Badger Nation's All-Big Ten

As the Big Ten Tournament gets underway in Chicago this afternoon, it signifies the end of another season of basketball in the heartland for about five or six teams. Badger Nation would like to recognize the accomplishments of these players and coaches by awarding our all league team and coach.

Matthew Lewis, BN hoops writer

FIRST TEAM

Adam Haluska – Iowa

Drew Neitzel – Michigan State

Mike Conley Jr. – Ohio State

Greg Oden – Ohio State

Alando Tucker – Wisconsin

SECOND TEAM

D.J. White – Indiana

Tyler Smith – Iowa

Carl Landry – Purdue

David Teague – Purdue

Kammron Taylor – Wisconsin

THIRD TEAM

Roderick Wilmont – Indiana

Warren Carter – Illinois

Shaun Pruitt – Illinois

Dion Harris – Michigan

Geary Claxton – Penn State

Player of Year: Tucker

It seems almost standard to declare the lineups I did. But while I have an unhealthy inclination to honor the All-Conference class of 1952 by adding Tim Doyle to the third team, or simply whitewash the entire Buckeye starting five over the 15 available spots, I elected to go with a broad approach that leaves only Northwestern and Minnesota out of the ink.

The close calls, which may differ slightly for some ballots, came down to intense – and by intense, I mean I did this at two in the morning – weighing between two candidates for the final spot on a team. This happened in particular with Mike Conley Jr. and Carl Landry for the final spot on first team. These two flip-flopped between the media and coaches picks, and I am largely convinced the media got it right.

When you consider what is in my mind the most important variable: how a player performed in big-game situations, in my mind the edge has to go to Conley. He was more consistent on a big stage, and while he may not have some of the numbers to match Landry, keep in mind that Conley shot the ball at a 53 percent clip, and picked his spots. Landry of course had a dominant field goal percentage as well, but his knack for turning the ball over has to be accounted for. And in Big Ten play, Landry's numbers were down significantly in big games on the road, something you would hope not to get from your seniors.

If you're looking for a tiebreaker, consider when Ohio State traveled to Purdue for arguably the Boilermakers' biggest game of the year. (They didn't get a shot at Wisconsin at home). Conley finished with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting with six assists. While he uncharacteristically turned it over four times, Landry didn't do enough on the other end to best the Buckeyes, going 6-for-17 in the loss.

Plus, I refer to Conley's game-winning, conference-winning drive as evidence enough. Coaches like to reward seniority in their picks, but I'm going to go with what I feel is honesty.

Other close calls actually included Kammron Taylor, who struggled in the final weeks much like 2006 and actually didn't show much improvement stat-wise from year-to-year, with the exception of his assist-to-turnover. I had him scratched down to third team, but I started thinking about the 3-pointers to pull the Badgers back in it at Indiana and Ohio State as well as the game-winner last week. "What have you done for me lately?" I suppose. His clutch free throws left something to be desired, but 25 points in a win over the Buckeyes secured him on the second team.

Also, this wasn't a close call in my mind, but Tyler Smith makes my second team for versatility if nothing else. Points, rebounds, assists, steals – he even finished in the top ten in assists-to-turnovers. I have no problem honoring freshmen. None whatsoever.'

When it came to the POY debate, I simply had to go with Tucker based on the following: A) I never saw Greg Oden dominate a game. He changed games, altered offensive attacks, struck fear into those who feared he might fall on them if they fouled him, etc. But I never had that feeling that, "Greg Oden will NOT LET THEM LOSE." I'm not saying you get that from Tucker all the time. But he certainly attacks with that mentality quite frequently, which is something you can't measure, but can certainly feel. Also, B) there are five other Buckeyes who you could make a strong case for including all the way up to second team All-Big Ten if it weren't for political correctness and representation and all the rest. Wisconsin has a great supporting cast, but maybe not as many guys who can create their own points in the variety of ways Oden's teammates can. I simply feel that while he had the media burden, on the court he may not have the weight Tucker carried on his shoulders.

Some Hawkeye fans wanted Haluska for the POY, and he did have a great season. But here's my take. They are arguing that he put a team on his back to 9-7 in the conference without the kind of help Tucker and Oden had, and thus deserves it, because "who knows what he could have done with more talent."

