2018-2019 Post Mortem

#51
We had 8 new faces and were significantly undersized to compete in the toughest Big Ten in years. Hopefully we don't suffer any transfers this offseason and both recruits arrive as expected. That being said, can the team get strong enough over the summer to rebound against the Wisconsins, Purdues, and Michigan States of the conference?
As much as I hope there is enough improvement so that Selection Sunday next year will be a cause for celebration, I don't have much confidence that it will materialize.
Two men over 6'10" and 235 and 280 are the size we need. Think we know what we get with Kofi, Antwan is the mystery to me. The clips show a very athletic big man but have no idea whether he has the skills to play in the big but he is physically ready unlike Samba. Just hope he is here in the summer to work on skills. Even if OA is limited in time, believe Giorgi will help in his development. Think Samba is more suited to backup Giorgi at the 4 than the 5. In what few minutes he played he didn't seem afraid to shoot or take it to the rim. Has to be a lot easier for the guards to make layups with Giorgi and Kofi blocking out. Also much more confident to shoot if you have those two on the boards.
 
#52

Deleted member 746317

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At this point I’ll take John Groce N.I.T berths rather then 2 losing seasons in a row. I’m tired of copping pleas for mediocrity. Great coaches adjust there philosophies to benefit the team. Plus the season was over in December. So the young guys should’ve been playing period. I’m all for rebuilding a culture and program. But to not try to adjust your offense and defense to your personnel all season is inexcusable. The great coaches adjust the system and make it easier and to give the team the best chance to win. I will say Underwood had the kids playing hard but most of all the 2nd halves of games this season the team was dead tired from using all that energy on a gimmicky defense that was easily broke down or drew numerous fouls. Hopefully it gets turnaround but you can tell Underwood is very stubborn in changing his philosophies.
In one of the post game interviews, BU expressly refuted the idea that our team is tired/has lost their legs in second half play. Is he wrong? Maybe. I don't know. Truly, I don't know, and I don't even have a guess -- I'm not holding back an opinion on that. So, in that context, I would offer some questions and comments (and couple of opinions I do have) for sake of discussion and entertainment . . .

Unless a player tells a reporter that he and/or his teammates are regularly running out of gas during game play, then I'm not sure how I could know what's going on with the players by watching television/video of the games. How are fans "qualified to have an opinion" on whether tiredness is a multiplayer issue in second halves of the games? How are fans to discern whether short shots, slow/sluggish-looking footwork or apparent indecisiveness of players is caused by mental, emotional or physical injury/tiredness reasons? Fans speculate (part of the fun of being fans and being on this board), but I struggle with some of the posts that seem to declare the following as facts: team-wide tiredness and/or inability of any college team to physically perform as BU envisions.

There is a sub-narrative to the tiredness opinion thread that says 18/19 year-olds do not/cannot have the same stamina as 20+year-olds. Is that a generally true proposition? Seams likely to me, but, again, I don't know. There certainly are college athletes/ex-college athletes who will report that they personally gained much greater physical stamina and greater recovery abilities as they developed from 18 year-olds to 20+, but do those experiences (or the general rule) actually answer the question of whether the 18-19 year-olds that we have on the floor for IL do or do not have the physical stamina required to play the game the way BU draws it up for them?

BU believes our players are in great physical condition and that they have been made so because they they've applied themselves to the conditioning program (including practice frequency and intensity) he has in place. BU is sitting/standing mere feet away watching (even talking to/at/with and listening to) players in real time while the games are being played, and he, the assistant coaches and players are interacting/watching/listening to each other every day ... If the players are too fatigued to play at a high level during the second half of games then wouldn't you think BU would know it?

