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College basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson is chatting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday this week due to his trip to Nebraska (boy is he lucky). Submit questions any time.
Good afternoon, thanks for stopping by for another Illinois basketbal chat. Maybe a little more pleasant this week in light of the recent win? I'll be here for about an hour or so to answer your questions.
Just don't ask me who's going to win Sunday, or ever. I've demonstrated my ineptitude in calling winners. Like any coach or player, I've been offered advice from all corners.
Let's get this going.
Marcus, even though they won at Nebraska this team still took many bad shots. I'm all for freedom to shoot if the shot is available but these guys are taking it to a new level. What does it take for this group of gents to realize that bad offensive possessions lead to easy points for the opposition?<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
There were a few bad shots, but I don't think any more than usual. The coaches say they average about five bad shots per game and I'd say they were right on that figure at Lincoln. Sure, you'd like to be at zero, but that's not going to happen, no matter who you are. I do think Brandon Paul forced a few shots against the Huskers, considering that he could get to the basket at almost any time, but when he's your playmaker and your go-to guy on the offensive end, you live with that.
While they had plenty of success in the new system early in the season, it's still very much a work in progress and the players are continuing to master the concepts of the offense.
Loren Tate made an interesting comment the other day (after the OSU game but before the Nebraska game) to the effect that Illinois can beat Big10 teams but only if a player scores 30 points. I'm not sure if I have Loren's exact words correct, but you get the point. Loren is right that that only two Big10 wins were on days that an Illinois player had a career or near-career night, scoring 30 points. Is that what it will take to beat Big10 teams?
I'm not familiar with what Loren saidm but there's something to be said for that. Nnanna Egwu had a big game against Ohio State and D.J. went nuts against Nebraska.
I don't think it takes a career night from any one player to win in the league. It really does have to be a collective effort, but you do need your players to make plays. So to answer your question, I believe you can win games without guys having career nights. Youjust need everyone to play up to or close to their capabilities all at the same time.
do you think a 7 - 11 conference record will get us into the NCAA tourney?
I think you almost certainly get in at 8-10, but 7-11 and it might take a couple of wins in the Big Ten tournament at the United Center to get in. Those wins against Butler, Gonzaga and Ohio State will be real nice on the resume come March. Another win against an upper-level Big Ten team along with taking care of business against the others (Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue, etc.) will leave the Illini in good shape.
One of the biggest weaknesses on this years roster is rebounding. Question is do you see it getting any better next season or in the future? Losing Sam and DJ who is a good rebouniding guard doesnt help the cause
It will hurt to lose those guys, but I feel like Nnanna Egwu is turning the corner on the glass at both ends. He will be a force as his career goes on. Don't forget you're getitng Rayvonte Rice next season, too, a big guard who averaged close to six rebounds last year at Drake. Joseph Bertrand is a good rebounder. Those will be your top guys already on the roster. If Maverick Morgan and Austin Colbert can come in and contribute, that's a plus and Malcolm Hill is a big guard.
I don't know if they'll be better than they are this year, but they've got enough guys who have some ability.
Hey Marcus, With the recruiting offers that Groce has out,do you think he would not re-new a few to make room for new blood in the lineup . If you don't want to answer that question why not just ask the coach . He seems to be an upright kinda guy . Maybe he'd tell us what most are wondering.
I'll ask him, but as upstanding as he always is, I'm not sure he would be willing to answer the question publicly in the middle of the season. Might not be good for chemistry if the coach is making public remarks about if and how he might go about making room on the roster for potential recruits. But I will ask.
my observation of most bigten teams is the top tier are mentally physically tough, with the illini having laspes and not being consistentiently physically tough do you think will get enough wins to ge to the dance! Ihavent seen the leauge this competitve in a while anyone can get beat any night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good observation. I watched the Northwestern-Minnesota game last night. That was ugly basketball, difficult to watch. I guess Northwestern brings that out of teams because of the Big Ten teams I've seen in person this year, Minnesota has been the most impressive. It is competitive, though.
Illinois has mental toughness in it, but the problem has been getting that on a consistent basis. I do think the players-only meeting helped the other day, but how long will that last?
Will Illinois get enough wins to get into the Dance? Have you seen my prediction record? I feel like most Illinois fans would want me to answer this by saying no, they won't.
Do you think we'll get back to three guys knocking down triples at the same time?
Also, what are our advantages going into the Michigan game?
I think they've got too many good shooters to not all be on the same page again at some point this season. Tyler Griffey is going to make shots again, he will. He got good looks the other night. Most want to know if Illinois has what it takes to get into the tournament. They're in as of right now, but they need to start making shots again to give themselves the best chance.
Not sure that Illinois has any real advantages against Michigan. That might be the most complete team in the country. Kansas is pretty close to that, too.
Michigan has shooters, a great point guard, Hardaway can get to the basket, they've got depth inside, too.
What's with the recent technical fouls called on Coach Groce? Watching the broadcast doesn't give the full story of what happened. Does he say the magic word? Does he have a high pitched scream that ticks off officials? Does he keep badgering about a call that was earlier in the game? Are the officials trying to show the new guy his place? What's up?
Still Frozen In Minnesota
Groce has a tendency to get fired up on the sidelines. He felt some calls were going against his team against Northwestern and he let the officials know about it throughout. I felt like he probably deserved a technical earlier than when he actually got it. When he was whistled for the technical, he was talking to one official and Jim Burr T'd him up clear from the other side of the floor. I didn't think that was right. He wasn't talking to Burr.
At Nebraska, I forget what the actual call was, but he didn't like it and he wandered a bit onto the court while letting Bo Boroski have it, Boroski T'd him up. Boroski has been bad this season in the Illinois games he's called.
Against Northwestern, he used some salty language, not when he got the T, but at times leading up to the T, so it wasn't the magic word(s) that got him. It was building through the game.
We don't sit on the floor at Nebraska so I couldn't hear his words, but I'd imagine he used a few not fit for broadcast. He's not the only coach in the league who swears. I think John Beilein might be the only one who keeps it PG.
That's going to do it for today. Thanks again for stopping by, lots of good stuff. I better get going so I can get to work on making a prediction for Sunday. Like athletes, you've got to work on your weaknesses and I'll be working on that part of my game until Sunday.