2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Guard Talor Battle #12 of the Penn State Nittany Lion stands on the court during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Penn State Nittany Lions.

If I asked for the five longest-tenured coaches in the Big Ten, (and you weren’t, you know, reading a post entitled “2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions) would it take less than 10 minutes to realize Ed DeChellis is on that list? What’s that? You knew that? Oh. Well it took me 10 minutes.

Either way, isn’t that sort of baffling? Ed DeChellis, he of the 200-216 career record, he who has been to exactly one NCAA Tournament — with East Tennessee State in 2003, the same year he made the switch to Penn State — has been in his job longer than Matt Painter at Purdue or Thad Matta at Ohio State.

It was never made clear to me how DeChellis was a good call for Penn State, beyond his links to the program as an assistant under Bruce Parkhill. His record at ETSU (proud alma mater of Kenny Chesney, by the way) was rather underwhelming, with the lone NCAA appearance counting as one of his four winning seasons in seven years in Johnson City.

All this historical rambling is a way of covering for the fact that there’s not much to talk about for the Nits this year. Outside of the outstanding Talor Battle, Penn State returns no scorers that averaged better than 10 points per game last year. Andrew Jones brings experience down low, but a senior who averaged just six and five last year in the post hardly breeds optimism.

There’s some hope in the freshman class, particularly with point guard Taran Buie. Half-brother of Talor Battle, Buie was recruited by the likes of Georgia Tech, Maryland, Syracuse and Xavier, and it’s certainly plausible that Buie and Battle could create a rather dangerous backcourt together. (Buie hasn’t quite been on his best behavior, though, in recent months.)

Realistically, that’s probably Penn State’s best hope, for better or for worse. Battle is a lethal scorer that can hurt opponents from almost anywhere on the court. In fact, it’s probably fair to say Battle is the Big Ten’s best pure offensive player. He’s also proven rather tough, playing through various maladies last season when his team needed him.

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Report: Cody Zeller to announce mid-week

Citing a source, Herald-Times IU beat reporter (and our friend) Dustin Dopirak is reporting that a decision from five-star Washington forward Cody Zeller will likely come in the middle of next week:

A source indicated tonight that Washington forward Cody Zeller is likely to announce his decision mid-week, but there is no clear indication of what school he will decide to go to and that Zeller himself may still be deciding. There was talk that he would announce his decision on ESPNU, but that now appears unlikely to happen.

Mid-week, presumably, could mean Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.

Interesting in Dustin’s report is that Zeller could still be in the process of reaching his decision. This corroborates information Inside the Hall received from a source earlier this evening that another school involved in the recruitment had not yet been notified of a decision as of tonight.

The good news is that the absence of ESPNU should mean that media, including us, will be able to cover the announcement whenever it’s made. Looks like this one could be going down to the wire, folks.

So the word on Guy is … well, not much

I know Cody Zeller is overloading everybody’s circuits right now, so this might be flying a little low on the radar, but it is far more immediate, nonetheless. It’s also pretty much, dare I say, a black hole of information at present.

To recap what we do know: Guy-Marc Michel sat Wednesday’s exhibition after Indiana revealed that the NCAA was looking into Michel’s eligibility. This investigation is related to some time Michel purportedly spent playing for SLUC Nancy, a professional team in France, in 2007-08. (If you check the fourth picture down on this page, you can make out fairly clearly the rather noticeable Michel.)

What’s at stake here isn’t whether Michel played or not. It’s fairly clear he got court time for this team, though how much and for how long is wildly hard to determine. As with the case of Kentucky freshman Enes Kanter, the NCAA’s look-see is interested in whether Michel was compensated for his time, and if so, how much. Rules allow for some leeway in the area of payment if players are plying their skills professionally overseas, for food, living expenses, etc. A salary on top of that — or money not imminently necessary — would present a larger problem.

Getting information on the issue is also a rather sizable task. Indiana isn’t commenting, which is smart. The NCAA, as of now, hasn’t responded to a phone call asking for comment, but I was warned when I left the message that it was generally policy not to comment on ongoing investigations. Both of these reactions are professional, and generally par for the course.

