New Mexico State 74, Illinois 69 POSTGAME

So winning more games and making more tournament appearances doesn't make you a better program. Got it.

I mean, by that logic, Augustana is a better program too. There's a sense in which that's true I suppose.

Dude. You literally cite KenPom rankings to argue we have been better over the years, then call me incoherent for calling NMSU better on paper, when NMSU has a higher KP ranking.
The point is, we have been better than NMSU for probably 7-8 of the last ten years, and never meaningfully worse, despite those years being almost unrelenting failure and disappointment on our part. So the fact that we find ourselves near-even to them is disturbing, and losing to them on a favorable neutral floor is more disturbing still. Every single year of those ten we've brought in a MASSIVELY stronger class than they have. And this is where we are.

Illinois should not be losing to New Mexico State at the United Center. Ever. To say that's ho-hum the natural order of things given X and Y excuses is the incoherence I'm referring to. Year 1 of a new coach with an imperfect potpourri of a roster is not Illinois at its best. But we're well behind where we ought to be even with those handicaps.

Go get better. Beat Mizzou.
 
I mean, by that logic, Augustana is a better program too. There's a sense in which that's true I suppose.



The point is, we have been better than NMSU for probably 7-8 of the last ten years, and never meaningfully worse, despite those years being almost unrelenting failure and disappointment on our part. So the fact that we find ourselves near-even to them is disturbing, and losing to them on a favorable neutral floor is more disturbing still. Every single year of those ten we've brought in a MASSIVELY stronger class than they have. And this is where we are.

Illinois should not be losing to New Mexico State at the United Center. Ever. To say that's ho-hum the natural order of things given X and Y excuses is the incoherence I'm referring to. Year 1 of a new coach with an imperfect potpourri of a roster is not Illinois at its best. But we're well behind where we ought to be even with those handicaps.

Go get better. Beat Mizzou.
Agree 100%. There is no excuse to satisfy losing to New Mexico St, especially at the United Center. Should never be in a situation where we could lose.
 
And not to nitpick but Zach Lofton is only at NMSU (like his 6th school in 5 years) by luck that he has had issues everywhere including Illinois St.... he is a diamond in the rough for them.
 
In a lot of fora, being a long-winded and pedantic (albeit insightful) contrarian is somewhat self-limiting simply due to time constraints and/or a declining willingness of others to engage. Two things that seem to be in endless supply here.

All in good fun, of course. 😁
Lolol I need to go pick up a thesaurus ... but I think I got the jist
 
Dude. You literally cite KenPom rankings to argue we have been better over the years, then call me incoherent for calling NMSU better on paper, when NMSU has a higher KP ranking.

I don’t understand.

A 5.5 Vegas line for a home team and a power 5 team vs a Mid Major is basically even.

You have some complex about being the smartest person in the room? You are probably real fun to watch sports with.

The bolded is exactly right.

The home court is huge in college basketball. If Vegas is making somebody a 5 point favorite in a semi-home game, then Vegas is essentially saying that the two teams are fairly equal on a completely neutral floor.

A good argument can indeed be made that NMSU is a better team than us. Some of us said this even before Saturday's game. But rather, others fall back on the school name without critically examining the matchup, and just assume that Illinois is the obvious "better team".

Are they a better "program"? No. A program, to me, means more than just the past 7-8 years of results. Is Vanderbilt as good of a football program as Tennessee just because the past 7-8 years have been similar? Is Butler as good a hoops program as Indiana? Of course not.

But don't let that cloud the analysis of the specific Illinois vs. NMSU game. It was a game between very evenly matched teams, with NMSU enjoying the edge in experience. As such, they won a very tight game. Let's not extrapolate too much beyond that reality. This is a different conversation had we lost by 20. But we didn't.
 
Agree 100%. There is no excuse to satisfy losing to New Mexico St, especially at the United Center. Should never be in a situation where we could lose.

