Illini Basketball 2019-2020

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What’s your take on Underwood’s defense? Will adding height fix the problems?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If BU gets fired it will be because of his crazy defense. IMO it isn't possible to for this system to be consistently good for a whole season. I could see why it works at lower levels, but at this level players are too good and will beat it.

I am hoping the height helps, but I don't think we can ignore what we would be losing. If we play the twin towers, we gain height but lose speed. So maybe we are better defending the rim and rebounding, but our turnover rate goes down because of less pressure due to lack of speed?

Let's not forget that BU had to abandon his pressure defense for a pack-line defense in the middle of the season at Oklahoma St.
 
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Just North of the Southern border!
I recall BU stating, in the past month or so, that they have been practicing a lot of zone.

Besides that, I think he has "longer arms" this season, as compared to the past 2.

And, finally, I distinctly recall Deon saying that the help a player needed was too late or many times non-existent.

Between all these, I think we will be better.
 
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I've said it before and I'll say it again. If BU gets fired it will be because of his crazy defense. IMO it isn't possible to for this system to be consistently good for a whole season. I could see why it works at lower levels, but at this level players are too good and will beat it.

I am hoping the height helps, but I don't think we can ignore what we would be losing. If we play the twin towers, we gain height but lose speed. So maybe we are better defending the rim and rebounding, but our turnover rate goes down because of less pressure due to lack of speed?

Let's not forget that BU had to abandon his pressure defense for a pack-line defense in the middle of the season at Oklahoma St.
*sigh* that defense was run last year out of necessity. We had to try to create turnovers because if we let a shot go up, it was probably less than 50% chance that we’d secure the rebound. Things are different now. You just said yourself Underwood is able to adapt and I doubt we’ll see the defense be as chaotic as it was last year. Also, speed doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re doing. This group now has experience in the system and will be better, period. Go to bed
 
Iowa City
It's been discussed a lot how GB will need to be a better shooter to play the 4 and be on the floor with Kofi. But I am really curious on how opposing teams play them in the pinch post and how they handle switches. Can get a lot of mismatches and post up on some smaller players for some easy buckets.
 
Austin
I’m interested to see how the new 3 pt line impacts our defense and defense in general.

As the video in the preview says, we deny to halfcourt anyway, meaning the increased distance between the 3 point line and the rim means nothing to us in terms of our extension. Our helpside closeouts become longer now, but that might be negated by passes being slightly longer to throw, and possibly worth it if the extended line causes a dip in 3P%.

On the other hand, packline teams have a choice to make. The “general rule” for a packline is to pack 2 feet inside the 3 point line. Following that rule, the new packline would be about a step inside where the old 3 pt line was, so about 2 feet further out than normal. This makes the first line of help cover more ground quicker, or you can keep your old principals, really pack in below 18 feet, and require longer closeouts on 3s.

Still think the packline is the safer play, but there will probably be an adjustment period for those teams that we shouldn’t need.
 
Glenview, IL
A little more preseason love for the Illini:

https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/five-college-basketball-teams-not-in-the-preseason-ap-top-25-who-will-crack-the-rankings-this-season/

Five college basketball teams not in the preseason AP Top 25 who will crack the rankings this season

5. Illinois Fighting Illini
  • 2018-19 record: 12-21
  • National title odds: 100-1
We saw flashes of just how good Illinois can be at various points last season, with impressive wins over Michigan State, Minnesota and Maryland. We also saw just how rotten it can be, too, with baffling lopsided losses to Florida Atlantic, Iowa, Indiana and Penn State. Expect more of the former this season as the Illini return their starting point guard led by Ayo Dosunmu, a sophomore in line to make a big leap in his second season.
 
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Really believe this year is more about the coaching than the players. His defense works very well against teams that are not familiar with it so it is good in tournaments. However, when coaches become familiar with it, they make adjustments. The real answer is in changing the defense within the game to keep the opponents off balance. With a more experienced team, making adjustments becomes practical. I expect to see several variations this year beyond the pressure and the zone they played last year. Do like the constant ball pressure to make the opponents uncomfortable all the time.
 
I’m interested to see how the new 3 pt line impacts our defense and defense in general.

