Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monday, February 6, 2012

Undersized Illini fall to Northwestern

For those who watch the end of the Illini game against Northwestern, perhaps you noticed this but maybe not.  John Shurna, listed at 6-9 for the Wildcats was guarded by Brandon Paul, the outstanding 6-4 guard for Illinois.  Shurna was basically unstoppable during much of the game, and is quite a player.  Meyers Leonard at 7-1 was guarding Davide Curletti, a 6-9 forward for Northwestern.  Drew Crawford, the 6-5 guard for Northwestern was guarded by Joe Bertrand, who is listed at 6-5 for Illinois.  Reggie Hearn, a 6-4 guard for Northwestern was guarded by DJ Richardson, listed at 6-3 for Illinois, but likely 6-2.

Years ago, Northwestern would frequently be dominated by a larger Illini team, due to their small size.  So it's interesting that Illinois has been unable to put players with size on the floor this year against teams like Northwestern.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Interesting Song about Coach Weber

Here's an interesting rewrite of any old song in memory of Bruce Weber, courtesy of IllinoisLoyalty.com's Redriver: A long long time ago I can still remember How that TEAM used to make me smile And WE knew if WE had OUR chance That WE could make those people dance And maybe they'd be happy for a while But February made me shiver With every LOSS HE'd deliver Bad news on the doorstep I couldn't take one more step I can't remember if I cried When I read about THE LOSING SLIDE But something touched me deep inside The day the BUBBLE died ... So bye, bye MR. STUBBORN GUY TURNED MY TV TO THE selection show but the GAME WAS A LIE And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singing this'll be YEAR WE QUALIFY This'll be the YEAR WE QUALIFY Did you write the book on MOTION And CAN YOU UNDERSTAND HIS DEMOTION If the AD tells you so? Now do you believe in goin' to the hole? Can Brandon save your mortal soul? And can you teach me how to dance real slow? Well, I know that you're in love with him 'cause I saw you dancing in the gym You both kicked off your shoes Man, I dig those orange and blues There was a big time teenage Simeon stud With a sweet spin move and a jumpshot too But I knew we were just a dud The day the BUBBLE died I started singing Bye, bye Mr. Weber guy Took his team to the NIT, BUT the fans asked why? And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singing this'll be the year we qualify This'll be the year we qualify Now, for six seasons we've been on our own And we've grown use to the screamin' tone But that's not how it used to be When the Luther played for the championship crown with his pals, D. Williams and Dee Brown And a voice that came from you and me Oh and while the coach was looking down The phone man stole his jeweled clown The courtroom was adjourned No verdict was returned And while Jerrance waited with no remarks The team practiced for a lark And we sang dirges in the dark The day the bubble died We were singing Bye, bye Mr. Short Bench guy turned the tube to the tourney but we were a little nigh And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singing next years team will qualify Next years team will qualify Helter skelter in a summer swelter The championship run was just an old shelter four and one and falling fast Leonard's foul my achin ass The players tried for a forward pass With the Chester on the sidelines in a cast Now the half-time air was sweet perfume While merrymen played a marching tune We all got up to dance Oh, but we never got the chance 'Cause the players tried to take the field The selection committee refused to yield Do you recall what was revealed The day the bubble died? We started singing Bye, bye Mr. Hard Luck guy filled out my bracket, but my team was shy And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singing next years team will qualify Next years team will qualify Oh, and there we were all in one place A fandom lost in space With no time left to start again So come on Mike be nimble, Mike be quick Mike Thomas sat on a candlestick 'Cause firing Coach means we'll have to spend And as I watched him on the stage My hands were clenched in fists of rage No angel born in hell Could take another bubble shell And as the flames climbed high into the night To light the sacrificial rite I saw Satan laughing with delight The day the bubble died He was singing Bye, bye Mr. mid-major guy tried to tell the merrymen, but they could only deny And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singing my oh my, we didn't qualify My oh my, we didn't qualify I met a girl who wore orange and blue And I asked her for some happy news But she just smiled and turned away I hoped for a big ten tourney run Where no one could deny us, oh what fun But the competition said no way And in the streets the students screamed The old men cried, and the fools dreamed But not a word was spoken The referee's whistles all were broken And the three young men I hoped for most Parker, White, and Okafor, the post They caught the last train for the coast The day the bubble died And the merrymen they were singing Bye, bye Mr. Weber guy Mediocre is better that half the teams, no one can deny And them good old merrymen were drinking whiskey and rye Singing you'll be sorry we fired that guy You'll be sorry we fired that guy Bye, bye Mr Weber guy We'll cheer for you 'till the day we die And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye Singing oh my, oh my, why oh why?
Paul Klee was listening to Weber after the Minnesota game, and I found this amazing from Bruce Weber. From Klee's article: After Saturday's 77-72 overtime loss to Minnesota, Bruce Weber suggested that win or lose — he can't really win. "They're all hard to take," Weber said after Illinois suffered its third straight loss. "When we win it's hard to take (because) we have to listen to the critiquing. What's the difference?" If Weber is not willing to be critiqued by the media and/or fans, he might as well pack it in and head to a mid-major by resigning from Illinois' head coaching position. Being critiqued is part of coaching a major program such as Illinois, and something that Henson, Kruger, and Self were able to take, that's for sure. In fact, they have all survived the fans and Chicago media quite well. I recognize that Weber has been a fine coach for the Illini for many years, similar to Henson, but for a shorter time. But it might be the right time for a change, since the Illini just don't look too promising this season. But let's see how the season progresses. Weber might still turn it around since we can still make the tourney and could develop into an interesting tourney team. If it doesn't work out, I like Jerrance Howard to take over the team, since he is a great recruiter and has played under Kruger, Self and Weber a good mix of coaching philosophies for any young coach to follow.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

