Monday, December 05, 2005


Random Thoughts.....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You must not pay attention. McBride does take it into the lane a couple of times each game for that pull up jumper you speak of. He' just not real good at it yet. As I have in the past, I agree about not having Frazier and Dee on the court at the same time but what other lineup could have Dee playing the 2G? Neither Smith or McBride are remotely close to being PG's.
I pay attention fine.....but the games are 40 minutes....I don't think it is too much to ask to drive to the lane more than you? answer is not playing Dee at the 2G. I think both Jamar and Rich are better shooters than Dee....and Dee does a better job of running the offense than anybody else on the team. My answer...I to cut Chester's time down to giving Dee a break for 5-8 minutes a game. Other than that, I want Dee at PG. I want Rich or Jamar at 2G....and I would like to see more 3 guard when we are struggling to score.
Regarding your points about Jamar, I agree that he has been an impressive force off the bench but there are a couple reasons why he isn't playing more, and neither have to do with defense.

1) He isn't grasping his role on offense yet. And that isn't because he doesn't take more shots, it has more to do with the fact that he stands around a lot on offense. In one possession in particular in the first half, Jamar stood still out there. After the possession both Dee and Weber were yelling at him to move.

2) Jamar doesn't have the endurance to play too long. After playing for about 5-6 minutes in two separate stretches on Saturday, he was clearly gassed. Until he gains strength and endurance, I'm not sure he will be able to play more minutes.

I will say this about Jamar though: I was very impressed with his feeds to the post. He seemed to be really looking to feed the post in the second half, something I wish more of the guards would be looking to do this year.

Just my $.02 ...
Bleeding...Jamar certainly has alot to learn. But, the fact remains, they clearly score more points when he is in the game versus when Chester is in the game. When chester and Dee play together...we don't score.

As for endurance, you maybe right. But, we need to take him out...give him a few minutes rest...and get him back in the game. He sits out for very long stretches...and I'm sure he is rested enough to return. Two PG systems work when both PG's can score....right now that is not the case for Illinois. for the offense, most of them are not running it properly. From not moving enough, to moving to the wrong places, to dribbling too much at the top of the key, it is being run poorly by most of the guys...not just Jamar.
Yep. I've seen a lot of standing around from all of the players at one time or another. No butts it's not to much to ask but at least McBride is trying to do that. Dee doesn't seem to trust his midrange shot and bad things happen when Jamar tries to penetrate and take it to the hole.
Butts - I agree that a number of players leave something to be desired on offense. IMO, Weber needs to switch the roles of Jamar and Rich. At this point, Jamar is setting screens off of which Rich is cutting, much like Luther did last year. I think that Rich both could set himself up coming off the screen than Jamar does and I think Jamar would be better served coming off the screen than setting it.

I will agree with you that the offense looks much better with Jamar on the floor. In watching the game, I thought our best offensive sets came when the lineup consisted of Dee, Jamar, Rich, Randle, and Augie. I thought that was the best offensive and defensive unit on the floor on Saturday.

As for another point you made, regarding Arnold, he played much better than he has to date. If he plays like that much more, Shaun will be sitting sooner rather than later. Shaun has looked lost at times and is not doing a very good job getting rebounds, defending in the post, or setting up low enough in the block to be effective. Hopefully some additional practice time next week will help, but with finals right around the corner, I'm not to positive that a ton of growth will happen before the start of the B10 season. We'll see.
1959..I agree...Rich is making the effort. I would really like to see drive to the basket and make the pass to a big for a dunk...or kick out to a guard for an open 3...we just aren't getting that.

As for Pruitt, the biggest thing that he has stopped doing is rebounding...and if he isn't going to rebound, Arnold will start eating some of his minutes.

Finals?? How much did you study during finals week?? Plenty of time to practice IMO:)
Butts - Re your point about Dee playing PG and seeing how valuable what Deron brought to the table last year was. I agree with that - but one thing to keep in mind (and this is No slight towards Deron) but when you have 4 other experienced players on the court - it's a lot easier to set up your teammates.

The other guys on the team have to make themselves available to get the ball in positions where they can score it. If they don't do that, Dee can shake his man and get in the lane every play and he's still not going to set them up well.

Creating shots is a two way street and delivering the pass is just part. The other players have to get open. The problem currently seems to be that Dee's the only one who understands how hard you have to work off the ball to be in a place to get it and score (maybe Jamar's doing ok at this too).