I think it would be interesting to see the results of voting for/against these possibilities:

P1 - Our players as a team are NOT TOO TIRED to play at a high level in the second half of their games; rather, they suffer some sort of mental or emotional let downs in the second half some games and/or opposing teams adapt their second half play better than we do.
P2 - Our players in fact are TOO TIRED to implement game plans in the second halves, and the coaching STAFF DOES NOT REALIZE IT.
P3 - Players are TOO TIRED, but EMPEROR BU DOESN'T GET IT, and other coaches and players won't say that THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES.
P4 - Players are TOO TIRED, and BU KNOWS IT, but he SEES TIREDNESS AS LEAST OF THE EVILS TO CHOOSE FROM in approaching this year's games.
P5 - Players are TOO TIRED, and BU KNOWS IT, but he SEES TIREDNESS THIS YEAR AS A NECESSARY EVIL to endure on the way to making players more physically capable for next year and years after.

My current thoughts on those possibilities are:

P1 - somewhat likely (but, per opening comments, I don't know)
P2 - doubt that entire staff would not realize it, if too tired was the issue
P3 - thank me later for the no clothes BU visual, but openness of communication appears to be in BU's culture
P4 - fairly likely (see similar choices with playing time for ADLR and TU)
P5 - might actually be a reasonable approach; seems to match BU comments on long view "program" approach vs individual-year team outcomes


Couple of parting shots for fun:
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#53

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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?
I think the only way BU should be let go at end of next year is if we finish 13/14 in conference, no post season of any kind and he clearly "loses the locker room" or there's some kind of scandal. I understand that it's good to stop digging when you find yourself in a hole, but I'm not sure that's what we are seeing, and I feel strongly that rapid churning of coaches really hurts a program ...

I agreed with BU interview statement that last year was something that had to be "gotten through," and I would say this year's non-con schedule also "had to be gotten through." Using the premise that you've got to have at least three points to start a trend line, I start with this year as the first data point for which BU is responsible, and l look to next year as the second data point. Year after that is where I would start drawing lines ...
 
#54
Bonnaroo Land
I have to chuckle at those who think BU should be fired because he hasn't provided huge win results in only his second season..........do you not know that if he was fired, it would mean another down year or 2, or heaven forbid if the coach that was hired did the same thing, and he was fired and so on? Wait until next year, things about to get real good up in here.
 
#55

Deleted member 11196

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I have to chuckle at those who think BU should be fired because he hasn't provided huge win results in only his second season..........do you not know that if he was fired, it would mean another down year or 2, or heaven forbid if the coach that was hired did the same thing, and he was fired and so on? Wait until next year, things about to get real good up in here.
IMHO.... We live in a world where instant success is the rosetta stone. Some believe that if a coach cannot win, win big, and win instantly then they should be fired. If we followed this motto to its ultimate conclusion, we end up firing a coach after their first loss, and hiring a new one, only to fire them after their first loss.... Not a good results oriented strategy IMHO...
 
#56

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LI
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”.

View attachment 4352
Like and agree with all of this - thanks for the high quality post.

I grew up in central IL and my dad was a big ILLINI fan, so I began following IL basketball in the late 70's, during the beginning of the peak of Lou Henson's years.

I graduated from UI-UC in '89 (after 5yrs :cool:) and had the privilege to spend a lot of time around all of the players from '86 through '89. Awesome time to be an IL basketball fan (tourney games vs Austin P and Villanova, notwithstanding). I attended all of the home games and tourney games from '86 to '89, and I still have the Final Four commemorative basketball (shown in my avatar on this forum) signed by all of the '89 players on their plane-ride back from Seattle.

I tend to think of the '89 team as the GOAT in terms of excitement, desire and ability. Haven't seen anything quite like Kenny Battle since (except Dee Brown, who had a similar sort of impact on national commentators and fans/non-fans who watched our games). In '89, Kendall Gill, Kenny Battle and Nick Anderson showed, at times, almost Jordanesque ability to "decide" that they were going to score or take the ball away from the other team. The mojo inexplicably wasn't there for the '89 guys against the Muckers in national semifinal game, but that group of guys had rare ability to physically overwhelm the opposition.