That was a disappointing loss to Wisconsin today, but very predictable. The Illini are mostly featuring a 4 guard offense that passes the ball around and has trouble getting it to Meyers Leonard, their athletic center. Most of the season, the ball handling has been sloppy with too many turnovers. That was not the case today. The biggest fundamental flaw for the Illini is the struggle to block out and rebound the ball on the defensive end. They gave Wisconsin too many chances today and it cost them dearly. Bruce Weber has not been using much of his bench, either. Egwu gets on the floor when Leonard is in foul trouble, Sam Maniscalco provides relief when healthy to Tracy Abrams, and Tyler Griffey seems to enter the game when the rebounding woes are evident. With losses at Penn State and now the home loss to Wisconsin, the Illini are no longer looking like a sure tournament team. Will have to see how they turn things around, with the next game at Minnesota. I hope Bruce Weber can shake things up and try some bench players in some kind of a rotation. The bench scored zero points today, which is rarely going to win games. Would like to see Henry in for some serious minutes, since he is one of the better scorers on this team, and the guards looked tired today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tough Sledding for Weber going into Big 10 Season

After two unimpressive showings by the Illini, the ballers go into the Big 10 season with 3 losses and a two game losing streak. The Illini seemed to be sleepwalking in Chicago, and ended up with a bad loss. In St. Louis, they did put on a decent effort, particularly on the boards, but weak defense, cold shooting spells and untimely fouls put the game out of reach at the end. So we have dropped the past two border wars to the Missouri Tigers.

What is likely to happen at the Big 10 opener at Iowa? Hard to say which team shows up, but if the Illini can't get it going again soon, they run the risk of another disappointing season missing the NCAA tourney. On the other hand, if they can shore up their defense and rebounding, and retain the scoring they have had in the early non-conference season, they could be a contender in the Big 10 this year.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Entitled to an NCAA At-Large Berth, or NIT Bound?

The regular season is now over for the Illini basketball team, and fans await the post-season verdict for the Illini, a trip to the NCAA or NIT.

It seems unlikely the Illini will make the NCAA tourney this year, with their not so stellar record of 19-14. The Illini had some really bad losses along the way, against Utah, Bradley and Georgia in the non-conference season. They also lost big to Missouri, as the numbers caught up with them after owning Mizzou for many years. Once Big 10 conference season started, the Illini lost at Northwestern in front of a huge Illini fan base, and lost home games to Minnesota and Wisconsin. NCAA Tourney teams should do a better job defending their home court.

This season's Illini team did have some quality wins, particularly against Clemson in the Big 10/ACC Challenge game, as well as winning at the Kohl Center (Wisconsin) and beating Michigan State. But with all of the games with a sub-par effort, it seems the Illini are headed to the NIT. I guess we can hope for some luck with the committee, but it seems like a long shot right now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brad Beal Announcement Tomorrow Morning at 10am Central Time

Brad Beal, the spectacular 6-3 shooting guard prospect (class of 2011) out of the St. Louis area is announcing where he will go to college tomorrow morning, and the college basketball world is waiting for the news. Sources indicate the leading schools are Kansas, Florida and Illinois, but there are no credible leaks out there yet. Kansas fans seem to think they will get Beal, but there is speculation Florida will come away with the sharpshooter instead. Not many are predicting Illinois, despite the school's close proximity to St. Louis and Coach Bruce Weber's reputation of developing guards for the NBA system. Of course, Brad Beal is so good, he could probably go straight to the NBA if that was allowed these days.

Let's see what is announced tomorrow.

Las Vegas Hangover?



