All that disappointment — losing to Ohio State in the
regular-season finale, sharing the Big Ten title instead of winning it outright,
freshman guard Branden Dawson’s season-ending knee injury — didn’t disappear
overnight for Michigan State.
But the Spartans could take a step back and appreciate what they’ve
accomplished after senior captain Draymond Green was named the conference’s
Player of the Year and Tom Izzo the Coach of the Year in an announcement made
Green’s versatility and leadership gave him the nod over Ohio State sophomore
Jared Sullinger. Green, a 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 16.2 points, 10.3
rebounds and 3.5 assists. He even hit 40.5 percent from 3-point range.
“Coming into the season, being named Player of the Year was something that
coach Izzo and I had talked about, but everyone thought it would be Jared
Sullinger,” Green said. “Usually the best player on the best team
gets a lot of publicity, and as we got better and started to win more games, I
started getting thrown into that conversation.
“As my play started getting better, it became more of a realistic goal to
have. I like to set goals, but it seemed so far out of reach coming into the
Michigan, which shared the title with Michigan State and Ohio State, had no one
selected first-team All-Big Ten.
But point guard Trey Burke was voted Freshman of the Year by the media, along
with being a second-team all-conference choice. Indiana’s Cody Zeller was the
coaches’ pick for Freshman of the Year.
“It’s great,” Burke said of the honors, “But it’s just great to
be able to come in here and play with a great group of guys and have three
great seniors in Zack (Novak), Stu (Douglass) and Corey (Person).
“I definitely would not have been able to win this without my teammates
hitting shots and making plays.”
Burke, a Columbus, Ohio native, is averaging 14.6 points and 4.6 assists
(second in the Big Ten). He also played 35.9 minutes per game, 37.6 in Big Ten
“He just improved and improved to where now he takes over games,”
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said.
Zeller, a 6-11, 230-pound center, was just as deserving. He helped transform
Indiana into a top-15 team. Zeller is averaging 15.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
His inside presence spreads the floor and creates open shots for his teammates,
making Indiana one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams.
“Cody’s helped make everyone else better,” Indiana coach Tom Crean
Crean, in his fourth year at IU, was one of the other top contenders for Coach
of the Year. He spent four years as an assistant under Izzo, including a Final
Four appearance in 1999.
After a 28-66 record in Crean’s first three years, the Hoosiers are 24-7,
the only team to beat No. 1 Kentucky all season.
Izzo, however, won the award after taking the Spartans from an unranked team in
the preseason to their seventh conference championship in his 17 years. It is
only the third time Izzo has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Izzo conceded he was surprised by the honor this time.
“There were a lot of other worthy candidates,” Izzo said. “Tom
Crean did an incredible job putting his Indiana team on the biggest upswing
from last year. John Beilein has done a great job at Michigan, and I think Fran
McCaffery has done an incredible job at Iowa.
“I guess I was just lucky enough to win.”
Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Year. Purdue’s D.J. Byrd was the Sixth Man of the Year.
Four players were selected first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and
media. Green was joined by Sullinger, Northwestern’s John Shurna and Purdue’s Robbie
Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor, meanwhile, was picked by the coaches to the
first team. The media’s choice for the final spot was Penn State’s Tim Frazier.