Illini Basketball 2021-2022

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#52      
Just curious, what makes this team so particularly deep over last year’s when we basically sub out Miller and Giorgi for Plummer and Payne? I agree that we do have a deep team, and I’m not saying that our bench isnt good by any means, just curious why we’re getting so much excitement for a bench that hasn’t really upgraded that much over last year’s.
I think the strongest argument is that you would be hard pressed to look at the roster and say more than 1 or 2 guys that you can pretty much bank on getting very little tick. Really the only thing you don't have a replacement for is Ayo, which is a big hole don't get me wrong. Belo should step up into that Alpha role, which probably has something to do with why A.Miller isn't on the roster.

There are definitely some unknowns with the roster. Outside of Curbelo, Frazier, Plummer, Damonte, and Kofi you have a lot of unknowns. Three of those guys fill similar roles as smaller guards granted Curbelo doesn't play the same as the other two. Damonte is a great piece but you would never expect him to take over a game. The team is definitely going to need a couple of Podz, Melendez, Goode, Hutch, Grandy to step up and fill that "scoring guard" role of someone that can fill it up from all three levels. I think most are counting on Hutch to do that but obviously he is unproven.
 
#53      
Paducah, Ky
Do y’all think it’s time to replace that Busch braggin rights game?
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#54      
I was talking about our bench, not the team as a whole, of course I’m excited for this team, excited as any, and I do agree that we are deep, was just trying to understand what the insane bench hype is all about when we basically have the same bench. And saying we won’t miss Miller is foolish, as much as I’m not too much of a fan of him now, he’s still a high ceiling, and very talented player, who had good relationships with the team. We can absolutely replace him tho, and we did with Plummer.
If you're just looking at the bench, then the big part is those 3 freshmen. Recruiting is kind of like drafting in the NBA -- even the best talent evaluators will miss, so it's good to have multiple bites at the apple. We have 3 really good bites, and getting just one of those guys to contribute a solid 15 min/night would be huge. The other part is that those same guys on the bench will, presumably, be better. We all expect big things from Hawkins, including the potential to earn himself a starting spot. Put it all together and we have multiple guys coming off our bench that could start at many P5 schools (Plummer, Payne, and DMW or Hutch, depending on who gets the starting nod) along with several high-upside pieces that could really put us over the top.
 
#56      
If you're just looking at the bench, then the big part is those 3 freshmen. Recruiting is kind of like drafting in the NBA -- even the best talent evaluators will miss, so it's good to have multiple bites at the apple. We have 3 really good bites, and getting just one of those guys to contribute a solid 15 min/night would be huge. The other part is that those same guys on the bench will, presumably, be better. We all expect big things from Hawkins, including the potential to earn himself a starting spot. Put it all together and we have multiple guys coming off our bench that could start at many P5 schools (Plummer, Payne, and DMW or Hutch, depending on who gets the starting nod) along with several high-upside pieces that could really put us over the top.
Yes I actually don’t think we have as many questions as people think. Realistically we should want a rotation of 8-9 guys who are at least replacement level or above.

We have 5 proven guys in Kofi, Belo, Trent, DMW, and Grandison. These guys all produced for us at varying levels last year.

We have 2 “mostly proven” guys in Payne and Plummer. I say “mostly” proven because they have produced at the P5 level, just not for us. For the past 2 years, Payne has averaged 15ish minutes a game, 3ish points and 3ish rebounds, and 1+ block. With Kofi back we probably don’t need much more than that from him this year. He would be a much bigger question mark if we were relying on him to be a starter and play 25+ MPG. Based on the limited highlights I saw it looked like Plummer took a lot of contested 3s, 3’s coming off of screens, etc. he should get more open looks here but there’s always a change his shooting tanks.

That means we really only need 1-2 more guys to be replacement level or better to be really good. And we have Coleman, Hutch plus the 3 freshman. All we really need is 1 out of those 5 to hit and we will have a solid rotation. 2 or more and we will be very deep and talented.

Last year actually felt like we had more questions and were banking on more unknowns (2 freshman in rotation right away plus Grandison) than this year. Should be a great season!
 
#57      
We did think before the season last year that we had a lot of depth and then Hutch and BBV were both out at the beginning of the season. Really hope that Hutch is the stud as predicted by some. Won’t be Ayo but would certainly be a discounted version in terms of size and shooting.
 
