2018-2019 Post Mortem

#1
I thought it might be easier to have a separate thread for our thoughts about this past season rathet than lump then in with Iowa post game or the 2019-2020 thread.

I thought, while there were definitely some bright spots, notably Ayo, Giorgi, and a four game stretch in February, in total, the season was very disappointing. We finished last in the conference in kenpom standings, and while we managed a three way to for 10th in conference, we did have just about the easiest imaginable conference schedule.

It certainly looked like we had turned a corner in February, but losing 5 of the last 7, including home losses to psu, iu, and a blowout by Iowa, washed away all that good feeling for me.

I think there's numerous reasons to be hopeful that next year will be markedly better, but 21 losses is just a bitter pill no matter how you slice it.
 
#2
Mad Scientist
Arizona, USA
The final record shows 21 losses, but the team was better than a "21 loss team" at the end of the season (and by extension, worse than a "21 loss team" early in the season). That alone is worth some optimism. There was marked improvement and player buy-in. It took a while for the team to put the pieces together, but at the end of it all, the bottom line is we had a brutal nonconference schedule before we started meshing, and yet we won twice as many Big Ten games as we did last year.

That last fact is important, in my opinion. We won twice as many nonconference games this year compared to last year in a much stronger Big Ten (top to bottom).

We improved over the course of this season. We improved from last season to this season. Signs are pointing up.

That said, can we please stop being blown out by Iowa and maybe finally get on the right side of Wisconsin next season? Pretty please?
 
#3
Paducah, Ky
First, the upper half of the B1G is 7 teams, not 5. Second, one more big guy in the middle completely changes the way we can defend. Iowa had their way with us inside because of the massive size advantage they had over us. Put another body in there and it's a much different defensive scheme and thus a much different game.

Third, your transitive "We lost to FAU, therefore we would have lost to Stony Brook and Weber St" is just silly. That's like saying because MSU lost to us they would have also lost to Rutgers and Northwestern.

This team was fun to watch the last half of the season, even during many of the losses. That right there makes me have hope for the near future and enjoy this season way more than a John Groce NIT season.
I believe I said could have been losses and the way we played during the season is not silly....I applaud your optimism and I still have some myself but after seeing 2 seasons of Bradball i'm very hesitant to be as optimistic as you...i was reminded this year of the dribbling around the perimeter approach of JG teams only we replaced it this year with a weaving dance that rarely did more than reducing the shot clock for those same 25 foot heaves or a shot clock violation....we had way too many shot clock snafu's to lead me to believe our O with improve without better players as we have too many average players that started and recieved more tick than more athletic players who got splinters on the pine..

JMHO and I am going to refresh my thoughts for awhile....
 
#4
No more excuses

I grew up on Illinois basketball, went to their summer basketball camps in HS and attended Illinois from 2002-2006. Have and always will be an Illinois guy.

Why do we continue to accept the current state of our program and find ways to force positive narratives from this season? Looking at the current Bracketology, teams such as Marquette, Oklahoma, Nevada are safely in the tournament. Are you telling me with our recruiting base, facilities, tradition and strong alumni / fan base, we can't be competitive enough to have the same results as Nevada? Give me a break. This is a results driven business and BU is underachieving, plain and simple. If we don't make the NCAA tournament next year, it's time to make a change.

Thoughts?
Nope. We have 2 out of the four factors mentioned. We recruit in some of the toughest areas in the nation (Chicago & St. Louis), and compete everywhere else as a second (third?) tier P5 program that is like the old dancer in “At the Copa” (google it - song by Barry Manilow in 1978). As for tradition, it’s been 14 years since we were relevant on the national stage, so we are pretty much on the same level as those teams you mentioned. Our facilities are getting better, but NOWHERE near top level. That leaves strong alumni base, and we do have that.

You were cursed going thru the UI at the basketball program’s strongest point in history (the Flyin’ Illini era folks would argue this, and I’m happy to just sit back and take it all in). I graduated in ‘85, so got to see the highs of the 80’s, the drop back to middle of the pack results in the ‘90’s, the resurgence in the mid-aughts with the resulting appearance the national championship game in ‘05. Since then . . . <crickets>

Div. 1 basketball is results oriented, and survival of the fittest for coaches. BU has had two years and in the eyes of most has recruited well (certainly starting in ‘18 - not so much the year before), has improved the product on the floor, and seems to be putting butts in the Hall. JW will give him the time to either prove himself worthy, or not. Personally, with what we have and what is coming, I think we make it as an at large team next year. If we don’t I’m sure BU will feel his seat getting warm. Until then, I’d suggest we all ”Lighten Up, Francis”.

