5 Things Learned from Big Ten Basketball Media Day
Most people think that when teams hold their Midnight Madness (or as it's called Hoosier Hysteria at Indiana) that the start of the basketball season is under way.
But I believe the true kickoff to the season is once Big Ten basketball media day happens at the end of October in Chicago.
The reason why is because you only get a appetizer sampler of the team at a Midnight Madness, while the media give you lunch and extra snacks before dinner (the season) with their articles and blog posts on the event.
Media day is the chance for Big Ten media members to ask any questions to any Big Ten coach and two or three players on each team about the season and their expectations.
Here are my five things learned from yesterday's Big Ten media day (all quotes were taken from an e-mail by Associate Director Valerie Todryk Krebs of the Big Ten Conference):
Big Ten Coaches Believe the Conference Is Stacked
With six Big Ten teams in the top 35 of the USA Today Coaches Poll, the conference is one of the best in basketball, if not the best conference in the nation. Also, three of those six teams are ranked in the top five.
The coaches discussed how much parity there is in this conference. People know that the top teams are Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"There are certain teams now in our league that have that "X," that mark on their back, but that's good," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.
The other six teams aren't that bad and can really see movement during the year throughout the conference rankings.
"But we have talent in our league from top to bottom and I think that's maybe what separates us," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "I think the teams that are at the bottom in the rankings are teams that can push to the top and put themselves in good position come March."
Preseason Rankings and Preseason All-Big Ten Team Announced
Big Ten media day isn't just the day for press conferences and interviews, but also the announcement of preseason Big Ten rankings, preseason All-Big Ten team and preseason player of the year.
The Big Ten preseason rankings (it only releases the top three)
3. Ohio State
No surprise here, but I'm sure Buckeye Nation thought their team would be ranked No. 2, instead of No. 3.
Preseason All-Big Ten team
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Trey Burke, Michigan
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Tim Frazier, Penn State
These are same players I had in mind for the award. Two Buckeyes making the list is impressive.
Preseason Player of the Year: Cody Zeller, Indiana
No one really contends with Zeller for the award. He will be even better than last year because he grew a half-inch, gained more muscle/body weight and also developed an outside game during the offseason.
New Coaches Have Fun and Elaborate on Their Issues
The two new coaches added to the Big Ten were Nebraska's Tim Miles from Colorado State and Illinois' John Groce from Ohio University.
Miles seemed to respond by using humor after asked certain questions, and Groce responded as best he could at their first Big Ten media day.
Miles responded to a question about the conference by saying, "Technically, I haven't had my brains beat in yet, but I would like to thank the Big Ten for starting us at home against Michigan State."
Next, Miles took a picture from his point of view at the podium and tweeted it out to his 30,000-plus followers and told the media members that he'd make them all famous because of the photo.
Groce talked about being a new coach in the Big Ten Conference.
"I'm dealing with our 14 players from the standpoint of what they are trying to learn and what we're wanting to do, it's like having 14 freshmen, 14 new guys," Groce said.
Three Important Quotes from Crean
Indiana coach Tom Crean knows being the No. 1 ranked team in the country gives the Hoosiers a huge target on their backs, but this doesn't faze him or his team.
Crean wants to see this Hoosier team to continue to develop and not get misplaced during the season.
"The bottom line is if your team is improving, led by your best players, then everybody else has to fall in line," Crean said. "There is no doubt that the attention the team has gotten has been good, and in the sense of that they have worked very hard to get back in the conversation."
Crean praised Zeller and his work ethic.
"Cody Zeller epitomizes so many things about the program and No. 1 is the humble spirit he has," Crean said. "He's confident but he has a humbleness, and he has a desire to improve."
Crean discussed forward Derek Elston's injury.
"Derek Elston had an injury on Saturday night during our Hoosier Hysteria," Crean said. "He has some knee issues, we got him an MRI right away, and he is going to have surgery tomorrow."
High Regards on Players from Beilein and Matta
Michigan coach John Beilein and Ohio State coach Thad Matta know that they are right behind Indiana not only in the national polls, but also in the Big Ten rankings.
Most likely, they will play their own game and not worry how the Hoosiers play.
Both elaborated on players that will be important parts to their team this year.
On about guard Trey Burke staying for another year at Michigan, Beilein said, "Having him back has been helpful because he's a good player, he is a winner, he's proved he's a winner, and having talent is one thing."
About forward Deshaun Thomas, Matta said, "He changed his body, he's kind of changed it again, he's a lot thinner this year than he was last year. I think the light is on for him in terms of what he has to do to be a fully effective player."