I'll give you the fact that he didn't have near the assistance from top to bottom, but Haluska didn't exactly have a slouch for a co-pilot (see: above). And consider the fact that he only shot at a 41 percent clip, and while finishing fourth in 3-pointers made, fell way below the leaders in accuracy, at 36.6 percent. I'm not naïve enough to understand that those numbers go up with a better surrounding cast and an enhanced ability to improve his shot selection. I just don't think there's much else that Haluska could have done. He did it. It was great. It just wasn't worthy of POY. No hard feelings to the Hawks. (And the fact that he dropped off significantly from the Minnesota's and Penn State's to the Wisconsin's and Ohio State's doesn't help much either.)

ALL-FRESHMAN

Tyler Smith – Iowa

Raymar Morgan – Michigan State

Kevin Coble – Northwestern

Mike Conley Jr. – Ohio State

Greg Oden – Ohio State

Freshman of Year: Greg Oden – Ohio State

This is pretty standard I guess, except for one thing. I desperately wanted to put Armon Bassett on here, trying to justify it to myself with, "well, hey, Kevin Coble plays for Northwestern," or "Quincy Morgan all but disappeared in two of the Spartans biggest games, and had he shown up against Ohio State, might have been enough to beat them."

But in the end, Morgan and Coble were leaned on to play upperclassmen roles for their teams while Bassett was never really one of the top three options for Indiana. His protection of the ball and his long-distance accuracy maybe say he could have done more, which is why I'd like to include him. But I couldn't do it in the end. Sue me.

Ben Worgull, BN Senior Writer

First Team

Adam Haluska, Iowa

Drew Neitzel, Michigan State

Greg Oden, Ohio State

Carl Landry, Purdue

Alando Tucker, Wisconsin

Second Team

Shaun Pruitt, Illinois

Kammron Taylor, Wisconsin

D.J. White, Indiana

Mike Conley Jr, Ohio State

David Teague, Purdue

Third Team

Ron Lewis, Ohio State

Gerry Claxton, Penn State

Michael Flowers, Wisconsin

Brian Butch, Wisconsin

Roderick Wilmont, Indiana

Freshman Team

Tyler Smith, Iowa

Jason Bohannon, Wisconsin

Kevin Coble, Northwestern

Mike Conley Jr, Ohio State

Greg Oden, Ohio State

Player of the Year – Tucker

Freshman of the Year – Oden

In reality, the Big Ten was about only two players this year – Greg Oden and Alando Tucker. Oden led the Buckeyes in points per game (15.2), blocks (80) and field goal percentage (.614) and did it all despite missing the Buckeyes' first seven games. Oden was a physical presence in every game he played, daring opponents to drive the paint against him. More importantly, Oden led the Buckeyes to their second straight Big Ten regular season title in the process.

As good as Oden was this season, Tucker was that much better. With every passing game, Tucker continues to climb higher and higher up the Badgers career charts. Finishing second in the Big Ten with 20.1 points per game, Tucker scored in double figures in the every game this season and recorded 17 20-point games to date.

As good as Tucker was at home, he was even better on the road, registering near five points higher, two rebounds and a field goal percentage of 51 percent (compared to 47.5 percent at home). Combine Tucker and a nationally televised game, however, he nearly couldn't be stopped. In 10 nationally televised games (including three against ranked opponents), Tucker averaged 21.8 points while shooting .482 from the floor. Simply put, when the lights are on and the national is watching, nobody compares to Tucker.

Jeff Grimyser, BN Staff

Player of the Year - Alando Tucker

There is only one other player who might have claim to this honor, and that's Oden. Oden was easily first in the conference in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. But, he missed the first seven games of the season and took some time to get his numbers to where they are at now. The Buckeyes rarely called plays for him and most of his production came of second chance opportunities.

Tucker was the pre-season favorite and he did nothing to lose voter's confidence. He delivered by being the conference's second leading scorer and15th in boards. He plays in a system where he's asked to carry the team, as he shot 37 more times than the conference's closest competitor. Tucker is well known to have delivered big on the largest of stages for a team, against then No. 2 Pittsburgh he delivered 32 points and ten rebounds. He was the unquestioned leader of team that battled all year for supremacy of the Big Ten.

