CHICAGO – While players and coaches trickled into Big Ten Media Day on Sunday, there was a near consensus as to who was the first person every reporter wanted to talk to. As the returning Big Ten Player of the Year, and this year’s preseason pick for that same title, Illinois’s Dee Brown was soon enough surrounded by a group that outnumbered the rest of the journalists in the room.
But there was one person who wasn’t buying all the hype.
“It’s crazy – I don’t think they should even have that out, it’s preseason and all,” Brown said. “I don’t really pay attention to it. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s all about the team’s success. It’s all about wins.”
Brown, who was named a first-team All-American and Sportsline National Player of the Year last season, said that, like always, he takes little credit for the praise the media heaps upon him.
“I blame it on my school – I blame it on the success of my school,” Brown said. “Once a place is successful, someone has to get the individual accolades, which is crazy. But I just take it all in stride.”
Brown enters his senior season on somewhat disappointing terms. He had declared for last spring’s NBA draft before breaking his foot in a workout. With his stock dropping, Brown decided to withdraw his name and return to Illinois for a final year in which both he and his teammates will face a number of major challenges.
Brown needs to follow up on a season in which his 13.3 points and 4.5 assists per game were good enough to earn all those awards. The Illini lost just two games last year – including the NCAA title game to North Carolina – but must cope with the departure of second-team All-Americans Luther Head and Deron Williams to the NBA.
The loss of Williams is especially troublesome, since it will shift Brown’s role from shooting to point guard, which, because of his size, is what he’ll likely play in the NBA. But his inexperience at the position is something that caused many pro teams to shy away from him in the spring. Despite this, Brown said he’s ready for whatever the new season may bring.
“I just take it as I got to work harder because all that pressure,” Brown said. “It brings more people competing hard against you, more expectations of you doing well. It’s kind of nerve-wracking, but I’m just going to take it on.
“This year in college, I’m going to have fun. It’s my last year.”
Rules School: You may have to look closely to see them, but the NCAA has instituted three new rules for the upcoming season.
The first expands the use of instant replay. Referees can now use video to determine if a foul was committed before or after the end of a half. If a foul occurred before the buzzer, a referee should look at the tape to add the appropriate amount of time on the clock. This rule carries over to buzzer-beater shots as well.
The second change affects the handling of the shot clock after a kicked ball violation occurs. Previously, a kicked ball would result in the reset of the clock to 35 seconds. Now, any violation with over 15 seconds left will cause no reset, and any violation under that limit will reset the clock to 15.
The final rule will have little effect on game play. It stipulates a team will have 20 seconds to replace a player who has fouled out, 10 seconds less than previously allowed.
Although most coaches feel that these changes, specifically the kicked ball rule, benefit the game, they have spent little time lecturing players about them.
“We’re not too caught up in them because they’re not that big a change,” Minnesota coach Dan Monson said. “I’ve gone over them with my players, but we haven’t really emphasized it too much.”
Notes: Michigan State earned the top spot in the media’s Big Ten preseason rankings. Illinois and Indiana were ranked second and third, respectively – Joining Brown on the preseason all-Big Ten team were Indiana’s D.J. White, Michigan State’s Paul Davis, Minnesota’s Vincent Grier and Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker.