Illini Basketball 2018-2019

DePaul wins 65-50 against FAMU yesterday without future NBA superstar Max Strus.

FAMU kept it close for a time; went cold down the stretch. I think they only scored 5 points in the final 6+ minutes.

Could Illinois beat a healthy DePaul team right now? ND dropped 95 on them (DePaul went cold down the stretch; ND was red hot), but they did pull a win from PSU. Currently sitting at 5-1.
DePaul doesn’t have our guard depth or talent this year, but Gage is a solid PG, JCL is close to double digits in scoring despite not shooting well from 3 so far. They have 3 bigs, who we would love to have and Reed is a VERY promising 6’9” athletic guy who has an offensive game, he will get paid to play when it’s all said and done. Big difference to me is Cain and Strus at 6’6” and strong offensive games, especially Strus.

I believe their roster is more talented due to its balance, I still think they’re dealing with believing how good they can be. Losing Strus next year will hurt, but they have a lot coming back and a lot of talent coming in.

I’ve been lambasted by a couple here for saying DePaul is very much on the rise, but look at their roster and recruiting class and a 6’7” Arkansas transfer (Darius Hall) sitting out this year and it’s very hard to argue which program is in a better talent position.

I think with the ultimate geek cheerleader Pantelis Xidias, DePaul wins.
 
The defense is very frustrating we can all agree on that. For those more in the know, what do you feel would be a reasonable adjustment that could be made with the players we have. We heard so much about Ayo as a defender. How can we leverage that? Ball pressure down the court to push for turnovers and fall back into a normal man to man after a certain point?
 
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It kills me how reactive this board is after every game. These forums are a more entertaining read this way as a bystander, but I can't imagine letting myself get so high and so low after every result. I never expected this team to be a tournament team, but I expected the record to be better than it is now. That being said, I'm not too far down on BU and the team and I'm optimistic for the team 2-3 years down the road as long as we don't have a major exodus of players from this team (Ayo, Frazier, Giorgi, Williams, Feliz, Kane, Jones, Griffin - listed in order of importance imo). I think if that core stays together for the next 2-3 years and January and another solid big sign that we will be a tournament team by March of 2020. I am concerned about attrition though. Most of these kids are used to winning and if we don't piece together some decent wins I'm afraid that the culture in the locker room will be like it was last year and some key pieces will leave. I don't care if BU ran some kids off, the only player that we lost that really hurt us was Black. I think this team would have a winning record had he stayed. I would have loved for Ebo and Smith to stay and develop as I think they could have been significant contributors this year, but we didn't lose any stars outside of Black.

I don't really understand the BU can't recruit thing. He's had a lot of misses, but some great finds.

2017
Smith - 4* - over MSU and UK

2018
Ayo - 5* - BU didn't lose him. There's a lot to say about it.
Jones - 4* - Seemed like we were in late, yet pulled him from the west coast schools that were closer to home. Expected more, but he's shown flashes.
Griffin - 3* - Great find, exploded after he committed with NY Player of Year honors if I'm not mistaken. Has shown flashes, but also freshman mistakes
Kane - 3* - Would have been a 4* if he'd stayed in school another year. Needs some weight and time to learn.
Feliz - 3* - Top JUCO PG in country.
Giorgi - 3* - Playing and looking more like a 4*. They must've seen something they liked from him while he was on a team with higher ranked recruits
Higgs - 3* - Committed without a visit. A lot to like from highlight tapes. Needs to heal that foot and cut the weight he showed up with. Potential is there.

2019
January - 3* - High 3* big committed without a visit - Friend of Jones

TL;DR - Try not to be so reactive. Pieces are there if they stick around. Hopefully BU can rally them and the kids see that there's enough potential here to stay.
If, little word, big meaning, and you used it after making some very crucial statements.

I think the reaction each game is based on the entire body of work of BU so far and each loss just compounds the frustration. I will wait until this season is over to evaluate attrition and where they stand recruiting wise, hopefully a lot of your ifs go our way.
 
