Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crandall Head to announce today or Wednesday

There's not much drama on this announcement, due to interviews by Crandall Head and the fact that he has not visited the other schools, but Crandall Head is expected to announce either today or tomorrow that he plans to attend the University of Illinois. There is not much information out there on Crandall, other than an article from the Sun-Times and that he looks very athletic (like his brother) and is a good student. Sounds like a nice early commitment for the Illini.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Orange and Blue Scrimmage Today

Here are some unofficial scoring statistics courtesy of some fans who were at the game:

Randle 19
Alexander 17
Pruitt 14
Holdren 13
Meacham 12
Cole 11
Davis 8
Tisdale 8
McCamey 6
Jordan 6
Semrau 4
Brock 4
Carlwell 3
Hicks 2

Apparently Brian Randle is playing like Illini fans have never seen him, since he is healthy and able to shoot from the outside now. Alexander is reported to have excellent range on his shot, and is a scorer. Holdren continues to show he might be a big scorer for the Illini, as he did earlier on the Canada tour. Meacham and Holdren could be the leading scorers for the Illini in certain games this year as walk-ons, particularly if opponents play a zone.

Meanwhile, Cole and Davis are pushing the coaching staff to avoid being red-shirted for the season. Given situations like last year, with continual injuries to the Illini, I'm not sure sitting guys out makes much sense. However, Weber will struggle to find a way to develop a 12 or 13 man rotation this year.

Chester Frazier sat out of this game with a thumb injury, but should be OK for the regular season.

Daily Illini Coverage

A Change of Scenery

I am experimenting with some new templates and should decide on something new soon, so please don't mind the changes in the look of the site. It's a new season, so we need a new look.

Illini Fans going to Maui Invitational

I just read on Scout that the Rusty Harpoon will be the official meetingplace for Illini fans in Maui.

I will be in Maui attending the games this year, and I plan to post photos, video clips and game comments each night, so please plan to check for updates on my site.

Crandall Head to announce intentions this week

The information on Crandall Head's recruitment seems to be heating up this week. As discussed here earlier, Crandall Head is expected to announce a verbal commitment to Illinois this week, "maybe Tuesday or Wednesday."

This would be great news to add a fine prospect like Crandall Head to the 2010 class, and another boost to Howard and Weber's recruiting trend.

More about this later this week.

Mark Tupper's Comments

Klee's Comments

Stan Simpson makes Chicago "All-Metro Team" for Sporting News

The Sporting News has its College Basketball preseason magazine out, and as part of the production, they name the top players in all of the large metropolitan areas, including Chicago. The "All-Metro" Team for Chicago is:

Michael Dunigan, Sr. Farragut
Ryan Hare, Sr. Marshall
Matt Humphrey, Sr, Hales Franciscan
Iman Shumpert, Sr, Oak Park-River Forest
Stan Simpson, Sr, Simeon

Congrats to Stan on being included in this great group of high school players in the Chicago area.

Crandall Head

Crandall Head is Luther Head's little brother. Crandall Head was spotted at the Ball State football game today, and is visiting Illinois. Many think Crandall Head will be the next verbal commitment to the Illini, since his brother did so well at Illinois, and the close relationship between Jerrance Howard and Luther Head. Some information about Crandall Head:

Class: 2010
High School: Rich South
Height: 6-3
Position: PG, SG
Strengths: Might be more athletic that older brother Luther

Brian Randle

Brian Randle is feeling healthy this year, so maybe we can see more dunks like these.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Illini Basketball Exhibition Games to be Televised

For the first time, the Illini exhibition basketball games will be televised. The two games will be broadcast on the new Big Ten network, which is great news if you can't be there in person.

October 31, Quincy, 8pm

November 6, Kentucky Wesleyan, 8pm

Both games will be on the Big Ten Network

Orange and Blue Scrimmage, Sunday at 5 pm

The first real scrimmage (I don't count the Illini Madness) is tomorrow at 5pm, and this sounds like a good one to watch. I was looking at the depth chart this week trying to figure out which guys will get playing time, and it really is crowded unless they redshirt a couple more guys or have injuries. It will be much different from last year for Coach Weber, since he should have plenty of combinations he can put on the floor.

