Feb. 13 MJ's college basketball chat

Feb. 13 MJ's college basketball chat

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 12:30pm

Does Illinois finally end its slump against Purdue? What kinda seed will the Illini get in the NCAA tourney? How many incoming freshmen will start in 2013-14? Ask beat writer Marcus Jackson, who chats at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Submit questions any time.

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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Good afternoon and welcome to another Illinois basketbal chat.

The last time we were here Illinois was 2-7 in the Big Ten and likely out of the tournament. Some things have happened since then, so I'm guessing most of you are rather happy these days and hopeful to end the eight-game losing streak against Purdue tonight.

Remember, Tal Brody will be on hand tonight to have his jersey raised to the rafters along with the other honored Illinois jerseys.

There's a pregame reception for Israel's Ambassador of Goodwill at 4 p.m. at the I Hotel.

I'll be here for a while answering your questions, so let's get going.

lincoln hoopster wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Do you if Rayvonte Rice has the skill set to play the point?  Does he play that position in practice at all?


Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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In an absolute emergency, sure, he could play the point. But he's not a point guard.Rice is a wing and that's where he'll see the majority of his time. In high school, on those great teams at Centennial, there were times where he initiated the offense, but this is a different level.

Groce was asked about Rice yesterday and he said there are days where he has the look of being a go-to guy. He'll be much further along next year than the other first-year players because he's practiced in the system for a full year. 

Illini1973 wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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What does our record need to be in these last 7 and/or how far do we need to go in the B10 tourney to get invited?

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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I think at worst Illinois has to go 4-3 with wins against Purdue, Northwestern, Penn State and Nebraska, figuring losses at Michigan and Ohio State. The game at Iowa is probably a toss up. At 4-3, that gets you to 8-10 in the league and likely gets you into the tournament even with a loss in the Big Ten tournament opener because of all the quality wins. Beat Iowa to get to 9-9 and Illinois is a lock.

Merten D wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Viewers see a lot of empty (but apparently sold) seats in Section A, even with top ranked teams.

Any possibility of the DIA instituting a "stand by" seating program for students?  All tickets are scanned as folks enter the Assembly Hall - if your ticket isn't scanned after the first 6 minutes of play, Orange Krush members waiting in a holding area are issued an "instant ticket" to fill those seats - use it or donate it...

Install a few big screens in the holding area and pipe in Barnhart and Hester...

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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This is the first I've heard about empty seats in A Section.

We had Jason Heggemeyer, the UI ticket manager, on the radio a few weeks back and he recognzized the empty seats there is something they're working to figure out.

One thing he floated was having the tickets scanned and offer some sort of rewards program for folks based on how often they show up.

Another idea being tossed around is a ticket exchange program where ticket holders can go online and essentially sell or give their tickets away from their couch if they aren't going to make it.

The DIA is aware of the issue and there are a bunch of different theories being thrown about to make for a better homecourt advantage and experience.

Railsplitter wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Marcus,  Did you ever find out if JG is going to make cuts for the offers he has out. You said keep on ya.

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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Thanks for following up. I did ask Groce about it and he assured me that he can count. Also, since it's the middle of the season he said now isn't the right time to speculate on who will or won't be around next season and what will happen to them.

Probably not as insightful as most were hoping, but I can understand his position at this point. Don't want to ruffle any feathers and create any uneeded drama in the locker room.

It seems, though, all the guys on the team are on the same page, just looking at body language. Everyone was beyone excited and celebrating after the Indiana win. Guys were hopping off the bench after big plays at Minnesota.

And when guys walk onto the practice court, they're in good spirits and seem happy to be there and ready if their number is called, for what that's worth.

larry harnly wrote on February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

which of the 2 incoming big men, morgan or colbert, is more likely to help next season to go with a front line of egwu, rice and maybe henry?   same question about nunn and hill at guard,  and which is the better 3-point shooter?

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Probably Austin Colbert. He's more of a true 4 guy where Maverick Morgan is a 5. With Nnanna out ther ethe majority of the time, you'll need a 4 and Colbert is capable of stretching the floor and he runs really well. Maverick will take a little time, but he's likely going to play because they're so thin up front as it stands now. Myke Henry will be the guy, though.

Rice is a 2-3 guy, not much of a 4, but might be strong enough to contribute there if needed.

Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn will both contribute next year in the back court. Most coaches like to have five guards in the rotation and along with Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand and Rayvonte Rice, you'll need Nunn and Hill.

By the way, Hill is cosing in on 2,000 points for his career. Could he win Mr. Basketball?

And Nunn was named first-team All-Public League today. Jaylon Tate was second-team.

anaymous wrote on February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Did Tubby screw up by not having his team start fouling in the last 2 and a half minutes?  Illinois had the lead and minnasota only had two fouls.  I know hind sight is better than forsight, but I think he aired on this.  I didn't see the game, but listen to it on a minnasota radio station.  Their announcers were crying the whole game abou no calls that favored Illinois. To listen to them they were getting fouled every shot under the basket.  Did Paul travel before Croce called time out?

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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He did, but it's hard to make that call in the heat of the game. It was back-and-forth with the lead changing hands a few times down the stretch, so it's probably not as cut-and-dried a decision as it might seem. Like you said, though, in hindsight the Gophers should have made sure Illinois was in the bonus so they could extend the game.

The fans in Minnesota are real down on Tubby right now. They want him gone. I heard some pretty nasty things about him walking from my seat to the media room after the game.

A column the next day in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune called for his firing. They want Shaka Smart. Minnesota AD Norwood Tague hired Smart at VCU. I don't think Smart os going to Minnesota.

I didn't notice one team or the other getting afavorable whistle at The Barn. Groce was trying to call timeout well before Brandon would have traveled and I'm not sure he did travel. It was tough to see from my seat.

Colin wrote on February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Marcus -


Saw a thread on one of the boards talking about a wish for Jim Sheppard to come back as PA announcer. Personally, I couldnt agree more. What say you?

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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I haven't read the boards, so I was unaware there was talk of bringing Jim Sheppard back. I love Jim, he worked for The News-Gazette for a long time and whenever I see him around town or at Unity footbal games, where he's been doing PA for the Rockets, he's always so nice. I'm still unsure why exactly he wasn't retained at Illinois.

I like Mike Cation, too. I think Mike does a great job. I guess everyone is entitled to theor own opinion and have different tastes. But, I don't have any issues with Mike Cation doing the Illini games.

My all-time favorite PA announcer is Gene Honda. That goes back to my days as a White Sox and Blackhawks fans as a kid. I think Gene is the best in the business. He does UI football games now as well as the Big Ten tournament, Final Four and Maui Invitational, among other duties. 

I wish I had his pipes, that would be an awesome way to earn a living. Anyone know of a gig for me?

Marcus Jackson wrote on February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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That will do it for this week. Thanks for swinging by. I'll be on Sports Talk with Steve Kelly tonight at 5:10 and then the pregame show starting at 6:30.

Enjoy the game.