As the video in the preview says, we deny to halfcourt anyway, meaning the increased distance between the 3 point line and the rim means nothing to us in terms of our extension. Our helpside closeouts become longer now, but that might be negated by passes being slightly longer to throw, and possibly worth it if the extended line causes a dip in 3P%.

On the other hand, packline teams have a choice to make. The “general rule” for a packline is to pack 2 feet inside the 3 point line. Following that rule, the new packline would be about a step inside where the old 3 pt line was, so about 2 feet further out than normal. This makes the first line of help cover more ground quicker, or you can keep your old principals, really pack in below 18 feet, and require longer closeouts on 3s.

Still think the packline is the safer play, but there will probably be an adjustment period for those teams that we shouldn’t need.
I am guessing that you mean Illinois specifically but here is a general review:

What to expect from college basketball's new 3-point line
 
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As for offensive impact on 3-pt line being moved, it hasn't impacted Oregon State thus far. After their two exhibition games (granted exhibition games against NAIA schools), they've hit 47% of their 3s (7 of 12 in first game and 8 of 20 in second game). Hopefully the Illini have the same kind of success.
 
As for offensive impact on 3-pt line being moved, it hasn't impacted Oregon State thus far. After their two exhibition games (granted exhibition games against NAIA schools), they've hit 47% of their 3s (7 of 12 in first game and 8 of 20 in second game). Hopefully the Illini have the same kind of success.
I don't think anyone expects more than a 2-4% impact on overall 3pt%... the more interesting question is how the line move impacts the other aspects of the offense. Is it easier to penetrate off the bounce or post up because the lanes are less crowded or there's less helpside defense?
 
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I've said it before and I'll say it again. If BU gets fired it will be because of his crazy defense. IMO it isn't possible to for this system to be consistently good for a whole season. I could see why it works at lower levels, but at this level players are too good and will beat it.

I am hoping the height helps, but I don't think we can ignore what we would be losing. If we play the twin towers, we gain height but lose speed. So maybe we are better defending the rim and rebounding, but our turnover rate goes down because of less pressure due to lack of speed?

Let's not forget that BU had to abandon his pressure defense for a pack-line defense in the middle of the season at Oklahoma St.
Thanks for sharing that article. It had some pretty interesting stuff in it, but my only minor quibble with the author's defensive analysis is that it's factually incorrect. His two main premises -- that Giorgi provided enough rim protection for the defense to be reasonably effective, and that the team forced turnovers at an elite rate -- are contradicted by the data that he cites.

With respect to turnovers, Illinois was #25 in the nation in turnover rate last year. That's good, but not elite. The distance between #1 and #25 is basically the same as the distance between #25 and the NCAA average. Contrast that with 2018, where Illinois was #4 and a short distance from the very top in that category. There is absolutely room to improve and improve significantly, and as a general rule Underwood's teams have been better at forcing turnovers than last year's team was.

Illinois was also very bad at blocking shots last year, which is directly related to being bad at stopping opponents from making twos. I love Giorgi to death, but he is not a plus defender in the post. He was the best qualifying shot blocker on the team last year, but ranked #17 in the conference in block percentage. Twelve teams had a player higher on that list than Giorgi, and twelve teams had better team block percentages and twelve teams had better two-point defenses.

To hang numbers on his analysis, the distance between Illinois and an average team on turnover percentage is 3.2%. Over a standard 68-possession game, that's 2.17 turnovers added. The average team scores 1.27 points per possession where a shot is taken (i.e. where they don't turn the ball over), so that adds up to 2.76 points per game.

On the other hand, Illinois was roughly as bad at stopping twos last year as they were good at forcing turnovers. The difference between Illinois and an average team on twos was 3.5%. I don't have exact numbers handy on the average number of twos taken per game, but Illinois shot a shade under 38 twos a game last year. We were basically average (or slightly better) in terms of turning the ball over and offensive rebounding, shot a shade fewer threes than average, but were soundly below average at getting to the line. Regardless, I think we shot a more or less average number of twos last year; adjusted for tempo, we'll call it 37.

Dropping our two-point defense to league average would result in 1.3 more made field goals out of that 37 per game, or 2.6 points. That's not a difference of any significance from what is gained by turning the other team over at a higher rate.

