Pregame: Illinois vs Northwestern, Wednesday, March 13th, 8:00pm CT, BTN

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#26
Im speaking for myself but I'd have to say its a combination of two really bad years(no one can argue). Add the 4 previous years... We expect better from this team and program yes it's a young team but still have to hold this program to a higher level. As bu says top 16 program in the country we'll right night we are 11th in the bigten and not far off from 13th which is where we're last year. Improvement yes for 5 games then back to how they looked before that stretch. Layup lines wide open shots etc... It's not just who we played it's how we played. I don't think anyone was expecting a final 4 team, but to be better today then we were at the beginning of the season. IMO I don't think we are. Again IMO. As always go Illini.
I agree it's been a rough past 6+ years, I don't think anyone can argue that, but I have to respectfully disagree with a lot of the rest of your post. Yes, we were almost 13th in the Big 10, but we could have just as easily been 7th. We as fans definietly expect more from this program and we should, however, getting back to where we were takes time after a few mishaps with coaching hires. We are DEFINITELY better than we were in November. We are way better than we were at the end of December (likely the low point of our season). How many kids do you think we recruit that genuinely care about the history of our program? The kids we are recruiting now were in pre-school or kindergarten when we made that National Championship game run. It's all about "what have you done lately" and we haven't been relevant in over a decade, that's a lot to overcome. I think I see a path to relevance when I squint my eyes really hard and hope we don't have something big derail us. Yes it sucks playing on Wednesday, but a loss to PSU on an already lost season isn't going to change our long term trajectory.
 
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#27
FWIW, Kenpom has losing by 1 and a 48% chance of winning.
So basically its a wash. I can deal with that. I just hope they can move forward a game or two. Such a sad situation when we can beat teams like Maryland and Michigan State then come unraveled after that.
 
#28
I agree it's been a rough past 6+ years, I don't think anyone can argue that, but I have to respectfully disagree with a lot of the rest of your post. Yes, we were almost 13th in the Big 10, but we could have just as easily been 7th. We as fans definietly expect more from this program and we should, however, getting back to where we were takes time after a few mishaps with coaching hires. We are DEFINITELY better than we were in November. We are way better than we were at the end of December (likely the low point of our season). How many kids do you think we recruit that genuinely care about the history of our program? The kids we are recruiting now were in pre-school or kindergarten when we made that National Championship game run. It's all about "what have you done lately" and we haven't been relevant in over a decade, that's a lot to overcome. I think I see a path to relevance when I squint my eyes really hard and hope we don't have something big derail us. Yes it sucks playing on Wednesday, but a loss to PSU on an already lost season isn't going to change our long term trajectory.
Agree with a lot of what you said. But my opinion isn't based off the Penn State it's what I've seen this last month this year and all of last year. I've seen a team have a 5 game stretch of winning top level bball. Then the loss to Wisconsin and they look just like they did before the Maryland game. A team that finds ways to lose in the second half. It's been the same story get a lead and play a good half of ball, then come out flat and give up the lead and make a fake rally not be able to get back into it. A team that looks tired worn out and ready to be done with this year. My eyes might be blind but as of today 3/11 it's very hard to see a big jump next year. I'm pulling for Underwood, hell I pulled for groce until his last year same with Webber. I believe Underwood is going to have to win next year.
 
#29
Such a sad situation when we can beat teams like Maryland and Michigan State then come unraveled after that.
I've gotta believe that we're tired, and Trent is straight-up playing hurt.

But other than Trent being actually injured, I had rather hoped that we'd have the toughness to push through pain. If not, what was the treadmill for?
 
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#30
Agree with a lot of what you said. But my opinion isn't based off the Penn State it's what I've seen this last month this year and all of last year. I've seen a team have a 5 game stretch of winning top level bball. Then the loss to Wisconsin and they look just like they did before the Maryland game. A team that finds ways to lose in the second half. It's been the same story get a lead and play a good half of ball, then come out flat and give up the lead and make a fake rally not be able to get back into it. A team that looks tired worn out and ready to be done with this year. My eyes might be blind but as of today 3/11 it's very hard to see a big jump next year. I'm pulling for Underwood, hell I pulled for groce until his last year same with Webber. I believe Underwood is going to have to win next year.
Is it really that hard to see that this team will be better next year? We are losing Aaron Jordan, ADLR, and a walk on. We are gaining a 5 Star Center. I know we cannot predict any transfers, so I will just assume everyone stays. This team will make a huge jump next year. I get that as Illinois Fans we have been let down so much over the years. This shouldn't make us completely blind tho. I don't see how we won't be better next year. Can anyone explain to me what they see so I can understand the other side?
 
