Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Latest Info

Lots of interesting stuff to catch up on. Was in Cincinnati over the weekend, but heard quite a bit about the AAU tournament in Bloomington. Sounds like, once again, Derrick Rose turned in a dominant effort. He is looking to take on all comers this spring and summer, wanting to prove that he is the top guard (and potentially top player overall) in the nation. Some reviews from Rose's play over the weekend include the following, from the Peegs site highlighting Rose's matchup with Illini top 10 class of 2007 commitment Eric Gordon:

"This weekend it was Rose that clearly was the better player and his play all game was a huge reason Mean Streets Express pulled away from Indiana Elite to take the semifinal game, 71-52. Rose doubled Gordon in the scoring department in this one (20 pts vs 10 pts) and his emphatic dunk in traffic late in the game brought the Assembly Crowd to its feet as it was one of the best we have seen in AAU play."

Brian Stinnette of said the following:

"Behind a strong tag team effort from Derrick Rose and Tim Flowers MeanStreets Express defeated Eric Gordon and Indiana Elite to advance to the championship game of the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington, Indiana. Rose was nothing short of dazzling. I have seen all of the top 2007 prospects nationally, and Rose has left no doubt in the eyes of this writer, that he is the #1 Class of 2007 basketball prospect in the United States, and that includes O.J. Mayo!"

It was a disappointing weekend for Gordon. Not only did Rose clearly get the better of him, but Gordon's shot was off the entire tournament and he even missed 3 breakaway dunks. Gordon did, however, convince top 40 prospect DeAndre Jordan of Texas to play with his Indiana Elite team over the weekend. Jordan, who is considered one of Kelvin Sampson's top big men targets, is considering Illinois as well, and according to Gordon, has the Illini in his top 3 schools.

It's interesting that the Illini continue to recruit highly ranked class of 2007 big men such as Jordan, JJ Hickson, and Blake Griffin (recently committed to Oklahoma). There is some scuttlebutt that it's looking increasingly likely that one or both of Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole could spend a year at prep school, opening up another class of 2007 scholarship. Don't be surprised if that happens, and don't be surprised if Calvin Brock's and Charles Jackson's scholarships open up over the next year as well.

The Peegs site has really stepped up its recruiting coverage since Kelvin Sampson has taken the reins at IU. They've added some clips of Dametri McCamey and Evan Turner from the Spiece tournament:

16-U players who impressed in Bloomington include Angel Garcia of Lake Forest Academy, Lewis Jackson of Decatur, and 6'6" point guard DeAndre Liggins. Liggins has received an offer from Virginia and is getting major attention from Wake Forest. Another junior that is getting a lot of interest is 6'6" Indiana Elite forward Emmanuel Negedu. Negedu, who plays at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, has been getting serious looks from Indiana (offer), Kansas, Florida State, Iowa, Wake Forest, and Iowa State. With Illini targets Lewis Jackson, Jeremy Robinson and Matt Roth playing on Negedu's Indiana Elite 16-U team, expect the Illini to try to enter the hunt for Negedu as well.

Interesting news that Washington 6'5" swingman Mario Little has chosen Chipola College in Florida as his stomping grounds for the next 2 years. Little has high major talent, just did not have the grades to qualify. He'll be playing with Jamarcus Ellis and DeAndre Thomas among other former Illinois high schoolers at Chipola.

According to Stinnette, Dametri McCamey is generating even more recruiting interest after his play this spring. Besides Illinois, which has not offered the #51 player in the country according to Rivals, McCamey is getting interest from Indiana, DePaul, Michigan, Wake Forest, Virginia, and Miami, FL.

Michigan has also picked up its recruiting of Evan Turner and McCamey. According to the following Rivals article from the Michigan site, Florida is really starting to make a heavy push for Turner:

Michigan is also working hard on class of 2008 stud Delvon Roe from Ohio, who at one point was thought to be an Illinois "lean". However, Roe has not mentioned Illinois prominently in recent updates. The Rivals article also mentions that Dar Tucker continues to be recruited by Louisville, Marquette, Miami and "Illinois, a little". Word is that Tucker is a long way from qualifying in 2007.

Class of 2008 Illini target John Brandenburg is seeing his recruitment heat up. The 6'10", 235-pound big man from St. Louis DeSmet plays on the same St. Louis Eagles AAU team as Mike Tisdale, and reportedly has outplayed Tisdale on the spring AAU circuit. Brandenburg has had Kansas, Illinois, Wake Forest and Missouri begin to show a lot of interest since his strong play at the Kingwood, TX AAU tournament. His favorite conference is the ACC, but it's unclear if he'll be good enough to warrant an offer from dream schools North Carolina and Duke.

According to an article by Clint Jackson at the North Carolina Rivals site, #58 ranked PG Tyler Reed favors UNC, Kansas, Stanford and Georgia Tech. Illinois recently made Reed's top 6 list. Along with Travis Releford and Verdell Jones, Reed was one of the more impressive performers at the Jayhawk Invitational over the weekend. However, observers noted that the tournament was very watered down, with many of the top Midwestern teams playing in Bloomington, IN.

Scottie Reynolds returned to his Northern Virginia home from a weekend at Villanova without committing. He is still interested in 6 schools: Villanova, Illinois, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, LSU and Michigan. He has visited each school except Illinois and Wake Forest.

Some nice articles from the Toronto newspapers on Dee Brown. Brown worked out for Toronto yesterday, following up to recent workouts for Denver and the LA Lakers.

"It was a blessing that he got in another year of experience," said Jim Kelly, the Raptors' director of player personnel. "I think especially where he got another year in playing at the point, a position I think he's going to have to play in the NBA. "He probably didn't have the same success because his team wasn't as strong this year, although they did have a very good year, but they didn't have the players they had the year before."

One thing NBA teams won't have to worry about with Brown is media training. Brown had the assembled crew laughing when asked for his first impressions of Toronto.

"I didn't know too much until I got up here," he said. "They told me it was beautiful and has a lot of women ... and a lot of people."

"Disappointing? No, it was a blessing," he said of his forced fourth year.

"I got to go back and play point guard, show people my talent, go back and get my degree (in sports management, a semester ahead of his class) and do my internship. College is the funnest time in your life."

Now the fun ends, though. Brown is seen by draft experts as a second-round pick, perhaps available to Toronto with the 35th selection in the June 28 draft.

Virginia has entered the recruiting mix for E'Twaun Moore. Ace recruiting assistant Gene Cross is leading the Cavaliers' effort for Rivals' #30 ranked player nationally. Moore lists Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Miami and Florida as teams recruiting him besides Virginia.

Arizona State has ramped up its recruitment of two point guards that Illinois has had its eye on. Jamelle McMillan of Seattle and John Roberson of Plano, TX are two players that Herb Sendek is pushing for since taking over the Sun Devils.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Rivals Rankings Released

Well, it's been an interesting day on the recruiting news front. As expected, Bruce Weber's entire Illinois Class of 2007 commitments has seen a drop in the latest Rivals 150 rankings. Eric Gordon dropped from the top 5 to #8, but he is still the highest ranked shooting guard and the #3 guard overall (behind OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose). Bill Cole dropped from 85 to 123, not surprising given his play on the Illinois Warriors this spring compared to teammates Manuel Cass (#80) and Brandon McGee (#117). Mike Tisdale dropped from #100 to out of the rankings entirely.

Other prospects of note include:

Evan Turner (from unranked to #23 and a five-star prospect), E'Twaun Moore (#30), Dar Tucker (#36), Alex Legion (#38), Alex Tyus (#41), Manny Harris (from unranked to #45), Demetri McCamey (from #91 to #51), Jamelle McMillan (from unranked to #70), Robbie Hummell (#72), Nayal Koshwal (#75), Trevor Mbakwe (#79), Eshaunte Jones (#84), Brockeith Pane (#127), Maurice Miller (#137), and Biko Paris (#144). All of these players have, at one time or another, listed Illinois prominently among their favorite college choices.

Clearly, this is the year for the Illinois coaching staff's Indiana and Michigan connections to pay off. While they have already picked up Eric Gordon from Indianapolis, guys like Moore, Tucker, Legion, and Harris are all top 50 Midwestern wing players who have Illinois high on their list. It's looking more and more like, should the Illini not sign Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon will be playing point guard. Especially when you consider that the Illini staff is said to be skeptical about Dametri McCamey. After McCamey, the next highest rated point guard on the Illini class of 2007 radar is Pane, followed by Miller and Paris.

For the full Rivals class of 2007 rankings list, click the link below.

Next up for Rivals is a preliminary class of 2008 ranking, which should be out in the next few weeks. Expect Illinois high schoolers Lewis Jackson and Deandre Liggins to be among the top 75 or so players in that listing.

Another ranking came out this morning, this from Rob Harrington of Prep Stars and USA Today. Harrington's ranking lists his top 50 in the class of 2007. Of note are the following:

Eric Gordon (#4), Derrick Rose (#5), E'Twaun Moore (#19), Alex Legion (#27), Alex Tyus (#35), Trevor Mbakwe (#39), Tyrel Reed (#40), and Mac Koshwal (#47).

In other news, Gene Pingatore was interviewed by Shay Wildeboor of regarding Evan Turner. How Wildeboor got Pingatore on the telephone is a mystery, as "Ping" is notorious for not returning phone calls, and has a secretary screen all his incoming calls. But I digress. According to Pingatore, Florida has entered the recruiting picture for Turner, along with Illinois, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Virginia.

The Schmidt brothers have provided an evaluation of top Illinois class of 2008 players from the Spiece tournament. According to several sources, Matthew Humphrey of Hales Franciscan absolutely dominated several games. Lewis Jackson continues to impress. I like Jackson as a sparkplug type off the bench at the high major level. Is he big enough and good enough to start for a top 10, top 15 type of program?

An interesting article on the recruitment of Darrell Arthur, who yesterday committed to Kansas. Thought the quote from Dave Telep was particularly telling.

Also, Kansas has agreed to play DePaul in Chicago in the 2006-2007 season, although the formal contract has yet to be signed. Will be an opportunity for Sherron Collins to play in his hometown, and likely a nice way for Self to continue to build on his close ties within the Illinois high school and AAU ranks.

