Matta Keeps Fans -- And Buckeyes -- Guessing
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- When Ohio State fans send mailbag questions and chat comments to a national college basketball writer, the theme is almost always the same: What's our starting lineup?Sorry, everyone: Thad Matta isn't giving anything away. That goes for the media, too, who assembled at Big Ten media day near Chicago's O'Hare Airport on Thursday hoping to learn exactly how the Ohio State coach plans to retool his hyper-talented 2011-12 team. How many minutes would a touted freshman class be expected to contribute? Who has impressed him most? Will he go big? Small? Somewhere in between? The media didn't get much in the way of answers, but the scribes shouldn't feel bad: Matta's players haven't learned those answers yet, either. If their coach has them, he's not letting on -- and that's just the way he likes it. "I really haven't put a ton of thought into a quote-unquote starting lineup," Matta said Thursday. "The reason for that is I'm really enjoying the competition that we're getting in practice every day. And as I told our guys at the conclusion of last night's practice, I think that guys are getting better and they don't know it -- that's because of the competition."
Seeking Silver Linings, Hummel Returns To Court
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- If any player in college basketball is due for a run of good fortune, it's Purdue forward Robbie Hummel.Hummel tore his ACL twice in 2010. Both injuries came at crucial times. The first happened in February, just as the loaded 2009-10 Boilermakers looked set to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The second came in October, on the first full day of practice, months after fellow stars E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson eschewed the NBA in the hopes of pursuing a national title with their friend and classmate. Not once but twice, Purdue fans were left to wonder: What if? What if Robbie had been healthy? How good could the Boilermakers have been? Would they have been the No. 1 seed in 2010? How different could 2011 have been? Hummel -- after 12 months of rehabilitation and recovery -- doesn't have that luxury. He has more pressing concerns. Chief among them? Learning how to be comfortable on the court again.
Michigan State Ready To Rebound?
Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor
They Said It
Illinois: "But, when you look at [the seven new players on our team], you can look at it two ways: a lot of worries -- what's going to happen? -- or with excitement. That's what I'm looking at."
-- Coach Bruce Weber
Indiana: "The point at the end of the drill was no matter what you think you have been as a player here at Indiana, you're not somebody that has made it easier for everybody else. [Freshman forward] Cody [Zeller] makes it easier for everybody else. We knew this when we recruited him. You can go at him and give him the ball and something can happen, or you can play through him, and that's what our team has got to learn to do right now."
-- Coach Tom Crean
Iowa: "I think: Can you play faster? Absolutely. This is not a walk-it-up league like I think a lot of people think it is, but it is a league where there's going to be a lot of strategy and there's going to be different approaches."
-- Coach Fran McCaffery
Michigan: "No one person is going to replace Darius Morris. I'm not going to do it, Tim [Hardaway Jr.]'s not going to do it, no one of us is going to be able to replace him ourselves. But if we can replace him together, I think we can maintain this program's momentum and even aim a little higher."
-- Guard Stu Douglass
Michigan State: "Draymond Green and Austin Thornton are going to bring valuable leadership. Day-Day is kind of in the same sentence with a Magic Johnson or a Mateen Cleaves or a Travis Walton as far as his leadership ability. He's not afraid to hear his own voice, not afraid to disagree. Sometimes too often."
-- Coach Tom Izzo
Minnesota: "I think a big difference is a lot of guys on our team were around to experience how last year went. We don't want to do that again. I think this year can kind of be our redemption year. We all want to succeed."
-- Forward Trevor Mbakwe
Nebraska: "You can spend as much time as you can watching tapes, but I don't think you really get a true picture [of your league] until you actually get into it. We've watched everyone. The thing about it, you're watching them play against each other, you're not getting a chance to watch them play against yourself.
The unknown is always scary."
-- Coach Doc Sadler
Northwestern: "It doesn't weigh on my mind. You have 340 teams. That's the goal of every team -- to get in the tournament. But the spotlight is on us more than other teams because we haven't been there. We're getting pretty close. I like our team. So I think we have a real good shot."
-- Coach Bill Carmody
Ohio State: "It's so much easier to get to the top than to stay there. Not that we are the top, but that is what we're striving for. That, and just getting guys that enjoy the fight every day."
-- Coach Thad Matta
Penn State: "We can't be afraid to get into some backstreet [recruiting] brawls. We can't be afraid to go up against Villanova, Georgetown, Pitt, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan State, wherever the area may be. But we can't be afraid of going up against those guys. And we're going to get that one guy. It's going to happen." -- Coach Pat Chambers
Purdue: "I think [Robbie Hummel] is going to be bigger. I think he's better. And I think he's really going to cause problems for teams in our league in terms of the matchup, and that's something we've always played off in the past."
-- Coach Matt Painter
Wisconsin: "A lot of times [we like to schedule] senior-dominant teams [in the nonconference]. They're good teams to play, because if you look at the NCAA tournament over the last 10 years and look at some of the schools that have won, they've won with guys that have been together for a long time."
-- Coach Bo Ryan
Penn State coach Pat Chambers
Northwestern's John Shurna
Big Ten Preview Content
For a Blue Ribbon breakdown of every Big Ten team, click here.
More Big Ten coverage:
• Eamonn Brennan with Five Things I Can't Wait To See in the Big Ten
• John Gasaway examines five burning questions in the league.
• Brennan takes a team-by-team look at the league's nonconference schedules, while Katz takes a look at some of the intriguing league schedules.
• ESPN Chicago: Scott Powers on Northwestern having a "good shot" at making that first tournament appearance and Bruce Weber claiming he feels no pressure now that a new AD is in town.
• UNC, Kentucky and UConn are the most talked-about title contenders, but Katz says Ohio State shouldn't get lost in the discussion.
• Reggie Rankin with a look at the incoming freshmen in the conference
• Katz writes that Bo Ryan is headed toward revered status at Wisconsin
• New Faces, New Places: Dana O'Neil on how new Penn State coach Pat Chambers is already becoming a fan favorite in State College
• Video: Katz with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in advance of the Nov. 11 Carrier Classic.
• Brennan recaps the offseason in the conference
• Summer Buzz series: Brennan takes an in-depth look at Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana
• For more Big Ten coverage in the Nation blog, click here.
Indiana's Will Sheehey
Best Of Big Ten Media Day
Best wishcasting: "I'm trying to remember who our second starter is. This is why I love football more than basketball, because if I taped something across their forehead in basketball, some player would probably sue me. But in football, they get to do that with the helmets."
-- MSU coach Tom Izzo, on the paucity of veterans on his team this year
Best unintentional philosophical noodling: "The unknown is always scary."
-- Nebraska coach Doc Sadler on adjusting to new teams, coaches and players in the Cornhuskers' first season in the Big Ten
Best "at least it wasn't the first question" answer: "I was hoping to get through this press conference without that. But I guess five questions in it's all right."
-- Northwestern coach Bill Carmody on his frustration with questions about the school's NCAA tournament drought
Best fast-food reference: "That might be because people don't know that much. Mike Bruesewitz was not a McDonald's All-American, despite what he looked like with that red wig -- I mean, not wig, his red hair. He was called Ronald McDonald at a few places."
-- Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan on why his team is so frequently underrated
Best "can I get an amen?": "Prayer. That's the only thing I would say. Good solid prayer. Hope he misses."
-- Purdue coach Matt Painter on how to stop Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler
Brennan's Big Ten Wind Sprint