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If, little word, big meaning, and you used it after making some very crucial statements.

I think the reaction each game is based on the entire body of work of BU so far and each loss just compounds the frustration. I will wait until this season is over to evaluate attrition and where they stand recruiting wise, hopefully a lot of your ifs go our way.
It is a big word, I won't argue that point. Things may not work out and the next few years will be nearly insufferable too, but I'm not going to sit here and be miserable over the "what-if"s when things may pan out just fine. I'll save my misery for when the "if"s don't work out.

I also think BU is running his system this year with the "results be damned" mentality. He doesn't want to water his offense and defense down this year (or run a different scheme entirely) because the players aren't running it right yet. He'd rather lose with his systems this year and them learn it correctly once rather than water it down this year and have to teach them again next year all in hopes of trying for an extra win or two this year.
 
or tDePaul doesn’t have our guard depth or talent this year, but Gage is a solid PG, JCL is close to double digits in scoring despite not shooting well from 3 so far. They have 3 bigs, who we would love to have and Reed is a VERY promising 6’9” athletic guy who has an offensive game, he will get paid to play when it’s all said and done. Big difference to me is Cain and Strus at 6’6” and strong offensive games, especially Strus.

I believe their roster is more talented due to its balance, I still think they’re dealing with believing how good they can be. Losing Strus next year will hurt, but they have a lot coming back and a lot of talent coming in.

I’ve been lambasted by a couple here for saying DePaul is very much on the rise, but look at their roster and recruiting class and a 6’7” Arkansas transfer (Darius Hall) sitting out this year and it’s very hard to argue which program is in a better talent position.

I think with the ultimate geek cheerleader Pantelis Xidias, DePaul wins.
I'm not convinced of our guard depth or talent this year....i know it was supposed to be a strength, but....
I'll admit that I was saying out loud that Ayo can just bring his intangibles / court savvy but deep down I was thinking this 5 star should be good for 20 a game every night.
 
How much credit should OA get for Georgi's performance? Last year Black, next year (or maybe later this year) Kane?
It depends on how much you think any coach can do for a guy in a few months on GB, and how much credence is given to the fact that Black was a 4*, 4th year senior that improved his game in many areas of the course of that time prior to this staff. IMO, GB can most definitely be labeled as a guy the staff saw ability and fit and made a great scholarship offer to, and Black a guy they put in the optimal offensive position and mindset to succeed. I find it hard to believe GB didn't already have most of the post moves and abilities he has shown so far.

Spicey G would have been a great example of this staff's ability to improve raw big talent over the course of time and it appears Kane will be the next guy to use as a measuring stick. Higgs we won't know on until a later date, and Jones falls more into the Kane category at this time. I also believe development is often times more mental than physical, these guys have all the physical gifts, it is about developing their mental abilities and confidence, so they can maximize what God has given them. Sure, you can certainly teach raw talent physical skills, but to perform at this level you have to be mentally strong and believe in yourself!
 
I'm not convinced of our guard depth or talent this year....i know it was supposed to be a strength, but....
I'll admit that I was saying out loud that Ayo can just bring his intangibles / court savvy but deep down I was thinking this 5 star should be good for 20 a game every night.
I feel your pain, but IMO, DW, AF, AD, TF give Illinois the edge, now performance is another topic. The difference for me is you don't have to look any further than Reed, Butz, & Olujobi (5th year transfer) all 6'9" guys with legitimate P5 abilities. Throw in Cain and Strus and the balanced talent gap arguably gets eye opening. KN has a lot of physical tools, but his offensive game compared to Strus's is not real close. They can also throw in the 6'10" Freshman from the Ukraine to eat fouls and give guys a breather, something we don't seem to be able to do with Kane, who we all thought would be a potential starter.

I would actually like to see what BU's systems would yield with DePaul, I think their roster would provide him a lot of what he seems to be needing to run his stuff, but of course we will never know.