Despite his buddy Darrell Arthur's decision, Scotty Reynolds claims that LSU is still in the mix to be his college destination. However, one has to reasonably assume that LSU's chances just took a major hit. That leaves Villanova, Wake Forest and Michigan as the likely top competitors to Illinois Coach Bruce Weber. Will Reynolds visit Illinois? Does he need to? We shall see.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


News and Notes

The Schmidt brothers have done a nice job scouting several Illinois high school prospects from the Spiece 17-U tournament. Seems unanimous that Evan Turner has solidified his status as the #2 class of 2007 player in the state.

In an interview with Peegs, Turner acknowledges that Indiana offered him last week, and that he will be making an unofficial visit to Wake Forest later in the month. There is some speculation that Turner may really like Wisconsin, in no small part b/c of the Badgers' early and consistent recruiting of him. Iowa and Wisconsin were the 2 Big Ten schools on Turner the earliest, and both are likely to factor into his decisionmaking.

Now that Sidney Lowe has been hired at NC State, it appears Jamelle McMillan will look hard at the Wolfpack again. Virginia and Georgia Tech are two other schools making a push in McMillan's recruitment. He's a pure point guard who may be the best defender at his position in the class of 2007. The part of McMillan's game that needs the most work is his outside shot. According to this interview, McMillan prefers to play in the ACC or Big East. Expect McMillan to show up in's new top 150 rankings tomorrow.

Justin Young of states in a message board post today that Purdue and Indiana look to be in strong shape with E'Twaun Moore. His recruitment will be interesting as ACC and Big East schools begin taking a longer look. Hard to imagine Tennessee being a real fit with so many wings already on hand and Cordell Passley committed in the class of 2008.

Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks reeled in prized power forward recruit Darrell Arthur. Arthur will be able to provide scoring punch in the Jayhawks frontcourt next season. However, I'm of the belief that Kansas has enough talent, they didn't necessarily need another guy to come in looking for playing time. Could be some chemistry issued with Kaun, Giles, Jackson and Arthur all splitting time next to Julian Wright in the frontcourt.

In other Kansas news, Sherron Collins has been listed by Dick Vitale as one of his 6 diaper dandies to watch. It's a pretty impressive group, although I think there will be a couple other guys that make more of an impact at UNC next year than Brandan Wright.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Some Monday Nuggets

Demetri McCamey has recently received an offer from Indiana. His list today shows Wake Forest, DePaul, Miami, Virginia and Clemson. McCamey and his St. Joe's teammate, Evan Turner, plan to make an unofficial visit to Wake Forest in May.


Over the weekend, the Illinois Warriors played in the Sabes Foundation Invitational in Minneapolis. Warrior F Demond Watt of TF North made the first team all-tournament team. Young D'Mitri Riggs of Team Illinois was on the second team. No mention of Bill Cole.

Tommy Amaker and the Michigan Wolverines add a late signee, F Ekpe Udoh from Oklahoma. Udoh is a long, lean forward in the mold of Luol Deng.

Add Georgia Tech to the list of schools pursuing E'Twaun Moore. As Moore solidifies his status as a national top 50 player, expect more schools to get involved, not less.

Illinois is still a player in the Scottie Reynolds recruitment. However, Reynolds is not planning to visit Illinois, and cancelled his visit that was scheduled a couple weeks ago. Reynolds is also considering Villanova, which he's visiting in the next week, Wake Forest, LSU, Michigan and Oklahoma. plans to come out with its updated Class of 2007 rankings later this week. Expect to see all of the Illini's 2007 commitments to fall in the rankings. Eric Gordon will likely remain in the top 10, but it's rumored that he has been passed up by some players in the class. Mike Tisdale has not shown the weight gain that scouts were hoping for, and some say he's been less impressive than younger teammate John Brandenburg, class of 2008 forward from St. Louis DeSmet. Bill Cole has not played much AAU ball this year, and is splitting action in the Illinois Warriors' frontcourt with Demond Watt, Manuel Cass and Crane forward Brandon McGee. Cole had a nice showing at the Sabes Invitational over the weekend, according to this report from the Minnesota Rivals site. In particular, his outside shot drew raves, while he was noted for being very thin.

Rumblings from the Indiana message boards are that Eric Gordon may still be open to schools besides Illinois. While Gordon has publicly denied this, he will be playing in an AAU tournament next weekend in Bloomington, IN. Expect Indiana fans to be at his games wearing red, looking to influence him to join his dad's ex-coach, assistant Jeff Meyer, at IU.

Interesting news coming out of Indiana re: Kelvin Sampson's new contract. Apparently, IU can fire Sampson and face no financial penalty should his recruiting violations at Oklahoma be more serious than originally thought.

Brian Stinnette provides an update on AAU play from over the past weekend. Check out the blurbs on DJ Richardson and Angel Garcia. You can expect Garcia to be listed when comes out with its initial Class of 2008 rankings.

The Schmidt Brothers from Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye also have a feature on Garcia today.


Somehow Accomplished the Double!

Well, looks like I've been banned from posting on a second Illinois-related fan website as of today. This morning on the O&B News message board (, I tried to link some articles from the Minnesota AAU tournament where the Illinois Warrirors played over the weekend. Found out that "this user has been blacklisted from this site's forums", which was pretty interesting. Not sure what got Rivals upset enough to throw the ban on me, perhaps it was the "Guenther must have learned nothing from the Ron Turner contract" post.

The Illiniboard ban was expected as that site is comprised of complete homers who live in a dream world where Illinois and its coaching staff can do no wrong. The O&B News has always been a better site for more open dialogue, with opposing viewpoints debated intelligently. Well, looks like the Kool-Aid crowd has gotten its way, and the O&B News site has pretty much become a PR mouthpiece for the Illinois basketball staff. People definitely are willing to pay $10/month to hear what they want to hear.

Regardless, this blog will be an opportunity to post interviews, player reviews and a detailed analysis of recruiting this offseason. There will be banter back and forth from the Kool-Aid crowd and the realists. The AAU circuit has gotten off to a great start, and several Illinois players have seen their stock climb. Let's start some discussion...

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Impressive Win Tonight

1) Dee Brown looked like Allen Iverson, taking shots all over the court and making them. Very solid all-around play.

2) Thought Rich McBride and Jamar Smith contributed some really nice things, a huge combined scoring night for the backcourt. Especially liked some of Smith's nifty dishes on the move.

3) Shaun Pruitt's dunk-and-one is my favorite play of the year so far. Loved seeing the aggressiveness.

4) Big win in a hostile environment should lead the Illini to a 14-0 non-conference schedule. This was the game that I most thought they could lose heading into the season, so to win this one going away with the game Thursday night and the travel is very impressive.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


The Gift that Keeps on Giving

9 games into the season,

• Bill Self’s recruits account for 70.7% of the 2005-2006 Illini’s scoring
• Bill Self’s recruits account for 60.8% of the 2005-2006 Illini’s rebounding
• Bill Self’s recruits account for 73.4% of the 2005-2006 Illini’s assists
• Bill Self’s recruits account for 65.5% of the 2005-2006 minutes played

Friday, December 09, 2005


Questions for the board?

1) Are the Illini in fact very good and worthy of a Top 10 ranking, or have they played a relatively easy schedule which has made them look better than they really are?

2) Will Jamar Smith keep this up? Will defenses start keying on him and be able to limit his open looks?

3) How many 2006 NCAA Tournament teams do you believe Illinois has played so far? Which ones are they?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Some Good Hoops Last Night......

Especially if you enjoy watching Kansas lose.....which I do. Kansas has fallen to the NCAA, I don't count Division II wins....for the first time in forever. Saturday against Cal becomes almost must win if they want any chance at an NCAA bid. Even if the split Cal and Kentucky, that would be 5 OOC losses.....and I see no indication that they are going to pile up an impressive conference record.....especially the way Bucknell gets his kids ready to play on the road. Should he lose both Cal and Kentucky......he may struggle to get that NIT bid.

Depending on how you look at it, it was either a disgraceful day for the Big 10, or more evidence that the MVC (and other mid-majors) plays pretty good basketball. While I would like to chuckle at Iowa and Indiana (for losing to Northern Iowa and Indiana St. respectively), I have to remember that we were a basket at the buzzer from losing to Wichita St. So, I will choose to view things positively, and say that Wichita St. win was a good one......I suppose that Davis and Alford would think so anyway.

Michigan St. has talent...but they are not as good as hyped at the beginning of the season. They don't want to rebound and play D. How do you shoot near 80% for the 2nd half and still allow the other team to hang around. When pressured at the end of games....they turn the ball over.

A few things that I saw last night.....

1) Chet Stachitis is another example of why shooters are premium at the college level. You can have all the athletes you want (Kansas/Arizona), but if you don't have a couple of kids that can are doomed. Without Salim Stoudamire, Arizona has nobody to shoot the ball...big problem for them. Kansas has Chalmers and Downs....but they haven't made enough shots or gotten enough minutes to make a difference. Until that happens, look for them to coninue to struggle. Contrary to my counterpart here, I will take the kid with the basketball skills over the pure athlete anytime. Find a combination of the 2, and you are in great shape.

2) Bill Self's team has no identity. Are they a defensive Do they pound it inside to their big men...not really. Do they have a great shooting team....hardly. If Bill doesn't get them to play defense soon, this season will be over before it gets started. On a positive note, Kansas' loss to Arkansas looks a little Arkansas was able to sneak by an 0-6 Texas St. team on their home court.

3) Marco Killingsworth......7 turnovers for the 2nd game in a row. Do you think we might double him hard when we play them? Or will we apply the duke defense....and stop all the other players? Only Bruce knows.

4) As bad as it is for the Big 10, I find it hard to not root against Alford.....he's just very easy to dislike. Iowa can't score any points.

5) Billy Donovan may actually have a good team this year. Without Roberson and Walsh around to throw up shots, they may actually play like a team this year.

6) Wichita St. (7-1), Rutgers, UNC and Xavier look like pretty good wins right now. Kyle wilson with 24 points last night.

