Jan. 30 MJ college basketball chat

Jan. 30 MJ college basketball chat

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 12:30pm

Any chance Illinois wins at Michigan State? Or that JaQuan Lyle picks Illinois? Or that the Assembly Hall renovation actually happens? Ask anything of beat writer Marcus Jackson, who is chatting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Submit questions any time.

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Good afternoon, thanks for stopping by for another Illinois basketball chat. I'll be here for a little less than an hour, have to get over to Ubben to talk to the players about tomorrow night's game at Michigan State.

Let's go ahead and get started.

FonDoc wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Mr. Jackson,

I have seen Simeon play twice on tv now and I think Tate is under ranked by the services. Don't you think his skills are overshadowed by his teammates talent? If we could somehow get Okafor and Peak I would be buying final four tickets!! No pressure Coach!


Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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From everything I've been hearing out of Chicago, Jaylon Tate has been very impressive this season for Simeon. A coach recently told me that when he was at De La Salle, he performed at a high level because it was a more free-flowing system, he just played. When he got to Simeon, it took some time for him to adjust because things were so structured and there were already so many established players with defined roles. Now, he's a year into the system and he's the top guy at point guard. His true skillset is starting to show.

How that will translate when he gets here remains to be seen, but the performance and progress so far this season has to be encouraging.

St Pete Dan wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

John Groce had teams close well at Ohio.  This team has seniors that fade down the stretch.  What are the odds that Coach Groce can turn this team into a good team at the end of the year? 

How would you grade the Illini players basketball IQ?



Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Groce's last couple of teams at Ohio were comprised primarily of guys he had coached for a few years, so it helps when there's continuity on the roster.

The chance these guys can close the season on a high note remains a possibility. After this brutal stretch they're currently in that ends with a game at Minnesota, five of your last seven games are against Purdue, Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska and Iowa. The other two are at Michigan and at Ohio State. If you can win four, even five of those games, that bodes well for postseason prospects.

The coaches seem to be encouraged with the effort of the players in recent weeks and if they weren't, they'd say so. it comes down to making a few more shots. If they make shots, they'll be OK.

Across the boards, the basketball IQs aren't off the charts. There will be some mistakes to overcome.

Konnie wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for the chats.  I really enjoy them.

I attended the Michigan game.  When Illinois was starting to make a run at Michigan, it seemed like Illinois would turn the ball over.  Paul made two of the turnovers that continue to bother me.  Each time, he was dribbling across the court away from Illinois’ bench and a Michigan defender stole the ball from him.  The steal turn into an easy lay-up or dunk which killed the run.  Is Paul trying to do too much,  is he not following the coaches’ scheme or is this just a couple of mental lapses?



Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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He's following the scheme and at times he's trying to make plays. He's their best player, so you've got to live with that some times. Other times, he just has a mental lapse, as you said, it's something we've seen throughout his career. A lot of players do that. I do think there are times when all of the Illinois players try to do a little too much. It's not for selfish reasons, they just so badly want to make a big play or do whatever it takes to get the team over the hump. They need to be more patient and let things happen within the context of the game plan.

myattitude wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm


I believe most people are realizing that the main problem with the current Illinois basketball team is that they lack the talent to handle the competition with the better teams in the Big Ten even though they seem to do well in non-conference games against mostly mid-majors. This pattern has repeated to a large part all four years the current seniors have played.

They seem to be a hot team with the three point shot in most of the non-conference schedule and against some of the Big Ten teams such as Ohio State at times. In the Big Ten the three point shooting cools off and ball handling I believe is more of a problem for them.

I don't think you can always say if team A beats team B and team B beats team C that A will most likely beat team C because how the teams match up in skill, size, and other attributes has more to do with who wins in many cases.  Height, speed, or ball handling differences may change the odds. I do agree the significantly more talented team will usually win, however.

I have long felt that the current senior guards are fairly tall (especially Bertrand and Paul but to lesser degree Richardson) which allows them to have a significant height advantage plus perhaps a slight speed advantage over most of the shorter mid-major team guards they play in the non-conference. This  allows an easier and more comfortable three point shot for them. (As Tate says they can all hit three pointers all day - unguarded.)

