BY MATT DE SARLE
Big 10 Coaches Tweak Rosters As Season Enters Home Stretch
Anyone watching college basketball this season with an unbiased view will admit that the Big 10 is the best conference in basketball. So when subtle changes happen to some of the best team’s rosters, those are developments worth watching. Here are some late season roster tinkering that could become a factor in March Madness.
Rutgers Swingman Jacob Young Coming Off The Bench
If you listen to Twitter (don’t), Rutgers fans will tell you that Jacob Young is trash. Well, that’s not true. The Euro-stepping swingman from Houston has a 20 point game in his grasp each time he steps on the floor. His defense has been questioned. And this mid-season, Rutgers coach Steve Pickel relegated Young to the bench. The Scarlet Knights responded by hitting a 4 game winning streak as January rolled into February. Young might not be a starter, but he pairs well with Ron Harper Jr. as a closer.
Michigan Coach Tom Izzo Searching for Starting Point Guard
Tom Izzo certainly doesn’t need my sympathy. He’s a championship coach and definitely not reading this blog article. However, I feel bad from any coach who loses Cassius Winston in one COVID-ravaged season and has to enter a COVID-complicated following season with few choices at point guard. Rocket Watts was auditioned at point guard early in the season, but it was determined (not surprisingly) that he is a shooting guard. Izzo then turned to freshman A.J. Hoggard as the head man. Sparty also has 6 foot junior Foster Loyer on the roster. Hoggard has slipped from the leading minutes-getter at point guard and the leading assists man at Michigan State is forward elder statesman forward Joshua Langford. As crazy as this all sounds, if Michigan State even makes the tournament, you’d have to feel shaky taking them against any team that has an established star point guard.
Does the Big 10’s Best Point Guard Come Off The Bench?
CJ Walker went out early this season with a wrist injury. The Buckeyes responded well with play from underclassmen, including the insertion of a Cleveland star who re-classified to leave high school early (Meechie Johnson Jr.). The Buckeyes jumped into the top half of the AP Top 25. Then, when Walker was recovered from his injury, coach Chris Holtmann had him come off the bench. And so can you believe that a player who averaged 3.4 assists in 2019-2020 is still coming off the bench for a top 10 team? This speaks not only to CJ Walker’s willingness to win but Ohio State’s incredible depth.