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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

IU named conference preseason favorite

On Thursday, the Big Ten announced that a panel of conference media had named the Hoosiers as the Big Ten favorite heading into the 2012-13 season. Michigan and Ohio State followed Indiana in the conference preseason rankings as second and third, respectively.

Sophomore center Cody Zeller received another stream of awards, being named the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by the same panel. He also was a unanimous choice for the preseason All-Big Ten Team, joined by Michigan’s Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas and Penn State’s Tim Frazier.

IU Coach Tom Crean said even with all of Zeller’s awards and praises during the offseason, the sophomore has been able to keep a level head.

“Cody Zeller epitomizes so many things about the program, and number one is the humble spirit he has,” Crean said. “He’s confident, but he has a humbleness, and he has a desire to improve.”

IU senior forward Christian Watford said these new team and individual accolades, along with several others the Hoosiers have grabbed this preseason, show just how far the program has come since Crean came on board in 2008.

“It was a great step, ‘cause we’ve finally gotten some respect over the last couple years, ‘cause we’ve been picked at the bottom, but we’ve moved up the ladder, and it shows that our hard word really pays off,” he said.

A day after news broke of his torn left meniscus, senior forward Derek Elston was present at the media day and confirmed once again that the root of the ailment dated back to high school.

His surgery is scheduled for Friday.

Crean said they cannot fully predict a timetable for his return until after the procedure, but reiterated that Elston is fully expected to see the court this season.

“The disappointment is for him in the sense that he’s been playing at a good level, working hard, improving,” Crean said. “I don’t see this taking away a season or anything like that.”

During Thursday morning’s press conferences, a handful of photographers snapped photos of the conference’s coaches sitting onstage answering questions.

New Nebraska Coach Tim Miles decided to flip the script.

After about 10 minutes of fielding questions, Miles ended his press conference by whipping his iPhone out from a pocket and taking a panorama photo of the assembled media before him. The photo was on his Twitter page within minutes.

It was far from the only moment of Miles’ press conference that drew puzzled reactions. The first-year Cornhuskers leader unleashed a number of one-liners from the podium, clearly enjoying his first moment in the Big Ten spotlight.

From the moment he sat down and commented that the media looked in need of some coffee to noting that the Big Ten was on one of the two television channels he got growing up in South Dakota, no one was safe from his humor, not even himself.

Miles, already at his fifth head coaching stop at the age of 46, said his rise through the ranks of rebuilding programs, most recently Colorado State, directly contributed to his graying hair.

In between the humor, though, the coach unveiled parts of his plan to put the Huskers back on the basketball map for the first time in years, including his recruiting Texas and Colorado for hidden gems and the team’s new training complex.

Even then, though, he could not resist a joke.

“We would invite you all to come, but then you might,” Miles said. “So I’m not going to.”

Even though his team struggled last season, going 12-20 — including a 4-14 record in the Big Ten — Penn State men’s basketball Coach Patrick Chambers was able to stay out of the critical spotlight because of the events that surrounded the school’s football program.

But Chambers said he knows it’s been on the mind of every recruit, as well as their family members, and Chambers has decided to take the issue head-on.

“I talk to the parents about it and the kids about it, and I don’t want it to be the elephant in the room,” Chambers said. “If they’re okay with it, then you are going to get amazing kids that are serious about getting degrees, that are winners and that want to help build this program.”

Frazier said the situation has brought the whole athletic program together as they rally around the football team this fall.

“We’re truly sorry for the victims and everything that happened, and as far as everything that happened to the university, but we just have come together as a family and move on and move in the right direction,” Frazier said.

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