When they hit the Big Ten they lose any speed and especially the height advantage at guard plus the opposing forwards and centers tend to be bigger than in the mid-majors. I suspect this is why their three point shooting dies in the Big Ten along with potentially fewer assists and more turnovers resulting in the big slump in wins.

What is your thoughts on this theory? I never hear anyone mention it but everyone is always wondering about the three point shooting slump. I think it is a direct effect of the level of talent they are playing.

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Wow, that was a lot to take in. I'll try to get to the nut of your question.

I don't think the reason Illinois has struggled shooting in conference play has much to do with bigger, stronger athletes contesting the shots. They're missing open looks, just flat out missing them. It's not like they've got guys all over them with hands in the face.

The bottom line is if they want to win more games, they're going to have to take advantage of the open looks and knock them down.

Anonymous Jim wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

The one thing I had not realized until the B1G season began, is how much mental toughness this recruiting group lacked. Do you know if this a characteristic Groce is looking into with the new recruits?<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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They're very much looking for that with the players they've gone after in recruiting. The guys at Ohio who stand out are D.J. Cooper, a point guard from Chicago and walter Offutt, the Ohio State transfer. Those guys were tough.

Of the class they've got coming in, they like the competitiveness and their toughness. Plus, it'll help having them in the system from Day 1 as opposed to trying to mold them a few years in.

jturner wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Last week you mentioned that the team is "continuing to master the concepts of the offense".  Could you please describe to us what the concepts of the offense are and how they are supposed to be implemented.  The only thing I see on a consistent basis is one on one play and jacking threes (often without a rebounder in sight).

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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The biggest thing is knowing when to push the tempo and when to set things up and run some halfcourt stuff. The primary action of the offense is the ball screen and then reading things from there. The timing of when to cut, when to set the screen, etc. is what these guys are still trying to figure out. It's mainly just having a feel. The three-point shot is a big part of it because it's a strength of the personnel (which it has struggled with for some time now). It seems as though it's not working now because they're not making shots. They've been running their stuff better, just not converting. They missed at least three layups Sunday and had plenty of open looks from the arc that didn't go down.

Trent from danville wrote on January 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Hey mj .  Great to see the two illni commits on simeon carry the team in the win over whitney young.  i noticed the last few times i have seen simeon play the player that really stood out to me is the pollard kid.  i think we missed out on him.  Looks like a tough hard nosed player would be great for big ten ball

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Kendall Pollard, a 6-7 forward is who you're talking about. He's committed to Dayton. He's a nice player, didn't have any Big Ten offers. Picked Dayton over Rhode Island. He might turn out to be a nice player, but don't think Big ten teams thought he was consistent enough.

Dano in Houston 2 wrote on January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

How in the world can one of the supposed best shooters on the team, Tyler Griffey, be in such a prolonged and dreadful 3 point slump?  It's not like he takes alot of bad or contested shots.  I just don't get it.

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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It's hard to explain. It's just one of those things. Mechanically, things look good. Could be a confidence thing. Once you miss a few, it gets in your head and it builds up until you knock one down. They're sticking with him and encouraging him to continue to shoot more.

I've really like the way Griffey has been more aggressive on the boards. He had a tip dunk Sunday against Michigan and just missed another one. A fan at Nebraska was real upset with Gruffey's physicalness last week. He called his a cheater and vicious. Not exactly two words that come to mind when talking about Tyler Griffey. That tells you how he's made strides there.

Railsplitter wrote on January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Marcus,  You said you would ask Groce about letting players go to make room .... Answer ?

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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I apologize, I forgot to ask the question this week. I will bring it up. If I don't stay on me, I'll get you an answer.

Marcus Jackson wrote on January 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Sorry for cutting it short, I've got to run over to practice to talk to the players. If there's anything you need, send me an email (mjackson@news-gazette.com) and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Talk to you all tomorrow night from the Breslin Center.