7) Jared Dudley (BC) is one of the most underrated players in the country. Barely recruited, he plays inside/out and rebounds like a man possessed. Randle needs to play like him on a consistent basis without the fouls.

8) I believe recruiting is going very well right now......will be interesting to see when more news comes out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Couple quick comments

1) Jamar Smith, wow. Big-time performance last night saved the day for the Illini. Great move by Weber to hide Smith's defensive "weakness" by having him guard the point guard. Allows Smith to utilize his length to cause disruption, also allows Dee to rest a bit on defense.

2) 2nd half was about the best the team has played all season. Nice to see Randle and Warren Carter's contributions. Would love to see Weber use this opportunity to cut down to a shorter guard/wing rotation.

3) Look for Mario Chalmers to potentially get the start tonight for Kansas over Jeff Hawkins. Guard is that team's weakness and also the strength for St. Joe's, so could be an interesting matchup.

4) Michigan State-BC should be a good one, would be great to see the Spartans step up and win one for the Big Ten.


So, How Good Has Jamar Played........?

Jamar Smith has played nothing like a freshman. But, 3 months ago, many of the "gurus" would have told you that Jamar wasn't good enough to be included in their list of the Top 100 players in the class of 2005. Now, I'm not smart enough to be a "guru", but I do understand numbers.....and this is what I see when I review the statistics for the 2005 RSCI----Guards only.

Player Team G MPG. PPG. APG. FG% 3's 3's %
M. Chalmers Kansas 6 19.2 7.2 3.2 .342 5 .278
G. Paulus Duke 7 28.3 6.1 4.1 .419 7 .538
D. Green UNC 5 16.4 8.4 1.4 .406 4 .286
B Eaton OK St. 8 24.8 9.1 3.4 .472 5 .294
E. Devendorf Syr. 8 20.5 9.0 1.9 .386 12 .480
L. Clinch GT 5 21.2 7.4 1.4 .333 3 .188
J. Gordon MSU 7 33.4 13.4 2.4 .435 8 .421
M. Ginyard UNC 5 25. 4 9.6 1.6 .452 6 .353
M. Williams Zona 5 16.6 5 .2 1.6 .355 0 .000
B. Frasor UNC 5 26.4 7.6 3.8 .452 6 .353
JP Prince Zona 5 13.4 1.6 2.4 .267 0 .000
D. James Marq. 7 32.0 15.4 6.7 .407 12 .273
M. Mercer Georgia 5 25.4 13.0 2.4 .450 8 .381
C. Doug.-Rob. Memphis 6 23.3 10.5 1.5 .50 2 .25
T. Williams Louisville 3 22.0 8.0 1.0 .346 7 .462
A. McGee Louisville 3 21.0 5.0 1 .7 .353 1 .167
D. Downey Cincy 5 26.0 11.8 2.2 .452 3 .273
Alonzo Gee Bama 5 15.2 5.8 1.0 .444 1 .167
J. Adams UNLV 5 22.0 7.4 2.4 .250 6 .250
A. Andersen Memphis 7 29.1 9.0 3.4 .477 13 .520
A Abrams Texas 8 17.6 4.6 2.0 .344 7 .368
J. Pargo Zags 6 28.2 5.8 4.0 .333 2 .167
K. Rivers Clemson 6 24.5 8.7 2.3 .435 10 .37
T. Martin Tex. Tech 8 22.5 8.5 1.6 .444 9 .429
D. Clemente Miami 8 28.0 9.0 2.8 .368 13 .325
D. Collison UCLA 7 19.6 4.4 2.1 .423 4 .364

J. Smith Illinois 8 18.4 10.1 1.8 .551 21 .553

Here's what I see.......

Jamar is 6th in PPG..........but 1st in PPG per 40 minutes of play.....equal out the playing time and Jamar is scoring better than every guard that was in the RSCI 100.

With 1.8 assists, he is right in the mix with everyone else....even moreso if you equal out the minutes. Some of the PG's (James, Paulus, and Pargo) are above 4.0 assists per game.

Jamar is 2nd in FG %(behind Jerel McNeal).

Jamar is 1st in 3 pointers made with 21 (2nd best is 13) and 3rd in attempts. But, most impressively, even with the high number of attempts, Jamar is far and away 1stin 3 pt FG % (Matthews has a better % but only 7 attempts).

I didn't include rebounds with guards...ran out of room....but Jamont Gordon at 6.1 RPG and KC Rivers at 5.8 were the best.......Jamar came in at 1.4 RPG.

I also didn't include steals as most of them were bunched together....Byron Eaton led with 2.6 per game. Jamar is at .5 steals per game.

I'm no guru, and I know it is early, but a case could be made for Jamar being as impressive as any freshman guard in the country. Not bad for a kid not ranked in the RSCI 100.

As a side note, Jamar is tied for 6th in the country (all players) in 3 pointers made and in the top 10 in 3 point %.

Pretty damn good!

Monday, December 05, 2005


Random Thoughts.....

1) Xavier was a tougher game for Illinois than UNC because.....they had alot of experienced players and they played much better defense than UNC. They did a great job, for most of the game, of switching men on the perimeter and making it very tough for Illinois' guards to get good looks. Lost Dee a few times in the 2nd half...but a good defensive team.

2) We need a week of practice badly. Some of the kids really need to understand the motion offense motion means you have to move. The 24 second violation in the 2nd half was the worst possession of the season.

3) I am as big a Weber fan as there is....and he knows alot more about basketball than I do....but Jamar Smith needs to play more. I know this is becoming a constant theme with me.....but the offense is just much better when he is in the game. He is our best shooter.....he gets the ball down low....and his defense is not as bad as advertised. The offense stalls when Chester and Dee are in the game together....and that is all I will say about it.

4) Our guards....and I include all 4 of them in this discusion....have got to do a better job of driving the ball into the lane....and either shoot the pull up jumper or create an opportunity for a teammate. Right now, we stand around and play catch on the perimeter way, way too much.

5) How good we become as a team is largely dependent on how much Dee improves as a PG. While all of the guys can get better, and that will help, Dee is the most important player on this team. Right now he is learning...if he didn't already much Deron did for the team last year. If Dee can do a better job of creating for teammates in the lane, this team can be tough by March. Chester is only a freshman and isn't ready.....we cannot count on him too much this year. It is Dee or bust.

6) Marcus Arnold is starting to get more comfortable on the court. He was very active on Saturday. Warren Carter is almost out of the rotation IMO.

7) I'm sure you will love this.....but I would be happy with 2 out of 3 this week. I think we lose on Thursday or Saturday. Not sure which.....but we just aren't good enough to keep winning without a loss....we are due. Hope I'm wrong.

8) IMO...we need to recruit a scoring PG or combo guard in the class of 2006. We need somebody that can create offense off the dribble...both for himself and for others. Maybe Chet and Meachem can do it....but I haven't seen enough evidence that would support that. Maybe a JUCO PG would be a good idea.....he would be a SR. when Gordon and friends are freshmen.

9) I'll say it again....there are no teams out there without flaws. This year it is wide open for a team to get hot later in the year. Duke is good....but not nearly as dominating as they have been in past years. They are going to play alot of close games this year because they don't have alot of scoring punch outside of Redick.......tough game for them Saturday vs. Texas.

10) A pat on the back for myself.....I told you UNC was going to win Saturday. Without the big kid, Kentucky is going to have some problems this year.

11) Michigan St. didn't lose as much as Illinois....but they are clearly missing Andersen, Torbert and Hill. People really underestimated how important those 3 kids were to that team.

12) Bruce.......that's JAMAR SMITH! Play him!

13) This team has done well to be 7-0.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Friday's Follies.......

With an interesting week of hoops behind us, and a big weekend of hoops ahead of us, I give you Friday's Follies.......

1) I was tempted to start with Thursday night's game in Lawrence.....but decided that I should talk about somebody much more important to the Illini faithful...and that was the performance of Deron Williams last night against the about 20 pts., 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in 37 minutes. I have now seen 3-4 games of his this year.....there is no doubt...kid has a chance to be a star. Best player on the Jazz right now....18 games into his rookie year. Did everything he needed to do last night to get the win...big play after big play down the stretch....only to have a horrible call allow the Lakers to keep playing. No matter to me....Deron Williams was the player of the game.

2) Normally, I would be concerned about the Xavier game...coming off of big game against UNC on the road. I just think playing in the UC will have the kids letdown tomorrow. I expect a solid win against a pretty good Xavier team that will be sky high for the game. Bruce...Jamar needs more minutes.

3) How good was the win on tuesday night??? It will look much better after UNC goes into Lexington tomorrow and beats Kentucky on their home court. If UNC's guards can handle Rondo's pressure, their bigs will get them the win. Kentucky very weak down low.

4) The pressure is getting to Bill Self.....I think hair is falling out of his toup and he has a constant pained expression on his face...I thought he cut the jerky out of his diet? Maybe not. He let one player beat him last night.....a player that Augie treated like a stepchild 7-8 months ago. Just take away one player....heck, just limit him to 25 pts and you win going away. Oh well...he is still a great recruiter.

5) Just wondering.....when did Arkansas and Nevada become big time?? Times have changed in Lawrence when their fans are justifying losses to these programs......Nevada on their home court....interesting. I'm pretty sure when we played these teams over the last couple of seasons....that kind of talk wasn't coming from Lawrence. I wonder how that Arkansas loss will look if Quinny beats them tonight?

6) Kaun and Rush look good for Kansas.....we go to the Final 4 with Rush. How can you not play Downs more minutes when he is one of the only guys on the team can score? And, more strangely, how can you take him out with 6 seconds left when you need a basket? I actually feel bad for Julian Wright.....3 minutes. Kid picked the wrong school....and, more importantly, the wrong coach to develop him.

7) Looking for some entertainment late Saturday afternoon....tune into Oklahoma and Villanova....should be a fun game to watch.

8) Arkansas Little Rock plays Michigan St. tomorrow.....and then gets us on Monday. That should be a good game to get some guys some minutes.

9) Eric Gordon chose us over Duke this week....just in case any of you forgot!

10) Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Thoughts on Wednesday's Games

1) Really enjoyed the Indiana-Duke game. Ton of energy in Bloomington and Marco Killingsworth is an absolute stud. Dicky V was in rare form (love that guy!), even giving major props to the Hoosiers while his Dukies were on the ropes. Took some clutch play by JJ Redick for the #1 team to come out with a victory. I think both of these teams could be in the top 10 at the end of the season. Indiana when DJ White comes back and Ratliff is fully healthy will be scary. I agree with Vitale that Indiana could make a run at the Big Ten title.

Duke could go undefeated. I really think they are that good. People that say they're overrated are just blind by emotion, IMO. While not the most athletic team, they are one of the best coached teams. They have a top 5 interior player nationally in Shelden Williams, and a top 5 perimeter player nationally in JJ Redick. Redick has really diversified his game and is just a load at this point in his career. People may hate Duke, but this is a really, really good team IMO. McRoberts barely played but threw down some monster dunks, Paulus looked like a veteran with some amazing passes, and Melchionni hit some shots. Remember that Duke was playing without a big time scorer in DeMarcus Nelson.

On a side note, I hope Chester Frazier can be the Illini's answer to Sean Dockery one day. That's Frazier's upside IMO, a defensive stalwart who will make the occasional offensive contribution.

2) Iowa got another win over a ranked team. Say what you want about NC State, but a win over a ranked team is a win over a ranked team. Iowa will be very much in the thick of the Big Ten race.

3) Is Michigan State planning to play defense this year? Against an inexperienced Georgia Tech team that got blown out by UIC, the Spartans ave up 86 points in East Lansing. Unless Izzo's squad starts to play better defense, I may have to readjust my expectations for this team.

4) Maryland predictably beat Minnesota handily and UVa beat up on Northwestern. Scoring 72 points against Bill Carmody's slowdown game is pretty good for the Cavaliers. Dave Leitao doesn't have much to work with this season, but the recruits will be coming, just give that guy time.

5) SIU dropped to 2-3 after a 14 point loss to SLU. Salukis looking like their rein as MVC leaders could come to an end? Former Illini recruit Lisch out of Belleville with 10 points for the Billikens.

6) Nebraska beat Marquette 84-74. I know nothing about Nebraska, other than they have a kid named Marcus Walker out of Kansas City (a one-time Illinois recruit) starting at point guard. He had 5 points and 6 assists last night. Still, Marquette needs to win games like that. Dominic James did have 22 points for the Warriors. Marquette's starting 3 freshmen guards in James, Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews. James is going to be a very, very good player there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


The Good....The Bad....and Purdue

Illinois went to UNC and came out with a a game that they didn't play particularly well....that is really a good thing. Alot of hoops last are:

The Good

You have to start with Brian Randle......he is a one of those guys that can make plays where you just say...Wow! It looked like he was sitting up on that rim when he swatted that shot. If he can continue to improve his shot, and he has, essentially, 3 full seasons left, he is an NBA player. If he eliminates the fouls, and plays like he has the last 2 games, watch out. If he plays30-35 minutes last night.....that game isn't close.

Another quiet, rock solid 13pt and 13 reb game for Augie. He got every rebound that mattered in the 2nd half. We need to find a way to get him more shots....and I would like to see him attack the basket better...dunk it or get fouled....but a nice night for him.

Rich McBride seems to be the glue. Makes some big shots.....including some pull up jumpers. Finds the open man and plays very solid defense. If he and Randle continue this type of play, Illinois will be very good by the end of the year.

Jamar Smith can flat out shoot the ball. In that environment, he knocked down some big 3's and continues to show that confidence. Also, his on the ball defense isn't that bad. Just needs to rotate better and give a little better help. According to Coach Price, he suffered from cramps last night...otherwise I think we would have seen more of him in the 2nd half. Before he is done at Illinois, he is going to be a big-time scorer.

It wasn't a stellar night....but when they needed it Dee got it done at the line.

UNC has a very good group of freshmen. Ginyard is much better than is Danny Green. I think Hansbrough and McRoberts (Duke) are going to have some wars before they head to the NBA. Frasor was solid....but not special....he is out of place at PG. He can't defend a quick PG...Dee went by him several times....and he is too slow to get his own shot off. But, he is a smart player and can play a role.....but Lawson and Ellington will pass him by quickly. I'll take Jamar over him any day of the week.

Justin Gray can really shoot the ball....when you let him.....I will further comment on that later.

Michigan played well last night......they have some talent....can Amaker coach it up?

The Bad

Dick Vitale sucks.

Dee needs to let the game come to way he should be taking 19 shots in a game like that...especially when other guys are shooting the ball well. He needs to distribute and create....knock down open shots. He forced too much last night.

I'm in the minority here....but the 3 guard lineup of Dee, Rich, and Chester needs to go away. Chester needs to give Dee some rest....but when they go with 3 guards, and Dee is on the court, the third guard has got to be Jamar. Last night, in the last 8 minutes, Dee is running the point and Chester is playing wing....and UNC didn't have to worry about him. When Jamar left the game...we were up 14....UNC went on an immediate 12-0 run...and we had no answers on the offensive end. Chester plays good defense....and he is a capable backup PG right now...but more of his minutes need to go to Smith. We need to get Rich and Jamar more open looks.

Jamar, I have to post the bad with the good. Too good of a shooter to miss the number of FT's that you have this year....concentrate.

Warren Carter looks lost out on the court...I just don't understand it.

Wisconsin coaching staff....what were you doing? Justin Gray has one major problem.....he is a PG that is a below average ball handler. Why didn't you ever pressure the kid with the ball...he is a turnover waiting to happen. Instead, you let him walk the ball down the court and become a jumpshooter.....which he does very well. Baffling to me.

Penn St. is, well, Penn St.


What can you say.....that was one of the most miserable performances that I have ever seen. IHN, you said Purdue losing to Xavier was a bad loss for the Big 10.....I disagree. Purdue is a bad loss for ANY team that plays them. They stink. Landri is the only kid off of the that team that I would take...maybe spates. The rest are horrible. Did any of you play ball at IMPE with the football players?? The OL and DL.........that is what Nate Minnoy looks like out there. He needs to lose 50 pounds in order to be any good.


Post-game UNC Thoughts

Big win for the Illini last night, and I agree with those that say a win at UNC is a win at UNC, no matter how pretty it was. I liked how certain guys really stepped up, and here are my thoughts:

1) Brian Randle, wow. If he hits threes like last night, watch out. Now he just needs to stop holding people on defense. 4-5 from the field, 2-2 from downtown, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 20 minutes. If he plays 25-30 minutes last night, I think the Illini would have won in a rout. Even had Dickie V gushing over him, I hope his family taped the telecast.

2) Rich McBride has become an assist machine. I'm shocked to see him leading the team in assists so far. Rich has become much closer to the player we all expected coming out of high school. Was great to see him drive into the lane, hit a pull-up and get fouled. 12 points, 5 assists and solid defense in 33 minutes. If we get that consistent production from Rich all year, this team will be better than I expected.

3) Augie is still putting up numbers while making it look like he's not trying that hard. He's become one of those guys that you feel like could just dominate if he totally set his mind to it. 13 points and 13 boards, 4-6 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line in 38 minutes (great job staying out of foul trouble). Would love to see him get more than 6 field goal attempts (12-14 would be ideal). 3 assists and 3 steals is also very impressive.

4) Dee is struggling some and taking shots out of the offense that he's never done before. He's a great open-court player but just not a great half-court player, even at this stage of his career. He knows he needs to score for the team to win, and hopefully his shooting percentage will increase over the course of the season. Still, could not have been more clutch with his rebound off Jamar Smith's free throw miss and then stepping up and hitting two big foul shots to clinch it. On the season, Dee's shooting 37% overall, 28% from three point land, 63% from the line and has 24 turnovers to 23 assists. Those numbers need to get better, and will, but right now I could see a comparison between Dee's senior season when he came back and Frank Williams' final season when he came back.

5) Shaun Pruitt had his moments, hitting 2-2 from the field and contributing 2 rebounds in 18 minutes. Was surprised that he didn't play more, though he did pick up 3 fouls.

6) Bench had its moments, led by Jamar Smith. What a quick release he has. Not sure he's gone t-shirt-less before, but he is really skinny. Surprised he only played 14 minutes, although he did have two turnovers to go with his 9 points. I suppose his defense is continuing to lead to bench time, but IMO I'd like to see Jamar get a lot more minutes than Frazier. Marcus Arnold had a nice game, especially in the first half. 4 points, 2 boards and 1 steal in 15 minutes. Going with the Patrick Ewing look with the knee pad, apparently. Carter's gotta be in the doghouse, 8 minutes of PT. Got 3 rebounds and a steal but credited with 2 turnovers. IMO, lack of strength is a big contributor to Carter's and Smith's turnovers. Chester Frazier? If you can't say anything at 23.1% from the field and 11% from 3-point land on the season. I hope there were some senior point guards watching the game last night that can see an instant starting job available next season.

Overall, not the prettiest game but a very intense atmosphere that was a good early season test. I think if this game was against a more veteran ACC team on the road (Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, BC, etc.), Illinois would have lost. But the Illini got a break by the schedulers in looking for a rematch of the championship game, and they walk out of Chapel Hill with a win.

Xavier's 22 point win over Purdue just looked a lot less impressive after last night. What is that odor coming from West Lafayette? Keady stayed about 3-4 years too long and his poor recruiting has killed that program. Painter's got playing time to sell but his freshmen, with the exception of Spates, don't look like they've got the potential to be an upper level Big Ten team by the time they get to be juniors and seniors.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Pre-Game UNC Thoughts

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time today to do a detailed preview, so I'll make it brief.

Guards: Big edge to Illinois. UNC starts two freshmen, Illinois starts a senior and a junior including a consensus All-American.

Forwards: Big edge to UNC. Terry and Noel are athletic, strong and have more experience (at least Noel does) than both Pruitt and Randle.

Center: Big-time senior against top-level freshman. I know Illini fans could argue that Pruitt is the center, but I assume Augie will be guarding Hansbrough a bunch tonight. This could be the key matchup of the game. If one or the other gets in foul trouble, that particular team will be in big trouble.