#31
Is it really that hard to see that this team will be better next year? We are losing Aaron Jordan, ADLR, and a walk on. We are gaining a 5 Star Center. I know we cannot predict any transfers, so I will just assume everyone stays. This team will make a huge jump next year. I get that as Illinois Fans we have been let down so much over the years. This shouldn't make us completely blind tho. I don't see how we won't be better next year. Can anyone explain to me what they see so I can understand the other side?
For me it's how we have played and how the player s that will most likely be back next year look right now. (Tired defeated) not seeing the floor (ag samba Jones) lost on defense and offense. Defense identity was preached in your face turnovers taking teams out of what they do. We just played 40 mins of a 3-2 zone bc are d just gave up 52 in the paint and wide open 3s. Which is y we have regressed since that 5 game stretch. Offense of 7 seconds or less up and down basketball that was supposed to be are identity, we literally walked the ball up the court played position basketball and haven't played with pace in over a month. Blow outs in 2 out last 3 games causes concerns. we have the same questions at the end of this year as last. who transferring and staying and 1 4* recruit with "potentially" needing 4-5 new players for next year to learn this system that is obviously hard to figure out. I believe the bigten will be tougher next year, it's been overrated this year. If we win next year I'll come in here and say I was wrong and I was a prisoner of the moment. Trust me I'd be extremely happy for that be the case instead of how I feel where we will be at. Go Illini
 
#32
Is it really that hard to see that this team will be better next year? We are losing Aaron Jordan, ADLR, and a walk on. We are gaining a 5 Star Center. I know we cannot predict any transfers, so I will just assume everyone stays. This team will make a huge jump next year. I get that as Illinois Fans we have been let down so much over the years. This shouldn't make us completely blind tho. I don't see how we won't be better next year. Can anyone explain to me what they see so I can understand the other side?
Better is a relative term. We could be 16 and 16 and be 5 games better. For most of the year, we have been marginally competitive at best with the teams we have played. Penn State and Indiana are decent teams that we could not beat at home. So with Kofi and transfers we may be competitive next year, meaning in top half of big ten. Brad needs to prove it.
 
#33
For me it's how we have played and how the player s that will most likely be back next year look right now. (Tired defeated) not seeing the floor (ag samba Jones) lost on defense and offense. Defense identity was preached in your face turnovers taking teams out of what they do. We just played 40 mins of a 3-2 zone bc are d just gave up 52 in the paint and wide open 3s. Which is y we have regressed since that 5 game stretch. Offense of 7 seconds or less up and down basketball that was supposed to be are identity, we literally walked the ball up the court played position basketball and haven't played with pace in over a month. Blow outs in 2 out last 3 games causes concerns. we have the same questions at the end of this year as last. who transferring and staying and 1 4* recruit with "potentially" needing 4-5 new players for next year to learn this system that is obviously hard to figure out. I believe the bigten will be tougher next year, it's been overrated this year. If we win next year I'll come in here and say I was wrong and I was a prisoner of the moment. Trust me I'd be extremely happy for that be the case instead of how I feel where we will be at. Go Illini
Why would we need 4-5 new players? We can't just assume anyone is transferring (NOTE: I am not saying no one will transfer). I get in this age of college basketball transfers happen for every team. I know everyone assumes Tevian is going to Transfer. I imagine Kipper is going to grad transfer. You can make an argument that is for the better for all parties. Are we surprised that this team is so hot and cold? Its a young team in a new system. I wasn't expecting much from them this year. And please don't this as me saying coaching doesn't deserve blame, but I cannot just sit here and think we won't improve drastically next year. All of college basketball is down this year. I don't like the status of college basketball at all. I think that kids are coming in less developed than they have been in the past even though they are more athletic. I think what we can all agree on next year will be an important year in the tenure of Coach Underwood.
 
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#34
I've gotta believe that we're tired, and Trent is straight-up playing hurt.

But other than Trent being actually injured, I had rather hoped that we'd have the toughness to push through pain. If not, what was the treadmill for?
To me it just doesn't make sense to play Trent if he's injured. He's hurting the team by being on the floor and not bringing the defensive energy we need. I don't necessarily believe the team is tired either. They don't even seem like they're trying that hard. I think it's a big confidence issue, and I don't know where it came from. I think these guys are ready for the season to be over though.
 
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#35
Right now, I have difficultly seeing a "huge jump" When you look back on the season, we did not lose a lot of "nail-bitters" which could of gone either way in the closing minutes. We were competitive, but got beat by 6 to 10 points quite often and 4 or 5 blow outs. I would feel much more optimistic if Jones and Griffin has shown us more
this season, Others are more qualified than I am to predict their development. Having a post presence to complement GB is certainly going to make some difference, as this point........