Unlike some teams that are rebuilding, the Illini can put all a team of all seniors and juniors on the floor, so the new freshmen will have to earn a spot in the rotation.

Here's an article about the scrimmage from the Daily Illini.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New USA Today ESPN Coaches Poll (Preseason)

I'm in North Carolina right now, and the new Coaches poll is out, and the University of North Carolina is ranked number 1 in the country. The rest of the list:

3. Memphis (they have a kid named Rose who might help)
4. Kansas (can Bill Self meet expectations this year?)
5. Georgetown
6. Louisville
7. Tennessee
8. Michigan State (Izzo's team should be back this year)
9. Indiana (some guy named Gordon is a freshman for them)
10. Washington State
11. Duke (likely Illini opponent in Maui)
12. Marquette (likely final round team in Maui)
13. Oregon
14. Gonzaga
15. Texas A&M
16. Texas
17. Arizona (on the Illini schedule again this year)
18. USC
19. Arkansas
20. Pittsburgh
21. Stanford
22. Kentucky
23. Southern Illinois
24. North Carolina State
25. Villanova

38. Illinois (low expectations for the Illini this year, but maybe they can surprise some people, with some early tough opponents scheduled.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Article about Demetri McCamey

Courtesy of Scout.com, here's an article with some optimistic comments by Demetri McCamey. Apparently, he is working on the his outside shot, hopes to work himself into the starting lineup, and the team's goal is to win the Big 10 this year. If McCamey, Frazier and Randle can hit threes, I can see the Illini challenging for the conference title.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

2008 Recruit Justin Watts from Durham, NC

Justin Watts is a three star recruit that the Illini are interested in and according to Scout.com, he has a scholarship offer from the Illini. Watts is a very athletic combo guard who is 6-4, has good vertical and outside shooting ability. There is not much recent news on the web about Justin Watts, but I have a hunch he is seriously considering taking the last Illini basketball scholarship for 2008. This would make sense for Watts, since the Illini represent an outstanding opportunity to develop his guard skills under Weber, with Big Ten competition, in a program that can elevate a player, particularly athletic guards. For the Illini, they have mostly big men and point guards, and need help in wing players that can shoot. Also, Coach Weber likes to play three guards on occasion, and this would be possible with the 2009 class that is coming.

I will look for some news from Justin Watts very soon on his college selection.

Justin Watts goes up for the flush

I think Justin Watts is still an uncommitted recruit from the 2008 class. Here he is dunking for his high school team in Durham, NC.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Additional Coverage of High School Games Coming

This season I hope to have some coverage of the high school games of Brandon Paul and Jereme Richmond. One of my fellow alumni of the University of Illinois is considering volunteering to watch some of these games and report on the progress of these recruits. If we can get some exclusive photos and video, I will add those to the site as well. More information will be posted on this.

Additional Maui Invitational TIckets going on sale October 24th

Basketball fans that can make it to Hawaii, please note this update regarding tickets. I will be there cheering on the Illini basketball team.

MAUI, Hawaii, Oct. 19, 2007 – The 2007 EA SPORTSTM Maui Invitational® Hosted by Chaminade today announced that additional All-Day East End General Admission Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 9 a.m. Hawaii time (3 p.m. Eastern time). A limited number of Single-Game Tickets for all of the tournament games (with the exception of Game 8, the second semifinal game) will also be available.