All Big Ten Team

Mike Conley Jr. (Ohio State)

Drew Neitzel (Michigan State)

Adam Haluska (Iowa)

Alando Tucker (Wisconsin)

Greg Oden (Ohio State)

The locks on the All Big-Ten team are Tucker, Oden, Neitzel and Haluska. The best player in the conference is Tucker. Oden, simply is best center in all of college basketball. Neitzel is the conference's best shooter who played very well against top competition. Haluska is a dynamic player who led the Big Ten in scoring this year. The decision came down to Landry or Conley, but because Conley leads the conference in assists and steals. He gets the nod because he leads the conferences best team with lightning quick speed, scores in double figures on the best team and has an assist-to-turnover ratio at an impressive 3-to-1.

Second Team

Kammron Taylor (Wisconsin)

Tyler Smith (Iowa)

Carl Landry (Purdue)

DJ White (Indiana)

Geary Claxton (Penn State)

Third Team

Tim Doyle (Northwestern)

David Teague (Purdue)

Tyler Smith (Iowa)

Dan Coleman (Minnesota)

Courtney Sims (Michigan)

Freshman Team

Mike Conley Jr. (Ohio State)

Daequan Cook (Ohio State)

Tyler Smith (Iowa)

Kevin Coble (Northwestern)

Greg Oden (Ohio State)

Freshman of the Year - Oden

Jason Miller, BN Publisher

FIRST TEAM

Drew Neitzel, Michigan State

Alando Tucker, Wisconsin

Adam Haluska, Iowa

Carl Landry, Purdue

Greg Oden, Ohio State

This is the consensus all-league team from nearly every outlet who voted on it. Tucker, who will probably finish 2nd or 3rd in national voting, is the obvious player of the year. When you pump out 20 a night, and never score out of double digits - in this league, that is a rare commodity. Another rare thing: four of the awarded members of this team are seniors. Talk about VERY rare. Even more interesting, the other guy is a rookie. But Oden does not play like your normal first year player. He attacks the game with tenacious desire. I hope you watch the BT tourney because it will be the last time you ever see him wearing a college uniform. Neitzel, Landry, and Haluska are blue collar guys. They show up every night and leave it on the court before they leave. And, as stated before, if you give out most valuable player awards rather than just player of the year, I think Neitzel or Haluska are very deserving.

SECOND TEAM

DJ White, Indiana

Geary Claxton, Penn State

David Teague, Purdue

Kammron Taylor, Wisconsin

Mike Conley, Jr., OSU

Conley is the wildcard on this squad. He could have easily been voted first team, and was by the media who voted on the official ballot. MC is the engine that makes the OSU car run. His ability to break down a defense is not something you see everyday. Again, I might be a little surprised if he sticks around another year. He probably goes first round in June's draft if a declaration is made. Claxton would be a first teamer if he played on a team that won more than two or three league games. White and Teague came back strong from injury and weak seasons in 05-06. Taylor takes a lot of heat from fans, but look at the numbers. He led the Badgers in scoring on at least five different occasions this year.

THIRD TEAM

Tyler Smith, Iowa

Dion Harris, Michigan

Warren Carter, Illinois

Roderick Wilmont, Indiana

Shaun Pruitt, Illinois

Wilmont could have easily been on the second team. His ability to knock down the triple is one reason why Indiana had success this year. He took pressure off of DJ White and allowed more freedom in the paint for the big fella. Look no further than his late season performance at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Wilmont knocked down nine triples to help lead the Hoosiers to a 69-65 escape in Evanston. Carter and Pruitt were the consistent members of an interesting crew in Chambana. Car wrecks, injuries, and DUI's aside, these fellas stepped it up for the Illini. Harris sort of under achieved this season, IMHO. I named him preseason all-league, but his inability to ever live up to his potential is one of the main reasons the 'Rines only won half their BT games and are squarely on the NCAA Tourney bubble.

ALL FRESHMAN TEAM

Oden

Conley

Smith

Raymar Morgan, MSU

Kevin Coble, Northwestern

I really wanted to give the award for frosh of the year to Conley because he was the most consistent player on the team, and did not miss six games to injury. But that would have put me on my own island, standing like a lone reed. So, I went with the crowd and gave it to Oden. Iowa's Smith, who was a Third Team member by the media and coaches, was the Robin to Haluska's Batman. Coming in with high hopes, I think he may have exceeded what the fans had in mind by pumping out 15 a night. Had Rick Majerus been given a vote, I think TS makes all-league. Coble was the lone standout in Evanston. There is no denying Raymar Morgan will be a special player before he is done at MSU. Perhaps even an all-league kind of guy. Izzo has had a few on his watch.


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