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Basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson takes your questions at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Submit them in advance to improve your chances of getting a reply -= or just follow along for the latest scoop.
Good afternoon and thanks for taking some time to stop by for another Illinois basketball chat. I'll be here for about the next hour or so taking your questions. Let's get going.
How does the scholarship work? Do transfers that have to sit out a year get a scholarship for the sit out year?
Players sitting out are on scholarship during their sit-out year. Rayvonte Rice was on scholarship last season and Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby will be on scholarship this season and for the remainder of their careers.
No Lyle, No Alexander, No Black and with only Finke, is that a total bust for a recruiting year? (Seems like we always keep looking at the nextyear, the next year for us to get one of the top players - next year seems to never come)
Again, Illinois is still in the mix with Cliff Alexander. The competition will be stiff, but the Illini are very much right there with him. But, if Illinois doesn't get him or Black, I would not consider the 2014 class to be a bust. Remember, you're getting Aaron Cosby and Darius Paul for 2014-15, two proven college players who will immediately impact your program after learning the system for a year.
I have been reading a lot about Groce and his ability to recruit. If Groce and his staff are as good recruiting as we hope when do you think his first elite player will commit? If Groce and his staff do not have an elite recruit commit by 2016 or 2017 should we start to be disappointed? Thanks for the chat.
They are good recruiters, they've proven it in the past. And they've jumped right into it here going after top-flight guys. When will the first elite player commit? That's tough to answer. If they don't get Cliff Alexander, I'd say they'll get one in 2015. If it doesn't happen in the next few years, should you be disappointed? Not necessarily. What if they continue to win games, get into the NCAA tournament with what you might consider to be non-elite players? Would that be a disappointment if they're winning with three-star and four-star guys? It's nice to win recruiting battles, but even more important to win games. If they're not winning and they're not getting players, then I'd worry.
Hey MJ... some questions about former Illini.
How are people describing Leonard´s first year in the NBA?
What´s the story with Demetri?
And is Kiwanne still playing?
And if you want a question about the current team, do you think next year´s team will be better than 2012-13 crew?
From a production standpoint, Meyers' first year wasn't overly fruitful, but that was expected coming in. He was drafted 11th overall more based on what he can become and talking to some people, there is plenty of confidence that he will round into a double-double guy sooner rather than later. The thing that separates Meyers from a lot of guys in his position is he's very coachable. There's no ego involved with him, you ask him to do something and he's going to do it. That's rare for a guy drafted in his position. He needs the most work on the defensive end.
Demetri spent last season in the D-League, finishing up with the Fort Wayne franchise. Not sure if he'll go back there or try to find something in Europe for next season.
Kiwane retired a couple years ago. I believe he's trying to break into coaching at the collegiate level.
Will this team be better? It depends on how they progress. I think you might see a slower start out of this group than you did from last year's team mainly because there's so much youth. As the season progreses, they could get to the same level as last year's squad late in the season.
Larry Austin? I know his name has been around for years and the former staff worked appeared to have interest in him too. What does he bring to the party if he comes here and is he exactly the type of PG that the current staff likes?
And is it true he was named for Larry Fine of 3-Stooge fame?
It seems like Larry has bene in high school for about eight years now. He's been a high-profile guy since grade school. He's on the radar, but at this point with scholarship numbers limited and guys like Cliff Alexander out there, I'm not sure where he stands at this stage.
Larry, is a terrific athlete with a great burst, though he's not a true point guard and that's something that's been lacking around here for some time. But he does handle it and sees the floor well, needs to continue working on the jump shot.
Haha, I believe he was named after hs father, Larry Austin Sr.
Marcus, I am a first-time questioner, but a long-time chat-reader. My basketball questions are more related to football, since you briefly covered the fb team last fall. What did John Groce do right that Tim Beckman did not in his approach to the team, since both teams had a core of experienced players? When things were not going well for the team, what adjustments did Groce do that Beckman did not? What would Beckman have learned had he studied the way Groce handled his team? Thanks for attempting to answer my questions.
Welcome aboard. Good question, I'll give it my best shot. I think the biggest difference between Beckman and Groce wasthe coaching staff. Groce has surrounded himself with a terrific staff. The same can't be said about Beckman's first coaching staff at Illinois. Just look at how much turnover there was from Year 1 to 2. It's more important in football to surround yourself with a quality staff because there's only so much the head coach can do. Just looking at it, it seems like for whatever reason, the football players didn't buy in at any point to the coaching staff and that's a big reason the team seemed to regress. In basketball, the players bought in from Day 1 and that helps tremendously.