We’ve made some attempt to get in touch with SLUC Nancy, (though for obvious reasons we’ve yet to succeed) hoping to find out if they have any recollection of Michel, and whether the NCAA has contacted them.

I did manage to exchange a quick e-mail with Jared Phay, the coach at North Idaho College, where Michel played junior college. Phay said he wasn’t really familiar with the situation Michel is in now. He said North Idaho cleared his amateur status two years ago, and teams that have pursued him have always treated it like an important factor, predictably, in his recruitment.

Michel, Phay said, worked hard to retain his amateur status, and for what it’s worth, Phay said he was confident the situation would work out.

That generally sums up what I’ve been able to gather thus far. NCAA investigations are usually, by their nature, hard things to crack into, so it’s not all that surprising. And I know this doesn’t cheer up your IU football blues, but it’s all I’ve got. Enjoy your weekend.

(Photo credit: James Brosher)

2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Michigan State Spartans

Apr. 03, 2010 - Indianapolis, Michigan, USA - Michigan State's head cooach Tom Izzo as he tried to rally his players after they narrowed Butler's lead late in their 52-50 loss to Butler in the NCAA Final Four semi finals in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday, April 03, 2010. JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press.It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Michigan State Spartans.

Last spring, upon hearing the news that both Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas would return for their senior seasons, I wrote that the Michigan State Spartans should be considered the favorites to win the 2011 NCAA Championship. Not exactly a bold prediction, but a prediction nonetheless.

A lot has changed since that post was penned, particularly in East Lansing.

Tom Izzo flirted with the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching job. Chris Allen was dismissed from the team and landed at Iowa State. Two unidentified Spartans were accused of sexual assault, but charges were never filed. Korie Lucious was arrested for drunk driving and as a result, suspended for the season opener.

That’s not exactly, if memory serves correct, a typical off-season for the Michigan State program under the leadership of Izzo.

And that brief summary does not include the question marks surrounding Lucas’ recovery from a torn Achilles and the fact that freshman shooter Russell Byrd required surgery and will miss the entire season. There were also these injuries, as compiled over at The Only Colors:

Lucious – arthroscopic surgery for meniscus tear
Summers – “tweaked” knee
Austin Thornton – unspecified back injury
Delvon Roe – offseason knee surgery
Garrick Sherman – screws removed from foot
Adreian Payne – recovering from dislocated shoulder

Despite this laundry list of controversy and injuries, Michigan State enters the season as the unanimous favorite to win the Big Ten.

Their big three — Lucas, Summers and Draymond Green — matches up favorably with any trio in the country. Lucas, if 100 percent healthy, should contend for another Big Ten player of the year award. Summers, although inconsistent at times, put together a remarkable string of performances in last year’s NCAA Tournament run. And Green, the league’s sixth man of the year, is a dynamic big that possesses the ability to step out and knock down jumpers as well as finish in the post.

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Q & A: Etherington talks official visit, Zeller decision

2011 commit Austin Etherington took his official visit to Bloomington this past weekend with his friend and Hoosier target Cody Zeller. Inside the Hall caught up with the Hamilton Heights senior on Thursday evening for a weekend recap, his reaction to the recent commitment of Hanner Perea and his thoughts on the upcoming decision for Zeller:

On the official visit and how it was different from previous visits:

The visit went good being with my family, the coaches and the Zeller family. It was just good to get that bonding and being with Cody because I haven’t been with him for a while. We had a good time. The only thing that was different was that we stayed the night there. That was pretty much the only difference.”

On his reaction to the ovation he and Zeller received when they walked into Assembly Hall and the size of the crowd:

“I was really surprised about that (the size of the crowd), seeing that many people there for something like a scrimmage. When we walked in I figured the fans would do something about Cody being in there, but then when they all stood up like that, it was a great feeling. I could only imagine what it will feel like when there’s 17,000 people there doing that. I think it made Cody feel good. It was just something really cool. I wasn’t really expecting it to be like that.”

