Feb. 20 MJ basketball chat

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 12:30pm

Ask beat writer Marcus Jackson how the AP voting works — and what it will take Illinois to crack the Top 25 again. Or where John Groce was recruiting this week. Or whose NBA draft stock is better, Brandon Paul's or D.J. Richardson's? Submit questions of any kind at any time for his 12:30 p.m. Wednesday chat.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:45 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

Good afternoon. Apologies for the late start. I just got back from John Groce's news conference today to preview tomorrow's game against Penn State.

All is well in Illini land. The coach seems happy, the players are happy and I'd imagine most of you are pretty thrilled with the four-game win streak.

All the good feelings can be lost, however, with a loss tomorrow to the 0-13 Nittany Lions.

I'll be here for about an hour or so. Let's get started.

naplesIllini71 — 12:45 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

During NU game I caught a glmpse of D. Langford and he looked totally different, quite a bit more hair. Is he happy where he is?


Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:48 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


I wasn't sure hair growth correlated with mood. If that was the case, I'd be real happy seeing as how I have very little in the hair department.

Is Devin happy? Probably not. Not many guys at this level who aren't playing are very happy. Coaches want guys to be upset when they're not playing, it means they care.There's a difference between being upset and being upset to the point where you bring down to mood of the team. I don't think Langford, or any of the other guys on the team who aren't playing have let it get to a point where it brings down the program. If that were the case, the team leaders and coaches would put an end to that quickly.

BrianA — 12:48 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013



do you see any coaching changes in the Big 10 being made after this season?

Guess the one obvious one people would say might be at Northwestern?

Is Painter still on good grounds at Purdue?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:55 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


There are grumblings in Minneapolis about Tubby Smith's future and you might see a change there if the Gophers collapse late. Remember, there athletic director there, Norwood Teague, is in his first year.

Teague hired Shaka Smart at VCU and the folks there want Shaka. I don't think Minnesota is getting Shaka Smart.

Carmody is an obvious choice, but you've got to look at what's happened to that roster this year. They lost their best two players (Crawford, Cobb) basically to start the season and then Swopshire went down and they lost Alex Olah for a bit, too. I'm sure all that will be taken into consideration when Jim Phillips evaluates Carmody's future.

Painter is fine at Purdue. They've got a young club with some good pieces. I think they'll be fine.

Illini1973 — 12:56 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

With the offers Groce has out and no schollies to give, should we expect that he will not be renewing a couple of scholarships next year and ’helping (calling his coaching brethren)’ those find places to land?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:58 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


That would be my guess, though Groce hasn't gone on record — and likely won't until whatever is going to happen happens — about what his exact plans are, but it's probably safe to make that leap.

I mentioned to him a couple of weeks ago there was a lot of interest in the scholarship numbers and he said "I can count."

hoopsfan47 — 12:58 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

Again, Marcus, thanks for you time and effort in doing these chats.

I am quite curious as to specifics of what John Groce did during the recent span of struggles the Illini endured in finding B1G wins.  Can you enlighten us with any knowledge on his approach and what he thinks may have clicked?  Or was it just a process that found a catalyst at home against Indiana...or possibly a competitive road showing in East Lansing?   DJ was quoted as saying they simply got back to doing what they were doing earlier, but the real question to me was why did they stop or change their mindset?  And then, why did they change back, so to speak?  Got any thoughts or direct input from the coach?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:07 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


We've asked him a few times and the response is that nothing has changed in their approach. They practice, prepare, etc. the same way for every game.

The major difference, however, is the buy-in factor among the players, particularly on the defensive end. They just better understand the system and what is expected of them. Their concentration on that end of the floor is at a high level right now and that was lost for a while. They didn't trust it before, but now they're all in and holding one another accountable at that end.

Dan C., Manager Emeritus — 01:08 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

Hello Marcus:

I watched perhaps the two best teams battle in East Lansing last night.   Our team beat one and took the other one to the final minute on the road.   Am I being too optimistic that Groce could take this team to the Elite 8 this year?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:10 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

Dan C.,

That's being extremely optimistic, but these guys have shown they're capable of beating anyone (Indiana, Gonzaga, etc.) and that they're capable of losing to anyone (Purdue, Northwestern).

Could an Elite Eight happen? Sure, but it depends on matchups. Getting to the tournament would be an accomplishment for this team and I think a rousing success would be getting to the second weekend.

Railsplitter — 01:11 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

Hey Marcus, Not a question but a request. Next time you talk to Brandon Paul Would you tell him to stop flailing around like he's getting hacked when driving to the hoop. It looks stupid and he's blowing a chance to make the shot. Plus the refs aren't going for it either. Thanx

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:12 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


Will do.

Groce addressed that today, kind of. He said one of Brandon's strengths is getting to the lane and drawing fouls. He's a really smart player and when he understands how officials are calling a game that particular night, he's got to make adjustments accordingly.

BrianA — 01:12 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013



who is this 5 star player taking about Illinois on twitter ?

does Groce have a legitimate chance of getting him ?


where would the juco wing recently offered fit in next year 

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:17 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


I think you're talking about Leron Black. He's a 6-7 forward out of Memphis, who was once committed to Baylor. John Groce and Jamall Walker went to see him earlier this week. According to those close to Black, Illinois is in good with him. So, sure, they've got a legitimate shot.

Black does not have a Twitter account, according to a few reports. So the person Tweeting as him about Illinois and other programs, is not Black.

The JUCO wing is Desmond Lee. Groce was down in New Mexico to see him last year. He's a combo guard and would offer another option at the point guard, kind of like what Brandon Paul does now for Illinois. Lee picked up offers from Baylor and NC State recently, too.

tom chicago — 01:17 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

Wow, what a turnaround. I thought all along they were in a shooting slump when they weren't playing well. Now, it seems like they can beat any team in the country. Biggest thing: they now believe they can do it. Attitude is huge.


What do you think the change is attributable to?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:19 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013


More than anything, I think it's the confidence of the players and particularly the guys in leadership roles. D.J. Richardson has really stepped it up in terms of leadership this past month and the other guys are following his lead. Sam McLaurin, too.

Groce said today that when a coach stops a drill and tells guys to do it again, that can only work for so long. When D.J. stops a drill and tells them to do it again, that resonates more. There's a lot more of that kind of stuff going on now and it seems to be working.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:20 PM on Wed, 02/20/2013

I've got to run over to the Assembly Hall to talk with the players. Thanks again for the questions. We'll start our Live Report tomorrow at about 5:45 here on IlliniHQ, so check that out for some more info.