Not sure I remember a game as exciting to watch as the 2005 game vs Arizona. Loved (!!) the 2005 team, one of my sons (now 23 years old) still wears a Dee Brown jersey sometimes, and I don't remember seeing another IL team with the kind of chemistry and balance roles/abilities we saw between Dee/Deron/Luther/Augie/theRev. 2005 team might have been our GOAT as an example of the hole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

I'm going to be a lifelong IL BB fan, and I do think good days are coming again.
 
#57
California
I'm not sure that good days are coming again but I'm not so sure that bad days will continue to worry too much about it.

I would give the season a C.

Factor in no injuries, a tougher than usual non-conference schedule, and an easier than usual B10 schedule.

A nice run which ended and a finish on a low note.

Good effort almost all the time.
 
#58
In three of our last four games there were single digit turnovers against us. Is that an indicator of our lack of effort, lack of player understanding of the system etc? I believe it is coaches figuring out how to defeat it after some exposure. BU needs to modify his defensive system in this league according to his personnel and the opposition. I do believe in his strategy to keep the opposing team out of their comfort zone. However, this will have to be done by varying the defense rather than just pressure. Kofi's abilities offer some advantages and disadvantages but will require some modifications. Obviously this is easier when you have experienced players and believe BU is smart enough to recognize this and make the changes. Next year will be interesting.
 
#59
We encountered a number of teams this season who were bigger, quicker, stronger, and more athletic. Glad we didn't play NC, Duke, FSU or Virginia.
Don't believe Iowa is quicker or more athletic but certainly larger and stronger. Size matters!
 
#60
For any of you guys slightly worried, I was told from a source close to the bball program that Tev and Samba have no intentions of transferring currently. The staff loves both of their upsides, as both are being prepped to handle bigger roles this offseason.
My gut tells me AG stays too, because of how high his dad is on the staff. Adrian has a huge say in his sons basketball career.
I hear rumors that Ayo will stay, but a lot of that is generated by the feelings of the staff. He will test the waters to get an idea of what critiques NBA scouts/teams have on him.
The only one i wonder will stay is Kipper. He might be dropped back on the depth chart.
 
#61
In a tougher than usual B1G where anybody could beat anybody??????
Not putting words in his mouth but we didn't have to play most top teams twice Michigan State Purdue Michigan Maryland. Crazy as that anybody could beat anybody chalk pretty held up in the tournament.
 
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#62
Tyler Cook is 6"9" 250. He was being guarded DM at 6'3" 200 and AJ at 6"5" 210.

Demonte and Aaron could have been from Krypton and they would not have stopped Cook.

Another year together, another year in the weight room, 2 big freshmen, maybe a transfer with size and this team 3-4 more games in the conference next year.

We have posters that think the end is near and a few weeks ago on Tigerboard, Mizzou fans were talking about next years BR game might be different because
Illinois is poised to turn the corner.
 
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#63
Compared stats 17/18 vs 18/19
Fg% .436 to .424
3 pt%. .317 to .334
Reb. 29.3 to 32.2
Pts 71.8 to 70.9
Pts Opp. 75 to 77
Players with double digit minutes
Srs. 1 to 1
Jrs. 3 to 2
Sophs. 1 to 2
Frosh. 2 to 2
Doesn't really reflect either a younger team or improvement in either offense or defense.
 
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#64
I have to chuckle at those who think BU should be fired because he hasn't provided huge win results in only his second season..........do you not know that if he was fired, it would mean another down year or 2, or heaven forbid if the coach that was hired did the same thing, and he was fired and so on? Wait until next year, things about to get real good up in here.
This isn't necessarily true. It is much easier to make teams successful quickly in basketball. Look at what Keatts has done his first two years at NC State as a for instance. This isn't a football rebuild. Football requires more depth and the difference in strength needed between the two sports are big. So far BU has failed. There's nothing wrong with saying that, nor does it necessarily mean he'll fail going forward. But to think this team is on the cusp of turning this around is false. The defense remained dreadful throughout the season, the offense got worse at the end. There is no reason to think if BU gets fired after year 4 (3 is too soon imo) that someone else couldn't come in and win quickly.
 
