Looking back on recent Illini Basketball history

#1
Second and Chalmers said:
We've had so much damn talent :tsk:
No we haven't. We have not had a good recruiter since Self left and with the exception of 2010-11 season talent has been below par at Illinois.

Unless talent drastically improves, we will not be able to consistently compete in B1G and fans will always dream that our lesser talent overachieves, our system outperforms, and our strategies outsmart the rest of the B1G. We may make the tournament once in a while (... and it has been a while) when we hit better chemistry, etc. thinking that we are on the way up, but we will never be able to make much noise or consistently compete in the B1G. And even that little underachievement (e.g., Groce's first year) will most likely be counterbalanced with little underachievement (like last year).

Illini history also proves that, just looking at the two periods when we were consistently good (80s and 2000-06) one can easily see the level of talent discrepancy with the last 12 years.
 
#2
No we haven't. We have not had a good recruiter since Self left and with the exception of 2010-11 season talent has been below par at Illinois.

Unless talent drastically improves, we will not be able to consistently compete in B1G and fans will always dream that our lesser talent overachieves, our system outperforms, and our strategies outsmart the rest of the B1G. We may make the tournament once in a while (... and it has been a while) when we hit better chemistry, etc. thinking that we are on the way up, but we will never be able to make much noise or consistently compete in the B1G. And even that little underachievement (e.g., Groce's first year) will most likely be counterbalanced with little underachievement (like last year).

Illini history also proves that, just looking at the two periods when we were consistently good (80s and 2000-06) one can easily see the level of talent discrepancy with the last 12 years.
If order of finish in the Big Ten were determined strictly by recruiting rankings, the last decade would have gone down profoundly differently. You can make the accurate point that being elite requires elite talent all you want, and you're right that we haven't had that since Dee left town, but that does not change the relentless, routine underperformance of what talent level we have had which now stretches unbroken across three different coaching administrations.
 
#3
If order of finish in the Big Ten were determined strictly by recruiting rankings....
Never part of what I have said. Strong recruiting is a necessary but not sufficient condition, and strong recruiting is something that Illinois has been lacking since Self left. There have been overachievements (e.g., Groce's first year, Weber's 2008-09) counterbalanced with underachievements (last year, Weber's 2011-12) and the rest has been a big meh... pretty much on par of what this program has been given the lack of talent level necessary to compete in the B1G. On the contrary to your last statement, as Weber proved in his early years with Self's players, it was rather overperformance given the talent.
 
#4
Mad Scientist
Arizona, USA
No we haven't. We have not had a good recruiter since Self left and with the exception of 2010-11 season talent has been below par at Illinois.

Unless talent drastically improves, we will not be able to consistently compete in B1G and fans will always dream that our lesser talent overachieves, our system outperforms, and our strategies outsmart the rest of the B1G. We may make the tournament once in a while (... and it has been a while) when we hit better chemistry, etc. thinking that we are on the way up, but we will never be able to make much noise or consistently compete in the B1G. And even that little underachievement (e.g., Groce's first year) will most likely be counterbalanced with little underachievement (like last year).

Illini history also proves that, just looking at the two periods when we were consistently good (80s and 2000-06) one can easily see the level of talent discrepancy with the last 12 years.
You are underselling our level of success. I'd argue that we were eminently successful (using the metric of tournament appearances) basically since year 6 of Lou Henson, which was '80-'81, through Weber's tenure. Starting in '80-'81 and going through '11-'12, we had 32 seasons and made 24 tournaments. That is 3 out of every 4 years for 32 years. That is pretty sustained success for much longer than you suggest. It also makes these last 6ish years even more depressing.

I can't say we always had better talent in each of those 32 years, but I think it's kind of a no-brainer that, on average, our talent level was better.
 
#5
You are underselling our level of success. I'd argue that we were eminently successful (using the metric of tournament appearances) basically since year 6 of Lou Henson, which was '80-'81, through Weber's tenure. Starting in '80-'81 and going through '11-'12, we had 32 seasons and made 24 tournaments. That is 3 out of every 4 years for 32 years. That is pretty sustained success for much longer than you suggest. It also makes these last 6ish years even more depressing.

