Big Ten Hoops Chatter

March 28, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Let’s take a spin around the Big Ten conference and focus on some news items at certain schools that could have an impact on Iowa’s season next year…

Dick ‘Hoops’ Weiss of the New York Daily News tweeted on Monday night that he was hearing Missouri has offered Purdue head coach Matt Painter a seven-year contract worth $2 million per season to be their head coach. Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com reports that Painter will meet with Mizzou officials in the next 24 hours and echoed the salary number. I have read Weiss since the 80’s and have known DeArmond for several years, as he went to high school with my wife and I also sat next to him in the press box at the Insight Bowl..so these are not lunatic locust eaters. Then again, this is a coaching search so folly and goose chases are to be expected.

I was able to look up a report from last spring where Painter was given a raise to a guaranteed base salary of $1.3 million per year, a move that made him the highest paid employee at Purdue University. It’s believed he could earn up to $1 million more in incentives, but I am not certain as to what those are.

Missouri has the money, there is no question about that. They have deep pocketed alums, folks that own professional sports franchises and built the new arena the Tigers play in, originally naming it after their daughter before she got into some trouble, namely cheating her way through school. Oh yeah, we are talking about Wal-Mart money here…As in the heirs to that fortune.

So there is little doubt in my mind that Mizzou is willing to pony up some dough for a top flight candidate, and Matt Painter has done a great job at Purdue since taking over the reigns from Gene Keady.

But would Painter really leave his alma mater for Missouri? Purdue is in a tight spot here; they cannot afford to let one of their own leave for greener pa$tures…it would be a huge PR hit and could unravel the momentum they have going, which would not be a bad thing for Iowa as it rebuilds.

One thing is for certain out of this; Painter is going to get a raise. Given that he is interested in looking at this job, or flirting with it, it begs a few questions. How is his relationship with his bosses? Is he angling for facilities improvements? Is it purely about more money?

I will be shocked if he leaves Purdue for the Missouri job. I can see where Mizzou is coming from; that’s a good job that just lost Mike Anderson to his ‘dream job’ at Arkansas. Painter seemingly is at his ‘dream job’ and if he leaves to come to Columbia, it’s likely for the long haul…but it just doesn’t add up to me.

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GOING PRO, TESTING WATERS, STAYING IN SCHOOL…

Ohio State center Jared Sullinger said this weekend he would be coming back for his sophomore year, eschewing NBA millions for another year of toting books. He has said as much before, during the season this year, that he wanted to come back for another year. Good for him, bad for the rest of the league.

Sullinger was named to the AP All American First team on Monday. He’s easily the best big man in the game right now and will be again next year. His decision makes Ohio State one of the early favorites to win the Big Ten next year, as they return more than 60% of their scoring from this year’s Sweet 16 run before losing to Kentucky; Ohio State was the tournament’s overall #1 seed….

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Michigan is a team that looks to battle for Big Ten supremacy next year, but that may depend on the NBA decision of Darius Morris, their uber talented freshman point guard. Morris has submitted paperwork to get some feedback from the NBA with regards to his draft stock, and has until April 24th to officially enter his name for the NBA draft pool or decide to return to campus.

He led Michigan this year with 15 points per game and he is a tough out at the point, with prototypical 6-4 size and excellent quickness that allows him to get to the rack and get most of the shots he wants to take. If he chooses to go pro, Michigan can still be an upper division team, but probably not a real threat to Ohio State. With him, they will be the chic pick to win the Big Ten and perhaps could get some preseason Top 10 votes. If you are an Iowa fan (which is likely if you are reading this), his turning pro wouldn’t elicit many tears…he had 32 points, 15 rebound and 20 assists against the Hawkeyes in two meetings this year.

TUBBY TROUBLE…Gopher center Colton Iverson is leaving the Minnesota program. He averaged over 5 points and 5 rebounds per game this last year. Blake Hoffarber was a senior this year and their second leading scorer…but Minnesota returns everyone else from a team that disappointed, finishing 6-12 in Big Ten play when they were a Top 25 team at one point this season. Has the bloom fallen off the Tubby Smith rose? Some wondered if he might not make a serious run at the Georgia Tech job, but that opportunity is no longer available…the coming weeks will be the time when jobs are filled, but Smith will turn 60 this month. What high major program is going to make a serious run at hiring a guy that has a 32-40 Big Ten record in four years on the job?

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BUTLER A THORN IN HOOSIER SIDES: Butler is headed back to their second straight Final Four while the Indiana Hoosier program finished in 11th place in the Big Ten for the second of Tom Crean’s three seasons in Bloomington, putting forth a Big Ten record of 8-46 during that span. Yes, Indiana is putting together a monster class for 2012, with verbal commitments from several of the top rated players in the nation. Sure, the Hoosiers have been hit by the injury bug. Maurice Creek has played in just a handful of Big Ten games during his two seasons at Indiana. However, if the Hoosiers don’t gain some traction in next year’s Big Ten, a league that will not be near as good as it was this year from top to bottom, he might not get to coach that talented class.

Hoosier fans are looking at little ole Butler and all of the attention they are getting and are down right envious. Butler is a small, private school in Indianapolis but they are getting a LOT of ink in that town, the biggest in the state and one that has the biggest newspaper. The heat is on Tom Crean…especially if Butler can win it all next weekend in Houston.

Iowa knocked off Indiana twice this past season, and their lone road wins in Big Ten play over the last two years have come in Bloomington. Time was when two road wins at Indiana in a decade was the norm, but those times are now past. Indiana staying down is not a bad thing for Iowa.

WHERE IOWA FITS IN: Penn State will be way down with Talor Battle no longer around. Illinois loses a lot and Bruce Weber has not impressed, plus he has a hot seat of his own. Michigan State’s chemistry is non-existent right now and Northwestern, dang it, you can’t lose to them twice in one year. From this far away vantage point, I think Iowa could win between five and eight Big Ten games next year and flirt with the .500 mark on the season. That would be solid progress in year two of the Fran McCaffery era.

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