I just don't see how this team could have been anything other than average in terms of protecting the rim regardless of their defensive system. They had three post players on the roster. One was Giorgi, who is an undersized 5 who generally plays below the rim. One was Adonis, who was less mobile than Robert Parish when he spent that year on the Bulls' bench at the end of his career. And then there was Samba, who had the tools but looked like a drunken Boston terrier trying to hump a greased watermelon every time he got further than three feet from the basket and was not ready for B1G competition.

Maybe a switch to a more conservative system would have made some difference, but I really don't think that last year's team had the length, athleticism, and experience to be effective on the defensive end. We've just looked out of place in the B1G. I have hopes that the players we're adding will change that, but it remains to be seen.

Not trying to pick on you specifically for this, but the narrative around Underwood supposedly switching defenses and miraculously turning the fortunes of OSU around really isn't that accurate. I'm sure that Underwood made some adjustments, but the biggest thing that happened during OSU's good stretch of results is that the quality of opponents weren't nearly as good as the ones they played during their losing streaks.

OSU started the conference season 0-6, then went 9-1, and finished the season 0-4. Those 11 losses included 9 games against teams that were in the top 20 of the Pomeroy rankings, with one bad loss to #70 Texas and one loss to #30 K-State. Those teams included some very good offenses, including Kansas (twice), Baylor (twice), Iowa St. (three times), and Michigan.

Contrasting that, the 9 wins included only one top-20 win (vs. WVU), with the rest coming against the bottom half of the conference. The season basically played out how you might expect it to for a team squarely in the middle of the Big 12, but by a quirk of scheduling they finished and ended the season with most of their tough games.

I don't have a problem with folks calling Underwood's pre-Illinois track record into question generally because the more I look at it, the thinner it gets. But to me, there just isn't that much compelling evidence that the issue is with the defensive system he's installed. The fortunes of his defenses have tracked fairly closely to how many shots they have blocked, which seems to indicate that personnel, or a lack of length and athleticism, is a major part of the issue.

That's still Underwood's problem to solve, of course. But there's a difference between folks saying that they don't like watching Illinois give up back door layups from an aesthetic standpoint -- maybe your parents were gunned down in cold blood in front of the Monarch Theatre by a back door cut, who knows -- and folks saying that Underwood is failing specifically because of the style he plays.

Either way, I think that the players on the court were capable of playing defense at the level we saw last year, and the only choice is really what flavor of mediocre you prefer. I prefer uptempo, attacking defense that gets burned more than it should. If you prefer watching the other team pass the ball around for 28 seconds before scoring anyway, you do you.
 
Carbondale, IL
And then there was Samba, who had the tools but looked like a drunken Boston terrier trying to hump a greased watermelon every time he got further than three feet from the basket and was not ready for B1G competition.
But there's a difference between folks saying that they don't like watching Illinois give up back door layups from an aesthetic standpoint -- maybe your parents were gunned down in cold blood in front of the Monarch Theatre by a back door cut, who knows --
:congrats:
 
It's been discussed a lot how GB will need to be a better shooter to play the 4 and be on the floor with Kofi. But I am really curious on how opposing teams play them in the pinch post and how they handle switches. Can get a lot of mismatches and post up on some smaller players for some easy buckets.
I think the two them on the floor together could be a real strength this year. Giorgi was talking about high/low in a clip I saw yesterday. He’s a solid passer and if he has the ball in the high post with kofi able to take a lob or clear space for a cutter you could see some real high percentage offense.

on D I expect kofi to foul a lot. Does Giorgi foul less? Big factor in our success. Maybe biggest factor. I hope we see more zone. Coach has hinted at it and they seemed to play more in ITL IIRC?

I can’t help but be optimistic. Ayo is a stud. GB was huge last year so you’d expect him to be even better. Frazier and Feliz will be always solid and sometimes great. Kofi is gigantic. Apparently griffin has made the next step. Tev pisses me off because he could be a difference maker and now who knows. I’d hoped he’d be starting this year. 20 will be a good role player. Who knows about 2 but we’re all rooting for him. Will BBV give us anything? That’s icing on the cake. I like this team.
 
