Player of the week
Tim Frazier, Penn State.
The basketball team in State College is understandably an afterthought these days with the scandal centered on the football team. But maybe it shouldn’t be. After three wins in three games, it’s clear who has taken the reins after standout Talor Battle’s departure. Not only has 6-foot-1 junior point guard Tim Frazier put up 16, 19 and 26 points (20.7 avg.) his first three games to lead the Big Ten, he also heads the class in assists (8.7 per game) and steals (3.3). Penn State’s only returning starter has a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio so far, consistent with last year’s (2.11, sixth in the Big Ten), and he’s shot 51.2 percent from the field. Last season, Frazier only averaged 6.3 points, but led the team with 5.1 assists per game. Now, wins over Hartford, Radford and Long Island aren’t exactly signs of first-year coach Patrick Chambers leading the Nittany Lions to the promised land, but good things might be in store. Penn State also has freshman Trey Lewis to look forward to, who has shot 6-of-13 from 3-point range and is averaging 9.7 points in three starts.
Ben Brust, Wisconsin. The sophomore reserve guard, who scored all of 10 points in 15 games last season, put up career highs in back-to-back games, scoring 14 Nov. 12 against Kennesaw State and 17 Wednesday against Colgate. The 3-point specialist drilled all four attempts in the Badgers’ opening win, then hit four of his first five in the 68-41 win on Wednesday. He’s 8-of-16 from beyond the arc through two games. Look for this to be a trend for the Badgers, who hit double-digit 3-pointers in both games (15 and 10, respectively).
Draymond Green, Michigan State. It’s hard to call someone out after two games, especially this big-bodied senior forward who is one of the top NBA prospects in the Big Ten. But Green but has looked flat-out sloppy in the Spartans’ two tough opening games. He has 10 turnovers, just four assists and has shot just 10-of-34 (29.4 percent) thus far. Green missed a 3-pointer Tuesday against Duke that could have brought the Spartans within two after they fell into a 20-point hole. He still came out of the first pair of games averaging a double-double (11.5 points, 12.5 rebounds) while playing 15 more minutes than his next-closest teammate. He had an impressive 18 rebounds in the opener against North Carolina, then seven against Duke. He was expected to lead this team after averaging 12.6 points and 4.1 assists per game last year, and still has ample time to get it going. He has hoisted up too many shots, though, and the assist-to-turnover ratio must improve. That shouldn’t be a problem as the Spartans start play against teams not ranked in the national top 10.
Top 5 Big Ten debuts
1) Trey Lewis, Penn State freshman. Lewis, a 6-foot-1 combo guard from Garfield Heights, Ohio, has the tools to make an impact and did so Nov. 12 against Hartford, going for 17 points, four assists, two steals and two rebounds in the 70-55 win. Expect the Ohio Division I co-player of the year to go through lulls like any freshman, though. He followed up his debut with nine and three points in Penn State’s next two wins. He’s started all three of Penn State’s games.
2) Cody Zeller, Indiana freshman. The 6-foot-11 center and reigning Mr. Basketball of Indiana put up 16 points and 10 rebounds, including two blocks, in the Hoosiers’ 96-66 dismantling of Stony Brook on Nov. 11. The Washington, Ind., native followed that up with just seven points and five rebounds in a win over Chattanooga while dealing with foul trouble, then totaled a solid 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks as his team went to Evansville for an impressive 94-73 win for coach Tom Crean’s second true road victory in his four seasons. He’s started each of Indiana’s three games.
3) Aaron White, Iowa freshman. The 6-foot-8 forward from Strongsville, Ohio, surprised some people with his 19-point, 10-rebound performance in the Hawkeyes’ season-opening, 96-53 blowout of Chicago State on Nov. 11 in which he only played 18 minutes. He buried 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and finished 6-of-12 off the bench. White was disappointing, however, in the Hawkeyes’ second win, playing just 12 minutes and totaling just two points and four rebounds.
4) Dylan Talley, Nebraska junior. Talley, a 6-foot-5 guard who transferred from Blinn College in Texas, came off the bench and gave the Cornhuskers a lift with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a 65-48 win against South Dakota. Talley, who spent his freshman year at Binghamton, followed that up by scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds as Nebraska knocked off USC (on the road, no less) 64-61 in double overtime.
5) Anthony Johnson, Purdue freshman. After redshirting last season, Johnson, who was ranked as high as the No. 25 shooting guard in the country coming out of Chicago’s Whitney Young High School, came off the bench to score 12 points and tally two assists and two rebounds in Purdue’s 96-34 onslaught vs. Northern Illinois on Nov. 11. The 6-foot-3 Johnson then got the start against High Point on Monday and responded by scoring 13 points and dishing out three assists.
Honorable mention: Trey Burke, freshman, Michigan. Burke was slated to start Nov. 11 in Michigan’s first game against Ferris State, but was late to the team’s walk-through and instead came off the bench for just three points. Against Towson, however, Burke, a 5-11 point guard and former teammate of Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger at Northland High School in Columbus, Ohio, played a team-high 30 minutes, tallying 13 points, two assists, two steals and two rebounds. He went 5-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-6 from beyond the 3-point line.
Quote of the week
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo offered this quip about what it was like Tuesday coaching against Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who set the NCAA’s all-time wins record against the Spartans:
“I was in a no-win situation. I was either going to be the guy who threw the ball to Henry Aaron for the record breaker or the guy who shot Bambi.”
- Big Ten teams went 24-2 through Wednesday, with Michigan State’s losses against No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke the lone blemishes.
* Michigan State’s 0-2 start is the first in coach Tom Izzo’s 17-year tenure with the Spartans.
* Tim Frazier either assisted or scored on Penn State’s first 13 points against Long Island on Wednesday.
- Highs through Wednesday’s games: Points: 27 by Iowa’s Matt Gatens vs. North Carolina A&T (Tuesday); 3-pointers made: 8 by Purdue’s Ryne Smith vs. High Point (Tuesday); Rebounds: 18 by Michigan State’s Draymond Green vs. North Carolina (Nov. 11); Assists: 10 twice by Penn State’s Tim Frazier; Steals: 6 by Indiana’s Cody Zeller vs. Chattanooga (Sunday); Blocks: 6 by Illinois’ Meyers Leonard vs. Loyola Chicago (Nov. 11).