Being born in Chicago, but moving to Michigan, I have always been a fan of Illinois and DePaul, so tough for me not to follow both and there are some interesting dynamics developing between the two programs.
 
It is a big word, I won't argue that point. Things may not work out and the next few years will be nearly insufferable too, but I'm not going to sit here and be miserable over the "what-if"s when things may pan out just fine. I'll save my misery for when the "if"s don't work out.

I also think BU is running his system this year with the "results be damned" mentality. He doesn't want to water his offense and defense down this year (or run a different scheme entirely) because the players aren't running it right yet. He'd rather lose with his systems this year and them learn it correctly once rather than water it down this year and have to teach them again next year all in hopes of trying for an extra win or two this year.
I would be open to him running his systems with the "results be damned" mentality if he also included Jones and Kane in the mix. If he doesn't, he certainly runs the risk of running them off, or at the least, pushing their development in his system off until next year.
 
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How much credit should OA get for Georgi's performance? Last year Black, next year (or maybe later this year) Kane?
Well give him credit for the find right now. If he continues to actually improve, also credit him then. I'll hold back on saying how good a coach he is until I see a trend of progression.

Honestly it's difficult to say how much a coach is helping improve a player, vs natural growth or a baseline of what an average coach would provide. Black became a lights out offensive threat, but he showed flashes of that before (minus the insane 3 pt percentage). Finke is a mark against OA, but then you could say nobody could've gotten more out of him (in case you're wondering, he's providing almost identical numbers for GCU this year).
 
I think it’s time we move on from the Gonzaga game. Be proud we were right there, and hopeful that it shows a realistic ceiling this team can consistently hit. IMO it was an outlier and not a ceiling, this, or most teams similar to Illinois can do regularly. This was the first game of a tournament and a very early season game, I would put much more weight on this game in January.

The mighty UMBC team that pulled off the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history, UNDER A FIRST YEAR COACH, is sitting at 5-4 so far with a recent win by 11 over the mighty Coppin State team sitting at 0-9!

Hanging with the Zags was a great performance to be happy about, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be an indication of where this team is at.
Note: not picking on you specifically here, so please don't take it personally. But...

SoS rank, games played to date:

UMBC: 262
Illinois: 7

If we had played UMBC's schedule so far, we'd be no worse than 7-2, and probably would be 8-1. They have one game against a high-major team, where we have six (one home, two road, and three neutral site).

Honestly, I don't even know what to say to people about this season so far. People are lambasting posters who were optimistic at the beginning of the season for lacking a realistic outlook, but if your expectation is that a very young team that doesn't have overwhelming talent will regularly win road/neutral games in November against high-major competition I don't even know what to tell you. Acting like the Notre Dame game should be a gimme is ridiculous. They're going to win 2/3 of their conference games at home this year playing in the ACC. Unless you have a top 15-type team, that's not a game you automatically pencil in the W column, ever. Acting like we should have left Lincoln with a win is ridiculous. They've taken ten straight conference games there and will wind up in the Top 25 at some point this season.

People are rightly upset that the program is in the state it is. But you can't reasonably place the expectations of where we think we should be because we're Illinois Basketball on these 13 young men, and it's silly to make things up out of whole cloth to make things seem worse than they actually are. Jones and Kane aren't getting playing time, so Underwood is going to run them off! Underwood is stubbornly clinging to his system, and we'd surely be winning if he just slowed things down! Underwood can't recruit or keep players from leaving, but we've got more than enough talent to make the tournament!

Even if this was a team with experienced top 15-type talent, it wouldn't be a shock for them to have two or three losses given the schedule. We are nowhere near that. You can and should be upset about the fact that we don't have that talent and experience, but it's completely unfair to expect wins given the circumstances, and it's of no use to use that as your only measuring stick for this team.

I would not have made the choice to play the schedule that this team is playing this year. But that doesn't mean that you can ignore how stiff the task has been to date. There are a lot of other things to criticize about how the team has played as well, but what's the point of making them out to be worse than they are?