On his reaction to the Perea commitment on Sunday:

“I hadn’t heard that he was thinking about it. I just knew that he was down to two schools. I always felt good about Hanner. Just being around him all the time, he’s always been around Bloomington and I know he feels like it’s home. It was really good news to hear.”

On the effect of the Perea commitment on the 2012 recruiting class:

“Hanner helps huge with other guys that IU is looking at. That was just the key commit that made other players know that IU is for real and that IU is going in the right direction.”

On why he’s taken on the role of recruiting his friends to IU:

“I just do as much as I can for my sake because I want to have the best four years that I can. I want to play with guys that I know and talking to guys and becoming good friends with them just helps with them deciding on a school and knowing someone at that school. That’s a big key in their decision making.”

On what advice, if any, he gave Zeller about his decision over the weekend:

“I don’t say much to Cody. I just tell him to make a decision that’s best for him and no matter what his decision is, he’ll still be one of my good friends. But I’d really like for him to come play with me and I know we’d have a good four years together.”

2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 14: Guards William Buford #44 and Jon Diebler #33 of the Ohio State Buckeyes react to a play in the final moments of the championship game in the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 14, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Buckeyes defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 90-61. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Ohio State Buckeyes.

Entering his seventh season as Ohio State’s head coach, Thad Matta will be gunning for his fourth Big Ten title in 2010-11.

And he’s no stranger to reloading on the fly after losing players to the NBA.

So it would follow that with last year’s National Player of the Year Evan Turner now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers as the NBA’s No. 2 draft pick this June, Matta’s squad is prime for another year as a major player in the Big Ten — as well as the nation.

Incoming freshman power forward Jared Sullinger will soften the blow of losing Turner, a possible one-and-done player currently slated in Chad Ford’s Top 10 for the 2011 NBA draft.

The Buckeyes also return an experienced cast of characters: Senior Jon Dieber was one of the better shooters in the nation last year — his true-shooting percentage (64.0) was good for 23rd in the nation, while his effective field-goal percentage (60.9) was good for 30th. Without Turner around, junior William Buford could be an All-Big Ten selection. Senior Dallas Luaderdale will provide a well-seasoned counterpart to Sullinger up front, while senior David Lighty will give the Buckeyes a strong defender.

And freshman forward Deshaun Thomas, another five-star recruit, is icing on a talented cake.

Heading into the season, Ohio State’s most pressing issue will be find their main ballhandler sans Turner. The job could be Buford’s, but Matta has also spoken highly of freshman Aaron Craft, who could get time in the rotation off the bench.

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The Minute After: Franklin College

Photo by James BrosherA few scattered thoughts on IU’s 89-37 win over Franklin College in their first exhibition game of the 2010-11 season:

No Guy for you.

After all the positive chatter surrounding Guy after Night of the Living Red, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one curious to get a peek at IU’s new big man. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The NCAA has come calling, and until there’s a resolution in the investigation, Guy’s game will remain in a holding pattern with nowhere to land.

(Thanks to our friend James Brosher for the photo.)

Watford on the rise.

He flashed some polish from downtown. He mixed it up around the basket. He stepped back and nailed a mid-range jumper; he drove to the hoop and scored. Watford’s offensive arsenal was on point from several spots on the court tonight, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this is what we’re going to see out of the sophomore all season long.

It won’t always come this easy for him. He won’t always score over a point per minute (25 points in 24 minutes).

Remember: The competition was not anywhere near Big 10 level this evening. But Watford’s game stood out the most tonight as one that’s taken that next step.

He’s going to shoot better than the 37.5 percent from the floor a season ago. And with Mo Creek on the floor at the same time, defenses won’t be able to key on one or the other without suffering the consequences.

Just one of many reasons why this team can be better this season if things play to form.

Threes alive.

Just a thought, but if Watford is knocking down threes, Matt Roth and Maurice Creek are back in the fold, and Hulls and Elston improve their 3-point shooting in their second season as Hoosiers, it could prove to be a strong asset for them this season.

If Guy can draw some attention down low, IU could even run a little one in, four out — similar to the sets the Orlando Magic run with Dwight Howard and their gaggle of 3-point shooters.

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