The Evil 'Eyes

By Jeff Lippman - January 04, 2008


If it sometimes sounds like I am taking unfair shots at the Big Ten Conference, you must be a fan. Because anyone who knows women's college basketball, at this point, has got to be completely fed up.

Give me the Big Sky, the Big Easy or the Big Kahuna before you give me the Big Ten.

This is supposed to be one of the "elite" conferences in women's basketball. We aren't talking the Mountain West here - although the MWC has exactly the same amount of Top 25 teams as the Big Ten.

What not too long ago was a proud conference with solid teams like Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State has become one in which only one ranked team remains. And that team, No. 21 Ohio State, is 10-3 and has already lost to conference rival Michigan State.

And now for the crushing blow.

The Buckeyes have lost starter Star Allen for the remainder of the season due to academic issues. The junior forward was a preseason All-Big Ten selection and was fourth on the team in scoring at 8.6 points per game. She was also the team's second-best rebounder and one of its better passers.

Losing Allen is a huge blow for a team that already had problems.

Because the Big Ten is so weak, Ohio State isn't scheduled to play another ranked opponent all regular season. While that is something they can at least take solace in, that doesn't mean that I don't expect the Buckeyes to suffer a few agonizing defeats.

Without Allen, OSU is left with senior Wade Trophy candidate Marscilla Packer as the team's best and most experienced player. But Packer is a 5-foot-9 guard and needs the inside presence of Allen to help ball movement and to take some of the pressure off.

Perhaps the biggest detriment to Allen not being eligible is the development of freshman 6-foot-4 center Jantel Lavender. Lavender is having a monster rookie season, already averaging a team-leading 16.6 points and almost 10 rebounds. But without Allen to help down low, teams can start to key in on Lavender, and if Packer isn't hitting her outside shots, that could mean very disconcerting times for the Buckeyes and their coach Jim Foster.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 08:10 PM on January 04, 2008
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