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Friday, July 19, 2019

Big Ten Off-Season Report: Tranquility on the Coaching Front, Plenty of Upgrades on Rosters

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Photo Caption: Northwestern coach Joe McKeown has once again proved himself an adept recruiter, with a top-grade class for the 2009-2010 season and an early jump on 2010 recruiting.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Stephen Carrera/Northwestern University Athletic Department

By Sharon Crowson

For the past few years, the Big Ten’s off-season had almost as much excitement as the regular season.  Players transferred and rebelled, and coaches were fired and quit.  But not this year.  For the first time in recent memory, and to the dismay of Wisconsin fans, no coaching changes were made.  While maintaining the status quo will provide stability to the Big Ten, Badger fans are left wondering just how inept a coach has to be to be fired. But elsewhere, the lack of upheaval does not mean a lack of impactful actions. The spring signing period saw several teams strengthen themselves significantly and several coaches already have a strong start on their 2010 recruiting.

Under the heading of the rich get richer, Ohio State coach Jim Foster signed Taylor Hill, ranked by Full Court as the fourth best high-school senior guard in the nation.  Hill’s recruiting had more twists and turns than a country road and Foster jumped into the mix late.  Hill’s signing does several things for Foster.  He strengthens his weakest, albeit not weak, area.  He added athleticism, a player who will fit well with his new running style and he kept a top player away from a conference foe.  Hill, from Minneapolis, joined the growing list of top Minnesota players who declined to stay home and play for their home state’s school.

Northwestern coach Joe McKeown continued his upgrade of the Wildcat talent level by signing another Top 100 player.  McKeown signed Ohio’s “Miss Basketball” Kendall Hackney.  Full Court’s 38th-ranked senior forward originally signed with Southern Cal but received her release when the Women of Troy changed coaches.  The 6’2 forward should compliment Amy Jaeschke on the front line and have an immediate, and large, impact on the Wildcats.

Purdue’s Sharon Versyp signed no high schoolers, but did add two transfers, at least one of whom could contribute significantly in 2010.  Drey Mingo, a 6’2 junior forward who was expected to play a large role in Maryland this year, joined the Boilermakers, as did 5’11 junior wing Antionette Howard from Florida State.  Both will have to sit out this year but will have two years of eligibility remaining come 2010, providing quality depth for the perennially strong team.

So far, the influx of new faces has not been matched by a parade of players transferring out.  To date, not one key player in the league has left her team.  If this continues, not only would it buck the recent trend not only in the Big Ten but nationally, it would aid the league in continuing the overall improvement it made last season.

The league has not only added impact players for the 2009 season, several coaches have a strong start on their 2010 recruiting.  Penn State’s Coquese Washington has a verbal commitment from perhaps the top prep three-point shooter in the nation, Maggie Lucas.  Northwestern’s McKeown is quickly proving that his reputation as a top recruiter is deserved as he has verbals from two Top 100 players already.  The key is small forward La’Tierra Taylor, who is an explosive scorer and a strong rebounder and is likely to have an immediate and significant impact on the Wildcats. Foster is in the process of signing another strong class at Ohio State.  He already has commitments from three top 100 players that will provide good depth on his front line.

Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone is one of the very few Americans who can be grateful for the current economic struggles.  The school, like many others, is finding itself short of money and they evidently determined that they could not afford to buy out the last two years of her contract.  So as not to completely destroy her ability to recruit, the school actually added a year to her contract so she still has two seasons remaining.  But the new contract reduces her buyout amount so that it will cost the school significantly less to divest itself of her in the spring of 2010 than it would have in the spring of 2009.  Accurately demonstrating her roster management skills, Stone will take to the court with a team that includes one point guard, four post players and eight wings.  Unless she manages to pull off a miracle, Stone will likely be gone after this coming season.  Of course, Wisconsin fans had the same feeling last season.

Most appointments of college coaches to national team positions in the summer are not much more than an honor.  Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant may be one of the few to whom it is more important.  When Merchant was hired at MSU two years ago, she had no experience at a BCS school.  Her main weakness to date seems to be that lack of experience.  Merchant got a chance to pick up some valuable experience this summer, acting as an assistant coach on the gold-medal winning USA World University Games team, headed by Arizona State coach Charlie Turner Thorne.  The opportunity to learn from Thorne as well as the chance to coach such players as Jantel Lavender and Tina Charles should provide Merchant with an invaluable learning experience.

Originally published Sun, July 19, 2009

Reader Discussion
Posted by madmax January 07, 2010

Any ideas where some of the departing BigTen,or benched/suspended top recruits might cast their gaze, in terms of college choices?

Posted by madmax January 07, 2010

Any ideas where some of the departing BigTen,or benched/suspended top recruits might cast their gaze, in terms of college choices?

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
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11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
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14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
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19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
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25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
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Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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