• Game 1 – Chaminade vs. Marquette
• Game 2 – LSU vs. Oklahoma State
• Game 3 – Princeton vs. Duke
• Game 4 – Arizona State vs. Illinois
• Game 5 – Consolation (Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2)
• Game 6 – Consolation (Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4)
• Game 7 – Semifinal (Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2)
• Game 9 – Fifth-place game
• Game 10 – Third-place game
• Game 11 – Seventh-place game
• Game 12 - Championship

Fans can also take advantage of the following tickets right now:

• Remaining Booster Tickets for Arizona State, Chaminade, LSU, Marquette, Oklahoma State and Princeton. Booster Tickets are good for entry to all three tournament games in which the particular school will participate.
• Remaining Courtside Booster Tickets for Arizona State, Chaminade, LSU, Marquette and Princeton. These tickets allow entry to all three of a particular team’s tournament games along with access to the Stadium Club, an exclusive catered area featuring food and beverage, table seating and television access.

All of the aforementioned tickets can only be purchased through the official tournament Web site at http://www.mauiinvitational.com.

Duke, Marquette, Illinois, Arizona State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Princeton and host Chaminade will vie for 2007 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational title Nov. 19-21 at Maui’s Lahaina Civic Center. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will again combine to offer live coverage of all 12 games of the nation’s premier early-season college basketball tournament.

EA SPORTSTM, the world’s leading interactive entertainment software company and developer of the top-selling NCAA® March Madness® videogame, enters its seventh year as title sponsor of the Maui Invitational.

Other tournament sponsors include the Maui Visitors Bureau, County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation, Hawaii Tourism Authority, adidas, GEICO and Gatorade. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Sheraton Maui Resort and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, all from the beautiful Ka’anapali Beach resort area, serve as host hotels for the thousands of fans and boosters who annually accompany their teams to Maui. Northbrook, Ill.-based KemperSports has operated the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational since 1990.

For the 2007 tournament bracket with game days and times as well as the latest tournament schedule, ticket and general information, visit the official EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Web site at http://www.mauiinvitational.com.

Note: The On-site Tournament Box Office (Lahaina Civic Center) opens Friday, Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. (Hawaiian time). The Box Office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the weekend, and on tournament days (Nov. 19-21) from 8 a.m. to the end of the last game. Ticket sales are in-person or by phone at 808.667.DUNK (3865).

About KemperSports
KemperSports Marketing & Communications, an affiliate of Northbrook, Ill.-based KemperSports, is a sports marketing, events and public relations agency, which has produced and managed major national and international events and communications programs, including the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational college basketball tournament and numerous PGA TOUR events. For more information, visit http://www.kempersports.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kent Benson on Sampson

Kent Benson, the All-American center who was a star on the famous Indiana basketball squad of 1976, with an undefeated record, came out earlier this week against Coach Sampson. Quote from the Indy Star article, “I’m absolutely, totally embarrassed for the Indiana basketball program,” Benson said. “They need to do the right thing. If no tolerance means no tolerance, they get rid of him. And Greenspan should be right behind.”

Several other former IU players have weighed in on the subject.

Ted Kitchel, another former All-American who previously criticized Sampson’s hiring by saying he “wouldn’t hire that guy to coach my fifth-grade girls team,” said the new reports suggest Sampson does not believe rules apply to him.

Joe Hillman feels it is embarrassing to the program and the University.

Bobby Wilkerson is the one former IU player who continues to support Sampson, saying “All coaches advertently or inadvertently make those mistakes..."

Michael Jordan and Jeff Jordan on Today Show

I don't personally watch the Today Show, but I would like to see the show with Michael Jordan and his son, Jeff Jordan talking about Illini basketball (story)
According to the News-Gazette, the film crew from the Today Show was in Champaign on Monday filming Michael Jordan, Jeff Jordan and Bruce Weber at a workout.

Illini Talk is also talking about MJ and the Today Show.

Mark Tupper comments on the Today Show, Michael's Ferrari, and how he would save a seat at the Assembly Hall for Michael. I am saving a seat for Jordan at the Maui Invitational next month, if Michael has time to join us for the tourney. (Caution, MJ, Duke will be there.......)

This is really awesome PR for the Illini basketball program. Michael Jordan is the best player in NBA history, in my opinion.

Law Professor calls Indiana recruiting violations "major"

The Indianapolis newspapers are now full of negative articles about the Indiana basketball coaching staff, based on recent revelations about recruiting activites under coach Sampson. This article discloses that the phone calls by the IU coaching staff were actually 35 to 100 in number, and not the 10 that were widely discussed after the initial disclosure by the University.

IndyStar interviewed IUPUI law school dean Gary Roberts, who has some expertise in NCAA enforcement matters. Quoting from the story:

"The 10-member NCAA committee on infractions will decide whether to add further punishments. It could call a hearing to help decide the issue.
The committee is composed of three outside attorneys and seven school employees, including an athletic director, a conference commissioner and a law professor. When the infractions committee decided the Oklahoma case, it determined Sampson's rule-breaking was intentional, saying he "fostered an atmosphere of deliberate non-compliance." The committee added significantly to the self-imposed penalties.
Roberts said he can't predict how the infractions committee will react to the current case because it is apparently unprecedented. Instead of breaking a standard NCAA rule, Sampson broke restrictions imposed by the committee from a previous case.
"I don't even know how it's classified," Roberts said. "I assume it's a 'major' violation."

To the credit of IU basketball fans, many are calling for Sampson to be fired. For those of you who have not had a chance to attend a basketball game in Bloomington Indiana, I can attest that IU fans probably know the game of basketball better than any other fans, and are a very classy group. I attended a game there several years ago when they were defeated by the Illini, and came away very impressed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stan Simpson to join Illini Basketball

As expected here, Stan Simpson committed to Illinois basketball today, representing the first player recruited for the 2008 class. Now that he's an Illini, some background on Stan Simpson:

-Height is 6-10
-Weight is 220
-High School ball at Chicago Leo and Simeon
-Rated 3 stars by Rivals and Scout
-AAU team is Illinois Warriors
-Plays well with back to the basket
-Started playing basketball in high school, rapidly improving player
-Had offers from Arkansas, DePaul, Indiana and Virginia

Stan, welcome to Illini basketball, we are excited to have you for the class of 2008!

Scout Profile

Illinois Prep Bulls-eye

Rivals Summary

Sun-Times Article

Videos on the Web

The News-Gazette

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Coach Sampson in Trouble Again

Well, the Indiana Hoosiers should have known Sampson would bring issues to their basketball program. After all, Sampson had problems following the NCAA rules at Oklahoma before he was hired by Indiana. Now, Sampson is reportedly had a third year of recruiting irregularities in the past three years. I will try to find some time to dig into this developing story, but in the meantime, try reading some columns from the Indy Star.

It will be interesting to see the reaction within the Big 10 conference, as well as the reaction from the NCAA, especially that of its President, Miles David Brand, who fired Bob Knight when he was President at Indiana University.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mike Tisdale

Mike Tisdale apparently has a 34 inch vertical jump and might be on the floor at times with Pruitt, since Mike has a nice shooting touch, good passing skills and a hook shot with either hand. Tisdale is mentioned very favorably in this Daily Herald article

Friday, October 12, 2007

News articles about new Illini Recruits

Here's a fairly positive article from the Sun-Times on the three new guards.

Favorable article in the Chicago Tribune, but they need to learn how to spell Weber (only one b guys.....)

Jereme Richmond comments on new guards for 2009

Here's a nice article about Jereme's visit to the Illinois campus and his views of the three commitments from this past week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Joseph Bertrand Confirmed by Multiple Sources

OK, I am now convinced that Joseph Bertrand has committed to Illinois. It seems like Joseph's commitment was late in the day, but it is now being confirmed on multiple websites. See below stories on this third big commitment today. And there are rumors that a fourth is coming before the weekend is over, and the rumors are mostly centered around Stan Simpson from the Class of 2008.

Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye


Interesting Article by Taylor Bell making today's commitments seem like no big deal

Joe Henricksen Comments on Today

Chicago Hoops Scoops Bertrand Annoucement

Joseph Bertrand is apparently also going to Illinois from the Class of 2009. I hope Brian Stinnett of Chicago Hoops is sure of this announcement. He seems to be the one with the breaking news. Read his story on Bertrand and this top notch class of 2009.

