Illini Basketball 2019-2020

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A few things:

1. TURNOVERS: We have a well documented turnover problem. However it doesn't seem to really be fully team-wide. It is primarily the fault of Ayo, Kofi, and Feliz. Kofi is understandable since he's a very high usage freshman and he's got some learning to do. However Ayo and Feliz are supposed to be 2 of the best guards on our team, and potentially in the Big 10. If they could get out of whatever funk they're in and drop their turnovers from 3.6 and 3.0 to 1.2 like Trent's been doing that would be a 21 turnover reduction on the season so far and would bring our Team average turnovers per game from 18.2 (336th in the nation) down to 14.0 (good for 175th in the nation). If Kofi can be coached and reduces his turnovers from 3.6 to 2.0 (to match Giorgi) that would be a further 8 turnover reduction on the season which would bring our average per game down to 12.4 (good for 95th in the nation). So what I'm trying to say is, Yes. we have a well documented turnover problem but since it is primarily being lead by Ayo and Feliz, and a very coachable freshman Kofi I am optimistic and think that by B1G play we'll have that locked down and be down to around ~12 per game and back in the top 100 in the country in this statistic.

2. FOULS: In 2018-19 we committed a total of 700 fouls over 33 games or 21.2 per game (342nd in the nation). So far this season we have committed a total of 81 fouls over 5 games or 16.2 per game (112th in the nation). Giorgi (3), and Kofi (2.6) are leading us in fouls. I am optimistic and think think with a little more practice with our new 2 big defense we can get this looking even better and could be in the top 100 in the country in this statistic.

3. REBOUNDS: We have 46.4 rebounds per game which is good for 6th in the country. Our rebounding margin is +17 per game which is good for 3rd in the country. Against Arizona we actually had a -5 rebounding margin though so there's some concern that we are just out rebounding short and bad teams. However, I'm optimistic that Kofi will be a rebounding force even against increased competition with some more playing time. I fully expect our rebounding to slip as we move to conference play but I'm optimistic and think that we can continue to out rebound opponents by at least +5 which is probably good for ~top 30 based on last years stats.

If we reduce our turnovers to ~12 per game, maintain our current number of fouls, and continue out rebounding opponents at a healthy clip then the only other thing we need to do is learn how to shoot. 28.2% from 3 isn't going to be enough.
 
Question. Which do you think will be higher this season? The number of Illini wins or the number of Kofi double-doubles?
 
For those of you who are confident Ayo is leaving after this year, why?

He’s not listed in most mock 1st rounds (eg https://www.draftsite.com/nba/mock-draft/2020/) nor has he been playing anywhere close to the level of a first round pick.

Is Ayo leaving even if he goes late second round or regardless?
Been saying this since beginning of the year...I do not believe it is a given. If it is not, the narrative would be easy to spell out that the ILLINI got to the tournament, but it wasn't enough, I want more, I am here to do so, why not me will continue possibly?
 
For those of you who are confident Ayo is leaving after this year, why?

He’s not listed in most mock 1st rounds (eg https://www.draftsite.com/nba/mock-draft/2020/) nor has he been playing anywhere close to the level of a first round pick.

Is Ayo leaving even if he goes late second round or regardless?
So long as Ayo doesn’t play himself out of the draft entirely this season, he will likely declare and go, even as a second rounder. If he were to come back next year and not have a good season, his draft stock would effectively be toast. That’s basically what happened with Melo Trimble. He’s smarter than that.
 
Been saying this since beginning of the year...I do not believe it is a given. If it is not, the narrative would be easy to spell out that the ILLINI got to the tournament, but it wasn't enough, I want more, I am here to do so, why not me will continue possibly?
Do we remember that Deron William's big draft board jump didn't actually happen until the deep NCAA run to the National title game? Point is, Ayo has the talent that scouts like. He has plenty of time this season to prove to them why....
 
North Bethesda, Maryland
Ayo's not done in terms of the draft. If he gets going in the BIG, he will crack the first round...it's just too good a conference not to get noticed.
 
Agree that Ayo hasn’t had a great start and maybe nervous but may be part of the changes in integrating Kofi. Looked absolutely great in Italy and last year. Needs to play to have fun and the draft will take care of itself.
 
Been saying this since beginning of the year...I do not believe it is a given. If it is not, the narrative would be easy to spell out that the ILLINI got to the tournament, but it wasn't enough, I want more, I am here to do so, why not me will continue possibly?
Thanks for this PlayAZ....

