Dec. 19 Braggin' Rights chat

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 12:30pm

Ask basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson who wins Saturday's Illinois-Missouri game, why he still has the Tigers ahead of the Illini on his AP ballot and where John Groce stacks up in the Coach of the Year competition. He's chatting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday but submit questions any time.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:32 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Good afternoon, folks. Thanks for stopping by for another chat today. Big week for the Illini with the Braggin' Rights game coming up on Saturday. This might be one of the more anticipated matchups in recent memory.

Did anyone watch Missouri the other night? The Tigers still look pretty solid without Michael Dixon on the team anymore. Oregon transfer Jabari Brown had 12 points in his debut the other night. South Carolina State is no powerhouse, however.

I'll be here for a while to answer your questions. Here we go.

Anonymous Jim — 12:34 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Marcus, after the Finke commitment, how many scholarships do the Illini have left for the 2014 class and has Groce ever express his opinion on redshirting?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:36 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Anonymous Jim,

The Illini don’t currently have any scholarships available for the2014 class, but they have offers out for players in that class, notably Larry Austin Jr. Jahlil Okafor. Redshirting players is  not something he made a habit of at Ohio. The only players who redshirted there were transfers and injured players. If the guys coming into the program next year can help, they’ll play.

Anonymous User — 12:39 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

can illini play a different zone ,maybe 3 2 zone with a big in the piont agaist 3piont shooting teams

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:40 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Anonymous User,

A 3-2 zone would probably be more of a 1-2-2, but I’m not sure having a big at the point against good-shooting teams would work because he might have a tough time chasing those smaller guys around the perimeter to close out on shooters. They like what they’ve gotten out of their zone to this point while mixing it with the man-to-man. What we’ve seen so far is this staff isn’t afraid to mix things up and they’ll make whatever necessary adjustments they see fit.

illini dan — 12:43 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

It looks like Illinois still has numerous offers out to many of the current h.s. juniors.  After Finke committed, I didn't think that the team has any more scholarships available for next year's class.  How do you reconcile the number of current offers outstanding for 2013-14 players with the number of available scholarships and how would you decribe the priorities and recruiting strategy for the 13-14 class?  Thanks!

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:46 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Illini Dan,

With Finke in the fold, there are currently no scholarships available for the 2014 class, but Illinois is still recruiting players in that class. It’s often said “things usually work themselves out” though it’s hard to say how it will be worked out and what the attrition will be in the program. There were something like 400 transfers last year in college basketball, so who knows what will happen. With Finke in 2014 and Colbert in 2013 Illinois is happy to have a pair of big men who can run the floor and stretch the defense. They’d like to add a big-time post player like Okafor, but you’ll probably start to see more of an emphasis on picking up a dynamic point guard in the future classes.

naplesIllini71 — 12:49 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Our Bigs are not rebounding machines, granted that, but here's a hunch: the Coach is also being clever in using them to enable our guards to get more rebounds. Can you comment on this?


Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:52 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


I don’t know if he’s necessarily schemed it that way for the guards to get so many rebounds, but that’s the way it has worked out. Groce made mention a couple of weeks ago that the big men actually have done a good job of clearing guys out of the paint on shots and that’s opened lanes for the guards to come in and clean up the boards. He’s not concerned that the big guys aren’t grabbing a lot of boards, just glad that someone wearing his team’s uniform is getting them. They will have issues once conference play rolls around rebounding and some other facet of their game (shooting, forcing turnovers, etc.) have to be better than normal to over come that. Illinois’ rebounding margin of plus-3.8 is 10th in the Big Ten.

wandresen — 12:55 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


What do you think our standing is with 2015 Chicago recruits like DJ Williams and Charles Matthews? Are we leading, can there really be a leader at this point?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:58 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


It’s really early with both those guys, but I guess it’s never too early when you’re talking recruiting. Illinois is in good shape, so far. D.J. Williams was on the road with Simeon this weekend, but Cavan Walsh, who does a great job as a recruiting analyst for, said Williams’ parents were at the Eastern Kentucky game on Sunday. That’s got to be a good thing and it helps that he’s got two teammates coming here to play. Williams did pick up an offer from Florida over the weekend.