I can't say we always had better talent in each of those 32 years, but I think it's kind of a no-brainer that, on average, our talent level was better.
That is averaging too many years, in order for the post Dee era to look better. As I said, there are two periods in Illini history where we were consistently good, 80s and 2000-06. The beginning to the end was the recruiting failures once Weber got here, rather than he forgot how to game coach (which his record and success with Self's players shows differently). The 2006-12 years is a very problematic period by itself, a period where the inherited brand new Ferrari turned into a Yugo.. That period is much more indicative of the post Dee era than anything to do with 2000-06.
 
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#6
No we haven't. We have not had a good recruiter since Self left and with the exception of 2010-11 season talent has been below par at Illinois.

Unless talent drastically improves, we will not be able to consistently compete in B1G and fans will always dream that our lesser talent overachieves, our system outperforms, and our strategies outsmart the rest of the B1G. We may make the tournament once in a while (... and it has been a while) when we hit better chemistry, etc. thinking that we are on the way up, but we will never be able to make much noise or consistently compete in the B1G. And even that little underachievement (e.g., Groce's first year) will most likely be counterbalanced with little underachievement (like last year).

Illini history also proves that, just looking at the two periods when we were consistently good (80s and 2000-06) one can easily see the level of talent discrepancy with the last 12 years.
This is absolutely right on point! I don't like it, but it is spot on.
 
#7
The 2006-12 years is a very problematic period by itself, a period where the inherited brand new Ferrari turned into a Yugo.. That period is much more indicative of the post Dee era than anything to do with 2000-06.
We went 6-12 in the Big Ten with three NBA players. With a team that was 15-3 and ranked in mid-January, having just beaten a massively talented Ohio State team.

From 2009-10 to 2014-15 we were ranked at one point or another in every season. We missed the tournament in FOUR of those six seasons. Same story in every single one, in the non-conference season when it's a low scouting data, short-preparation beauty contest, we more than held our own. When the season turned into a contest of excellent Big Ten coaches thoroughly scouting and gameplanning for one another, Illinois basketball folded like a cheap suit. Every single time.

There are two stories of how we got here. The Loyalty story, the sympathy-seeking ugly ducking tale of Eric Gordon's treachery and Cliff Alexander's hat trick and Quentin Snider's missing LOI is not an untrue story. That stuff all happened and was all damaging to us. But that story is woefully incomplete and totally misleading without the added context that we were also doing things like going 6-12 with three NBA players during the same period. The reason we're not a national power anymore is the recruiting story, we're not cutting down any nets with the players we've had. But the reason the program has been burnt to the ground is because our coaches have been utterly, shockingly incompetent with the fine, middle of the power conference curve talent they have had.
 
#8
Mad Scientist
Arizona, USA
That is averaging too many years, in order for the post Dee era to look better. As I said, there are two periods in Illini history where we were consistently good, 80s and 2000-06. The beginning to the end was the recruiting failures once Weber got here, rather than he forgot how to game coach (which his record and success with Self's players shows differently). The 2006-12 years is a very problematic period by itself, a period where the inherited brand new Ferrari turned into a Yugo.. That period is much more indicative of the post Dee era than anything to do with 2000-06.
How is it too many years? I told you my metric: tournament appearances. I could have chopped off one or two of those years at the end but it wouldn't have changed the conclusions much.
 
#9
We went 6-12 in the Big Ten with three NBA players. With a team that was 15-3 and ranked in mid-January, having just beaten a massively talented Ohio State team.

From 2009-10 to 2014-15 we were ranked at one point or another in every season. We missed the tournament in FOUR of those six seasons. Same story in every single one, in the non-conference season when it's a low scouting data, short-preparation beauty contest, we more than held our own. When the season turned into a contest of excellent Big Ten coaches thoroughly scouting and gameplanning for one another, Illinois basketball folded like a cheap suit. Every single time.