I look forward to revisiting this conversation after our first five conference games -- three on the road, one against a good OSU team in Chicago (for whatever reason), and Michigan at home -- because I'm sure the analysis will be even more reasonable and level-headed.
 
I have no idea how you could possibly say this while watching this team play. Here are Groce's conference records...

8-10
7-11
9-9
5-13 (season filled with injuries and suspensions)
8-10

It would be a miracle if we won 4 conference games this year. Groce underperformed and that's why he got fired, but he didn't drive this program into the ground. In fact, he gave BU a lot of young pieces to work with. The cupboard wasn't full, but it was far from bare.
I feel like your definition of miracle differs from most. You've watched a young team lose 6 games to HM opponents. It's not like we are losing to bottom of the barrel D1 teams. This team will get better and I still think I'd take the over on 4 conference games if given the choice now.

That being said, I will admit that I am slightly less optimist than I was after the Georgetown loss without Trent and close loss against Gonzaga. The games since haven't been as promising.

But still, if TFs shots against Gonzaga and ND go in, it is a completely different vibe here. Give it time.
 
It kills me how reactive this board is after every game. These forums are a more entertaining read this way as a bystander, but I can't imagine letting myself get so high and so low after every result.
....
I can tell you that virtually none of the things discussed and argued on this board matter if we're winning. When you're not winning, you look for indications of the trend heading in the other direction. And if you fail there, you rely entirely on hope. Such is the life of a die-hard fan. Sure some people are reactive, but we're solidly in season 2, with every indication that we will be in the basement of the BIG. Possibly the last place team.

Here's where we stand (in Conf) based on one of the better models (KenPom). People complain models don't work early in the season, and yet he's been spot on with us. I'm using relative differential in points. So the #1 team in conference would beat us by 19 points on a neutral court.

+19 Michigan
+16 MSU
+14 Wiscy
+13 Purdue
+11 Nebraska
+11 tOSU
+10 Indiana
+9 Maryland
+8 Penn St
+7 Iowa
+6 NW
+4 Minn
Rutgers is even with Illinois, just a fraction of a point difference.

If that list doesn't shock you, I would discredit you as a fan. There is no reason to expect us to be at the absolute rock bottom of the conference, in a battle with Rutgers for the second straight season.

What kind of reaction should we have to that? We are as bad as we've been in my lifetime, totally irrelevant, and paying coaches like we're still a national powerhouse. Furthermore, we're effectively locked into a long-term contract and will continue with Underwood for this season, next season, and the following season. He's got a good pedigree, but he has yet to show he can do anything as our coach. Further, his teams have some obvious flaws that seem coachable, but haven't shown much progress. I'm all for him turning it around, but if he doesn't he'll still be here.

We're in the midst of an epic dumpster fire. Expectations have dropped to the point where no one expects a post season, boosters are likely fatigued, and consensus is a finish among the basement dwellers, if not an outright last place. All that without mentioning recruiting and turnover, which have been rough to say the least (Ayo was a great get last year, but there's no idication that was anything but an exception). The fans are running on fumes, IMO, and attendance reflects it. It wouldn't surprise me if we're outnumbered at the United Center by OSU fans traveling to the game. The best case is a multi-year rebuild back to the middle of the conference. Not sure what the worst case is, but it probably isn't any worse than what we've got already.

If that's reactive, we have vast differences on what's happened to the program. Need this team to show us signs of life, buy-in, and a sense that they can face adversity as they get better. Without it, only a few fans will be left to even notice what's happening.
 
This team is essentially year one for Underwood because we lost so many players off of last years roster. Our Win Loss record is going to be awful when the season is over. Hopefully we don't lose many players this year if any during the offseason. Next year will be better if the team remains intact just because the majority of the team will know the offensive and defensive systems better. They will also be a team that consists of a majority of sophomores/juniors, not a team that is made up of a majority of freshmen and newbies to Division 1 basketball (Feliz). I like the way the staff has recruited since they have gotten here considering the state of the program. This is a rebuild folks. Underwood should get at least two more years after this season to confirm whether or not he can be successful here at Illinois.
 
