Big Ten Preview by Spartan Fan

#27
I'd expect Ohio State to finish solidly ahead of us also. I wouldn't bet my house that the Buckeyes beat us out, but I'd be pretty surprised if we finished third ahead of them. I think we're pretty solidly 4 however as I'll be a bit surprised if any one else beats us out.
The uneven schedule may have a lot to do with how each team finishes. It may be just a game that decides it and playing Iowa once instead of MSU once might make all the difference.
 
#28
Like most 4th sounds about right given last years inconsistencies and remaining question marks. To get a little more in-depth, 4th could be great or mediocre depending on how the B10 shakes down, will only the top 3 be real contenders with the remaining 8 sniffing their fumes or will 1-5 all be competitive and beat up on each other?

I think as the author does that if Illinois buys in and gets it as a team, they can be competitive with anyone in the conference, but I’m just not ready to assume they’ll make that leap.
 
#29
It is strange to read such a review and NOT find any glaring errors. He really does know our team, far better than I know MSU. Congrats on a job well done.
 
#30
Personally, not buying all the Purdue love. Yes, they will be good and finish somewhere in the top 25, but to me, no way is Purdue a top 5 team. Where is the depth with this team? Losing Kramer will hurt them more than people will think (i.e. Chester Fraizer). I really like tOSU even after losing Evan Turner. They have a talented group with NBA prospects IMO in Lighty and Buford as well as a stellar recruiting class. MSU and tOSU should finish 1 and 2, with Illinois and Purdue most likely a couple of games off the pace.
 
#31
Captain 'Paign
Phoenix, AZ
Personally, not buying all the Purdue love. Yes, they will be good and finish somewhere in the top 25, but to me, no way is Purdue a top 5 team. Where is the depth with this team? Losing Kramer will hurt them more than people will think (i.e. Chester Fraizer). I really like tOSU even after losing Evan Turner. They have a talented group with NBA prospects IMO in Lighty and Buford as well as a stellar recruiting class. MSU and tOSU should finish 1 and 2, with Illinois and Purdue most likely a couple of games off the pace.
I agree that Purdue is getting more love than they probably deserve. I don't see them as a Top 5 team because of their depth issues and questions about their toughness with loss of Kramer, etc. I think Top 10-15 might be reasonable. To me, MSU will be the team to beat again next season since even though they lose a couple good pieces they are also getting some very good talents to add in Appling and Payne. They'll have the right combination of talent, depth, and experience to make another deep run in the Tourney.

Loss of Turner is going to hurt Ohio State more than most think, too. They'll still be excellent up front with Sullinger, Lauderdale, and newcomer 5-star Deshaun Thomas and they'll be consistent in their backcourt with Diebler, Lighty, and Buford. Are any of those guards good enough to run the point, though? That's a big question. I see it as 1. MSU, 2. OSU, and then a tight race between Purdue and Illinois for 3rd in the Big Ten.
 
#32
Coatesville, PA
I predict Wisky runs the table in Big Ten Play :p

Okay maybe not but I wouldn't be surprised if they are in the mix with us...forever underrated it seems
 
#33
Cape Town, South Africa
excellent analysis

Not much to add to this analysis. My concerns are: 1. Leadership and maturity, 2. Consistency, 3. Defense, 4. Team chemistry. Blending personalities and skills is very difficult, but the good coaches seem to find a way. I think that toughness is still lacking, which to me is more important that physicality with Chet and Trent being the best examples of that. I don't see a fire-in-the-belly commitment from this team, but perhaps the seniors can grab the season by the neck and do what has to be done. I'm looking forward to seeing how this mystery works out.
 
#34
Cape Town, South Africa
How did it happen?

Two reasons:

1. Illinois is a basketball school
2. Ron Zook
Yes, Coach Ron Zook has had disappointing seasons for two years running, but how does one explain 2007? Same coach, young team, three great Big Ten wins and a near miss with Missouri? What happened after that? To say that we are a basketball school doesn't answer the question.
 