Bench: Advantage to the Illini. Warren Carter and Jamar Smith are very good scorers off the bench, Arnold/Frazier serviceable especially defensively for a few minutes a game. UNC has a nice freshman swingman in Danny Green but not much else on the bench. Foul trouble could really hurt North Carolina. Point guard Quentin Thomas has been a disappointment so far.

Coaching: Advantage to North Carolina. I'll take the guy with the national championship and multiple Final Fours.

Illinois will try to speed up the game and play pressure defense to harass UNC into turnovers. Against light competition, the Tar Heels have turned it over too much this season (18 turnovers/game). Look for that number to be even higher than 18 tonight, which would be to the Illini's favor.

UNC will look to get Augustine in foul trouble and may play some zone to slow the Illini's offense down. Against North Carolina in the 2005 championship game, a game in which Roy Williams utilized a lot of zone defense, the Illini shot 40 threes. If I'm Roy Williams, I challenge guys like Brian Randle and Chester Frazier to shoot from the outside in a hostile environment.

If you read most of the previews for this game, you get the impression that Roy Williams is looking to run and gun. I don't think that's a smart strategy against this Illinois team which is built around pressure defense. Perhaps some gamesmanship from Williams in advance of a big game?

I have no idea how North Carolina is favored by Vegas, other than being at home and through name recognition. Illinois is the veteran team with two big-time seniors and I expect the Illini to get a nice win tonight, somewhere around 75-67 as a final score.

Monday, November 28, 2005



They started out as whispers.....Bruce Weber can coach...but he can't recruit. Wait until Self's kids leave....the Illinois program will be in trouble. With each major miss, as judged by the media, the whispers got louder. Doyel, Katz......even our own Illinois Hoops Nut....questioned whether Weber was the right man for the job. Ignore the back to back Big 10 Championships! Ignore the Final 4 appearance.....the guy can't recruit.....according to the gurus. Livingston, Wright, Scheyer, and Collins......didn't get one. Livingston was NBA bound his whole Sr. year....but ignore that. Scheyer was always going to Duke. Illinois was in perfect position for Collins and Wright.....recruited them hard all the way.....until Kansas opened up their wal....I mean came in and got them. Heck, Self is so good, Wright didn't even need to visit.

Everyone ignored Pruitt.....Michigan St. isn't Duke or Kansas. They ignored Carlwell....even though he is rated higher than Scheyer by most everyone....he didn't count. They watched Jamar Smith put up huge numbers.....but Bossi and Telep don't like him.....they offered too early. After watching Kansas and Arizona play last week, both of those coaches wish they had a kid that can shoot like Jamar....but no matter.

Nobody can ignore ERIC GORDON!! And he is coming to Illinois in 2007. Everybody's #1 ranked SG. Rated in the Top 10 in the class of 2007 by every recruiting service that matters. Recruited by Coach K himself.......they can't ignore GORDON! And Gordon couldn't ignore Illinois......couldn't ignore that he loved all of their coaches.....loved the fans....and loved what Weber and staff did for Deron Williams and Luther Head.....finally a kid that is paying attention.

Gordon has plans too.....he plans on bringing some friends with him to Champaign. My guess is he has already sent a message to Derrick Rose....and there will be others. Bruce Weber's signature recruit has caught the attention of the media....Doyel has written about him today. So has Fox....Telep....Rivals....etc. Weber has answered his least for now.

My only question........IHN where are you??

Sunday, November 27, 2005


A Holiday Weekend of Hoops...

After having watched some games this weekend, some random thoughts:

7 of the 9 guys in Illinois' rotation have played zero to moderate minutes....with McBride being the moderate....but NONE of the 7 have played when the games are on the line. So, to think there won't be bumps in the road is silly. For Dee to have played as poorly as he did, and for Illinois to still have pulled out that Wichita St. game, fans should have been happy.......but you know Illinois fans.

Weber is going to have to get past Jamar Smith's defensive lapses.......he needs to play more. He is one of the only scorers on the team....he spreads out the defense and makes it easier for Augie and Pruitt....and he knows how to feed the post. What he brings to the offense makes up for what they lose with his defense......he needs at least 20 minutes a game. Warren Carter could be put in this category as well.

Pruitt is ALOT better than anyone expected IMO.

Calvin Brock isn't ready to play at this level yet. Haven't decided on Arnold yet.

Chester will allow Dee to get some rest....but the offense is best when Dee, Rich and Jamar are on the court together.

Brian Randle played the best game of his career on Saturday.....he needs to play with that aggressiveness every game.

Dee is so much better when he plays in control....less turnovers, more assists and more points....just let the game come to you Dee...stop forcing.

Deron Williams id a freakin stud.....ate up Baron Davis on Saturday night.

Calipari has a chance for a really good team for the first time in a while.....all of his top 8 are freshmen or out in March...or next year.

Duke is good....but not super athletic.....they won't want to play Memphis again in March. Athletic teams should give them trouble. Paulus can really pass the ball.....Dockery still can't shoot. Redick struggles if you can put someone long and quick on him...Carney from Memphis....or maybe Randle from Illinois?

We should have recruited Dominique James (Marquette) harder.....he could have really helped us this year and next.....Jerel McNeal....not so much.

Gonzaga has a very good team this year.....Morrison and Batista could play for anyone.

Arizona has alot of talent.....but are poorly coached.

Wichita St. will look like a quality win at the end of the year.

Notre Dame is going to be terrible this year....the slowest backcourt in the country.

Luther Head is a player......steal of the draft getting him where Houston did.

The Big Ten is going to be strong this bad losses yet. The last few years....we would already have 2-3 bad losses.

I'm thinking 8-9 losses for Illinois this year.......sounds right to me. Patience is a virtue.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Thoughts from Tuesday night

1) Illini looked very good against Texas Southern. Dee and Augie again just looked on a totally different level than anybody else on the floor. Jamar continued to look good, although I was shocked he missed as many free throws as he did. I was most impressed with Jamar's willingness to take the ball to the basket and his distribution of the rock on the fast break. Marcus Arnold stepped up and showed a nice ten-foot jumper, his game seems to be built around being in the right place at the right time and sticking the short jumper. I still think he's going to struggle against the taller, more athletic teams. Shaun Pruitt looked very good again, he uses his body well and when he turns and does a drop step in the post, it's almost an automatic two points. Randle played a bit better but missed all of his shots outside of 2 feet. McBride stuck some threes and his form looked good, but didn't do anything inside the three point line. Frazier hustled and looked like he got the message on not taking bad outside shots against a zone. Carter I thought played better and is impressive offensively. Overall, team looked like it was well-prepared to play against a zone defense.

2) Thought the Bucknell 74, Syracuse 69 score was very interesting. Looks like the Bison might be a pretty good team again this year.

3) The Jeremy Pargo watch continues, he played 44 minutes in a huge win over Michigan State, scoring 7 points and adding 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Gonzaga looks like they are for real this year, Adam Morrison with a huge 43 points and 7 boards. Hard to believe Michigan State already has two losses. For those that think Paul Davis stinks, how do you feel about 26 points (including 12-12 from the line), 13 rebounds and 3 steals in 53 minutes?

4) I thought Arizona looked much better against UCONN than they did against Kansas. Ivan Radenovic had a huge game with 20 points and 9 rebounds. The Wildcats have some players inside with Radenovic and Kirk Walters, the pieces seem to be in place for Lute Olson this year even though they've started out kind of rough. Loved seeing Olson get fired up at Jim Calhoun last night.

5) Texas beat Iowa in the final of the Guardians Classic. No surprise, when the coaching is about even, that talent will win out. Texas is a very, very talented team. Brunner was held to 6 points on 2-11 from the field. Taking him out of the game is the key to beating the Hawkeyes this season. 18 points and 10 boards for LaMarcus Aldridge.

6) Oregon beat a 3-1 Pacific team 84-62. Balanced scoring for the Ducks with 17 for Malik Hairston, 16 for Bryce Taylor, 14 points and 10 rebounds for Marty Leunen, and 14 points/6 boards for Cincinnati transfer Ivan Johnson.

7) Wyoming beat Northern Colorado with Brandon Ewing scoring 11 points and adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists in 34 minutes.

8) North Carolina crushed Cleveland State 112-55. The Tar Heels were led by Tyler Hansbrough's 18 points (and 8 rebounds), Reyshawn Terry (16 points/8 boards), David Noel (13 points/7 rebounds) and Marcus Ginyard (12 points). Bobby Frasor started at point guard and had 8 points on 3/4 shooting from the field.

9) Wichita State destroyed Texas Pan American, 97-66. The Shockers were led by sophomore guard Sean Ogirri's 22 points in 22 minutes.

10) Rutgers beat Delaware State 49-42. 6'9" center Jimmie Inglis had 21 points and 7 rebounds.

11) Notre Dame beat Hofstra, 69-50. Luke Zeller put up 6 points and 9 rebounds for the Irish.

12) Kentucky easily handled West Virginia, 80-66. Maybe John Beilen's not the second coming of John Wooden?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


There's Always Chaminade.....

A professional writer...or an experienced blogger....would never kick a coach when he's down. Not when ESPN keeps insisting that that particular coach is one of the best in the business. So, in the case of Bill Self, it would be juvenile for me to poke fun and critique his coaching.......

For instance, I would never ask, when is the last time Kansas had lost 3 of 4 games? or when is the last time Kansas started 1 - 2?

I wouldn't remind everybody that Kansas has lost 8 of their last 13.

I wouldn't question how, in the last 12 seconds of a 1 point game, Bill Self didn't get the ball to either of his two best offensive players....Rush or Kaun. No, I wouldn't question his X and O prowess....Hawkins and Robinson throwing up long shots should make sense to me.....especially when they were a combined 1-8 for the game.

I wouldn't want to cause problems and question whether Micah Downs was happy with his 6 minutes. Or whether Julian Wright liked the end of the bench during crunch time. Nope....I'm sure when they were recruited they were told that minutes would be tough to come by.

I wouldn't ask when Julian Wright was going to get put in a position that he could create with the ball....that would be silly....because I'm sure Self told Julian that he would be a PF during his recruitment.

