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 2-4...like 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 shoot....you 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 team....no. 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 better.....as 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 better....as 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 know....how 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 Lakers.....how 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 ready.....no 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.

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