Yoda difficult to see.jpeg
 
#36
Im speaking for myself but I'd have to say its a combination of two really bad years(no one can argue). Add the 4 previous years... We expect better from this team and program yes it's a young team but still have to hold this program to a higher level. As bu says top 16 program in the country we'll right night we are 11th in the bigten and not far off from 13th which is where we're last year. Improvement yes for 5 games then back to how they looked before that stretch. Layup lines wide open shots etc... It's not just who we played it's how we played. I don't think anyone was expecting a final 4 team, but to be better today then we were at the beginning of the season. IMO I don't think we are. Again IMO. As always go Illini.
I agree with this for the most part, but it’s been 13 years, not just 6.
 
#37
Right now, I have difficultly seeing a "huge jump" When you look back on the season, we did not lose a lot of "nail-bitters" which could of gone either way in the closing minutes. We were competitive, but got beat by 6 to 10 points quite often and 4 or 5 blow outs. I would feel much more optimistic if Jones and Griffin has shown us more
this season, Others are more qualified than I am to predict their development. Having a post presence to complement GB is certainly going to make some difference, as this point........

View attachment 4331
Scores aren't always indicative of how the game actually was. Yes you are correct we haven't lost many games by a last second shot. That doesn't mean the game wasn't close and we didn't have a shot to win the game.
 
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#38
Have some damn pride and win this.
Seems like it's too late. If they went backwards for multiple games with a bye on the line, seems like BU doesn't have the magic wand or psychology to know what buttons to push to get these guys motivated.

Giorgi was sick, so maybe there's more back-story to the losses than we know. But as a fan, it sure looks like we're tucking our tails and running out the clock. Tough to see them shine for an extended streak, only to limp into the tournament in the basement bracket, with no morale.
 
#39
Any chance we can get Giorgi's brother flown in for the weekend? Giorgi hasn't quite been the same since his bro left. And really, would it be too much to ask that some sort of adjunct professorship be set up for the next three years?
 
#40
Rockford, IL
I believe we should try to sign a play making PG as both Trent and Ayo are more suited for the 2. For that matter, I think Ayo could play a wing. Suits his forte. Slashing to the basket.
Still can't believe Tev, Alan and Samba didn't see the court yesterday. And poor Adonis,
he really doesn't belong on the court. As stated before on the board, he looks ready to fall over just moving around by himself. I turned it off 10 minutes into the second half.
Couldn't watch another lazy pass. We created the Penn State momentum.
The only thing the pinch post creates is turnovers. We have to rethink our offense.
1-2-2 looked good yesterday.
 
#41
Cal, I can't disagree :confused: ... however, on this Monday morning (and some unfortunate health issues with my grandpa), I am going to grasp for some positivity! :p We are undefeated vs. NU at the United Center, with the last two being BTT games:

2/22/2003: #20 Illinois 73, Northwestern 61
3/14/2003: #13 Illinois 94, Northwestern 65
3/11/2005: #1 Illinois 68, Northwestern 51

Additionally, despite a near-historically bad decade we've had as a program, our stats all-time at the UC do remain impressive:

All-Time Record: 38-16 (.704)
Record in the BTT: 16-7 (.696)
Longest Winning Streak: 18 in a row (2001 to 2007)
Longest Losing Streak: 3 in a row (2010 to 2011)

We have currently lost 2 in a row there, so let's not tie our all-time record! I am hopeful that we can show at least some intensity and beat NU. The crowd turnout will likely be horrible for this first game, so let's get to Iowa. If we can actually beat Iowa (sounds hard, but they have really been slipping) in front of hopefully a few more fans and make it to Michigan, two awesome things happen:

1) Yours truly gets to see the Illini for the first time ever at the UC on Friday!

2) It really lays a somewhat decent foundation for next year. Who knows? If we beat both NU and Iowa, it might mean we have some swagger back and are shooting well/playing good D ... see what happens vs. Michigan at that point!!

I'm not optimistic, but we have a good history in the BTT. I just really hope the guys can muster one more run. Do it for AJ and the seniors.
 