I wouldn't speculate when Kansas was going to start pushing the ball on offense.....heck, shouldn't recruits be happy with 49pts. and 64pts?

What will happen when Rodrick Stewart gets back? Does Micah Downs get less than 6 minutes? What about when Jackson returns....does Wright play less? Certainly, Coach Self has the answers.

Nope, all those questions would be cruel.....for a seasoned writer. But, since I'm not, I have to ask.......What Time is Chaminade???


Monday Night Hoops.........

Much to the chagrin of my wife, I layed on the couch and watched 3 basketball games Monday night.....with some big name teams in action. Thoughts on what I saw....and opinions on where those teams go in the future.

Texas vs. West Viginia

Texas has a ton of big man talent....unfortuanetely they don't appear to like to use it. Daniel Gibson oozes talent....a kid that will definitely play in the NBA...but he is not a PG. He hunts his own shot every time down the court....1 assist in 38 minutes of play. For most of the 2nd half, the guards tossed up shots and Aldridge, Buchman, and Tucker had to go rebound if they wanted a chance to shoot. With the size and skill of their big men, you would think there would be more effort to get them the ball. All 5 starters played in excess of 35 minutes.....with almost nothing coming from the bench. If Texas is going to be a true contender, they need to develop some bench players. Only 3 missed 1 and 1's at the end of the game saved them...West Virginia should have won this game.

John Beilein can coach....that's all there is to it. Not one of the WV's players would have been recruited by Texas....not one. But, he spreads the court, and has a bunch of guys that can handle the ball and shoot, and he stays in games. A very fun team to watch play. Just like last year, they will be a very tough out in the NCAA Tournament. Kevin Pittsnoggle maybe one of the most overrated players in college basketball.....they have several players that I like better.

Kentucky vs. Iowa

Tough game to judge.....because Rondo played poorly (with the exception of the 19 rebounds). Rondo still can't shoot and makes some dumb plays with the ball. Joe Crawford has not lived up to high school rankings to this point. When you play a 3-guard lineup, and 2 of them combined to go 2-15, you are going to look bad. Juco player Rekalin Sims was clearly the best player on their team last of those kids that seems to know how to score. Biggest problem.....ZERO production from a big man. They need Morris to come back to be a contender this year.

Horner and Haluska go a combined 3-19 and the Hawkeyes still win. I really like Brunner as a player....just a tough SOB that gets things done. He has the same problem as Augie.....he can't stay out of foul trouble. Mike Henderson played very well last night....if that continues, Iowa could be very good this year. Decent minutes and production from their bench. Iowa will have a very good season this year.....despite Alford.

Arizona vs. Kansas

Where to start? The urine yellow shirts worn by the Kansas coaches? Or the unbelievably bad basketball? Let's talk basketball. Even though I don't like Bill Self, I am going to cut him a little slack.....they are playing alot of first and 2nd year sloppiness is to be expected. Brandon Rush is going to be very good....NBA potential.....but he takes too many 3's...he should go to the basket more because he can. Chalmers had 7 TO's and 0 assists......and looked more like a SG than a PG to me. When the pressure was on him, his ball handling was pretty weak. Julian Wright is an athlete....and he can pass. But, he can't all..and he is playing down low where he can get pushed around. Seems alot like Brian Randle to me...albeit a better passer. Downs looks like he could be very good on the offensive end....much more confident and skilled on offense than Julian Wright....looks like he has no clue on defense. Kaun looks like a real on the court last night. Not sure what they were doing on offense....what was the plan? They will be good....eventually.....not sure when. When Jackson and Stewart rejoin the team, Self is going to have major chemistry issues.....count on it.

I give no slack to Arizona....alot of veterans on that team. What a disgrace. Have never liked Olsen as a coach....he has underachieved over the last 20 years with the amount of talent that has come through that program. He has a title....won despite him. Talk about rolling the ball out and letting them play. Hasan Adams is incredibly selfish.....did he pass the ball once last night? Kirk Walters was the best player on their team last night....too bad nobody would give him the ball. Rogers, Shakur and Adams looked like they were having a shooting contest...not playing basketball. They are going to miss last year's seniors alot.....perimeter shooters look terrible. Overrated.


Monday, November 21, 2005


Thoughts After Two Games

In consecutive games played within 44 hours or so, the Fighting Illini have gotten off to a 2-0 start with home wins over South Dakota State (90-65) and Texas Pan-American (71-59). The Illini generally looked pretty good against SDSU, while having a rough game vs. Texas Pan-American. There's not much you can tell two games into a season, but I'll give it a shot:

1) It's been confirmed to me, this team will likely go as far as Dee and Augie can carry it. Dee's had an up-and-down start, scoring well but turning the ball over more than expected. He appears to be a bit uncertain of his role, as he needs to score for the team to succeed but has to show point guard skills to the NBA scouts. The dilemma caused by this will likely be an ongoing sub-plot to this Illini season. After two games, Dee is leading the team in scoring (19.5 ppg), steals (3.5 spg) and minutes (34.5 mpg). He's only shooting 39.4% from the field, however, has shot 21 of 33 field goal attempts from beyond the three point arc (64% of his shots) and has an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers against only 6 assists. While much has been made of Dee diversifying his game in the offseason, he still shoots a very high percentage of three pointers and his assist-to-turnover ratio is the worst of his Illini career. Thankfully, we're only two games into the season so expect many of the numbers to change drastically. Dee should have at least a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio when it's all said and done.

Augie is averaging a double-double at 16 points and 10.5 rebounds, making it look easy against relatively weak competition. He's shooting an out-of-this-world 73.3% from the field and is averaging 30 minutes per game. Augie has picked up 6 personal fouls in 2 games, which is a bit worrisome when you consider the level of competition. If Augustine misses much time in any game due to foul trouble, Illinois will be in a world of hurt inside.

2) Rich McBride has stepped up. McBride did not look good in the preseason and there was discussion of him losing his starting job to Jamar Smith. Through two games, King Rich has shown flashes of what made him a top 30 recruit nationally in high school. He's played a more complete game with averages of 13 points, 6 assists and 2 steals in 31 minutes per contest (a surprising second on the team in minutes played). McBride still shoots too many three pointers (17 of his 22 field goals have been threes, 77%), but he's shooting a high percentage from long-range (41%). Rich has been a bigger part of the team than I expected so far and his continued emergence will have a major impact on the team's success.

3) Shaun Pruitt has the potential to be a big-time player at Illinois. He showed that potential in the first game against South Dakota State, when he had 11 points and 7 rebounds on 5-5 from the field. Unfortunately, Shaun picked up a foot injury and played limited minutes against Texas-Pan American. Nonetheless, it's encouraging to see a guy with his size and skill level next to Augustine in the starting lineup.

4) Brian Randle needs to play better. Coming into the season, Randle was named a captain by Bruce Weber. Many people expected Randle to use his athleticism to have a breakout redshirt sophomore campaign. So far, it hasn't happened. Randle's game appears to be built around confidence, and right now he doesn't have any. He's only playing 17.5 minutes per game so far, 7th on the team. Randle is averaging 6 points, 5 rebounds and shooting 66.7% from the floor. He's 0-4 from the line so far, and it's clear that Brian's deficiencies shooting the ball outside of 5 feet are just killing him right now. Randle also has a penchant for picking up fouls, with 6 personals (the same amount as Dee Brown in 1/2 the playing time). Finally, Randle isn't getting after it defensively like many expected, as he hasn't blocked a shot and has only 2 steals. Teams playing a zone against Illinois will probably force Weber to limit Randle's minutes, as he cannot shoot well enough to play the wing and may be too undersized to play the 4.

5) Jamar Smith, Chester Frazier and Warren Carter appear to be the first three guys off the bench, with Marcus Arnold close behind and gaining on Carter. Smith has played the best of that bunch, as he's fourth on the team in scoring at 9.5 points per game in 20.5 mpg. Jamar's rebounding better than expected (3 rpg) but has shown a tendency to become distracted on defense. Like Brown and McBride, I'd like to see Smith diversify his game more, as he's shooting 73% of his field goals (11/15) from beyond the three point arc.

Chester Frazier appears to be TV analyst Doug Altenberger's favorite player. Many people, Altenberger apparently included, would like nothing more than to see Frazier succeed to use as proof that Bruce Weber can recruit by taking players other major programs don't want. Yes, Frazier looks like he tries hard on the floor, especially defensively. But I'm not yet convinced that he's a positive producer for this team. In two games, Frazier is playing big minutes (19 mpg, way more than I'd personally like to see) but is averaging only 2.5 points on 28.6% shooting from the field and 17% from the three point arc. Most alarming, 6 of Frazier's 7 field goal attempts (86%) have come from three point land. That is just too much for a player that simply can't shoot very well at this stage of his career. On the positive side, Frazier has yet to commit a turnover which is excellent for a freshman point guard. But in my opinion, Weber has to find a way to get Frazier out of the game when teams play zone. Texas-Pan American was way too effective playing a zone and that will be a recipe many other teams use this season. Illinois has three excellent outside shooters in Dee Brown, Rich McBride and Jamar Smith. There is absolutely no reason a guy like Chester Frazier should shoot 5 three pointers in a game this season.

Carter and Arnold bring different skill sets to the table, and their playing time will likely depend on matchups and whether Illinois needs an offensive threat (especially one that can hit a jump shot) or a defender as a backup post player. Carter is somewhat surprisingly only seeing 12 minutes per game so far (8th on the team). In those minutes, he's efficiently putting the ball in the hole (5.5 ppg on 55.6% shooting) and rebounding well (3 rpg). I'd personally like to see his minutes go up, but we know that Weber only plays guys that he trusts to defend. Three years into his Illini career, it doesn't appear that Carter has earned that trust yet.

Marcus Arnold appears to be another Bruce Weber favorite. Every comment from Weber about Arnold seems positive. I haven't seen much yet to support that enthusiasm. Short and not very athletic for his position, Arnold is averaging 1.5 points per game on 14% shooting from the field in 11.5 minutes per game. He's also shooting 33% from the free throw line (1-3). I hope his defense is something special to be taking away minutes from somebody else that can likely be more productive offensively.