There's a huge difference between being "satisfied" that we lost, and accepting a sad reality that our team has a long way to go before beating the likes of NMSU is a "sure thing".

Those expecting a "sure thing" against teams like NMSU or NW or even Wake Forest came into this season with a typically homerish expectation for what this team should be by late December. We are clearly on the disappointed side of the spectrum, but we're still within the expected spectrum of where most thought we'd be.

And by most, I'm talking about media types, other coaches, etc. -- not the 70% on this board who had us dancing despite virtually no belief anywhere outside of Illini Nation that this is a tournament team.
 
There's a huge difference between being "satisfied" that we lost, and accepting a sad reality that our team has a long way to go before beating the likes of NMSU is a "sure thing".

Those expecting a "sure thing" against teams like NMSU or NW or even Wake Forest came into this season with a typically homerish expectation for what this team should be by late December. We are clearly on the disappointed side of the spectrum, but we're still within the expected spectrum of where most thought we'd be.

And by most, I'm talking about media types, other coaches, etc. -- not the 70% on this board who had us dancing despite virtually no belief anywhere outside of Illini Nation that this is a tournament team.
*gets whiteout from office supply cabinet and blots out Illinois in Final Four on bracket*
 
Those expecting a "sure thing" against teams like NMSU or NW or even Wake Forest came into this season with a typically homerish expectation for what this team should be by late December.
How about one win out of three? Against teams ranked 46, 64, and 92 in Kenpom?

Again, people just aren't engaging with the difference between "young team wrestling with learning a brand new system" and "historic, basically unprecedented underperformance"

As to your "by late December" point, give me your expectation for our final record in conference play.
 
How about one win out of three? Against teams ranked 46, 64, and 92 in Kenpom?

Again, people just aren't engaging with the difference between "young team wrestling with learning a brand new system" and "historic, basically unprecedented underperformance"

As to your "by late December" point, give me your expectation for our final record in conference play.
To say this is a "historic, basically unprecedented underperformance" is so typical of your over-the-top exaggeration. An 8-5 record with a brand new coach and a bunch of very close losses is an "historic underperformance"? Good god man, you need to get a grip.

We were preseason #12 in the conference!!! KenPom had us around ~100 in the preseason!

Nobody here is suggesting we're in a good place. But then, objective analysis suggested months ago that we wouldn't be in a good place this season -- at least not until late.

I get it. You're the smartest guy in the room and the only one seeing things clearly amid a horde of crazies. But just as you lamented about how there's zero chance we get Mark Smith, zero chance we get Ayo, and recruiting writ large is going to be a flaming disaster, I think you'll find that the train hasn't careened off the tracks yet. The damage isn't irreparable. Give it time.

We're not where we want to be, but we're sorta where many people figured we'd be. As for my expectation? I'm expecting this team to win ~8 conference games. But I wouldn't be shocked if we only won 6, nor would I be shocked if we won 10+. That's the great unknown with a new coach and a bunch of new players.
 
As for my expectation? I'm expecting this team to win ~8 conference games. But I wouldn't be shocked if we only won 6, nor would I be shocked if we won 10+.
This is where our disagreement lies. No point arguing about it, the games will reveal who is "right" in time.

For whatever it's worth I think we "should" improve as we go to win 8-9 games in conference as well. But there have been absolutely zero signs of improvement thus far, and a hangdog lack of confidence that just leaps out at you when you watch. We're a 4-5 B1G win team the way we're playing.

They're working on it in practice as we speak. Go get better.
 
How about one win out of three? Against teams ranked 46, 64, and 92 in Kenpom?

Again, people just aren't engaging with the difference between "young team wrestling with learning a brand new system" and "historic, basically unprecedented underperformance"

As to your "by late December" point, give me your expectation for our final record in conference play.
C'mon man. "Historic, unprecedented underperformance"? Stop. This time last year we were 13th in the Big10 in scoring defense and dead last in opponent's field goal percentage. Were the 15ish 20+ point losses not unprecedented enough for you?
 