I loved the movie Hangover, but I'm not sure I would have wanted to live through that situation as any one of the film's characters. Hangovers are just not that much fun. Which brings me to my favorite college b-ball team, the Illini. After losing both games in Las Vegas over the Thanksgiving weekend, will they be able to bounce back at Clemson, or will they be suffering still? The Illini-Clemson match up is part of the annual ACC Big 10 Challenge event created by ESPN and the two conferences.

I'm expecting the Illini might struggle against the full court pressing defense of the Clemson Tigers, who also had a full plate of activity over the weekend. The Tigers were able to upset Butler tonight on a last second foul called in the game and related free throws.

Bruce Weber is still trying to figure out which players should be in his starting line-up and extended rotation. Rumor has it Bruce has had the Illini toying with a press of their own this season, as well as a zone defense. Freshmen DJ Richardson and Brandon Paul came up empty in Las Vegas and Paul did not start against Bradley University on Saturday night. The three junior starters, McCamey, Davis and Tisdale did not play consistently enough to get past Utah or Bradley, and need to step up their games. Weber might try to energize his squad by mixing up the starting rotation by inserting Dominique Keller or Bill Cole, both of whom played well in Las Vegas.

It's early in the season, so Illini fans should remain optimistic about their team, but the Illini are sure to fall out of the top 25 when the new rankings come out this week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

DSCF6115

Wow, DJ can really get up and dunk the ball, as you can see in the last game.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nnanna Egwu #1

Here's a better video of Egwu.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nnana Egwu Commits to the Illini for Class of 2011

Top 50 recruit Nnana Egwu announced a verbal commitment to the Illini earlier today, which makes the 2011 class likely to be a top one for the Illini for the third consecutive year. Egwu is a 6-9 forward/center who is ranked by Rivals in the top 50 nationally for his class. He is still developing, but runs the floor well, is a shot blocker and is developing a nice shot when facing the basket. Check out the video of Egwu to see how much potential this recruit possesses.

Nnana Egwu of Illinois Wolves

More video of new commit, Nnana Egwu. He is 6-9, and probably still growing. Should be a nice forward/center at Illinois in 2011.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

2009-2010 Season Preview

The Illini overachieved last year by making the NCAAs, but their season ended quickly with their loss to Western Kentucky in the first round. This fall, expectations are much higher for the Illini basketball team. Preseason polls have the Illini in the top 20, and Joe Lunardi has the Illini as a 3 seed right now, a top 12 team. And we haven't even had midnight madness yet.

Let's start with the losses from last year's team. Basically, we lose a ton of experience at the guard position, Chet Frazier, Trent Meacham and Calvin Brock. And we lose CJ Jackson, who never played much basketball at Illinois, but was very popular with his teammates.

The gains are three talented freshmen guards--DJ Richardson, Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand. We have been talking about these guys forever it seems, and now they are on campus getting ready to play. The front line gets deeper with Tyler Griffey as a freshman, and Stan Simpson will be a redshirt freshman after sitting last season. Overall, a loss on the experience side, but these are very talented additions for this fall.

Returning starters are three juniors: Demetri McCamey at PG, Mike Davis at forward, and Mike Tisdale at center. Dominique Keller returns as a versatile forward who can rebound and hit three pointers (my personal favorite player last year). Other experienced players from last season include guards Jeff Jordan and Alex Legion, and seldom-used Richard Semrau at forward/center and Bill Cole, a forward.

Basically, Bruce Weber can start an experienced squad without relying on the freshmen, though I expect 1 or 2 freshmen to crack the starting line-up during the season:

Demetri McCamey PG
Jeff Jordan G
Alex Legion SG
Mike Davis F
Mike Tisdale C

Bench rotation: Keller, Griffey, Cole, Richardson, Paul, Bertrand

Right now, it seems likely that McCamey, Davis and Tisdale are a virtual lock as starters on this team, with Legion, Jordan, Keller and Richardson probably vying for the other two starting positions. But this should be a deep and talented team, that gets much better throughout the season as it matures.

And my hope is Bruce Weber allows this team to run the break, especially when Tisdale is on the bench. We might think of 1989 if we see the following group of athletes on the floor: Davis, Keller, Legion, McCamey and either Richardson or Paul.

For Illini fans, this season is not to be missed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tracy Abrams, Mt Carmel (Class of 2011) Block

Nice defensive play by Abrams. What an athlete, making an incredible block here.

Tracy Abrams, Mt Carmel (Class of 2011) Buzzer beater

Here's a nice video of our future guard, Tracy Abrams, who committed to the Illini this week.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2008/2009 Illini Schedule Announced

The season schedule is now out, and available here. I'm not sure how we will do this year, but I do think this schedule will be plenty challenging for this year's squad. Maybe after some review, I will estimate wins and losses.