#65
Mom! The Meatloaf!
Compared stats 17/18 vs 18/19
Fg% .436 to .424
3 pt%. .317 to .334
Reb. 29.3 to 32.2
Pts 71.8 to 70.9
Pts Opp. 75 to 77
Players with double digit minutes
Srs. 1 to 1
Jrs. 3 to 2
Sophs. 1 to 2
Frosh. 2 to 2
Doesn't really reflect either a younger team or improvement in either offense or defense.
Less cupcakes to pad the stats.
Kenpom Rank AdjO AdjD
17-18. 102 86 129
18-19. 82 81 107
 
#66
This isn't necessarily true. It is much easier to make teams successful quickly in basketball. Look at what Keatts has done his first two years at NC State as a for instance. This isn't a football rebuild. Football requires more depth and the difference in strength needed between the two sports are big. So far BU has failed. There's nothing wrong with saying that, nor does it necessarily mean he'll fail going forward. But to think this team is on the cusp of turning this around is false. The defense remained dreadful throughout the season, the offense got worse at the end. There is no reason to think if BU gets fired after year 4 (3 is too soon imo) that someone else couldn't come in and win quickly.
Keatts also had the easiest non conference schedule in all D1 basketball via kenpom.
 
#68
Tyler Cook is 6"9" 250. He was being guarded DM at 6'3" 200 and AJ at 6"5" 210.

Demonte and Aaron could have been from Krypton and they would not have stopped Cook.

Another year together, another year in the weight room, 2 big freshmen, maybe a transfer with size and this team 3-4 more games in the conference next year.

We have posters that think the end is near and a few weeks ago on Tigerboard, Mizzou fans were talking about next years BR game might be different because
Illinois is poised to turn the corner.
Good points. Let's also not lose sight of this fact: we played the entire season with a Freshman Center and no power forward and no small forward. It's an amazing thing we won as many games as we did. Let that sink in; a Freshman center and no power forward. Not even a small forward. (Sorry Kipper fans, I just can't consider him as a plus small forward.) That's just insane!!! Yes I know... "positionless .............!"
 
#69
Here was my preseason prediction:

Thu, Nov 08___Evansville W
Tue, Nov 13___Georgetown L
Mon, Nov 19___Gonzaga (Maui Invitational). L
Tue, Nov 20___Arizona or Iowa State (Maui Invitational)L
Wed, Nov 21___Auburn/Duke/SDSU/Xavier (Maui Invitational) L
Sun, Nov 25___Mississippi Valley State W
Tue, Nov 27___@Notre Dame L
Sun, Dec 02___@Nebraska L
Wed, Dec 05___Ohio State (Chicago, IL) W
Sat, Dec 08___UNLV L
Sat, Dec 15___East Tennessee State W
Sat, Dec 22___Missouri (St. Louis, MO) L
Sat, Dec 29___Florida Atlantic W
Thu, Jan 03___@Indiana L
Sun, Jan 06___@Northwestern L
Thu, Jan 10___Michigan L
Wed, Jan 16___Minnesota W
Sun, Jan 20___@Iowa L
Wed, Jan 23___Wisconsin L
Sat, Jan 26___Maryland (New York, NY) L
Wed, Jan 30___@Minnesota L
Sat, Feb 02___Nebraska L
Tue, Feb 05___Michigan State L
Sat, Feb 09___Rutgers W
Thu, Feb 14___@Ohio State L
Mon, Feb 18___@Wisconsin L
Sat, Feb 23___Penn State W
Wed, Feb 27___@Purdue L
Sun, Mar 03___Northwestern W
Thu, Mar 07___Indiana L
Sun, Mar 10___@Penn State L

B10 tourney win over Minny, then loss to Michigan (as is now traditional). 9-22 no post season play.