Tyngsborough, MA
Maybe Underwood should get two more years. Definitely Underwood should show us (the fans) that he has: a sound offense, a sound defense, the ability to recruit and retain players, the ability to coach up players, and a desire to win. He really hasn't shown me any of that.
 
Note: not picking on you specifically here, so please don't take it personally. But...

SoS rank, games played to date:

UMBC: 262
Illinois: 7

If we had played UMBC's schedule so far, we'd be no worse than 7-2, and probably would be 8-1. They have one game against a high-major team, where we have six (one home, two road, and three neutral site).

Honestly, I don't even know what to say to people about this season so far. People are lambasting posters who were optimistic at the beginning of the season for lacking a realistic outlook, but if your expectation is that a very young team that doesn't have overwhelming talent will regularly win road/neutral games in November against high-major competition I don't even know what to tell you. Acting like the Notre Dame game should be a gimme is ridiculous. They're going to win 2/3 of their conference games at home this year playing in the ACC. Unless you have a top 15-type team, that's not a game you automatically pencil in the W column, ever. Acting like we should have left Lincoln with a win is ridiculous. They've taken ten straight conference games there and will wind up in the Top 25 at some point this season.

People are rightly upset that the program is in the state it is. But you can't reasonably place the expectations of where we think we should be because we're Illinois Basketball on these 13 young men, and it's silly to make things up out of whole cloth to make things seem worse than they actually are. Jones and Kane aren't getting playing time, so Underwood is going to run them off! Underwood is stubbornly clinging to his system, and we'd surely be winning if he just slowed things down! Underwood can't recruit or keep players from leaving, but we've got more than enough talent to make the tournament!

Even if this was a team with experienced top 15-type talent, it wouldn't be a shock for them to have two or three losses given the schedule. We are nowhere near that. You can and should be upset about the fact that we don't have that talent and experience, but it's completely unfair to expect wins given the circumstances, and it's of no use to use that as your only measuring stick for this team.

I would not have made the choice to play the schedule that this team is playing this year. But that doesn't mean that you can ignore how stiff the task has been to date. There are a lot of other things to criticize about how the team has played as well, but what's the point of making them out to be worse than they are?

I look forward to revisiting this conversation after our first five conference games -- three on the road, one against a good OSU team in Chicago (for whatever reason), and Michigan at home -- because I'm sure the analysis will be even more reasonable and level-headed.
No offense taken, but I should clarify my reference to UMBC was simply that they pulled off a first time ever 16 over 1 seed shocker and it did not elevate their program this year to any status we would even be happy with. I don't know what talent their first year coach inherited, and then graduated, but they made the tourney last year and upset a Goliath. Some here have been using the close LOSS to Gonzaga as a barometer as to how close this team is to being great (I would assume any team that beats Gonzaga is at the least very good, or the game was an outlier, similar to the UMBC upset).

My only point is that it is dangerous to use victories, or in the Gonzaga case, moral victories as an indicator of how good a team actually is when they are only beating weak teams and losing by double digits to just about every other team. Using that theory, should we expect that UMBC is now a top 25 team because they beat Virginia? No, it was an outlier game for them and there are no indications they should even be in the discussion with the top 100 teams. Using single games, good or bad, is not indicative of what a team actually is.

We have a brutal schedule and I account for that, but we are Illinois and in one of the best conferences year in and year out, this is big boy ball. Iron sharpens iron and you don't get tougher beating up your baby brother. I for one, despite the losses am glad we are playing this schedule. If the guys on this team are feeling sorry for themselves and crying about the tough schedule, they probably are not cut out for HM athletics. I would wager they are glad to play this competition under the bright lights, it is what they signed up for. Recruits love seeing the programs courting them playing high profile games. Tom Izzo gets criticized every year for playing a brutal non-con schedule, usually losing more often than not to the top teams, traveling far away and taxing their team. Guess what, what coach is known for having his teams most ready for the NCAA tournament? Being "somewhat close" to the program, I can assure you that they get recruits because of their high profile games, win or lose early on.
 
