Player of the Week
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
In the gaming industry, RDM stands for Random Death Match. Urban Dictionary defines it as when “a player kills you with no incentive.” The Big Ten’s RDM, Iowa guard Roy Devyn Marble, has been killing it so far this year . Don’t worry – no opposing players were hurt in the production of their near Championship down in the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Hawkeyes needed every one of Marble’s 30 points in a 77-74 unorthodox OT win against Xavier, as RDM took 23 shot attempts but then left the game with a right leg cramp. After Iowa’s 36-point blowout over UTEP, Marble again attempted 23 shots and finished with 24 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in an OT loss to Villanova in the championship.
Usually, that type of inefficiency would be a cause for concern, especially when Iowa has so many other offensive players that can score. But extensive sharing of the basketball is not RDM’s style. He’s done a tremendous job being aggressive and finding easy points at the free throw line, where he ranks 2nd in the Big Ten with 62 attempts. RDM also rounded out the week at a more efficient clip, going 7-14 from the field to finish with 17 points and 3 rebounds in a home win against Notre Dame. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery knows this team needs a go-to player for conference play, which is why Hawkeye fans need to accept RDM’s selfishness. McCaffery is helping evolve RDM into that go-to player that is so critical when the shot clock is winding down at the end of games.
Jaylon Tate, Illinois
Tracy Abrams’ shooting struggles continue to be a problem for the Illini (he is dead last in the conference in both field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage), but Tate has proven to be a great addition coming off the bench. The 6’3” freshman, who was the starting point guard on four straight Illinois high school state championship teams alongside Duke’s Jabari Parker, passed the 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio when he dished out another 5 assists during Illinois’ tough loss at Georgia Tech. Tate has 31 assists to just 6 turnovers this season, placing him 9th in the conference in assists.
He’s got really good footwork on both ends of the floor for a freshman. Having that great of an assist-to-turnover ratio requires a high basketball IQ, and Tate has continually made good decisions. In a pick-and-roll heavy offense at Illinois, it’s necessary and tactical to have more than one point guard that can create off the dribble and find weak side shooters. Tate has served as a nice compliment to Abrams – but don’t be surprised if he starts gobbling up major minutes if he continues playing this well.
Walter Pitchford, Nebraska
Who plays nearly 23 minutes a night and has yet to commit a turnover this season? Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Mr. Walter Pitchford.
Pitchford doesn’t move like a 6’10” player. He’s got above-average athleticism for his size, both in ball handling and his vertical ability. It’s the type of athlete that you usually don’t find at Nebraska. Even with his height, Pitchford is an efficient shooter – he’s 48% from the field this year and 46% from the 3-point line (13-28). He’s also literally leaving it all on the floor, as Pitchford has already fouled out of two games this year. He’s got a unique skill set and has started to turn into a reliable producer for the Cornhuskers.
Jeremy Hollowell, Indiana
There was cause for concern last week in Bloomington, when Indiana seemingly had nobody to fill the humongous void when Noah Vonleh needed rest or entered foul trouble. Indiana’s loss to Syracuse exposed another concern: who is going to produce from the outside for the Hoosiers? We all remember last year’s NCAA Tournament when Indiana seemed ill prepared for Syracuse’s zone defense. This time around was better from an X’s and O’s standpoint. Yet there’s no reason why opponents won’t sit in a zone, pack the lane and make Indiana beat you from deep. At the very least, opponents will be happy to double team Noah Vonleh in the post and see if anything resembling a jumper will fall.
So far this year, the theme seems to be if you stop Yogi Ferrell, you stop Indiana. He’s been the only one producing from deep, shooting 21-51 from the arc. Regardless of his words or actions, Will Sheehey continues to seem forced into a starting role and is pressing to try and contribute like a starter.
That leaves Hollowell as the primary scorer from the outside for Indiana. The team overall does not shoot many 3s, and Hollowell is just 5-15 from deep on the season. He’s also becoming untrustworthy with the basketball and currently ranks 3rd in the Big Ten in turnovers with 22.
Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern
The inaugural season for Chris Collins at Northwestern has quickly turned sour. Entering into the season, the improvement of point guard Dave Sobolewski was at least one reliable aspect on a team filled of mystery. So far, Sobolewski has really struggled initiating the offense and distributing to playmakers like Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb. He’s somewhat limited in the things you can ask him to do, but he’s turning the basketball over at an alarming rate. Last year, Sobolewski had 60 turnovers.
This year, he already has 23 along with just 29 assists.
He’s shooting only 32% from the field and 22% from the 3-point arc, but still plays 30 minutes a game because Northwestern truly does not have another point guard who is capable of playing at this level. Things are only going to get much tougher once conference play begins and advanced scouting reports dissect Sobolewski’s game and bring out his weaknesses. Whether it’s the installation of Collins’ new offense or just a lack of development, Sobolewski has made things even more difficult for Northwestern.
Top 5 Freshman
These are names you should be familiar with at the conclusion of non-conference play leading into Big Ten ball.
1. Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Despite the hiccup on the road at Storrs, where Vonleh found himself in massive foul trouble, he is by far the best freshman in the conference. He’s currently projected 9th in NBADraft.net’s 2014 NBA Mock Draft, and he’ll continue to get better as he develops. He’s a chiseled 240 pounds and has extremely long arms and great hands. Personally, his offensive game seems better when his back is to the basket, but his face-up game is excellent.
2. Troy Williams, Indiana
Not to be overshadowed is another young frontcourt mate of Noah Vonleh’s, Troy Williams. If you haven’t seen Williams’ put-back dunk against Syracuse, go YouTube that right now. He’s not as tall or heavy as Vonleh, but you could make the argument that Williams is just as athletic. He runs the floor really well for his size and so far this year is hitting the offensive glass hard. He likes using his athleticism more to get in the passing lane to create steals and start run-outs rather than swatting shots. For a freshman, he’s got a good mid-range game on offense.
3. Derrick Walton, Michigan
An easy in-conference comparison? Yogi Ferrell. Walton Jr. is the type of kid that can explode with quickness when the basketball is in his hands. He’s got great handles going both ways and also uses both hands well around the rim. He’s got a good, thick frame that will help him sustain the brutal nature of bi-weekly games during Big Ten season. John Beilein is asking a lot of Walton Jr. because of the Wolverines’ killer non-conference schedule culminating in a matchup against Arizona in two weeks. So take his 24 assists and 20 turnovers so far this year with a grain of salt. He’s a big-time player.
4. Zak Irvin, Michigan
With lots of confidence in his jump shot, Irvin will help combat all the offensive production lost by the departures of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. He’s very good off the bounce and loves working to his left just inside the arc to create space and get good lift on his attempts. He won’t wow you with his athleticism, but he’s just a guy that can fill it up. Once he starts putting on weight and filling out a still wiry frame, Irvin will continue to improve and be someone to keep an eye on this year.
5. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
This is a monstrous man. He’s listed at 250 pounds, and that still might not be an understatement of his size. Either way, opponents will quickly learn that this is one skilled behemoth. He’s got absolutely tremendous handles for his size but really makes his living grabbing rebounds. Again, just like Pitchford at Nebraska, you usually don’t see players with this much individual ability at Wisconsin. The best part is he fits perfect in Bo Ryan’s Flex system because he can do it all offensively and knows the importance of rebounding. With Wisconsin’s start so far and the amount of talent already on this team, Hayes adds another piece to help the Badgers win games no matter if they score 50 or 100 points in a given game.
Tate did not start all 4 years for Simeon. He attended De La Salle until his junior year where he teamed up with Mike Shaw who also attended Illinois until he transferred last season to Bradley. In fact Tate Lso came off the bench for Simeon and didn't play much at all his Junior year and first year at Simeon before having an breakout year his senior year. Also he's much closer to around 6'1 the 6'3.
Nice call out. Obviously the writer was lazy and assumed things. Also, if he had been a 4 year starter at Simeon, I doubt he would have ended up being a somewhat lightly recruited, 3 star high school senior.