#60      
I hope Underwood installs a new offense similar to Baylor. This team has no one other than Curbelo that can beat their man off the dribble.
 
#61      
Really? Trent, Hutch, Grandison will have a 6’7” guy defending him.
 
#62      
Been looking at preseason conference rankings. The Big 10 looks to be extremely top-heavy this year. According to Torvik --- Six teams in the Top 25, and only 8 total (just two more) in the Top 50:

Top 25:
1. Illini
2. Michigan
3. Purdue
4. OSU
5. Maryland
6. MSU

26-50:
Indiana and Northwestern are a distant 7 and 8. These six then bring up the rear:

51 & Beyond:
9. Wisconsin
10. Iowa
11. Rutgers
12. Nebraska (with their 5-star recruit)
13. Penn St.
14. Minnesota ---- way, way, way down on the list

Andy Katz has pointed out that we have one of the tougher in-conference schedules this season. We get only 8 games against those bottom six.
go figure... this time we learn more and more in our preparation for the tournament.
 
#63      
I've see preseason exuberance from fans that turns into disappointment too many times to agree with some of these posts. Last year's team lost 7 regular season games and in a couple of those losses, didn't look that great. The team has lost the player that had the killer instinct and no one knows who will step up or if anyone will. Will Kofi become more versatile or will he just be Mr. Automatic for dunks? Will he increase his FT %? Will he be able to step out and defend without having someone on offense take advantage of him guarding farther from the basket? Hutch may look great in practice, but will his back (?) be able to hold up for the season? Is BBV healthy? Will be we surprised by the Sophomore Hawkins compared to the Freshman Hawkins? Is Plummer ready to play in the BIG? Will Frazier make shots like he did as a freshman? Will Williams continue his 57% 3 pt shooting? How important was Gentry's game planning? Will he be missed or will Alexander do just as well? Preseason exuberance by fans is great, but I want to see some games first to see how everyone is playing compared to last year, especially those players that weren't in an Illinois uniform last season. I think we have 3 good freshmen, but they still will need some time to adjust. I just hope they've got all the kinks worked out by the Border War game with Mizzou. For me, Illinois could beat Iowa, NW, and Missouri and have a successful season. I'm excited about what the Illinois COULD be, but I'm not blindly predicting NC for the Illini before they play a game.
Illini will be better this year. Brad's offense is key. He loves when every man is in double figures. You want to see what we will look like this year? Watch the Michigan and Wisconsin games with out AYO. Ayo's stats will come from Plummer, Belo and Trent. I believe we will score more points this year than last year and our defense will be better.
 
#64      
I hope Underwood installs a new offense similar to Baylor. This team has no one other than Curbelo that can beat their man off the dribble.
Really? Trent, Hutch, Grandison will have a 6’7” guy defending him.
Plummer is pretty nifty with the ball in his hands too. There will be a lot of high screen and roll action. I don't recall much of this offense being predicated on one on one dribbling.
 
#65      
Really? Trent, Hutch, Grandison will have a 6’7” guy defending him.
I hope Hutch can, it isn't Trent's strong point and Grandison never has.
Plummer is pretty nifty with the ball in his hands too. There will be a lot of high screen and roll action. I don't recall much of this offense being predicated on one on one dribbling.
 
#66      
Just about every non fast break offensive possession consisted of a weave and Ayo or Curbelo penetrating. I just hope they install some ball movement offense similar to the 2005 team with all the shooters we have now.
 
#67      
Just about every non fast break offensive possession consisted of a weave and Ayo or Curbelo penetrating. I just hope they install some ball movement offense similar to the 2005 team with all the shooters we have now.
Additional VG shooters should give us several more degrees of freedom offensively. I fully expect Underwood to exploit that. This season should be hella fun, offensively.
 
#68      
Washington, DC
Just about every non fast break offensive possession consisted of a weave and Ayo or Curbelo penetrating. I just hope they install some ball movement offense similar to the 2005 team with all the shooters we have now.
One of the things I've really appreciated about BU is that he's not dogmatic about his system. He'll change things to fit the players he has. I'd be shocked if we don't come out with more ball movement and shooting more threes this season.

I can't wait for the season to start.
 