Bruce Weber is Reloading in 2009!

It looks like three big recruits for today, maybe one more tomorrow. The Illini Madness celebration should be really special this year, with the new recruits, the pink shirts and the new season ahead of us.

DJ Richardson
Brandon Paul
Joseph Bertrand

DJ Richardson confirmed by Scout

Here's an article from Scout.com that confirms the Richardson announcement. Story

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DJ Richardson Profile from Rivals.com

DJ Richardson Summary and Rivals Profile

-Four Star Rated Player per Rivals
-Height is 6-3
-Weight is 170
-Class of 2009
-Shooting Guard, ranked #9 nationally at SG
-Ranked #54 for the 2009 Class
-From Peoria, IL

MidStateHoops.com Presents Joseph Bertrand

Another guy the Illini are recruiting. This guy would be awesome to add for the class of 2009!

MidStateHoops.com Presents DJ Richardson

Here's a nice video on DJ Richardson.

DJ Richardson expected to announce for Illini tomorrow

According to HOI 19 Sports, DJ Richardson is expected to announce he has selected Illinois for his college choice. This would confirm earlier rumors (following Jerrance Howard being hired as an assistant coach) that DJ is headed to play for the Illini.

This will be a huge boost to the Illini and Jerrance Howard and Bruce Weber tomorrow, since the past recruiting season has not been easy for the program, and DJ Richardson is a highly regarded shooting guard from Peoria. We will follow this one closely, but it sounds very positive. Apparently, Bruce Weber is headed to Peoria for the announcement tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Nice Article about Chester Frazier's Background

Here is a long but very worthwhile article from the News-Gazette about Chester Frazier, his background and his relationship with his late father. If this article doesn't help you appreciate Chester Frazier, nothing will.

Insights from Paul Klee's Blog

According to Paul Klee's blog, Stan Simpson of Simeon was impressed during his campus visit to Champaign this past weekend, and will try to make a decision between Illinois and Arkansas in the next couple of weeks.

Also, Joseph Bertrand of Sterling, class of 2009 recruit, was on the Illinois campus for a visit today.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Basketball Tickets on Sale this Month

For those of you excited about the upcoming basketball season, tickets go on sale this month.

Men's basketball single-game tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m., Oct. 29th. Individuals may order by phone (333-3470) or toll free at 866-ILLINI-1, in person at the Athletics Ticket Office (Assembly Hall) or online at www.fightingillini.com.

Let's fill up the Assembly Hall for all of the home games this year. Go Illini!

Articles about Stan Simpson and DJ Richardson

Here are some interesting articles from Illinois Prep Bulls-eye about Stan Simpson and DJ Richardson. Bulls-eye thinks Illinois has a really good shot at landing both of them, but Richardson is expected to wait awhile before he commits. Article

Remaining 2008 Basketball Recruits

Assuming the Illini continue the hunt to sign someone from the 2008 class, the remaining possibilities that are known are as follows:

Devoe Joseph, a Canadian shooting guard that sounds a little like Jamar Smith from a basketball standpoint. Joseph is listing nine major programs with offers on Scout.com, so he seems like a longshot at this point.

Stan Simpson, a big man (6-9) from the Public League, visited campus this past weekend with his coach Robert Smith. Simpson would be a nice commitment, since we have no verbals yet for the class, and he is from Chicago's Simeon high school.

Renaldo Woolridge, a forward who is the son of Orlando Woolridge, has the Illini listed along with Georgetown, USC, Tennessee and Marquette. He seems like a longshot, but it would be nice to have two ex-Chicago Bulls in the stands next season. Profile

Verdell Jones, a big point guard prospect from Champaign Central, needs an offer from the Illini, and maybe they could land him. He lists Illinois, Kansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Oregon, Texas, Virginia on Scout.com.