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#35
Heart of Illinois
I agree that Purdue is getting more love than they probably deserve. I don't see them as a Top 5 team because of their depth issues and questions about their toughness with loss of Kramer, etc. I think Top 10-15 might be reasonable. To me, MSU will be the team to beat again next season since even though they lose a couple good pieces they are also getting some very good talents to add in Appling and Payne. They'll have the right combination of talent, depth, and experience to make another deep run in the Tourney.

Loss of Turner is going to hurt Ohio State more than most think, too. They'll still be excellent up front with Sullinger, Lauderdale, and newcomer 5-star Deshaun Thomas and they'll be consistent in their backcourt with Diebler, Lighty, and Buford. Are any of those guards good enough to run the point, though? That's a big question. I see it as 1. MSU, 2. OSU, and then a tight race between Purdue and Illinois for 3rd in the Big Ten.
I have to respectfully disagree with this notion. Purdue will be deeper next season than they have been the past two.

First, the losses of Kramer and Grant will be relatively easily overcome IMO. Byrd, at least physically, is a clone of Kramer. Same goes for Barlow with regard to Grant. I don't believe Byrd will be the defender that Kramer was, but he will be adequate in that regard and better offensively. He showed some promise in the tournament, not to mention gaining valuable experience to boot. Grant was not an elite defender, merely a good one. I think Barlow will easily match that and while Barlow may not be the shooter that Grant was, he already has better handles and got a great deal of experience last season. Don't forget about Hart and Smith as well (plus freshman Anthony Johnson) = depth.

More importantly, I've read that people believe Kramer's senior leadership will be missed. They have three senior-to-be stars returning that have made the tournament the past two seasons (sweet sixteen both times) as well as won a Big Ten tournament title and tied for the regular season title. They don't need Kramer to lead.

Additionally, they will have LewJack back for the entire season and presumably fully healthy not to mention stud freshman Terone Johnson competing with him at the point. For much of last season they didn't even have a point guard. Again, more depth not to mention more versatility.

Finally, they have a sophomore in Bade with frontcourt experience to back up Hummel (sophomore Bade > freshman Bade) and red-shirt freshman, euro-style big man Sandi Marcius (6'9' 260 lbs) to back up Johnson. More depth up front. Again, not to mention their two freshmen PFs, one of whom might find some minutes.

The only real issue they face is Hummel's recovery. That will be the key for them. If he is not fully healthy, then all bets are off as far as Big Ten titles and national championships are concerned. If he is fully healthy, a big if I know, then they, along with MSU, are the cream of the crop in the Big Ten. However, the same could be said with regard to Lucas and MSU, though the freshman McD's AA Appling might be able to fill in along with Lucious and they may not miss a beat. I would rather be in MSU's shoes than Purdue's is what I'm saying. Purdue has no replacement for Robbie Hummel.

That leaves us and OSU as the wild cards. Talented enough on paper to compete with those two, but still too many unanswered questions to be resolved. Either of the Illini or OSU could end up fighting it out for the Big Ten Championship or end up a clear 4th-5th place team (Wisky, Minny or NW could easily surpass preseason expectations IMO and at least one of them likely will). :illinois:
 
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#36
Chicago, IL
Finally, they have a sophomore in Bade with frontcourt experience to back up Hummel (sophomore Bade > freshman Bade) and red-shirt freshman, euro-style big man Sandi Marcius (6'9' 260 lbs) to back up Johnson. More depth up front. Again, not to mention their two freshmen PFs, one of whom might find some minutes.

The only real issue they face is Hummel's recovery. That will be the key for them. If he is not fully healthy, then all bets are off as far as Big Ten titles and national championships are concerned. If he is fully healthy, a big if I know, then they, along with MSU, are the cream of the crop in the Big Ten.
Illinois also said that replacing Frazier, Meachem, and Brock with a more talented backcourt would not be an issue. So I think you are discounting the loss of Kramer and Grant a little too much, especially Grant's ability to hit clutch shots for them down the stretch this year. But, as you pointed out Purdue has the senior leadership this year that should let them avoid some of the pitfalls we encountered.

However, it is the front court that I Purdue is very vulnerable both in the Big Ten and nationally. JJ and Hummel will be a dynamite duo. But their back-ups are suspect. Bade did not show much last year and the feedback on both him and Marcuis has not been very positive. They also only add one freshman big because they are out of scholarships (Hale has to go to prep school for a year since JJ returned). I'm not saying they can't develop into reliable back-ups, but Purdue fans are pretty nervous that this is their team's obvious achilles heal.
 
