Illini Basketball 2019-2020

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100% agree with this take.

Underwood is going to be getting the best players on the floor. With the addition of Kofi that should work out so that we also are not severely lacking in height.

Starters:
1. Ayo (6-5)
2. Trent (6-1)
3. Andres (6-2) *
4. Giorgi (6-9)
I expect these 4 to play 24-28 minutes per game
5. Kofi (7-0)
I expect Kofi to play 18-22 minutes per game
Bench:
6. Kipper (6-6) playing at the 3/4
7. Da'Monte (6-3) playing at the 2/3
8. Tevian (6-7) playing at the 3/4
9. Alan (6-5) playing at the 2/3
I expect any of these 4 could compete with Andres for the starting role at the 3 position. I expect these 4 to average 14-16 minutes per game (~60 minutes split by these 4).
10. Bernard (6-10)
11. Benjamin (6-7)
Bernard and Benjamin will get some light usage at the 5 and 4 respectively. The primary backup option at the 5 will be to shift Giorgi there but Bernard will play a handful of minutes. Benjamin's minutes will be dependent on his defensive ability and whether Kipper/Tevian need help backing up the 4 position or not.

Our rotations will be such that Kofi and/or Giorgi are always on the floor. There will be very few minutes for Bernard (and therefore Kane if he had stayed). Illinois will play less than 10 minutes per game with Kofi + Giorgi + Kipper/Tevian/Benjamin and will instead rely primarily on a 3 guard set. Kipper/Tevian/Benjamin will get their minutes primarily when either Kofi or Giorgi are sitting (at the 4), but will get some minutes at the 3.

I expect in 2020 this will change a bit and Illinois will play bigger. Giorgi will be the primary 4, with backup from Benjamin (and a little from Tevian). Kofi will still be the 5 and Bernard will provide all of the backup minutes there (with very little shifting from Giorgi or more preferably, help from Ryan Kalkbrenner). Tevian will be the starting 3 but Illinois will still play some 3 guard sets with Alan playing at both the 2 and 3. Alan could start at the 2, but hopefully Adam Miller takes that spot. Trent would move to Point Guard for his senior year. Da'Monte would be the primary backup guard (with Alan if we add Adam Miller). Illinois would also hopefully have another guard and wing player as freshmen that they'd be developing as glue players moving forward.
So here is the thing, absolutely Underwood will play the best players (but situations will change who those are). Kipper played mostly the 4, even some 5 because we had 1.5 bigs. Last year we played AJ/Kipper/Tevian/DW/AG at the 4 because are bar at the 4 was so low. Defensively/Defensive rebounding we were terrible, Kofi will help will undoubtedly play, but 2 capable bigs on the roster isn't enough for them to effectively play side by side (by your ave. numbers you get 6 minutes of them on the floor together w/o them both sitting at the same time. There are times/matchups that we may get by with Kipper/Tevian at the 4, but there will be times when that will get us killed. if Kouma/Verdonk aren't ready, they still will likely get some playing time because we have a huge hole at the 4. At this point, it is only a hypothetical discussion if Kane could have helped fill that need by freeing Giorgi up to play some 4...but the bar for Kane to help was very low if you think of the times we couldn't stop someone like Cook inside as we were trying to throw guards at him. For match-ups having an option of throwing 2 bigs on the floor at one time could be huge...now we are left hoping Kouma/Verdonk comes in more ready than Kane (which I'm not betting on anything significantly different) or that Kipper finds himself. On your depth chart we need to get to 10/11 to get to a 3rd big (of which one isn't on campus yet & one is rumored to be out for Italy with a minor injury)...that is the problem, the next closest thing is Kipper & he was mostly absent last year and was giving most of his time at the 4 to DW & AJ. So depth chart you propose looks reasonable, my problem is we need to find another big in the top 8 or it is more of the same, Kane seemed like the most likely option...does he get there, staff seemed to think it was a possibility, the hole makes the bar pretty low to get there, but at this point we likely won't find out.
 