There are two stories of how we got here. The Loyalty story, the sympathy-seeking ugly ducking tale of Eric Gordon's treachery and Cliff Alexander's hat trick and Quentin Snider's missing LOI is not an untrue story. That stuff all happened and was all damaging to us. But that story is woefully incomplete and totally misleading without the added context that we were also doing things like going 6-12 with three NBA players during the same period. The reason we're not a national power anymore is the recruiting story, we're not cutting down any nets with the players we've had. But the reason the program has been burnt to the ground is because our coaches have been utterly, shockingly incompetent with the fine, middle of the power conference curve talent they have had.
What 3 nba players do you speak? Leonard and Paul are the only ones I think of. Plus they went 6-12 that year because they knew Thomas was going to fire Weber. That’s why the Football team folded up that year too. I blame a lot of our failures on Thomas.
 
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#11
How is it too many years? I told you my metric: tournament appearances. I could have chopped off one or two of those years at the end but it wouldn't have changed the conclusions much.
Because the the 2007-12 period is much more indicative of the post Dee era than anything to do with 2000-06. The problem is not the overall 1980-today illinois history, which on the average is highly and positively influenced by the consistently good eras (80s and 2000-06). The problem is the post Dee era and Illinois' inability to maintain the talent level where it needs to consistently compete in B1G and beyond.
 
#12
We went 6-12 in the Big Ten with three NBA players. With a team that was 15-3 and ranked in mid-January, having just beaten a massively talented Ohio State team.

From 2009-10 to 2014-15 we were ranked at one point or another in every season. We missed the tournament in FOUR of those six seasons. Same story in every single one, in the non-conference season when it's a low scouting data, short-preparation beauty contest, we more than held our own. When the season turned into a contest of excellent Big Ten coaches thoroughly scouting and gameplanning for one another, Illinois basketball folded like a cheap suit. Every single time.

There are two stories of how we got here. The Loyalty story, the sympathy-seeking ugly ducking tale of Eric Gordon's treachery and Cliff Alexander's hat trick and Quentin Snider's missing LOI is not an untrue story. That stuff all happened and was all damaging to us. But that story is woefully incomplete and totally misleading without the added context that we were also doing things like going 6-12 with three NBA players during the same period. The reason we're not a national power anymore is the recruiting story, we're not cutting down any nets with the players we've had. But the reason the program has been burnt to the ground is because our coaches have been utterly, shockingly incompetent with the fine, middle of the power conference curve talent they have had.
"The Loyalty story" exists only in your mind (and your imaginary friends).

I can't recall the last time I heard any of those three recruits mentioned in discussing our recruiting. I really don't know why you feel like you have to create some mythical stupid Illini fan that you can elevate yourself over.

By the way, I absolutely agree on your larger point. We had enough talent to get to the tourney in virtually every year under Weber and Groce. In fact, I was in favor of firing Weber after the underachieving NCAA tourney 2011 team. Even when we made the tourney, the teams didn't perform to the levels I thought reasonable.

I guess where we part ways is that you think that you, and now I guess me, are the only people to hold that position. My guess is that the vast majority of people on this board feel that way. I know that the vast majority of people going to games do.

To Obelix's point. We do need better recruiting if we're going to be consistently competing for BT titles and deep tourney runs. So while the talent was certainly sufficient for making the tourney, if your goals were loftier, we didn't have enough talent for that.
 
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#13
I really don't know why you feel like you have to create some mythical stupid Illini fan that you can elevate yourself over.
Obelix, just to name one, is an extremely smart and erudite and intellectually rigorous Illini fan that has very elegantly expressed the exact viewpoint that I'm talking about.

Illinois fans on the internet generally, and Loyalty specifically, is obsessed with the Game of Thrones of basketball recruiting in a way that other similarly situated fanbases are not. Fan communities have distinct traits, and that is ours. Indiana is somewhat similar and Kentucky has always been this way, probably even exceeding us, but you go to internet sites for schools like Purdue or Michigan or Michigan State and their focus is much more on the current team and how to use their current players and what they can do to improve.

I don't think the Loyalty Hivemind is some slack-jawed yokel that's too dumb to ever see things clearly. I wish you would stop accusing me of that. I think the Loyalty Hivemind has had an understandable, perfectly rational reaction to the collapse of our program and especially the media narrative through which that unfolded, but like Obelix they are using real facts and cogent analysis to tell a story that misses a big part of the picture. And I say that as someone who in 2009 was as much a part of the Loyalty Hivemind as anybody (though mostly on a different board back then). I was telling the same partial story too.