#37
Heart of Illinois
Illinois also said that replacing Frazier, Meachem, and Brock with a more talented backcourt would not be an issue. So I think you are discounting the loss of Kramer and Grant a little too much, especially Grant's ability to hit clutch shots for them down the stretch this year. But, as you pointed out Purdue has the senior leadership this year that should let them avoid some of the pitfalls we encountered.

However, it is the front court that I Purdue is very vulnerable both in the Big Ten and nationally. JJ and Hummel will be a dynamite duo. But their back-ups are suspect. Bade did not show much last year and the feedback on both him and Marcuis has not been very positive. They also only add one freshman big because they are out of scholarships (Hale has to go to prep school for a year since JJ returned). I'm not saying they can't develop into reliable back-ups, but Purdue fans are pretty nervous that this is their team's obvious achilles heal.
A few points:

We replaced two fifth-year seniors and a true senior with true freshmen and a junior who had essentially no in-game experience (not to mention a guy without a true position). Purdue will be replacing two true seniors with two true sophomores with significant freshman playing experience. Also, as you agreed, Purdue will also have three star senior players to lead. Additionally, Kramer, while a good defender a la Chet, was not their unquestioned leader. Chet was not only our best defender and toughest player, but our unquestioned leader. Purdue won't face the same issues next season that we faced this season IMO. Apples to oranges.

You also refer to Grant's shooting ability. He saw his minutes per game significantly decreased last season versus the season prior (22.9 vs. 27.2), and that was with his minutes artificially increased at the end of the season with Hummel's injury. That reduction was a result of his own poor performance coupled with Barlow's solid play cutting into his minutes. Grant shot a borderline pathetic .287 from three on the season last year. Not too difficult to replace that. Consequently, I don't think I'm discounting his loss too much.

With regard to their front court depth, I didn't say it would be quality depth, just better than last season. They managed to tie for the conference regular season title last season and make it to the sweet sixteen (without arguably their best player), so I'd say that any improvement up front, however slight, will position them quite nicely.

I say (if Hummel is good to go) they will be as good as if not better than last season, which puts them at the top of the conference with MSU IMO.
 
#38
Chicago, IL
A few points:

We replaced two fifth-year seniors and a true senior with true freshmen and a junior who had essentially no in-game experience (not to mention a guy without a true position). Purdue will be replacing two true seniors with two true sophomores with significant freshman playing experience. Also, as you agreed, Purdue will also have three star senior players to lead. Additionally, Kramer, while a good defender a la Chet, was not their unquestioned leader. Chet was not only our best defender and toughest player, but our unquestioned leader. Purdue won't face the same issues next season that we faced this season IMO. Apples to oranges.

You also refer to Grant's shooting ability. He saw his minutes per game significantly decreased last season versus the season prior (22.9 vs. 27.2), and that was with his minutes artificially increased at the end of the season with Hummel's injury. That reduction was a result of his own poor performance coupled with Barlow's solid play cutting into his minutes. Grant shot a borderline pathetic .287 from three on the season last year. Not too difficult to replace that. Consequently, I don't think I'm discounting his loss too much.

With regard to their front court depth, I didn't say it would be quality depth, just better than last season. They managed to tie for the conference regular season title last season and make it to the sweet sixteen (without arguably their best player), so I'd say that any improvement up front, however slight, will position them quite nicely.

I say (if Hummel is good to go) they will be as good as if not better than last season, which puts them at the top of the conference with MSU IMO.
They managed to tie for the conference regular season title last season and make it to the sweet sixteen withiut Hummel because of.....Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer.

The team rallied around those two. Grant never put up the numbers he did his sophomore year. But it was Grant who stepped up in key moments when they needed it from someone. He hits 2 late threes, including the game-winner in the Minny game where Hummel got injured. When Purdue was down three at half to Siena in the NCAA first round it was Grant who scored all 11 of his points during a 16-3 run to open the 2nd half and pull Purdue away.