No offense taken, but I should clarify my reference to UMBC was simply that they pulled off a first time ever 16 over 1 seed shocker and it did not elevate their program this year to any status we would even be happy with. I don't know what talent their first year coach inherited, and then graduated, but they made the tourney last year and upset a Goliath. Some here have been using the close LOSS to Gonzaga as a barometer as to how close this team is to being great (I would assume any team that beats Gonzaga is at the least very good, or the game was an outlier, similar to the UMBC upset).

My only point is that it is dangerous to use victories, or in the Gonzaga case, moral victories as an indicator of how good a team actually is when they are only beating weak teams and losing by double digits to just about every other team. Using that theory, should we expect that UMBC is now a top 25 team because they beat Virginia? No, it was an outlier game for them and there are no indications they should even be in the discussion with the top 100 teams. Using single games, good or bad, is not indicative of what a team actually is.

We have a brutal schedule and I account for that, but we are Illinois and in one of the best conferences year in and year out, this is big boy ball. Iron sharpens iron and you don't get tougher beating up your baby brother. I for one, despite the losses am glad we are playing this schedule. If the guys on this team are feeling sorry for themselves and crying about the tough schedule, they probably are not cut out for HM athletics. I would wager they are glad to play this competition under the bright lights, it is what they signed up for. Recruits love seeing the programs courting them playing high profile games. Tom Izzo gets criticized every year for playing a brutal non-con schedule, usually losing more often than not to the top teams, traveling far away and taxing their team. Guess what, what coach is known for having his teams most ready for the NCAA tournament? Being "somewhat close" to the program, I can assure you that they get recruits because of their high profile games, win or lose early on.
Thanks for clarifying, and definitely agree with you on most of this. I'd caution that's it's equally invalid to exclude things like the Gonzaga game from any judgment on how good/bad this team is as it is to lean too heavily on them, though. It's all part of the story, and a lot of folks here dismiss what little is going right completely because, I dunno, the bottom line results aren't good enough.

But the Gonzaga game happened, and it should be considered when judging this season. Recruiting has been disappointing 'except for Ayo,' but Ayo is on this team and he should be included when judging our recruiting. There will inevitably be games where folks want to dismiss good performances or even wins because Trent found a phone booth, but Trent is on this team, you know?

My argument is that the whole body of work should be considered, and be considered in context, and I don't feel like a lot of people are doing that right now. I should probably just log off and ride my bike around the block, especially if we don't finish out December with three or four wins.
 
This team is essentially year one for Underwood because we lost so many players off of last years roster. Our Win Loss record is going to be awful when the season is over. Hopefully we don't lose many players this year if any during the offseason. Next year will be better if the team remains intact just because the majority of the team will know the offensive and defensive systems better. They will also be a team that consists of a majority of sophomores/juniors, not a team that is made up of a majority of freshmen and newbies to Division 1 basketball (Feliz). I like the way the staff has recruited since they have gotten here considering the state of the program. This is a rebuild folks. Underwood should get at least two more years after this season to confirm whether or not he can be successful here at Illinois.
The problem I have with this position is that likely nobody here really knows why we lost so many players off last years roster. Would LB have stuck around another year if the environment was right and we had a chance of being really good? Not sure, I actually thought he would 5th year at a team with a shot to go deep in the tourney. Finke? It seems blatantly obvious to me that MS was driven out of here given the hardship waiver he was granted, and many here who thought he was garbage and would suck at Miznoz aren't saying much now. Lucas got in the doghouse, and even after getting out of the doghouse, he decided to move on, perhaps Trent pushed him out due to his play, perhaps Ayo coming in, perhaps it was BU. Ebo wasn't drooling over the opportunity to play major minutes? I believe BU himself was not pleased with that loss, did he really dislike it so much here after getting all the p.t. he could expect year 1 and in a position to get p.t. again? Vessel is a no brainier. I am not saying BU drove every one out, but a reasonable person would think some he did, some he did not. If he did in hopes of changing the culture and bringing in his own guys, then that is the decision he gets paid the big bucks for. My concern is that some of his guys, who many thought would elevate the program right now due to their physical skill sets are not even seeing the floor. Is Kane cool with picking splinters out of his shorts and believes he can't help this team this year and will be better off down the line, Jones? BU would know better than us, if they are not ready, that is his call, but that doesn't mean 3/4* guys with egos these days are going to be content not seeing the court for a poor team, I am sure it is quite the contrary.

