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Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Big Ten As I See It: This Year’s Freshmen Have the Potential to Upgrade the League

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Photo Caption: Penn State has been doing far better than expected this season, and one of the big reasons is the arrival of freshman Alex Bentley. The 5-7 point guard out of Indianapolis’ Ben Davis High School found an immediate place in the Lady Lions’ starting line-up, where she is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.4 points and 3.8 assists per game. Bentley is one of at least half a dozen Big Ten newcomers who are already making their mark on the league.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Penn State Sports Information/Mark Selders

By Sharon Crowson

Just as the life blood of in any program is recruiting, the status of any conference will largely be determined by the talent of its incoming players. The Big Ten is fortunate to have a number of very promising freshman who entered the league this season. If those players reach their fullest potential, the league should see a jump in its national status.

Below you will find one observer’s best guess at who will end up being the top players in the class.  Big Ten officials and coaches hope that, as they develop over the years, you will become more familiar with them.

Jamie Printy, Iowa. Printy committed to Iowa as a freshman in high school and it’s easy to see why coach Lisa Bluder felt so comfortable extending her an offer that early. At 5 feet, 11 inches, Printy is a big guard who can shoot, rebound and pass the ball. But what impresses most is her head. She understands the game better than most freshmen and, for a rookie, makes excellent decisions.  Printy personifies the phrase “coach on the floor,” and should develop into one of the conference’s best all-around players.

Thierra Taylor, Iowa. Taylor has it all and may end up being the best of the freshmen when all is said and done. She is very athletic, yet also very skilled. Taylor can dominate on both ends of the floor and will create a match-up nightmare for other teams in the Big Ten. She has one of the quickest first steps around and has the ability already to play defense with her feet rather than with her hands.  Unfortunately, she succumbed to whatever curse is plaguing the Hawkeyes this season and tore her ACL. 

Karisma Penn, Illinois.  If few at Illinois seem to care much about the departure of Destiny Williams, it is because of Karisma Penn.  She has impressed since the day she first stepped on campus. Penn has both the body and the game of a traditional power forward and she has started every game at that position this season.  She has had normal freshman post player foul problems that have limited her time on the court somewhat, but she is second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding.  When she learns to play without fouling, she should be a dominant post player in this league.

Dayeesha Hollins, Michigan.  Hollins gives third-year coach Kevin Borseth a major component of his new program—an athletic, smart point guard who will run the team for four seasons.  Hollins is second on the team in scoring and has a modestly positive assist/turnover ratio.  Michigan’s offense is much improved this year; they are averaging 13 more points per game than they did last season and a good chunk of the credit for that goes to Hollins’ performance in running the offense.  She is a better-than-average defender who should develop into an excellent one.

Alex Bentley, Penn State. Bentley is another freshman point guard who will run her team for four seasons.  She has excellent poise for a freshman and generally makes good decisions with the ball.  But what will likely end up distinguishing her from other recent Penn State point guards is her offensive ability.  Bentley is currently second on the Lady Lions in scoring and is shooting decently from the field.  Penn State has been the biggest positive surprise in the Big Ten and Bently has been one of the major reasons.

Taylor Hill, Ohio State. Taylor Hill stepped into an ideal situation when she arrived on the Ohio State campus and she has made the most of it.  Though Hill was ranked in the Top 10 among 2009 high school seniors, the Buckeyes did not need her to make a large initial impact.  However, she has wound up starting every game for the Buckeyes and is averaging nine points in 23 minutes a game.  Hill is a good and creative shooter who has shown the promise to become an offensive powerhouse when she matures and is more involved in the offense.  Her defense is more than adequate for her maturity level, as is her ball-handling.  Hill should develop into one of the league’s best all-around guards.

This list is by no means all-inclusive; rather, it is an attempt to project who will be the best of this strong class.  There are others who could step up to join them, among them, Taylor Wurtz of Wisconsin, Megan Johnson of Iowa, Kendall Hackney and Danielle Diamant of Northwestern, Nikki Greene of Penn State, Jenny Ryan of Michigan, Jasmine Thomas of Michigan State and Sam Ostarello, KK Houser and Ashley Wilson of Purdue.  All in all, this could out to be one of the top Big Ten classes in recent memory.



Originally published Fri, January 22, 2010

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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
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
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
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
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
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
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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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.