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With respect to turnovers, Illinois was #25 in the nation in turnover rate last year. That's good, but not elite. The distance between #1 and #25 is basically the same as the distance between #25 and the NCAA average. Contrast that with 2018, where Illinois was #4 and a short distance from the very top in that category. There is absolutely room to improve and improve significantly, and as a general rule Underwood's teams have been better at forcing turnovers than last year's team was.
What's your source for Illinois being #25 in forced turnovers? The article claims #24 and my source shows #23 (https://www.ncaa.com/stats/basketball-men/d1/current/team/931).

My source also shows that we averaged 15.64 forced turnovers per game while the #1 team had 19.62. That's a delta of only 3.98 turnovers per game. This supports what the article we are discussing said that, "There are little more opponent turnovers to be squeezed from this system... extra 2-3 turnovers (and that's all it is, in a typical 65ish possession game)"

The point the article is making is that EVEN IF Illinois were to get those extra 3.98 turnovers per game to be the best at forcing turnovers in the NCAA, it just isn't worth that much and it would likely come at the cost of introducing more defensive weaknesses elsewhere. The team that scored the most points per possession in the 2018-19 season was Gonzaga with 1.197 points per possession (https://www.teamrankings.com/ncaa-basketball/stat/offensive-efficiency). 3.98 extra possessions * 1.197 is just 4.76 points per game. And that would be the absolute ceiling since it doesn't factor in that forcing those 3.98 turnovers and running your offense eats up game clock and therefore you aren't really increasing your total possessions per game by 3.98. It is also unlikey you are both the most offensively efficient team AND the best at forcing turnovers. Illinois for example was #226 in points per possession at only 0.988 so if those 3.98 turnovers resulted in an extra 3 possessions per game, that would only be an extra 2.96 points per game for Illinois.

Illinois had an average scoring margin of -2.6 points per game (good for #227) last season (https://www.teamrankings.com/ncaa-basketball/stat/average-scoring-margin). So adding another 2.96 points per game is enough to make that positive, but we'd still be somewhere around #172 in the country (right around where Fla Atlantic is). If you buy what the author said about extending more for those turnovers resulting in more defensive weaknesses elsewhere, then it probably doesn't do much to change our overall scoring margin.

Illinois was also very bad at blocking shots last year, which is directly related to being bad at stopping opponents from making twos. I love Giorgi to death, but he is not a plus defender in the post. He was the best qualifying shot blocker on the team last year, but ranked #17 in the conference in block percentage. Twelve teams had a player higher on that list than Giorgi, and twelve teams had better team block percentages and twelve teams had better two-point defenses.
The article is not saying that Giorgi is a plus defender in the post. It is saying that Giorgi did well enough to prevent complete disaster in the paint last season, "Last year, I believed there was a good chance of an unmitigated disaster on that end of the floor. Well, that did not happen, in part because the surprising Bezhanishvili managed to block enough shots to be considered, and "was tall." ". Those are very different claims. Also, the article states that BU's defensive scheme is odd in that even the center is in a deny position. This means that Giorgi was often not between the opposing center and the basket, but rather the ball and the opposing center which would make it a lot harder to block shots. The author is clearly stating that the defensive scheme is at fault for weakness in the paint.

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All of this is to say that you seem not to actually have understood the main points the article is making about BU's defense. The main point is that BU has his guys play on the line and away from their man. This means that Illinois players are directly between the ball and the guy they are defending instead of a few steps off the line towards the basket. It also means that there is distance between them and their defender. Both of these things make it easier for the defender to cut to the basket and beat the defender in the lane. The upside is that it makes it very difficult to pass the ball from 1 side of the court to the other which the vast majority of college offenses rely on so it disrupts teams that have not specifically prepared for Illinois' style of defense. The article author is clearly saying that the system, despite being good against lower talent teams and teams that haven't specifically prepared for it, is weak against teams that plan to play against Illinois since the backdoor cut is an easy way to get an easy 2 points. The author is also saying that the interior defenders are out of position by staying between the ball in a deny position which results in help coming late (sometimes too aggressively so that a foul is given) or not at all.

If you're going to type out a detailed response to an article, it seems like you should at least take the time to read that article and respond to some of the actual criticisms being made. Instead you just said, if we increase our turnovers and get better players we can score more points and get more rebounds (no duh).
 
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