There numbers aren't eye-poping, but watching a few of their games down the stretch, it became apparent to me that the team playing without Hummel relied heavily on Kramer and Grant's saavy, decsion-making, and ability to step up in crucual moments.

Barlow, Bade, and Byrd (say that 3 times real fast) all contributed their share and I think Barlow especially can become a real good player. By the time they graduate, they should be better players than Kramer and Grant. But those 2 guys were tough and it rubbed off on their teammates when they needed it most.

If most of their intanibles stuck to the underclassmen, then they should be as good as last year if not better. If not, they could slip a few slots in a loaded Big Ten.
 
#39
PURDUE

First of all we all know Bade was horrible last year.
He is so slow on D that he can't hedge and recover on high picks.
When he tries he gets in the way........
All PURDUE fans are hoping he either improves a ton or gains weight and plays football.

Marcius or Carroll will provide depth at the 4-5....both are 6'9". The scary thing is Marcius was only slightly ahead of Bade when he got hurt last year......OUCH!

Replacing Kramer and Grant.........nobody will ever play as hard as those 2 combined. But Byrd, Hart, Smith, Barlow, Lewjack and Johnson & Johnson will be up to the challenge.
Most PURDUE fans expect Terone Johnson to push Lewjack for minutes at the point. We just have to wait and see who steps up over the summer. Anthony Johnson will push to back up Moore and get 15-20 minutes if he can D up. The good news is there are plenty of guys with talent.

What really worries PURDUE fans is 2 years from now.......this years freshman have to step in and step up!

Will PURDUE lose its toughness like the ILLINI did after losing a leader?

I guess we will see.......
 
#40
Bread I think the majority of Illini fans said that by 09's sophomore years they'll be as good as Chet, Trent, and Calvin were as seniors. Well, thats what I think anyway.:D

Barlow is going to be a better than Grant for sure maybe Kramer but noway will DJ Byrd ever be Kris Kramer. He's not nearly the althete that Kramer is and I for one am glad we'll never have to see Kramer dunk on one of our boys again.

Who'll be better next year Brendal Cougill or Patrick Bade? Bade just looked horrible last year and as much as he physically reminds me of Tom Pritchard he's not as gifted.
 
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#41
To be fair, if Hummel is healthy, I can't see how Purdue isn't awesome this season. I here what you guys are saying about the losses of Kramer and Grant but folks, Johnson and Moore are going to be all-american candidates this upcoming season. Both of those guys have room to grow in their games and I imagine their seniors seasons are going to see some growth. As stated before the other Big man/ swing player along with Hummel and Johnson is a huge question mark and what do they get out of Jackson. At points last year he was simply running away from the ball on offense.

MSU is going to also be a huge force in the conference. What ever happened with the talk of Chris Allen transferring, not happening I guess. That 3 guard senior class is going to be freaking awesome. If Roe builds upon his development from last season, good god this team could be unstoppable.


We are all in for a great season. Lets hope that key playesr don't get injured and it is just a slugfest to the tournament. Big 10 basketball rules!
 
#42
Heart of Illinois
Bread I think the majority of Illini fans said that by 09's sophomore years they'll be as good as Chet, Trent, and Calvin were as seniors. Well, thats what I think anyway.:D

Barlow is going to be a better than Grant for sure maybe Kramer but noway will DJ Byrd ever be Kris Kramer. He's not nearly the althete that Kramer is and I for one am glad we'll never have to see Kramer dunk on one of our boys again.

Who'll be better next year Brendal Cougill or Patrick Bade? Bade just looked horrible last year and as much as he physically reminds me of Tom Pritchard he's not as gifted.
That may well be true on offense, unlikely on defense however. Though that wasn't the discussion JJB and I were having.

I don't recall a single instance where Kramer "dunked on one of our boys." He may have dunked the ball, but not on anyone. He was terrible on offense. Byrd is already better than he was in that regard. I think you're talking out of your !!! a little bit with regard to Byrd's athleticism. Kramer was not some elite-level athlete. Byrd won't be the defender Kramer was, but he'll be good enough and better on offense.

Can't disagree with what you said about Bade. He's simply not good. Cougill is a three-point "specialist." Really he's an oddity of nature: an overweight big man who plays exclusively beyond the arc on the offensive end. No thanks. A little too novelty actesque for my taste.
 