I hate being negative, and I truly hope to be wrong, but my gut is telling me this is setting up the way it ended last year and we will lose some guys who we desperately can't afford to not be the building blocks of the future. We can end up with another promising and balanced class, but as we see, spring recruits come with more risk of being instant contributors. True, freshman will be sophomores, etc..., but if we don't have roster balance, being one year older and wiser will not cover up the major pimples this team has.
 
Thanks for clarifying, and definitely agree with you on most of this. I'd caution that's it's equally invalid to exclude things like the Gonzaga game from any judgment on how good/bad this team is as it is to lean too heavily on them, though. It's all part of the story, and a lot of folks here dismiss what little is going right completely because, I dunno, the bottom line results aren't good enough.

But the Gonzaga game happened, and it should be considered when judging this season. Recruiting has been disappointing 'except for Ayo,' but Ayo is on this team and he should be included when judging our recruiting. There will inevitably be games where folks want to dismiss good performances or even wins because Trent found a phone booth, but Trent is on this team, you know?

My argument is that the whole body of work should be considered, and be considered in context, and I don't feel like a lot of people are doing that right now. I should probably just log off and ride my bike around the block, especially if we don't finish out December with three or four wins.
Agreed, it felt darn good to tell all my U of M and MSU buddies that we almost beat Gonzaga late in the night while I was watching and they were sleeping. I also thought that was an indicator of how this team could do this year, I just lost that feeling after a handful more games. Hopefully we can turn it around this year yet the tone here changes across the board. It is very tough being an Illinois fan with U of M and MSU both in the top 10:mad: I mean, what can I say to all my buddies other than please don't paste us!
 
Agreed, it felt darn good to tell all my U of M and MSU buddies that we almost beat Gonzaga late in the night while I was watching and they were sleeping. I also thought that was an indicator of how this team could do this year, I just lost that feeling after a handful more games. Hopefully we can turn it around this year yet the tone here changes across the board. It is very tough being an Illinois fan with U of M and MSU both in the top 10:mad: I mean, what can I say to all my buddies other than please don't paste us!
Ask them where their Volleyball team is ranked?
 
Way too early to count Coach Underwood out. He's had success at other schools. Again, he wanted the Illinois job like crazy. I bet he's just as puzzled as we are that the team is not performing well. But this is really his first season at Illinois with HIS recruits. I don't like this losing, but I'm willing to wait it out for a while.

The problem. IMO. is that Illinois is not a glamour job anymore - if it ever was. All I am saying is give Underwood a chance (sung to Johnny's tune).
 
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Likes: KevinC
I disagree, it is not that people are dismissing part of the work. For some of us at least, recruiting has not been going well despite Ayo and results and on-court performance have not been good despite the Gonzaga game.
Eh, there have been plenty of posts on this board where folks are saying that we should ignore x, y and z because those things are outliers, or because they don't fit the narrative, or whatever. I get it, I just don't agree.