Challenge to the Illini Basketball Team (Mizzou Game)

After watching the high-scoring football game last weekend against Missouri, it made me wonder, can Bruce Weber's guys hold Mizzou to less than 52 points this fall? That would be something, since the game of basketball is typically much higher scoring than football. Further, will the Illini basketball squad continue to be offensively-challenged this season? Will our bballers be able to score 42 points against Missouri when we play them in our annual match-up?

Normally, it's automatic for Weber's squad to score over 50 points in a game. But with Jamar Smith now gone, and a depleted and young frontcourt, it's questionable if this team will be able to score. I will try to remember to come back and compare the football and basketball scores against Missouri once we get to December.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Coming Year of Illini Basketball

With the loss of Jamar Smith for this season, I am looking at a tough year ahead for the Illini in basketball. Many fans seem to be optimistic about a tourney team, but I see this as another rebuilding year. Here's a look at my starting five as the season opens, and the others rotating in:

Starting Five
PG-McCamey
SG-Frazier
G-Brock
SF-Keller
C-Tisdale

Rotating In
PG-Jordan
SG-Meacham
F-Cole
F/C-Davis

Bench
Semrau
Simpson
Jackson

The problem with this team in the early season, is the guards are defensive-oriented, with the best scorer being McCamey. Guard play could improve when Legion is available in December, assuming he is in the rotation for considerable minutes. In the meantime, we can watch Chester Frazier play shooting guard for the Illini.

The front court is very inexperienced, and one of the main things to watch is how the big men develop, since we do seem to have some potential in guys like Tisdale, Davis and Cole. Winning could be further complicated by troubles in rebounding, particularly blocking out on the defensive end. I am projecting Keller as a starter, mainly because he has the body of a big man who can rebound. If the front court has troubles rebounding, don't be surprised to see Coach Weber play four guards, adding Meacham to the line-up of Frazier, McCamey and Brock. At least we won't have to worry about getting down the court to guard against the fast break...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Good News and the Bad News

First the good news..............I'm back blogging again after some vacationing this summer. It's nice taking those European holidays for a month or so, isn't it? Actually, I have been focusing on work, and there really hasn't been much to write about in college basketball until this week.

Actually the good news is Meyers Leonard has provided the Illini with a verbal commitment to play in the class of 2010. Meyers is a local kid from Robinson Illinois, who has grown to 6-10 or so, and weighs over 200 pounds already, and has attracted the attention of all the big programs around the country. Meyers is highly rated by the recruiting gurus as well, and joins two awesome recruits for that class, Head and Richmond. My hope is that Lenzelle Smith announces he is headed to Illinois, which will make our class of 2010 one of the best in the NCAA.

Now, some people are getting excited about these recruiting grids on the internet that show there are no more spots available on the 2010 roster. But I'm not the least bit worried, since these grids assume optimistically that each and every player plays at Illinois for exactly four years. That just does not happen in the NCAA currently, even at Illinois. So people need to relax about scholarships available, and realize that people transfer, go pro, and other miscellaneous things happen.....

That leads me to the Jamar Smith stories. Being a night owl myself, I can't blame him for being up late during the summer at U of I. I stayed in town one summer myself when going to Illinois many years ago, and that was one of the best times you could have, compared to the alternatives. However, I just can't understand how you find yourself violating your probation by drinking in public, unless he is still mired in alcoholism, which might be the case. I won't dwell on this, because I am tired of reading the stories already, and assume his career at Illinois must be over.

On a more positive note, we can look forward to this fall's team developing during a transition year, and welcoming the Class of 2009 the following season.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Poll Results: Who will wear number 13?

My readers poll has closed and we have an answer to the question of who wears 13 next season: Jeff Jordan was selected by Illini fans (my readers) as the one to wear his Dad's number.

I've got news for you, Jeff will be wearing number 13 again, because it's a lucky number for him. A better guess is that Dominique Keller or Alex Legion will take the number 23 and the pressure of trying to "be like Mike."

Thanks to all of those who participated in the poll, and we'll have to wait until this fall to see who is right.

Rodney Alexander and Brian Carlwell's plans

Rodney Alexander is taking a look at Oklahoma City college, which has the advantage of allowing him to play this fall (rather than sitting out one year), because it is a NAIA program. Rodney has a list of schools to consider, so there should be something announced this summer. Good luck, Rodney.

Brian Carlwell is looking at New Orleans and San Diego State University as potential schools for him. Brian should make his decision this summer also, and I wish him the best.

Both of these players have talent, and I hope they can find the right programs to excel. For more details, see this article from Paul Klee's blog.

Jereme Richmond shows skills and maturity at Moody Bible Institute

Jereme Richmond played some basketball recently at the Moody Bible Institute, and showed his awesome skills to people fortunate enough to attend the event. He also talked about his plans to return to Waukegan this fall, and confirmed his commmitment to Illinois basketball. For more details, see the Chicago Sun-Times article.