Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

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

Illinois went to UNC and came out with a win.....in a game that they didn't play particularly well....that is really a good thing. Alot of hoops last night...here 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 advertised...as 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 him....no 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.


Purdue

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 nice...now 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

 

GORDON!!!!!!!

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 critics.....at 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 sophomores.....watch 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 year.....no 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 night....one 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 kids....so 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 shoot..at 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 player....best 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.



butts

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 could.....here is what I would be looking for tonight.

1) We should be able to dominate this game down low......do 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 ppg.......now 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 shooter.....one 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 question....it 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 think.....as 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 team....to play their same 4th grade team....at 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 it.....you have to like/be good at swimming in a cess pool. It's no longer all about the player and his family....it's about the AAU coach, the high school coach, the shoe company reps, and the various street agents. This week....I'm sick of it....so 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 challenge....it'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.



butts

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 myself.....like, 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 Nelson...plus 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!



butts

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 success...one in the Chicago Sun-Times hinting at a comparison between Illinois and Purdue http://www.suntimes.com/output/campus/cst-spt-cruit07.html, one from the Rockford Register titled "Illinois Wins Big, Recruits Small" http://www.rrstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051108/SPORTS14/111080031. 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.

 

Top 10 Things You Won't Hear Bill Self Say This Year

10) No thank you. I'm going to pass on dessert and just stick with the salad today.

9) We need to get Anthony Longstreet and Larry Butler to come in and talk to the kids about fundamentals.

8) Mrs. Rose, in the last 3 years we have recruited Robinson, Chalmers and Collins. While we would love to have Derrick, Kansas just isn't his best option right now.

7) Damn it, Julian! We brought you here to use your athleticism and run our offense. We don't want you underneath the basket getting banged around!

6) Boy, I wish we had more wings on this team. We don't have anyone that wants to shoot the ball.

5) Golly...I didn't know Nebraska could be so cold in January. I wish I had something to cover my head!

4) What times the ceremony?? I never miss seeing my kids graduate.

3) Curtis, we run a clean program here at Kansas......we can't do that!

2) Boy, has Bruce Weber done a great job at Illinois.

1) Geez, I hope we get a good draw in the tournament. I don't know...somebody like BUCKNELL.

Monday, November 07, 2005

 

20 Questions....you tell me the answers!

1) Who will play more minutes and score more points this season.......Rich McBride or Jamar Smith?

2) Will Shawn Pruitt be starting by the start of the Big 10 season?

3) Will Dee Brown be the Big 10 player of the year?

4) Will Illinois make it to the Sweet 16?

5) Who will win the Big 10 this season?

6) How many times will Julian Wright play PG for Kansas this season?

7) How many players will transfer from Kansas after this season? Who?

8) Who will be the first coach fired.....Quin Snyder, Mike Davis, Tommy Amaker or Steve Alford?

9) Who will be Illinois' last 2006 commitment---if any?

10) Who will be Illinois' first 2007 commitment?

11) How long would you wait for Rose and Gordon before you moved on to other players?

12) Which player will finish highest in this year's Rookie of the Year voting.....Chris Paul, Ray Felton or Deron Williams?

13) When, if ever, will Ron Zook coach Illinois to a bowl game?

14) How many of our 2007 commitments will come from the state of Illinois?

15) In what year will Illinois get its next commitment from a player in the Chicago Public League?

16) Will Bill Self ever coach a team to the Final 4? When?

17) Who will get put on major probation first...Ohio St. football or Kansas basketball? Or neither?

18) Who is your 2006 IHSA Men's Basketball Champion?

19) Who is your 2006 Men's Basketball Final 4?

20) Who is your 2006 Men's Basketball National Champion?

I am looking for your answers....I will post mine later.

Friday, November 04, 2005

 

Tyler Hansbrough Debuts

Tyler Hansbrough put up 26 points and 8 rebounds in UNC's first exhibition vs. Fayetteville State. Hansbrough shot 11-14 from the field, 4-8 from the free throw line, had 4 blocks and 3 steals in 25 minutes of action. UNC won 94-58. For those interested, Bobby Frasor played 20 minutes, finishing with 7 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. Frasor shot 2-6 from the field, 1-2 from behind the arc and 2-3 from the free throw line. He played more minutes than sophomore point guard Quentin Thomas, and statistically Frasor had a better game. UNC also got 14 points and 12 boards from senior David Noel, 16 points from Reyshawn Terry and 11 points from freshman Danny Green. While the Illini will be favored against the Tar Heels in the ACC-Big Ten matchup, it looks like the UNC freshmen may be ready to play a major role right away.