Last year's class -- Underwood's only full class, really -- was in the top 25 or 30, depending on who you ask. If you string a few of those together you should have a competitive team. This year's class has been a disappointment to date but it's not over yet. There's an assumption that we won't sign anyone good in the spring, and that we'll lose a bunch of guys currently on the roster. We're not holding a great hand but I think there are a pretty good number of outs nonetheless.

I also think that this team could actually be better than last year's team and still wind up with a markedly worse record due to the schedule. That's actually my prediction now, and it was at the beginning of the year assuming that things broke the wrong way (which they decidedly have). I can live with that if there's progress, and I fully believe that this team is 6-2 or better if this year's first eight games were as easy as last year's first eight. If we don't have a few guys take a step forward, if Kipper stays AWOL, if Jones and Kane can't get a good enough handle on the system to see the floor, and if Frazier spends the rest of the season standing 35 feet from the basket and not looking for his, it'll be a different story.

I'm ready to change my mind if I don't see those things, but nothing is a foregone conclusion in the first week of December. What I can tell you is that if folks want to solely judge this year based on a raw W-L record or on whether or not we sign up the four-star guys everyone wanted to see us sign when we were dreaming about it 12 months ago, they're not gonna be happy. I can't be bothered to look at things that way, personally, but feel free to take it or leave it as you choose.
 
Likes: dbeaverfg
I think you need to revisit the facts. First of all the conference record was not trending downward. When Groce left the conference record was 8-10, as high as it was in his first year that we greatly overachieved (despite pre-season expectations, made the NCAA, won an NCAA game, and lost in second round on a bad call to Miami that forced the NCAA to implement a new rule). During the Groce era the program was pretty much an NIT team, far from the disaster we are now.

As far as what inherited and what was left behind, you can read my previous post on the Weber era that had the facts. But Groce took over a pathetic 6-12 conference team that was losing its best player to the NBA lottery (Leornard). And while every coach would have to replace his senior class (2009 recruiting class for Groce), Groce also had to replace the 2010 class (ALL gone before he got there), the 2012 class (empty Weber class), and half of his 2011 class that had players who did not belong in the B1G (Ibby, Shaw, Langford). That is 3.5 classes from the get go that he had to recruit for in his first recruiting season. Far from the grocery store of food. Pre-season analysts, and even fans, were not predicting NCAA in his first season, yet we overachieved and made it and also won Maui. And even after the first season (2012-13) and after the 2009 senior class of Brandon Paul, DJ Richardson, and Tyler Griffey had all left after their one and only season under Groce, Groce still made it to the NIT for the next two seasons.

BU took over a program that had finished 8-10 in the B1G, was losing Malcolm and Morgan but was also adding what was probably Groce's best recruiting class (Trent Frazier, Damonte Williams, Tilmon, Pickett, and in very good shape with Smith, according to his own words). In addition to Frazier, who ended up having arguably the best freshman season since Kiwane Garris, the roster also included JCL (#37), Leron Black (#42), Kipper, AJ, TJL, and Finke. The fact that Tilmon, Pickett, and JCL decided to leave because they did not like the hiring of BU is certainly no fault of Groce. I am not going to quote you again what Illini fans expected but the vast majority expected NCAA. Yet, as said in previous paragraph, Groce still made the NIT in his second season AFTER he had to replace 3.5 classes with his first recruiting class. We are way, WAY below that point right now in BU's second season.
Groce's class didn't have to stay in CU and a number did not, including the top rated player, so Coach U never had those players and they aren't being left to the new program, they would have to be re-recruited in short order. Second, don't cherry pick records and say we were 8-10 in conference, what matters is the overall record. Third, saying that what Weber left was pathetic is ludicrous. They didn't perform under Weber the prior year, but there was a lot of talent left. Paul made the NBA. Who that Groce left will even sniff the NBA (Note, players that had to be re-recruited and could've gone elsewhere at the drop of a hat don't count)? Fourth, NIT is no better than not making one of these silly tournaments, period. It's make the Dance or nothing. 4 NITs in a row is worthless. You make the playoffs or you don't. Stop trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear to make your argument.