To say this is a "historic, basically unprecedented underperformance" is so typical of your over-the-top exaggeration. I get it. You're the smartest guy in the room and the only one seeing things clearly amid a horde of crazies. But just as you lamented about how there's zero chance we get Mark Smith, zero chance we get Ayo, and recruiting writ large is going to be a flaming disaster,.
This has to be the most under used/underutilized Mr. Basketball (Smith) in the history of Mr. Basketball winners. A big time scorer cutting and standing in a corner.
 
This has to be the most under used/underutilized Mr. Basketball (Smith) in the history of Mr. Basketball winners. A big time scorer cutting and standing in a corner.

Eh, I think it's pretty clear that Smith hasn't fully adjusted to the speed of the game. When you compare how he moves and flows within the offense to Frazier, it's clear that Frazier is further along.

But with time, Smith is going to be a really, really good player. People often lose sight of the fact that he's a relative latecomer to elite-level basketball. He has all the tools, but he's got a ways to go before he puts it all together.
 
Just one question:

We will win when?

The expectation should be an NCAA tournament team next year (and frankly, we should make the tournament comfortably as a 6-8 seed), and then a top-20 team the following season.

That of course assumes a few things: (1) the sort of improvement a team this young and inexperienced (both in age and with this particular system) should demonstrate from year 1 to year 2, (2) no unexpected departures of significance during the offseason, and (3) at least for the 2019-2020 season, solid frontcourt recruits.

There is absolutely no reason why this team shouldn't be a tournament team pretty consistently starting next year. With all the returning talent and a full year with this coach and system under their belt, there's no real excuse.

But that's just my view of it.
 
BU:1 Trash cans:0
Chicago
But there have been absolutely zero signs of improvement thus far....
I like you S&C, but this statement is pretty outrageous.

At a minimum, we've seen a jump from AJ production-wise from his first two years, and we've seen steady improvement from Frazier since the beginning of the year.

The team may not be at the level we want/expect them to perform, but there has definitely been improvement.
 
The expectation should be an NCAA tournament team next year (and frankly, we should make the tournament comfortably as a 6-8 seed), and then a top-20 team the following season.

That of course assumes a few things: (1) the sort of improvement a team this young and inexperienced (both in age and with this particular system) should demonstrate from year 1 to year 2, (2) no unexpected departures of significance during the offseason, and (3) at least for the 2019-2020 season, solid frontcourt recruits.

There is absolutely no reason why this team shouldn't be a tournament team pretty consistently starting next year. With all the returning talent and a full year with this coach and system under their belt, there's no real excuse.

But that's just my view of it.
Think you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Show improvement the remainder of this year, climb up the B1G standings next year, and challenge for a top 4 position in the conference in '19-'20. I see no reason why this shouldn't be possible, assuming the circumstances you outlined come to fruition.
 
Eh, I think it's pretty clear that Smith hasn't fully adjusted to the speed of the game. When you compare how he moves and flows within the offense to Frazier, it's clear that Frazier is further along.

But with time, Smith is going to be a really, really good player. People often lose sight of the fact that he's a relative latecomer to elite-level basketball. He has all the tools, but he's got a ways to go before he puts it all together.
I don't know if that's totally true.....if we put the ball in Smiths hands (PG spot) as much as Frazier & Lucas have had it I think we win the Maryland game, NW, NMST games.

Frazier hasn't adjusted to the speed of the game he's just running fast up the court and has started hitting his outside shoot in the last (3) games...it's easy to find your speed of a game when you have the ball and are making decisions...
 
C'mon man. "Historic, unprecedented underperformance"? Stop. This time last year we were 13th in the Big10 in scoring defense and dead last in opponent's field goal percentage.
This time last year we were 10-3 with wins over #48 VCU and #80 BYU, both away from SFC, and we were still quite rightly disappointed with what we were seeing.