Indiana is easily handling St. Joseph's (IN) tonight in Bloomington. With just over 3 minutes to play, IU is up 89-62. The Hoosiers have been led by Marco Killingsworth (17 points on 7-8 from the field), Robert Vaden (17 points) and DJ White (13 points).

 

So What Did The IWU Game Tell Us??

As a general rule, these types of games really are no indicator of how a season will go for a team. No game planning takes place, everybody plays an equal amount, etc. Here are the things that I took away from the game:

1) Jamar Smith can play....and will need to play in order for this team to be any good. Don't misunderstand me...Jamar has a long way to go to be the player that he will be in a few years. He needs to get bigger. He needs to get stronger. He needs to keep improving his defense. But, the fact remains, Jamar maybe the best offensive weapon this team has ...and that includes Dee Brown. Illinois is going to go through games where they can't score....Jamar will need to play alot. Kudos to Peoriaman...from the Illiniboard...who started touting Jamar more than a year ago. Jamar has one thing that most players don't have....the ability to score the ball in a number of different ways. I see alot of people comparing him to Luther Head....and I don't see the comparison. Jamar is light years ahead of Luther in terms of shooting the ball at the same age....but he is nowhere near the athlete that Luther was coming into college. Jamar reminds me of Juan Dixon....another overlooked player that could really, really shoot the ball.

2) I am concerned about Rich McBride...and not because of his play. I love that he lost the weight. I think that he will have a good year shooting the ball. I really wonder, however, if he can stay healthy all year...especially playing starter's minutes. For him to be having feet problems again, this early in the year, is a bad sign....I hope I'm wrong.

3) Shawn Pruitt is the most "skilled" big man on the team. James is the best "player" down low, but Pruitt has offensive skills that the other guys just don't have. If he keeps playing hard, I expect him to be the starter by the Big 10 season....if not sooner.

4) Warren looks to be the same to me.....a great athlete that still has a lot to learn. Three years into the program and I would have thought that the defense would have improved by now. His value is going to be coming off the bench to give them a spark on the offensive side.....he does shoot the ball well.

5) Chester will be fine....as long as Dee stays healthy. Chester can fill in and give Dee some breaks and run the offense....but he will make freshman mistakes...as you would expect.

6) Not sure where I see Brock fitting in the rotation. I thought that he would battle Jamar for time....but I no longer see that as a competition. Jamar is too good of an offensive option to keep on the bench. Now, when Randle goes out, I see illinois going 3 guards with Dee, Rich and Jamar.

7) Dee is Dee. The key for him will be keeping his head in the game and running the offense when his shot isn't falling....because in the past he has let that bother him. He provides us too much of everything else to let a bad shooting streak take away from the other things he does well.


All in all, about what I expected. This team will go through some rough stretches on offense early in the year. They will probably struggle on the defensive side of the ball as well. However, they will play very hard...and the beginning schedule isn't too tough, and they will be fine.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

 

Deonta Vaughn Update

The Hoops Guys' Ryan Christie recently caught up with Cincinnati Harmony Community School Assistant Basketball Coach Deon Weatherspoon about class of 2006 guard Deonta Vaughn. Vaughn, a 5'10" combo guard originally from Indianapolis Arlington High School, is playing as a fifth year prep with Harmony. Coach Weatherspoon spoke to Hoops Guys about Vaughn's recent decommitment from Indiana and where he stands as a prospect.

"Deonta is a very explosive offensive ballplayer," said Coach Weatherspoon. "He can go on a ten point run all on his own, and just put points on the board in a hurry."

Over the summer, Vaughn had committed to playing with the Indiana Hoosiers starting in the 2006-2007 season, but he opened up his recruitment after Indiana recently picked up former Terre Haute South star Armon Bassett.

"Deonta's deadly from three point range," Coach Weatherspoon noted. "He can also handle the rock very well. He'll be primarily a shooter and scorer in our system, while other guys play the point. He's so strong that it makes him a good defender, even at his height. Deonta's pretty athletic, he can dunk. He probably wouldn't dunk in a game, he'd put in a layup, but he can dunk in practice."

Vaughn, who played his AAU basketball this summer with O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker of the D-1 Greyhounds, has four schools currently at the top of the list.

