Basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson will chat at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in advance of No. 1 Indiana's visit to the Assembly Hall. Submit questions in advance or follow along when he starts typing.
Good afternoon, welcome to another Illinois basketball chat. I'm told there's a game tonight against a team that's supposed to be pretty good. Anyone know anything about that? I'll be here for a while answering your questions.
Spent the morning at the Illini Chabad speaking with Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel about former Illinois star Tal Brody. The Chabad will be hosting a recepton at 4 p.m. at the IHotel on Wednesday ahead of the Purdue game where Brody's jersey will join the others in the Illini honored jerseys program.
Here's more information on that if you would like to attend:
Fire away with questions.
Last week you alluded to the fact that the general Basketball IQ on this team being pretty bad. As fans, I don't think that is shocking to anyone, especially at the guard play where higher basketball IQ is essential. Do you think basketball IQ can be taught or is it something people have or don't have? What do various coaches do to try and increase a player's basketball intelligence? How do coaches feel about this?
I think in general it's something that you just have and develop over time in playing the game. There are some things that can be taught, but like anything else, there has to be some natural ability.
A lot of it comes from how you played the ame at a young age when habits were formed. A guy like Nnanna Egwu, who has only been playing for a few years, has more room to grow in the regard than most of the other guys on the roster, who have been playing since they were 6, 7 years old.
I think watching film and watching other players who play the game a certain way can help guys see what needs to be done and when on the court.
Marcus, ever since the Northwestern game, one of the most disturbing things I have seen is Illini defenders switching at the top of the key such that we have a big man trying to defend a guard or a guard trying to defend a big who rolls down to the basket and posts up. This defense has resulted in a veritable layup drill against us, whereby either the guard drives right to the basket against our big man for a lay up, or he passes to the big who gets an easy lay up or a foul. The most idiotic result of this defense was last Sunday where twice the six foot Mike LaTulip was forced to guard the seven foot Kaminsky, and Kaminsky got a layup and two free throws. I would hate to see the number of layups that teams like Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisonsin have gotten against this defense, but I am guessing that in those four games alone, opposing teams have gotten at least 8 to 10 layups for every one of ours. Have any of the reporters asked Coach Groce directly how this defensive scheme is supposed to work? In other words, are the players doing what they are told by switching and staying on the new defensive assignments through the rest of the defensive set? Alternatively, are the players just told to do an initial switch to perhaps disrupt the guard, but then switch back to their original men within two or three seconds of the first switch, such that it is a players' problem for not executing and getting back right away, as opposed to a coaching problem for creating a defense that is designed to just kill any chance we have of holding the other team down? If no reporter has asked Coach Groce this question, I would love to see someone do so. If the players really are being told just to make the initial switch and stay with the new man for the rest of the defensive set, then I think we have a real problem with our coaching staff.
How long did it take to write all that? Impressive.
My understanding is the defense with the constant switching is something they've been doing most of the season. The problem of late has been with the help from the backside, they're just not getting any. I've seen Tracy Abrams guarding 7-foot, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski at Gonzaga in the post, but he got help. Part of the problem with the defense lately is the rotations haven't been what they're supposed to be.
Groce has been asked about the defensive scheme and that's essentially what he said. He was also asked yesterday if he's thought about changing it and he said he's open to anything. But the main problem is keeping the ball in front of you, particularly on the perimeter.
I'd expect going forward you might see some different defensive looks from the Illini. How much? That remains to be seen.
Iliinois has been playing awful lately, but how good actually is Indiana? I think we have a legitimate shot to win this game and would not be surprised at all with a win. Playing on the road is extremely tough and I expect a good crowd. Thoughts? Thanks!
How good is Indiana? I think the Hoosiers and Michigan are the best teams in the country and right now it's not even close. Indiana has a little bit of everything, point guard play, shooters, guys who can get to the basket and two guys (Zeller, Oladipo) who are considered two of the tp five players in the country. I think Indiana is every bit as good as advertised.
Illinois has shown that it can play with good teams (Gonzaga, Ohio State, Michigan State, Butler), but it has also lost to Purdue and Northwestern. Is an upset possible? Yes, especially at home, but not likely with the way they've been defending. Remember, Indiana is second in the country in scoring (83 points per game).
With the current state of UI basketball, how are they bench guys handling it? Is anyone looking to transfer? Also, I saw Rice play in the MVC and have to think he could be an impact player next year. What are your thoughts on where he fits? A Bertrand, Rice, Abrhams, Hill guard rotation next year has to have potential. . .
The bench guys are handling their roles as well as can be expected. They're good kids, team players. They're upset they're not playing more — who wouldn't be — but they also understand they've probably not done enough in practice to warrant more playing time.
I've heard no rumblings of transfers at this point, but wouldn't be surprised at all to see one or more defections. That's just college basketball these days. I think there were something like 400 transfers last year.
Rice is going to be a big-time contributor. I wrote a little bit about him last week.
The guys you mentioned will all factor into the rotations next season and Kendrick Nunn likely will, too. Most coaches like to play up to five guards.
I keep looking at the Hoosiers record in 2009 and am holding out hope that coach groce can do the same here at Illinios. Can he do the same job of recruiting that crean has done? Also whats your thought on painting over the 3 pt line at Assembly Hall?
John Groce has a reputation as a good recruiter so there's a chance he can build some momentum here in terms of recuiting and he's off to a good start, landing a top-20 class after being at Illinois for jsut seven months. Crean is recuriting at an elite level, very impressive stuff there. That's not easy to pull off.
The main thing with Groce and Illinois is to have patience from the administration. It took Beilein a while to get things going at Michigan and the same with Crean at Indiana. I'd be inclined to say Groce will get enough time to build a program the way he sees fit at Illinois.
Painting over the line? Is that so the guys don't shoot three? I don't like the idea. Illinois' best chance to win games in the Big Ten is to shoot the long ball at a high rate. They need to take and make threes to win games.
Do you think Groce would ever consider a starting lineup of DJ, Brandon, Abrams, Bertrand, and Egwu? I know that might make us small, but maybe we could run.
They're trying to run now. The problem is they can't get stops. You've got to get stops on the defensive end to run regularly. With alineup that small, you're probably not going to get many stops.
So, to answer your questions, it probably won't happen. You might see that lineup briefly during the course of a game, depending on how things are going, but not much.
I hate Indiana.........thank you
I don't think you're alone.
How bad do we get beat tonite?
D: over 30+
I picked Indiana 77, Illinois 67, so I'm going with A.
I expect Illinois to play better than it did Sunday, but it won't be enough against the best team in the country.
If we win tonight, can you please discourage the fans and crush from rushing the court? I would rather just act like beating ranked teams is old hat and that we belong amongst them. Just my thoughts...
I've seen them rush the floor after beating No. 9 and No. 5 here, so I'm not sure you'll get your wish if they beat No. 1.
The oddest court rushing I've seen in person was at Indiana two years ago when the Hoosiers beat No. 21 Illinois. That seemed out of character, considering the five banners haning inside Bloomington's Assembly Hall.
Thanks again for the questions. We'll start our Live Report tonight at about 4:30. Not expecting many, if any, recruits at the game tonight, but we'll be on the lookout.
Follow along on Twitter (@MarcusJ_NG) for updates throughout the game.
Have fun tonight if you're going to the game.