Michigan 78, Illinois 68 POSTGAME

#176      
San Francisco
Counterpoint: we were up 3 at the half with this rag tag roster. we were up ten against Notre Dame. We had providence beat. so this so-so bunch and their coach can play with anyone for 20 minutes. Why not 40? Why cant they stay organized and focused on the court? Why does their energy plummet after 20 minutes of rest, and why are they allowed to jack mediocre 3s with 18 seconds left on the shot clock? Why cant they sustain defensive effort like they showed in the first half of Notre Dame? If we had beaten providence, and held our halftime leads against MU and ND, we'd probably be a top 40 team right now. I posit that somehow we have the talent but we cannot organize it for 40 minutes. Why couldnt they do something to shake Hill free yesterday? Why couldnt anyone stop Donnal?

Lack of depth. It's fairly common to see deeper teams pull away in the second half.
 
#178      
I am glad that the discussion finally includes coaching. Groce won just over 50 percent of his games at Ohio. The run to the final sixteen was the only positive on his resume. I think his recruiting has been ok. Coming in second on the two top PG's last year wasn't that bad. In his defense if Thorne and Black were healthy we would be doing fine even with low level PG's. Now to coaching. When you take over a mediocre program you have to elevate the program with 3star recruits. He has not shown that ability. I think all of the injuries will give him one more year, but coaching changes have to come. For example, my son played center on a high level Illinois high school team. Everyday one of the coaches would take him aside and work on his post moves. Drop step, etc. Egwu was a four year starter and his only post move was a fade away jumper from 15 feet.

You can say whatever you want about my beloved Egwu but he was one slot away from making the Magic's opening roster.
 
#179      
Golden, IL
Awesome post - dead on in so many ways. Thank you for the good read!

What else could have gone right and helped? Start to evaluate and heavily recruit our local guys more effectively. Why were we so late on Charlie Moore? We were at the games watching lovett... How did we not see early enough that he was a top 75 player at our position of greatest need? Many of these cases where we seem to be a day late and a dollar short on the local recruiting scene. We love and die recruiting our state, but we don't seem to be very good at it.

Really? Charlie Moore? That is a terrible example. We didn't miss on him, we got Lucas instead.
 
#180      
Mom! The Meatloaf!
The point is that our roster is in shambles. People are pointing to injuries as justification for performance, and while that may be true, there were complications that allowed those players to be on the roster in the first place.

As for Black, I didn't include him because I don't see him making a difference. Nunn played yesterday, so him missing some time early really doesn't impact the terrible defense I saw yesterday.

You don't think a guy who's a top 50 recruit and the best rebounder on the team would make a difference? Wow.

And he was our best player in Europe.
 
#181      
A few observations from a UI fan since the Dave Downey days ('bout 50 years ago -- yes, I'm old):

* JG has to be given a pass for this season as long as the team doesn't implode -- finish at the bottom of the B1G, 5-13, 4-14 -- and shows signs of improvement and consistent TNT effort and cohesiveness till season's end. With even MT and LB healthy (DP doesn't count -- JG took a big gamble and lost there), we're a likely tournament team.

* JG has to get the team back into the tournament not only next year but for the foreseeable future to retain his job long term here. UI cannot settle for occasionally making the Dance. The new AD needs to set the bar high again and expect the program to be a perennial tournament team again starting in 2016-17. If MT and LB are back next year, we'll have more than enough talent and experience to return to the tournament. 2018 would then be JG's ultimate test if this happens. (I don't have much hope for TA next year. He'll hopefully be back, but as a backup after 2 full seasons of not playing and coming off 2 major surgeries.) Making the Dance every other year or less should not cut it. If JG survives this year and misses the Dance next year, he's gone. If he survives this year, gets us to the Dance in 2017 and misses the Dance in 2018, he's gone. High expectations need to be in order again, especially after the renovation of the AH. UI can and should return to 2000s and 1980s form in the very near future. Do not settle for mediocrity. 2016 should be the last season we don't make the Dance for at least a few years, if not longer. Even BW got us to the Dance nearly every year for about a decade.

* I've talked to JG through a donor relative 3 or 4 times. He seems like a fantastic person. Whether he becomes a fantastic coach someday is anyone's guess. Like many fans, as a former HS coach I admittedly am not enamored with his results so far. His recruiting at the 1 and 5 spots has been a major disappointment, and I personally don't think the offensive system he's used the last 3 1/2 years is very creative. Beilein is an example of a creative offensive coach. Izzo, too. The dribble drive with some nuances this season is OK but really requires 2 strong playmakers off the dribble, and we've had none that fit that description in 3 1/2 years. Defensively his packline is a good scheme with decent results in 2013 and '14 and less impressive results the last year and a half.