6) Illinois will see a lot of zone this season, especially in the pre-conference schedule. Any team that is less talented and wants to stay with the Illini will slow the game down and force people like Chester Frazier and Brian Randle to hit outside shots. It's bad coaching if the other team doesn't take advantage of that particular Illini weakness.

7) Calvin Brock appears to be out of the rotation. He's another guy that can't shoot very well and appears to be more of an athlete right now than a basketball player.

8) CJ Jackson is redshirting. Good decision for CJ although his best decision would be to figure out that he's not going to be an NBA player but that he could be an NFL player.

9) People wonder why some individuals find Bruce Weber unlikable. If you watch (or listen on the radio) to some of these early season games where the crowd is not into it, it's very easy to hear the Illini head coach constantly screaming at his players to do this or that. To some people, it's part of Bruce Weber's charm. To others, it can be very annoying. For recruits visiting Illini games early in the season, I often wonder what they think? If I'm a high school stud who's been told how great I am my whole life, do I want to go play for a guy who's going to squeal at me for 40 minutes? Does it matter? Who knows.

10) Wichita State is a very dangerous game. The Shockers are well-coached by Mark Turgeon and have a veteran team. In the pre-season, I thought this would be a tough game but ultimately won the Illini would win. While I still feel that way, I'm less confident than I was two weeks ago.

11) While the Illini have looked vulnerable, at least they're 2-0, about to be 3-0, and they didn't lose to Hawaii while having their players mocked for cramping up constantly.

12) Look for the Illini to have their way with Texas Southern. The coaching staff will use Sunday's mediocre play to drive home some teaching points and I expect the Illini to have their best game of the season so far on Tuesday.

Friday, November 18, 2005


South Dakota St......or The Traveling Wildcats

I am pumped for tonight's game.......and I am going to miss it. Little Butts is in action and I won't be able to catch the Illini.....but if I is what I would be looking for tonight.

1) We should be able to dominate this game down we? While this team is supposed to be solid, and will play hard, they have no one to match up with Augustine and Pruitt down low. To start this season properly, I would love to see Augie and Pruitt demand the ball...and dominate.

2) Does McBride play like the player he can be....or like the player he has been the last 2 years? I would love to see Richard take the ball to the lane...and show a mid-range game. If he can do that, teams can't just defend him on the 3-pt line. When I think of Rich, I think of him in the state championship game his junior year.....there was no one more confident on the court. He needs to find that again.

3) Everyone raves about Randle and his freakish athletic ability. He can defend 4 different positions. He is going to take the opposing team's best player on most nights. Can he play that defense without picking up the stupid, touch fouls? If he can't stay on the court more than 15-20 mpg., Illinois will be in trouble this year.

4) Can Marcus Arnold be a productive player in the Big 10? Can he get us points in the paint? When he got here, I thought he could get us 10 I'm not sure that he is going to get 10 mpg. He needs to step up.....we need a tough kid to be productive off the bench....he is the logical option.

5) Dee is Dee. I think he is going to be frustrated at times this year by his teammates play.....can he be the leader and keep his composure....and keep his team moving in the right direction. If he can be the leader, and help this team along, be the PG......then I think the NBA will see the things they are looking for from Dee this year. He'll get his points....he needs to do the other things.

6) Warren Carter needs to score for this team. Can he be the Illini's Vinnie Johnson......get 8-12 points in 15-20 minutes? I don't know....but they could sure use them.

7) Chester......we need you. If only for 5-10 mpg, we need you to play D and handle the ball. I think the D will be there for sure....just concerned about the freshman mistakes. Don't force things....and you will be fine. He is the backup PG....there is nobody else. The kid has to perform so Dee doesn't get worn down.

8) Calvin Brock has about 5-6 games to prove that he needs to be on the court....and he will probably have limited minutes to do it. Not a great of those guys, like Randle, that just has to make plays...defense, run the court, etc. Maybe a year away.

9) Last, and certainly not least for me, is Jamar Smith. Has there been a player more scrutinized by Illinois fans since his commitment than Jamar Smith? Offered too early? Not offered too early? At this point, I don't care. This kid has offensive skills that are hard to teach...and he is playing with alot of confidence. If there is a is his defense...and how much does it hurt Illinois. Some say he is improving. I know this....if he plays 20-25 mpg.....I think he will average in double figures....and Dee could really use the help on the offensive end.

10) Finally, Coach Weber. Another guy that gets little respect.....but he has done something in his first 2 years that no other Illinois coach had done in the last 50. What kind of changes will he make to the offense? How will they get the ball down low? How much will he play Jamar Smith? How much 3-guard will we see?

Yep, if I was watching this game, those are a few of the things I would be looking for tonight....
but it is not to be. Little Butts and his 4th grade squad are going to get a basketball education tonight I they travel to Hillside to play the Traveling Wildcats.....these are the kids that funnell to Proviso East or St. Joe's. Tipoff at 6:00pm. How concerned are the Wildcats about the Naperville boys?? They called and asked if we could bring our 6th grade play their same 4th grade 7:00pm. Yep, an education it will be.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Tuesday Night's Stats of Note

Wyoming got a nice win over Charlotte, 87-78. Brandon Ewing again started, played 29 minutes and finished with 6 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists. 6'10" Chicago native Justin Williams had a monster game for the Cowboys, going for 13 points, 20 rebounds and 9 blocked shots.

#3 Texas won its opener over Southern, 89-56. LaMarcus Aldridge looks like he could have a breakout season, putting up 19 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks. With Aldridge, PJ Tucker, Brad Buckman, Mike Williams and Dion Dowell, there probably isn't a team in the country that can match the Longhorns' talent and depth up front.

Iowa beat Colgate with ease, 73-51. Each Hawkeye starter had at least 9 points, led by Greg Brunner's 16 points to go with 8 rebounds. Tony Freeman cooled down this game, going scoreless in 16 minutes.

Northwestern came back down to earth, losing to UNC-Wilmington 56-48. Outside of Vukusic and Hachad, it looks like the Wildcats will have problems finding scoring. Duke transfer Michael Thompson put up 2 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes, going 0-6 from the free throw stripe. Kentucky transfer Bernard Cote was scoreless in 8 minutes.

The Washington Huskies got a nice win over Air Force. Look for the young Huskies to
be a consistent member of the top 25 this season (even though they're not in it yet). Justin Dentmon started, played 31 minutes and had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Freshman Jon Brockman put up 21 points and 10 boards for the Huskies.

Finally, I caught a little of the UCLA-New Mexico State game last night. Reggie Theus is going to do some good things in New Mexico, but it will take time. He already has a nice guard tandem in Shaun Davis and St. John's transfer Elijah Ingram. Jordan Farmar is a player for UCLA. I didn't see Farmar play much last season, but he looks like a combination of Mike Bibby and Deron Williams. He's smooth, quick and can shoot. A nice start to the season for Farmar (18 points, 8 assists, 3 steals), I'll be surprised if he's playing for the Bruins next season.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


An update on an Illini blog

One thing I wanted to acknowledge is a mistake I made in a recent comment on this blog. In a post that discussed the Champaign News-Gazette's Brett Dawson and his blog, I suggested that Dawson may be writing certain things to make himself look better to the Illinois coaching staff, so that the staff wouldn't cut off access to their program.

I got a call from Brett last week, and Brett told me flat-out that my assertion was not true. He stated that he has always had very good access to Bruce Weber's program and at no point has the coaching staff even hinted that they would cut access. While I have experience stating that isn't always the case (meeting with Jay Price in his office at Ubben), Brett and I discussed that the coaching staff may have different positions on this issue with different types of media ("legitimate" press vs. Internet).

Brett's a good guy and a fantastic reporter. He's somebody that will tell you how he feels but who always delivers it with a smile. He's one of the good guys in the profession and somebody who, given his age and ability, has as bright a future as anybody in his chosen field.

Brett, I'd like to apologize to you publicly through this blog and wish you a great season on the Illini beat.


Season Starting: Interesting Stats

Iowa with an easy win over Md-Eastern Shore, led by seniors Greg Brunner (16 points, 7 rebounds) and Jeff Horner (16 points, 7 assists). Former St. Joe's guard Tony Freeman with an impressive debut hitting for 7 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Iowa appears to have a very strong 8-man rotation, but depth could be an issue if any of those top 8 misses time with an injury.

Northwestern with an impressive 61-47 neutral court win over Charlotte. Wildcat veterans Vedran Vukusic (28 points on 9-13 from the field, 5-7 from three point land) and Mohamed Hachad (14 points on 4-5 from the field, 5-6 from the line to go with 9 rebounds) led the way. Northwestern did not get much of a contribution from its transfer centers Michael Thompson (2 points, 5 rebounds, 4 fouls in 13 minutes) and Bernard Cote (5 points in 8 minutes). Bill Carmody's Princeton-style offense just doesn't seem too friendly for big men who like to play with their back to the basket.

In perhaps the most newsworthy event of the night, Missouri lost its home opener to Sam Houston St. Quin Snyder can't lose too many more of these types of games and expect to keep his job. Kalen Grimes ended up with 0 points on 0-1 shooting in 2 minutes of play.

In the Washington Huskies' opener (an 87-54 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay), former Carbondale point guard Justin Dentmon started and played 20 minutes, scoring 4 points and adding 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals.

Monday, November 14, 2005


It's Time To Lace Them Up.....

I didn't think that I would ever get to this point......because I have always loved it.....but I am sick of recruiting. Sour grapes? Probably some. We haven't had the recruiting success that I thought we would. But, it is more than that. The more I read....the more I follow it...the more sleezy it gets for me. Maybe it is a positive statement about Weber's character that he sometimes struggles on the recruiting front.......because to be really good at have to like/be good at swimming in a cess pool. It's no longer all about the player and his's about the AAU coach, the high school coach, the shoe company reps, and the various street agents. This week....I'm sick of let's move to the court.