#69      
Goode, Hutch, Grandy to step up and fill that "scoring guard" role of someone that can fill it up from all three levels. I think most are counting on Hutch to do that but obviously he is unproven.
Hutch is unproven to Illini fans....but Underwood and the returning Illini players know exactly of what he is capable. BU will ask and encourage him to do whatever he believes the team needs from him.

That said, there are truly only 3 returning starters plus Curbelo of whom fans truly know and base their expectations. But there are a plethora of contributors and talented athletes who are hungry to prove what they can do and contribute. Yet, before we see what the ceiling is for this team, we are likely to see the floor first as they learn, jell, and create chemistry. That Frazier and Williams are able to contribute their experience, leadership, and support to the younger guys is a big plus factor. However, like last year, I expect this team to start slow and get better every week. This is not a team like the '05 group of veterans looking to prove they could beat everyone and knew each other and how and what to do. This is a team that will take time to learn what they can do and will gain confidence with every win...and take a step back in every loss. Yet, from top to bottom, it is the most talented Illini roster ever....yet not as top heavy in talent as the Flyin' Illini or '05 FF team. Maybe they can be though...and that is why SFC will be filled and rockin' for every home game.
 
#70      
Hutch is unproven to Illini fans....but Underwood and the returning Illini players know exactly of what he is capable. BU will ask and encourage him to do whatever he believes the team needs from him.

That said, there are truly only 3 returning starters plus Curbelo of whom fans truly know and base their expectations. But there are a plethora of contributors and talented athletes who are hungry to prove what they can do and contribute. Yet, before we see what the ceiling is for this team, we are likely to see the floor first as they learn, jell, and create chemistry. That Frazier and Williams are able to contribute their experience, leadership, and support to the younger guys is a big plus factor. However, like last year, I expect this team to start slow and get better every week. This is not a team like the '05 group of veterans looking to prove they could beat everyone and knew each other and how and what to do. This is a team that will take time to learn what they can do and will gain confidence with every win...and take a step back in every loss. Yet, from top to bottom, it is the most talented Illini roster ever....yet not as top heavy in talent as the Flyin' Illini or '05 FF team. Maybe they can be though...and that is why SFC will be filled and rockin' for every home game.
Lost me at “most talented Illini roster ever”
 
#71      
One of the things I've really appreciated about BU is that he's not dogmatic about his system. He'll change things to fit the players he has. I'd be shocked if we don't come out with more ball movement and shooting more threes this season.

I can't wait for the season to start.
Not sure I expect to see more shots from the arc right away. With all the shooters available, almost every team, and likely every one, will play man and double Kofi as soon as he gets the ball. The hope is he will continue to be a black hole as he was last year. If..............Kofi can become effective at getting the ball to open shooters at the arc, this team will be very hard to defend. Sure, we all expect him to do that since he has been told that it will affect his draft status...but ya gotta show me. But the weave and screen and roll offense will not produce more perimeter shots.

On the outside chance a coach will decide to surprise this team with a zone, I think you will see some Illini eyes light up and mouths start drooling. They did a pretty good job of getting the ball to a man at the free throw line last year which is the key to beating any zone defense, but for some reason, that was the first time under BU that we have seen that tactic with quick and decisive passing and success. But you won't see a zone defense against this roster for more than 15 minutes all season. Hack a Kofi will be the strategy and I would love to see him become effective at getting the ball to a shooter and then getting positioned quickly for a weak side rebound. Of course, if by some magic, Kofi becomes a 75% FF shooter, nothing will be very effective other than the hoops freezing over...which will happen on some night. Then we may see a lineup of Podz, Goode, Grandison, and the Hawk mixed with Kofi and Curbelo (yes, I know DMFW has become a dependable shooter from the arc, but he is not a jump shooter and needs to be left open). Who knows how deep BU will go in his bench looking for a hot hand? Lots of possibilities right now.
 
#74      
👍......Feeling good about this season Hoops47 I'm with you...I just can't say it as well! I have a hope this years team plays like it learned something last year during those 3 games without Ayo....it seemed like they thrived some during tough games...build on that and add new components into the team and flow. I'm guessing new sets on offense and defensive wrinkles, Trent and Damonte along with Kofi and others are going to keep the culture and help with the system. Good to be here, I remember his 1st year, new coach, new assistants, new players....Tyler was probably the biggest help to the players....that's all I got to say.
 
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