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#6

Deleted member 11196

D
Guest
Can someone explain why they have so much problem defending and what we are missing to be better at it.
Hmmmm.... IMHO (and I know I'll get slammed for this), it's more on the young players habits and their attitudes about defense than anything else....
The superstar HS players that make the top of the rankings, always are more interested in 'offense'... Scoring is what makes a ball player obtain those 4/5-stars. No HS player has EVER been awarded 5 stars for their defense - NONE... It's always been about the offense - the scoring... ALWAYS.

They're also looking forward to being the next Jordan, or Bryant, or James, and want to bask in that spotlight (who wouldn't). They pay attention to the NBA in the styles of play - and (IMHO) the NBA is NOT about defense... It's about scoring points - OFFENSE... Hence the number of games where 100 or more points are scored - many times by the loser as well as the winner....

The college game is centered on the coach... The HS and the NBA game is centered on the individual star players.... Defense is what college basketball coaches teach and harp on. It's NOT what HS or NBA coaches think or worry about. So players whose main objective is to get to the NBA, know they only have to do just enough to get on the court, and while there, to demonstrate their ability in OFFENSE.... because it's the OFFENSE that gets them the NBA looks... NOT defense...
 
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#8
San Francisco
The final record shows 21 losses, but the team was better than a "21 loss team" at the end of the season (and by extension, worse than a "21 loss team" early in the season). That alone is worth some optimism.
 
#9
The 21 losses doesn't mean much to me. There were winnable games in the non con that just didn't happen because we had so many new faces that hadn't figured it out yet.

the 7-13 conference record is encouraging considering how we started the season. At one point it felt like they weren't going to win any BIG games, but with the stretch of basketball they played they are definitely improved over last year's teams. They left some conference games out there too, so 500 or a game above isn't at all out of the question for next season which would put them firmly on the bubble or better if the league is as strong as it was this year. Hopefully most of the guys are back.

If Kofi can come in and play interior defense, and Giorgi can get a 15 foot jumper things will look better pretty fast.
 
#10
Forgottonia
Not really. With the exception of a few optimists...and Kathy....we are exactly where we thought we would be.

Enjoyed reading through this!
https://www.illinoisloyalty.com/Forum/threads/2018-2019-predictions-thread.24649/

Of course it's another building year. We're rebuilding.
Ok. I took the bait. Of those who made actual predictions the average number of wins predicted was 15.26. A few of those included the BTT, but most did not. So 15 wins vs 11 actual.

Not what I would call “exactly where we thought we would be”, as you say. But closer to what you called us: “more likely than not a .500 team.”
 
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#11
Winged Warrior
Ok. I took the bait. Of those who made actual predictions the average number of wins predicted was 15.26. A few of those included the BTT, but most did not. So 15 wins vs 11 actual.

Not what I would call “exactly where we thought we would be”, as you say. But closer to what you called us: “more likely than not a .500 team.”
Ha! No way I was doing math! Not really baiting you, just thought it would be fun to go back and see. If you threw out the extremes, I think we really are on the track most of us expected.
 
#12
M tipping over
Pdx
I think the thing that drove so nuts this year was just watching the same mistakes over and over, and the same offensive play over and over. I know my knowledge of the game is still fairly low, but am I the only one who felt that we couldn't adapt much? If anyone can show how our plans adapted to other teams or game flow, I would really love to hear it.
 
#13
Seattle
I LOVE these guys--undersized but scrappy, frantic at times but determined to play hard. I gotta admit that AJ was my least favorite player coming in--he always seemed to put in effort but was 1/4 step slow and didn't have big shots under his belt. This season he was a MAN--playing out of position, showing leadership, steady play, grabbing boards and still hitting timely 3s, worked his butt off. Trent has a dragon-spirit--it did seem tough to find balance with Ayo, but gradually seemed more comfortable with picking his spots as the season went on, rather than having to play hero-ball, and I think he's going to take a step up on offense next year with more confidence and craftiness with the floater/mid-range step-back, and more flow with other PGs. Ayo is a gem--silky and has a knack for the ball and big plays--I predict 3 years here but he also seems more charismatic/marketable than other more skilled players so that might boost his NBA stock. His passing also seemed underrated to me, and teammates will do better anticipating his passes next year. Felix is a beast and fearless among the trees, great spark when other things are not working. Tev is super-long and athletic (is he still growing?), still jumpy and a bit slow to react on D but he's gonna be special. Griffin seemed like he was always a bit frustrated that the game was faster than he anticipated--I predict he too is likely to have a big jump next year. Damonte is super at all-round game, but has been playing amongst the trees too much and needs to build confidence and energy. Giorgi has great spirit, youthful enthusiasm, but plays smart, never frantic, great dancing feet and shoots consistently well from under the rim. Glad he stopped shooting 3s though, and hope he can adapt to another big on the floor. Even though the wins were not there, this team showed HEART and GRIT and ENERGY, and I loved watching them. I have faith their work pays dividends over next 2 years...
 