* JG also seems like a fighter. He won't quit on this team or the program, which I like. He'll need to be; I'd guesstimate that his chances of being here long term are about 25%.

* JG has to hit a home run with the 2017 class. Unfortunately, a sub-.500 season this year won't help him achieve this goal.

* Adding Dee to the staff seems like a no-brainer. Probably means Parham is gone.

* Ultimately, I'm skeptical that JG will be here long term. His recruiting at the 1 and 5 have been the main culprit. But, barring a meltdown this B1G season, he deserves a shot at continuing to coach next year, and I still hold out a glimmer of hope.
 
#182      
Great post. ^

Not sure we're a tourney team this year even with MT and LB - the sample size of this "full" (quotes for TA) team playing together is so pitifully small. I hope something clicks for the freshmen like it did for Nunn part of the way through his first conference season.
 
#184      
Washington, DC
Considering the dire situation this team is in due to injuries that have most significantly leaving this team without a presence in the middle, I would change one thing. That one thing would be MM.
Either:
1. MM looking at himself in the mirror and realizing this is his time. Then going to Groce's office and telling him that he wants to be the man in the middle;
or
2. Groce going to MM and telling him that the team will be riding his shoulders for the near term and he needs to fill bigger shoes with more playing time, better defense, better passing, etc. That MM has no choice.

Then, alter the substitution pattern to fit this one big change.

It kills me to see MM on and off the floor as if there is someone better that takes his place. There ain't no one. So, IMHO, ride this guy till the cows come home. It's only temporary anyway, and it just might connect some dots for MM with the extended playing time and added responsibility. Hey, it could happen!

This has a lot of appeal for me. Dakich coached Mav in AAU ball. He said yesterday that Mav has the ability to be a better defender, if he gets some confidence and the light bulb goes on. I like the idea of essentially forcing him to flip that switch.

If we do that, then we can put Finke at the stretch 4, where he belongs, and Malcolm back at the 3 where he has always belonged.

I like all of this. But if we give Mav 25 minutes at the 5 and Finke 25 minutes at the 4, who do we put in to sub for the other 15 minutes? AJ at the 4? DJW at the 5? I do not think that would be pretty.
 
#185      
I'd like to remind people that we beat Kentucky for getting that 5th year transfer from a mid-major.

I think the point is that JG is in year 4 and he's still building a large part of his roster by adding late transfers. The reason for this is because he's missed on his primary recruiting targets. This is a huge problem and will always prevent him from building a sustainable program. A big part of this is because JG is our primary recruiter and head coach. He focuses all of his attention on 4/5 star recruits and ignores everyone else because he doesn't have the time. Our assistant coaches aren't making the type of impact that they should be on the recruiting trail.

Also I love TA but he's always been an inefficient player. JG up to this point hasn't been able to bring anyone on board to upgrade that PG position. If him and Khalid Lewis are 2 of our top 8 players then injuries aren't the issue. Talent is.
 
#186      
San Francisco
This has a lot of appeal for me. Dakich coached Mav in AAU ball. He said yesterday that Mav has the ability to be a better defender, if he gets some confidence and the light bulb goes on. I like the idea of essentially forcing him to flip that switch.

If we do that, then we can put Finke at the stretch 4, where he belongs, and Malcolm back at the 3 where he has always belonged.

I like all of this. But if we give Mav 25 minutes at the 5 and Finke 25 minutes at the 4, who do we put in to sub for the other 15 minutes? AJ at the 4? DJW at the 5? I do not think that would be pretty.

Good point. Our big man rotation is Morgan and Finke. That's it. Does two even qualify as a rotation?
 
#187      
Agree with all of that HoC. Groce hasn't done much to make me think he's the guy that I want in charge, but I think he does deserve another year to prove himself.

I agree with both of you. I also think that a fully healthy team this year would be a tournament team. It will be crucial for Groce to land a good 2017 class. It will be hard given the current state of the team but if he can convince one high level prospect on the prospect of turning the program around it could have a domino effect on other prospective recruits.
 
#188      
Agree with all of that HoC. Groce hasn't done much to make me think he's the guy that I want in charge, but I think he does deserve another year to prove himself.

Why? This year he's lost a large part of his roster but the previous two years and his overall recruiting hasn't shown well enough to compete at a high level. Also he'll be a lame duck coach with only 2 years left on this contract. If folks were so upset about extending Cubit then why create the same situation for our basketball program.

The only way he should get another year is if he suddenly lands a very good 2017 class and he makes changes to his staff. Otherwise it's best to make a change before this turns
 
#189      
Central Illinois
Agree with all of that HoC. Groce hasn't done much to make me think he's the guy that I want in charge, but I think he does deserve another year to prove himself.

Agreed. It's hard to evaluate someone when 3 starters are missing and a key backup (Paul) was dismissed in the offseason. Getting Abrams healthy, a PG who can shoot (Lucas), Kipper, a healthy Leron, and another year of growth from the current guys would make for a competitive team. If Thorne gets another year, that's icing on the cake. And there will be no excuses for a successful season.

As it stands now, we have Austin and promising, but inexperienced freshman backing up the starters. We're asking Nunn and Hill to play a ton of minutes each game so I'm sure they are gassed in the second half.
 
#190      
Why? This year he's lost a large part of his roster but the previous two years and his overall recruiting hasn't shown well enough to compete at a high level. Also he'll be a lame duck coach with only 2 years left on this contract. If folks were so upset about extending Cubit then why create the same situation for our basketball program.

The only way he should get another year is if he suddenly lands a very good 2017 class and he makes changes to his staff. Otherwise it's best to make a change before this turns

I've bolded the answer to your "why" to go along with what looks to be a nice freshman group with Finke, JCL, Jordan and DJW. And I have already posted previously that a good 2017 class is also very important for him (and the program).

Also for the record I'd be fine with replacing him after this year if we could get a top coach to come on board. But as you noted, our administration is not one to provide that kind of hope. Also, a hoops coach with a 2 year deal is not comparable to one in football, apples/oranges.
 
#191      
we do seem to see very little in terms of player development. can you think of a quantum leap that egwu, nunn, tate, hill, maverick, rice has made under Groce, or how they have demonstrated improvement running our teams system? Is it all on JayTate that the offense runs about the same with him at point as with Lewis?

I miss Brandon Paul.

Yes, yes I have quantum leaps from hill and nunn and rice. Not every player is going to make quantum leaps. That doesn't happen at any school. The goal should be solid improvement. Finke surely improved over his RS year wouldn't you say?
 
#192      
Herndon, VA
This has a lot of appeal for me. Dakich coached Mav in AAU ball. He said yesterday that Mav has the ability to be a better defender, if he gets some confidence and the light bulb goes on. I like the idea of essentially forcing him to flip that switch.

If we do that, then we can put Finke at the stretch 4, where he belongs, and Malcolm back at the 3 where he has always belonged.

I like all of this. But if we give Mav 25 minutes at the 5 and Finke 25 minutes at the 4, who do we put in to sub for the other 15 minutes? AJ at the 4? DJW at the 5? I do not think that would be pretty.

Foggy Notion said:
Good point. Our big man rotation is Morgan and Finke. That's it. Does two even qualify as a rotation?

Both you guys are absolutely correct. This issue is for a basketball coach to figure out, of which I am not.

However, committing to an increased work load for MM in the middle "should", hopefully, impact the mindset of the perimeter guys in that they sure as heck better use MM more than they have. I know I have seen MM open and asking for the ball, but the ball keeps being passed around the perimeter. I keep asking myself why didn't the ball go inside, over and over again.
 
#193      
I've bolded the answer to your "why" to go along with what looks to be a nice freshman group with Finke, JCL, Jordan and DJW. And I have already posted previously that a good 2017 class is also very important for him (and the program).

Also for the record I'd be fine with replacing him after this year if we could get a top coach to come on board. But as you noted, our administration is not one to provide that kind of hope. Also, a hoops coach with a 2 year deal is not comparable to one in football, apples/oranges.

Both these paragraphs sum up my feelings toward JG. I don't think there's a coach in the country who could take this injury-plagued roster to the Dance, and JG has assembled a nice frosh class, especially if you consider Nichols a member of the group, too, though I guess he'll be considered a frosh next year, actually. And I think a lot of fans, myself included, would be OK with seeing JG replaced in the offseason with a great candidate, but considering we still have interims running the university and DIA, that's unlikely as you said. The last 3 1/2 years have greatly tempered my hopes for JG, I must admit. A lot of lost luster.

I'm also intrigued to finally see a JG team with a quality PG running the show in what is a PG-friendly offense and what a difference it might make in the quality of shots we get, especially with good wings like MH, KN and JCL stretching the D and a low-post scorer like MT in the lineup. Unfortunately we may never get to see this, as next year looks like it'll be more of the same. (I have modest expectations for Lucas as a frosh backing up JT or TA.)
 
#194      
It's crazy to see how many people give up so early. We try to focus on the good and how people can build and grow for the future. "Fire John Groce", "Fire", "Fire", "Fire", this must be the new trend of modern day sports. Not doing well?, "fire", had a bad day? "fire", injuries? "fire", bench coaches on a forum think they are better than the head coach "fire". How about "ENJOY". Enjoy the game, enjoy the sparks and highlights and cheer our team on for a better result.

GO ILLINI

- Que the Debbie Downers -
 
#195      
Heart of a Champion (13,000 post wow), I followed the team since 1983 and feel the same way, you nailed it. Someone asked what Groce has done well? He kept us from becoming what Indiana and Iowa became following the lost of their coaches back in the early 2000's. Tom Crean has had some real bad teams and Iowa is not fully back either. Those Indiana and Iowa teams featured players that were not division 1 IMHO. Groce has filled the voids with Ravonte Rice, McLauren, Rechy (2013-4), Starks, Crosby, Thorne. He also reversed the Nunn commit from Tex Am to Illinois.

Crean and several Iowa coaches were not able to reverse the recruiting trend for years. Groce landed a solid class his first year, in fact his first team overachieved almost beating Miami a top 5 team nationally. His second year the team should of been selected, I believe they were the first ever 10-8 big ten team not to be selected.

Last year was supposed to be the year that Groce had his best team. But the lost of Abrams and Paul, temporary lost of Rice, and declining offensive output from Egwu turned it in the negative direction.

I agree that the coaches need to be looked at. We need a recruiter who can close.
 
#196      
It's crazy to see how many people give up so early. We try to focus on the good and how people can build and grow for the future. "Fire John Groce", "Fire", "Fire", "Fire", this must be the new trend of modern day sports. Not doing well?, "fire", had a bad day? "fire", injuries? "fire", bench coaches on a forum think they are better than the head coach "fire". How about "ENJOY". Enjoy the game, enjoy the sparks and highlights and cheer our team on for a better result.

GO ILLINI

- Que the Debbie Downers -

Don't get how this is early. It's year 4. Likely we miss the tournament 3 years straight for the first time ever.
 
#197      
Which players have gotten better? Nunn looks much better and his 19 ppg prove it. Hill at 18.1 ppg is a better player and Finke is leaps and bounds ahead of where I thought he would be. Tate is physically much stronger but his game is only slightly better. Morgan has a low ceiling, but has improved and is a decent back-up.

Regarding our PG missed from last year. Brunson is averaging 11 PPG, 3 assist, Jalen (OKST) is averaging 10 ppg and 4 assist, Marcus Lovett has not played, Jamal Murray average 16 ppg and 2 assist, and the Neb/St Joes PG is averaging 7 ppg and 3 asst.

I believe the only guy we had a chance with was with the st joes/Nebraska PG. I wasn't high on him as a junior but started to come around towards the end of his senior year. I'm not sure I would of played it different than Groce, I think he wanted the OK State PG the most. Oh don't forget the decommit by Snider, that has hurt more than dumb arse Cliff Alexander. Where is big Cliff? I see him being a security guard somewhere.
 
#198      
It's crazy to see how many people give up so early. We try to focus on the good and how people can build and grow for the future. "Fire John Groce", "Fire", "Fire", "Fire", this must be the new trend of modern day sports. Not doing well?, "fire", had a bad day? "fire", injuries? "fire", bench coaches on a forum think they are better than the head coach "fire". How about "ENJOY". Enjoy the game, enjoy the sparks and highlights and cheer our team on for a better result.

GO ILLINI

- Que the Debbie Downers -
We have had a lot of success over the years...but are in a drought that started with BW. I agree that our fan base should have low expectations and look for other ways to be actualized with this team. I for one am really enjoying seeing the potential from the young players and seeing them get better.

If I was a 2017 recruit looking for a supportive fan base, I definitely wouldn't see it on this postgame forum.
 
#200      
The only way he should get another year is if he suddenly lands a very good 2017 class and he makes changes to his staff. Otherwise it's best to make a change before this turns

The decision on Groce getting another year will be made long before the 2017 class is decided. So while the 2017 class is important for his future beyond 2016-17, it will not affect his fate for next year.