Gee, it's almost as if people's response to the basketball they're seeing is tied in exclusively to their narrative about the coach, imagine that.

To the "historic, unprecedented" point, Kenpom goes back to 2002. The only season we finished lower than 76th was 2016, and we all remember the injury circumstances that year. We're currently at 93rd. If Kenpom went back forever, when would be the last season that bad? 1992? Maybe 1978? Pre-Henson even?
 
This time last year we were 10-3 with wins over #48 VCU and #80 BYU, both away from SFC, and we were still quite rightly disappointed with what we were seeing.

Gee, it's almost as if people's response to the basketball they're seeing is tied in exclusively to their narrative about the coach, imagine that.

To the "historic, unprecedented" point, Kenpom goes back to 2002. The only season we finished lower than 76th was 2016, and we all remember the injury circumstances that year. We're currently at 93rd. If Kenpom went back forever, when would be the last season that bad? 1992? Maybe 1978? Pre-Henson even?
Even with Kenpom & coaching narratives aside, I still don't understand how the basketball you're seeing is unprecedentedly woeful compared to years past. But to each his own, agree to disagree.
 
Orange Krush Class of 2013
Stanford, CA
To the "historic, unprecedented" point, Kenpom goes back to 2002. The only season we finished lower than 76th was 2016, and we all remember the injury circumstances that year. We're currently at 93rd. If Kenpom went back forever, when would be the last season that bad? 1992? Maybe 1978? Pre-Henson even?
We're a long way from end of season, so I don't know that looking at end of season ranking compared to current ranking this year is a great metric. Another option might be worst-case during any year (can only do this back to around 2011).

Lowest KP ranking before any game by season, last 5 seasons:
2014: 93
2015: 73
2016: 141 (also, as low as 100 even before Thorne's injury)
2017: 92
2018: 108

So, I dunno, 108th vs 92nd/93rd? I guess that's about the same as 93rd vs 76th. Sure, it's the low point discounting 2016, but honestly I would lump those all into a big pool called mediocre, non-tournament quality teams. We're not all of a sudden 2016 Rutgers, or something.
 
This time last year we were 10-3 with wins over #48 VCU and #80 BYU, both away from SFC, and we were still quite rightly disappointed with what we were seeing.

Gee, it's almost as if people's response to the basketball they're seeing is tied in exclusively to their narrative about the coach, imagine that.

To the "historic, unprecedented" point, Kenpom goes back to 2002. The only season we finished lower than 76th was 2016, and we all remember the injury circumstances that year. We're currently at 93rd. If Kenpom went back forever, when would be the last season that bad? 1992? Maybe 1978? Pre-Henson even?
Of course 10-3 last year -- with a loss to Winthrop -- was disappointing. 4 of our top 7 players were seniors, including one of the all-time leading scorers in Illinois history. All playing for the same coach for the 4th year in a row. You're comparing apples to oranges.

And what was our KenPom baseline, S&C? Even when we were 6-0, what was our KenPom? Let me help you. It wasn't very high.

You'd have a great point if we fell from KenPom top-50 to KenPom #93. But you know full well that's not what happened.

Second, on narrative, you shouldn't assume that one's assessment of the play on the floor is automatically tainted by either support for or opposition to the coach.

Is it possible that differences of opinion are based in large part on wildly different expectations for what this season was likely to be? If you expected this to be an NCAA tournament team, then I would completely agree with your lamentations. Try for a moment to view this from the lens of somebody who figured from the get-go that this season was going to be a painful learning experience. Then perhaps this season doesn't appear so apocalyptic.

I again simply point to the media and the B1G coaches. We are all way too close to this issue to view it with dispassion. But when everybody outside of your fandom believes you're headed for a near-bottom-feeding season, you may want to think about why that is.

Note that none of this is arguing that we're a good team. We have to get a lot better. But if you're 30 stories up, peering over the edge, I'd ask you simply to take a step back and give this some time before proclaiming "historic failure!".