I like this narrative, thinking Ayo wants to leave UIUC as a legend and the guy who brought us back to permanent relevance... i.e. the guy we always claim as our own going forward - a la Deron.

Ayo's posse seems to be low-drama so I think Ayo will do what's best for him as *he* sees it - whatever that might be. (sadly, not always a given for these young people). Perhaps he thinks another year will help him build the Dosunmu brand. Or not - what the hell do *we* know?

I also agree that Ayo's lottery pick trajectory may have flattened a bit so nothing is certain regarding his NBA future. And yes, a Kemba Walker-like tourney run could change that in a heartbeat
 
Likes: PlayAZ
No doubt that Ayo hasn’t played as well as we’d like, and I think two key reasons are the emphasis being placed on running offense through Kofi in half court and the move away from the pressing, havoc defense that allowed the Illini to get downhill on offense more last year. Those fast break points elevated the offense leading to some nice runs that seem to be missing this year. So Ayo might still be trying to figure out how to impose his will within the confines of what team is trying to do this year. That said he needs to cut down on TOs while he figures that out.
 
he needs to cut down on TOs
The reality is that yes he needs to cut down on these...the ball is in his hands less now than last year with Kofi/Giorgi doing their respective things. He pushes hard when he has the ball, his moments are lesser this year. Have fun, play the game you love Ayo and pick your times better, he will then be headed back to the draft boards where he belongs.
 
Likes: alaskaillini
Last season was so frustrating to watch Ayo and Trent not able to play with each other for like the first 10 games or so.... then it clicked. Can't wait to see when Ayo-Trent and Kofi click... The great thing is that we willl have a better W-L record when this clicks than last season. We will be dancing IMHO
 
Baltimore, MD
I understand the concern over Ayo, I was really hoping he would build off the strong finish last year, but I was looking at his stats to start last season and he averaged 11 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.9 APG over the first 11 games last season (7 of 11 he scored 10 or less). So far this year he's averaging 14 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG. You could argue the point that he was getting used to the college game last year and a slow start should be expected, but I think so far this year he (and everyone else) is trying to learn their role and how to run this offense with Kofi in the middle and Giorgi at the 4. It's still really early in the year and I expect him to have a stretch like he did after his slow start last year where he scored 15+ points in 7 of 8 games (5 of those with 20+). NBA scouts are also going to look way beyond numbers at the small things he does right (or wrong) on the court when he doesn't have the ball in his hands and how that translates to the NBA game.
 
NBA scouts are also going to look way beyond numbers at the small things he does right (or wrong) on the court when he doesn't have the ball in his hands and how that translates to the NBA game.
This. I re-watched the Hawaii game and realized that Ayo still has the same skill set that (I think) the NBA scouts saw last year. I don't follow the NBA so I don't know for sure but seems that what they like most is his ability to drive to the basket and his transition game (or is that that same thing?). The fact that he is in a bit of scoring slump is not going to dissuade the NBA from picking him unless, of course, he doesn't pull himself out of it. Same with TOs. And it might be a little early to tell but he seems to be getting a handle on turnovers too (actually, the whole team is finally).
 
NBA scouts are also going to look way beyond numbers at the small things he does right (or wrong) on the court when he doesn't have the ball in his hands and how that translates to the NBA game.
Very good point, Ayo will be in the NBA, the scouts see it, he knows it. The little things the scouts see will determine when and how high.

The stats speak to a SOS of being 1/2 as high as last year, his 2pt% is nearly 50% for career being higher this year. His 3pt% is 34% career being 26% this year, his FT% is fine 70% career, 75% this year. He is at 3.9% rebounding career basically no change against different level competition, and assist are the same as well just over 3.0 career. His TO is the issue and it is glaring imo....2.3-3.6 last year to this year vs much inferior opposition, handling the ball less.

We are ranked 74 SOS this season vs 34 SOS last year. Power Index has us at 51 this year, and 93 last year due to scheduling/record etc.

He is pressing, he will be fine, he will get to the finish line, just relax, press a little less, and take care fo the ball, the scouts will see the rest.
 
his ability to drive to the basket and his transition game (or is that that same thing?
That is exactly the reasons scouts like him ALOT, the only issue will be can he do that against comparable talent ALL the time and also protect the ball. Ayo will be going against guards of similiar or in some cases higher talent level than he possess', can he penetrate, push the ball, finish strong against them without losing the ball?
 
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