Last year was a dream season....almost perfect.....but somewhat expected. While not expecting perfection... anything less than a Final 4 would have been deemed a disappointment. This year...alot of questions. But, in some ways, a more interesting year. A year that we get to see a lot of new players....a year that we really get to see Weber coach and make adjustments. My prediction is simple....we will struggle early. The record will be fine...but a loss or two to some teams that we should beat will have fans bitching and moaning....somewhat normal state for UI fans. But, come March, I expect to see a team greatly improved.....a team that nobody will want to play. Pruitt and Jamar will be big this season.

I think the Big 10 will be pretty strong this year....with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan St., Ohio St., and Wisconsin all making their way to the NCAA..... with the first 4 listed having the talent to make it to the 2nd weekend. Watch out for Iowa....this maybe the year they surprise and win the Big 10. They have some very experienced seniors looking to make a run. Michigan....nope. If the pressure isn't already on Amaker, it will be by the end of the year. I also expect the Big 10 to win the ACC/Big 10's about time.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Belmont? Sam Houston State? Is Quin Snyder the worst coach in college basketball...he might be. Unfortunately, bad news for UI basketball, Snyder won't make it past this season.

My preseason picks for the Final 4.....which will change several times throughout the year...Duke, UConn, Texas, and Gonzaga.....I actually think they will be very good this year.

Duke to win it all.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Ex-Illini Recruits Look Good in Exhibition Opener

Brandon Rush had 17 points, 10 rebounds in KU's exhibition opener last night. He was 6-9 from the field, 5-6 from the line and had 4 steals. Julian Wright was a stat sheet stuffer, scoring 8, picking up 8 boards and dealing out 4 assists, a block and 2 steals. But neither one of them would have started at Illinois this year (LOL)...

On a side note, I've got it from good sources that Will Walker will end up signing with DePaul, no reality to the rumors that he's looking elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Favorite Stats from Quincy Exhibition Game

Initial thoughts on unofficial stats from Gametracker (which are notoriously inaccurate, but all I have to go on at this point on a Wednesday night):

1) Love Augie's efficiency. 14 points on 5-7 from the field and 4-4 from the line. I expect he'll be getting to the line a lot this year, and would love to see him continue a high level of free throw proficiency. My favorite stat of Augie's may be his 1 foul in 25 minutes of action.

2) Jamar Smith 3-3 from the foul line. Has Rich McBride shot 3 free throws in his entire Illini career? Doesn't seem like it. Another solid game for Jamar, 21 minutes and 10 points on 3-6 from the field, 1-4 from 3-point land. So basically Jamar didn't miss inside the three point arc or from the free throw line. He's already showing a more diverse offensive game than Rich McBride has ever shown. I've always been a McBride fan but I agree with Butts, at this point Jamar's starting by the Big Ten season.

3) Shaun Pruitt 10 boards in 23 minutes of action. Combine this with Shaun's team-leading 7 boards against Illinois Wesleyan and we're looking at a serious glass eater.

4) Chester Frazier 5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. I'm not sold on Frazier as the long-term answer at point guard, but I love seeing 5 assists against 1 turnover in 17 minutes of action.

5) C.J. Jackson may be playing himself out of a redshirt. 8 points and 5 boards in 13 minutes. He's had better stats than Marcus Arnold now for 2 straight games. Would you redshirt if you were 18 and outplaying a guy that's supposedly ahead of you in the rotation?

From a statistical standpoint, it looks like everybody played fairly well with the exception of Calvin Brock and Marcus Arnold. Based on the 2 exhibition games, it appears that the 2 CPL products may be moving down in the rotation.

Of course, none of these stats accounts for how each guy guarded...


The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is On Fire...

1) Do you smell the smoke? The Sun-Times certainly does. Just when Bill Self thought the story would die a quiet death, the Chicago Sun-Times is now questioning the whole Sherron Collins fiasco. Rumors are rampant....Collins gave a verbal commitment to Illinois.....Coach Longstreet wouldn't let him commit. Longstreet says that never happened...Sherron just fell in love with Kansas on his visit.....Longstreet keeps denying he was paid by Kansas ("show me the cancelled check").....but nobody had mentioned any money. Now, Longstreet says that he was told to be quiet...("it's getting too ugly")....but by who?? And why?? I certainly don't claim to have any answers......but I do smell the smoke.

2) Not that I'm offering advice.....but if I were a young reporter trying to make a name for, say, Michael O'Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times, I think I might keep digging through that Sherron Collins story. As a matter of fact, I might take a longer look at the whole Kansas program.....some funny things happening around there lately. Collins, Rush, Chalmers....yep, some interesting things going on in Lawrence. I think I'd keep talking to Mr. Longstreet....the man says the most interesting things.....even when he isn't asked. I've heard Longstreet isn't real popular in the CPL.......might be some people in that league that could help Mr. O'Brien out. But, I'm not offering any advice.

3) Back to the court.....where I would much rather focus now that the season is here. Anybody excited to watch Jamar Smith play tonight? Be honest.....all of you doubters are starting to wonder about him. To be fair, it was only 1 exhibition game, but boy did he look good. When I think about teams trying to zone us this year, I think about a lineup that includes Brown, McBride and Smith and I don't worry as much. McBride needs to step it up or he will be coming off of the bench by the Big 10 season.

4) Eric Gordon.....the time is now. Why wait? This offense is perfect for you. Immediate playing time is here....maybe a 3-guard look with Jamar, Gordon and a PG.....Mr. Rose your table is ready. Eric...are you waiting for Duke? Paulus, Henderson., Scheyer, Pocius and a few SF's already on the roster....with the first 4 guys not having started their careers at Duke yet. Now, you can certainly play with those guys......but at best, you are going to split time. Is that what you want.....or do you want to make an immediate impact? You can be the guy to get the ball rolling....your commitment ends all the negative talk about Coach Weber. And, he can get you to the NBA.....just ask Deron and Luther.

5) Deonta Vaughn intrigues me.....more of a scorer than a true PG....but this offense with 3 guards that can shoot can be a very scary thing.

6) I guess I'll be the first to say it....since everybody else seems to love them...but I think Michigan St. is overrated. Paul Davis is talented...but very soft. Ager and Brown are very athletic....but very streaky shooters.....and they no longer have the depth at the 2/3 positions. They will miss Hill, Andersen and Torbert more than anyone is saying. Neitzel is still a work in progress. Will see.....but I see no final 4 for them.

7) With the addition of Carlwell and Semrau today, Illinois is collecting alot of depth down low. Who would have thought that Illinois would have plenty of big guys......and be struggling to bring in guards.

8) Can Illinois recruit in the CPL? With guys like Longstreet coaching in the HS, and guys like Larry Butler grabbing the kids during the AAU season, I am beginning to wonder. I'm also wondering if it is worth the trouble.....I would bet that Coach Weber is wondering the same thing.

9) Julian, REBOUND THE DAMN BALL!!! What do you think you are .....a PG?!?!

10) The roof is on fire........Mr. O'Brien........go put it out!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Derrick Rose Update

The Hoops Guys' Ryan Christie recently caught up with Mean Streets Ferrari AAU Coach Luther Topps about class of 2007 stud Derrick Rose. Rose, a 6'2" point guard considered one of the top 10 juniors in the nation, is getting ready for his second varsity season at Simeon High School. Coach Topps spoke to Hoops Guys about Rose's recent unofficial visit to Illinois and other tidbits in the young star’s recruitment."They were actually supposed to go to Virginia that weekend," said Topps, about the visit to Illini Midnight Madness. "But Derrick’s brother couldn’t make the trip to Virginia work on that particular weekend, so we all went down to Illinois instead."

Topps, his son Antonio (a junior at Leo High School in Chicago), 6’6” Simeon forward Kevin Johnson and Derrick’s brother Reggie Rose accompanied the star Simeon guard on his trip to Champaign-Urbana.

“We went to the scrimmage at Assembly Hall and stayed overnight at a hotel, then got up the next morning and left,” noted Topps. “It was a good time. The team looked pretty good. They have a new guard that looks like Dee Brown. We didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the guys on the team or anything.”
When asked if Rose and Indianapolis North Central guard Eric Gordon got a chance to know each other, Topps replied, “They talked a little bit. I wouldn’t say they talked a lot, but they got to speak to each other a little.”

According to Topps, Rose is considering Illinois, DePaul, North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas and Marquette at this point.

“He doesn’t know where he wants to go yet,” said Topps. “He’s still looking at all those schools. I like Coach Wainwright at DePaul a lot, he’s a good guy, also Gary DeCesare. He’s already been out to visit DePaul and Marquette, and I know he wants to visit the other schools. Right now, he doesn’t have any other visits planned before the season starts.”

While Rose is the primary target of many recruiters that watch the Ferrari Mean Streets team, Topps’ son Antonio is getting significant Division One interest as well.

“He’s getting looks from Nebraska, Ball State, Akron, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois and Stanford,” the elder Topps stated of his sharp-shooting son. “He’ll make a decision sometime after he takes his ACT.”


Some news and notes

1) Expect DJ White to be out 1-2 months, not the 2 weeks that was initially reported. Mike Davis is hoping to have White back for the Big Ten season. IU will lean heavily on newcomers Cem Dinc and Ben Allen to fortify the frontcourt in White's absence. Could lead to some early season consternation among the Hoosiers faithful.

2) Andy Katz reported in his Daily Word that David Palmer is expected to have a big impact at Seton Hall this season...will be interesting to watch how Palmer emerges over the next four years compared to, say, Charles Jackson.

3) An article from the Lawrence Journal-World states that KU may not start Julian Wright this season...if true, that's an unbelievable talent coming off the bench. And that pretty much means that Brandon Rush must be a complete stud.

4) Two articles have come out in the last two days about Bruce Weber's lack of recruiting in the Chicago Sun-Times hinting at a comparison between Illinois and Purdue, one from the Rockford Register titled "Illinois Wins Big, Recruits Small" Interesting that both come from local media rather than the national press that many conspiracy theorists want to believe have it out for Illinois.

5) Chester Frazier and Warren Carter are banged up, may not play much if at all against Quincy in Wednesday's exhibition. Carter's days of starting at power forward appear to be close to over. Also, will be interesting to see if Jamar Smith can continue his strong play and overtake Rich McBride for the starting shooting guard spot.

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