BY ALEX PROSPERI
Daily Sports Writer
Published October 28, 2008
CHICAGO — Three years ago, former Michigan guard Daniel Horton was the first Wolverine since 2003 to be named All-Big Ten first team. Now Michigan has another standout in a strong position to earn the award — sophomore Manny Harris.
Harris was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten first team on Sunday at Big Ten Media Day. The sophomore averaged 16.1 points per game and was named to the 2007-08 Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season.
He's the first Wolverine to earn the preseason honor since Horton in 2004. Harris will be asked to carry the team offensively like Horton was.
“He’s a great player,” Wisconsin senior and Preseason All-Big Ten first team selection Marcus Landry said. “He’s hot right now, (and) he can get the job done.”
Despite Landry’s praise, Harris’ selection is just that — a selection.
“I think it’s a great honor for him,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “But the preseason stuff, with so many coaches and so many players, it is nothing. It is absolutely nothing.”
In 2005 and 2007, just two players from the preseason team made the first team at the end of the season. The biggest surprise last year was the decline of Michigan State's then-senior Drew Neitzel, who was tabbed the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Neitzel averaged four points per game fewer than the previous year and never found a rhythm offensively.
Harris, like Horton, will be asked to carry the team offensively. If he fulfills his duty, Harris should be the most recent Wolverines to be named All-Big Ten first team.
Robbie who?: Michigan State's Neitzel, Wisconsin's Alando Tucker and Illinois' Dee Brown were the last three Preseason Big Ten Players of the Year. All three were nationally known the year before. So where does Purdue’s Robbie Hummel fit into that mix?
He doesn’t. At least not yet.
The sophomore, who was named the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Sunday, averaged just 11.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last season.
He had a few breakout games, including his 24-point performance against Michigan State. But few players have been named the conference’s preseason player of the year after averaging just 7.5 shots per game the year before. Each member of the aforementioned trio averaged more shots per game, with the closest being Brown (9.2), who was primarily a distributor and leader of the fast-break.
“Rob is a guy who a lot of coaches admire because of how he plays the game,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He plays hard, he plays the game the right way.”
Hummel’s intangibles earned the respect of the media and former Purdue coach Gene Keady.
“I love it,” Keady said of Hummel’s game. “One of the most versatile kids in the country. He’s really an all-around good player.”
Rivalry buzz: Ohio State sophomore Evan Turner and junior David Lighty represented the Buckeyes at Big Ten Media Day.
Though the Buckeyes were left out of the media’s preseason poll, which only published the top three teams, Turner was confident in his team.
“I think I know my team well enough and we worked hard enough to say we’re the best team in the Big Ten,” said Turner when asked to name the best teams in the Big Ten.
Michigan's 80-70 victory at home against Ohio State last year was one of the lone bright spots for the Wolverines, and it was the first time Michigan beat the Buckeyes since 2004. According to Turner, Ohio State will be ready for this season's matchup.
“Without a doubt,” Turner said when asked if he was happier to beat Michigan than another team. “A lot of people pay close attention to Michigan. You just can’t lose to Michigan.”