Big Ten basketball on power surge
ROSEMONT, ILL. The makeup of the Big Ten preseason all-conference men's basketball team indicates two things:
First, having five seniors on the team suggests the Big Ten should be one of the more experienced and better conferences in the nation.
"We've been one of the best," Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, entering his fourth season with the Gophers, said Thursday during the league's annual media day. "This year we're the best by far because of so many returning players."
The preseason all-conference team, voted by members of the media, consists of: Wisconsin forward Jon Leuer, Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas, Purdue center/forward JaJuan Johnson, Purdue guard E'Twaun Moore and Illinois guard Demetri McCamey.
Lucas, the preseason player of the year, McCamey and Moore were consensus all-league picks as juniors.
"People might look at us and say there might not be a lot of 10s, lottery-type picks," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "There could be by the time the season is over.
"But there are a lot of eights and nines."
On the court and on the bench.
"I think a lot of guys in our league can teach and coach," Ryan said. "Not a lot of smoke and mirrors."
Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue were picked to finish 1-2-3 this season. That trio shared the regular-season title last season at 14-4, with UW one game off the pace at 13-5.
The AP preseason poll features two Big Ten teams in the top four and four in the top 14.
Michigan State, which has reached the Final Four in each of the last two seasons, is ranked No. 2. Ohio State, which must replace Big Ten player of the year Evan Turner, is No. 4. Illinois, which finished fifth in the league last season at 10-8 and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament, is No. 13. Purdue, despite the loss of forward Robbie Hummel to another season-ending knee injury, is No. 14.
UW, which must replace guards Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon, was the top team among others receiving votes in the AP poll, and No. 24 in the coaches' poll.
Jeff Potrykus covers University of Wisconsin athletics for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel