Where does the Illinois basketball program "belong?"

#1      
Topic.

The ongoing discussion in the John Groce thread got me thinking about this last night. We're a big and diverse fanbase. Is there a consensus as to where we "should be" as a program? If so, what's the timetable for getting there?

There appear to be a lot of ideas regarding the answer to this question, and I thought a thread dedicated to it might be enlightening, or, at the very least, diverting.

---

Bearing in mind that I'm completely spitballing here, I'm going to throw out that I realistically expect this program to place in the top half of the B1G every single year.

Broken down further, for 4 out of 5 seasons, I expect us to be ranked for at least a couple of weeks running. For 2 out of 5 seasons I expect us to be in the discussion for the B1G regular-season title. I expect to be a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament once every ten years. I expect to win it all once every 20-30 years.

All of this is based on what I think is possible, yet not necessarily as often as I'd like. Some people are going to jump on this as having expectations being set too low. Maybe that's true. But Illinois has branding issues. Nobody's going to dispute that we just aren't a blue blood. So I don't expect blue blood results (e.g. dance every year, ranked most weeks, win conference regularly).

How long should it take to get there from where we are now? At best, 2-3 years (with this class of freshmen). At worst, 5-10 years (assuming a new hire and his subsequent rebuilding).

Have at it.

:chief:
 
#2      
Chicago
Topic.

The ongoing discussion in the John Groce thread got me thinking about this last night. We're a big and diverse fanbase. Is there a consensus as to where we "should be" as a program? If so, what's the timetable for getting there?

There appear to be a lot of ideas regarding the answer to this question, and I thought a thread dedicated to it might be enlightening, or, at the very least, diverting.

---

Bearing in mind that I'm completely spitballing here, I'm going to throw out that I realistically expect this program to place in the top half of the B1G every single year.

Broken down further, for 4 out of 5 seasons, I expect us to be ranked for at least a couple of weeks running. For 2 out of 5 seasons I expect us to be in the discussion for the B1G regular-season title. I expect to be a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament once every ten years. I expect to win it all once every 20-30 years.

All of this is based on what I think is possible, yet not necessarily as often as I'd like. Some people are going to jump on this as having expectations being set too low. Maybe that's true. But Illinois has branding issues. Nobody's going to dispute that we just aren't a blue blood. So I don't expect blue blood results (e.g. dance every year, ranked most weeks, win conference regularly).

How long should it take to get there from where we are now? At best, 2-3 years (with this class of freshmen). At worst, 5-10 years (assuming a new hire and his subsequent rebuilding).

Have at it.

:chief:
Well, to start with, we should win one national championship first. Then we can start talking about winning one every so many years.

Other than that, I think we should be able to get to the place we were in the 1980's, what I consider Henson's heyday.

We were consistently one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the BIG, usually a top 5 or higher seed, and a threat to make a run in the tourney.
 
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#3      
We should be the type of team that you wonder what seed they will be, not if they make the tournament. Every 5 years should be at least a sweet 16 caliber team. Once in every ten years we should have a final four caliber team. I'm not saying make it to the final four, but a 1 or a 2 seed in the tourney. Keep doing this and eventually lightning will be caught in a bottle and we will win it.
 
#4      
Well, to start with, we should win one national championship first. Then we can start talking about winning one every so many years.

Other than that, I think we should be able to get to the place we were in the 1980's, what I consider Henson's heyday.

We were consistently one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the BIG, usually a top 5 or higher seed, and a threat to make a run in the tourney.

I would like to sign up for this package please.
 
#5      
If you want to know where Illinois "should be", look no further than Wisconsin under Bo Ryan. That is where Illinois should be. We were actually there in the first few years in the 2000s, actually a little further, but we let our program rapidly deteriorate to where it is today.
 
#6      
If you want to know where Illinois "should be", look no further than Wisconsin under Bo Ryan. That is where Illinois should be. We were actually there in the first few years in the 2000s, actually a little further, but we let our program rapidly deteriorate to where it is today.

Completely agree.


Different topic, but I still wonder what Minny fans think about getting rid of Tubby Smith..I hope we never pull a similar move.
 
#7      
Completely agree.


Different topic, but I still wonder what Minny fans think about getting rid of Tubby Smith..I hope we never pull a similar move.
I still don't understand why they fired him.
 
#8      
Good question, the real non homer(ish) answer is wherever you are currently is where you belong. Where can we be? Somewhere around Michigan State, Wisconsin, Arizona i would think. At this point there are mid majors who are miles ahead of us at Wichita St or VCU. Winning 20 games per season should be minimum expectations.
 
#9      
Orange Krush '04 & '05
We ought to be a Top 20 team. Ranked most weeks except after dropping a few in a row. Top 8 seed every year. Occasional Sweet 16 and further.

Long way to go. Hopefully the climb back up is as steep as the drop has been.
 
#10      
I know it's trite, but "NOT HERE" cannot be emphasized enough.

Forget the basketball program individually, the athletic department is an embarrassment to the school, the state, and especially all the athletes past and present who have given their blood sweat and tears to Illini sports.

There should be some anger, it's healthy.
 
#11      
Good question, the real non homer(ish) answer is wherever you are currently is where you belong. Where can we be? Somewhere around Michigan State, Wisconsin, Arizona i would think. At this point there are mid majors who are miles ahead of us at Wichita St or VCU. Winning 20 games per season should be minimum expectations.

Wining 20 games/year like Groce averaged for his first three years here?
 
#12      
-NEVER a losing season. Ever. I'm speaking of overall record, and if it happens, the coach should be canned unless there are insane circumstances (e.g. Groce this year), or if it is the coach's first year.
-20 wins at least 8 out of every ten years. On a related note, making the tournament 7-8 out of every 10 years.
-Win the B1G around once every decade
-Make it to the sweet sixteen or better 2-3 times per decade
-Normal seasons should have from 9 to 11 B1G wins

Something like that. I don't have as high of expectations as some people on here, but I think that these would please just about everybody.
 
#13      
The program "can" be where it was during the 2 best 8 year stretches in its history.

82-83 through 89-90 - Finished no lower than #4 in BIG every year, High AP rank in Top 10 each year except 1 where it was 13, Went to Tourney every year, Made a Final 4

99-00 through 06-07 - Finished in top 4 in BIG all years except 1 when finished 6th, High AP rank in Top 10 5 of the 8 years, Went to Tourney every year, Went to NC game
 
#14      
Insanely Good Year (~every 8 years): 1 or 2 seed in the tourney
Above Average Year(~every 4 years): 3-5 seed
Average Year(~every other year): 5-8 seed
Below Average Year(~every 4 years): 9-11 seed
Insanely Bad Year(~every 8 years): Bubble Team

Why strive for ever missing the dance? In fact, resources and location should put us in it every year. I hate how all our recent hires throughout athletics have been mid-major or lower "risers". Especially basketball, where we should be a place people want to come. I understand mid-majors feed a lot into blue bloods in terms of coaching but we shouldn't be a stepping stone for anything short of the NBA.
 
#15      
Wining 20 games/year like Groce averaged for his first three years here?

So he met the minimum expectations 2 years, and one of those years we got to 20 by beating Boston in the NIT, not exactly a thumbs up banner year. I don't know what you're getting at, we all want this team to be successful but i remember plenty of discussions in the past where people wondered why we can't be Duke, KU, UK, UNC...etc That will never happen, 20 wins before getting to any tournament should be minimum expectations for this team, and it should be attainable especially in our conference. And as my name suggests, i believe those are very reasonable expectations.
 
#16      
-NEVER a losing season. Ever. I'm speaking of overall record, and if it happens, the coach should be canned unless there are insane circumstances (e.g. Groce this year), or if it is the coach's first year.
-20 wins at least 8 out of every ten years. On a related note, making the tournament 7-8 out of every 10 years.
-Win the B1G around once every decade
-Make it to the sweet sixteen or better 2-3 times per decade
-Normal seasons should have from 9 to 11 B1G wins

Something like that. I don't have as high of expectations as some people on here, but I think that these would please just about everybody.

2-3 sweet 16 appearances per decade and you don't think those are high expectations? That's only happened in two decades of the past 5 almost 6 decades. It may not seem like high expectations since we were spoiled with the best decade ever of Illinois basketball in the 2000s but that would be a dream if we could get to that being a regular decade of Illinois basketball.
 
