Smith convinced about Player of the Year

Indiana forward D.J. White has done enough for Tubby to make up his mind.

Minnesota men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith doesn’t need to investigate anymore, he already knows who he thinks deserves to be Big Ten Player of the Year – Indiana senior forward D.J. White.

Smith, who has seen White at least once a season due to the yearly Kentucky/Indiana matchup, will get another look at the 6-foot-9-inch, 251-pound senior when the Gophers travel to Bloomington, Ind., on Wednesday night.

White, who decided to return for his senior season after flirting with the NBA last summer, is third in the conference in scoring with 17.0 points per game, shoots 61 percent from the field – best among conference players scoring in double-digits – and is top in the league in rebounding with 10.4 per game.

“There are a lot of good players in this league, but I think he’s done it as consistently, and over a long period of time,” Smith said.

“He’s a guy who can carry a team and he has over the years. I think he is very deserving of player of the year.”

Smith said White’s greatest impact is due to the intangibles he brings with him every time he takes the floor.

“He’s got such a heart; a team oriented guy,” Smith said. “He does whatever is needed from him for his team to win. He is all about winning.”

Smith said he has no doubt that White will make an excellent NBA player.

“No question about it,” Smith said. “He’s got so much upside for the next level, he’s going to do well.”

Fading Buckeyes

After Saturday afternoon’s 71-57 loss to the Gophers, Ohio State – which played in the NCAA Championship game last season – has gone from likely tournament team to bubble team to NIT-bound in a matter of weeks.

The Buckeyes, who have lost four straight games, are now back down to .500 in conference play. In fact, they may not even get a bye in the Big Ten tournament starting next Thursday unless they can beat either No. 17 Michigan State or No. 15 Purdue in their final two regular season games, both at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

While many believe Saturday’s loss to Minnesota played his team out of the NCAA tournament – barring a run in the Big Ten tournament – coach Thad Matta said he believes teams play their way in or out of the Big Dance based on their overall résumé, not just one late season game.

“It’s not good,” Matta said of Saturday’s loss hindering his team’s chance of receiving an at-large bid. “It doesn’t come down to one game. I think that’s the misunderstanding.”

Conference Player of the Week

Michigan State’s Goran Suton was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday.

The junior forward averaged a double-double in a pair of games last week, posting 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds as Tom Izzo’s Spartans split a pair of games against two teams at the top of the conference standings.

Suton posted 14 points and 15 rebounds during a midweek loss at No. 10 Wisconsin, then followed that performance with 17 points, nine rebounds and four steals in Sunday’s throbbing of No.18 Indiana in East Lansing, Mich.