Ask Brian Barnhart about John Groce's Illini, Tim Beckman's future and which teams will be No. 15 and No. 16 in the Big Ten? He's chatting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday but submit questions any time.
Good morning and welcome to the chat for today. Big win by Illini basketball last night in ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Late night...but a good one.
Lets get started...
If Beckman is staying, will Illinois hire new coordinators. These coaches are the worse I have seen at Illinois. There will be some pretty good coordinators out there with all the fireings in the SEC and other BCS conferences.
My guess is that there will be some changes on the staff...either through guys getting offered other jobs...or being asked to leave. Nothing too unusual about that.... because it happens every year in a lot of places. Read just about any biography of the assistant football coaches across the country and they are seemingly always on the move to somewhere else.
Obviously... any potential changes on the Illini staff will be under the public microscope locally because of the 2-10 season. A lot of fans will want to see a new approach in several areas and I know that Tim Beckman and Mike Thomas will be looking at the football program from every angle in the next few weeks to try and determine what worked...and what did not work this year.
Have you guys ever seen a greater difference made with a new coach? A first year coach?
I'm not a Weber hater and I always thought he was a pretty good coach whose stay wore thin in his last season (ala Ditka in '92).
But even under Weber, I always asked why a team of athletes with guys who could run never did. Now they run; and the Illini are now leading the nation in 3-point shooting. That's a shock.
It looks like an entirely new team out there. So I ask, have you ever seen a new coach come in and make such a difference?
It is pretty remarkable that the players are basically the same from last year...minus an NBA draft pick in Meyers Leonard...and yet are playing so well.
I think the improved play is a combination of factors. One....you have the core of the scoring coming from seniors and Joe Bertrand. Two..since they lost so many games last year...the guys have bought in to what John Groce is saying and teaching and they have caught on to his style of play pretty quickly. I think John Groce is pleased with how the guys have been open and receptive to his ideas.
I looked it up to see if a new coach at Illinois has had such an impact in his first year. Found it interesting that Lou Henson followed Gene Bartow's 8-18 season in 1974-75 with a 14-13 record the next season. Mike White took over in football for Gary Moeller in 1980...and while generating a lot of excitement with ticket sales....the team only improved by one game from Moeller's last year in 1979 (2-8-1 to 3-7-1).
Remember Illinois did start 15-3 last year....so these same guys did have some success early in the season. The problem was that once the pressure mounted on the players and Coach Weber...the season collapsed.
I do like the attacking style of offense...the 3 point shooting...and switching to a zone once in a while to change things up a little. So far...so good.
Why so many empty seats last night? Loooked really bad on TV
Dont know why. I thought a lot of the student section in the upper portion of the arena was also empty...and that was disappointing. The crowd that was there was great and made a lot of noise.
Maybe the midweek 8 pm start had an effect? Too bad for those who were not there. They missed an exciting atmosphere.
Is Indiana for real? Is everyone else in the B1G playing for second place?
They look pretty good to me. North Carolina is pretty young...and based on what I saw in Maui...they still have some improving to do. My guess is that they will.
Indiana has all the parts you need to make a deep run. Big man that can score. Great point guard. A shooting guard that has unlimited range and plays with a fiery passion. Athletic wing players. Passionate fan base that stuck with them through some lean times the last few years.
I can see why they are going to be hard to beat.
Besides win, what does Tim Beckman have to do to mend PR fences with Illini fans?
As Al Davis famously said..."Just win ....baby".
Coach Beckman was very involved this past year in selling the program. He was heavily invested in the Champaign-Urbana community.
After a disappointing season...fans will appreciate all of those efforts. But they also want to see some positive results on the field.
How much more difficult is it to call games when the football team has a season like the Illini had this fall? I would imagine it is hard not to let the general vibe surrounding the team affect your broadcast.
Also, have you heard if there will be another coach's caravan in the Spring, and if so, will you be a part of it again? My family and I attended the one in St. Louis and thouroughly enjoyed meeting you and all of the coaches and players who attended.
I imagine there wlll be more caravan events next spring/summer. Those were very well received by the public and the coaches really enjoyed getting out and meeting the fans.
Doing sports broadcasts for teams that are not winning can be challenging. But I try to be honest and present the games in a professional manner...no matter what the record is ...or the score of the game(s). . I dont need to tell you the team is struggling....you can figure that out on your own. My job is to paint the picture of what is happening...describe the action...and make you as the listener feel like you are at the game yourself.
How the team performs doesnt change the way I do my job.
Hopefully I will get the chance to visit with you again sometime!
Hi Brian -
I know you've probably talked about this in the past, but can you elaborate on the differences between preparation for basketball games and football games in terms of the broadcast? Do you have a reference between the two?
Football games require a lot more preparation due to the number of players involved. Lots of players on offense and defense to get arranged on the scoresheet...where they are from...stats, etc. I usually spend a lot of time gathering information about the opponents....putting that information into a format where I can recall the information quickly during the broadcast. I also have a lot of help in the booth with a spotter (Mark Schultz)...stat guys (Michael Kiser and Tim Ditman) and of course ....color commentary (Kurt Kittner) Add in Steve Kelly and Ed Bond...and It really is a team effort to put on a good broadcast.
Basketball scoresheets are a little easier to prepare. Fewer players and less informaton needed because the game moves at a pretty quick pace. I usually gather the important information like shooting percentages...rebounding, assists, etc. I also gather information (like in football) about the opponents. How their season has gone....where they are from (especially for non-conference games). The broadcast itself requires a smaller crew...just me...Jerry Hester and Ed Bond.
The football game prep takes about 5-6 hours a week on average. Basketball game prep for me takes a couple of hours total. But there are more basketball games to do of course (30 or more...as opposed to just 12 football games)
Thanks for asking!
Good questions today! Looking forward to a weekend off....Will be ready with the first John Groce Radio Show at Buffalo Wild Wings in Savoy on Monday night at 7 pm...and then the game with Western Carolina next Tuesday night.
Talk to you later!