I've changed the way I think about winning in college sports in response to new information and more careful study over the years. I'm still probably very wrong, but it's fun to argue about and there's no need to take disagreements personally. Isn't this why we're here?
 
#14
People who have read my posts over the years know that I have had a strong dislike for Weber from early on. I thought he lacked the personality to attract talented players, build the relationships with AAU/HS programs, work and market Illinois at a local and national media level, and most importantly the ability to recruit strong talent. For those reasons, I thought he was a terrible fit for Illinois. But as a game coach, and a coach myself, I think Weber is very solid in his coaching and system. No doubt about that. I do not think what we noticed post-Dee era is that Weber forgot how to coach. What we noticed was the inability to maintain a strong talent level necessary to compete in B1G. When he inherited such talent level from Self, he did extremely well, and he would probably do the same today.

I also think BU is strong, solid game coach and really like his system and style of play. I do not think BU forgot how to coach either when he got to UI. I do have some concerns that his personality may clash with players (similar to Martin/Huggins -- not a fan) but that is the least of my concerns at this point. My main concern is recruiting and his ability to elevate and consistently maintain the talent level to where it needs to consistently compete in the B1G (less worried about a one year underachievement like last year, or a possible one year overachievement in the future similar to Groce's first year). I talk to coaches on a regular basis and while many like his coaching style, I have never heard that BU is a strong recruiter.

If BU turns it around recruiting-wise I think he will be very successful at UI. If not, his system will not save him long term. He may have the occasional over-achieving season (like Weber in 08-09, Groce 12-13) where many people will quickly come to the conclusion that "it is happening!!!" and "I told you so" but that joy will be short lived like his predecessors. JMO.
 
#15
I've changed the way I think about winning in college sports in response to new information and more careful study over the years. I'm still probably very wrong, but it's fun to argue about and there's no need to take disagreements personally. Isn't this why we're here?
I agree on not taking disagreements personally, and you are probably the one that I have argued the most with over the years. Our views on recruiting, and impact, probably still differ substantially (and we still argue), but at the same time some of us (and this is something we have in common) refuse to just go "rah, rah, rah" and base everything on just hope and unrealistic expectations rather than judge reality based on what is actually happening. Fandom has nothing to do with being delusional.
 
#16
If BU turns it around recruiting-wise I think he will be very successful at UI. If not, his system will not save him long term. He may have the occasional over-achieving season (like Weber in 08-09, Groce 12-13) where many people will quickly come to the conclusion that "it is happening!!!" and "I told you so" but that joy will be short lived like his predecessors. JMO.
Maybe I'm just setting my standards too low but I'm okay with getting back to the point where we can see ourselves realistically finishing in the middle of the pack. Our long term success will depend on balancing the roster so that we don't have major holes in any particular position. We aren't in the position to have above average talent at each position, but we're setting ourselves for failure if we go years with having below average talent in key positions. Groce had that issue with pg, and I'm worried that we could have that with Underwood with the frontcourt. If Underwood can fix that hole this recruiting cycle, I think his coaching can put us in a good position to be successful. I have no doubt that he'll get talented wings and guards but I'm questioning his ability to B1G caliber frontcourt players. Getting guys ranked in the 200s and 300s will not cut it this year.
 
#17
the Loyalty Hivemind
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the Loyalty Hivemind
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the Loyalty Hivemind
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it's fun to argue about and there's no need to take disagreements personally. Isn't this why we're here?
I mean, yes, but it's kind of difficult to take your arguments in good faith when you choose to paint most of the folks here with a very broad and insulting brush, even if you fall short of calling folks yokels.

In re: of Myke Henry, while it's true that he did get some time in the NBA it's pretty disingenuous to use him as a data point for the talent on our 2012 team. He basically did nothing until he was a senior at DePaul, and even then he did some solid work but it just wasn't Ivy League, now was it? It's a pretty serious stretch to assume that the right coach could have made him a significant contributor as a freshman.
 
#18
We went 6-12 in the Big Ten with three NBA players. With a team that was 15-3 and ranked in mid-January, having just beaten a massively talented Ohio State team.