#42
Grand Island Ne
I believe we should try to sign a play making PG as both Trent and Ayo are more suited for the 2. For that matter, I think Ayo could play a wing. Suits his forte. Slashing to the basket.
Still can't believe Tev, Alan and Samba didn't see the court yesterday. And poor Adonis,
he really doesn't belong on the court. As stated before on the board, he looks ready to fall over just moving around by himself. I turned it off 10 minutes into the second half.
Couldn't watch another lazy pass. We created the Penn State momentum.
The only thing the pinch post creates is turnovers. We have to rethink our offense.
1-2-2 looked good yesterday.
Adonis is like a bowling pin out there just waiting to get knocked over, but he did have that put back slam that he celebrated the heck out of. That was probably his biggest highlight of the season and I was happy for him.
 
#44
Is it really that hard to see that this team will be better next year? We are losing Aaron Jordan, ADLR, and a walk on. We are gaining a 5 Star Center. I know we cannot predict any transfers, so I will just assume everyone stays. This team will make a huge jump next year. I get that as Illinois Fans we have been let down so much over the years. This shouldn't make us completely blind tho. I don't see how we won't be better next year. Can anyone explain to me what they see so I can understand the other side?
Sure, here's the explanation:

You're projecting based on hope, not history. Recent history is not so good -- lots of turnover, below .500 ball, and struggling to execute overall.

From a basketball standpoint, you can debate back and forth whether each of your suppositions is likely, but most people use history as their guide. Let's start with some facts and stats we can agree on, since they're readily available. Then I'll take on the comments.

Facts/Stats/Analysis
We will not get an at-large bid.
We will not get an auto-bid without a freakin miracle (Odds are 100:1)
Kenpom ranking is 78th, essentially a non-factor in post-season play.
Sagarin's predictor ranking is 83rd, roughtly the same as Kenpom, but a little lower.
NET ranking of 105. Not a fan of this, but the committee uses it. One way to think of these rankings is that you need to pass somewhere between 40 & 50 decent teams to get into the dance. Both of the models have us dead last in conference. Note that (2) teams actually lost more games than us (Neb & NW)
We don't know who we will bring back next year, but the NCAA transfer rate of 40% in the first 2 years means we should brace to lose at least some of our young players.
Importantly, we don't know if Ayo stays, but we do know we lose a starter in AJ. Losing 2 starters is not generally a recipe for being better, btw
Roster turnover since Underwood arrived has been high

Comments
So the first question, is how do you break-even? You're losing a starter for sure in AJ, and you might (I'll guess 25%) lose a stud freshman in Ayo. You're losing a back-up center in ADR. I think with ADR, we're looking at a lot of options, and already have a great freshman center in Giorgi, so I think we're ok there. The back-court depends on Ayo staying. Samba is still raw, but he and Kofi should provide something as viable as ADR. Neither will displace Giorgi --he's special and a great fit. So let's assume optimistically and because prevailing sentiment is that Ayo's borderline NBA, that he stays. Who else do we lose, and how do you overcome that loss? We didn't land any wings (yet anyway) and there are some young guys who didn't get much PT even when we struggled. So you have to look at those guys as vulnerable to transfer. If everyone stays, and that would be contrary to recent history, you're relying on some young wings (I use wings for lack of a better term) to really step up. The reason these guys haven't seen the court, let's be honest, is that they haven't excelled in Coach's mind, enough to trust them over the guys that did play. For sure they will improve, but they still have to understand and execute a demanding offense, as well as demanding defense.

So let's assume for the sake of argument that key guys in the freshman class, Ayo, Jones, Kane, Griffin, all stay, and one of those last 3 improves enough to jump ahead of AJ's contribution (I think it's unlikely, but within the realm of possibility). You still need a lot of improvement to get to tournament level. It's hard to put into perspective how big the gap there is between us in a tourney team. At our best, we were clearly performing at a tournament level, so I can see why some posters project it. However, from a metrics standpoint, we're averaging +5 ppg away. That might not sound like much, but look at it this way: over 30 games, you need 150 more points after losing at least 1 starter. Take out our good/great nights where we won, and you're realistically looking at getting 150 points over 20 games. It's possible, but it's a big ask.

So sure, project all kinds of improvement --optimism keeps us going as fans. If guys step up, and we're consistent, I think we're dancing next year, maybe even dangerous. I think outsiders however, will go with modest improvement if Ayo stays, stepping back if he's gone, and something closer to where we are if other key freshman leave.

Make sense?
 
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#45
Sure, here's the explanation:

You're projecting based on hope, not history. Recent history is not so good -- lots of turnover, below .500 ball, and struggling to execute overall.

From a basketball standpoint, you can debate back and forth whether each of your suppositions is likely, but most people use history as their guide. Let's start with some facts and stats we can agree on, since they're readily available. Then I'll take on the comments.