Then my comments on the next page:
I expect us to be one of the worst P5 teams. No front court. Freshmen bigs are generally awful. If Kipper gets in foul trouble, then defense will be either fouling or getting beat for layups. Probably the least experienced team in the country. No cohesion given so many newcomers, and late summer arrivals. Plus tough schedule.

Long season. Just looking for improvement as it progresses, increasing team chemistry. and how BU/Ayo handle the adversity.

Would love to be wrong.


Now looking back on that, I think that gloomy prediction was pretty accurate. But what I was looking for this year did appear: the team progressed, chemistry was there and way better than 2017-18, and BU didn't throw his players under the bus (aka, pulling a Bruce) and Ayo didn't pout or ball hog too much.

KenPom suggests that our offense and defense didn't really improve from last season. And that means some adjustments are in order (try passing in transition, reduce the gambling defense, pick and roll to Giorgi, and my 5 year-old could get to the rim against Ills). But addidng some frontcourt beef and a year of experience, at least makes Ills a possible mid-tier B10 team next year. That would be a welcome change. So overall, I am pleased with the direction of this season. Bummed it's over.

Finally, I watch for entertainment, and this team was really fun to watch, especially compared to some of those Tracy, Malcolm, Mav teams. Feliz was electric, Tevian can wow, GB is fluid, AJ was tough and lovable, and of course Ayo and Trent play with passion and flair.
 
#70
California
In a tougher than usual B1G where anybody could beat anybody??????
What is relevant is who ILL played in the conference. I might have agreed with you if IL had not played only six games total against the top five teams in the conference (and the only teams with winning records in conference).

The 2 - 4 record indicates progress and plenty of opportunity for further progress.
 
#71
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?
I had great hopes, but saying we were better than a 21 loss team at the end of the season, just isn't true.
 
#72
I had great hopes, but saying we were better than a 21 loss team at the end of the season, just isn't true.
I do not think being the best 21 loss team at the end of the season means too much We probably could beat the likes of:
Birmingham
New Hampshire
Maine
East Carolina
Tulane
North Alabama
Stetson
Kennesaw State
Idaho
UNC Ashville
USC Upstate
Cal Poly
Milwaukee
Coppin State
Mt St Marys
 
#73
I do not think being the best 21 loss team at the end of the season means too much We probably could beat the likes of:
Birmingham
New Hampshire
Maine
East Carolina
Tulane
North Alabama
Stetson
Kennesaw State
Idaho
UNC Ashville
USC Upstate
Cal Poly
Milwaukee
Coppin State
Mt St Marys
Perhaps we could beat some of these teams, but no guarantees. Look at our won and loss record. We lost to some bad teams.
 
#74
Less cupcakes to pad the stats.
Kenpom Rank AdjO AdjD
17-18. 102 86 129
18-19. 82 81 107
These were only conference stats. No cupcakes either year. Should have noted that. Positive is that more of the players making signicant contributions will be here next year (assuming no transfers or Ayo leaving). Losing all of the bigs last year and having Kipper underperform more than offset Giogi's contribution.
 
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#75
Like to look at the stats but sometimes don't meet the eye test. Example: I was a big fan of TJL because of his defense and ability to finish at the rim. Here is the comparison TJL/AF mins 21.4/22.3 fg% .478/.453, 3pt% .263/.270, Rebs 2.2/2.9, A/to. 1.7/1.5, pts 5.7/8.3
2.6 more pts per game (FT's accounted for 1) but effect on game tremendously improved with Dre. Sure would like to see him more of a threat with the three. Didn't think he was a better finisher at the rim but he certainly was much better at getting there than either Ayo or Trent. Guessing a combination of strength and experience.