"Georgetown, Indiana, Illinois and South Florida," rattled off Weatherspoon's tongue when asked of Vaughn's college preferences. "None of the Illinois coaches have talked to me, but I know that they've been in contact with some of our other coaches. I'm not sure when Deonta will make a decision, he doesn't have a time frame for that."

Weatherspoon noted that Harmony will be up in Chicago twice this season for prep tournaments, so Illini fans can wear their orange as Bruce Weber's team continues to recruit the scoring guard.

According to Weatherspoon, Illinois is not recruiting Vaughn's class of 2006 teammate, guard Tyrone Appleton, but is working on Class of 2007 forward Alex Tyus. Tyus, originally from St. Louis, is another member of the D-1 Greyhounds and Weatherspoon notes that his school list is currently topped by Arizona, Kansas and Arizona State.

Check out the website for Vaughn's school: http://www.harmonycommunityschool.org/sports/headlines.asp

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 

Where Should We Go in Recruiting Now??

Well, things have finally settled down.....Sherron Collins is gone...to Kansas no less. Where should Weber go now? Do we take another guard in the '06 class? Two? Or, do we move to '07? Who do we want? How long do we wait? Boy, alot of questions.....and no for sure answers. This is why Weber makes the big bucks.....to make these big decisions. I thought I'd offer some opinions.....I'm sure he will appreciate the help!

The one thing I will say about this staff on the recruiting front.....they seem to really work hard. As soon as Collins disappeared, Illinois was mentioned with several new recruits....Eugene Harvey, Doneal Mack, Kevin Bridgewaters, and maybe, just maybe, Deonta Vaughn could sneak back into the picture. All of these kids are for the 2006 class....and judging by the interest Illinois is showing, I would say Weber has decided that he definitely needs a guard in this class. Harvey has been described by some as being similar to Rajon Rondo---Kentuck's fine PG. Good ballhandler, can attack the basket and play defense. His coach, Danny Hurley, calls him Taliek Brown with a better jump shot. Harvey's stock is on the rise....and several big name schools have been interested. Of all the guy's on the board, he would be my first choice. After Dee leaves, Chester Frasier is the only true PG on the roster. Meachem looks more like a more athletic, better ballhandling Sean Harrington than he looks like a true PG.

Bridgewaters and Vaughn are other PG options....but both are more scorers than true PG's. If nothing else, Deron Williams taught us how important it is to have a guy running the team with that true PG mentality. For that reason, I lean to Harvey.

Doneal Mack is a 6'5 SG/SF that Illinois has been showing interest in lately. He is supposed to be a very good shooter/scorer....that needs some more weight/strength. Sounds like a little taller version of Jamar Smith. While a good option, with some good programs recruiting him, I still lean to Harvey.

At this point, I would only use 1 scholarship on the '06 class......and I am hoping that it goes to Harvey.

In 2007, it's all about Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose. While we are recruiting some other fine players, Weber needs to land at least one of Rose/Gordon....although they could both play together nicely. If we can get Harvey on board, I would be willing to wait quite awhile on both of these players.

At the SF position, the names mentioned most often are Robbie Hummell and Shang Ping. Some close to the program seem to think the staff favors Ping at this time. Considering Hummell visited and wasn't offered....there seems to be some logic in that thinking. If Ping is the choice, and we have Tony Wysinger in our corner, I would push very hard for a Ping committment.....soon. If we can't get it done relatively soon, I would begin looking at other options.

Bill Cole seems to be another favorite of the staff. At this point, Cole isn't big enough to be a Center, nor is he quick enough to be a SF. He seems an awful lot like Rich Semrau to me. Cole has ties close to the program through his father....and reportedly has had an offer for awhile. It will be interesting to see how long the staff waits for Bill. Most recruiting sources have indicated that it was an average summer for Bill....if he wants to play at Illinois, he should commit soon...not sure how long the train will wait.

Mike Tisdale is a big kid (6'11) that seems to be on the rise. Once thought of as a mid-major player, there appears to be several big name programs sniffing around this kid. Good size, long, and can run the court. While not as polished as Cole, he is bigger and may have more upside. I was a major proponent of offering Carwell early....and I am moving in that direction with Tisdale.

The beauty of recruiting....there are always new names to follow...and Illinois is recruiting ...to some extent...many other kids. We will keep following it.....but I could certainly live with Harvey, Rose Gordon, Ping, and Tisdale as my next 5 recruits....how about you??


How important is the Chicago Public League to Illinois basketball? How does the RSCI 100 relate to Final 4's? Those are a few topics that I will be looking into very soon.



butts

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