#17      
So far most of these expectations are pretty reasonable. How long it will take for us to get back to that level is the question. Some programs can rise meteorically but for some reason I feel U of I will take some time. I am thinking in the 5-10 year range from now. We have a serious problem with perception around the state. I think that is going to be a challenge to overcome. Winning will obviously help to correct that stigma but how do you recruit well enough to win if potential recruits don't respect you? When we figure that out, we will be on the way to winning the battle.
 
#18      
So far most of these expectations are pretty reasonable. How long it will take for us to get back to that level is the question. Some programs can rise meteorically but for some reason I feel U of I will take some time. I am thinking in the 5-10 year range from now. We have a serious problem with perception around the state. I think that is going to be a challenge to overcome. Winning will obviously help to correct that stigma but how do you recruit well enough to win if potential recruits don't respect you? When we figure that out, we will be on the way to winning the battle.

Plenty of teams make the tournament without players from Illinois or the midwest, if you need to go find talent out of state to win games, then we should be doing that. I've never liked how tied to the state this fan base/news gazette are.
 
#20      
If you want to know where Illinois "should be", look no further than Wisconsin under Bo Ryan. That is where Illinois should be. We were actually there in the first few years in the 2000s, actually a little further, but we let our program rapidly deteriorate to where it is today.

This. We have demonstrated three times (late '40s and early '50s which isn't relevant but still, the '80s and the first half of the 2000s) that it's possible - actually, not even that hard - to put a consistently excellent product on the court at Illinois. As I've seen said elsewhere, our last four coaches before Groce each won at least one Big Ten title. Three of them earned a No. 1 seed, and three made it to at least one Elite Eight, with two making the Final Four. We've been one of the most self-sustaining programs (i.e., not totally reliant on one legendary coach) in the country during the modern era, and while we should always consider circumstances and keep perspective, I don't see why consistent excellence should ever be replaced as the program's goal.
 
#21      
Stylin' and Profilin'
Cut and pasted from Wikipedia (assuming it's correct ;)):

NCAA Tourney appearances:
1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, *pizza* 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

I would say that close-to-30-year run is about where Illinois should be. Oh, wait - we were!

It doesn't really even matter to me what happened once we got to the tourney - coming from a conference like the B1G, making it shows we had a pretty decent year, at least. It's annoying and dumb to me that our fan base is starting to convince itself that we would be lucky to be such a program...
 
#22      
Plenty of teams make the tournament without players from Illinois or the midwest, if you need to go find talent out of state to win games, then we should be doing that. I've never liked how tied to the state this fan base/news gazette are.

I agree with this and feel that John Groce has been really trying to expand our borders. Unfortunately when you are not winning, the selling becomes a lot more difficult.
Question: do you think a recruit from out of state ever asks himself why the talent rich Chicago players don't stay home and play? If so, does that hurt us too?
 
#23      
Good question. I think there may be a disconnect in where we as fans think it "belongs" and where the administration thinks it should be. The past decade has done a lot of damage to the program while the Big Ten has become stronger and deeper. It's certainly still possible to recover, but it's going to be tougher now and if the admin is not truly behind the effort then it's going to take some luck, too. There's no reason we can't be in the top 4/5 programs, except for well....those reasons I just mentioned.
 
#24      
Wheaton, IL
Illinois should be a perennial Top 10 program, consistently making the Sweet 16, with an Elite 8 every 3-4 years, a Final Four every 4-6 years and a National Championship every 8-12 years. Realistically , God please at least one NC before I am either dead or can't remember it happening .
 
#25      
Insanely Good Year (~every 8 years): 1 or 2 seed in the tourney
Above Average Year(~every 4 years): 3-5 seed
Average Year(~every other year): 5-8 seed
Below Average Year(~every 4 years): 9-11 seed
Insanely Bad Year(~every 8 years): Bubble Team

Why strive for ever missing the dance? In fact, resources and location should put us in it every year. I hate how all our recent hires throughout athletics have been mid-major or lower "risers". Especially basketball, where we should be a place people want to come. I understand mid-majors feed a lot into blue bloods in terms of coaching but we shouldn't be a stepping stone for anything short of the NBA.

Bill Self was a mid-major coach. You didn't like him? That stepping stone you mention is how Illinois got stuck with Weber.