When both were going through tough times, they each maintained that they didn't change anything in their routines from the past. I believe that to be true, it just worked out better for the basketball team. The big challenge for Beckman is getting everyone on the same page. Groce was able to do that. it's tougher to do in football, but that's the goal.
I hope that made some sense.
With the lack of "bigs," can Morgan give some quality minutes as a freshman to help take the load of Egwu? And will Colbert be able to also be a "big" as a freshman?
Maverick is going to play. All of the freshmen are going to play and Morgan especially because they will be so thin in the frontcourt. How much he plays will depend on how he develops between now and November, but they're going into this thing expecting him to contribute. His contributions won't come necessarily on the stat sheet, though they want some rebounds from the big guy. The hope is he can bring an element of toughness, some nastiness. Colbert will be more of a stretch guy, but he can play some down low. Hitting shots from the mid-range area will be his strength, along with his ability to run the floor and grab some boards.
Is it likely to land both black and Alexander? If we dont land one of those two who is most lkely to jon Finke as a illini? Who in 2015 do you think Illinois is good with?
No, it's not likely. I think Alexander is the best chance. RIght now, I don't know who that guy would be. So much empahsis has been on the big names in that class. Maybe someone will emerge during the July evaluation period.
It's early witht he 2015 guys, but some names out there are the familiar ones: Charles Matthews, Carlton Bragg, Jalen Brunson and Jalen Coleman. Eric Davis from Michigan and Elijah Thomas from Texas are also on the radar.
Random question: How in the world does a 7 footer fit into a hotel bed when they are on the road? I am barely 6 foot and my feet go to the end of my king sized bed. Do they have to scrunch up in a ball? Do they put a twin bed at the foot of the bed? Do they forget the bed and lay on the floor?
I appreciate the originality. I've never asked the guys about their sleeping habits. When I was in college, we had a couple of tall pitchers, 6-7, 6-8 guys and they would sleep diagonally in the hotel beds. That seemed to help quite a bit. I'd imagine they'd much rather have their feet hang a little bit than sleep on the floor and risk some back problems.
Hey, MJ. Am I crazy for thinking Kendrick Nunn's ceiling is somewhere near being a miniature version of Oladipo? Same kind of suddenness/violence to his athleticism, he's shown a propensity for disruptiveness on the defensive end, can create for himself off the bounce. So I'm clear, I'm not projecting Kendrick to be a lottery pick and 1st-team All-American or anything crazy like that (then again, who would've thought Oladipo, who was barely a Rivals 150 player, would be that?). It just seems like he has some similar qualities to his game, albeit in a smaller package.
Maybe we'll look back on this in a few years and say you were on to something. I'm guesing coming out of high school that Oladipo had about as much hype surrounding him as Kendrick does now. Both are exceptional athletes, above average in that area. Having read so much and seen so many stories about Oladipo this past year, he vaulted himself to wher ehe is now by working and if Kendrick puts in the work, he could approach that level of production in the Big Ten. Kenrick's biggest strength right now is his ability to defend, that's rare for a freshman and that was Oladipo's strength this season.
You're not crazy, I can see some similarities. We'll just have to watch Nunn develop and see how far he can take his game. If he comes anywhere close to was VO did, it would be a major positive.
With the team evenly divided between transfers (Paul/Cosby/Ekey/Starks), returnees (Egwu/Abrams/Bertrand/Rice/LaTulip) and freshman (Morgan/Colbert/Nunn/Hill/Tate), what steps are the coaching staff taking to get the team accomodated to one another? Are there any social events that are organized as class/practices begin? Is the staff having any of the transfers room with any freshman? I would worry about cliques developing within a roster that is so fragmented into distinct groups.
The chemistry thing, I wouldn't say it's a concern, but it's something they're aware of and they're hopeful it won't become an issue. They had a big team meeting once everyone got on campus and the returning guys on the team have the news guys over to their places to play video games, watch NBA Finals, etc., just to get to know one another better. The coaches are putting them in situations during the workouts where trhey have to depend on one another and they're confident those situations can build trust and comfort. They feel the quality of individual they've brought into the program is going to allow for a smooth transition and won't lend itself to developing cliques.
I believe the freshmen are all living in dorms and the upperclassmen, transfers included, are staying off campus.
Thanks again for taking some time to stop by, appreciate all the questions. I'll be on WDWS tonight with Steve Kelly from about 5:10 until 6 p.m. Call in if you've got more questions.