#46
Captain 'Paign
Phoenix, AZ
The really amazing thing is that even though the Big Ten is going to be the best it's been in probably 15-20 years, there are probably 4 teams (Illinois included) that have a chance to take it. I wouldn't be surprised by a tie for the reg. season conference title again. There is really not a lot of separation between 1-4 and then even from 4-8. Only Michigan, Iowa, and maybe Penn State should be truly bad this coming year. I'll be shocked if we don't take the ACC/Big Ten Challenge once again.
 
#47
Not much to add to this analysis. My concerns are: 1. Leadership and maturity, 2. Consistency, 3. Defense, 4. Team chemistry. Blending personalities and skills is very difficult, but the good coaches seem to find a way. I think that toughness is still lacking, which to me is more important that physicality with Chet and Trent being the best examples of that. I don't see a fire-in-the-belly commitment from this team, but perhaps the seniors can grab the season by the neck and do what has to be done. I'm looking forward to seeing how this mystery works out.
I agree with this assessment. Personally, I'm not convinced that this Illini team is a legitimate Sweet 16 contender. Yes, they return everyone from last year, but that also means they return everyone from a 14-loss, underachieving team. So far, this team hasn't shown to a be "fire in the belly" type of group. To this point, they've only talked about being that. Until they commit to playing hardnose defense night in and night out, the Sweet 16 is a pipedream. But if DMac, Davis and Tis decide they want to bring defensive intensity all the time, they can have a very nice senior year.
 
#48
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5iCI5Xwdi0

Bade is horrible. A total stiff!

As far a Kramer being an athlete.
Fast to guard PG and strong enough to guard PF.

From what I heard Jeff Jordan was off the charts on the athletic tests.
It never translated to the court.
I hate to rip on another team's player (unless it's Iowa) but I have a hard time believing Bade will ever be a high major player. I'm not sure I even see that kid having mid-major talent.

What's the general feeling on DJ Byrd? I'm not sure how high his ceiling is. Can he be more than a 3 point catch n shoot type player?

I've watched some video on Terone Johnson. Demetri definitely came to mind as a comparison when I watched it. Look very similiar in both their games and physically. He might need to lose a few pounds but he looks like a pretty good player to me. I think he'll be the starting PG with LewJack being his backup. Could see him playing 25 minutes a game and averaging something like 7 pts 3.5 assists a game.

I think if Hummel is healthy they're the team to beat in the conference and possibly nation next year. Returning 3 senior starters.. And adding a top 100 true point guard to the mix along with very good outside shooter in Anthony Johnson..

The Kramer loss won't hurt near as bad as people think for the simple fact that in terms of leadership Purdue returns 3 very capable leaders in their 3 starters. Illinois also lost considerably more statistic wise when they lost Chester/Trent/Brock. Apples n oranges there.
 
#49
I think anthony johnson is not as good as v.jones of IU... to skinny, not very atheletic, can shoot it, but can not create so guards will be in his face, and many agree as his play and ranking dropped a lot during end of jr season and senior year.
 
#50
I agree with this assessment. Personally, I'm not convinced that this Illini team is a legitimate Sweet 16 contender. Yes, they return everyone from last year, but that also means they return everyone from a 14-loss, underachieving team. So far, this team hasn't shown to a be "fire in the belly" type of group. To this point, they've only talked about being that. Until they commit to playing hardnose defense night in and night out, the Sweet 16 is a pipedream. But if DMac, Davis and Tis decide they want to bring defensive intensity all the time, they can have a very nice senior year.
How realistic is it to expect that the three seniors change markedly in their final year? Probably not very realistic. At the same time, we've seen players have exceptional seasons when they are contract eligible. At least McCamey and Davis will be playing for their NBA futures. I'd like to think they would be motivated by other considerations, but, up to now, that evidently hasn't been the case.

The most likely scenario is that those three play pretty much with the same attitude we've seen up to now.

I'm hoping the three new guys from last year will be more assertive and bring passion, and that Betrand and the freshmen will feed off of that.

This team may be pretty good, but, really, I see it as a stepping stone to future success, which requires players with more intensity and grit than the three seniors have shown in their careers.