Facts/Stats/Analysis
We will not get an at-large bid.
We will not get an auto-bid without a freakin miracle (Odds are 100:1)
Kenpom ranking is 78th, essentially a non-factor in post-season play.
Sagarin's predictor ranking is 83rd, roughtly the same as Kenpom, but a little lower.
NET ranking of 105. Not a fan of this, but the committee uses it. One way to think of these rankings is that you need to pass somewhere between 40 & 50 decent teams to get into the dance. Both of the models have us dead last in conference. Note that (2) teams actually lost more games than us (Neb & NW)
We don't know who we will bring back next year, but the NCAA transfer rate of 40% in the first 2 years means we should brace to lose at least some of our young players.
Importantly, we don't know if Ayo stays, but we do know we lose a starter in AJ. Losing 2 starters is not generally a recipe for being better, btw
Roster turnover since Underwood arrived has been high

Comments
So the first question, is how do you break-even? You're losing a starter for sure in AJ, and you might (I'll guess 25%) lose a stud freshman in Ayo. You're losing a back-up center in ADR. I think with ADR, we're looking at a lot of options, and already have a great freshman center in Giorgi, so I think we're ok there. The back-court depends on Ayo staying. Samba is still raw, but he and Kofi should provide something as viable as ADR. Neither will displace Giorgi --he's special and a great fit. So let's assume optimistically and because prevailing sentiment is that Ayo's borderline NBA, that he stays. Who else do we lose, and how do you overcome that loss? We didn't land any wings (yet anyway) and there are some young guys who didn't get much PT even when we struggled. So you have to look at those guys as vulnerable to transfer. If everyone stays, and that would be contrary to recent history, you're relying on some young wings (I use wings for lack of a better term) to really step up. The reason these guys haven't seen the court, let's be honest, is that they haven't excelled in Coach's mind, enough to trust them over the guys that did play. For sure they will improve, but they still have to understand and execute a demanding offense, as well as demanding defense.

So let's assume for the sake of argument that key guys in the freshman class, Ayo, Jones, Kane, Griffin, all stay, and one of those last 3 improves enough to jump ahead of AJ's contribution (I think it's unlikely, but within the realm of possibility). You still need a lot of improvement to get to tournament level. It's hard to put into perspective how big the gap there is between us in a tourney team. At our best, we were clearly performing at a tournament level, so I can see why some posters project it. However, from a metrics standpoint, we're averaging +5 ppg away. That might not sound like much, but look at it this way: over 30 games, you need 150 more points after losing at least 1 starter. Take out our good/great nights where we won, and you're realistically looking at getting 150 points over 20 games. It's possible, but it's a big ask.

So sure, project all kinds of improvement --optimism keeps us going as fans. If guys step up, and we're consistent, I think we're dancing next year, maybe even dangerous. I think outsiders however, will go with modest improvement if Ayo stays, stepping back if he's gone, and something closer to where we are if other key freshman leave.

Make sense?
Very Informative. Must be a slow Monday because this is DEEP! Great work. I think I do have some blind hope, but with a short sample size of player improvement from Coach Underwood at UofI, I would make a general assumption of improvement. I am also assuming that Ayo is going to stay. I don't see an NBA level Point Guard right now (If he is going to make it in the NBA he will have to play point). I would assume that it isn't out of the question Griffin or Jones could out perform AJs production this year. They have more natural talent than AJ had to start with (not a knock on AJ but I think he over performed). I don't think replacing ADR production would be too difficult because ADR is clearly not 100% healthy.

I also see an improvement because there is no way our schedule will be as difficult next year (its a major cop-out on my end). I am not saying we will be fighting for a big ten title next year but there is no reason we shouldn't be a tournament team that is building a foundation for extended program success.
 
#46
Problem I see with your logic is that Aaron was playing out of position and size does matter. We have size coming in and I see Giorgi playing in Aaron's position with Kofi at center ala ADLR/Giorgi. We will be dependent on Antwan and/or Samba as backups as Kofi will have foul problems. With Trent and Ayo as guards that leaves Alan/DaMonte/Tevian for the other position and in the small lineup mix. One of the announcers mentioned that it necessary to rebound to compete in the BIG. We got beat up by bigger teams all year and that might have something to do with our second half woes. I also expect the defensive system to get tweaked. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is ____.
 
#50
I wasn't sure where else to post this question, but has Samba played 5 or fewer games this year? If so, doesn't that make him eligible to redshirt?
That's only a football rule. Underwood really shouldn't have played Samba this year. Came in late because he didn't have his academics in order, so he was already behind the 8-ball and then Underwood threw him out there early on in the season for no real reason.
 
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