Big 10 Basketball Media Day: Showtime is Already Here!


"Overture. Curtain lights. this is it, we'll hit the heights." Yes the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show opening is how I've acquired most of my knowledge of opera and musical theater. Woody Woodpecker and Tom & Jerry chipped in too.

You may wonder where these pictures are from?

"Tom Izzo Goes to Broadway," a one time show in East Lansing, MI that was exactly what it sounds like. Not many outside the geekiest of Michigan State geeks are aware of it. But can you believe it's showtime again already? Doesn't it seem like only yesterday State was a horrifying Gordon Heyward non-call away from reaching a second consecutive national title game?

And yet here we are, the next college basketball
season commences shortly and State is once again predicted to rule the
Big Ten, and maybe the nation, as they're ranked #2 in most polls.


But this is all getting overlooked because of 1.) we're in the midst of football 2.) the most hyped hyped NBA season
in a generation has just begun 3.) College hoops traditionally is a
season that starts out with little fan fare, but closes with the
brightest of lights shining upon it.

Not just halogen lamps or desk lamps, but the bright lights of Broadway.

At Big Ten Media Day, MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo is the star of the show.

And during the two hour one-on-one (or potential one-on-one)
interview period, I recorded 40 minutes with Izzo. We discussed the
current media landscape, where credibility and lack of credibility lies
within it, social media, the meta of social media, the human nature of
communication, the meaning behind medium of communication and many other
existential topics. Upon leaving, I jokingly told him, "maybe next time
we get together, we'll actually talk about something deep."

That's a joke I borrowed from David Letterman after he interviewed
Bill Clinton on his show, and Clinton discussed the broad-reaching
effects of global capitalism.

I'll touch on a lot of these topics in tonight's podcast. And in
countless future articles. There was good off-the-record conversation
with too. Which I'll save for off-line, and off-line only, of course.

This is THE YEAR for the Big Ten, as the preseason all-conference
team is comprised of all seniors. We've been saying this since those
all-conference players were sophomores. We've known for the past few
years that 2010-11 will be special. And MSU, Ohio State and Purdue are
ranked in the top five in many polls. Illinois is in the top 15, and
Minnesota and Wisconsin join them in the top 25.

Michigan State was selected to finish first in the Big Ten, as voted
upon by a panel of conference media. Ohio State and Purdue were picked
to finish second and third, respectively. Spartan senior Kalin Lucas
was named the Preseason Player of the Year for the second straight
season and was joined on the Preseason All-Conference team by Illinois'
Demetri McCamey, Purdue's JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore and
Wisconsin's Jon Leuer.

Michigan State returns three starters and nine letterwinners from
last year's squad that went 28-9 and tied for the Big Ten Championship
with a 14-4 conference record. Izzo took the Spartans to their second
straight Final Four, marking the team's sixth appearance in the event
in the last 12 years.

I recorded nine minutes with Kalin, as he is the Big Ten Player of
the Year, and another ten with Draymond Green and Durrell Summers. In
other words, of the 11 teams in the conference, I spent half the
allotted time on one team. I think this is a solid media strategy though
because East Lansing is where the talent is, the national coverage is,
and where the page views will come from.

To quote Jay-Z's "H to the Izzo" song (c'mon you saw this one coming a
mile away) "we can talk, but money talks, so talk mo bucks!"

Besides, in my other hour of power, I whipped through everyone I
needed to talk to on the other 10 (well actually 8 because I cover
Illinois and Northwestern regularly, so I can talk to those guys all the
time) like a frantic female speed-dater who feels her biological clock
is a ticking time bomb. (That joke is much funnier at the site when you
can see how all the players and coaches are set up at different tables,
and reporters rotate to them- just like in speed dating.)

Ohio State brings back four starters and six letterwinners from last
year's squad that tied for the Big Ten title with a 14-4 conference
mark, won the conference tournament advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The
Buckeyes finished the 2009-10 season with a 29-8 overall record, giving
the Buckeyes 20 or more wins in each of their six seasons under head
coach Thad Matta.

Two starters and 10 letterwinners return for Purdue, who tied for the
Big Ten title and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2010. The
Boilermakers finished the season with a 29-6 mark and advanced to their
fourth straight NCAA Tournament under the guidance of head coach Matt

Lucas earns his second straight Preseason Player of the Year honor
after earning first-team All-Big Ten recognition following the 2008-09
and 2009-10 seasons. The Big Ten Player of the Year as a sophomore in
2009, Lucas enters the season as the conference's third-leading active
scorer, with 1,418 career points. The guard is one of 10 Big Ten players
named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List.

I'll have more tomorrow, with the Coaches' quotes and a ton more articles from this event in the upcoming weeks and months.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He is also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank


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