the rear view mirror. our guys understand many of the components of last years team are gone.”
- Keyshawn Evans and his transition from Wake Forest: “He’s been good for us. he has a solid feel for the game. He will play a significant amount of point guard for us. He is critical for this group.”
Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter
- “It is different for me this year than last year. Now we have a more inexperienced team this year.”
- Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern will have bigger roles for this team
- On the difference in coaching Carsen Edwards,:“Very dynamic player. He is unique from a physical standpoint.”
- “I never wanna take away [Edwards’] ability to score.
- Carsen NBA feedback, “The NBA wants winners and role players.” assist to turnover ratio while still shooting but now lead us to victory instead of just being that guy that scored the basketball.
- On Ryan Cline “ He needs to do the same thing he has been doing. He is going to have the ball in his hands a lot.”
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
- “We’re in for a heck of a year.”
- Says league is better this year.
- On two National runner ups in five years, “This isn’t going to define me its about what could I have done better to get the guys to a championship last year.”
- On the Big Ten getting to the National Championship but not winning one in a while, “It will all come back around. Our teams are just too good not to win a National Championship down the line.”
Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller
- “We have a long way to go to become a competitive team right now.”
- “Romeo is a terrific kid. He’s doing everything that we’ve asked him to do. Being from the state,going to IU. He’s just like one of the other guys. He knows he’s not perfect. He’s just trying to find his way.”
- “Zach McRoberts gives everything he can. There’s a respect level, he’s admired, the guy never complains. Definitely one of the most if not the most trusted players.”
- DeRon Davis isn’t practicing in full yet but he is making his way there.
Illinois Head Brad Underwood
- “This is the youngest team that I have been a part of since I was a junior college coach.”
- “What we’re doing is laying a tremendous foundation.”
- Working on establishing culture, developing an identity. “We are playing the toughest schedule in the history of Illinois basketball.”
- On Adonis De La Rosa: “Adonis has quietly become a leader. He knows everything that we did last year. He is coaching guys when he is not practicing. He’s dropped 30 pounds.”
- On Trent Frazier, “You have freshman that has a lot of success and your always curious how they will react to that. He was dominant going left last year, now he can go right. He will be at the top of everyone’s scouting report and that will be different than that.”