Illinois is recruiting both of those guys hard, they're priorities in 2015 along with Carlton Bragg, a 6-8 power forward out of Cleveland.

Louis — 01:01 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


Why does the Illinois-Missouri game have to be in St Louis every year? Why can't they alterate neutral sites between Chicago for Illinois fans and St Louis for Missouri fans every other year? Missouri caught a huge break when the game is in Missouri every year.

Also, it's starting to upset me seeing this team play down to their competition, teams that Duke and Kansas would blow away, Illinois seems ready to lie down and give away? I had really hoped Coach Groce would do away with that soft and casual attitude left over from Weber.



Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:06 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


St. Louis, while on the Missouri side of the river, in my opinion is the perfect place to have the game. If the game was in Chicago, it would be hard to replicate the atmosphere where there’s that 50-50 split of fans — there would be far more Illinois fans there and while that’s a positive thing for people who read this site, I think the best climate for that game is to have both fan bases equally represented. I do not think Missouri gains any advantage with the game being in their state. If they moved the Scottrade Center 5 miles to the east, would the Illini have an advantage because it’s in Illinois?

I get what you’re saying about the slow starts, it’s troubling and will probably cost them a game or two at some point if it continues. The offense has struggled at times, but the defense has been greatly overlooked. Eastern Kentucky scored 20 points in the first half, that was the fewest the Illini had allowed this season. While the slow starts are troubling, the way they’ve been able to close out games and pull away when they haven’t had their best night is encouraging. That’s an area they’ve taken strides from previous years.

I watched Ohio State and Michigan State last night and it was almost like watching an Illini game where they struggle for a while against an inferior opponent, then pull away.

Trent from danville — 01:06 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Whats up MJ?  Is the Illini gonna give us a early christmas present with a win sat?  I am worried about defending the big guy who transferred from conn to mizzou


Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:11 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


I think it's a toss up. Alex Oriakhiis going to be a load. He's averaging 10.6 points and 8.6 boards, but the guy to really worry about is Laurence Bowers (16.3, 6.4) and he's shooting 60 percent from three (12 for 20) at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds. They'll give Illinois problems in the paint. Plus you've got to deal with Phil Pressey, who many consider to be one of the top point guards in the country.

Where I think Illinois will have an advantage is coaching. Should be a fun matchup.

CareerhighforGriffeyagainstMizzou — 01:12 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

What team are we likely to see in this next game, the one that showed up at Gonzaga or the one that's played at the assembly hall the past couple games? Does the pressure of impressing fans at home have an impact on their performance of do you think there has been other issues affecting their consistency?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:16 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012


With the atmosphere being what it's going to be with a big-time opponent on the other side, I'd think you'll see the illinois team that showed up at Gonzaga. Plus, it's all basketball for these guys now with school being out and finals being over, that should help. The home struggles are really kind of weird. I'm not sure if anything other than just not getting it going offensively early can be attributed to that. 

They played with a chip on their shoulder in Maui and at Gonzaga. They'll feel like underdogs going into this game even though they're ranked higher and that is what has driven them in other big games this season.

john boy — 01:17 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

Marcus,   Haven't seen an update for awhile regarding ex-Illini in the pro leagues overseas. McCamey, Davis,Tisdale, Cole, etc.  Know anything? Thanks for the chats.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:24 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

John Boy,

How's the swing?

McCamey and Davis are both in the NBA D-League right now. McCamey is with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and is averaging two points in nine minutes per game in seven appearances. The Vipers are an affiliate of the Houston Rockets.

Davis is with the Sioux Falls SkyForce (they're affiliated with the Heat, 76ers, Timberwolves and Magic). Davis has played in eight games, averaging six points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes per game.

Tisdale, last I heard, had some back issues and was not playing. Cole played in England last year, but I'll have to get an update on his current status.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:27 PM on Wed, 12/19/2012

That'll do it for today. Thanks for stopping by. Check with us throughout the weekend for a look back at past Braggin' Rights memories from former player and coaches. We've been posting comments on our Facebook page the last few days from former Illini

Enjoy the game this weekend, I'll start a Live Report from the Scorttrade Center a little after 3 on Saturdayor whenever they let me in the building.

Happy Holidays.