There are two stories of how we got here. The Loyalty story, the sympathy-seeking ugly ducking tale of Eric Gordon's treachery and Cliff Alexander's hat trick and Quentin Snider's missing LOI is not an untrue story. That stuff all happened and was all damaging to us. But that story is woefully incomplete and totally misleading without the added context that we were also doing things like going 6-12 with three NBA players during the same period. The reason we're not a national power anymore is the recruiting story, we're not cutting down any nets with the players we've had. But the reason the program has been burnt to the ground is because our coaches have been utterly, shockingly incompetent with the fine, middle of the power conference curve talent they have had.
Assume you're talking 2011-12, with sophomore Leonard, freshman Henry, and junior Paul. Leonard was just establishing himself and Henry wasn't there yet or ready to play on any top half of the B1G level team. No doubt we laid an egg that season with an epic colapse, but the other part of talent during that period is we really never had a pg and were missing balance. We had an injured Maniscalco & a freshman Tracy. The backup big was a freshman Egwu who wasn't ready. I think this says as much about recruiting as it does about squandering talent, part of the recruiting problems have been balance & depth that we have been missing since the Dee years. PG has been the worst, and has been over discussed for years. But when is the last time we had someone near as good as Krupalija coming off the bench. In a vacuum, 2010 looked like a great class number wise, but Leonard was the most productive and only made it through his sophomore year, Richmond & Head didn't stay long enough to make a difference, the 2011 class looked good on paper as well, but outside of Tracy & Egwu there were Shaw, Henry, Langford, Ibby of which only Henry ever made a rotation and he left too early. You can point to some good recruiting classes by the numbers and a few good players, but we haven't had enough good players and the balance has been poor.
 
#19
In re: of Myke Henry, while it's true that he did get some time in the NBA it's pretty disingenuous to use him as a data point for the talent on our 2012 team. He basically did nothing until he was a senior at DePaul, and even then he did some solid work but it just wasn't Ivy League, now was it? It's a pretty serious stretch to assume that the right coach could have made him a significant contributor as a freshman.
I agree with that, and I also think calling Paul an NBA player back then is a stretch. Paul had a good Illini career, but he was nowhere NBA back then. He did eventually make it to the league last year (I hope he finds a team, although he may likely head back to Europe) but only after 5 hard years working his way up once his Illini career was over.
 
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#20
Maybe I'm just setting my standards too low but I'm okay with getting back to the point where we can see ourselves realistically finishing in the middle of the pack. Our long term success will depend on balancing the roster so that we don't have major holes in any particular position. We aren't in the position to have above average talent at each position, but we're setting ourselves for failure if we go years with having below average talent in key positions. Groce had that issue with pg, and I'm worried that we could have that with Underwood with the frontcourt. If Underwood can fix that hole this recruiting cycle, I think his coaching can put us in a good position to be successful. I have no doubt that he'll get talented wings and guards but I'm questioning his ability to B1G caliber frontcourt players. Getting guys ranked in the 200s and 300s will not cut it this year.
Fortunately, in hoops, you don't have to walk before you run. I am looking for a realistic shot to be top 1/4 of the B1G, competing for titles. Won't happen every year, but to have the feeling that we did earlier this millennia or the 80's works for me. Win at home, pull some upsets on the road.

For this year, I would be fine with middle of the pack, though, I know that the prognosticators have us pulling up the rear. Until we lose, we are undefeated (of course, we are also winless).
 
#21
I mean, yes, but it's kind of difficult to take your arguments in good faith when you choose to paint most of the folks here with a very broad and insulting brush, even if you fall short of calling folks yokels.
What do you want me to say? Loyalty Conventional Wisdom? Does that have a less negative connotation?

In re: of Myke Henry, while it's true that he did get some time in the NBA it's pretty disingenuous to use him as a data point for the talent on our 2012 team. He basically did nothing until he was a senior at DePaul, and even then he did some solid work but it just wasn't Ivy League, now was it? It's a pretty serious stretch to assume that the right coach could have made him a significant contributor as a freshman.
He was pretty good both years at DePaul, and contributed some in both of his years here, it's not like he was at the end of the bench. Is the statement "6-12 with three NBA players" slightly deceptive? Maybe. But it's a true statement of fact nonetheless.

