Friday, November 04, 2005


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 long as Dee stays healthy. Chester can fill in and give Dee some breaks and run the offense....but he will make freshman 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.


Don't forget Combes and I. We've touted Jamar as well. :)
Kudos to Combes and Illini32.....who also were early on the Jamar bandwagon.:)

I would argue Combes was the most consistent and vocal early Jamar supporter. So far, he appears right on the money.

P-man might be the most pompous message board poster in the history of the Internet. He'll let us know how right he was for the next 4 years, I'm sure.

Stuffing my face with crow right now, I hope it continues.

Good stuff butts.
My guess is P-Man would have some kudos for you as well.:) Maybe we should setup up a cage match at halftime of a UI game.

Sign me up for the cage match, if I can't take a 50-year old full of hot air, then I deserve to get beat up.

On a call right now (so can't go into too much depth), but I'm really happy with what we've seen from Smith and Pruitt so far. Looks like we'll get more out of those two and less out of McBride/Arnold than many originally projected.

Need one or two of McBride, Brock, Arnold and Carter to step it up. As you said earlier, butts, Dee is Dee, and I feel like we know what we're going to get from Dee, Augie and Randle. Some of these other guys will need to step up if the team is to reach its potential. I love seeing Jamar step up as a scorer. I think this year's Illini team is a lot like this year's Bulls team...needs an additional scorer or two to step up.
I still take issue with calling Pruitt skilled. He's got solid footwork, and seems to have good instincts as a rebounder, but that's about it.

He's got no right hand to speak of right now, he can't really put the ball on the floor, and his jump shot - well, I have nightmares about that.

That said, I'm pleasantly surprised with what he's shown to this point, and he's easily our best big man right now outside of James.
Fact remains, he is the "most" skilled big man on this team....and that includes James. Four years in and James still has no "go-to" post move. I will take Pruitt on the blocks over Augustine when we need a basket anytime.
Nut---anything goes in a cagematch...and accountant's have very sharp pencils. I give P-man a legit chance here.

IHN - that cagematch might be more difficult than you think - I have Pman's back!

And, for you to call anyone pompous is a travesty.
"And, for you to call anyone pompous is a travesty."

As is a hack from Politics USA lecturing others on morals and ethics. Do you actually talk about basketball anymore?
This is fun, the old gang back at it.

NOVA, please tell me more about leadership of men, I'd like to know if there's website where I can subscribe.
OK, based on what we've seen so far from Midnight Madness and the IWU game, my initial thoughts on the rotation:

Dee: Will need to play 35 minutes/night, maybe more against the good teams on the schedule

Augie: Has the ability to have a big-time season, especially with guys like Pruitt/Arnold/Jackson(?) next to him to take the banging responsibilities away. Expect 30 mpg and increased offensive production (14 ppg seems realistic) from Augie.

Randle: Needs to score more, but a solid all-around player who will see 25-30 minutes per night. Not yet a star, but will have highlight reel plays. Best defender on the team.

Rich McBride: Better get over his foot issues or he'll lose his starting job to Jamar. I don't expect Rich to play more than 20 mpg at this stage.

Shaun Pruitt: Looks close to locking up a starting job next to Augie. Most offensively-minded post player with a huge frame. Looks capable of playing 20-25 minutes per game and putting up 8 ppg, 6 rpg.

Warren Carter: Has he improved? Unclear based on two public showings so far. Looks like the offensive option off the bench for the big men, I expect 10-15 mpg for Carter.

Jamar Smith: Biggest surprise so far. Ready to contribute offensively, will his strength/defense be enough to allow him to start? Could be anywhere from a shooting specialist off the bench to a starter playing 25 minutes per game. A contributor this season.

Marcus Arnold: Worse than I expected. Short, can't jump and looks lost on the court. I can't imagine more than 10-15 minutes per game for Arnold. ISU may have been the right level for him.

Calvin Brock: Struggling so far in the preseason. Athleticism is apparent, but looks like he's behind Jamar Smith in the rotation. Spot minutes possible when Randle gets in foul trouble. Brock and Randle cannot be on the floor at the same time.

Chester Frazier: I've yet to see anything positive from Frazier except that he looks like he's trying hard on defense. Note that I didn't say he was playing good defense, just that it looks like he tries hard. Overmatched at this level? Most recruitniks would not be surprised by that. Praying that he can provide 5-10 decent backup minutes to Dee this season.

Charles Jackson: Ideally will redshirt, but at times has shown more than Marcus Arnold. How do you convince a kid to redshirt when he may at times look better than two juniors in the rotation (Carter and Arnold). Will be a tough call. Hoping he redshirts, but wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't.

If Jamar can be a third scorer for this team (as it appears right now that McBride won't be), the Illini could meet preseason expectations of a top 10-20 ranking, IMO. If McBride's hurt and Jamar doesn't play like he did last night, the Illini could end up having a tough year. Points are going to be difficult to come by unless somebody besides Dee and Augie steps up.
My kind of site! We all worship Bill Self here right? ANd we dont' allow supporters of "BAM" do we? Or at least we try to run them off b/c they chased us away from IB.
Good to see IHN has turned his sword in a different direction, since Jamar is apparently another in his ever-growing list of gaffes.

Hopefully Chester will do the same.
I love 59....not true at all. I am a big Weber fan. And, don't think much of Bill. Thanks for posting.
Wow butts, I guess we'll have to make this point an "agree to disagree" situation.

(Although I still can't believe that if we needed an inside hoop late in a close game, that you'd run a play through Pruitt over Augie.)

I'm not going to try and figure out a minutes projection, I don't think even Coach Weber will figure that out until Christmas. One thing I will say is that our best offensive lineup will again include three guards - Dee, Augie, Rich, Jamar, and either Warren or Pruitt.

Defensively - not so much. :)
I think it is fair to say that Chester has to prove that he belongs at this all freshmen do. Luckily for don't earn playing time or win games with your guru rankings.....he will be fine.
Guru....when Augie shows me a post move in a game...I will reconsider. At this point, he hasn't. I hope that a Senior...he should be the guy.
Smith will have more 3 pointers in his Illini career than Bradford.
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