you feel me, dog?
Elmhurst
So here is the thing, absolutely Underwood will play the best players (but situations will change who those are). Kipper played mostly the 4, even some 5 because we had 1.5 bigs. Last year we played AJ/Kipper/Tevian/DW/AG at the 4 because are bar at the 4 was so low. Defensively/Defensive rebounding we were terrible, Kofi will help will undoubtedly play, but 2 capable bigs on the roster isn't enough for them to effectively play side by side (by your ave. numbers you get 6 minutes of them on the floor together w/o them both sitting at the same time. There are times/matchups that we may get by with Kipper/Tevian at the 4, but there will be times when that will get us killed. if Kouma/Verdonk aren't ready, they still will likely get some playing time because we have a huge hole at the 4. At this point, it is only a hypothetical discussion if Kane could have helped fill that need by freeing Giorgi up to play some 4...but the bar for Kane to help was very low if you think of the times we couldn't stop someone like Cook inside as we were trying to throw guards at him. For match-ups having an option of throwing 2 bigs on the floor at one time could be huge...now we are left hoping Kouma/Verdonk comes in more ready than Kane (which I'm not betting on anything significantly different) or that Kipper finds himself. On your depth chart we need to get to 10/11 to get to a 3rd big (of which one isn't on campus yet & one is rumored to be out for Italy with a minor injury)...that is the problem, the next closest thing is Kipper & he was mostly absent last year and was giving most of his time at the 4 to DW & AJ. So depth chart you propose looks reasonable, my problem is we need to find another big in the top 8 or it is more of the same, Kane seemed like the most likely option...does he get there, staff seemed to think it was a possibility, the hole makes the bar pretty low to get there, but at this point we likely won't find out.
So, here is another thing: paragraphs, man! You could've written a masterpiece, but when it's presented in a dense block, who could tell?
 
Wilmette, IL
I'll be interested to see how our defense is adjusted with the presence of Kofi in the paint. I could see it go a couple ways:
1) we keep up the same pressure as before, because now we have a rim protector to back us up, and teams have a harder time because the drive that was so effective before is less so.
2) we keep up the pressure, and teams continue to drive, and Kofi gets three fouls in the first 6 minutes of each game because Big Ten guards are pretty good at drawing contact from a relatively inexperienced freshman.
3) we keep up the pressure, guards drive, and Kofi gets 4 blocks a game swatting balls into the 5th row.

You'll notice that I think the only given is that we'll keep up the pass-denying pressure, because I can't see Underwood relenting on that.
 
So here is the thing, absolutely Underwood will play the best players (but situations will change who those are). Kipper played mostly the 4, even some 5 because we had 1.5 bigs. Last year we played AJ/Kipper/Tevian/DW/AG at the 4 because are bar at the 4 was so low. Defensively/Defensive rebounding we were terrible, Kofi will help will undoubtedly play, but 2 capable bigs on the roster isn't enough for them to effectively play side by side (by your ave. numbers you get 6 minutes of them on the floor together w/o them both sitting at the same time. There are times/matchups that we may get by with Kipper/Tevian at the 4, but there will be times when that will get us killed. if Kouma/Verdonk aren't ready, they still will likely get some playing time because we have a huge hole at the 4. At this point, it is only a hypothetical discussion if Kane could have helped fill that need by freeing Giorgi up to play some 4...but the bar for Kane to help was very low if you think of the times we couldn't stop someone like Cook inside as we were trying to throw guards at him. For match-ups having an option of throwing 2 bigs on the floor at one time could be huge...now we are left hoping Kouma/Verdonk comes in more ready than Kane (which I'm not betting on anything significantly different) or that Kipper finds himself. On your depth chart we need to get to 10/11 to get to a 3rd big (of which one isn't on campus yet & one is rumored to be out for Italy with a minor injury)...that is the problem, the next closest thing is Kipper & he was mostly absent last year and was giving most of his time at the 4 to DW & AJ. So depth chart you propose looks reasonable, my problem is we need to find another big in the top 8 or it is more of the same, Kane seemed like the most likely option...does he get there, staff seemed to think it was a possibility, the hole makes the bar pretty low to get there, but at this point we likely won't find out.
You’re counting Verdonk as a big but not counting Tevian? They’re the same height... and Kippers 1 inch shorter. Aside from Giorgi Kofi and Kouma we have no other “bigs”. There’s no reason Tevian or Benjamin couldn’t play the 4 (again they’re the same height) as long as there’s a solid inside defender to eliminate mismatches on defense.
 
I'll be interested to see how our defense is adjusted with the presence of Kofi in the paint. I could see it go a couple ways:
1) we keep up the same pressure as before, because now we have a rim protector to back us up, and teams have a harder time because the drive that was so effective before is less so.
2) we keep up the pressure, and teams continue to drive, and Kofi gets three fouls in the first 6 minutes of each game because Big Ten guards are pretty good at drawing contact from a relatively inexperienced freshman.
3) we keep up the pressure, guards drive, and Kofi gets 4 blocks a game swatting balls into the 5th row.

You'll notice that I think the only given is that we'll keep up the pass-denying pressure, because I can't see Underwood relenting on that.
I hope it’s a combination of 1 and 3 and that if 2 happens too often, that they Adjust to fix it early
 
You’re counting Verdonk as a big but not counting Tevian? They’re the same height... and Kippers 1 inch shorter. Aside from Giorgi Kofi and Kouma we have no other “bigs”. There’s no reason Tevian or Benjamin couldn’t play the 4 (again they’re the same height) as long as there’s a solid inside defender to eliminate mismatches on defense.
Maybe I’m mistaken but I thought I read somewhere Underwood saying BBV was 6-8 225 ( Shane Battier size) it’s only an inch so essentially the same. Don’t know what Tevian weighs now.
 