"We were ranked at some point in six consecutive seasons and only made the tournament in two of them" is also a true statement, and one that is not deceptive at all, it gets right to the heart of the matter.

Assume you're talking 2011-12, with sophomore Leonard, freshman Henry, and junior Paul. Leonard was just establishing himself and Henry wasn't there yet or ready to play on any top half of the B1G level team.
Meyers was a freaking monster that year. In my 7 years as a season ticket holder (05-06 to 11-12) the two player-seasons that stand out above the rest as just game-altering forces to watch in person were Dee's senior year and Meyers Leonard.
 
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#22
Captain 'Paign
Phoenix, AZ
Obelix, just to name one, is an extremely smart and erudite and intellectually rigorous Illini fan that has very elegantly expressed the exact viewpoint that I'm talking about.

Illinois fans on the internet generally, and Loyalty specifically, is obsessed with the Game of Thrones of basketball recruiting in a way that other similarly situated fanbases are not. Fan communities have distinct traits, and that is ours. Indiana is somewhat similar and Kentucky has always been this way, probably even exceeding us, but you go to internet sites for schools like Purdue or Michigan or Michigan State and their focus is much more on the current team and how to use their current players and what they can do to improve.

I don't think the Loyalty Hivemind is some slack-jawed yokel that's too dumb to ever see things clearly. I wish you would stop accusing me of that. I think the Loyalty Hivemind has had an understandable, perfectly rational reaction to the collapse of our program and especially the media narrative through which that unfolded, but like Obelix they are using real facts and cogent analysis to tell a story that misses a big part of the picture. And I say that as someone who in 2009 was as much a part of the Loyalty Hivemind as anybody (though mostly on a different board back then). I was telling the same partial story too.

I've changed the way I think about winning in college sports in response to new information and more careful study over the years. I'm still probably very wrong, but it's fun to argue about and there's no need to take disagreements personally. Isn't this why we're here?
2h9oyd.jpg
 
#24
"We were ranked at some point in six consecutive seasons and only made the tournament in two of them" is also a true statement, and one that is not deceptive at all, it gets right to the heart of the matter.
It is a true statement but it is a little deceptive in that it implies that our peak during those seasons is what those teams really were. Every team will have peaks and valleys during a season, and they are neither as good as those peaks nor as bad as those valleys. At the end, they are what they are.

Pretty much what I think actually for the entire post-Dee era until now. As I posted earlier, some overachievement here and there (peaks), some underachievement (valleys) and the rest a big fat.. meh. Same with recruiting, definitely some good players, some players who did not belong, but overall below the level that we should be.

I think Illinois has become irrelevant, but not a "dumpster fire" or "garbage" as some people have referred to in the past.
 
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#25
Obelix, just to name one, is an extremely smart and erudite and intellectually rigorous Illini fan that has very elegantly expressed the exact viewpoint that I'm talking about.

Illinois fans on the internet generally, and Loyalty specifically, is obsessed with the Game of Thrones of basketball recruiting in a way that other similarly situated fanbases are not. Fan communities have distinct traits, and that is ours. Indiana is somewhat similar and Kentucky has always been this way, probably even exceeding us, but you go to internet sites for schools like Purdue or Michigan or Michigan State and their focus is much more on the current team and how to use their current players and what they can do to improve.

I don't think the Loyalty Hivemind is some slack-jawed yokel that's too dumb to ever see things clearly. I wish you would stop accusing me of that. I think the Loyalty Hivemind has had an understandable, perfectly rational reaction to the collapse of our program and especially the media narrative through which that unfolded, but like Obelix they are using real facts and cogent analysis to tell a story that misses a big part of the picture. And I say that as someone who in 2009 was as much a part of the Loyalty Hivemind as anybody (though mostly on a different board back then). I was telling the same partial story too.

I've changed the way I think about winning in college sports in response to new information and more careful study over the years. I'm still probably very wrong, but it's fun to argue about and there's no need to take disagreements personally. Isn't this why we're here?
Sorry Don Quixote. There is no loyalty hivemind