Justin Watts is a 6-4 shooting guard from Durham, North Carolina. He sounds like an awesome guy to land for this class. He lists Clemson, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, East Carolina, Fairfield, George Mason, and Penn State, which make the Illini the best choice for basketball, although Virginia might also be a good one for him. Profile

Deividas Dulkys has an interesting name, and he plays shooting guard for Henderson, NV high school. He lists the following schools: California, Florida State, Miami (Fl), Oregon, San Diego State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Mississippi, Fresno State, Oregon State, and Tennessee. Scout Profile

The other way to go is redshirt two of the 2007 recruits, so that Bruce has a hybrid class of 2008. Plus, there are so many walk-ons with decent quality, we should be OK for awhile. The 2009 class in Illinois is very deep with guards, so maybe that is the year of the guard for us.

Tribune Article on Mario Little going to Kansas

This is really getting to be an old story, with recruit after recruit opting to go other places rather than Champaign, when it comes to basketball. The latest Tribune article about Mario Little's decision does not help recruiting in Chicago.

Mario Little to Kansas

Mario Little announced tonight that he is going to Kansas after all (story), as predicted here earlier.

It seems appropriate that Mario selected Kansas, based on their winning tradition, many opening slots for playing time next season, and Bill Self's incredible recruiting success when going up against Illinois.

Football Team now ranked 18th and 19th

The new rankings are out for football, and Illinois is now ranked 18th (AP) and 19th (USA Today), not bad for a program that has been in turnaround mode. Great job, Ron Zook and Ron Guenther!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Weekend Wish List for Illini Fans

Good morning Illini Fans! It would be an awesome weekend if we could have all of the following:

-Saturday football victory over Wisconsin, game starts in about 10 minutes.

-Cubs victory over the Diamondbacks, avoid an embarrassing sweep in the playoffs.

-Verbal commitment from Mario Little on Sunday, first recruiting win over Bill Self of Kansas.

I'm not sure if any one of these is very realistic, however. Maybe the Cubs can win today.....I need to check who is pitching.

Friday, October 5, 2007

McLaughlin Commits to Nevada

As expected, McLaughlin gave a verbal commitment to Nevada today according to Scout, apparently Nevada was in the lead the entire time. It is difficult to get the West Coast kids to come to Champaign, I guess.

Mark seems like a great recruit for Nevada, so good luck to you Mark.

Sounds like a Little Announcement on Sunday

Here's a hint that Mario Little will announce his decision on Sunday, according to an interview with his JC coach. Story

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Latest Report on Mario Little

According to the Munster Indiana newspaper website nwi.com, the latest on Mario Little is as follows:

"WASHINGTON'S LITTLE CONSIDERS ILLINI: Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber is waiting to hear from 6-foot-5 junior college recruit Mario Little, the Times Illinois Player of the Year at Washington for 2006 who has become an explosive wing player at Chipola Junior College in Florida.

Little visited campus this past weekend and is expected to choose between Kansas, Kansas State and Illinois.

Reports Tuesday indicated that Kansas State visited Little in Florida on Monday, with Kansas expected in on Tuesday. Weber is scheduled to see Little today before he makes his decision."


No announcement from Mario Little yet......

Tuesday and Wednesday have come and gone, with no announcement from Mr. Little. It is not surprising, since recent reports had him meeting with coaches from each of the three finalist schools on Tuesday and Wednesday, prior to making his decision. So the actual announcement of his decision would happen on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. I would not want to guess at this point.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Illini Madness 2007

Take a look at Bruce Weber in his pink Illini Madness t-shirt. This will be quite an event!

Click on the title for the official Illini Madness website and more information.

More information here

Mario Little's Decision this week........

So the word is Mario Little will make his decision this week between Kansas, Illinois and Kansas State. Mario visited Champaign over the past weekend, worked out with the players, watched the football game, and enjoyed the visit. Apparently, Jerrance Howard knows Mario Little, and both Jerrance and Bruce will be visiting Mario in Florida this week. Mario will also be seeing Kansas and Kansas State in Florida this week as he prepares to make this important decision about his future.

Some comments from a Kansas website.

Maybe the Illini have a chance here, but my gut still says it's Kansas.