#14
I performed a similar stat sheet a referee gave me from the NW game.
2 starters.

Jordan
Williams
Rosa
Underwood
played total of 47 total minutes or 23.5% of game, scored total of 9 points or 14.5%, 7 rebounds or 29%

Just
Jordan
Williams
played total of 37 minutes or 18.5% of game, scored total of 9 points or 14.5%, rebounds or 21%

Others played 153 minutes or 76.5% of game, scored 53 points or 85.5%, 17 rebounds or 71%

Jones played a heck of a game. Really happy for him. Samba did as well for his limited time. Keep
Samba under the bucket to block/protect bucket.

keep on truckin
joe
 
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#16
Forgottonia
I did not realize that we only shot 4 free throws the whole game. I think that tells you all you need to know about how aggressive we were.
 
#17
Forgottonia
So are we hanging our off season hat on being the best 21 loss team in the country? /s

It’s unacceptable and no one would agree more than Underwood. We have no choice but to wait and see if he can turn this around, and there are good signs. But there are many problems to fix. Let’s hope he finds the right answers soon.
 
#18
This!! Everyone seems fixated on the raw number of 21 losses. If anything we should be looking at winning percentage. The loss number is so large because more games are played than in seasons past. There were definitely worse seasons in the early/mid 70's and I saw them in person.
I mean, 21 losses means I tuned in to watch Illinois basketball 21 times and they lost. I think that's why fans fixate on the number, because it made the season pretty miserable.
 
#19
From the handful of games this year where we were defending pretty well, the big thing we're missing is anticipation from help defenders who have an ability to do something positive when they're able to react in time.

DaMonte, AJ and Feliz were our best rotators. Giorgi improved a lot as the season wore along and might eventually be a plus there. January and Kofi have the natural gifts to be impactful if they can get the mental side right, which is very tough for a freshman. Trent's not a natural, Tev's a disaster, Griffin is okay, Ayo has great instincts but he's got a tendency to freelance, Kipper just depends on the day.

It's gonna be tough. We ought to improve with experience, but we're gonna need to improve a lot to be a good team next year.
I Diasgree on Tev and Griffin as they are both very long and have good instincts. IMO their problem right now is on the ball defense.
 
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#20
NW Suburbs
I mean, 21 losses means I tuned in to watch Illinois basketball 21 times and they lost. I think that's why fans fixate on the number, because it made the season pretty miserable.
OK, but in 1973/74 I was more likely to see them lose by 14% more than this year. I'm just saying this is not the worst that some of us have seen.
 
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#23
Paducah, Ky
I performed a similar stat sheet a referee gave me from the NW game.
2 starters.

Jordan
Williams
Rosa
Underwood
played total of 47 total minutes or 23.5% of game, scored total of 9 points or 14.5%, 7 rebounds or 29%

Just
Jordan
Williams
played total of 37 minutes or 18.5% of game, scored total of 9 points or 14.5%, rebounds or 21%

Others played 153 minutes or 76.5% of game, scored 53 points or 85.5%, 17 rebounds or 71%

Jones played a heck of a game. Really happy for him. Samba did as well for his limited time. Keep
Samba under the bucket to block/protect bucket.

keep on truckin
joe
Yes he did.......Very good for a " playing like a chicken with his head cut off " description some have said....
JMHO, but if TJ and AG had gotten more tick we MIGHT not be looking at a 21 in the loss column...But , hey, there are others here that dispute any opinion to the thought that some starters were not pulling their weight ...

Here's to better recruiting and more wins !!!! BTW, didn't realize clappy boy was in the running for Christian Brown....

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#25
Every time I see Jordan Murphy, I wonder what we would have done if we would have had him. My favorite non Illini.
 
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