May be totally off, but I think TV and AG have a lot to do with any success we have this season. If they are as good as BU and the coaching staff thought then they should in their Sophmore year contribute a bunch. They both have the size to compete in the BIG. Question always boils down to drive and atheleticm. I can't believe Kofi will be a dissapointment this year. One way or another.
 
I believe we are supposed to get New jerseys but I feel like we’d play the summer stuff in our practice uniforms. Different coach, but isn’t that what Groce did too?
I think you're right. We should unveil them during the Michigan game. I'm picturing going into that game at 5-0, in primetime, national tv, orange out, beer flowing from the concessions, Miller/Steward/Kalkbrenner on a joint OV. Why not have the team trot out in slick new unis at halftime? They can't be duds though.
 
Maybe I’m mistaken but I thought I read somewhere Underwood saying BBV was 6-8 225 ( Shane Battier size) it’s only an inch so essentially the same. Don’t know what Tevian weighs now.
There was an article that had him at between 6-7 and 6-8 but they listed him at 6-7 on the roster so I have my doubts about him being any taller than that
 
You’re counting Verdonk as a big but not counting Tevian? They’re the same height... and Kippers 1 inch shorter. Aside from Giorgi Kofi and Kouma we have no other “bigs”. There’s no reason Tevian or Benjamin couldn’t play the 4 (again they’re the same height) as long as there’s a solid inside defender to eliminate mismatches on defense.
I don't really consider any of Kipper/Jones/Verdonk bigs, I hedged a bit on Verdonk because of lack of information, but I don't really expect him to come in and be an effective big, can he play the stretch 4 effectively, maybe, For Tevian it takes more than height to be a big, (Barkley didn't miss a beat at a generous 6'5", Battle/Powell never felt over matched at the 4, Liberty was 6'8 and he wasn't a 4) Kipper has shown he can be passable at the stretch 4 with some matchups on his occasional good day.

So the point is I think we are still a big short for match ups where the other team can throw a more traditional big at us. Without Kane, that leaves Kouma, or maybe Verdonk if we give him the benefit of the doubt...and I think it takes a lot of koolaid to feel good about either in that role.
 
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24/7 commits actually have him at 6'8 and 225 I believe.
I don't know where 247 gets it's sources for an overseas recruit that no other programs were in the hunt for, but I'm hesitant to trust them over our own Roster listing. I'm going to go with fightingillini.com and their listing of 6'-7" and 220 lbs. I'd like to assume they weigh and measure our athletes before posting their stats.
 
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I'll be interested to see how our defense is adjusted with the presence of Kofi in the paint. I could see it go a couple ways:
1) we keep up the same pressure as before, because now we have a rim protector to back us up, and teams have a harder time because the drive that was so effective before is less so.
2) we keep up the pressure, and teams continue to drive, and Kofi gets three fouls in the first 6 minutes of each game because Big Ten guards are pretty good at drawing contact from a relatively inexperienced freshman.
3) we keep up the pressure, guards drive, and Kofi gets 4 blocks a game swatting balls into the 5th row.
4) we keep up the pressure. the other team makes adjustments to move Kofi out of the paint with high picks & we still get back doored to death because Kofi isn't close enough to help
5) a little bit of all of the above (my prediction)
 
I don't know where 247 gets it's sources for an overseas recruit that no other programs were in the hunt for, but I'm hesitant to trust them over our own Roster listing. I'm going to go with fightingillini.com and their listing of 6'-7" and 220 lbs. I'd like to assume they weigh and measure our athletes before posting their stats.
I also remember Illinois Athletics listing Deon Thomas as 6-10 when he was barely 6-8. But he did have high shoulders and short neck 😀
 
We have not much idea on the incoming players other than Kofi. He has played against enough high level talent and we have a big enough need to use him for rebounding and inside presence.
Of the remaining players a lot will be based on their determination to develop and fill a role obviously lacking on returning depth. If Tevian , Griffin or one of the new players says I am going to give all out effort to be a junkyard dog and defend and rebound to earn minutes and make team better THIS SEASON they might get some extra tick.
With the guard pressure and Kofi and Giorgi getting a decent amount of defensive rebounds we should be able to run some push the ball offense no matter who we play. Injuries, foul trouble or a lack of development could seriously hinder this teams ability against top tier teams.

Beat the cupcakes with no letdowns and have a fair share of ups to go with a few downs and hopefully...Dancing Days are here again.

Let's hope for a big jump from Tev and Griffin and some maturity from Kourma. I...L...L...
 
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