As for the next few games: we Better not lose Saturday!!!! It's the only chance I've had for the last 3 seasons to see the boys live and in person!!!!! question our poor movemnet without the ball makes it harder for Dee...I agree. But, if he would beat his man off the dribble, force help in the lane, he would create opportunties for others. Right now, he is pretty content to stay out beyond the 3 point line. And, Chester, just pounds the dribble because that is what he is comfortable doing.
All great comments. Fans at the UC was aghast several times when the motion bogged down.

I agree that Jamar has to get more minutes, would like to see more of the Dee, Rich, Jamar, Randle and Augie lineup. I think that crew could do some things both offensively on the break and defensively. Two bigs who will run better than their opponent counterparts and two excellent outside shooters on the wing. I could see that group scoring a lot of points.

Chester Frazier was very painful at times to watch Saturday. He may be the worst Illini player since Halim Abdullah. Currently he's at 20% shooting from the field and 9% from three point land. For some reason, 11 of his 15 shots have come from beyond the arc. Right now, the opposition is basically playing 5 against 4 when Frazier's on the offensive end of the floor.

Was happy to see sophomore center Michael Dunnigan from Farragut at the game Saturday cheering for the Illini. Farragut oach Wolf Nelson had some other kids with him there as well. Dunnigan should be a big-timer before it's all said and done. I've also heard some encouraging things lately on Illinois and Derrick Rose, to the point where I may actually think Illinois leads now. Sounds like Rose sees the logjam at UNC and is becoming less enamored with the Tar Heels. Remember that Derrick wants to get to the League ASAP and Illinois may provide his best shot for that.

Interesting to hear that Weber went to St. Joe's game Friday night. From what I understand, wasn't a great game for any of Peoples, McCamey and Turner. My guess is that Turner is the highest priority to the Illini coaching staff of that bunch. I wouldn't be shocked to see Peoples get the final 2006 scholarship if some of the other options fall through. I think he'd be an upgrade to Frazier.

Also, talked to an Arkansas-Little Rock player at ESPNZone Saturday evening. They stopped in Chicago on their way from the Michigan State game to Champaign. The kid said UALR hung with Michigan State by playing junk triangle-and-two and box-and-one defenses. He said they normally play man to man but will play the junk zones against Illinois as well. He said the only Illinois players he knew of were Dee Brown and James Augustine, that's the only guys the coaches had really talked about to that point.
One other thing, saw the Gonzaga-UW game last night. I concur with Efrem, it's painful to see Pargo and Dentmon and know they could have been Illini. Both guys are very good players who would play major minutes on this year's team. Probably not fair to compare them to Frazier as those two are way better at this stage of their careers, but it will be interesting to follow them over time.

Adam Morrison's a player, by the way, and UW is deep and talented. Gonzaga's solid and they play really hard. Not a lot of defense last night but I could see UW being in the top 10 when it's all said and done. The Huskies just come at you with waves of athletes. Liked what I saw from Appleby last night.
By the way, how bad is Purdue? Keady/Painter have taken that program to new lows. How long do you think Painter gets to turn that program around? He loses his best player when Carl Landry graduates...
A Halim Abdullah reference. I'm not going to go as far as you at this point....but I would like to see Chester's minutes limited to giving Dee 5-6 minutes of rest in games that are closely contested. At this point, Weber doesn't agree.
Your Duke squad has major flaws and will lose several games this year....the man is unwilling to play his bench. Funny considering his bench is better than most.
What are out options for last scholarship for a guard for 2006 and SF in 2007? I see that Illinois Offered AJ Stewart for 2007. We need a scorer for 2006?

This week will be tough.

I think the Gordon commitment was huge for us and our chase of Rose. Does this have anything to do with what you're hearing with regards to Rose?

What exactly are you hearing in regards to Rose?

2006 guard options appear to be Deonta Vaughn, Eugene Harvey, Ramar Smith, Jonathan Peoples and Patrick Beverly, probably in that order.

2007 still looks like Gordon, Ping, Tisdale/Cole and possibly Rose. Ping and one of Tisdale/Cole look pretty likely, they'll find another scholarship for Rose if he wants to come.

Anonymous, I've heard the coaching staff is very confident on Derrick Rose. Keep in mind they were also confident on Scheyer and Collins (as well as Gordon)...but they are starting to get good vibes and they know they can sell the playing time argument vs. North Carolina.

The issue with Rose will be if other major schools like UCONN jump into the mix. If Rose and his people are serious about limiting him to the schools that he's listing now, that is excellent news for Illinois.

Based on the way Jamar Smith's playing, Illinois is a big-time point guard away from having something special building for 2007-2008.
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